Personal Development

What Would A One-Week Work-Flow Diary Reveal About You? (A Powerful Tool To Improve Your Productivity) - HIGHER HUMAN PERFORMANCE Podcast Episode 268

268 What Would A One-Week Work-Flow Diary Reveal About You? (A Powerful Tool To Improve Your Productivity)


What Would A One-Week Work-Flow Diary Reveal About You? (A Powerful Tool To Improve Your Productivity) - HIGHER HUMAN PERFORMANCE Podcast Episode 268

People who desperately need to lose weight are often asked by a nutritionist or physician to keep a food diary. Daily they write down everything they put in their mouth. It’s a powerful tool to show them the truth about how many calories they’re consuming. Most overweight people don’t realize how many calories they’re eating. The diary shows them the reality of where they are. It becomes a tool to show them how they can improve.

Your work-flow – your schedule – is a problem. Efficiency is never operating at full-strength in our lives. We can always do better.

Today, I want to encourage you to keep a work-flow diary so we can tackle the speed bumps that get in your way. Success is elusive enough when we’re chasing it with focused intensity. It’s impossible to find if we’re not taking the proper actions, and if we’re neglecting to take meaningful action consistently over time.

The pic many clients found funny

Consider how good it always feel when you look back at something you accomplished. Wouldn’t you love to have that feeling more? There’s no better time to start increasing the frequency of that feeling. Let’s do it now. Let’s start today!


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Who Do You Listen To? (And Who Listens To You?) - HIGHER HUMAN PERFORMANCE Podcast Episode 263

263 Who Do You Listen To? (And Who Listens To You?)


Who Do You Listen To? (And Who Listens To You?) - HIGHER HUMAN PERFORMANCE Podcast Episode 263
Max, the 1st grandson listening to an iPod

How do you determine who gets your time and attention? Who do you read? Who do you listen to? Who listens to you?

There are three distinct groups who occupy your life – in terms of people who you’re willing to pay attention to – with one major caveat, these are people who know who you are. Of course, we all tend to listen to far more people who have no clue who we are. We read books, listen to speakers, watch videos, read blogs and listen to podcasts by people who don’t us. Sometimes we even put more weight on what they tell us than on what those who love us most may tell us. It’s the maze we all have to travel as we figure out who deserves our attention based on who can really help us.

1. The core group – the people you know and who know you. These are people who have a personal connection with you. They understand your life, and they care about it. They have a more vested interest in your life. Hopefully, you also care about them.

2. The special interest group – the people you know and who know you, but they leap to your mind because of some present need or interest. For example, you may have some specialized skill. Let’s say you’re a WordPress website designer. People know that about you. When somebody has a question or need about a WordPress website, your phone rings – or you email inbox gets a new message. You occupy a “top-of-mind” presence for the people who know you. You have people like that in your life, too.

Then, there are all those people we know of, but who don’t know us. Connections are made that have value, but aren’t very intimate. We really don’t know them, but based on their public persona we think we do. Again, some of these people may be core people we listen to. We may listen to them all the time. We may hang on their every word because we’ve decided they’ll be in our inner circle of influence even though they don’t know us.

Another group may be more specialized. I’m a member of Don McAllister’s Screen Casts Online. Don teaches about all things Apple Mac. He produces killer video tutorials at his membership site. I learn from Don’s work. He doesn’t have a clue who I am, but based on my special interest in what he teaches, I listen to Don. We’ve all got people like that in our life. They provide value for us. Sometimes we pay for the value. Sometimes it’s completely free.

With Twitter, Facebook, blogs, Pinterest, Google + and the host of other places where we interact with people – it’s entirely probable that most of the people you interact with each day are people who haven’t a real clue who you are. Why do you listen to them? Is it popularity? What is it that draws you to them? What value do they provide in your life?

Quite often I find myself not asking these important questions – and every time I drift away from asking these great questions I find my life grows noisier. That’s not good for me. It’s distracting.

Some years ago I devised a plan to further restrict the voices in my head – and my life. It’s hard. I’d love to tell you how I don’t plan to allow the cool kids to dictate the voices I value most, but sometimes they do. Sometimes it’s like reading a book only because it’s popular and top-of-the-chart only to find that I’ve wasted hours reading a book that was an utter waste of time! The herd isn’t always right. Popular people aren’t always the most reliable people to listen to.

Besides, I find the most value in listening to people who care about my life – and those willing to let me care about theirs.

3. The special confidant – the person, or maybe persons, who you completely trust. This group is really a subset of the first group, the core group. And it can consist of at least 2 sub-groups:

a) people who have skills/experience to help or
b) people who are special friends willing to help (but may not know how)

Maybe your mom loves you and is willing to listen to all your problems, but that doesn’t make her qualified to offer you sound advice. A husband or wife may have little insight about a professional challenge. Or you may just want or need a person with some distance to provide you with a fresh perspective.

This last group can be the most challenging group. For good reason.

The first group naturally happens. Our family, church friends, friends who share our hobbies and people who share other social interactions with us — they know us. We know them. Each group has some context. That is, church friends see us in one context. Friends we tailgate with at the weekend football game know us in a different context. Parents of our kids’ friends know us in that context.

Additionally, these groups happen around some central focus. Family happens because we’re born into or adopted into a specific group. We didn’t choose it. It just happened. Funny how our closest core group is so random, huh? But other groups – like our tailgate buddies – happens because we share our love for a team. Or because we have season seats near each other. Or because we’re next door neighbors who happen to love the same team. There are some shared reasons that bring us together. Some of these relationships may be shallow while others run deep. Our core group of people tend to run the range between very casual to very trusted. Still, these people are in our lives because of a common, shared interest. Or because we’re family.

The second group – the special interest group – can overlap with the core group. Those tailgate buddies might be close friends, but the foundation of the friendship was forged because we both loved a specific team. It may have transcended the weekend fall game, but we still view these friends as people we can talk with about next season’s chances to go to a major bowl game.

I’m mostly using this second group for the purposes of helping us though. These are people who have a specialized skill, talent or experience. It’s less important that they know us because the relationship – our willingness to listen to them – is based mostly on how much trust we have in their ability to help us. Can they help us solve this problem?

As summer is approaching my son and I were talking last month about having our AC units checked out. He knows a guy. Well, I know a guy, too. But he knows his guy better than I know my guy. And his interaction with his guy was just last year. I haven’t interacted with my guy in a few years. Based on his past experience, his trust and confidence in his AC guy — we both lined him up to do a seasonal tune-up on our units. My son knows him. He knows my son. I had never met him, but because of my son we had a connection.

He came over, spent a few hours doing what he does, charged us a reasonable amount and I even posted on Facebook telling anybody who might need AC work to call him. I strongly recommended him based on how he served me. He was in my second group, but now he’s in my third group. And there’s a point to that migration from group 2 to group 3.

That third group is even more special, or narrow. The AC man was in group 2 for me because I was going on a recommendation of my son. The guy didn’t know me. We had never met. He had never done any work for me. But once he had done work for me – and once we met – I was fully prepared to move him to the 3rd group based on his work and my experience with him. He could have come to my house, done crappy work and fallen off of any list…except the one where I keep people who I never want to call again. But he did a good job so I elevated him among the people I’m willing to listen to.

I’m not going to call him when I have a business problem. He’s not going to be somebody I call if I want to talk Bible. I won’t be calling him up for relationship advice. But if I need heating and air conditioning advice, he’s my guy.

That’s how it is with specialized interest. But it can also be how it is with a special confidant. Sounds odd to have a special HVAC confidant, but we all have people like that. Maybe you have a yard guy or a tree guy. Any time you have a problem in those areas, you call a special somebody who knows how to solve those problems. You trust that person completely when it comes to yard or tree issues. They’re a confidant, even if the subject isn’t terribly sensitive. Like my HVAC units.

We don’t think twice about having such people in our lives. But we either fail to think – or we avoid thinking – about some other people who may serve us in very important matters (not that our yard, trees and HVAC aren’t important). Married couples can struggle and one or both can avoid seeking help because of pride, embarrassment or a host of other moronic reasons. A marriage isn’t more valuable than air conditioning? Sadly for some, maybe not. But it should be.

I think there may be an even bigger reason why people don’t find or include a special confidant in some areas of their life. They don’t know anybody. And they don’t know who to ask, or they’re too afraid to ask.

The bravest ask, or quietly cold call somebody seeking out Google and other search devices to find somebody. But many don’t. They just quietly go about their business struggling alone, or leaning on people unequipped to help them. They hope to find some solace in a listening ear, but often find themselves more frustrated by a caring friend or family member who doesn’t know what to say or how to react.

And there’s the whole stigma of seeking out a professional. “We don’t need to see a marriage counselor,” says the husband to his wife of 10 years. Communication between he and his wife are non-existent. They both know they’re in trouble. They love each other, but the last few years have wrecked what they once had. Pride. Shame. Embarrassment. Coupled with not knowing a good marriage counselor…are creating the perfect storm for their marriage to fatally hit the rocks. “Besides, how much does something like that cost?” asks the wife. Again, it’s so far outside the realm of what most of us know about…our cluelessness hinders our ability to craft an ideal circle of trusted confidants to who can serve us.

Executive coaching suffers the same problems. Whether you prefer to call it business coaching, leadership coaching or career coaching – it’s all very much the same. It’s serving the specific needs of somebody who needs a person with whom they can be completely transparent and vulnerable. It’s serving the person who may need short-term help through some specific challenge. It’s serving the person who may want longer term help through a transition. It’s anything, but one-size-fits-all. It’s specific, personal and targeted.

Those brave enough – wise enough – to seek it out will attest to the value of it. For many, it’s priceless. For most, it’s invaluable. When it’s done well, it’s a partnership. It’s focus is YOU. That’s a rare feeling for most. A good feeling, but rare. To know that another person is so vested in your outcome that they’ll do whatever they can to help you — it’s a terrific feeling. One that too few ever experience.

It’s not about fixing things necessarily. It’s about exploring possibilities. It’s about improvement and growth. It’s about vital friendships that can help us achieve higher levels of success faster.

Who do you listen to – and how do you decide?


Creativity Lost, Creativity Found - HIGHER HUMAN PERFORMANCE Podcast Episode 258

258 Creativity Lost, Creativity Found


The most mundane businesses can exemplify high creativity. A plumber dispatches immaculately clean trucks, with crisply uniformed technicians (plumbers) who don booties before entering your house. Two hours earlier you called them – or maybe you visited their website. Your choice. After briefly describing your problem and giving them your location, you provided them with your cell phone so they could text you 30 minutes before their arrival. The experience infuriates you. Not at the plumber, but at all the other service providers who neglect this level of creativity. Your TV service provider. Your Internet provider. They all may as well arrive in a covered wagon compared to this plumber because they are so inept at being creative.

Wait a minute. You’re thinking, “That’s not creativity. That’s customer service.”

What’s the difference? What are the limitations of creativity?

I first learned creativity in business as a teenage hi-fi salesman. You may not think of it as creativity, but I knew firsthand the power of it.

A shopper enters the store looking for a pair of loudspeakers. We visit and I find out the type of music they love. “What’s your favorite record?” I ask. They tell me. I sit them down in a sound room – back when we had hi-fi stores and sound rooms – as I fetch their favorite record. I handle it as though it were a gem, because it is. To them. I carefully place the record on the turntable, manually clean it and gently lower the stylus into the groove. Then I turn up the volume, slightly higher than most people are used to. I say nothing. This experience – their favorite record coupled with a system unlike anything they’ve heard before – is captivating. Enthralling.

Where’s the creativity?

First, it’s in the thought process that compelled me to develop this simple process. Creativity is lost because of mindlessness. People act without thinking. Salespeople do it. Engineers do it. Accountants do it. Attorneys do it. Everybody does it ever now and again. Some more than others. Rote procedures foil creativity because we don’t think about “tricking it up.” Or we don’t think it needs to be tricked up. Why change? Why not change? I prefer to insert the word “improve” where others like the word “change.” That act of creativity changes everything because now the focus isn’t on simply changing for whatever reason, but it’s on improving. Who doesn’t want improvement?

Next, the creativity was in asking the shopper about their favorite record. Back in the 70’s when I was on a hi-fi sales floor nearly all the salespeople had their favorite tracks on records. Tracks they felt could really show off what a system could do. I was into music. I knew music was emotional. I knew songs were personal because everybody I knew – including myself – had certain feelings when specific songs were played. By asking, “What’s your favorite record?” I knew I’d get an honest answer. Come on, it’s a hi-fi store! Nobody ever said, “Well, I don’t know. I don’t really have a favorite record.” Everybody who came in had a favorite record.

The creativity was in my focus on their experience, not my own. It didn’t matter if I hated their favorite record. When the store was empty I could play whatever I wanted, but this was their moment. While I was looking for the record I’d engage them and find out why this was their favorite record. People love to tell the stories of the music in their life. Songs and albums have meaning to people – they did in the 70’s for sure. Everybody loved to talk about their favorite music. I gave them an opportunity to talk out loud about it. It also gave me some insight about the music in their life. Heavy rock fans loved lots of bass. Classical music lovers loved a more flat sound. That gave me insight about not only what products to show them, but how to adjust any system I played for them.

LInn Sondek turntableThere was also creativity in the presentation of the music. It started the moment I removed the vinyl from the album sleeve. I never touched anything other the very edges of the album with my outstretched palms or fingertips. Yes, it had technical merits of keeping the oil of your skin off the vinyl, but it also showed the average shopper who likely didn’t handle their vinyl properly…how to do it right! It was part presentation, part education.

Cleaning the record served the same 2 purposes, along with making sure the record was as clean as possible for the best sound. Besides, it gave me an opportunity to educate customers in proper record care while allowing me to sell them an accessory that would protect their record investment.

The whole thing was genuine and intentional. It all served a purpose other than to put on a show. The value provided was real and authentic. In the end, a memorable experience was the goal.

Creativity is lost in the sea of averageness. Stealing ideas. Copycatting. Following the template created by others. Following the leader. They’re all the crap of lost creativity.

Creativity is lost in lethargy. Laziness. That’s part of the reason for all the copycatting, but when I’m thinking of laziness I’m thinking of people who just don’t think. The company that answers the phone the same idiotic way they always have because nobody is thinking about it. The retailer whose people all use the same greeting to every shopper, “Can I help you?”

How hard would it be to rethink that? Not hard at all, but it would take more effort than to just fly every day on auto-pilot. It would require a leader willing to ask a very hard question, “How could we do this better?”

Creativity may be lost – in part – due to the fear of leadership. Maybe leaders are afraid to open up a can of worms by asking the questions creativity demands. Maybe they’re afraid nothing else will work as well as the status quo. Maybe they’re afraid the front line people will have an idea better than theirs.

Creativity may be lost due to distraction. We’re not improving things because we’re not paying attention to the right things at the right time. Todd Pedersen, CEO and Founder of Vivint, Inc. was recently featured on CBS’ Undercover Boss. Part of his undercover work involved spending time in the call center where he discovered the equipment was dreadful. Call center employees couldn’t even hear all the customers calling in. Oh, by the way, Vivint is a home security company! Being able to communicate with customers on the phone is critical. He had no idea the equipment was a problem until he went undercover.

So it goes. Creativity gives way to the ordinary, everyday activities that never seem to unearth the real problems that stymie our success. It’s the vast marketing budget and activities of companies like DirecTV when customers would be absolutely dazzled with simplified pricing. Or a better customer experience when they encounter a problem. It’s the small, no account budget of a solopreneur who gets VistaPrint business cards, but can’t embrace enough weirdness to use them in a creative way.

Big business. Small business. We all suffer the loss of creativity…sometimes. Some of us are chronic sufferers.

Time to find it again. Or for the first time.

Step 1 – Stop.

Forget what others are doing. Forget what you’re currently doing. Just hit the PAUSE button. I’m not saying to stop doing business. It’s more mental than physical. Well, it can be. Stop doing what you’ve always done simply because you’re assuming it’s working well enough. Stop thinking all is well. Stop thinking there are no better ways. Stop living in complacency. Stop being satisfied. Stop thinking things will never be better. Or stop thinking things will always be terrific. Stop.

Step 2 – Think.

Questions are your friends when it comes to embracing creativity. Ask questions. Lots of questions. Ask every question you can think of. The obvious ones. The not-so-obvious ones. And all the ones in between.

Then answer them. Get your team together. Wrestle them down. Take whatever time is necessary to find the best answers to your best questions.

Step 3 – Be Fearless.

Try things. Creativity guarantees only one thing – the prospect of failure. You can’t let that outweigh the prospect of wild success. Or even moderate success.

What if it fails? I’m not saying risk the whole company on one wild idea, but if you insist on a culture of playing it safe you’ll wind up broke and out of business. Radio Shack is dying. They were once a Ft. Worth, Texas institution. Not any more. They lost their way, but they join a long list of consumer electronics titans that are now gone. If you tell me creativity is risky I’ll argue not having it is far riskier!

Go in knowing some things may not work. The lessons you and your team can learn will be worth the failure though. Your fearlessness will foster greater creativity and the reflexes of your team will improve. Some of the best creative successes will come from adjustments made out of a failure. Post-It Notes by 3M is a famous example. This is what Wikipedia says:

In 1968, a scientist at 3M in the United States, Dr. Spencer Silver, was attempting to develop a super-strong adhesive. Instead he accidentally created a “low-tack”, reusable, pressure-sensitive adhesive. For five years, Silver promoted his “solution without a problem” within 3M both informally and through seminars but failed to gain acceptance. In 1974 a colleague who had attended one of his seminars, Art Fry, came up with the idea of using the adhesive to anchor his bookmark in his hymnbook. Fry then utilized 3M’s officially sanctioned “permitted bootlegging” policy to develop the idea. The original notes’ yellow color was chosen by accident, as the lab next-door to the Post-it team had only yellow scrap paper to use.

3M launched the product as “Press ‘n Peel” in stores in four cities in 1977, but results were disappointing. A year later 3M instead issued free samples directly to consumers in Boise, Idaho, with 94 percent of those who tried them indicating they would buy the product. On April 6, 1980, “Press ‘n Peel” was re-introduced in US stores as “Post-It Notes”. The following year they were launched in Canada and Europe.

In 2003, the company came out with “Post-it Brand Super Sticky Notes”, with a stronger glue that adheres better to vertical and non-smooth surfaces.

Until 3M’s patent expired in the 1990s, post-it type notes were produced only in the company’s plant in Cynthiana, Kentucky.

 Try nothing and you’re sure to fail. Try something new – something creative – and you’re certain to learn something. And it must might work the first time out. If not, you’ll have something to work with, something you can then try to refine and improve.

Step 4 – Don’t Retreat.

Working up the courage to be fearless at first is one thing. Maintaining the courage is harder.

Some lessons are so costly they’re priceless. I used to hear horror stories of retail buyers who made colossally poor decisions. Every now and again you’d hear somebody remark that the buyer wasn’t fired because the executives in charge felt it was such an expensive lesson they couldn’t afford to terminate the guy. Those stories made sense to me, even if they were somewhat fictionalized. I mean, if a guy bought something for say $150,000 and the rate of sale was so poor that the margins were a negative number, resulting in a net loss of $100,000 — it seems sensible to me to view the buyer as now having had a $100K lesson. Sure, it assumes he’s competent and capable and just tried something that didn’t work out very well. How do you suppose he’ll vet the next buying opportunity? More carefully perhaps. But he could also be subjected to his own loss of courage. If that mistakes creates a new tentative nature, he’ll be fired for sure.

Courage in the face of failure has to be maintained and fostered. Winners don’t retreat. They regroup and come back.

Step 5 – Celebrate The Process.

If creativity isn’t part of your organization’s culture it’s likely because the price tag is deemed too high to pay. People are afraid to be creative because leadership values the status quo too much. Or they value the safe outcome too much to innovate.

Creativity is a process, not an outcome. Everybody wants to celebrate the successful outcome. That’s easy. But that’s not where creativity’s magic is found. It’s in the process of being creative.

Celebrate that and you’ll stand out from the crowd. When your team rolls the dice on a well-crafted creative plan celebrate it. Do it before you even know if it works. Do it even if it fails. Do it if it works. Foster more creativity by making sure the team knows you value the process. It’s that process that’ll help you achieve new heights of accomplishment. It’s the fuel for your team to rise above the fray, too.

The same excitement I saw in the shopper hearing the details of their favorite record for the first time on a stereo system unlike anything they’d heard before is the same excitement I see in team members lead by a person who loves creativity. They’re alive and thrilled to do the work. It’s a unique experience they want to keep having over and over again. Give them the celebration of the process and watch them soar. Then you can sit back and take credit for having been the leader who made it all possible.


* Linn Sondek turntable photo courtesy of Jacques on Flickr


My Grandson, Soccer And Paralyzing Fear

Max’s dad trying to talk him into joining the soccer game.

Max is my oldest grandson. A few years ago he thought he’d like to give soccer a try. He thought wrong. I recorded the story of his fear and some lessons I learned back in April 2011. I’m posting it here today because fear is a timeless subject.

For a good long while Max’s dad and I both tried – together and independently – to get him to join the other kids on the field. This kid’s fear was real and it was working furiously to keep him off the field. He simply couldn’t withstand it even though he saw all the other kids enjoying chasing the ball all over the field.

Regardless of our age, fear is a powerful force that gets in our way. Max’s encounter on a spring Saturday a few years ago taught me some things.


I Hate It When I Do That! - HIGHER HUMAN PERFORMANCE Episode 254

254 I Hate It When I Do That!

I Hate It When I Do That! - HIGHER HUMAN PERFORMANCE Episode 254We all do things that drive us crazy. You know the kind of things I’m talking about. Those things we do, and immediately think or say, “I hate it when I do that.”

This is the year to fix those things. There’s no reason to stymie our success by letting our weaknesses distract our efforts.

Climb higher by focusing on your strengths. Only foolish climbers avoid conquering the things that can prevent them from making a successful climb. Fix them. Fix them now.

1. You have to be aware of the things that get in your way. If you’re saying, “I hate it when I do that” then you already have that awareness. That’s great! Be glad that there are things you know you do – but wish you didn’t. People can’t fix what they don’t see. A guy whose fly is open won’t zip it up until he knows it’s open. Are you the friend who will tell him? Or will you just let him go around with it open? Awareness is job one.

2. Figure out a strategy to correct it. The best advice I can give you is to slow down slightly. You want to catch yourself starting to do it – whatever IT is. The instance you realize you’re doing the thing you hate – stop it. Fix it immediately.

3. Ask friends and family to help. Lean on people to hold you accountable. Let others help you conquer the things that drive you crazy. We all need help.

I reference Bert Decker in today’s show. His blog is here and it’s a terrific resource if you suffer communication problems that drive you crazy. I’ve long wanted to attend Decker’s “Communicate To Influence” seminar.

Grab his book, You’ve Got To Be Believed To Be Heard. It’s a great resource. You can find it anywhere books are sold. He’s also got some good resources at his website. I can’t recommend him strongly enough.

All the best as you work to conquer the things you do that you hate!


How To Be A Deliberate Person Without Being Stupid - HIGHER HUMAN PERFORMANCE Podcast Episode 249

249 How To Be A Deliberate Person Without Being Stupid

cross word puzzle
If you use a pen to do a crossword puzzle, you’re deliberate. Or stupid.

If you use ink to complete a crossword puzzle – you’re a deliberate person. How can you be a pen user instead of a pencil user…with a fat eraser handy?

Frequently I’m engaged in a conversation with people who are on a quest to make an improvement. Maybe they’re trying to elevate their sales or revenues. Maybe they’re working to upgrade the people on their team. Or maybe they’re trying to launch a brand new enterprise.

Invariably somebody will utter something – usually a cliche – about commitment to the goal. I’ll hear things like:

“We need to go all in on this project.”

“This is our primary objective. We’re committed to seeing it through.”

“We’re at the point of no return on this.”

People express this in a variety of ways. Here’s one of the more popular ways I hear it…

It’s time to burn the boats.”

Many people cite the incident in the 1500’s during the Spanish conquest of Mexico when Cortes gave the order to burn the boats in order to force his troops to conquer the land. I don’t even know if that really happened, but if you Google “burn the boats” it’s not the only example of it. And doesn’t it sound good? I mean, how much more deliberate do you want to be?

We value that level of commitment. We even romanticize it. But I don’t agree with it because it presupposes that you – or we, or anybody else – can be more deliberate if we’re desperate. For quite a few years I’ve given the following advice to clients…

“Don’t presuppose that you’re not able to chase it hard enough unless you’re desperate. Thoughtful intent can often beat desperate. Embrace thoughtful intent as you chase your goals.”

Being deliberate isn’t desperation. It’s not intention. It’s not just being thoughtful. It’s thoughtful intention. More technically correct, it’s action taken with thoughtful intention to move closer to the goal.

Too many people are chasing dreams. They hop from thing, to thing, to another thing. Mostly in their mind.

I suspect a few other people actually do something. They take some action. They don’t think much about it, confusing motion with action. It’s a common myth to think that because we’re moving, we’re taking meaningful action.

Then there are the people who think about it ’til the cows come home, then they take an action. But they’re so slow to act they don’t get much done. And their rate of speed is so slow there’s rarely any momentum.

And then there are the desperate. You’ve been desperate before. Burned boats foster desperation. It may not foster deliberate action though. Well, to be fair, it may not foster positive deliberate behavior. Thieves, murderers and other criminals often act out of desperation. And quite often they’re very deliberate, but only in committing more crimes.

That proverbial point of no return is a poor method for incorporating deliberate behavior into your life. Or more deliberate behavior.

There’s a scene in an old Al Pacino movie, And Justice For All…where Pacino’s character, an attorney, takes a helicopter ride with a judge, the pilot. Unbeknownst to the attorney, the judge likes to play a little game where he goes beyond the halfway point.

“We’re NOT alright, land!” That’s not just a great movie line, it’s wise advice. By the way, the judge crash lands the helicopter in shallow water just 90 feet from the landing pad.

Desperation can create panic. Not exactly the ideal inspiration for wise action. Or thoughtful intentions.

Deliberate action is best taken when we’ve considered our options and figured out our “next best step.” It’s what we do when we put a puzzle together, or work a cross word puzzle, or work a math problem. Truth is, it’s pretty much what we do no matter the problem we’re facing. Solutions are worked out because we’ve got a special skills as humans. We can run scenarios in our head. We can answer a problem with a hypothetical and theorize (quite often with great accuracy) how it MIGHT turn out. Then, based on those mental models we’ve run in our head, we can take deliberate action to do what we think is best.

We can avoid being stupid by avoiding putting ourselves, or letting ourselves, be put in desperate situations. Stupidity happens when we neglect to pre-think what we’re doing. Don’t believe me? Then you’ve never raised teenagers.


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