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Category: Life

Opportunity Missed?

Everyday we make decisions. And those decisions reflect how much we value our time and money. In a larger sense these decisions are ultimately building blocks for the future real estate of our life and career.

That’s why Opportunity Cost should not just be measured in business. It should be measured in our entire lives holistically. Opportunity Cost is the value of the next-best alternative when a decision is made; it’s what is given up. $100 going out to eat is a $100 not invested in a high interest savings account.

However, not all Opportunity Cost decisions are black and white. If the $100 for dinner is with a mentor that can help increase your professional value and network, or with someone we’re building a significant personal relationship with, then the opportunity missed to invest for monetary gain was given up for something of equal or greater value.

In the case for spending $600 million on a Canadian election (2 years after the last one) during a pandemic, only to have little change in the results? Well, most would say that Opportunity Cost is pretty black and white. $600 million could have been better spent.

Author Todd Henry sums it up best: “Each choice you make to do something is a choice not to do something. You can have anything you want, but you can’t have everything you want.”

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Private Jets

In 2015 I started a new position at another company. One of the requirements of the new role was to attend training in another city. This involved travelling on the private company jet.

I obviously couldn’t wait to savour that moment and tell everyone about it. It was one of those signature moments that happens only a few times in our careers and I wanted to make the most of it.

But the reality of the moment didn’t match my anticipation. The plane felt cramped travelling with my manager and another associate. The only food served were the few granola bars I had stashed in my carry-on. But that wasn’t the worse part.

Private jets typically fly at 50,000 feet in the air, whereas commercial airline planes on average fly at 35,000 feet. Why does this matter? Because the higher you ascend, the more severe case of ‘airplane ear’ you’ll get (the ear plugging sensation).

I probably had the worse case of airplane ear in the history of its diagnosisAnd it didn’t just stop when I got off the flight. My ears were still plugged while meeting new associates for the first time at the training facility. I was talking but had no clue as to what I was saying. I sounded like the adults in the Peanuts cartoons (whomp, whomp!).

Some things aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Sometimes we’ll only find out by going through them. The tragedy occurs when instead of learning from it, we continue to chase experiences that have the appearance of success instead of success itself.

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More vs Efficient

Before many of us were mandated to work from home due to the global pandemic, entrepreneurs and companies of all sizes already had driving operational efficiencies on their radar.

Remote work and lockdown closures has unlocked another layer to what efficiency looks like in our holistic daily lives.

Case in point, my home office has evolved into just more than a space I use to conduct business. It doubles as my home gym, coffee reading area, man-cave for movies and gaming, and a fully functional studio space.

Oh, and my wife operates her business in the same space too.

The Covid-19 pandemic has emphasized that more is the enemy of efficient. And the more efficient we can be in our whole lives, the more effective our impact will be in whatever we set out to do.

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Completed Cycles

Sleep cycles are an interesting topic to research in depth of you have the time. Studies have shown the quality of our sleep directly impacts our daytime productivity levels. But its information that’s universally known.

What may not be common knowledge is that we all go through sleep cycles each night and that a good night sleep hinges on us completing each cycle we start in full. For example there are 4 stages of our sleep cycle: Light Sleep, Moderate Sleep, Deep Sleep, and REM (Rapid Eye Movement).

Each stage has its own traits that we experience. We need to experience each stage for one sleep cycle to be complete. On average we go through a total of 4 to 6 cycles a night each averaging about 90 mins. The trouble starts when we wake up in the middle of a stage, leaving a cycle incomplete.

If you’ve ever wondered why you accomplished the recommended 7 to 8 hours of sleep but still felt groggy in the morning, you probably woke up in the middle of stage 2 or 3.

There are hundreds of other cycles in our lives I could use to backup the main point of this post which is: cycles need to be completed in full for us to benefit from them. Even when we decide to close a business, or quit a project, drafting a ‘post mortem’ to review what went wrong is good practice to ‘close the loop’.

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Guilt Free Decompression

South Park co-creator Trey Parker gave some interesting thoughts on taking time to decompress in the 2014 film Beyond the Brick: A LEGO Brickumentary.

After spending hours of effort creating original content, Parker revels in going home after a long day to build LEGO sets. More specifically taking time to methodically follow instructions piece by piece. He sees is as being therapeutic because it’s the only time in any given day when he’s not pushed to be creative. 

Relaxation and unwinding will look different for all of us. Spending time in a creative workday often pushes those individuals to resting their creative energy sources to eventually be replenished. Building LEGO sets, reading, watching a film, or possibly following recipe directions all fit the bill.

On the flip side, those with a more predictable, process oriented career could be more inclined to look for creative outlets that promote free thought and imagination as a way to decompress (e.g. writing, painting, customs car design, etc.).

Of course this isn’t a perfect science. The opposite will also be true. The main point is around the need for consistent time of decompression through moments of relaxation. And most important of all, not feeling guilty for what you decide that moment will look like.

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We Can Stop Climbing

There’s a reason why it’s called climbing the corporate ladder. If you climb long enough you’ll eventually reach your ‘peak’ or get to the pinnacle of your career.

But there’s a catch. Once you reach that pinnacle the natural progression is to reach for the next level. And the level after that. And so on.

Careers void of any real purpose usually follow this trend. And there’s inherently nothing wrong with that. Accomplishments in higher positions and more compensation are the default pursuits when we haven’t defined a true purpose for our daily work and lives.

That’s the thing about true purpose. It should always involve making the lives of others better. And the best part is there’s no limitation to the opportunities available. There will always be those who are in need of creative solutions to some of the worlds most dire issues – e.g. Flint MI.

The beauty of it is we don’t need to keep ‘climbing’ to make purposeful impact.

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Reframing

Planning, drafting, forecasting, are all guess work in its simplest form. We do our best to gather as much information ahead of time to make the most accurate estimation of how things will work out. The only sure occurrence will be the arrival of ‘uncontrollables’. The unexpected events that can derail our plans.

And when our efforts get derailed we either give up or try again by replanning, redrafting, and reforcasting. The latter is a more optimistic view of the situation, even when things looks dire. Ultimately we decide to view the shortcoming from a different perspective.

When we do this we are ‘reframing’ the situation. Reframing or cognitive reframing is the process of looking at a current situation from a different perspective and changing the way we define it. Therapist use this technique to help clients with distorted thinking patterns.

When we don’t get what we want or the unexpected happens, there’s often a silver lining available for us to unpack.

•We didn’t get that coveted job we applied for, but the daily round trip commute was two hours on a good day.

•Our business failed, but the lessons learned from the ‘after action review’ will help us avoid the same mistakes on our next business venture.

Practicing the habit of cognitive reframing is beneficial from a productivity standpoint, but more importantly from a personal mental health perspective. The way we think about a situation emotionally takes precedence over the actual details of the moment.

Tearing down what we already know and replacing it with a refreshed, positive point of view daily is a practice that will help us personally as well as professionally.

You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control how you frame it. Reframe your mind, restore your perspective. – Craig Groeshel

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Potential Requires Process

When we have big aspirations to accomplish something significant, our brain by default goes into short cut mode and tries to find the quickest or easiest way to get there. It’s the very reason microwaves were invented.

I just finished reading the highly regarded book ‘Can’t Hurt Me’ by David Goggins. At the end when he gives his acknowledgements to those who supported him, he reveals the book was a 7 year process in the making. That wasn’t the original timeline but a result of getting the most out of the opportunity to share his story. The book went on to be a New York Times Best Seller.

A consideration of how much time will be used executing a thorough process hardly comes to mind at first but creeps up on use once we’re in the midst of the journey.

It’s important to understand that in anything we seek to do, no matter how long it takes, process is the key to unlocking our full potential.

“If you quit on the process, you are quitting on the result.” – Idowu Koyenikan

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‘Hands Free’ Innovation

When innovation is introduced, the first question we should ask is ‘why’? Instead of declaring ‘no one asked for this!’

In the case of Nike’s new Go FlyEase ‘hands free’ sneakers, someone did ask for it and the global sneaker brand fully committed to taking on the challenge.

That someone was Matthew Walzer who in 2012 at 16 years of age wrote a letter to Nike about the need for such a design. Walzer detailed in the letter how his battle with Cerebral Palsy made doing simple functions like tying his own shoes challenging.

“At 16 years old, I am able to completely dress myself, but my parents still have to tie my shoes. As a teenager who is striving to become totally self-sufficient, I find this extremely frustrating and, at times, embarrassing.”

Nike designer Tobie Hatfield led the project and ultimately finalized the design with the help of Walzer. The Nike Go FlyEase allows Walzer to use only his feet to secure his shoes.

Sometimes at first ‘social media’ glance innovation looks like a waste of time and resources. And that we need to be convinced of the benefit to our individual lives. Like slip-on running shoes.

But if we’re brave enough to stop scrolling for a minute and research the ‘why’ we’ll be pleasantly surprised that a need for innovation was there all along. We just had to look for it.

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Our Real Enemy

Our internal governor consistently stops us from taking risks. It’s either to avoid the pain of failure or the pain of looking foolish Or both.

For that reason we always look for what’s safe. What’s ideal. What’s common. Blending in and not standing out feeds our governor’s appetite for safety and security.

Then we read about a farmer renting her goats for £5.00 each to individuals who wanted to have goats show up as a joke on Zoom calls.

Her goats have now appeared in virtual meetings all over the world, including in the US, Russia, China and Australia, with some people donating far more than the £5.00 charge for an appearance.

She ended up making £50,000 from the gig. I guess it was just an untapped market. But a market none the less that she was not afraid of jumping into and potentially looking foolish.

Our battle with stepping out and creating something great is not about what other people think. It’s the consistent battle with our own governor that we need to be prepared to face daily.

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