One of the benefits of learning to tune out the noise to pay more attention to our gut is that it becomes significantly easier to make decisions.
The gut, it turns out, doesn’t generally mess about with 50-50 decisions. Instead, it lets us know when it is a resounding yes (a “hell yeah”).
The key is paying attention to that sign while recognizing that the absence of that resounding yes is a no.
No further deliberation required.
I was following the highlights at Wimbledon and was fortunate to catch half of the final set of the Federer-Nadal semi-final and most of the Federer-Djokovic final today. I had 3 reflections.
Before I get to them, however, a hat tip to the legends who’re playing the game today. Serena Williams, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic are all going to go down as legends. As a Federer fan, it was incredible to see him go into both the semifinal and final as the underdog (it’s all relative) and nearly pull off his 9th Wimbledon victory at ~38 years of age. Incredible. There’s no other word for it.
Onto the reflections.
First, I was just amazed at the quality of tennis in both of Federer’s last games. There were times when my heart was in my mouth. I just couldn’t fathom how they produced high quality tennis during such high stakes moments. It could only flow from muscle memory. And, I found myself imagining the number of hours spent practicing to prepare for such moments. It made me ask myself how I could do more to summon such muscle memory in decisive moments myself.
Second, Federer played consistently better through the final against Djokovic. However, Djokovic held his nerve during 3 crucial tie breaks. Big games are won by the smallest of margins. And, Djokovic won with those margins.
Finally, it looks likely that Djokovic will surpass Federer and Nadal’s grand slam tallies by the time he’s finished and lay his claim to be the greatest men’s tennis player of all time. But, and maybe this is what is special about being a fan, there is no one who will surpass Federer in my eyes. It still is such a pleasure to watch Federer play – it never fails to remind me to focus as much on the art as we do the science.
It is inspirational.
In a conversation recently, I mentioned the challenge presented by an idea from Kahlil Gibran’s exceptional poem on children – “Seek to be like them, seek not to make them like you.”
On hearing that, this friend shared that their struggles weren’t in trying to make the kids like them – instead, it was in trying to make the kids an aspirational version of them. It was more pressure than both the kids and the parents could handle – until they sought help.
It was a powerful reflection and one that translates beautifully to many other relationships where the power dynamic at any given time is unbalanced in our favor.
It is tempting to attempt to control and force conformity.
But, it is in the “letting go” and in the ability to absorb the best of those around us where the learning lies.
Why over-communication matters in a period of change – “It is difficult to get a person to understand something when their salary depends on them not understanding it.”
It is also a helpful reminder to not take it personally if something you’ve been working hard to communicate isn’t landing as yet.
Incentives are powerful.
Worrying is toxic. It messes with our minds, affects our health and productivity, and wastes our time.
But, even if we logically understand all that, it is hard to remove worry altogether – especially if worrying about stuff has become a habit.
I met someone who solved this by raising the bar on worry. For example, consider asking yourself 2 questions every time you find yourself worrying –
1. Am I worrying about something that involves a potentially terminal health problem?
2. Am I worrying about the climate crisis?
If the answer to either of the above is yes, you might cut yourself some slack and give yourself the next hour to worry about it and, perhaps, process your own feelings by writing about it.
If the answer is no, however, then it doesn’t meet the bar. It just isn’t worthy of your worry time.
We’ve got limited time and attention – it is on us to focus it on stuff that matters.
I know two people who went through a tough experience two decades ago.
One of them told themselves the story of hope after the experience. They resolved to look for growth from the pain, seek forward momentum, and find excuses to spread love.
The other told themselves the story of pain. They resolved to remember the pain, look back to reflect on the perceived injustice, and find excuses to be hurt and spread hurt.
There’s a powerful, life-changing even, learning here about the power of the stories we tell ourselves. But, the more interesting learning comes from observing the power of seeing folks live these stories over a long period of time.
Like everything we choose to do on a daily basis, the impact of these stories compounds. Despite more challenges they’ve had to face, the person who told themselves the story of hope has become the most positive people I’ve met over time. The challenges they’ve faced have only strengthened their resolve to find hope, love, and possibility.
Alas, the person who told themselves the story of pain is at the other end of the spectrum.
There are some stories we tell ourselves everyday. It pays to be aware of their compounding impact on our attitude over time.
And, if they aren’t working for us, then it may be time to change them.
John Montagu was a consummate card player who didn’t like meal interruptions while playing his favorite game of cribbage. So, it is said that he asked for veal stuffed between two pieces of bread to make it easy for him to eat while playing.
As John Montagu was also the Earl of Sandwich, others started asking for the “same as Sandwich.” And the rest, as they say, is history.
For when we find ourselves stuck in discussions about building for the “average” user, it is worth reminding ourselves that the sandwich, like many innovations, happened on the edges thanks to a passionate early adopter with a weird request.
(H/T: Alchemy by Rory Sutherland – a fantastic read)