This is the recording of a session I did yesterday with IESE Business School on the topic of writing as a tool to help your career. In this context, writing is not so much about writing for magazines or in a blog… but writing to set goals, to stay focussed, to identify what is important, to gain clarity, to track progress, to plan…

Do you need Motivation? …or do you need Clarity?

Many people say they lack motivation, when what they really lack is clarity. They are not de-motivated, they just don’t have any clear sense of where and how to place their energy and their time.

If you don’t have a plan, you can’t procrastinate. If you didn’t have a plan, procrastination is your plan.

If your goals aren’t written down, it is hard to refocus on them when you get distracted.

PS My friend Christophe took this so seriously that he tattooed an intention on his arm. Tattoos are a big step… maybe start with a piece of paper.

More on Writing as a Tool for Clarity

If you liked this, you will also like Free your Mind: Writing a Journal. and Writing to Reflect. Mindful Leadership. or Reflect on the Past, Clarify the Future.

I was listening to Shane Parrish interview Adam Grant on his knowledge project podcast last week.

Adam was speaking of the loss of rationality in many public domains. Politics, gender, science, global warming, race relations… are all domains where it has become dangerous to ask questions or engage with open curiosity.

As Adam was speaking about this he gave us a question “what evidence would change your mind?”

If I can’t answer this question, it is possible that I have become too emotionally attached to my position.

I asked myself: what beliefs do I hold to such a degree that no evidence would change my mind?

It is not a bad thing to hold strong beliefs… I believe it it a vital ability to develop faith in the universe. I decided to believe that the universe is a good place. I decided to believe that people are trustworthy. These are decisions of a stance I take towards the world.

The problem comes when I pretend to be rational when my belief really doesn’t come from reason. You could prove to me that people aren’t trustworthy and I still would prefer to act towards the world as if people are trustworthy. I don’t really care about the evidence. As long as I recognize this as a “stance towards the world” rather than an evidence-based rational decision, I will be ok. However if I want to convince others, it’s important to realize on what basis I hold the belief.

Adam Grant on Advice

Adam shared a story of someone asking him for advice… and as soon as Adam started sharing his opinion he realized that the other person didn’t want to hear it. Since those early days of his career, Adam has become much more careful in offering his opinion.

When someone comes to Adam for advice:

First: Ask them for their Pros & Cons? Their Risks & Rewards? Get their perspective on what is important and what challenges they see. Get this first.

Next: Ask “Why did you come see me?”

Did they really come for Validation? Or Approval? Or are they really open to have you test their thinking?

Be careful about offering help when the other is not open to another perspective.

Did you come to visit this blog to challenge your thinking? Or to confirm your existing beliefs? 😉

Charlie Munger on uncommon sense…

Competence – you can only be trusted as competent if you clearly understand the limits of your competence. The great danger of experts is they forget the limits of their expertise – “it is better to trust a man of 130 IQ who thinks he is 125 IQ, than to trust a man of 180 IQ who thinks he is 200 IQ” Warren Buffett

Inverting – if you want to make life better, think of what you would do to make life worse. Charlie was an aviation meteorologist during WWII. His task was to give weather briefings to pilots. His role was unclear until he thought of the inverted perspective “if I wanted to kill pilots as a meteorologist, what could I do? Flying with iced wings, flying in conditions they will be unable to land.” This really clarified for him the important aspects of his role in keeping pilots alive. In our own lives, asking “how would I really make my life worse?” can be a valuable perspective on what really matters.

Collector – be a collector. How many collectors do you know who are unhappy? Identify things or experiences that you enjoy collecting and become a curator of your collections.

Integrate ideas between domains – most people focus on details within the idea (especially academics), few people look at the interaction between big ideas. That’s where there’s not much incentive in academics, but it’s very interesting for investing money.

Occam’s razor- go for simple… with a proviso that was initially shared by Einstein “Everything should be made as simple as possible but not more so” Einstein. Anywhere there is a “lollapalooza result” (Charlie’s term for a hugely positive and rapid outcome)… look for a confluence of causes. Academic experts find one cause. To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail. There are rarely just single causes for high impact outcomes.

The problems of Social science– all chemists can answer “where do the rules of chemistry not apply?” In the high temperature plasma state. how many social scientists can answer “if you want to sell more should you raise or lower the price?” Where does this rule not apply? 1 in 50 will say “luxury goods!” Many social scientists forget to think of the exceptional cases.

Update… a summary of this post in a #shorts video

More on Charlie Munger’s thinking process

Charlie Munger’s Inverse Thinking Process

Short term Happy vs Long term Fulfilled

If you are a leader, you need to work on developing 2 skills in the people around you:

  • Influence and
  • Decision Making.

The Importance of Influence Skills

Without the people around you learning how to influence others, they will always need your involvement to get anything done.

Read more on Influence

The Importance of Good Decision Making

Without the people around you taking good decisions, you will always need to step in to stop disaster from happening.  In the IESE MBA program we have a course called “Analysis of Business Problems”.  We teach a 6 step process for business decision making:

  1. What is the Problem?
  2. What are the Criteria?
  3. What are the Options?
  4. Compare Options to Criteria
  5. Select Option
  6. Create a Plan

Read more on Decision Making

In golf, one poor shot can trigger a state of mind that leads to a run of poor shots. I hit my drive into the bunker. In frustration, I try a more difficult shot than I should, and put it in another bunker. I then try and hit it extra hard to reach the green in 3… and leave it in the bunker.

Chess international master Josh Waitzkin says that the moment when a chess player really loses the game is when they think they are ahead, and after a move they realise that maybe their position is not so strong.  The next move will be too aggressive because they are anchored on the emotional sense of being ahead.

A professional learns to forget the past and play the shot or the move that they have in front of them.   An amateur compounds the error.

One poor shot does not ruin a golf round… unless you let it.  

The same occurs in life.

Do you let one mistake lead to three more?  

On a diet… one biscuit leads to 3 more? …that’s how to screw it up.

Do you tend to let one mistake lead to 3 more?

 

There are two modes of dealing with our life:

  • Living in Fear – the mode of seeking “Freedom from” and seeking validation for our past decisions
  • Living in Confidence – the mode of clarifying “Freedom to” and making choices as a responsible being.

Over the last 7 months, I have noticed that I have slipped into the living in fear mode. I knew what I didn’t want, but not what I did. I was waiting to see how the world would work out rather than committing to creating my own clear path.

I share these two modes in the video.

Stay safe.

This video is about 4 ways to bring more luck into your life.

We Make our own Luck. 

Why do some people lead happy successful lives whilst other face repeated failure and sadness? What enables some people to have successful careers whilst others find themselves stuck in jobs they hate? Can unlucky people do anything to improve their luck?

In the book The Luck Factor, Professor Richard Wiseman (good name for a professor!) shares his research into luck. He has spent over a decade investigating the beliefs and experiences of lucky and unlucky people.

If you think you’re unlucky, that bad luck may be the direct result of you believing you’re unlucky.

I have a lasting interest in how people make good decisions, especially when many people are involved, and many people are affected by the decisions.

Currently reading the book “Crucial Conversations“. Towards the end of the book, there is a section on moving from a dialogue towards concrete actions. The authors say that there are 4 methods of decision making.

The 4 methods of decision making:

  1. Command – One person decides. It might be the main authority figure, or that individual might delegate the power to decide to another specific individual.
  2. Consult – A person given the power to make a decision first consults widely before making a decision. Note: you can listen to someone’s opinion without taking on an obligation to use that opinion in your decision.
  3. Vote – The group votes.
  4. Consensus – we negotiate a position that everyone can agree to. This can take a long time, and can lead to many compromises on the decision being agreed.

When choosing which way to decide there are four questions to ask:

  1. Who cares? – Don’t involve people who don’t care
  2. Who knows? – Don’t involve people who cannot add value.
  3. Who must agree? – Who could block the implementation later on if not part of the decision process today?
  4. How many people must be involved? – The fewer the better.

If everybody is responsible, nobody is responsible. Great teams assign clear individual responsibilities and hold people to their commitments.

How to improve your life: make better decisions.

If you take better decisions, you improve your life.  How to take better decisions:

  1. Improve your data
  2. Focus on what is Important (with Frameworks)
  3. Get other brains involved

Improve your Data

Feelings are not a good guide in complex decisions. Only evidence and the perspectives of people who have gone through similar decisions is good data for your decisions. Everyone has an opinion, not all opinions have value.

What data are you putting in front of you as you begin the process of deciding?

Focus on what is Important

The famed Eisenhower prioritization matrix has two axis:

  • level of importance,
  • level of urgency.

This gives 4 states:

  1. important & urgent
  2. Important & not urgent
  3. Not important & not urgent
  4. Not important & urgent

Zone 4 is deadly.

Stay out of Zone 4. Zone 2 requires the greatest discipline, and has the greatest long term payback.

You have to know where you are going. If you don’t have goals, you’ll drift into shit you don’t enjoy doing.  You’ll not build anything.  You’re headed down a dead end.

What are your lifetime goals?  Do you have them written down? Who do you want to be when you are older?

Imagination is the greatest human talent. It is vital to use your imagination to visualize your desired future. An architect doesn’t begin to build until the house is finished (on paper).

Get other brains involved

I was with the Arbinger Institute last week.

The biggest problem with human beings: Self Delusion.

We have such a huge need to see ourselves as being right, that we will ignore all evidence to the contrary.

Mastermind groups, peer advisory groups (EO, YPO, Vistage), mentors and coaches are vital to hold a mirror up to you and call out flawed thinking processes.

The person we find it easiest to lie to: ourselves.

Be careful. The question is not whether you are deceiving yourself, the question is where are you deceiving yourself.

How do you take decisions?

What do you do well? What do you not do so well?

“All my daughter really wants from me is a few minutes of my undivided attention… the richer people get the more money they spend trying to “

Dorothée Loorbach

I am bad with money

It has taken me many years to admit this to myself. It was only by admitting it that I have been able to take the steps to put my family on a path to financial freedom.

I have a long standing belief that if I am a good person and do good work, the “money thing” will sort itself out. This has proven to be a poor approach to a well balanced life.

I still have had a lot to learn about my relationship to money. Many of the lessons shared in this video resonate with my own (poor) relationship to money. I am so optimistic that the future will be better that I don’t hold myself to the discipline of saving and investing my money. It has taken several business failures and a clear objective reflection on my poor money decisions to start to accumulate money over the last few years.

10 lessons about money from Dorothée Loorbach

Dorothée was “successful” in her job and made a lot of money… and then she spent it all… until she was broke, unable even to bake her little daughter a birthday cake. She had to face her own flawed beliefs about money and how they were damaging her ability to live a life that matters.

The 10 Lessons on Money from the Video

  • 4:49 #1 Money is important
  • 5:55 #2 Money equals time
  • 7:00 #3 Money equals value
  • 8:03 #4 What people say doesn’t matter
  • 9:49 #5 What people say matters
  • 10:58 #6 It’s really simple
  • 11:33 #7 It’s not that easy
  • 13:05 #8 Being broke sucks
  • 14:35 #9 Stay Broke
  • 15:54 #10 Money is not important

What are you beliefs about money? Are they having a positive impact on your approach to life?