I run a small consulting firm, and I’m the (volunteer) Executive Director of a growing nonprofit. I see a lot of different people in very personal, intimate, nitty-gritty detailed situations.
I see my clients — usually founders, CEOs, or high-level executives— and I get a unique window into their staff and partners. I see who is performing and who isn’t.
On the charity side, we have a core team of around 9 people, and another 10-15 on the edges of the organization who help out from time to time.
And here is one of the biggest predictors of success —
The most successful people do every action they can take right up until hitting a barrier, and try to break through the barrier at least a couple times before stopping to analyze or ask for help.
This does not come naturally to analytical and thinking people. It does not come natural to people who are conservative, cautious, or have a significant fear of failure.
I’m naturally analytical. I did not naturally follow this successful pattern. I did the opposite.
I would see a barrier on the horizon, and I’d sit down on the ground and get worried about it. I would start feeling a little bad, and maybe ask for help. Sometimes — most embarrassingly to confess — I would just quit at that stage.
I wanted guarantees of success. I wasn’t willing to put in the intensive action until I was sure things would work.
This, of course, is a near-fatal flaw to building successful organizations and achieving large things.
Art Williams, the billionaire founder of AL Williams and Associates, said: “I don’t believe it’s possible for smart people to succeed. They’re too busy figuring things out to actually do anything.”
Hyperbole aside, the man makes a point. When you complete all the work in your capability even when you see a potential roadblock, the world opens up for you.
Often you’ll discover the solution yourself as you do the work. In the rare instances that you don’t, all the work and momentum you’ve built makes you credible — and makes it easy to ask and get a helping hand.
Remember this: if you see a wall on the horizon, march right up to it. And take at least a couple shots to knock it over before you’re discouraged.
Don’t ignore the barriers. Do give them thought. But never at the expense of doing the work.
Sebastian Marshall authors The Strategic Review, actionable long-form insights from strategy. You can get a free subscription at http://www.thestrategicreview.net — if you’re looking for an excellent volunteer opportunity that helps you get excellent contacts, build very valuable skills, and do good for the world, you can email email@example.com
“I am, somehow, less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein’s brain than in the near certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweatshops.” - Stephen Jay Gould
I love this quote. More than anything else I've heard, this sums up why I believe everyone should do what they can to help others. If we can come together and solve basic problems for everyone in the world, all of humanity will benefit from the increases in the collective knowledge. Just imagine if Einstein or Newton had been born in a situation where every single day the only task was to find food and clean water. As Gould says, this is very likely the case with other individuals of equal talent right now.
There are plenty of problems to fix, and plenty of reasons that each of them remains a problem. I guess this is just a good reminder of how philanthropy and other investments can ultimately pay back a thousand times.
My heart broke and melted at the same time. I was listening from the top of the stairs during a playdate between my daughter Zoe, her BFF, and her other good friend. Her BFF kept complaining about the third friend who was 2 years younger than the two, "Why does Joey (name changed) have to be here? He's a baby and no fun. I bet he'll just mess things up." Joey's feelings were obviously hurt. Before I could process what was happening within the group dynamics I heard my daughter say directly and plainly, "Suzy (name changed), you are being mean. I know you are a nice person but if you keep acting this way Joey will think you are mean too, and no one will want to play with you." Suzy stopped being mean and they all played together without further incident.
My heart broke because at 6 years old, my kid was already experiencing and navigating through bullying behavior. (This wasn't the first time Suzy had tried to exclude others from their play group). How does it come to be that these beautiful children, blank slates of new beings, were already picking on each other and making others feel unwelcome. Remember life as a six year old? All you wanted to do was fit in and be included in your social group. And yet, I had a brave daughter who risked being ostracized from the only world she knew, to right a social wrong.
I've asked Zoe many times why she continues to want to play with Suzy who can be mean, and she replied with such sweet and simple wisdom, "I do bad things sometimes and you still love me." My heart melted. How can I argue with the natural law of love? Universal love finally made sense to me.
Imagine if we, as adults, adopted that philosophy. If we loved each person we met, the same way we loved our own children. Wow! My mind was blown. I forgive my daughter for her mistakes because I love her. Could I apply that same unconditional love to all of mankind? Philosophically my higher brain knows this is the right way to live but my sometimes-louder reactionary lower brain likes to mutter 'idiot driver' when someone cuts me off on the road.
I am an experimentalist. If you can prove 2 things to me, then I'll try it at least for a couple of weeks. Does this have a potentially great benefit? Will it kill me? If the answer is Yes and No, then let's get it on.
There is quite a lot of arrogance in the scientific community as I imagine it has always been this way in history. The only thing that has been proven is that every scientist in the past has virtually been wrong. They may have been close in approximation, but always wrong.
Galileo's persecution of finding out that the universe did not revolve around us is a classic case used. If we look today who gets persecuted in challenging the status quo, we have political revolutionists (Assange, Snowden, etc), dietary & medical revolutionists (Mark Sisson, Dave Asprey, Douglas Graham, etc), and physics & reality revolutionists (Richard Feynman, Rick Strassman, etc).
The case I am making is experimentation is the very heart of discovery. However, our society demonizes it. One area I have very intimate experience is with diets. I never had even one supporter for anything I was trying, and I also had to deal with extremely difficult social situations because of it. Nonetheless, here are some key lessons from being my own guinea pig.
Poor little lonely grape.
Where did you come from? Where are you going?
I stand in line at the grocery store and wonder...
You were once surrounded by those you loved. Those you grew up with. Those who knew you from sprout to seed. Those who watched you develop your own purple color. Those who encompassed you while sharing the vine. You looked to your left. A grape friend. You looked to your right. Another grape friend. You looked behind you. Kind of a jerky grape, kind of a sourpuss -- but you still got along.
I think TNT made a mistake canceling Leverage.
Too low ratings, they say.
Who gives a shit about ratings? It's not about the ratings, it's about the fans.
From your local pizzeria to Lady Gaga to The Walt Disney Company, the #1 asset of any business is their customers. Disney gets it, but most big companies don't.
Leverage, it's got the television x-factor. And hordes of raving fans to prove it.
Never address anyone by "Mr. so-and-so" except in a friendly joking well. First names mostly, last names in a bold way sometimes, and never by their title.
Everyone is a peer of yours.
No corporate speak, ever.
Never let yourself be intimidated. Intimidated people aren't fun to be around.
Keep it light.
It's all about leverage.
Here's the deal: everyone, through unique life experiences, has their own unique sets of skills, strengths and talents.
But more importantly, you have a unique combination of those sets of skills.
If you find you have a talent for writing, the first thing you're going to figure is "Hey, maybe I should do something where I get paid to write!"
Congratulations, you're already a step ahead of the curve.
If you are fortunate, you have never seen it.
No one in polite government acknowledges its existence. It arrives at night, cloaked in its own fog. Thick, sound absorbing, it rolls in a hour before the train arrives.
No health agency officiates its movements, no news agency writes on it. No reporters acknowledge they have been aboard it. Healthcare workers deny working on it, chefs deny cooking there, social workers deny helping its passengers adjust to new lives.
People know about it only in rumor. The staff is faceless; fearless; selfless.
The one who Stood next to me in the elevator Shoulder to shoulder Brushed my hand Let me lean into to you Didn't say a word...
The one who Sat next to me on the bus Made eye contact brushed my bare thigh Let me lean into you Didn't say a word...
The one who Walked towards me on the street Caught me when I lost my footing Let me lean into you didn’t say a word...
Don't know who you are thrice our paths crossed you touched me I leaned into you I wish I said a word