Mistakes and good judgment

December marks the beginning of reflection season in our home. And, as I reflect on the mistakes I made over the course of the year, I expect to find myself repeatedly going back to the quote – “Success comes from good judgment. Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment.” 

There are many ways to account for mistakes – the normal place to start is by marking them in red ink in the “loss” category. But, this quote never fails to reminds me to think of failures in the investment category for the future.

The only mistakes and failures that deserve to be counted as losses are those that we repeated. The rest are investments that will pay themselves forward many times over in the form of good judgment if we invest in learning from them.

So, here’s to that.

The wrong kind of perseverance

Perseverance is defined as the steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success. While it is often portrayed in the media as one of those heroic traits that “they” possess and we don’t, there is a big difference between the right and wrong kind of perseverance.

The difference between the right and wrong kinds is on what you are steadfast/stubborn about. The wrong kind of perseverance is stubborn on a solution or a way of approaching a problem. There is rarely a happy ending to these stories as this flavor makes it all about us and how we want things to be done.

On the other hand, the right kind of perseverance involves being stubborn on the problem and flexible on the solution. When we’re focused on solving a problem for the people we seek to serve, we keep experimenting on approaches until we find one that works.

Like most good things, we find the right kind of perseverance when we do things for reasons that require us to get over ourselves.

ALearningaDay.blog

WordPress introduced “.blog” domains in 2016. I am a late adopter but, in the spirit of better late than never, I’m happy to share that the primary domain of this blog is now www.ALearningaDay.blog.

While I’ll be keeping “ALearningaDay.com” for the foreseeable future, I am also testing out http://www.Rohans.blog as a back up name that may be easier to share with people I meet in person. But, the primary domain will always be “ALearningaDay” and I’m glad to have found the perfect domain name match in “.blog”

We’re currently in the age of podcasting – so much so that the idea of writing a daily blog almost seems a bit quaint. But, the skills we gain from blogging regularly – critical thinking, synthesis, and writing – are evergreen. More importantly, I’ve also come to realize that it is important to find a medium that suits your personality. I’m glad for new mediums like podcasting and vlogging as writing isn’t for everyone.

But, since writing is that medium for me, I am grateful for companies like WordPress and Feedblitz that provide the tools to enable folks like me to focus on showing up and writing. And, of course, to you for your attention and encouragement.

Zig Ziglar and the chasm

In the 1960s, legendary salesman and coach Zig Ziglar used to sell pots and pans. The standard approach for a salesperson at the time was to hit a new town, sell as many pots and pans over the course of a day, and drive out to the next one.

However, Zig did it differently.

When he picked a town, he moved in for a few weeks. He made sure he got the early adopters his colleagues got on day one. But, then, he stayed long enough to make friends, organize dinners, and get to know the community. As his behavior was so unusual, he began winning the trust of the folks on the other side of the chasm until he’d successfully sold his wares to anyone in the town who had a need for them.

You’ve probably guessed the ending – Zig’s approach ended up far more effective as crossing the chasm is both materially harder and more rewarding.

Now, while there are many great lessons to take away from Zig’s story, the one that I’ve been reflecting on is the power of playing the long game. The magic of Zig’s approach was to intentionally commit to being patient to make the change he sought to make.

It turns out that the road to the long game is valuable, beautiful, and never crowded.

(HT: Thank you to Seth for sharing the story on “This is Marketing“)

Averages and statistics

A friend who is in the market for a home recently shared how averages and statistics have little predictive value. While they might give you a sense of the likely range of outcomes, your unique preferences may land you well above or below these numbers. You are, after all, a data point.

I’ve observed that the same is true for the other challenging activity that many of us go through – job searching. When we’re out there looking for the next gig, it is tempting to get caught in the “average and statistics” zone by asking “do I stand a chance based on people like me who’ve been through the process before?” 

While it is important to know these numbers and use them to not spend all our time on unlikely events, the flip side holds as well. We are just one data point. If we’re focused and thoughtful about how we approach our search, averages and statistics can matter lesser than we think.

Understand them, then learn to ignore them.

Take rest before you are forced to

A simple technique to prevent illness – take rest before you are forced to.

Of course, this isn’t limited to rest. We can also hydrate before we need to, eat healthy before it becomes mandatory, and stay active while it is still optional.

Our bodies have phenomenal early warning systems built in. And, weekends are the perfect time to turn down all the noise and listen for signs.

Happy listening.

Focusing on trends in feedback

If you are like most people in most places, useful feedback is rarely given and generally shows up only when you ask for it. And, asking for it can be a deeply uncomfortable experience.

Getting started on the journey requires us to embrace the obvious – there is always going to be room for improvement and we might as well know what it is. But, “exercise well” and “eat healthy” are obvious too. And, yet, it takes time and effort to embrace them. The obvious things are often very hard to do and recognizing that helps make the process easier.

But, what do we do when we are actually in a room with folks sharing things they wish we’d done better? Consider ignoring individual pieces of feedback and focus on trends. There are two reasons to do so.

First, while individual pieces of feedback may be useful from time to time, they are generally noisy in isolation. Aggregating feedback into trends instead enables us to focus on lines, not dots. When we see the same idea show up from multiple folks, we can be sure that working on it will be valuable.

Second, focusing on trends takes away the personal aspect of feedback. When we look for trends, we elevate our focus from individuals to our audience. And, if most of our audience believes we need to speak faster, then speak faster we must.

A focus on trends has made it easier for me to get comfortable asking for feedback. The side benefit of this comfort is that asking for and receiving feedback becomes less of an event the more you do it.