Do you believe people are doing the best that they can?

It’s a fascinating question.

In general, I think most people believe they are doing the best they can and that if we believe that people are doing the best they can, we feel better too.


I also think that when we start to believe that people are not performing it is a symptom of a much bigger problem. It is less of a question of effort and more of a systematic problem.

“Work smarter, not harder.”

Perhaps, we are not leveraging all the tools at our disposal. We fall victim to the marshmallow or can’t resist another dopamine hit. Our status quo gets in the way. Or simply, we are unaware. We fall victim to the environment. Sometimes, without much thought.

I would argue, that we do the best we can based on our environment.

Fortunately, with some will power, we can create a better environment.

Finding way

There is a difference between finding the way versus finding a way.

Too often, we get caught on the tactics of finding the perfect way through.

The smooth road from A to Z doesn’t exist.

There will always be bumps and hazards. You will be uncomfortable. You might have to turn around.

Finding a way, that is a much better strategy follow.

Bad moments

Bad moments happen. A lot actually.

It’s tempting to label ourselves as “angry” or “addict” in the struggle of correcting a bad habit.

The problem is, we only notice an angry person or addict when they mess up. Or worse, we beat ourselves up over our mistakes forgetting all the progress we have made in the middle.

I think it is more powerful then to find a new label to grab a hold of. Preferably one where you can identify ourselves as the ideal person we seek to become.

For instance, you are not an addict but actually a sober person who made a bad choice.

I’m not angry, I am a calm person who had a bad moment.

There is a difference.

Deep down, telling ourselves a new story can change our behavior. So, we might as well tell ourselves a story that makes us want to do better.

Strength and speed

Most beginning rock climbers believe that they are not strong enough to get up a climb.

But perhaps, you are strong enough.

The problem has nothing to do with your strength but that you don’t move fast enough.

The tools you have are sufficient.

Execution is where our challenges lie.

Wells Fargo

Recently, Wells Fargo has been caught stealing millions of dollars by falsely submitting loan applications without customer’s consent.

How does one continue in business after such fraudulent behavior?

  1. Consumers don’t know.
  2. Consumers don’t care to know.

The story you tell yourself, once you have been informed, is that “everyone does this”. Or perhaps, “it’s not a big deal.”

I think these are symptoms of a bigger problem. The deeper rooted problem in our culture is that once we have already made a decision about which bank to use, we don’t want to make it again.

Cognitive load is so high that it is harder for me to switch banks than it is to accept that my bank is doing some deceptive.

We’re locked in.

So, we justify our original decision. Because by switching banks, we would be signaling that we made a wrong decision. That is very hard to overcome. We rather stick with things we know, rather take a chance somewhere else.

As they say, “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.”


When the conversation isn’t going in the direction you want it to go, try a redirect.

You can ask a question that is totally off-topic or use a statement that is out in left field.

“Looks like rain on Saturday.”

“How bout the Jazz last night?”

Either way, it works in the business world when someone is talking about something inappropriate or when your teenager is “war storying”.

If you are uncomfortable, chances are someone else is uncomfortable too.

Life before and after the internet

The internet has created a gulf of “old” school thinking and the “new.”

Neither is bad or good. Yet, we can’t pretend that the internet hasn’t changed the way we think.

If you grew up without the internet, the world can appear to be increasing in destruction and violence.

That isn’t the case. (At least not in the way we assume.)

The constant exposure has made people from the old school realize one thing, that there are a lot of people who don’t think the same way I do.

It isn’t consistent with how we grew up.

The new school just simply didn’t know differently.

Whose side are you on?

In the heat of the moment, it’s important to ask the question, Whose side are they on?

Of course, that seems easy to answer. They are on their own side.

What if though, for a moment, we would imagine that person is really on our side?

That they want us to succeed and to be better without any ulterior motives.

When we can see that someone is looking out for you, how would that change the conversation?

Process > outcomes

We spend so much time focused on a specific outcome.

Yet, the better path, the warrior’s path, is one focused on the process.

When we focus on the process, and give something our all, over time, there is a personal transformation.

Having surgery to lose 50 pounds is very different from going to the gym, every day, for five years.

Getting a piece of paper after ten years of med school doesn’t make you smarter either.

Outcomes are a result, they don’t lead to growth. It’s the process of how we put in the work that gets us to become the person we seek to become.

Helping others figure this out is the key part of important work you do.