The problem with relying on numbers

Numbers help us cultivate an internal narrative we already tell ourselves.

If the data is not serving its purpose, most of us find a new way to measure rather than find a new story to tell.

Rarely do facts, figures and statistics ever change people’s minds.

It only reinforces them.

The business of changing behavior is an emotional venture, never an analytical one.

When 100 words isn’t good enough

Try ten.

And when shouting from the rooftops isn’t attracting the attention you’re seeking, try whispering.

The internet has gifted everyone a microphone, a platform, a blank page.

Yet, our first instinct is to ramble, to be louder than the person next to us, to treat everyone like they fit in a box.

Why spend all this effort in stealing attention?

Wouldn’t we better off trying to earn it?

Trust follows attention. Attention follows trust.

How are you going to change a million people if you can’t change one?

“Sometimes the things we can’t change end up changing us”

In Harrisonburg, Virginia, Bob Norris is quietly making a ruckus.

He is changing people’s lives by building AFO’s (Ankle Foot Orthosis) and SMO’s (Supramalleolar Orthosis) braces to support weak limbs.

Not just for anyone.

For dolls.

Bob designs plastic AFO’s and SMO’s to go on toy dolls.

You don’t have to scroll very far on his Facebook page to see the joy and delight he brings to the world.

It turns out, you don’t need a degree in engineering to design AFO’s, you just need to care.

Caring is the only prerequisite we need to do work that matters.

Define your work

Most of the work we do is predetermined or simply shows up.

We make checklists, prioritize based on the level of urgency, put out fires, try to stay on top of the constant bombardment of emails and phone calls…

Regrettably, most of the day is spent filled with busy work, not productive work.

This type of busy work will never go away. The inbox never stays at zero. There is always something left undone to do.

So why do we prioritize busy work over productive work?

It’s another form of hiding.

It’s rare to be able to have the emotional energy leftover to do the hard, arduous work of doing things that might fail or something that has never been done before.

“I’m too tired” lets us off the hook today until tomorrow comes again.

What we need then is to define our work:

Do work worth doing. Do the hard part first. Delegate, trash, use whatever means necessary to free up the time to solve complex problems.

Urgent and busy isn’t the same as productive and important.

Define your work before it defines you.

What happens when we peak behind the curtain

Once you learn how to code, everything about computers feels different.

And once you understand terms like opportunity cost, sunk cost, debt, ROI, tax sheltered plans, compound interest—investing doesn’t seem so intimidating.

If you get a chance to watch how books are printed and bound, the mystery behind them goes away.

Once you learn how to make something, it changes the way how you see things.

It’s easier to do something we can imagine.

Stuck?

Chances are you are in a situation where there is no easy choices left to make, only hard ones.

We amplify our troubles by hesitating, by blinking, by second-guessing. We let fear get in the way. We bargain with the lizard brain, pleading for things to be different.

And too often, we fall into this trap of waiting, waiting to get all of our ducks in a row before we decide.

The thing is, none of us have a crystal ball. We have no idea what the future holds.

So instead of waiting for the path from A to B to be perfect, free of every hazard of every possible scenario, merely begin.

Begin by taking your first step into the void and then see what happens next.

Take a step into the unknown and let the light follow.

Repeat.