Make Time To Find A Better Way

If you have the choice between performing a task in the same painful manner you always do or taking the time to invent a better way, always opt for the latter. If you can afford to invent in spite of deadlines, resources or the status quo, then do it. Time saved down the road often outweighs the time invested now. If you fail to make a better system, at least you tried and will know better next time. A slap on the hand is totally worth it in the scheme of things.

Advertisements

Trial & Error

Trial & error has two parts: trial and error. You must accept both before you embark on an experiment. Stand behind both as they happen. Separate yourself emotionally from failure – few experiments in this world have great batting averages. Remind yourself that every action comes with a reaction you often cannot control. Have fun with it.

Do Not Be Afraid To Lose

Contemporary academia leaves little to no room for error. With grades and tuition on the line, failure is not acceptable. We were all raised to think this way, perhaps the single greatest fault of contemporary education. Individuals deeply ingrained in the academic world have even less tolerance for failure. You cannot genuinely innovate when you need to ask permission for everything or need to meet a rubric. We need to have freedom – permission to make mistakes – before we can truly change the world.

Seth Godin calls this ‘guts’ – a trait far more admirable than perfectionism or a no-tolerance policy. We can all respect high batting averages; we cannot always respect the methods behind high batting averages. At the end of the day, we pay more attention to home runs than high batting averages anyway. To hit home runs? Swing with everything you’ve got – even at the risk of missing the ball. You may lose the game if you miss, but you cannot win unless you swing.

Risk

My dear friend, Shirl, shared a poem with me and I want to share it with you:“To Risk”
by William Arthur Ward

To laugh is to risk appearing a fool, To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.
To reach out to another is to risk involvement, To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self.
To place your ideas and dreams before a crowd is to risk their loss.
To love is to risk not being loved in return, To live is to risk dying, To hope is to risk despair, To try is to risk failure.
But risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.
The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing.
He may avoid suffering and sorrow, But he cannot learn, feel, change, grow or live.
Chained by his servitude he is a slave who has forfeited all freedom.
Only a person who risks is free.
The pessimist complains about the wind;
The optimist expects it to change;
And the realist adjusts the sails.

Savings: The Game

The best financial advice I received upon graduating college: always have enough cash in savings to survive for at least six months without income. I took that advice with a vengeance. Savings not only provide you with a security blanket, they award you the confidence and flexibility to make major life changes. The risks of quitting a job, changing cities, moving into a new place, taking on a life partner, and having children are dampened by the relative stability of an earned allowance. I would not have felt comfortable quitting my job, leaving Hollywood, and moving to Denver without the cash buffer I built since graduating.

Yes, savings are difficult to accrue. It takes discipline, commitment, and a passion to see numbers grow. I treat my savings like a game: I want to get the high score. With online banking, it’s easier than ever to convince yourself  those numbers are points on a leader board. Have fun with it and take pleasure knowing your high score means something real.

If you are living paycheck to paycheck, you need to find a way to make more money or live cheaper. And who really wants to live cheaper? Negotiate a raise, yo! But we’ll save that conversation for another time.

Get Dirty

Remember when you were young and you liked playing in the sand? It used to be fun to get dirty. Where did that go? What happened to that childhood passion for adventure, play, and discovery?

Why not get dirty now? Dive into something you’ve never done before. You do not have to cover yourself in sand to learn about how the world works, but you do need to take chances outside your element. Make it a game, use your imagination. Love learning again. Love adventure again. Get dirty and have fun.

Regressive Culture and the Decimal Improvement

Most businesses operate and finance on a perpetual study of what has been profitable before. Makes sense, doesn’t it? “This product worked well for us, so let’s keep producing it and continue to make money from it.” Risks, if ever taken, are informed by thorough analysis of previous ventures. The result? Only marginal improvements to products and a gruelingly slow roll-out of human progress. Version 1.1 instead of version 2.0, because any business person knows that they can milk extra money out of every marginal improvement between 1.0 and 2.0.

Sure, this practice is brilliant for driving revenue and safely building businesses. But it’s regressive for human progress. It involves a constant study and reincorporation of what has already been done rather than what has never been done before. It promotes recycling culture, recycling ideas, and holding human potential back. Hollywood has become notorious for this.

We’re stuck on old models, old cash cows, and the golden hens of yore. Our world could “go green” if gas and vehicle companies stop preventing that progress in an effort to perpetuate profits. Our world could connect with other worlds if financiers see space exploration as more than an “investment.” Our world could cure disease indefinitely if pharmaceutical companies surrender their lust for the daily medication business. Our world could do so much more if money wasn’t tugging at our reins. We could do so much more together.

The few making blind leaps of faith are independent entrepreneurs and inventors, working out of their garage after hours to compete for the next big thing. These heroes of our future are pushing buttons few large players dare push. Inventors have played an instrumental role in American history and will continue to define our future. Strapped for cash and time, these men and women really need support to push their visions forward. Unfortunately, they often look to the worst place possible for help: big companies. Why the worst place? The big boys swoop in to buy and ingest the little guys, taking control of the invention and platforming incremental versions to maximize market potential. We fall back where we started.

The entrepreneurs of today are trained (mostly by business leaders, mind you) to have an “exit strategy” – sell your company, publicly or to a larger company. We have been trained to give up our ideas and business in exchange for cash. We have been taught to sell away the future we are building for mankind. Many companies today have become dependent on acquiring small players and have completely disbanded their research & development departments altogether. These companies don’t even bother developing incremental improvements while they wait for the next great purchase. In the good old days, big companies had all the resources AND the best talent to produce great product. Now, the best talent invents on the outside and struggles for capital while companies stockpile all of the resources necessary to produce meaningful change. Herein lies a tragic disconnect that also stunts our progress forward.

Thankfully, the world of financial support is changing. Initiatives like Kickstarter connect projects with needed capital. True change can happen if we stand together and support each other. Vote with your purchases, donations, and investments. Set profit and politics aside. Build a better world. Our children depend on it.