Gap between two cars

You’re on the highway and see two cars ahead of you. The gap between the two cars ahead on the next lane doesn’t seem to be much.

But, as you move closer, you realize there may just be enough for you to switch lanes.

Move a bit closer and, suddenly, you realize there is more than enough. You’re going to make it.

Once you get there, you make it comfortably.

Every time I experience this, I’m reminded of the quote – “When you’re at the beginning, don’t obsess about the middle. The middle will look different when you get there.


How we make big decisions

Every once a while, it is worth asking ourselves – how do I make a big decision?

To answer this, we need to ask 3 questions:

(1) How have we made big decisions in the past?

(2) What was the process when things worked well? And didn’t? (Process includes – how did we go about thinking about it? How did it feel?)

(3) What would our ideal process be?

It is worth taking the time to synthesize our approach because big decisions tend to have outsized consequences on our life. Deciding to change careers, go to graduate school, relocate, buy a home, etc., are all moves that have the potential to change every aspect of our life.

And, the crazy part is that there is no single correct decision in most of these cases. It all depends on the context.

Most importantly, the best decisions for you are those that work for you. So, it helps to understand how you can make a decision that is likely going to work for you.

For example, I know folks who only make such decisions when they feel the logic behind the decision is unassailable. I also know folks who only make such a decision when it “feels” right. For what it’s worth, I’m in the latter category.

Again, there’s no right answer. It all depends. However, once we understand our preferred process, it makes it easier to replicate when we make the next big decision.

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.