The world tries to get us to say Yes to the wrong things

Say Yes to watching Game of Thrones.

Say Yes to this new phone or a new car.

If you are saying Yes to this, what are you saying No to?

When is the last time the world was encouraging you to say Yes to starting a non-profit?

Or saying Yes to writing a book?

Or taking a year off to serve in Peace Corp.?

The world continues to seel us on playing it safe. To dumb down your dreams. To be realistic.

The question is, what are we trading in by saying Yes to the pressures of the world?

If you didn’t say Yes to these things, how would that change your posture?

Eggs and bread?

Yes, eggs and bread are enough to make a difference.

In London, one of the richest cities in the world, there lies a cafe. A cafe that is changing things.

Their menu consists of boiled eggs, toast, jam, porridge, coffee and tea. That’s it. Everything is self-served. There is no bill, just a donation box where you can empty your plate.

“Pay if you like…if you like.”

Eggs and Bread isn’t just a cafe, they are on a mission. They believe everyone deserves a good start to the day.

Why does this matter?

It matters because, despite all the wealth London has, 28% of its citizens live in poverty.

We over-exaggerate what it is we need to make things better.

We think we need more funding, more education, more time or stability. What we really need is the heart to start.

If eggs and bread are enough, you are too.

HT Steve Parker for finding this gem.

What do you see in the mirror?

If I don’t ever see myself giving a TED talk, then why would I ever apply for one?

When there’s no one around me going to college, then why should I put in all this effort to ace this final?

If you think that you’ll always be in debt, then you’re right. You never make decisions to get out of it. Instead, you amplify the story you tell yourself about money.

This is why the status quo plays such a powerful role in our day-to-day lives.

Expectations don’t define us but they certainly do drive us.

How we see ourselves changes the way how you do things.

People like us do stuff like this.

Harold and the Purple Crayon

What does Harold have that you don’t?

A purple crayon?


What Harold had was a lot of curiosity.

Curiosity to draw outside the lines. Curiosity to draw what he saw in his mind’s eye. Doing it without hesitation, without judgment.

Here’s the thing, all of us are born with that same curiosity and wonder, but then, we grow up. We trade that spark for security and sensibility. We play it safe.

In moments of adversity or when we feel stuck, the reaction is to play it safe. When in fact, the opposite is true.

Playing it safe is what got you here. Curiosity is what will get you out.

With curiosity in hand, what more do you really need to make a ruckus?


Imagine starting a rigged game of Monopoly where a rich player and a poor player is assigned by a coin flip. If you won the coin flip, you would get two dice instead of one to move around the board faster and twice the amount of money every time you passed Go.

Well, that is what Paul Piff did.

It turns out, the rich players began to demonstrate rude behaviors by making exaggerated moves like banging their pieces louder on the board. They would excessively celebrate. They showed signs of greed by taking extra Pretzels from the bowl. And when they got stuck, they began to say things like, “I’ll just buy my way out.”

The astounding thing and I’m not making this up, is when Piff asked about their experience of the game, the rich players would boast about their brilliant moves and tactics of how they played while completely ignoring the fact that a simple coin flip at the beginning gave them a clear advantage.  

Born on third, thinks he hit a triple.

It’s not just with Monopoly.

The rich drive differently than the poor. Those who drive fancier cars are less considerate of pedestrians and cut other drivers off more frequently.

So, here’s a question, is wealth simply a coin flip? Is it a matter of zip code, race, gender, the family you are born into?

If so, then…

Why are the rich “more likely to break the law while driving, relative to lower-class individuals, exhibit unethical decision-making tendencies, take valued goods from others, lie in a negotiation, cheat to increase their chances of winning a prize and endorse unethical behavior at work than were lower-class individuals.”

Or have we built a system that encourages this behavior?

Here’s the thing, the brain works overtime to build a narrative, a story, that will protect us.

We often think that something happens and then we form a system around that to explain it. But, in fact, the opposite is true. Something happens and then we cherry-pick the information to reinforce the system we have already built.

A map already drawn. A story already told.

This is why we are so good at tellings stories of the moves we made in a rigged game of Monopoly while ignoring clear advantages.

When faced with a choice to be grateful or inhale, we can’t help but inhale.

That is why things like prosperity theology are so prevalent in our world today. We search for stories that make us feel better—to justify our actions, not change them.

The high dive

Jumping off the high dive is a very committing process.

Once you do it, there is no going back.

It’s much easier than to make the decision while on the ground.

The worst place, however, is to decide when you are standing on the edge, peering over into the abyss.

Far too often, we are standing on the edge of something great and daring, but we hesitate. We blink. We say to ourselves, “I’m not cut out for this.”

You are far less likely to take a leap standing on the edge.

The alternative then is to commit before stepping up the ladder.

The good news is after you have made the leap once, it’s easier to do it again.

Because it’s far easier to do things we can imagine.

Convenience isn’t the answer to everything

The other day, I went to Barnes and Noble to find eight new copies of The Coaching Habit for our summer course. Without even thinking about it until I got there, I realized that it was highly unlikely that they would have eight copies of this book in stock.

I bought the one they had and went to Amazon for the other seven. Sure enough, it was delivered to my door (at a cheaper price) that night.


Later that night, I had no car with me to grab take out. So, I just ordered food from Door Dash. 25 minutes later, I had fresh naan and curry delivered to my door.


Just when you think we couldn’t make things more convenient, we go ahead and do.

Thanks to Netflix’s continuous play, I don’t have to think about whether I’ll watch the next episode. You don’t even need to think about what to watch since it does a fairly good job recommending shows.

Finding a job and submitting a resume is now convenient. Texting instead of calling is convenient. Soon, it will be even more convenient to drive (subscription-based, self-driving cars).

One thing though that remains inconvenient is education.

Even with the convenience of online education, 80% of those who sign up for a course will drop out in the first two weeks.

Not everything is ready to be convenient. Diving deep, really learning a subject, getting into the heart of the matter is when change can begin to happen.

The answer then, when something is inconvenient might be to lean in.

Because inconvenience is what get’s our bodies into shape. Inconvenience helps us finish things like med school.

If it is inconvenient, it’s probably important.

Embrace it.

Once you see it, you can’t unsee it

First, we have the famous example of the faces/candlestick illusion. The question is, which do you see? The faces or the candlestick?

Image result for candlestick or faces

That one is pretty easy to figure out, especially since you’ve probably done this before.

Let’s do another.

Down below you will see what is known as the Candlestick Problem. The way it goes is that the player must fix and light a candle on the wall in a way where the candle wax doesn’t drip onto the table below.

The rules: You may only use the following along with the candle, a book of matches and a box of thumbtacks.

Image result for the candlestick problem

If you are like most, you would have started out by using the thumbtacks to try and stick the candle to the wall. And if you are like most, you’ll find out that it doesn’t work.

As Daniel Pink points out, the answer is easy to see once we remove the thumbtacks from the box. From there, you use the thumbtacks to nail the box to the wall, put the candle into the box and light the candle with the match.

Image result for the candlestick problem

Functional fixedness is real.

When we give instructions we are designing choices. The same goes for stating a problem or offering multiple choices to a problem.

We limit the scope of what people can see based on what we say. When we put up guardrails, set up boundaries, put people in a box…we have a difficult time seeing outside of it.

Illusions are powerful and subtle. They are all over in the culture. Like this one:

Image result for fedex logo

It’s worth noting, most boundaries are illusions.

Once you see them, you can’t unsee them. Truth works the same way. Once you begin to see, you can begin to work through conflicts of interest.

The challenge is figuring out which boundaries to break and identifying which ones keep us safe.