I’ve now been involved in some kind of creative activity for the bulk of my life. From design to running a business, I’ve found that certain patterns have emerged. Clearly there are parallels, and I’m slowly learning a few lessons. About a year ago I started to document these thoughts, with little notion as to what to do with them.
Following are some of my random observations; I hesitate in posting them. They are at best half-complete, and vary widely in format, length and focus. They are certainly not advice I’m intending to impart; rather, I see them as suggestions and reminders for myself. Perhaps you’ll find some interest in reading them as well.
1. Simple rules
There are a lot of choices to make over the course of a lifetime. That’s why it’s important to have some simple rules in place to guide one’s actions. As odd as it may seem, something as basic as “be nice to everyone” saves a lot of time and thought.
2. Surround yourself with people who are better than you
This morning I spent twenty minutes on the treadmill. Whenever the fellow beside me sped-up, I found myself instinctively wanting to do the same.
People who are better than you help you forget your own perceived limitations.
3. Choice and outcome
For everything new I do, I learn something; therefore, it can’t be a waste of time. Repeat efforts, however, have to be measured carefully to ensure they are not just time-consuming bad habits.
4. Talk to your clients like they are your spouse
When I start to think of others as “them”, something is lost. When I can find a way to cut through the formalities, however, something real happens.
5. Perception is sometimes more relevant than actuality
Garrett has silver hair, a charming smile and wears a pair of smart, dark-rimmed glasses. He is intelligent and speaks with confidence. In a room of executives, everyone takes notice and listens intently to what he has to say.
One day I bumped into him on the street. He was as articulate as ever, but his hair had grown somewhat long, and he wore a less flattering pair of glasses. I found myself somehow less “taken” by the discussion.
Other than two small aspects of his appearance, nothing had changed; yet, this was enough to detract from his message. What you say is often less important than what people hear (or see).
6. Set the bar high
If you want to run a 5k, become a marathoner. As a result, you’ll find that 5k runs become a piece of cake.
By setting goals higher than you feel achievable, even your failures can be spectacular.
7. Busy-ness as a path to nowhere
There’s a fellow down the street that picks up bottles all day. He works much harder than the executive in the office tower but earns far less. It’s not by any means fair.
Most of us get caught up in being busy, instead of concentrating on what are accomplishing. This feels satisfying, as all of our peers are doing the same. (Logic suggests this is simply a bad habit.)
Get “un-busy”; determine where your wealth and happiness come from, and put your resources into that.
8. Take a moment
The urgency to respond to a situation can be perilous.
When confronted by unwelcome news try this: breathe, acknowledge, and continue about your business.
In five minutes you’ll see the situation more clearly. You might appreciate not having leapt to a response.
9. Today’s problems
It’s easy to look ahead and start thinking about potential problems and how you might solve them.
Some of these problems will never occur, so this is time wasted.
There are always plenty of problems needing to be solved. Just concentrate on today’s.
10. They won’t shoot you
When you are really stressed out at the office, rushing about in a frantic mess, try to remember that there are very few mistakes that will result in you getting shot. Take a breath and put the situation into perspective. It is probably a smaller issue than you think (at least in the long-term).