Missed opportunities (sunk cost)

When we reach a fork in the river, if we missed our turn, don’t make vain attempts to paddle upstream.

You’ll end up wasting time, energy, finite resources without any reward, leaving nothing for the journey ahead.

Far better to find the courage to take the next one and chart a new course.

Your first one-star review

Certainly won’t be your last.

And it is probably going to show up before any five-star reviews.

Because no product, good or service is for everybody. It is, however, for somebody.

If you need something to hang your hat, it is this: You may not have had a success but you can now say you have had a failure.

So the trick is to do it again. Outlast the critic with one more blog post, one more project, one more start-up, until one day it works.

The printing press took years before the idea spread. Why? Because 90% of the population of Europe was illiterate and scribes were fighting to keep their jobs.

When Karl Benz launched the car in Europe, there were no roads, no gas stations and it was against the law to drive. No one got it.

If you are going to be in the arena expect opposition. The greater the change you seek to make, the greater the opposition gets.

What lens/filters we choose

Facebook is very good at polishing the rough edges. We never see the full picture, the whole story of what is actually happening.

We don’t post ten pictures of the line at the airport, the overworked flight attendant, how the service was average, how our bags won’t fit in the overhead storage or the lack of sleep.

Because…

Because no one wants to give a thumbs up to someone being malignant.

And so, we post about average stuff, what fits in and, over time, the work is dumb down to please the masses. And, worst of all, we stick to the innocuous, unobjectionable and unexceptionable for cheap affirmations. We talk about what is trending instead of what is important. Somehow we always find time to watch the season finale of Game of Thrones, to post about it, but not enough time to learn a new skill that will help us leap forward.

The thing is, we will never get the reassurance we need online to overcome the challenges we face in the real world.

Have you noticed that looking through the Facebook lens, everyone’s life looks better than yours? Why? Because these programs are designed to make us just unhappy enough, to keep going back.

What’s interesting now is the power of lock in that Facebook has created. If you use Facebook to login to other websites, you have just increased lock in. If you use Facebook to keep track of memories, you just increased lock in. And if you use Facebook to store photographs or for job interviews or the news or to keep tabs with your family, again, lock in.

To move years of memories over to a new platform increases in difficulty the longer we stay with any product.

What’s difficult to accept is that we are no longer customers, instead, we are their products.

Shun non-believers

Understand that there are those who are not ready to hear your message, that won’t appreciate your work or the emotional labor you bring to the table.

That’s fine.

It is not for them.

It is not for everyone.

It is for someone.

No need to dull down your work for the masses. If it’s not for them, it’s not for them.

Work even harder to find your true believers and shun the trolls.

Wanting someone to change is not the same as working with someone wanting to change.

(Another thought about angry customers, critics, trolls: It is perfectly acceptable to take responsibility for creating something that people don’t like. Just as they can take responsibility for not liking them. It’s a choice. Always has been.)

A journey worth taking

Father Greg Boyle runs the largest gang rehab program in the world.

Here is what he has learned over the last 30 years helping gang members change their lives:

“I had mistakenly tried to “save” young men and women trapped in gang life. But then, in an instant, I learned that saving lives is for the Coast Guard. Me wanting a gang member to have a different life would never be the same as that gang member wanting to have one. I discovered that you do not go to the margins to rescue anyone. But if we go there, everyone finds rescue.”

Invoking the change we seek to make in the world starts with enrollment, flipping the lights on and getting people around you to understand that your journey is worth taking.

Expecting things to happen though is far different from hoping for things to happen. The former being fruitless and frustrating. Hope, on the other hand, could be the ignition needed to start your movement.

“I’m too chicken”

Really?

Do you have a beak and feathers?

Last I checked, we are humans with hopes and aspirations with the ability to create and do work that matters.

Chickens in the face of fear will always run.

Humans, on the other hand, have the presence to stare fear in the eyes and take a stand.

Funny business

Last year, there were a plethora of evil clown sightings. Sometimes with weapons, scaring victims around shopping malls and schools.

This year, the remake of an old Stephen King classic IT, is looking like it could be a huge blockbuster success.

What a terrible time to be in the clown business. Many professionals are upset and refuse to change while the ground is shrinking beneath their feet.

On the other hand, if you are in the business to delight customers, to surprise them, to make them laugh and smile, to sing, dance and entertain the market is still wide open.

What an opportunity to change an entire industry, to challenge the status-quo. You don’t need to be covered in make-up to compete in the funny business. You just need to repackage it in a fresh way that will still connect with your audience. If Steve Martin was able to redefine comedy with a banjo, what is stopping you?

It is a strong reminder: You are not in the clown business, or in B2B sells, or an office supply chain. No, you are in the business of making change happen.

From the industrial economy to the connection economy

About 200 year ago, we saw a mass movement from farming in rural towns to factories in metropolitan cities.

As the industrial economy grew, there were two problems that needed to fixed:

1) There was a shortage of factory workers and

2) How were we going to get people to buy all this stuff? The average kid back then owned one pair of shoes, one pair of jeans or skirt and two shirts.

The solution was public school—to train workers to sit still, follow directions all day and to buy more stuff to fit in. (Fun history in itself about how standardized testing became what it is today, the teacher shortage and child labor that was putting adults out of work prior to implementation…another topic for another post.)

Skipping ahead, Henry Ford comes along and says he will pay people five times more to to come work for him. It was a great deal for him since he was making much more to keep the production line moving. Boom! The Ford Assembly line launches us into the world we see today.

What is fascinating is seeing this new shift, we are moving from the industrial economy to the connection economy. Thanks to the invention of the internet and Google, the means of production has switched from factory owners to workers.

What we are seeing is a split: You have companies / organizations / people continuing to shave edges, make stuff cheaper (average products for average people). It is a race to the bottom. Soon we won’t be able to get faster than instant, cheaper than free.

On the other, you have a race to the top. It is wide open. To continue innovating but more importantly making a connection with the people you seek to change.

(Use milk as an example: You can buy regular, cheap milk or you can buy soymilk, almond milk, cows that are treated fairly milk, no HGH milk…you can buy milk with a story, a connection.)

What would you do if you could retire today?

I overheard a conversation of a group discussing what they would do if they could maintain their income for the rest of their lives without have to work ever again.

One said he would work on his house, watch TV and sit around, a lot.

Another said he would get up early in the morning and take pictures of the sun rising over the mountains.

Another said they would figure out ways to make more money.

And another said he would buy a 100 acre remote ranch, learn how to fly a helicopter, so that he would be the only one who would have access to it.

So what was stopping each of them from doing the thing they wanted to do today?

Not much.

What is stopping you from doing the things you want to do?

Some of these answers I’m sure were tongue in cheek but the thing that I found most interesting was that not one person mentioned how they could give something back.

What a waste.