We only have a few days left in 2022. I can’t believe it! Instead of making resolutions this year which seem to inevitably fail, what about concentrating on forming new habits? With new habits you change your behavior and you get results. Building new habits is more powerful and more effective than making resolutions. James Clear’s classic book Atomic Habit s is a new way at looking at habits that I found life changing.
Clear teaches how small incremental changes build up over time to big results. What is one small change you can make for 2023 that will build up over the year? Maybe is it walking around the block every morning. If you walk around the block every morning for a year, you will have walked a lot of miles and be in much better shape than when you started in January. Or if you stop putting sugar in your coffee, by the end of the year you will have cut out thousands of calories, maybe lost weight, and definitely see improvement in your energy and overall health.
Instead of thinking big, think small! Once you have mastered a new habit, move on to the next one. So often we get discouraged because we try to make too many big changes at one time, and we end up not accomplishing any of them. Celebrate your small victories and use that success to fuel your momentum. The more you are able to hit your small changes, the better you’re going to feel about yourself and you’ll get a snowball effect of success.
Comment and let me know what you’re working on. Have a very happy holiday weekend!
Next week we’ll be talking about some quick ways you can plan your projects for the year.
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Last week we talked about how to be undisruptable in our careers by adopting a mindset of permanent reinvention. This week I’m going to share my two big takeaways from
The Long Game: How to be a Long-Term Thinker in a Short-Term World by Dorie Clark.
Having the perspective of a long-term thinker means setting big goals and a vision for your life and recognizing that it will take years to achieve. In fact, Clark recommends thinking in decades. This years long approach to the vision of your life may seem a bit of a bummer, but as she says, the time is going to pass anyway. Why not have a road map that you can follow to get the life that you want?
Being a long-term thinker doesn’t mean that you can’t pivot quickly to changes or setbacks. In fact, some of what Clark talks about crosses over with the Infinity Curve of permanent reinvention that we discussed last week. Her thesis is that if we point ourselves toward the North Star of the future that we want and take small steps to get there every day, eventually we will. She calls this focus strategic patience. I love this term because it is a new way of practicing patience, which always feels still, actively.
Here are two of the ways of thinking she suggests to be a long- term thinker.
Think in Waves
As we navigate our careers, it is easy to feel overwhelmed because there is so much that we feel we need to be doing in order to move forward. You can’t do it all; at least not all at once. Instead follow the Career Waves where you sequence between:
Learning – Study your career field so that you become an expert. Read books, subscribe to newsletters, take video courses, listen to podcasts, watch documentaries. Read biographies of people that you admire whose careers you want to emulate. How did they get to where they are? What can you take from their journey? Read the trade papers of your industry so that you can keep up with current events and trends.
Creating – Creating content shares your expertise and makes you an expert, giving people a way to discover you. Create using your strengths, the way you are the most comfortable. You can write articles, newsletters, and books. Or give speeches and conduct webinars. Host a podcast and make videos. Or even create visual art.
Connecting – Now that your content is getting noticed, use it as a way to meet people in your field. Work on creating your network. Start with trade organizations and your alumni groups. Use Meetups and Facebook groups to find people to connect with. If you don’t find a group that is exactly what you are looking for, start it!
Reaping – You’re at the top of your field, making money, and have prestige. It’s time to enjoy the benefits of your hard work.
Then like the Infinity Curve, the cycle starts again. It’s time to move on and learn something new.
From the book: Like ocean tides we need to learn to ride each wave and transition into next. Trying to hold onto a wave for too long leads to frustration and stagnation. But when you can absorb the lessons of each and gracefully shift, it enables you to keep growing, developing, and moving forward.
20% time is a Google method of spending 20% of your time experimenting and innovating. Famously Google Mail and News came out of this policy. The challenge is to carve out that free time. To find your 20% set boundaries for your work. For example, maybe stop work every day at 6:00. Or block out two hours every Wednesday afternoon for your 20%. Also, you may have to give up other habits that are eating up your free time like binging Netflix or playing video games. Don’t give them up entirely, just cut down on the amount of time you’re doing them to make room for your 20% of innovation.
20% time gives you permission to explore your interests and see what works while the stakes are low. Without time to explore and experiment, you can expect a lifetime of doing the same thing over and over again. But with steady consistent effort, 20% time can lead to life changing returns.
Even if you have no idea what your ultimate goal is, embracing 20% time is still a good idea. Some of us may already have a general sense of where we want to go but aren’t sure of the path to get there. 20% time can help you with that too. Another reason 20% time is so valuable is that new efforts often take a while to transform into a source of income. All side hustles that blossom into money making operations start out as 20% time.
What is something I am interested in that I can do a deep dive on?
What can I create? You can start small with a 60 second video or a two paragraph article.
What group can I join to broaden my professional network?
If I’m in a period of reaping, what’s next!?
How can I find my 20% time?
Where can I schedule it? Or what boundaries do I have to set?
What habits do I need to cut down on to find my 20% time?
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It’s the first day of the last month of 2022. Whew! Amid the whirl of holiday plans and wrapping up the business of this year, it’s time to start planning for next year. Thinking ahead can seem daunting when you are focused on what’s in front of you. Instead of talking about setting goals and resolutions, we’re going to spend the next four weeks discussing how adopting new ways of thinking can help us, not only with our goals for the coming year, but the vision for our life.
With the disruption of the lockdowns, I noticed a pattern in my own career. In the past, I have focused on doing a good job, which meant I was always reacting to events, instead of anticipating them. Striving to do a good job is a wonderful quality in a creator and an employee. But in today’s fast changing world, thinking strategically and being able to pivot are valuable skills to cultivate.
Undisruptable: A Mindset of Permanent Reinvention by Aidan McCullen
I read this book so you don’t have to! Here are the takeaways.
S Curves: A Framework for Permanent Reinvention
McCullen’s big idea is that the moment you are the most successful, that is the time to reinvent yourself because paradoxically you are already declining. This idea is both depressing and empowering. Depressing, because if you are at the top of your game, who wants to think about failing? And empowering because the S Curve offers a framework to keep evolving and thus keep succeeding.
The difficulty lies in recognizing we have reached the peak and what we can do to prevent the decline. When everything is going right, it is easy to feel like failure is impossible. Consequently, when we are at our most successful, we are also at our most vulnerable. To stay relevant, we must be constantly learning and evolving, both in our careers and life. The willingness to be flexible, agile, and adaptable is at the heart of permanent reinvention.
This is what McCullen’s S Curve looks like.
The S Curve Phases
Phase One: An idea. Your idea may be a new career, project, or skill you want to learn.
Phase Two: The beginning. A new career or learning a new skill or role. For example, you are writing your first few screenplays.
Phase Three: Things are going great! You have been promoted or mastered a new skill. As a creative you are making money and getting attention with your projects.
Phase Four: Success! Danger! The Success Trap. After succeeding, you rest on your laurels, believing that you know everything and stop learning and growing. You keep doing what you’re doing and feel threatened when anyone suggests that you could do it better or another way.
Phase Five: Stagnation, decline, and decay.
Phase Six: Jump the S Curve! You transition from success you have achieved today to possible successes tomorrow.
Jumping the S Curve: Building New Skills
Building capability before you need it allows you jump the S Curve. Notice how the second curve starts long before we reach the peak of the first one. To jump you must start the second curve at the same time you climb the first, not when the first one is declining. What this means is that when you are successful, that is the time to create a new vision and learn new skills.
The key is to change long before you need to because by the time we realize we need to change, it is often too late. In happy times it is easier to try new things and recover from mistakes. Even more challenging, jumping to a new curve always looks like a step backwards and you never know when to jump. To stay ahead of the curve (pun intended) you must always be jumping – that is the mindset of permanent reinvention.
The Infinity Curve: Always Be Jumping
In our new mode of permanent reinvention, the S Curve turns into an Infinity Curve.
If you want success and growth in the future, the best time to act is now. The secret to living in an Infinity Curve is to let go of what no longer works for you and learn skills which will work in and for your future. To operate like this, we must reframe our relationship with change, seeing it as an opportunity rather than a threat.
How to Live in Permanent Reinvention
Change brings resistance because people are comfortable with the status quo. Whether it is suggesting a new idea at work or starting a new exercise routine, you will feel resistance from others and yourself. See this resistance as a milestone. We can expect pushback when pushing boundaries. Resistance is a natural part of any transformation.
When you try new things, often you fail. And if you never fail, you never move forward. Failing and making mistakes is how we learn. McCullen says there are always assets in the ashes if you take the time to look for them. Mistakes are only failures if we don’t learn from them. Work on finding the assets in your ashes and bouncing back quickly.
Embrace Cycles – the Highs & Lows
Seeing life as a series of cycles makes it easier to let the hard times go. You know the good times will come around again. When things don’t work out as planned, you still gain valuable lessons. In an Infinity Curve the highs will outweigh the lows.
As Ryan Holiday says, “the obstacle is the way.” Failures often reveal something much better than you had envisioned. Understand there is a positive with every negative. That when you have a negative encounter, you know it is temporary and a positive experience is on the way.
Fear is an intrinsic part of the S Curve in the beginning, but it dissipates as you climb the curve. In permanent reinvention mindset, you recognize fear as growing pains. These growing pains are the fuel of the Infinity Curve. There is no destination. Every time we become comfortable, we enjoy the crest of the wave, but we don’t sit still. We add a little bit more and more discomfort until we become comfortable and then the cycle starts again.
When crises happen in life, they are devastating in the moment, but potentially reveal opportunities. By shaking us from our existing paths, unforeseen paths are uncovered. To adapt and benefit from the change, we must be flexible and ready. A crisis can be viewed as danger or an opportunity.
Let Go of the Past
Letting go of mindsets that served us in the past, makes room for new ones that will shape our future. Do you want to be defined by your record of the past or driven by your vision of the future?
Conclusion: Don’t wait for the storm to hit; get ahead of it.
To stay on the Infinity curve we must stay hungry, keep learning and continually evolve. When you have a big success, enjoy it. Also, ask yourself what is next. What is my next step? What skills do I need to make it happen? Stay curious. Stay humble. And ride the Infinity Curve.
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The Hero’s Journey is the the story structure of the lone hero’s struggle to defeat a great evil and be changed by the adventure. In his classic book The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell noticed this pattern in ancient myths and legends. His premise is that the Hero’s Journey is repeated over and over in stories from Odysseus to our present day summer blockbusters. Many story analysts believe that every story is a Hero’s Journey, following the same basic beats. Christopher Vogler in The Writer’s Journey, took the Hero’s Journey a step further, showing how it works in modern genres from the western to romance. But while the Hero’s Journey continues to be the bones of many stories, there are plenty of stories that do not quite fit the mold.
This is where Gail Carriger and her story structure of The Heroine’s Journey step in. Gail writes comedic steampunk fantasy and is one of my favorite authors. She is also a genius about writing structure, genre, and tropes. In her book, she explains how the Heroine’s Journey differs from the Hero’s Journey and why both perspectives are significant.
Before we get into how the journeys are different, it is important to explain that the Hero and Heroine’s Journeys have nothing to do with the gender of the protagonists. Instead, whether your story is a Hero or Heroine Journey has to do with how your protagonists approach their adventure. In other words, men can go on Heroines’ Journeys and women can go on Heroes’ Journeys.
From the book:
The Hero’s Journey in one pithy sentence:
Increasingly isolated protagonist stomps around prodding evil with pointy bits, eventually fatally prods baddie, gains glory & honor
The Heroine’s Journey in one pithy sentence:
Increasingly networked protagonist strides around with good friends, prodding them and others on to victory, together.
The Heroine’s Journey is different from the Hero’s Journey in five significant ways:
The hero goes on his journey to defeat an enemy or find a treasure or both.
The heroine is concerned with networking with others and finding a family.
A hero is active in pursuit of his goal.
A heroine is a builder and a general. She sees skills and strengths in others and knows how to use them.
A hero must eventually go it alone. Asking for help is a sign of weakness.
A heroine is stronger the more companions she has.
When a hero is at his most powerful in his adventure, usually fighting the bad guy, he is alone.
When a heroine has her most powerful moments in her adventure, she is with others.
A hero ends up alone. He has either grown too powerful or changed too much to fit back into the ordinary world.
The heroine gets a happy ending, surrounded by friends and family.
There is a lot to unpack here. In the book there is more detail including the mythic origins of the Heroine’s Journey, contemporary examples of both journeys, and tips on how to write the Heroine’s Journey. I am excited to have this new structure in my story toolbox and I hope you are too!
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I’ve always known that Robert’s Rules of Order are used to run a meeting, but I never thought about what that meant until a couple of weeks ago when I went to my first HOA meeting, which was a train wreck. It started with an invitation to the meeting in a giant office building with no mention of the room number and went downhill into hostility, eye rolling, and name calling. So I am boning up on Robert’s Rules of Order to be prepared not only for the next HOA meeting, but also other club meetings.
So what are Robert’s Rules of Order
They are a group of rules that were written in 1876 by Brigadier General Henry Robert III, after he was asked to run a meeting at his church and failed miserably. What Robert did, was to simplify the parliamentary rules that were used in the British Parliament, and those rules date all the way back to the ancient Greeks. These are rules about how to run a meeting, how to have debates, how to accomplish business, and how to get to keep things moving, all without resorting to name calling and letting everybody have a chance to speak. They are used in everything from the United States Congress to school board meetings and club meetings. Understanding Robert’s Rules of Order is a great thing to have in your arsenal when you’re going to a meeting and in your general life knowledge. What I like about this book is that it boils down Robert’s Rules of Order and shows real life examples of how they’re used. And it is short so you can read it in an afternoon. I will keep you posted on how the next HOA meeting goes. But in the meantime, I encourage anybody that’s involved in a club or attending any meeting planning to speak, to go knowing how to use the Rules. Now more than ever we need to know how to speak out and listen to others in the right way.
From the book:Robert’s Rules of Order can be relied on to establish a baseline of decorum, as well as a process for bringing issues to the floor, holding debate, and coming to a vote. Robert sets out not only basic principles involved in holding and running a productive meeting, but also the procedures that allow group members to make decisions and move forward. These principles and procedures let every member of the group be heard, propose ideas, and have his or her ideas and input treated fairly and respectfully. They also establish a procedure for selecting leaders, determining the size of a majority, and protecting the rights of the minority.
Fun Fact: There have been twelve editions of Robert’s Rules of Order. The most recent one was published in 2020.