When to decide

Decide before it happens. Ahead of time, when it’s easy to decide, when you can plan a strategy – set up a game – that will make it easier for you to do what you want to do when the rubber hits the road.

If, for example, you want to be a runner, the time to decide whether or not you’re going to go for a run today is not in the morning when it’s cold and dark, ten minutes before your run.

You can gameify it. You can make a deal with yourself that you’re allowed stop running, but first you have to make it to the mailbox. You have to put on your shoes and your running clothes, and go out the door and run to the mailbox and then you’re allowed to make a decision that you’re too busy, or too tired to run.

Seth GodinAkimbo – The Wedding Industrial Complex

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Seth is spot on. I’d add a couple of things:

  • Make it as easy as possible for yourself – put your alarm out of reach so you have to get out of bed, have a cup of coffee or a drink in the fridge, find those socks, put out your shoes the night before. Get the thin end of the wedge** on your side.
  • Running clothes first. Shoes second.

**Apparently I’ve never posted on this – coming soon…

Starting line

Where’s the starting line?

Sometimes we’re a few steps further down the track than the people we want to take with us:  we’ve given it more thought, we’ve done it before. We want it more.

We’re so keen to get people over the finish-line that we don’t notice that they’re still milling around at the start – or even that they’ve chosen to stay in bed.

How far away are you? How many steps backward will you need to take if you want to take them with you?

What do you need to communicate? What are the thousand other important things that you don’t?

When are you going to stop talking about techniques for crossing the finishing line and help them to put on their shoes?

 

*see also: Clarity. Simplicity. Focus.

 

Crocapocalypse

Due to an unforeseen but crocastrophic mistake (or an unhelpful linking of two  different wordpress sites in my browser – not sure which), I accidentally deleted the entire contents of driverlesscroc last night.

In the absence of an equal and opposite category, I’m posting this under ‘Processes – ways to get things done’.

I’ll be restoring as many posts as I can get my hands on in the next few days.

Lessons learned:

Back up more often – my last back up was from October 18th.

Use Google Cache – google saves every site their webcrawler visits, which let me find most of the missing posts (click the little arrow next to the site link to visit the cached version).

Triple, quadruple check and don’t do such foolish things.

Anything yet: the hockey stick

Sustainable growth?

I was going to call this ‘the exponential function’, but I didn’t want to put you off.

This is a key force behind much of Anything Yet: if things grow steadily (say, at the rate of few percent per year) and continue to grow at that rate, it doesn’t take long for that growth to become enormous – we might say overwhelming, and we should also say all-consuming.

The classic line about this is from Dr Albert Bartlett,  Manhattan Project alumni and all-round interesting guy:

The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.

I’m not sure I’d go as far as that, but he makes an important point. Here are a couple of great introductions to the idea.

The first is from Chris Martenson’Crash Course:

I might come back to The Crash Course – the Incidental Economist a review expressing some caveats I have about it here.

The second is Albert Bartlett himself with a more involved but really helpful explanation:

Anything yet

Here’s the intuition:

  1. New technologies – including ideas, techniques and ways of thinking, as well as physical tools – very often come from the creative recombination* of old technologies
  2. There are more people in the world than ever before, and more of these people – an increasingly diverse set of people – have access to more technologies than ever before
  3. These same people are networked to more people than ever before. Each person who joins the network increases the number of potential connections – and the value of the network – exponentially.
  4. So we have more ideas mixing in a wider range of minds and environments than ever before, and far more potential for good ideas to be realised and to spread…
  5. … and as of about now, only about half of the world’s population is online.
  6. It takes longer than we think – perhaps a generation – for new technologies to really embed and make a noticeable difference.
  7. Conclusion: it might feel like we’re on the far side of the digital revolution – that computers have happened, the internet has happened, the world has changed – but it’s only just beginning.

We haven’t seen anything yet.

*: I first noticed this phrase in Tim O’Reilly‘s WTF: What’s the Future? but the idea runs through Walter Isaacson‘s The Innovators and Kevin Kelly‘s What Technology Wants to name a few. See WtF: Technology and You for more references.

Counting stamps

Examining the economics of the mail, he [Charles Babbage] pursued a counter-intuitive insight, that the significant cost comes not from the physical transport of paper packets but from their “verification” – the calculation of distances and the collection of correct fees – and thus he invented the modern idea of standardised postal rates.

James Gleick – The Information: a History, a Theory, a Flood

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Where in your work, your life, are you counting stamps when you could be sending packages?

Nit-picking or penny-counting might be costing you a lot more time, money, emotional labour, good-will than you think you’re saving.

Maybe you could standardise, or maybe counting stamps just isn’t worth your effort at all.

You can’t stay

As you start working for change, seeking success in whatever terms you define it, it’s worth asking yourself what you’re willing to give up to get it.

Change – at what cost, and to who?

You’re leaving the village behind, setting off to make your fortune – and it won’t be the same village when you get back, if you come back at all.

‘At what cost’ is a great question.

The flipside, of course, is that it wouldn’t be the same village if you stayed. Each day, day by day: a different you; a different they; a different village.

You can’t stay.

Or rather: you can never be here again. Not with these people, not quite like this.

Stay or go, you’re always leaving this village behind.

Datapoints

What the wizards at the various casinos have figured out how to do is wire up the slot machines so that they’re constantly playing with your need to feel lucky.

The slots don’t work the way they used to. First of all, the slot machine knows who you are, and what your history is. They’ve given you this card that promises all sorts of bonuses and prizes, but really it’s designed to allow the slot machine to play you like a violin.

Seth Godin – Akimbo – Games Matter

Data can be a powerful tool. Don’t use it like that.