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.


Second Place Rules

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.

Guide Your Life With Rules

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.

What You’ve Never Had

Want something? How badly do you want it? Are you prepared to take a chance? Are you willing to try something new? To get what you’ve never had, you must do what you’ve never done. Think outside the box, open your mind, and approach your desires from a different angle. If you’re doing it the same way you’ve always done it and you’re not winning, then you’re doing it wrong. It’s okay, but stop wasting time. Give it a different go.

Humility Goes A Long Way

Want something from someone and think you deserve it? Do not boast or nag. No one responds well to ego. And whether you deserve it or not, you haven’t gotten it yet. The first step to getting something you think you deserve is to think you don’t deserve it. By humbling yourself, you inadvertently raise the stakes and fight harder for what you want. If you humble yourself enough, the fight will be clean and the other party will join your team. Before long, people will come around to your perspective and merit. The key to getting what you want is inspiring others to genuinely believe you deserve it.


Since when has everything gone exactly to plan? Plans break all the time. That’s life. Things happen. When dealing with human or natural variables, it’s simply impossible to chart an infallible plan. A true test of character occurs every time you respond to malfunctions.

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.

The Controversy of Change: Netflix, Facebook, and Chameleons

Many people freaked over Facebook’s face lift and Netflix’s reorganization. Yes, these changes are inconvenient. Some may break your routine or even damage your business. But what would you prefer instead? For the company or service to stay exactly the same?

Companies that fail to change fall prey to the market evolving around them. Inevitably, they are slain by the next best thing. By asking them to stay the same, you are asking them to fail. You are condemning the brand you embraced for so long to a slow death.

No, change may not always be good or necessary. But you cannot know until after you try. And neither can brands. No one has a crystal ball. Not even Steve Jobs. Smart leaders fail more often than lesser leaders and learn from their mistakes. They know that the biggest risk is avoiding risk altogether. You deserve to be eaten if you sit still in the savanna.

Like puberty, change may always be an ugly process. Some coast through it smoother than others. Those who make it out clean never forget who they are or what they believe in. A strong brand transforms with the market, but keeps its core mission at heart.

Embrace the chameleon business. Invest in progressive brands with solid foundation, not products destined for revision or absolution. If you truly believe in a brand, you should trust in change. Forgive the minor transgressions and take pleasure in discovering the next step along the way.

Think Big

Why solve small problems when you can solve large ones? Why change the life of one when you can change the lives of many? Do not sell yourself short. Do not shy from a challenge. The difference between big and small impact lies not in financial or material resources, but in ingenuity and imagination. Think big, live big, solve big. Why not?

Sergeant Major Eats Sugar Cookies

A handful of military leaders, notably in the United States Army, embrace a fairly standard five-paragraph memo to outline, strategize, and communicate unique action plans. I feel the following memo structure, identified by the acronym SMESC (or “Sergeant Major Eats Sugar Cookies”), will serve most civilian leaders well. I have every intention of practicing it into my business in the future:

  1. Situation: What is the problem?
  2. Mission: What is the principle task at hand and purpose behind it?
  3. Execution: What strategy are we going to use to accomplish the task?
  4. Support: What are the logistics? How many troops and resources will we need?
  5. Command: What other groups should be involved and how will they communicate?