The world doesn’t need a new way to set goals. What we need is a way to have a relationship with our goals. Pile up the literature on to-do lists, resolutions, “SMART” goals, and business plans and you could blanket the planet a few times over. Good luck finding guidance on how to keep striving toward those goals. It’s probably simple economics like selling pickaxes to prospectors instead of lockboxes to successful ones. Hoards come searching for gold while few find it.
I was recently listening to Steven Pressfield, one of my favorite authors, on the How I Write podcast with David Parell. Discussing inspiration, Pressfield shared, “There's a thing in Kabbalah that above every blade of grass is an angel saying, grow, grow.” I love that. It’s both beautiful and encouraging. And it got me thinking about the personal and professional relationships that serve as my angels.
Many years ago, I stumbled upon a PDF of Charlie Munger’s famous 1994 speech at USC. In it, he championed the idea that with 80 to 90 timeless mental models you could better navigate the world. This inspired me to create a list of models I believed mattered in early 2018. I often draw from that document for these articles. Almost six years since I began, I’ve assembled exactly 80 mental models. Many were learned through costly mistakes I’d rather not repeat.
Among the biggest challenges of leading a team is the gap between what you say and what they hear. Somedays the gap feels narrow. Others it can seem like a chasm. You did what? That’s one reason we recommend weekly accountability meetings with staff. Whether you botched the delivery or they fumbled the reception, it’s hard to get too far off course in 7 days. These weekly meetings serve as weekly course corrections, coaching opportunities, and celebrations.
Author Michael Lewis applied to be a tour guide for a boutique travel company when he was graduating from college. When he arrived, the owner said, “I don’t have time for the interview because they’ve just told us we need to move our office furniture around. Will you help me?” Lewis agreed and they spent the next hour rearranging the furniture. The owner called him the following day to say he’d landed the job. Turns out each applicant was given the same story. One would move the furniture out and the next would move it back. The owner wanted to know what the applicants were like in action, how they collaborated, and, most importantly, how they handled the unexpected.
Anson Dorrance may be the best coach you’ve never heard of. As the head coach of the University of North Carolina (UNC) women’s soccer team, he has claimed 21 of 41 NCAA women's soccer titles. No other program has more than three. Famed UNC basketball coach Dean Smith once declared, “This is a women’s soccer school. We’re just trying to keep up with them.” When I worked on Mia Hamm’s book, Go for the Goal, I got to hear about one of the keys to the team’s success – the “competitive cauldron.”
Happy New Year! With 2023 officially in the books, it’s time to take a moment and look back. Last December, I shared a version of these reflection questions with the assignment to take a couple of hours to answer them thoughtfully. 2024 is young. This is a great time to reflect, re-focus, and re-center.
There is perhaps no greater waste of time than to do a great job on something that doesn’t matter. Yet, troops of trivial tasks emerge daily from our texts and inboxes. Deadlines must be met, anxious clients need to be calmed, and opportunities to be claimed. The trick to defending against them is knowing what you’ve already said yes to. We must keep our priorities clear and give them the time and effort they demand. The simplest way to do this is with the 411 and Time Blocking.
Continuing our series on the building blocks of extraordinary success, we’ll move from purpose to priority. When our kids were in preschool, I remember getting a bulletin from the director to the parents. Written on an old-school typewriter and photocopied, the headline read: “Poopyhead.” Yeah, it got my attention.
Continuing our series on the building blocks of extraordinary success, we’re doubling down on last week’s core values discussion. On the way home from our annual goal-setting retreat, Wendy and I listened to Mo Anderson on the Empire Building podcast. Mo told a story about getting out of business with someone for violating a company standard. She said there was no debate because “our standards reflect our values.”