Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

Random observations – Part 4

Random observations – Part 4
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The past few months have been full of wild ups and downs. My wife has been privy to me coming home and looking like I’m going to fall down from exhaustion, freak-out completely, or dance on the ceiling. (Oh, what a feeling!) I’ve made note of some points for myself, and thought I’d share them with you (you can also read #1, #2, and #3). Here goes…

31. Keep going

There’s a trick to success; if you stop, you’ll never get there, and most people stop. You can do a lot of things if you keep going. Run a marathon? Keep running. Write a book? Keep writing. Play a guitar solo? Keep playing.

It might not turn out to be genius, but at least you’ll have done it once. As a result, the next one will be more manageable. Just keep going.

32. They don’t know

We like to think that some people have an innate ability to succeed. Having done it once, we expect it will happen again. We probe, ask questions, write articles and generally try to deconstruct how they did it.

Well then, why isn’t Joost a success? What happened to Pounce? And why can’t Hall & Oates put out another hit record?

Some people get lucky. It doesn’t mean that they inherently have a greater chance of repeating this than anyone else. Perhaps you’ll get lucky next time.

33. Wouldn’t it be nice to not succeed?

In my mind, child prodigies get a raw deal. They do something remarkable, get a pile of attention, and in most cases, it completely screws up the rest of their lives. It’s a lot of pressure, and few rebound.

I like the idea of 10 years of toil before any major awareness for one’s work. This affords time to experiment and grow–free of public scrutiny. Then, if you ever make it you’ll have a knowledge base to prop you up. If you don’t (odds are that most of us won’t), you’ll have probably learned to like work over that time.

34. Practice your scales

I’m often confronted by young people who believe that in order to become great designers they need to experience the world. This isn’t altogether untrue; one does need to live in order to understand others. At the same time, a night out with one’s pals doesn’t negate the need for deliberate practice.

Want to be a great designer? Spend your evenings at home, designing things. It’s really that simple.

35. Don’t hire

Most people want to hire others to help them get more work done. The problem is that adding people adds work: more training, more communication, more “make busy” tasks… you get where I’m going.

Instead of hiring, figure out what tasks don’t make you any money and eliminate those.

36. Be fearless

I’m scared of lots of things and this often keeps me from doing what I want.

Sometimes I let go of that and just act. It’s fun and it generally works out quite nicely.

Nike’s marketing department was close, but needed an editor. It should have read: “Just do.”

37. Simplicity

What you’re doing is too complicated. Step back for a moment and simplify it.

(You can thank me later.)

38. Quitting is easy

When I’m doing something and it starts to feel really difficult, I often find myself wanting to do something else… Anything else… Just something easier.

The reality, however, is that there is rarely an easy path. Instead, there’s a huge hump that’s really hard to get past. Quitting now relieves temporary pain, but ultimately leads to another equally large hump.

The nice part for you is that you’re already part way down this path, and all the others feel just as tired as you do. (And most of them are going to quit soon, making the competition a little less stiff for you.)

39. Everyone expects a rocket

…but they’re in limited supply. Instead, most of us get gardens. You choose whether you water, weed, fertilize and care; or, walk away before your sprouts see the light of day.

40. Ka-pow?

When I watch boxing I find myself wondering why they don’t just punch harder. (It looks so easy when I’m sitting on my ass.) The reality, however, is that even 60 seconds on a punching bag turns my arms into anchors that I can hardly budge.

Being an entrepreneur is like this. It’s not about delivering one great blast. It’s about standing up, over and over again, even when you feel like there’s nothing left. It’s a battle of attrition, and few recognize this when they sign-up.

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