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.
Long term, second place can pay off in spades. I see second place more as a second chance than a loss. Watching someone else cross the finish line ahead can empower you with the drive to improve and an insight into the victor’s foundational success strategy. Knowledge and motivation in hand, you have the key ingredients to better yourself against the competition.
On several occasions, I’ve had the pleasure of following the first in line. I was the second graduating class of my high school, so I watched an entire group of kids go through the ropes before me (always being an upperclassman definitely had its perks). We had the opportunity to fix their mistakes and build on their accomplishments. It was a great deal.
I’ve seen companies beat my ideas to the market. A sad day turns happy when you start to find all the flaws in their approach and the opportunity to perform differently or better. You can refocus your efforts and take more informed strategic bets in the space. Also a great deal.
No, you did not cross the finish line first this time. I’m sorry. But next time, you can win the race and break records in brilliant form. All great athletes lose every once in a while. If they didn’t, they would get bored with winning and have no room to grow. Growth is important. A challenge is a great thing. Competition makes the world go round.
Want to tackle a goal or change behavior? Start incorporating rules into your daily life. Set expectations for yourself and stick to those expectations. Create barriers that prevent you from breaking your own rules. And if it will help, enlist friends or family members to hold you accountable. In response to my concerns about information overload, I am not allowing myself to read news after I get home from work. I set up alerts to bug me if I do.
A year ago, I wanted to start writing again. I launched this blog and have had you, dear reader, holding me accountable to it ever since. I accomplished my original goal and more.
You can set rules for your diet, exercise, creativity or work. Treat rules like a game instead of a burden. Reward yourself with play, luxuries or a simple pat on the back. Make it fun and never forget that you’re doing it to make a positive difference in your own life.
While backup plans are never a bad idea, they consume a lot of time and are unrealistic to outline for every operation. I propose a blanket backup plan: be flexible. Accept in advance that things happen beyond your control. Be prepared and practiced enough to make alternate plans quickly. Those who can accept change, keep cool, and think on their feet stand a better chance at getting things done. Furthermore, an open mind radically reduces stress and can open doors to better possibilities outside the original plan.
Embrace flexibility. It may very well be the key to a more fruitful, healthier life.