Attention and Appreciation

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I was watching kids interact with their parents at a play zone recently.

If their basic needs [not hurt or hungry] were met, I realised that two words summed up most of what they asked for: attention and appreciation.

Just as I was about to file that away as a reflection on kids, it got me thinking about the root causes of issues adults I know face at home or at the workplace.

It turns out that attention and appreciation are just as important in dealing with adults as they are with kids.

The best partners, friends, managers, and leaders make it a point to never forget that.

 

No longer hungry

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There is a lot of power in the idea that we should replace:

Eating until we are full with eating until we are no longer hungry.

There is an analogous idea with speech too:

Don’t speak until you have nothing left to say, instead, speak until you have said just enough.

Note to self. 🙂

Extenuating circumstances

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Clay Christensen wrote a powerful note on extenuating circumstances in his book “How Will You Measure Your Life?” –

“Resisting the temptation whose logic was “In this extenuating circumstance, just this once, it’s OK” has proven to be one of the most important decisions of my life. Why? My life has been one unending stream of extenuating circumstances. Had I crossed the line that one time, I would have done it over and over in the years that followed.

The lesson I learned from this is that it’s easier to hold to your principles 100% of the time than it is to hold to them 98% of the time. If you give in to “just this once,” based on a marginal cost analysis, as some of my former classmates have done, you’ll regret where you end up. You’ve got to define for yourself what you stand for and draw the line in a safe place.” 

Clay is not an exception in finding life to be a series of extenuating circumstances.

We all find ourselves dealing with so many of them in our journeys, a new random problem pops up, someone falls sick, we have disruptive travel, and so on.

Every time I’m tempted to make a decision driven purely because of an extenuating circumstance, I think of this lesson and attempt to live by it.

Thank you, Clay.

Getting an education: Studying and Learning

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Doing well in school required us to get good at studying.

To study, per the dictionary, is to devote time and attention to acquiring knowledge on (an academic subject), especially by means of books. 

Studying, however, is different from learning.

To learn is to gain or acquire knowledge of or skill in something by study, experience, or being taught.

Learning is something that involves lessons from practical application.

You say: “I learned my lesson from that experience” not “I studied from that experience.”

The subtle difference lies in the outcome.

Studying is focused on the process of acquiring knowledge while learning involves practical application.

The real test of learning is what we end up doing with what we learn.

The challenge with teaching learning in schools is that learning is hard to test in a final exams.

So, we fall back to testing students’ ability to study.

Of course, the obvious downside of this approach is that it is likely we end up completing two decades in schools without a good understanding of how to learn.

The good news is that our education didn’t end with graduation.

There is still time to learn how to learn.

And, the beauty of learning is that we see the results of what we have learnt in our actions every day.

To learn and not to do is not to learn.

So, if we are not actually evolving and improving how we approach our days, every day, it is time to revisit how we learn.

It is the highest leverage thing we can do with our time.

Studying might have helped us do well in school. But, learning helps us do well in life.

You can study to ride a bicycle in class, but you learn to ride by riding.

You can study entrepreneurship in class, but you learn how to be an entrepreneur, buy enterprising.

Entrepreneurs are not made in the classroom, they are made in the art of action.

At LORA we focus practical lessons that entrepreneurs can study, but we challenge our entrepreneur to apply the lessons and practically learn from them.

 

 

 

Getting an education: You are more powerful than you think

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You are more powerful than you think

Pick yourself

Entrepreneurs are made, not born

Leaders are made, not born

Leveling up is a choice

They say you can’t, we know you can

Dance with fear

See, assert, change

Overwhelmed is temporary

Disrupt yourself, don’t wait to be disrupted

Do work that matters, not popular

Hard work is far better than busy work

Forgive yourself when you don’t win, but never forgive yourself for not trying.

The crowd is wrong. The critics are wrong. Useful feedback is precious…

Management matters. So does leadership…

“Here, I made this.” Or possibly, “Here, we made this.”

See the end before you begin the journey

Culture defeats everything

It is personal

You matter, what you do matters.

Applications are now open for the next cohort of the entrepreneurship program. Here is more information on LORA. It’s time to level up.

Closing date is today: Thursday, 27 June 2019

Getting an education: Stay with the problem longer

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Asking this question is a terrible place to start.

I don’t know of many great ideas where the first question the creator asked was, “How can I make money from this idea?”

You have to care about the idea and understand the problem you are setting out to solve first.

Not in a naive, if I build it they will definitely come sense. But from a place of knowing that there is inherent value in what you plan to execute, for the audience that you want to serve.

When entrepreneurs ask me which industry has money, I often respond by saying industries that solve the biggest problems have money.

The bigger the problem, the more relevant the solution.

It starts with what problem are you solving?

What are people complaining about? What are their pain-points?

It starts with people first, their pains, frustrations, discomfort, and struggles.

If you start from the making money perspective you limit your ideas to what is possible.

There is nothing wrong with caring about the money. Just care more about the people, and your idea.

As Einstein has said: “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”

Stay with the problem longer.

The longer you stay with the problem, the more chance you will get better solutions or greater things out of it.

Solving problems is the ultimate goal of doing business.

At LORA, we focus on solving problems as a way of building your business. The first question we ask our entrepreneurs is: What problem are you solving?

Registration for the next LORA co-hort is open, closing date is this Friday, 27 June 2019. To apply online, please complete this online application form.

 

Getting an education: And complaining

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We all love problem solvers.

We might not all be aware of it, but we do.

People who solve problems make lives better.

No matter what job you are in, where you live, who you are partner is, how many friends you have, you will be judged on your ability to solve problems.

Because problems equal hassles for everyone concerned. And people don’t like hassle.

So the more problems you can solve, the less hassle all-round, the happier people are with you.

Everyone wins.

For our LORA entrepreneurs:

The best way to complain is to make things.

If you make things, you hardly have to speak. You let your work speak for itself. And no one, no one, can disagree with something right before their eyes that shows them that your complaint is warrented.

If you want to complain, get to making something. Don’t speak.

Go make something.

At LORA we assist entrepreneurs to be problem-solvers by making things. When everyone complains, you see opportunities to solve problems.

Registration for the next LORA co-hort is open, closing date is this Friday, 27 June 2019. To apply online, please complete this online application form.

Getting an education: Versus getting a degree

student-education-750x460Too often, we focus conversations about learning plans around getting a degree.

There is an implicit assumption in these conversations that getting a degree and getting an education go together.

But, that need not be the case.

You can get a degree without getting an education, there are plenty of people who do.

And, conversely, thanks to books and the internet, you can get an education without getting a degree.

This does not mean school/university is not important.

There are good reasons to get a degree.

Moving geography, improving career prospects, getting a new skill, learning from top Professors and a motivated peer group, taking a break, etc., are all, in combination, be good reasons.

But, if the only reason to get a degree is: “I want to learn management” or “I want to learn machine learning,” I would reconsider.

We have more options to pursue learning in subjects we are interested in than ever before.

We can buy books, subscribe to online courses, create a peer learning group around these materials, start a blog sharing insights or do all of these together.

We can choose to not get the business of getting a degree interfere with our desire to get an education.

At LORA Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship we give you a certifate at the completion of the programme, but most importantly we don’t let your certificate interfere with your education.

Registration for the next LORA co-hort is open, closing date is this Friday, 27 June 2019. To apply online, please complete this online application form.

 

Zoom In, Zoom Out

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Zoom buttons on digital devices let us examine images from many viewpoints.

While you zoom in to identify objects and understand them, you zoom out [or look away from the camera lens] to put them in perspective with other objects.

In most cases, you only click the photo after you zoom in and out.

Solving problems in our real life follows a similar philosophy.

You first have to zoom in to detect, analyse and understand the problems.

You have double-clic in order to more information.

Zooming-in is important, it helps you go deeper, it helps you understand your problems.

When you deal with things on the superficial, you are unlikely to resolve them.

However, in order to add perspective to your problem, it is important to zoom-out by asking yourself –

  1. Will this be a problem later on, will I be thinking about this a week from now? How about a month or a year or 5 years?
  2. You can also zoom out by looking back at the problems you had in the past.

When we look back at our problems, they always are smaller than they appear.

Know when to zoom-in, don’t take for granted things you should be paying closer attention to.

Know when to zoom-out, don’t get lost in the trivial, that you forget to see the bigger picture.

Understand the nuances, but also see the bigger picture. 

Defining trust

Trust is often the core of any relationship, personal or professional, and the only way to establish trust is to be consistent between what you say and what you do.

One of the most simple and best definitions of trust that I have heard is:

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Trust equals consistency over time. There is no shortcut for either.

That is a fantastic definition – 100% true.

My only add would be that this definition illustrates beautifully the importance of integrity.

Integrity is all about making and keeping commitments.

This is so hard to do because of our propensity to make commitments we don’t intend to keep.

It is only when we demonstrate integrity that we have the sort of consistency that builds trust.

A few random thoughts on this –

  1. Trust is not achieved by 1 big gesture but rather by a collection of small actions over time.
  2. Trust is built when no one is looking. When everyone is watching is easy to do what you said you will do [or won’t do]. It is when no one looking that you stick to your word and do what you said you will do [or won’t do] that builds trust.
  3. It is naturally hard to trust a new person when it is a win situation for the other person. An ideal example for this would be when a car salesman tells you that there is a really good deal on the new BMW 5 series.
  4. Trust, once broken, can be established again but it is just a lot harder and takes longer.

There definitely are no shortcuts.

Appreciation for small mistakes

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The past few weeks I made a couple of business mistakes, and I learned a huge deal from them.

I have renewed appreciation for small mistakes that cost us some reasonable amount of pain or money in the short term.

While some of these mistakes are indicative of a high volume of experimentation or bias for action, many may simply be errors of judgment.

Regardless of the variant, they should be welcomed because small mistakes help us avoid big mistakes.

By removing any false sense of over confidence from being temporary flawless and by giving us an opportunity to learn from them, small mistakes can be valuable if we take the time to reflect on them and improve our processes.

Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment. And, small mistakes are just opportunities from life to improve our judgment.

Small mistakes keep you in the game, if you don’t make mistakes, you are not experimenting, and if you are not experimenting, you are not innovating.

No innovation, no growth.

I’m glad of the small mistakes I made recently, they made me wiser and allowed me to play the game better.

If you are not making mistakes, you are not doing entrepreneurship right.

The person who does not make mistakes, is unlikely to make anything.

Make more small mistakes, new mistakes. He who makes the most mistakes wins.

The secret is not avoid mistakes, it is to embrace them more often.

The worst mistake is not to make any.

Dreams taken for granted

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Look at your life right now.

How much of your life is dreams you have taken for granted?

Maybe it is owning that nice car.

Maybe making your own money.

Or, perhaps, it is being with a partner you fell in love with.

It could also be that university education.

What about your job? Your kid? Your lovely home? Or, that neighborhood you have always wanted to stay in?

But, every time you realised a dream, you were probably off thinking about the next one.

Got into University? Seems like we should think about getting that job.

Got that job? Maybe it is time to start worrying about that career.

Meeting that loved one? Maybe having more friends will make you happier.

It is a never ending cycle.

And, as we run like ferrets from one day to the next, it is easy to forget that most of what we take for granted today was the stuff of our dreams a few years ago.

Yesterday, we wished we could have that. Today, now that we have it, we are off to the next challenge, turning our backs on dreams achieved.

Off course, there always is a reason to be dissatisfied.

There is always someone around us with the fancier home and the bigger car. But, it is easy to forget that our biggest dreams as kids revolved around wanting to earn our own money and to make our own decisions. And, voilà! Look at how well that turned out.

There will always be that next dream.

While pursuing these dreams makes our life what it is, just for today, let us stop for a moment, look around, take a deep breath and give thanks to this life.

Perhaps, as we look around, we will realise that we should stop spending as much time in the future that we are dreaming about.

For, it is very likely that we are already living a life that is the stuff of our dreams.