Backing your car into your driveway

When you back your car into the driveway at the end of the day, you make a small investment to make tomorrow better. By sacrificing the ability to ease in to your driveway this evening, you allow your future self tomorrow to just drive out and keep that morning momentum.

One such investment we can make at work today is to make sure we finish Friday by putting down our top 3 priorities for the next week. As a bonus, we can also look  ahead at our calendar next week and block out time to work on the top priority items.

It is a small investment today that will enable us to hit the ground running on Monday morning.

Our future selves will thank us for it.

Invest the first ten minutes

You’ve set up a 30 minute introduction meeting to get up to speed on that project. So, you have got 3 options on what to do in the first 10 minutes –

1. Jump straight into business (with some small talk added to taste)
2. Do a quick introduction – “I work for xx team and I am now working on this project” – and get to business.
3. Invest the first ten minutes into getting to know each other

As might be obvious from the title of the post, I believe option 3 is the way to go.

Choosing option 1 and 2 is a sign that we believe that the purpose of the meeting is to get onboard quickly. Of course, they are both the more efficient options.

However, the real purpose of the first meeting with someone you are going to work with is to build a relationship of trust. And, trust requires us to first get to know them and, in time, understand them. It is this trust that will enable us to work together in a team. And, it is the bedrock of true long term effectiveness.

Also, here’s another thought – why not start every introduction meeting the same way? Sure, that one might be with someone who you just want a quick short term favor from. But, do you really know that?

What if we approached every relationship as a potential long term relationship?

Ten minutes can go a long way.

Ray Dalio investment autopsy – The 200 words project

In 1975, at the age of 26, Ray Dalio founded Bridgewater Associates – a hedge fund.

6 years in, Dalio felt the debt levels in the government pointed to the fact that the US was on the brink of a recession. So, he began betting on it and publicizing it. But, to Dalio’s surprise, the stock market surged and it led to a tremendous embarrassment and loss of fortune.

To make sure that never happened again, he began keeping detailed records of every trade he made and began noting what happened with every investment – learning from both his success and painful losses. As Dalio puts it, pain + success = progress. As he reflected on these investments, he kept finding “rules” that governed how markets worked and kept refining it. At Bridgewater, he built a culture of “radical transparency” challenging his employees to question his decision making and assumptions.

As author Al Pitampalli observes in his book, Persuadable – “Does he have an ego? Absolutely. Many say his is over-sized. However, he realizes that having false self-confidence would cost a lot.”

In essence, Dalio built his success by being very persuadable to new assumptions and data with an inspiring process.

(In case you haven’t watched it, his video on “How the economic machine works” comes highly recommended)

Ask yourself – how much do you let what you wish to be true stand in the way of seeing what is really true? – Ray Dalio

Source and thanks to: Persuadable by Al Pitampalli, Principles by Ray Dalio

(The 200 words project involves sharing a story from a book/blog/article I’ve read within 200 words)

Today’s sacrifice

When a close friend and I started playing tennis a few week’s back, the quality of our game was woeful. We had both learned a bit of tennis a few years back but were very out of touch. Since we both were competitive, we chose to play with points. However, our rallies were short and full of unforced errors. A few week’s later, our games are much better. Playing once a week goes a long way in bringing about a certain rhythm and activating our muscle memory. But, a factor that I’ve realized helps my improvement is one I call “today’s sacrifice.”

Right from our first game, I picked one aspect of my game to sacrifice. For example, on day one, my serve didn’t work. But, instead of going for a tame serve that gets the ball in, I focused on making it better and lost plenty of points in the process. This didn’t work in the first game and through most of the second as well. But, come the third game, my serve began working a fair bit. Now that I’d climbed the steepest part of the serve hill, it was time to work on the next shot.

It sounds incredibly simple – as you jump into play, set a learning goal (Anders Ericsson would call it “purposeful practice”) and sacrifice a bit of today’s productivity for tomorrow’s growth. But, its applications can be mind blowing if applied to everything we do.

This is the goose and golden eggs fable all over again – easy to understand but nowhere as easy to apply. We know that today’s investments will lead to more growth and productivity. But, caught in the throes of the day-to-day, it is so easy to push today’s learning away and just focus on maximizing current production. Perhaps the way to do it is simply to implement this idea in every aspect of our lives – in a way we think nothing of it when we do it. Perhaps we do this by scheduling 30 minutes every day to do one of the following – learn something that might be useful or, if you haven’t done so, getting a bit of sleep, getting some healthy food, going to the gym, or picking a book that will help us grow. Over time, maybe we’d expand the sacrifice time to an hour, maybe even two.

After all, today’s sacrifice is tomorrow’s reward.

Thanks to Kidsworldfun for the image