v29 – release notes

My “release notes” for the last few versions have involved 3 synthesized lessons. Today, however, I thought I’d share a few random reflections from lessons I’ve either been learning or attempting to learn over the past year. I’ve written about many of these in detail – today is all about the abridged collection. :)

On relationships

The most important relationship in your life is the one you have with yourself.

Good relationships are self governing. They require two people who care enough to stay in sync – in spite of everything going on in their lives. The rest follows from there.

To get a good relationship going, one or both folks need to take a leap of faith and choose to invest in one another. For most folks, age brings a certain amount of risk aversion that gets in the way of taking these leaps of faith. We can choose to not let that happen.

We can find framily anywhere in the world.

Our hearts have an infinite capacity to love.

The best way to build relationships is to work on something together.

Love is the will to extend ourselves for our own or another’s growth. Love and growth, thus, go together. And, relationships go from good to great when both people are committed to each other’s growth.

Every once a while, we end up building relationships with folks who end up playing the disapproving voice in our head and make us feel un-worthy. They tell us it is to help us grow. But, growth is positive, not negative. When you sense negativity, walk away.

Seek to understand and then to be understood.

Hugs >>>>> Handshakes.

There are few things as beautiful as human beings who walk their talk. If you know them, hold on to them.

On wisdom and decisions

Wisdom flows from good judgment. Good judgment, in turn, flows from mental models that come from the habit of reflecting and synthesizing the lessons learnt from our experiences, those of others around us and from what we read.

Reflection can be a process that is painful in the short term. It is this pain that keeps many away from reflection and ensures that there is no correlation between age and wisdom.

The wisest decisions we make are those that involve trading off pain in the short term for growth in the long term.

The moment we decide to take responsibility for our outcomes is the moment we become mature.

The most important decisions we make are who we decide to surround ourselves with. The adage that we are the average of the five people we surround ourselves with is very true. It is why the decision we make on who we marry (if we choose to do so) is the single most important decision we will make.

Focus on decisions over outcomes. In the long run, good outcomes follow good decisions.

We can change.

On parenting

“Strive to be like them, seek not to make them like you.”

The more I plan and expect, the more I realize I must let go and grow.

The days are long, but the years are short. :)

On productivity

You often need a break when you feel you can’t afford to take one. When in doubt, take that weekend completely off. Re-entry is a powerful thing.

Productivity is focus x intensity x time. Focus is the constant, iterative process of doing what’s most important. Intensity is getting the most out of the hours you put in by committing to depth instead of shallow, multi-tasked attention. Beware any productivity gains from increasing time as it doesn’t scale. Focus instead on focus (ha) and intensity.

The busier you are, the higher the RoI on a bit of planning. Planning helps us focus and keep the main thing the main thing. Mindfulness flows from this focus.

Single best lesson on prioritization – stack rank the 3 things you’d like to get done at the start of the day. And, proceed in that order.

Optimize for creation over consumption. When in doubt, choose to write instead of reading.

The optimal amount of content consumption is the bare minimum required to inspire reflection and creation.

Afternoon naps are special. They help us get more done too.

On money

A penny saved is worth more than a penny earned (you lose some amount to taxes :)).

We over estimate the amount of happiness money brings.

Money doesn’t buy class.

There is a lot of happiness available for free or for cheap.

On careers, workplaces and teams

Focus more on slope versus intercept.

Strong professional bonds almost always translate to strong personal bonds.

Great professional relationships follow knowledge -> understanding -> trust. When you start working with a new group of people, take the time to get to know them. You have to go slow to go fast.

Learning to contribute to and build great teams is among the most useful and rewarding skills we will learn.

We are all in sales. The more we grow in our career, the more our jobs becomes sales jobs. Soft skills are the hard skills in the long run.

On leadership

Leadership is caring deeply about people, processes and results.

Leadership and management are different in the exact way effectiveness and efficiency or focus and intensity are different. One deals with doing the right things and the other deals with doing things right. As different as they are, they can’t exist without one another.

On privilege

The more privilege you have, the harder it is to see it.

Success is intention + effort + luck atop a platform of privilege.

The more privilege you have, the more your hard work counts. The biggest mistake privileged folks make is that they assume folks who are struggling aren’t working as hard or as “effectively” as them. The opposite is generally true.

Debating values is a privilege. When you don’t have enough for sustenance, you don’t have time for values.

On happiness 

Our daily happiness is reality over expectations. Working on the denominator is as powerful as working away on the numerator.

If you do insist on increasing happiness by shaping your reality, just know that our ability to do so is directly proportional to the amount of time we spend focused on what we control.

Expectations have a lot to do with perspective. Perspective is our ability to keep things in context. It allows us to examine our expectations and better appreciate what have it. It is why happiness and perspective go together. It is also why I wish people perspective these days.

It is not happy people who are thankful. It is thankful people who are happy.

On life

Our problems are, generally, first world problems.

We stand on the shoulders of giants.

What got you here won’t get you there.

Do not fear mistakes. Fear only the absence of creative, constructive and corrective responses to those mistakes.

Life isn’t just about living in the present. It is about integrating the past, the present and the future in the right proportions.

It is harder, and generally, better to be thoughtful over smart and kind over clever.

Our lives are a collection of stories made possible by many wonderful co-authors. And, today, more than ever, I’m grateful for all those co-authors.

As I look ahead to v29, I hope to make all this privilege count.

(Past birthday notes: 282726252423)