I’ve been reading (and listening to) a fair amount of Derek Sivers recently, and he gave me permission to launch a new blog post series I’ve been contemplating. I’m starting the series for my own purposes, as beyond me it will probably have all the appeal of a snow cone stand in Siberia.
I thought it would be fun – even if it’s only fun for me – to give a behind-the-scenes view on the creation of some of the things I write. I won’t do it for every post, but there are a few where I enjoy reliving the journey from concept to final product. This particular one follows the actual post directly (or fairly close), but moving forward I’ll probably reach back a few posts or more to tell the story. Due to the nature of this series, the writing will be a lot more casual and “stream of consciousness” than my normal posts. (This is where the savvy reader thinks and that’s different how, exactly?)
Too often and too quickly we rush to judge, decide, and label an event as soon as it happens. Of the four religions/philosophies I have spent time studying, all of them caution against this rush to judgement. I was guilty of it myself this week, and it reminded me of one of my favorite Buddhist/Taoist fables.
Inspired in part by Derek Sivers, and in part by Michael Pollan (“Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much.”), here is everything I will be writing about over the next five years distilled down into a few simple statements.
Establish goals and work backwards.
Take action. Start now.
Create a no exceptions policy around the “engine” driving you towards your goals.
That’s it. I’ll be expanding upon those three points and ideas related to those three points for the next five years. I won’t run out of things to say. I currently have a backlog of 44 writing topics lined up for my next 44 posts. And generally for every one post I finish, I add two more topics to the list. But you don’t need to read any of them. Just follow the three directives above and you’ll be able to accomplish practically anything you set your mind to.
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What stops someone from taking action? Why invest so much time in what they are going to do only to never start? How can they plan a journey of a thousand miles and never take the first step?
Establish Goals. Take Action. No Exceptions. These are the three core concepts to my method of accomplishing the biggest goals and dreams any individual or organization may have. Of the three, the one that seems the simplest and without need for explanation – Take Action – is actually the one concept where I see most projects and goals stumble, fall, and collapse. An average plan haphazardly followed will beat a perfect plan that remains locked in a drawer every single time.
If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.
A very special week (March 27th – April 2nd, 2017) is upon us and the majority of people will plow through it unaware. It’s the first “lucky” week of 2017. Don’t treat it like just another 1 of 52. Put this week to work for you and make it – along with the 3 others in 2017 that follow it – one of your best weeks of the year. I’m referring to the 13th week of the year.
The number 13 conjures up a lot of unnecessary paranoia and superstition. Many buildings – especially casino hotels – go straight from floor 12 to 14. Friday the 13th can’t go by without commentary from both news anchors and office busy-bodies. The number 13 is so rare on a sports uniform that when someone does wear it, they stand out. What’s the big deal with the number 13 anyway and why is it considered to be so unlucky?
Walt Disney surveyed the area and felt a wave of disgust – squalor surrounded him. The ground was dirty and covered with litter, the ride operators were unfriendly, the paint was cracking on one of the rides, but worse than any of that, the parents looked positively bored. Walt decided to do the opposite of everything he saw around him at this shoddy and depressing local amusement park, and in that moment, the idea for Disneyland was born.
Now, almost 70 years after that particular Sunday afternoon in 1948, people stroll into Universal Studios Florida, Six Flags, Cedar Point in Sandusky Ohio, or any of the 6 Disney Parks locations around the world and take for granted the high level of expectation they have for the experience – the quality and quantity of rides, cleanliness of the parks, and helpfulness and politeness of the staff. But it wasn’t always that way. Disgusted by just about every aspect Walt had observed first-hand, the original Disneyland was built on the principle of doing the opposite of EVERYTHING from all the other amusement parks he visited with his young daughters on Sunday afternoons.
Though small, the gap you see in the right-hand column of the respond model makes a big difference. It is THE difference between reacting and responding. This gap is where character, maturity, and wisdom reside.
Respond or React?
When something unexpected occurs, do you respond to it or do you react to it? Zig Ziglar said, “When you respond to life that’s positive, when you react to life that’s negative.” Zig goes on to make the comparison to medicine. If it works, it means your body is responding to it, if instead the side effects are kicking in, the doctor tells you that your body is reacting to the medicine.
Also, think about why they call it a nuclear reactor and why they call them first responders and not the other way around. If you’ve been in an accident and are hurt, do you want a first reactor rushing to the scene? Or would you prefer they be a first responder?
Respond or react? It’s a subtle difference in the decision with a substantial difference in the results. Be aware of the choice you make.