In a weekly team discussion, where we start with someone leading with a prompt, we were asked what we’d like to tell our past self if we could pass a note. My response was…
I think I’ll go with a short note intended to shake my foundations, rather than convey particular information. Presuming I’d be certain to believe the note was from future-me, please pass this note to ~18-year-old me:
There are no perfectly correct answers.
There are, however, perfectly wrong answers.
Years ago, I would often say, “you know what you should do?” followed by some suggestion. When I started reading various things in the, “having skin in the game,” vein, I realized how useless—annoying even—my suggestion were. (For example, to a café owner, “you know what you should have on the menu?” is not going to be useful.) Over time I came to understand that it’s only in areas where one has deep knowledge are suggestions going to have any chance of being useful. (Don’t confuse that with observations—”the door to your bathroom is broken,” is definitely useful to that café owner.) By paying close attention to when I heard myself say, “you know what you should do,” I slowly learned to keep such comments to myself.
Aside: I wedged in a new behavior, as a sort of software interrupt. When I feel the urge to say such things, instead I find a compliment, swap out that text, and then resume speaking. If you’ve ever heard me seemingly-randomly whip out a compliment—to a waiter, to a shop keeper, a manager—that’s often, (but not always,) what just happened.
Unfortunately, although I made great strides in reducing the advice-giving all I’ve actually done is narrowed the area where I give advice. In too many instances I’m still trying to exert my influence. Then when things invariably, (since it’s not my thing it’s someone else’s that I’m giving advice about,) don’t turn out as I wanted I get frustrated. Go figure.
Note to self: Continue to root out the urge to exert influence.
First and obviously, I have precisely the same number of minutes of the day that you have. Second, I am ruthless about spending my time appropriately. An individual practice above might only save me 10 seconds, but that’s 10 seconds multiplied by completing that action a thousand times in the next month. That’s around 160 minutes. That’s just under three hours of my life.
Sometimes Usually Rands can really wax loquatiously which is a terrible habit for one to indulge in because it wastes one’s readers’ most scarce resource: Time.
Why do you tolerate the thousand paper-cuts that waste your time each day?
But there’s another way to do it, which is to turn down all the short cuts and try honesty instead. The bizarre thing about honesty, is that it actually makes you much richer than sneakiness, even while making you feel better about your work!
~ Peter Adeney
All of my problems stem from over-simplifying things.
But, being honest with myself always cuts through my problems.