Work hard, work smart

If you are like me, you push yourself to be better every day. The idea of “1% better” is what you strive for when you go about our day. You think about your processes and try to learn new tactics to make sure you’re operating to your maximum potential.

Learn, refine, experiment, and refine again.

Improvement is a reiterative process in efforts to be more efficient and effective the next time around. Part of optimizing your tactics requires you to considering your limitations.

This can include your weaknesses, blind spots, and your basic human needs. Strategizing without factoring in these details is counterproductive.

“One of the greatest indicators of our own spiritual maturity is revealed in how we respond to the weaknesses, the inexperience, and the potentially offensive actions of others.” – David A. Bednar

Know yourself, know your needs and weaknesses, and plan accordingly. If you do not, your needs and weaknesses will negatively impact your process in one form or another. For example, our basic human needs include sleeping, eating, and hydrating ourselves. If you decide to advance full power into your daily routines without satisfying these core needs, you will run out of steam and add detriment your body.

Work hard, but work smart.

Authenticity goes far

Why sell a fake version of yourself? Yes, we must impress people to get what we want, however we should showcase skills that are authentic to who we are.

I reached out to a seasoned marketing professional for advice earlier last week. This part of her response surprised me:

At the end of the day, people don’t buy your product, they buy YOU. The more authentic and vulnerable you are willing to show up in the world, the more people want to listen to what you have to offer. I have found that to be true through and through.

Think of all the ways we market ourselves: job searching, branding, sharing our stories. We try to show people ourselves, however often times, there is a plateau. We don’t get the response we want, or the validation we believe we deserve, so we give up. We sacrifice our authenticity and sell a different story. Possibly a story that is fake.

A great example is when people catfish when looking for dates. How would you feel if you were going into a date expecting one person when another person shows up? I would be extremely annoyed. I assume people we are marketing to feel the same way when we act out of character.

If we hit a plateau, let’s simply change our strategy. Gather data. Theorize. Test. And try again. Don’t give up. But keep testing. Find a better way to tell your story.

The market, at least the market you’re looking to serve, wants someone who they can trust. How can you build that trust? Show them you, the best parts of you, and actively work to strengthen the rest.

Everything can change in a day

Your life can change in a moment for better or for worse.

You hear back from that job. The diagnosis returns. A new law passes. Your loved one is taken away from you. You get be pregnant. The contract gets approved. Your work receives an award. There is a catastrophic car crash. You meet the love of your life.

Anything can happen any moment every day for the rest of our lives.

This statement makes me simultaneously exuberant and melancholy as memories are both spontaneous and fleeting. A beautiful poignancy, if you will.

Our pace of life is controllable to a degree. Whatever is out of our control must be met with patience and grace. Relinquish your control and let the universe take over. Instead, focus on what you can control. Control your reactions. Control how you deal with it.

Treasure the moments. 

Stay up that extra twenty minutes to finish the bedtime story. Push harder in that last mile. Book that flight and experience your dream vacation. Tell them “I love you”. Hug him tighter. Kiss her goodnight.

Life’s transitoriness is inevitable, however it is as much a blessing as it is a curse.

How else are we going be reminded to seize the day?

Change begins within

Think sad thoughts and you will become sad. Think happy thoughts and you will be happy. Smile and you will feel elated. Place your hands on your hips and you will feel powerful. Repeat to yourself that you are handsome and you will soon believe it. Tell yourself that you can do anything, and your body will mobilize to make it happen.

The mind-body connection is powerful. We can fool ourselves into becoming our ideal selves by allowing our bodies or minds to take the lead. If we can harness this connection, we can achieve our ultimate desires.

Whether you begin with the mental or somatic pathway is besides the point.

The point is, change begins within.

Feed your mind

“Miss a meal if you have to, but don’t miss a book.” – Jim Rohn

Read a book.
Watch a documentary.
Talk to a stranger.
Travel to another country in real life,
Or scour the globe via Google Earth.
Wander a new space.
Research an interesting topic.
Fall down an internet rabbit hole.
Visit a museum.
Listen to your grandparents’ stories.
Explore a new route.
Experiment with a new recipe.

Follow your curiosities.
Expand your worldview.
Invite your friends to join you.

It will make you that much more interesting.

Forget the mass, impact the special few

There is great satisfaction in impacting others, even if it is one person.

As I am in the midst of building my marketing knowledge, I am learning that it is important to focus on the smallest viable market: the smallest group of people who you choose to serve. The idea is, if you obsessively try to understand and cater to these special few, they will voluntarily spread the word about your product or service as a result of the value they derive from you. This also allows marketers to create a stronger brand, community, and projects that they are proud of.

“The relentless pursuit of mass will make you boring, because mass means average, it means the center of the curve, it requires you to offend no one and satisfy everyone.” – Seth Godin, This is Marketing

I experienced this firsthand earlier today when I received my first blog comment from a stranger. I was surprised to see that he felt strongly enough about blog post, compelling him to leave a comment. This comment was not just any comment but one of great depth and vulnerability. The joy that I received from that one comment reminded me of why I write these blog posts.

By focusing on impacting a special few, you are able to provide value to those who want to hear what you have to say.

“We must begin with a worldview, and invite people who share that worldview to join us. ‘I made this’ is a very different statement than, ‘What do you want?'”

This points back to the old adage, “Quality over quantity.”

In a world that is convoluted by the “more”, focus on the “better”.

Focus on impacting the special few. 

Measures of success

I love reading other people’s annual reviews just as much as I love writing my own. One of my favorite to read is Bill Gates’. This excerpt in particular resonated with me:

Today of course I still assess the quality of my work. But I also ask myself a whole other set of questions about my life. Did I devote enough time to my family? Did I learn enough new things? Did I develop new friendships and deepen old ones? These would have been laughable to me when I was 25, but as I get older, they are much more meaningful.

Melinda has helped broaden my thinking on this point. So has Warren Buffett, who says his measure of success is, “Do the people you care about love you back?” I think that is about as good a metric as you will find.

Our measures are dependent on our age, values, circumstances, and definition of success. It is important to step back every so often to ask, “Do my actions align with my measures?”. Alignment can be achieved by simple adjustments in our focus and strategies.

On another note, I admire how human thinking shifts when we age to focus on the more meaningful, intangible aspects of life. It makes you remember that though we are different in many ways, there also have undeniable commonalities that connect us all.