Picking watermelons

A few years ago, I shared a learning about picking watermelons.

We love watermelons. So, it is a learning I think about every summer. The image below explains it beautifully.

The watermelons that look the worst taste the best. As the “field spot” color moves from white to yellow to nearly orange, the watermelon goes from “nearly ripe” -> “very ripe.”

I’m grateful for this learning as it conveys three things every time I think about it.

First, we’ve enjoyed great watermelons for five years now. Amazing how one insight that helps you understand the nature of a thing can change how you experience it.

Second, appearances can be deceptive. That is important – in fruits, with people, and in life as a whole.

And third, we learnt this thanks to our moms speaking to a random person at Costco who seemed to know what he was doing when he was picking a watermelon.

Learning can come from surprising places if we’re curious.

Am I doing it right?

I am often in conversations about career choices. And, while some ask the “Am I doing it right?” question explicitly, most ask it implicitly.

And, in every one of these conversations, I start with a variant of – “There’s no right answer.”

It is a helpful reminder in any conversation about careers (or life for that matter).

All we can do is ensure –
a) we know what we want.
b) we have as much information/awareness as possible on the situation and people involved.
c) we are thoughtful about the likelihood of us getting what we want with the choice we’re making and what we will need to do to make it happen.

In the long run, thoughtful choices and good process lead to good outcomes. That’s about all we can focus on.

Fit and individual ability

A fact most sports fans learn when they observe players who move teams – fit within a team matters almost as much as individual ability.

Many players perform phenomenally within one team and struggle to replicate that performance when they move elsewhere. Or vice versa.

Every once a while, we see great players who transcend this and perform – regardless of their surroundings. But, they’re the exceptions that prove the rule.

Applies just as well in our careers – especially so as roles get senior.

It is worth solving for fit.

First day back in the office

I went to the office for the first time in over a year yesterday.

Reflecting on the day, the best parallel I could think of was the first day of school.

The year that went by was anything but a summer break. But, that excitement at running into so many friendly humans in person and catching up felt familiar in so many nice ways.

I love the office. I also love my desk at home. I’m glad we’re moving to a world where we can talk about these as an “and” vs. “or.”

Values and decisions

Having a strong set of values, core beliefs, or principles can be both a blessing and a curse when making decisions.

The clearer our values/stronger our core beliefs, the more options we will easily be able to eliminate. Arguably, we will be able to make decisions that are more predictive to our happiness.

On the flip side, we will also have far fewer options from which to choose from. In places where such options are few and far between, this can be painful. For example, we will have fewer career options we’re excited about and will probably take longer to hire that right candidate.

Every strategy presents trade-offs.

No trade-offs, no strategy.

The things we admire and detest

It has always seemed strange to me…The things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling, are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest, are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first they love the produce of the second.” | John Steinbeck

Brad Stone kicked off his latest book – “Amazon Unbound” – with this quote. While brilliant in the context of the book, it is a quote that has kept finding its way back to my thoughts in that past day.

So, as is my wont, I thought I’d share it.

Learning and the infinite game

We aim to learn from a mistake because we want to change how we operate and prevent making that mistake in the future.

Committing to learning is thus implicitly committing to the infinite game.

There is no winning, losing, or feeling stupid involved.

There’s only learning to be gained – in this moment and the next.

Turnout areas

I was on a single lane road recently and behind a slower moving vehicle. The road had many “turnout areas” for slow moving traffic. But, this driver was either unaware of the rules or oblivious of the traffic building up or just stubborn.

So, it gave me a lot of time to think about the idea of a “turnout area.”

See the source image

It is a neat solution to traffic on a single lane road.

It is also applicable well beyond driving.

Sometimes, in our lives and careers, we find ourselves in situations where our pace – even if unintentional or despite our best efforts – is holding others back.

When that happens, it’s good practice to pull over and let them pass. It is never easy to do this. But, everyone enjoys the journey a lot more. And, things work out just fine in the long run.