Rosalind Winton’s Link From The Past

My project to produce a movie from my book Love Is Never Past Tense led me to Stage 32, an online community of 500,000 creatives. When I started to engage with them, an editor invited me to write a…

Source: Rosalind Winton’s Link From The Past

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Raising Your Standards

Success is about staying consistent. Staying consistent is about standards. Poor standards limit success. If you raise your standards, you raise your consistency and your success–the triangle of success grows.

Darren Hardy recently posted a video with his thoughts on the value of consistency in achieving success. I think that ‘s only true if you can consistently raise your standards to their highest level. It is easy to be consistent at a level that doesn’t achieve success.

As a programmer, my first programs were good enough to meet my client’s requirements and my boss’s expectations. If I had stayed consistent at it, I would have achieved a limited version of success. Many of my peers did exactly that.

I started to recognize a model within the programs I wrote. I could copy a program that was already working, delete its unique features, replace other items in the original program with their analogs for the new one, and write the unique part of the new program. An inventory update program became the start of an accounts receivable update program. This cut my writing time in half and was f my standard practice for a while.

Then I realized that changing the “inventory” identifier to “account” added no value but introduced changes throughout my model. I could apply the changes consistently or eliminate the labels and make the code itself consistent. I did neither.

Instead, I eliminated the labels and pulled all the consistent code into a standardized set of modules. Then I built a new standard reference program to tie the pieces together in a standard way and built a utility to make changes needed in the reference program. This package became my new standard, and with it a complex update program became a consistently reproducible process anybody could use. I had a new standard, a new level of consistency, a new measure of success. Work that took weeks could be dome in minutes.

Hardy’s video refers to the familiar story of the tortoise and the hare. It is a great place to start. To that familiar race, let’s add a puppy, who at birth can barely move and needs his mother to survive. Day by day, his consistent growth makes him bigger, stronger, faster.

Success can be achieved by being consistent, but only if the level of consistency is high enough (a good enough standard) and you have enough time. A rabbit lives twelve years, a dog  twenty, a tortoise two hundred. How much time do you have for success? How long do you want it to take?

In our competitive world, yesterday’s high standard may be barely adequate today and irrelevant tomorrow. The world is littered with standards that have been made obsolete — VHS tapes and floppy disks being obvious examples. Continuous improvement needs to be a goal we aspire to even for our standards.

Continuous improvement needs to be a goal we aspire to even for our standards.

I was never an athlete as a child and spent most of my adult life as a couch potato. A few years ago, I changed my habits, raised my standards, and lost 35 pounds. They stay off because my new standard is high enough to maintain my weight. If I want more, I need to raise my standard. Perhaps you do too.

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Stop

The Greek king Sisyphus was punished for his hubris by being required to push a heavy boulder uphill, only to have it roll down the hill so he had to do it again and again. He had no choice. You and I do.

In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins discovered several differences which made companies great. One which you can do for yourself is to develop a stop doing list. We all do things that are counterproductive because we don’t know better. The stop doing list is for When we know better and combine to do then anyway out of habit

What we should stop doing is different for each person, but one indicator is to look for activity that is taxed and controlled. Here are some examples you can start with.

Stop Smoking

Smoking is overwhelmingly stupid on any level you want to consider. If you are smoking, it should be at the top of your stop doing list. Apart from well documented health risks,the direct cost of one pack a day is $2500 per year.

Stop Playing Lottery

If a lottery ticket is an occasional impulse buy, fine. No, not really, but I am more concerned about habitual purchases. A friend of mine’s parents put ten or twenty dollars a week into the lottery. They may have helped fund the state school system, but he is still funding his own way through college.

Watch Your Latte

In Automatic Millionaire, David Bach shows how a daily Latte over the length of a working life hanse huge impact on money available for savings and investment. The majority of that windfall comes from creating passive income opportunities from money not spent on coffee, but step one is curbing the habit itself. Substitute any recurring expense for coffee and do the math yourself.

Your Own Habits

Are you eating things you know you shouldn’t?

Are you wasting time on projects you don’t care about?

What are you doing that does not make sense?

Next Actions

Make a list of things you know you should stop doing, then develop a plan to stop doing them. Give yourself reasons to stop and develop ways of breaking the routines that are part of the habits. Worry about what you’ll do instead later. For now, think about what you should stop doing and how that alone can improve your life.

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Deep Work by Cal Newport

Whether you read David Allen on stress-free productivity, Brian Tracy on eating the biggest frog first, or almost anything in the domain of personal productivity, the theme is juggling your actions. Newport argues that for people dealing with intensecomplexity or creativity you need to carve out significant blocks of time for what he calls deep work.

Deep WorkThis isn’t about multitasking or task switching. The book focuses on why and how to create an environment where deep work is possible, and shares stories of people who have done it successfully. He gets into more detail, but the key ideas are to block out the time and cut out the distractions.

You won’t find anything new or astonishing on blocking out time here. Newport methodically walks through all the logical possibilities but in the end it is a matter of what works.

As for cutting out distraction, there is a lot of actionable advice, some of which may call for serious reflection. High on that list is cutting out social media. You may not be ready to do that, but perhaps you could get them off your phone and out the way. Newport walks his talk here–no Twitter account.

Not everybody needs to do deep work, but there are fewer exceptions than we realize. The book didn’t help me block out time, but it did help me think.

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The School of Greatness by Lewis Howes

For the past few years, Lewis Howes has been hosting a podcast he calls the School of Greatness. During a typical program, he will interview an expert on personal development or some related topic. His skill as a podcaster, the quality of the guests, and the value to listeners continue to go through a positive feedback loop.

Many of his guests are authors, trainers, and educators–what else would you expect at a school? His goal us to help his listeners develop a lifestyle of their win choosing. Now he has released a book with the same goal. For example:
When you want to lose weight and keep it off, you don’t go on a diet, because diets are about artificial restriction. They’re miserable. Instead, change your lifestyle to match your goals.

School of Greatness
This book is about changing your lifestyle to match your goals, a step by step process that can help you take control of your life and destiny.

The School of Greatness: A Real-World Guide to Living Bigger, Loving Deeper, and Leaving a Legacy https://www.amazon.com/dp/1623365961/ref=cm_sw_r_awd_VWsowb0XQAQDD

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The Perils of Automatic Dog Feeding

The world is rarely a series of dominoes lined up to fall in a pattern. It’s not even a Rube Goldberg device going through bizarre motions to a carefully calculated result. More often, it is like the complex automatic dog feeding machine Doc Brown created in Back To The Future, a process in motion unaware that it is making a mess because Einstein (the dog) wasn’t around to eat the food it served up. There was no feedback loop in the system, nobody to realize the situation had changed, no way to respond by turning the device off.  

Focus and Feedback

Doc Brown’s invention had no feedback. For us, the problem is that feedback gets overwhelmed by noise or deflected by focus. We create focus by selectively ignoring everything except the issue at hand. This is useful, until it isn’t. When Einstein isn’t around to be fed, when unexpected things happen in our lives, we need awareness, feedback, reflection and response. 

Awareness

We need awareness to realize that something may go wrong at any moment. We all understand this, but focusing on one thing may make us deaf to another. Focus is a critical success tool, but so is shifting focus when we become aware of new information, new problems, or new opportunities. 

Feedback

In one sense, feedback is free. When we do something, the world responds. If we notice the response, that is feedback, but not very effective feedback because it leaves the decision about significance to others. Unless something is important to them, they minimize reaction and thus minimize feedback. They don’t complain when they could because something else is more important. 

“Actively seek and carefully consider negative feedback.” ~ Elon Musk

Serial entrepreneur Elon Musk advises us to “actively seek and carefully consider negative feedback.” His point is that feedback is critical to solving problems. We must do more than listen for feedback; we must ask for it.

As Mr. Musk points out, we need to carefully consider the feedback we get. The feedback we get from competitors or enemies may be intended to mislead us, but it may have value. Only we can decide what the feedback means for us. 

Reflection

Once we have listened to the world, there is one more voice to hear., the one inside our head. We need to take a moment of reflection to gauge our own feelings. 90% of the feedback that matters is internal. Feedback is vital, but hear your own heart first.  

90% of the feedback that matters is internal.

Response

The thing about negative feedback is that if you don’t respond there are only two possible outcomes: more damage or disaster. These are still possible outcomes if you do respond, but a response creates the possibility of less damage or the desired outcome. We drive cars safely by repeated response to continuous feedback. 

Summary

Awareness will make it possible to detect feedback.

Feedback tells us we are off course. 

Reflection gives us time to adjust appropriately. 

Response is the only chance for a better outcome. 

Don’t let the feedback from the world overwhelm your internal voice.  

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False Choices

“Better 100 friends than 100 rubles.”~ Russian proverb

I don’t always agree with proverbs, and I don’t agree with this one. While I believe that friends are more important than money, I think the proverb is inspiring a false choice. Both are good and you can have both.

In his book “Secrets of the Millionaire Mind” T. Harv Eker points out that rich people think “and”, the rest of us think “or”. By thinking or, that we must choose one and not the other, we are making a choice when no choice is required–a false choice.
We can also make a bad decision by using or to justify a bad decision. Should we eat the fries or the dessert? Neither. Sometimes the right choice is to do nothing, or at least none of the above.

When at a restaurant, look for what you’ll wish you had eaten, not for what looks good. It all looks good, right.

As a computer programmer, I learned that “and”, “or” and not are logical filters that can precisely control what to include or exclude. When they are needed and used appropriately good things happen.
So listen for the words: and, or, not. Ask yourself why, and why not.

Fries or dessert? Why not neither?
100 friends or 100 rubles? Why not both? Why not 1000?

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