I came across a link to a well reviewed parenting book recently about not raising spoiled children.

From the reviews, it looked like the author had done a good job sharing a path (well off) parents might take to ensure their kids grew up grounded and fiscally responsible.

It made me wonder – is there a possibility that kids in a household will grow up to be grounded and fiscally responsible if their parents are not?

My guess is no.

And, if there isn’t any such path, perhaps that ought to be the simple premise of such a book – culture, after all, flows from leadership. And, it doesn’t matter what we say – our kids will take cues from what we do.

Disagreements and context

In groups with reasonable folk working with aligned incentives, the biggest source of disagreement tends to be a lack of context.

Investing a bit of time upfront to share context – personal context early in the relationship and context about the situation and the problems being solved otherwise – saves hours and hours in time spent in disagreement otherwise.

Even with the best of intentions, it is hard for folks to meaningfully contribute without understanding the full picture.

And, we’re best served when we remind ourselves that we must go slow… to go fast.

Simple dreams

For the most part, dreams we had as kids were simple.

It is unlikely our dreams involved anything along the lines of “being in the C-suite,” “having a high net worth,” or similar.

Instead, they were more likely about being a teacher or firefighter or doctor or being the kind of person that helped people. It may also have been about having a family, a dog, or a nice home.

And, even if we thought about wealth, it wasn’t as much about a number as much as it was about being able to do something with it – to travel or to spend on something we thought was a luxury.

Most of all, it was likely to be about the simple things that enabled us to be happy.

But, as we grow up, we often layer in all these specifics, keep taking in new bits of data based on what others around us have, and raise our expectations with each win along the way.

And, in doing so, we lose the plot.

We make it hard for reality to ever meet expectations. And, even when it does, we make sure we shift those expectation so those moments are fleeting. After all, there is no end to wanting the next thing. Or the next next thing for that matter.

From time to time, it is worth reminding ourselves of the simple dreams we had as children.

More often than not, it may surprise us as to how well we’ve done with respect to those dreams and just how much there is to be grateful for.

A commitment that does wonders to our career happiness

A commitment that can work wonders for our career happiness – refuse to measure progress in years and, instead, do so in decades.

This isn’t just about the Bill Gates idea that we overestimate how much we’ll get done in a year and underestimate how much we’ll get done in a decade.

It also forces us to move away from well defined goal focused thinking to more ambiguous direction focused thinking.

While the former simply invites impatience and short term thinking, the latter forces us to embrace long term patience while using our energy to hustle in the short term.

Macro patience, micro speed.

Gunpei Yokoi and the Lefty Rx

Gunpei Yokoi, then a creative game designer working at Nintendo in the 70s (before he became a legend), wasn’t the sort of person who was at the forefront of technology. So, he focused on creating games with an approach he termed – “lateral thinking with withered technology.”

Since he couldn’t count on himself being cutting edge, he’d simply look to put commonplace technology in ways that made games more affordable for Nintendo customers. One such technology he was interested in was remote controlled cars – then an expensive luxury in Japan.

Since these cars were expensive due to all the functionality required to control the car, he decided to simplify things by launching a car with just one button that could only turn left – the aptly named Nintendo Lefty Rx.

Its price made it easily available to a massive customer base who enjoyed racing these cars across circular tracks. Even when there were obstacles, you could left turn your way out of it – only adding to the excitement.

I love stories that demonstrate the power of simple, functional products that get the job done. The Lefty Rx is a great example of how simple can be very powerful.

Kobe and nuance

After a post about how the internet exploded into tributes for Kobe Bryant and Clay Christensen, Roy wrote in with a thoughtful note about his unwillingness to whitewash Kobe’s past – specifically about a time when he admitted to rape.

We exchanged notes on this as I explained it was the reason I wasn’t jumping in on all the adulation – at least not just yet. I shared that I’ve come to accept the fact that most reality is nuanced.

Thanks to his incredible work ethic, innate abilities, and a desire to make things, right, it is clear that his balance sheet is, for the most part, in the black.

He was an amazing athlete – but, he also made a bad mistake that caused a lot of harm when he was young. And, Roy shared a thoughtful post on the importance of acknowledging this nuance and contradiction.

When the media rewrites Kobe’s story to make him innocent, the media rewrites women out of the story. Kobe doesn’t need to be innocent to be loved. And his victim doesn’t need to be perfect to be believed. Kobe’s death is an opportunity for journalists to report difficult truths to readers and for moms to have tough conversations with kids.

Or, as another note nicely put it – “He deserves to be immortalized,” Dionne said, “but it’s also OK to say he did something that harmed someone else.”

Note to folks receiving this via email: I am aware that these emails are being sent twice over the past two days. I’m checking with Feedblitz and am hopeful the problem will get fixed shortly. Apologies for the trouble..

The windshield, mirrors, and the journey

There’s a reason the space occupied by the windshield in a car is significantly larger than the rear view mirrors – it is far more important to keep our eyes on what lies ahead than it is to constantly look behind.

There is an important life lesson in there.

It also turns out that there’s another powerful lesson to be learnt on this drive.

Even as we spend time looking at the windshield and rear view mirror, much of the joy from the drive often comes from acknowledging a few blessings present in the current moment – good health, peace of mind, and those who are on the journey with us.

It is natural to spend a lot of our time dreaming about what lies ahead and analyzing what happened. But, our happiness is proportional to our ability to take stock of the moment and remember to appreciate the many blessings we do have.

Here’s to doing plenty of that this weekend.