A few days ago, I donated a kidney to my dad. Because it might be helpful to other donors, I’m writing down what my experience was like here- all the way from learning about my dad’s disease to walking out of the hospital with one kidney. I’ve included notes on the prep work, what the pain has been like, and what sort of medications I’ve been taking.
A couple days ago was New Years Eve. As a small celebration for the end of a good year, I took my single employee, his wife, and my wife, to a fancy dinner. We ate caviar, Wagyu beef, sea urchin, crab, smoked sturgeon, black garlic, truffled potatoes, and more in a series of small dishes over three hours. Each course was paired with a wine from around the world. I was so full and buzzed I was almost sick. It was great company, a wonderful experience, and a fitting end to the year. The total bill was $900.
Have you ever read a Sherlock Holmes mystery? It starts with a case presented to Sherlock and Dr. Watson with quirky circumstances and odd details. As you read things become even less clear with increasingly bizarre events and nonsensical information. At the end though, the great detective explains all with brilliant deductive reasoning that puts each element into its place in a logical series of events.
New endeavors have a lot in common with Sherlock’s cases.
Study the hard while it’s easy.
Do big things while they’re small.
The hardest jobs in the world start out easy,
the great affairs of the world start small.
So the wise soul,
by never dealing with great things,
gets great things done.
– Tao Te Ching, Ursala Le Guin Translation
I took a personality profile called Strengths Finder six years ago and I’ve found the results of it to be accurate and useful. One of the recommendations that stuck in my mind was for “Strategic”, one of my signature themes.
I think about big questions for years at a time. One of the questions that I’ve chewed on since my twenties is about goals. What’s a better kind of goal: a process goal or a results oriented goal?
Process goals you can control. You set a target focused on the process of achieving a goal. You say, “My goal is to go the gym 20 times this month.” These kinds of goals are focused on the journey, not on the results.
But focusing on the journey is a huge problem, because you should care about the results. The reason you set a goal is to achieve a result. Another problem with process goals is that by focusing on controllable actions you inherently limit your capacity to grow. You don’t need to reach beyond who you are today to achieve a process goal. Going to the gym 20 times is simply a replication of your current thinking with a certain consistency. To achieve your underlying goal of being thinner, you may need to change your workout, change your diet, your eating schedule, or your environment. Continue reading
I divide my officers into four groups. There are clever, diligent, stupid, and lazy officers. Usually two characteristics are combined. Some are clever and diligent — their place is the General Staff. The next lot are stupid and lazy — they make up 90 percent of every army and are suited to routine duties. Anyone who is both clever and lazy is qualified for the highest leadership duties, because he possesses the intellectual clarity and the composure necessary for difficult decisions. One must beware of anyone who is stupid and diligent — he must not be entrusted with any responsibility because he will always cause only mischief.
– Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord, German Commanding General
I came across this quote when I was in the Marines. The point about avoiding people who are stupid and diligent is funny, but the reason this always stuck with me is because of the observation that clever and lazy people make good leaders. It runs counter to the Puritan work ethic that permeates American culture and much advice on success.
Self-reliance is something that I’ve always valued and equate with personal strength. It’s a magical mixture of initiative, imagination, and tenacity. It’s one of the reasons that self-funding a business is so attractive. However, lately I’ve began to question its utility for entrepreneurs.
As a freelancer, your time is in short supply. There isn’t much that is more aggravating than wasting hours talking to someone about their project, scoping it, and writing a proposal only to get pushback on the price or have the lead disappear.
Sometimes, you discover too late that the lead doesn’t have a realistic budget for what they need done. Other times, the entire exercise seems like a free planning session where they basically get expert advice at no charge.
It wouldn’t be so annoying if there wasn’t a cost to talk to these people. Even if you have an excellent system for responding to inquiries for work you can still easily throw away a half a day you could’ve spent doing something useful.
Ugh! Tire kickers.
Is this just the cost of doing business? Knowing that you’re going to have to put out lots of proposals and talk with lots of people that aren’t qualified to work with you? Continue reading