Day 462 – When to pull the plug?

Day 462Success is the result of many failures. Many stories have been told around successes and failures. One salient point is generally about persistence. But persistence is a two-edge sword. Persisting while you know you’ll get through the hurdles is good and necessary. However persisting beyond the point of complete failure is mad. How many businesses have persisted and bankrupted their owners and investors? Probably too many.

It’s interesting to discuss with professional traders and derive some learning. Successful traders are cold-blood human beings. They can weather storms, and we know there are violent storms in the stock exchange, but more than anybody else, they know when to get rid of a losing position> they will cut their losses before it’s too deep, for a simple reason: it’s better to lose one arm than both! But how do they do it? They follow a simple rule: they set a target and fire the action when the target is reached. There’s no emotion, just action!

The same should happen with any project you pursue! Set a limit, persist until you reach it and if you reach it, pull the plug! It may happen you never reach your limit so you may persist until you reach success. But the lesson here is to avoid being stupid in face of adversity. In each and every project, there is risk. Risk ties to our fears and fear is an emotion you need to go beyond. With a limit, you do not kill the risk nor the fear, you inoculate the emotion. It’s like a vaccine: you may catch the disease, but it will not be deadly! So to answer the question I asked in the title is fairly simple: set a limit and pull the plug when you reach it!

Day 461 – Debt

Day 461Debt is the price we pay to live in a modern world. Stop allowing a state to go into debt and most of our infrastructure will stop being maintained, large scale projects will not exist due to lack of funding. Debt can be good and debt can be bad, like most things in life by the way. However, with the various issues around debt in lots of countries and economies across the world, we may need to rethink progress. The world has grown so fast in the last century, so our debt. We will leave an almost dead planet to our kids and a debt they will make years to repay.

Although I am not a macro economist, not an economist, I keep thinking of debt has good and bad, depending on whether it’s generating wealth or not. I could had to this its neutrality to the environment. In other word, a wealth generating debt that is taxing our environment is bad and so is a non-wealth generating debt that is neutral or positive to our environment. Although we can question the latter in terms of wealth, since if it’s positive to the environment, then it’s generating a certain form of wealth.

Look at your debts. Get rid of those that are making other wealthy and keep those that are making yourself wealthy!

Day 460 – Scripting your life

Farmers shed in the fields along side a gravel roadMy former partner in business had a motto: “what is not written does not exist”. He was, and still is, right (or shall I play a pun, he’s write). If you do not write it, you cannot share it, you cannot keep it, you tend to forget it. This stands true for everything in life, including your life. What is planning your day? Writing the script of the day. What is writing your goals for the year or your resolutions? Writing the script for the day. What is being part of the 5AM Robin Sharma’s club? Scripting the first hour of your day. In other words, all those activities are about scripting your day.

When we talk script, we tend to think movies. Each movie has a script. A script contains, of course, the words the actors will need to say, as well as indication on how to play the scene. You will hear some directors stick to the script has it was Holy Scriptures, while others are loosely referring to it, letting actors play more “freely”. In all cases, a script is open to interpretation and therefore change. It’s not because it’s written that it should be played like it’s written, however, it if were not written, it probably could not be interpreted and changed. It’s because it exists it can be played differently.

This goes with our own life. It’s really, really important to have a very precise idea of what you want in your life, emotionally, psychologically, financially, socially, etc. Thinking precedes scripting, scripting allows clarity, clarity provides direction, direction drives action. You may and will deviate from your script, because you will have to weather a storm or answer an unexpected opportunity. The script will be your own North Pole. There’s no good wind for a ship that does not have a harbor. Do not delay the writing of your script, do it!

Day 459 – Flow

Water in motionThere are days that feels lighter than others. There’s levity in the air. Yesterday was one of those. When I started my morning jogging, my legs felt light and my pace was above average although I did not have the impression to make a conscious effort to run faster. My rule of thumb in those days is not to find the whys and the hows, but to leverage this levity into all the actions I am doing during the day.

It’s a great day to revisit your monthly, quarterly and yearly goals. Where are you on those? What are the ones that need to be put back on track? It’s a great day to tick all that is on your To-Do. Generally, everything flows easily during those light day. Actually, this state is described in psychology as the flow. I like this sentence that describes the flow: “the hallmark of flow is a feeling of spontaneous joy, even rapture, while performing a task.”

Above the joy, there’s the efficiency. You go fast, you go deep, but above all you go easy. So when you feel this flow, work with it, go along and do all that you have to do. Not only you will have done much more that an normal day, but you will have it done better and faster, and a surge of dopamine will flood your body! It feels good!

Day 458 – Be Brief, Be Bright, Be Gone!

Day 458Almost two years ago, I had written an article in the Le Matinal entitled the same way, posted on this blog, and translated here. I was then giving the 5 Ss of being brief, bright and gone. But what stroke me those last couple of days is how verbose people can be on topics they do not have a single ounce on influence on, nor understand the real influence it has on their lives. Not that chitchatting is not a pleasant activity once in a while. It’s sometimes relaxing to discuss futile topics. However, I tend to focus my life on what and how I can make a difference in the world, close or far.

For instance, read the whole noise around the elections in France or about the crash of the Germanwings flight. Of course those are important or dramatic topics that may impact millions of people. Now what influence do I (or you, individually) have on them? Probably none. Will they have an influence on me (or you)? Can I do something about this influence? If you do not live in a specific part of France, it has no real influence on you. On the flight security, it will have a possible positive influence if you are flying once in a while, but it may not really lead to a difference in the way to travel or make a decision on travel.

However, you cannot open a newspaper, listen to a radio broadcast without having news on one of those topics. So if you want to comment on things you do not influence or which do not have any influence direct or indirect on my or you, be brief, be bright and be gone. We all have 24 hours every day and spending any extra minute on topics that we cannot influence is just a list topic. It’s not being uninterested in the world, it’s just focusing on what you can really deliver!

Day 457 – How many books do you read a year?

Day 457Since the invention of writing, books have always fascinated and have contained all sorts of truths. Nowadays, with the advent of electronic books, the market of books has exploded and millions of new books are published every year. With this explosion, I feel I do not have time to read all the great books that are published every month. However, my Kindle is full of ebooks I have not read yet and my library full of paper books I have not read yet, so I am sure I have always a book to read. The one I am currently reading is changing my perception on how the brain works and how marketers are getting results. But I will post later on this one, because it requires at least one post.

So the question I asked is insightful on how you progress, you move your thinking forward, you learn new things to help you refine your craft. If I were to give a good number to really make progress tangible, I would give 52. One a week! And this should be the baseline. We some training on speed reading, you can probably go up to 100, fiction and non-fiction. Fiction is great for expanding your mind and non-fiction for expanding your art.

You may say that you do not have time to read books. Well you may have time to listen to audio books instead of the news during your commuting time for instance. You may say that you do not like reading or you do not know where to start: here’s a good pointer to start reading. It’s low cost and can be read on your tablet with the Kindle app. You may say that you do not know what to read: here is the list of 100 best fiction books by Wikipedia, and here the list of 100 best nonfiction books my The Modern Library (you will find top 100 novels here as well). So get a Kindle or go to the nearest library or book store, and start reading!

Day 456 – Are you doing things because they’re easy or because they’re hard?

Day 456As we were closing the first quarter of the calendar year 2015 yesterday, a colleague of mine came up with the fact that selling is not always easy, but we need to give our best to close deals. This made me think of the speech that JFK gave when he announced that the USA has engaged into going to the moon, and doing “these things not because they are easy but because they are hard”. Anybody can do easy things, a few can do hard things. Are you willing to go one step further or settle when things get tough?

There is a difference between being happy doing something hard and suffering doing something hard. We do something hard to grow, to expand our limits, to past our fears. The current world is teaching people to avoid risks, to insure everything including our lives, to avoid effort. The current world is creating the gap between people who get satisfied by doing easy things and people who get satisfied by doing hard things. And the current world, paranoid as it is, make people who are doing easy things angry against people who are doing hard things because they succeed.

Success is not about doing things because they’re easy, but because they’re hard. If you’re not doing hard things, things that challenge you, things that make you uncomfortable, things that force you to face your fears and win over them, then you are not pushing hard enough. Don’t get mad against others because they succeed more or faster, learn from them, look for what makes their success and work hard to enjoy the same success. Enough complaining and whining, act and win!

Day 455 – The Beauty And The Beast

Day 455The elections that have just happened in France were in all newspaper across the world because the ruling party (the socialist) has lost and the extreme right one (the front national) has tremendously grown although not really winning. And of course, everyone comments on the victory of the right wing against the left wing, and on the defeat of the left wing against the right wing. Politics are governed by cycles, like economy or civilization. And people comment and need to find reasons and predicts future outcomes… but people forget!

They forget that they made the same mistakes, took the same decisions, because they were impatient, because they are not taking the hard path to question the politics, to make them accountable to their promises. They listen to the media who happens to be as shortsighted as voters and to forget. Because media’s power is to tell stories, incredible stories, scary stories, emotional stories. There is beauty in the victory and a beast in the opponent!

The Beast for both wings was Marine Le Pen and the Front National. They won 62 seats out of 3,802… 1.63%, although they got 22.23% of total votes. As a reminder, in 1986, while another socialist was leading the country, François Mitterrand, the Front National got 35 MPs out of 577… just above 6%. But people forget and when they are recalled history, they shrug their shoulders and tell you this was different back then. The Beauty for the right wing is to have now 66 “départements”, winning 25 (totaling 65%). In 1988, under the presidency of François Mitterrand, the right wings had 68 “départements” (totaling 72%, because of a total back then of 95).

If politicians were elected on the results they achieved, very few would be elected! If politicians were elected on their proven competencies, very few would be elected! There will always be beauties and beasts in politics. What voters should do is pay a visit to their candidates, ask questions, seek answers, cast their votes, hold their champions accountable and keep moving. Never ever forget and be brave!

Day 454 – Why would or could, when you can and will?

Day 454Although I am not a native English speaker, I feel a major difference between would and could, and will and can. Of course, you will say that would is the past tense of will or that would expresses a polite request. However, the Oxford dictionary also gives those definitions: indicating the consequence of an imagined event or situation; expressing a desire or inclination; expressing a conjecture, opinion, or hope; and expressing a wish or regret. All those definitions express an opinion or describes a situation that may not exist. By the way, when Barack Obama was elected he said, yes we can, not we could.

To me, using would or could is a way to say that there is a risk of failure, and if it does not happen, well, it does not happen, fail, done! Using will or can is a way to say that you will do whatever it takes to make it succeed. It may still fail, but you believe it will succeed. Words are a simple and powerful to express what we believe. We have only one life, and this should be a life of will and can, not a life of would and could. Have a look at where you are and where you want to be, then believe you can, and you will!

Day 453 – Sunday is YOUR day!

J 453Sunday is the day of the Sun. The day for you. In some countries Sunday is the first day of the week. Fine, then your Saturday is my Sunday and this is the same. The main point of Sunday is to take time for you! Sometimes we feel we have very, very little time in the week due to our professional rhythm. Well Sunday should be actually named Funday! The day of the fun. The one day of the week that you can devote to do things selfishly for you and for you only. Take an hour to paint, to run, to visit a museum, to see a movie, to relax in the couch with a good book. This time is crucial to your balance. Make it uninterruptible and have fun!