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Author: Patrick

The faster we communicate, the less we think

Back before PC’s and spell check, communicating via the written word was a lot harder. You had to think about what you wanted to say before typing – most likely writing several drafts by hand before typing the final. And type carefully to avoid showing your errors. With PC’s and spell check came writing and editing on the fly. No longer do we need to write it out by hand. We can just write, spell check and print.

With email, no longer do we need to even call people. We can just shoot off a few messages, not worrying too much about what we said and move on. Email let us hide behind our words. But it also removed tone of voice. It’s now easy to misread a message because we can’t hear their emphasis. It’s also easy to be not so nice when we want to. The flip side of course, is that emails are fairly permanent and trackable.

Instant messaging puts us into warp speed where we don’t even need to use whole words or real words when writing your bff imho btw.

The point here is that as we increase the speed at which we can write, print and send messages and documents to people, the less effort, energy and thought goes into what we say – and how we say it. No longer do we contemplate are message and tone. No longer do we edit (much). That’s good and bad. The good is that we can communicate more thoughts – a stream of consciousness as it comes to us. We can be unfiltered and spontaneous, which can yield valuable insights. That’s the danger too – it’s easy not to express clear thoughts, or to be sloppy and unfiltered. It’s easy to send something you wouldn’t have sent in the old write ‘n type days.

We’re also overloaded with messages and information threatening to takeover our day. Don’t let it. Take time once in awhile to communicate thoughts that matter. To put a little craft into what you write. Think too about sending a hand-written note to show you REALLY do care about what you’re saying.

As a fun exercise, write out your next message before typing it. Then do another on the fly. Look at the difference in their tone, style and clarity. You might be surprised at how different the process feels – and how it makes you think.

Ship it

That’s the message for success by many leading thinkers today. What that means is don’t wait for it to be perfect – it never will. Get it out there, get feedback and repeat. It’s never the smartest who win – it’s those who work the hardest at executing ideas. Those that fail quickly, get back up and try again.

This is something I always have to remind myself because I have perfectionist tendencies. Just one more edit. Just one more information source or data point and it’ll be ready. Problem is, it never will be. That’s why you need to get it as good as you can and hit send, print, publish or produce depending on what it is. But that doesn’t mean put a bunch of half-baked, sloppy ideas out there. It doesn’t mean spend 5 minutes on a direct mail letter and print it. It just means do enough due diligence to get it good, then release. And listen to your feedback. Look at why your results were stellar as well as why you flopped.

A sure way to keep shipping is to ship things on which you’re not betting the farm. Have a multi-layered approach with other things on the runway as you ship. So you can turn to the next iteration once you see how the latest performed.

I know someone who’s been working on a subscription website since at least 2004. Hasn’t shipped it yet. Last I heard she’s still working on it. Guess how relevant the work done from 2004 to 2008 is? Think about web technology in 2004. That’s before smart phones became common. That’s THREE years before the iphone. Needless to say, much has changed since then. She could have shipped, evaluated and had an incredible product in those six plus years. But all she has is a lot of money and time spent to show for it.

Get it out there. That’s my MO for the year. Make it yours too.

Five essential personality traits of successful people

I just finished Seth Godin’s newest book, Linchpin, and what a great whack on the head!  Towards the end he talks about the five personality traits that you need to embody to be indispensable: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Emotional Stability. These are not just from him, but considered essential by most psychologists.

I think these are pretty self-explanatory, but provide a framework on which you can evaluate how you stack up. Are you open? Or do you withhold information as way to grab power? (not a good idea). Are you considerate of others? Obviously being an asshole, although it might get results for yourself, is not an endearing quality. Doubt this? read Robert Sutton’s book, The No Asshole Rule.

Extraversion doesn’t mean you need to be the life of the party, but if you’re not able to engage in conversation with relative ease, it’s hard to build relationships with others – and relationships is where the rubber meets the road when it comes to long-term success. Agreeableness certainly doesn’t mean being a yes person – someone without any opinions or a backbone adds little value. But it does mean being able to engage in meaningful discourse and seeing other points of view. There’s a balance between the yes person and the one who’s always right.

Emotional stability? That’s key. Someone who’s unpredictable, volatile is not someone you can easily trust. Nor would you typically want to spend much time around them. Having the emotional strength to receive constructive criticism or work through tough problems and crises a huge benefit.

We’re in the midst of a huge sea change in how we work, compete and thrive. Seth’s premise in this book is that you have a choice – to embrace it, or be a replaceable cog. It’s not for the faint of heart, but nor is our new reality. And he makes the point eloquently. Time to toughen up.

How to Conquer Fear, Doubt and Worry.

Conquer fear, doubt and worryFear, doubt and worry have the power to consume us. To drain us of energy and enthusiasm. To hold us back from achieving success. To prevent us from thriving. And the more the financial crisis worsens, the more powerful they become. So powerful, they can derail our careers and our lives. To the extreme, they can paralyze or even kill us.

Don’t let that happen. I’ve spent too much time letting them affect my life. It wasn’t until I read Napoleon Hill’s book, “Think and Grow Rich”, that I finally conquered them – or at least learned how to keep them in check. You see, these words are in the media, socieiy and our minds. And our minds play nasty tricks on us under stress. When the media bombards us with news of impending financial collapse – fear takes over. We panic. We think irrationally. Or we don’t think. We doubt. We worry. We live in fear.

Despite Wall Street’s rebound and huge bonuses, we’re still in the most serious economic upheavals since the Great Depression. But letting fear, doubt and worry take over does nothing but make the situation worse. I’m not advocating blind optimism but for casting aside their spell so you can take positive action – no matter how small it may be.

Fear, doubt and worry are not productive tools to help you thrive. They’ll only knock you down. The next time you encounter any of them, consider the following strategies to defeat them before they defeat you:

  • Acknowledge the source of your fear – what caused it, and what’s the real truth about it?
  • Look the worse-case scenario? Then consider the best case. How likely is the worse case?
  • Read stories for inspiration of others who have overcome adversity to succeed – such as Harry Truman, Abraham Lincoln or the founders of our country who risked EVERYTHING to do so.
  • Take a walk or exercise – physical activity is proven to improve our mental well being.

Then go do something. Take action – even if it’s simply removing fear, doubt and worry from your internal voice. Just know that it takes time – don’t expect them to go away quietly. They’re persistant little words afterall.