But, this was once your dream..

You dreamed about growing up and living on your own income once. You dreamed about living in your own apartment and calling close friends over for a night out whenever you liked. Perhaps you dreamed about seeing your kid go to a great school, receiving a gift from your kid’s first income and having a great time at your kid’s wedding. Or perhaps you dreamed you’d one day travel to a new country or attend a great university.

Look at where you are now.

Sure, some of those dreams haven’t worked out exactly how you pictured them as a kid. Thank god for that. Many of them worked out much better than you could have imagined.

If you believe the media, the world is going down the drain. There’s too much war, too much politics, too much money in football, and too much unemployment. It doesn’t seem like the kind of world where dreams come true.

But, they do. You are evidence of that. They work out much better than you even imagine. So, before you get all cynical today as you dream about yourself 15 years from now, remind yourself that this life, today, was once your dream too. And what a great life it’s turned out to be..

Sure, we have had to work hard for them but let it not be said that dreams don’t come true.. life is the stuff of dreams. Smile, enjoy living the dream, and just for today, actively reach out to someone else to help make their dream come true. If we aren’t helping each other realize our dreams, what the hell are we living for?

Peg expectations to process

If you expect to win or expect things to go well, there’s a good chance you’ll be disappointed. Disappointment often leads to fear which in turn leads to paralysis the next time you play. You don’t want to take risks for fear of disappointment and you prefer inaction to action. The dark side has won.

So, how do you avoid this? Stop pegging expectations to results. Never ever expect to win or lose. Just expect to play. Take it a step forward and perhaps even expect to give it your best shot when you play.

Pegging expectations to the process means you keep focus on things you influence – your preparation, your attitude, and your effort. If the result is good, incorporate the positives into the next game. If the result is bad, figure out what you can do differently. The best outcome of the infinite game is you learning from experiences to become the person you want to be.

Expect to give what you do your best shot.. and enjoy the game. The rest is just noise.

On Marginal Costs and Dishonesty

This week’s book learning is from How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton Christensen.

When DVR rental giant Blockbuster looked at fledgling internet start-up Netflix in 2001, they dismissed it as a threat. They had billions of dollars of earnings thanks to their DVR renting and lucrative business model that made money off high late fees. The late fees made sense because every check out of a popular movie was how they made money.

Netflix turned it around by charging people per month and mailing DVRs. Netflix made money when people didn’t rent DVRs! But, in 2001, it was making only $150 million in profits in comparison to >1.5 Billion that Blockbuster was making.

The problem was that Blockbuster calculated “marginal increase” of pursuing Netflix. It meant a very small marginal increase on top of Blockbusters existing revenue but what Blockbuster didn’t realize is that this new product would redefine the industry’s future. They went bankrupt in 2011.

It’s not that different in our personal lives. We start on the path of wrong doing by calculating marginal cost or cost of doing something wrong ‘just this once.’ That’s how Nick Leeson started out trying to wipe out a trading loss. The path led him to lose $1.3Bn, bankrupting 230 year old Bearings bank, costing 1200 employees to be laid off, losing his marriage, and being imprisoned for 6 years.

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Sketch by EB

No athlete or Enron senior executive started out saying they’d cheat. One small compromise led them down a slippery slope. As Clay wisely puts it, it might seem like one extenuating circumstance but life is just a series of extenuating circumstances…

Clay’s advice is to figure out what your values are and never deviate. You can’t follow 99% of an ideal. It’s 100% or nothing.

It was this insight that made me realize that my laissez faire attitude towards online piracy media content was not in congruence with my values – I’ve been a very happy iTunes customer since!