It’s not the first person who pays you.

It’s certainly not the beta testers.

It’s not even your friend or family who listened to your ideas.

The first customer of any project, business or undertaking, is you.

Sure, your action might eventually be helping others. But you do it because of you. It benefits you.

It could be as obvious as money or status. Or it could be the joy of dancing with possibilities or the fuzzy feeling from the closeness with someone.

The trap is failing to accept that we do it because of us. We run into trouble over-extending ourselves and getting stuck in mental black holes.

Focusing your energy on yourself first (known as self-care) is going to make far more impact than trafficking in guilt and shame.

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My wishes would come true and problems would go away.

Except that is not true.

As Derek Sivers points out, if more information were the answer, we’d all be billionaires with 6 pack abs.

A good plan is a good start. But it’s not enough.

It starts with enrolment and prioritisation. It is embracing confusion on the way to getting better. It is to do, to fail and to learn from failure. A feedback loop.

With understanding, it comes with the ability to adapt to different context. Lastly, we build habits, rules and system.

Step by step. Awareness, knowledge and application.

The best diet is the diet you follow.

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Imagine that you are locked up in a steel box and flung up into the air with only some ropes. Would you do it?

This is scary stuffs. It’s insane.

Yet, we take the elevator everyday.

Along with trusting our life on airplanes, parachutes and brakes.

These innovations when arrived, brought along fear. And the work of public demonstrations, scientific papers and peer-to-peer persuasion begins. If it crosses the chasm, this becomes the culture.

And today, we get to cross the road without anxiety.

Changing the culture is hard. But we do it not because it’s hard, because it’s better.

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Funny we don’t ask if want the left hand or the right hand.

Yet when it comes to business, we are being brainwashed into these binary choices such as creativity or discipline, innovation or execution, values or results, and purpose or profit.

Yvon Chouinard turned away from selling pitons, the entire company’s profit. And did the work of inventing a new method, educating and leading the rock-climbing community. Today, this is Patagonia.

Elon gave away all Tesla’s patents.

WordPress, an open-source effort is now powering a third of the world’s websites.

What if, instead of choosing one OR the other, the opportunity of greatness lies in the genius of the AND?

Towards better.

(Thank you Jim Collins for the inspiration)

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When is it time to trust your gut?

Could it be when you’re reaching for the next pint of ice-cream?

Or when you’re raging and all you want is to inflict hurt on someone?

Perhaps not when you’re depressed and want to harm yourself.

The gut has much of the conscious and unconscious wisdom that we have access to. It is also the primal brain that is in charge of survival and replication.

The trap is believing all the answers lies in the ability to follow your gut. And turn away from our head and our heart. The opportunity is to use it all.

The head, the heart and the gut.

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Your wishes would come true and your problems would go away.

Except that is not true.

As Derek Sivers pointed out, if more information were the answer, we’d all be billionaires with 6 pack abs.

A good plan is a good start. But it’s not enough.

It starts with enrolment and prioritisation. It is to embrace confusion on the way to mastery. It is to do, to fail and to learn. This becomes a feedback loop to getting better.

We strive for understanding, not memorisation. It is the ability to adapt knowledge to different situations and context.

Then lastly, we build habits, rules and system. We internalise and integrate. Not forgetting that, the best diet is the diet you follow.

Step by step. Awareness, knowledge and application.

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It’s certainly not about living forever. Because that would be horrible.

It’s also not about controlling the time of death, you can’t.

It’s about being in a mode, where given the tools available, you are able to be the person you’d like to be within those limits.

We’ve made huge strides in a certain kind of health, the measurable kind. What we forgot to do along the way, is help people enjoy the ride.

Being alive is different from feeling alive.

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It’s tempting to avoid specifics when naming a goal.

And the most honest justification is “I’m afraid”.

Because once you put a stake in the ground, you either pass or you fail.

It’s easier to maintain a status quo than to risk not having reached the goal.

Perhaps that’s a sign you need to do lesser (choose better) instead of running in circles.

[And of course, feelings (joy, calm, curiosity) could be goals too.]

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Every year, when Forbes releases their Top 50 Richest people, you bet there’ll be some very unhappy billionaires jumping up and down. These are people that have enough money so their family wouldn’t go hungry, for generations.

Or take an Olympian from the 1970s, transport him back today and competed, he would lose every race. If he went to bed thinking that he is greatest, he’s not that great, is he? He was just great against those people, that day.

All the metrics are made up. And you get to choose yours.

Followers, views counts, companies sold, books read or a ranking on a list.

If you are already at 12% body fat, pain-free, feeling energised, what difference does lowering another percent of body fat make?

Or what difference does another hundred likes on the next post make? Does it mean that these people like you? Would you call on them if you’re in trouble? Are they really your friends?

Or what difference does another million subscribers make for your channel? It’s a metric if you want it. But that’s not why you made your video. You made it to teach something, to change someone, or to dance at the edge failure. That’s hard to measure.

Yes, metrics have a place. In the industrial age, a better machine is one that is more productive. It’s 100% about measurement, effort is irrelevant. But are you a cog in a machine? Are you in a race to the bottom? Faster, better and cheaper.

What we’re learning is that there is a point. And after this point, it’s simply a story. A narrative to satisfy our short-term need to feel that we are winning. And what we really care about, deep down, that might be hard to measure. Are you proud of the work that you do? Have you contributed someone’s day? How do you feel about your day?

It takes guts, to think about the race, and what the purpose of the race is, and what we’re keeping score of.

Just because something is easy to measure, doesn’t mean it’s important.

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How are you?

A simple question that has spread and adopted through the culture.
To express care and concern.
To get it in-sync.

Like things we got used to, we get into a groove and deliver a canned response. “I’m fine”. “I’m great, how are you?”.

If the point is to express care and concern, here are some follow-up to get real,
— “No really, how are you?”
— ‘You just told me how are things and I’m asking “how are you?”’
— “I’m glad to know things are in place. How are you?”
— “Okay. That’s your first degree of answer. Let me ask you again. Just tell me something. How are you? How did you sleep? Are you sleeping? Are you eating? Are you tasting the food?”
— “If I ask your wife how are you, what do you think she will says?”

[HT: Esther Perel for these niffy phrases]

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