Culture of hurry

We live in a culture of hurrying to get things done. Often times though, we choose to get the wrong things done.

For instance, anyone who spends an hour a day watching television has just demonstrated that they could spend an hour of their time to help someone who needs to be helped or make something that needs to be made.

If we can make that choice, a whole bunch of things open up for us.

One, we can take that opportunity to write something or to paint something or make something better. We can also look to make a connection with someone or learn a new skill.

But too often, we put aside our art thinking tomorrow will be a better day to begin. And too often, we are busy telling ourselves that we have other things to do. We have to be adults. We have people who are counting on us. Ironically though, we fill our time with debt and distractions.

Second, I think we make ourselves busy so we can make tension go away. We try to make everything okay. But everything is not always going to be okay.

I think in the long run we will be surprised to discover that slowing down will enable to see more clearly. And when we are better at seeing what is actually happening, we have the ability to get more work done—the kind of work that matters.

And so the tide changes

Maybe the economy is in a recession.

Maybe the political environment is unstable.

Maybe this isn’t the time to make a leap.

It didn’t seem like a good time for Karl Benz to launch the car in Europe. There were no roads and gas stations and it was against the law to drive.

It didn’t seem like it was the right time for Gutenberg to launch the printing press when he did (98% of Europe was illiterate).

The thing is; the tide raises all ships. And vice versa.

Maybe the problem isn’t the political or the economic environment.

Our mothers fought so hard to give us choice. But choice doesn’t come with guarantees.

Without doubt or uncertainty or failure, there is no choice.

And so the tide changes.

The tools are the same

The thing about people’s brains and hearts is that you cannot tell them apart.

If you have seen one normal, healthy brain, you’ve seen what most brains look like. (Same as the heart.)

At first glance, all brains and hearts look ordinary.

What makes them extraordinary though, is in their actions.

It is how they are used.

Most of us start with the same tools.

The difference is how we use them.

It’s the choices we make along the way that makes all the difference.

Who can we become?

Our past doesn’t have to define us.

At the end: God cares more about who we are and who we are becoming more than who we once were.

Its ordinary people doing small and simple things—day in and day out—that can bring about extraordinary results.

Overtime, weak things become strong by being better today from yesterday. And then we can do it again. We can do better tomorrow from today.

Scientific management

Frederick Winslow Taylor, famous for running around with a clipboard and timing employees to increase efficiency, created scientific management.

Scientific management is this idea that you have managers analyze workflows to be faster and cheaper from the day before.

But can you be faster than instant? Can you be more accurate than 100%? Can you get cheaper than free?

You’re at a race to the bottom.

Too often we are caught in this idea that if someone makes X, I’ll make X but only cheaper.

That’s not art. That’s not making someone sing. That’s not being remarkable.

If you are going to make something just a little cheaper (or faster or accurate), we are not going to pick you. You cannot out Walmart Walmart.

There is an alternative: We can race to the top.

We can create something that is meaningful. We can make something that needs to be made. We can do something that needs to be done. We can help someone who needs to be helped. We can make our art.

None of this has to do with compliance. None of this has to do with being the fastest or the cheapest. Putting on a show is about emotional labor. It isn’t about digging the ditch we are being told to dig.

Not everyone is going to embrace this: There is no map. There is no recipe for putting a smile on someone’s face.

Ctrl. Alt. Delete.

Errors don’t lead to as much harm when discovered quickly.

Routine maintenance, pulling of the weeds, whatever it is you want to call it; should be done everyday.

There are days you don’t feel like doing the work. But those are the days that divide the amateurs from the professionals.

Professionals don’t stop working on getting better just because they don’t feel like it.

They fall down, then get back up. They say, “I will try again tomorrow.” Their work is criticized but they know it’s not for them.

Not everyone is going to embrace this.

But anyone that spends one hour a day watching television has just demonstrated that they can spend an hour of their time making something that needs to be made, helping someone who needs to be help, making better art.

Social pressure

The paradox of good judgement: Good judgment comes from experience. But experience comes from bad judgement.

It’s good to learn from our mistakes but it’s even better to learn from others.

Alas, to err is human.

With enough social pressure, we can talk ourselves into believing that we are exempt from the consequences of our actions.

That’s why we see people get behind the wheel after too many drinks.

That’s why we see people playing the Powerball.

The only way we can reduce our mistakes is to admit that we are making them. Only then does the door to change and possibility open up for us.

The delay

It’s easy to look back and see when we overreacted: Hindsight is always superior to foresight.

But at the time, it’s difficult to understand what’s real and what’s fake.

We end up making current decisions based on previous experiences. Too often, our perceptions are incorrect. We really don’t know what’s actually happening. And too often, we simplify something that requires a complex solution.

It turns out, social media is a great place for people to hide. Deep down you will discover that most people you talk to that are afraid or angry or stuck, you will find fear at the center. In addition, everyone has a platform and a microphone to amplify their message of fear. (This is what most news outlets sell.)

And because we are afraid, it easy to hide behind computer screen. It’s easy not to put your name on something. But that isn’t connection. That isn’t going to make the fear go away. (When was the last time a Tweet actually changed us and made us a better person?)

All of this causes us to be distracted by the things that matter most because we bite the hook.

We have a choice though. We can choose to delay.

We don’t have to agree with people trying to get under our skin. We don’t have to teach everyone a lesson online for being wrong. But the delay helps us move from a place of anger, resentment to a place of clarity. It moves us from reacting to a situation to responding.

If we can delay—and not engage with people who are not ready to listen—it opens up a door. A door to initiate and do something that matters for those ready for a connection.

The bottom line is people will say a lot things to get your attention. Don’t let the trolls and the critics have that much power over you. Attention doesn’t necessarily lead to trust.

[My advice: It’s very hard to take back something once it has been posted online. But if we can choose to delay, most of the time we look back and are glad we didn’t write something out of anger. We’re glad we didn’t write something out of resentment. Slowly, we can turn the conversation to a more productive one. One that is away from each other to the actual problem that needs to be solved.]

That was then, this is now

Three centuries ago, it was a fact that the world was flat and that the universe revolved around us.

A 150 years ago, no one knew that washing your hands significantly reduced the spread infection.

50 years ago, doctors were prescribing cigarettes to clear a patience’s cough.

It turns out, people are wrong. All the time. We are not as good as we think we are at knowing what’s real and what’s fake.

Here’s the thing: We cannot fix problems unless people admit they exist.

It’s easy for people to blame themselves or to point the finger at others for incorrect perceptions of how the world really is. But human error isn’t the root cause of the problems we face today. No, if you look hard enough and deep enough, you will find the true cause is a system that allows these type of problems to keep re-occurring.

(History loves to repeat itself.)

When we blame people though, it makes it difficult to convince governments, organizations, corporations to restructure and eliminate these problems. It makes it even more difficult to build a culture we can be proud of.

The good news is with more time and more knowledge, history has shown that people want to move from disorganization to a place of clarity. But it doesn’t happen without first destroying the perfect and enabling the impossible.

The amount of knowledge and information and the level of access is un-paramount then any generation before us. It’s right there at our fingertips to do something remarkable.

We just need to dig deeper: Moving the blame away from each other and focusing on solving the actual cause of the challenges we face today.