The problem with perfect

You’ll never have the perfect product for the perfect person at the perfect place for the perfect price with the perfect promotion.

So why do we insist on everything having to be perfect?

Without defects perfect becomes boring, predictable and unremarkable.

You’ll never make a difference if you insist on everything having to be perfect.

So instead of making something perfect, find the perfect problem.

The perfect problem that only you (or your company or your brand) can solve. Then when it’s good enough to ship, ship it.

Perfection doesn’t exist in a world full of imperfect people.

But you can make the world a little better with your contribution.

Don’t wait for the tide to be just right.

We need you.

One by one

It’s hard to change the world all at once.

Making a difference to the masses is painstakingly slow, ineffective and ultimately a waste.

(Projects become so big and audacious, of course, you could never ship. How could you? You’re trying to change the world. Remember?)

A simpler, and more effective way, is not to make a difference to everyone but to someone.

One by one.

Drip by drip by drip.

One act of generosity for one person.

Over and over. Again and again.

People are made up of a set of individuals. Average products for average people doesn’t work anymore. Because there is no connection.

And you need a connection.

Maybe that’s what makes all of the difference.

What is it for?

People in organizations change: the CEO, management, even the mailman. And so do laws and markets and politicians.

When your environment changes, you are left with policies and procedures from the previous regime.

So the question you need to ask is: What is it for?

If you don’t know the answer, then (like most people) it’s probably because someone was trying to please their boss not their customers.

Just because this is the way it’s always been, doesn’t mean this is the way it always has to be.

[I’ve kept this story about Five Monkeys hung on my wall for ten years. It has served as a great reminder to question the status quo. I hope it can do the same for you.]

There is no such thing as luck

Luck is a tool used by Resistance to diminish what God has done to bless our lives.

I don’t think the universe just magically picks us.

I will grant you there are things we can’t control when we are born: talent, family, neighborhood, country, time period.

That’s fate.

Luck, on the other hand, is a figment of our imagination. It’s made up. A cop-out. A thing we say to get us off the hook.

By saying someone was lucky, we fail to acknowledge the hard work and choices and sacrifice people made.

In most cases luck has nothing to do with success.

It’s about twenty year commitments and grit. It’s about leaping, leaning in and leading. Most of all, it’s about generosity and love.

When the bottom falls out

People are in search for clarity.

So if you’re upset about the results of the election and you feel pressed to write a Facebook post about your thoughts, write with clarity. Don’t use 100 words for what can be said in 10.

In 2004, Facebook was invented. It wasn’t very long ago, we didn’t have platforms to raise our voice, our opinions and observations that could reach a million people. Not everyone is going to agree with what you have to say. It’s okay to disagree but not to be disagreeable.

The goal is not to have your message heard by everyone, it’s to be heard by someone. If it’s not for them, it’s not for them. That’s okay.

But just because you took the time to write something down doesn’t mean I have to even read it. You need to earn trust to get attention.

We now live in a world where 3 billion people are connected. So what should you do with this connection?

Try solving interesting problems.

Here’s one: It’s a hard pill to swallow if your candidate had more votes and still lost. What an opportunity to fight the system that allows that to happen. But changing the system from an electoral vote to a popular one seems impossible. Yeah, that’s my point.

Doing the impossible takes guts.

It takes guts to ignore the trolls. It takes guts to put aside hurt feelings. It takes guts to stand up and say follow me. Or you can choose to hide. (Social media is a great place for that.)

Placebos work

That button you press to close the door on an elevator doesn’t actually work.

It’s fake.

So are the buttons on cross walks and office thermostats.

They’re all placebos.

That’s okay because it makes us feel better to exercise control in a world that is seemingly out-of-control.

The question is: Is it ethical?

I think so.

Most people don’t get upset when a magician reveals his secrets. Maybe a little let down because we want to believe that magic is real.

(It’s manipulation when your customers become angry.)

But if a placebos makes you feel better, gives you more confidence and helps you perform then why not use it?

It’s story telling.

So if we want people to change—the kind of change you are seeking to make in the world—you need a better story.

Because the story controls how we feel about things.

Logic and math and science isn’t enough to change people’s minds.

[The better the package, the better the taste. (And vise-versa.) So what would happen if we called the Affordable Care Act, the Expensive Care Act? What would change if we called Global Warming, Atmosphere Cancer? Would things be different?]