Choices Make Us: As We Decide, We Become

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Non-obvious actions taken in obvious moments, difficult decisions that might be easier to avoid, responses instead of reactions, and most of all, the choices we make when it does not even seem like we have a choice –all of these, taken together, define who we are and the impact we make.

“I had no choice,” actually means, “I had only one path that was easy in the moment.”

Whoever sets the agenda controls the meeting. Its important to set the agenda for one’s life, otherwise someone else will set it for you and then control your life.

The choices we make, ultimately make us. Our life is shaped by the choices we make. Our first step is to choose the type of life path we want; hills and valleys or rolling plains. Ultimately the choice lies within.

The agenda we set and act on defines our businesses, our work, and the people we choose to become.

As we decide, we become. Not deciding is also a decision.

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The Door that Leads to New Rules…

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What will you do next?

What can you learn tomorrow?

Where will you live, who will you connect with, who will you trust?

Are questions better than answers?

Maybe it is easier to get a dummies book, a tweet, a map, a textbook or a checklist than it is to think hard about what is next…

Maybe it is easier to follow rules than to make your own rules.

It’s certainly easier to go shopping. And easier still to buy what everyone else is buying (based on what we have seen with Black Friday). It is certainly easier to consumer than to produce.

We are so used to being told what to do that when we are given the freedom to do what we want without following any instructions, we get paralysed.

The industrial mindset is such that when the teacher is not in class, the students will be play around, when the boss is not at work, the staff take extended lunch hours. We are used to having someone telling us what to do.

People fight for promotions at work so that they can be the ones telling others how to follow instructions.

Some people freeze when you give them a blank sheet of paper and a pen and tell them to write anything that comes to mind. The first question they will ask you is what must a write. They want guidelines, rules, step by step procedures to follow.

We are used to following instructions, that we don’t have the capability to create our new rules.

I think its more fun to write new rules, than follow existing rules.

We live in an extraordinary moment, with countless degrees of freedom. The instant and effortless connection to a billion people changes everything, but instead, we are paralysed with fear, a fear so widespread that you might not even notice it.

We have more choices, more options and more resources than any generation, ever. 

The door is wide open, to leave the prison, to create new rules, innovate, to be a leader in your business and let others follow you.

What new rules have you created in your industry?

Today is the best time to create new rules, the door is open for you to do that and the enabling tools are available.

 

Stumbling to greatness

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One reason people who spend a lot of time thinking about and working on a problem or a craft seem to find breakthroughs more often than everyone else is that they have failed more often than everyone else.

Find your greatness, slowly drip by drip by drip… if you stumble, make it part of the dance…

#Black Friday = media trap

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Black Friday was a deliberate invention of the National Association of Retailers. It was not only the perfect way to promote stores during a super slow news day, but had the side benefit of creating a new cultural norm.

Any media outlet that talks about Black Friday as an actually important phenomenon is either ignorant or working hard to please their advertisers.

Retailers offer very little in the way of actual discounts, they expose human panic and greed, and it’s all sort of ridiculous if not soul-robbing.

Sixteen years ago, Jerry Shereshewsky helped invent a concept called ‘cyber Monday’ as a further expansion of the media/shopping complex mania. It was amazingly easy to find people eager to embrace and talk about the idea of developing yet another holiday devoted to buying stuff.

Here are some of the steps involved in creating a marketing phenomena like this:

  1. Find something that people are already interested in doing (in this case, shopping)
  2. Add scarcity, mob dynamics, a bit of fear (use discounts, limited time frame)
  3. Repeat the meme in the media. Press releases etc

People like doing what other people are doing. People don’t like being left out. The media likes both. Black friday is a perfect combination.

Black friday is a scam, it perpetuates consumption habits and leads to unconscious consumption. Don’t let someone else scam you into being unhappy just because you are not going to buy anything on friday.

A sale is not a sale if you were not planing to buy.

The Space Between the Frames

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I used to be a great fan of comic books and comic strips on newspapers. I recently learned how life works in comparison to comic books.

The secret of the comics is not what you see in each frame. It’s the little gutter, the space in between the frames. Because the artist does not draw it in, that space is left up to you. It pulls you in. You create the narrative as the story moves along.

One thing that most comic artists avoid is showing decisions. They show action, sure, and they show results, but they don’t show (because it’s difficult to show) the hero or the villain making a choice.

And it is this between-the-frame action that makes creating and testing new things so powerful. Action is easy once you have a plan. Formulating a plan, however, is rare and valuable skill.

We get to see successful people, the end product (the final comic pic) but we don’t get to see how hard they worked, the difficult decisions the had to make (the between-the-frames) in order to be successful.

The real drama and success is usually hidden between-the-frames, the parts people don’t get to see.

Work hard in silence, let your success do the talking. Even better, let your success remain private, you are not doing it for popularity.

 

Who Says Yes?

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“What do you do here?”

That’s question I often ask people in organisations. It’s interesting to hear people describe their roles, their jobs, their sets of tasks. Some people are self-limiting (“I sort the debtors accounts reports every Thursday”), while others are grandiose (“I’m responsible for our company culture”).

Almost no one says, “I start stuff.”

This is surprising if you think about it.

If there is no one starting stuff, initiating things in the company, then where does innovation come from?

Not the ideas; no, there are plenty of those, but the starting. If all that we are missing is the spark of life, the motive force, why is this overlooked?

Where is the senior manager of starting? How many noes have you surmounted before you get to a yes? Clearly, there is a guy in charge of the plant or the sales force or the money. But who is in charge of “yes”?

When it comes to innovation, it is important to say yes more than no.

The Fear of Wrong

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Its not surprising that we hesitate. Starting increases the chances of ending up being wrong.

Here’s the nightmare and it’s a vivid one:

The boss finds someone who did something wrong and she hassles/disciplines/humiliates/fires her.

If you are not wrong, the above is not going to happen to you.

On the other hand, there is the other scenario:

The boss finds someone who did not start anything, who never starts, who always studies or criticizes or plays devil’s advocate, and she hassles/disciplines/humiliates/fires her.

Oh, sorry for teasing you, the above never happens. People who initiates nothing at work are hardly fired.

The typical factory-centric mindset places a premium on no-wrong, and spends no time at all weeding out those who don’t start.

In the connection economy we live in today, the innovation-focused organisation has no choice but to obsess about and weed out those who don’t start.

Today, not starting is far, far worse than being wrong. If you start, you have got a shot at evolving and adjusting, fixing and improving drip by drip. You can turn your wrong into a right. But if you don’t start, you never get a chance.

Its okay to be wrong, as long as you are improving. Keeping it safe is no longer safe anyone.

People who bring change are people who don’t fit in. Fit in long enough you become invisible. When you fear being wrong, you lose forward mobility.

If you don’t risk anything, you risk even more.