Criticize By Creating.

It’s easy to criticize from the stands.

What’s more difficult is stepping into the game.

When you take yourself from spectator to player, you open yourself to vulnerability. To criticism. To the opinion of every casual passerby.

Playing the game allows you to approach problems differently. It grants you a newer, more intimate perspective on the game play.

You don’t have access to the 360 degree view of the guy in the nosebleed section yelling directions at you.

When you’re in the game, you must approach things head on. You must adapt quickly. You must perform and respond according to the limitations of your line of vision and periphery.

You don’t have time to evaluate what happened in other areas of the game. You don’t have time to banter about plays that happened in an earlier quarter.

You must be present in the game as it’s played.

I think this metaphor opens up an interesting thought experiment for life, for business, and for relationships, too.

For the things I’m participating in, what’s my default orientation?

Am I offering up opinions as a spectator? Or am I present, giving the game a competitor’s dedication?

I’ve noticed an interesting observation from my own experience.

It may seem counterintuitive, but spectating exhausts me far more than participating fully in the game of life. Having skin in the game makes it more invigorating.

Both take energy. Actively participating produces positive energy. Criticizing as a spectator yields negative energy.

If you want to live a better life, I say play the game. Don’t shout from the stands how to do it better.

Enter the game. Criticize by creating.

 

If you can only reach two percent.

The success of your product, idea, business, or service has never been about the number of people you reach. It’s always about the amount of value you can feasibly provide to the people you do reach.

If you can reach only two percent you’ll be successful. It doesn’t matter what you’re selling. Two percent will make you a fortune.

Consider the global marketplace. It’s vast. 7.4 Billion people is an impossible market to reach. It’s unrealistic. You’ll never sell to everyone. And it doesn’t matter. Two percent is still a huge crowd. Exchange even one dollar of value with that crowd and you’re in like Flynn.

Say you can’t reach that many people. Say  you can’t create value for them all. Simple, don’t try to. Just increase your value offering. Up the ante to $10 of value created. Voila! You’re filthy rich, and made the world a better place by hundreds of millions of dollars.

You might say that’s simple, unrealistic computation. I don’t disagree. Figuring out one perfect equation would be immensely difficult. But you don’t need the perfect equation. In life, like algebra, there are plenty of ways to solve for x. You only need one of them. Just plan on showing your work.

The success of your product, idea, business, or service has never been about the number of people you reach. It’s always about the amount of value you can feasibly provide to the people you do reach.

Want a sure route to success? Don’t try to save the whole world. You’ll fail 100 percent of the time. Only throw life preservers to the drowning. For every person you can’t reach, increase your value offering to those you can.

It’s a simple as that. Now go do it.

 

How Long Has It Been?

Your spirit longs to break free. Let it roam wild.

When was the last time you laid in the grass gazing stars,

built a fortress of solitude with furniture and blankets,

slayed an imaginary dragon to save the day,

stayed up too late laughing with friends,

snagged your shirt jumping a fence,

dove into a pond to test the depth,

took a walk out in the rain,

ran barefoot outside,

skinned your knee,

played in the mud,

got lost outside.

How long has it been since you let your inner-child out to play?

It’s been too long.

Your spirit longs to break free.

Let it roam wild.


“We are perishing for want of wonder, not for want of wonders.” –G.K. Chesterton

Make America Great Again: A Journal Entry with Adam Smith.

I bet none of those people thought of me today on their way to work either. It doesn’t bother me. I didn’t think of them. They were each just doing their own thing. Just like I’m doing mine.

 

The alarm buzzed and I reached to hit snooze. Who am I kidding? The alarm had been ringing for 20 minutes before I finally wrangled it into silence. Not unlike every morning the first move I made was to walk into the kitchen and flip on the coffee pot.

It’s the fancy kind that has an alarm but I don’t set it. You could make a case that I’m too lazy. I pretend it’s because I enjoy the sound of the drip-drip-dripping followed by the wafting scent of the freshly brewed ground beans. Whatever. I’m just glad somebody built such a contraption.

I prefer a dark roast ideally. Right now I’m on a Columbian kick. Something about opening up the little yellow bag and smelling the robust flavors makes me appreciate the little things in life. I bought the coffee a few blocks away at the Publix. It cost about $10 for the bag. Not to mention the tax I paid. I enjoy good coffee and I’m glad it cost so little.

I’m glad for the guy who probably makes around market wage to stock the shelves so I don’t have to hunt for it long. I’m also glad for the guy who took my money at the register and made the purchase so easy. The guy who thanked me for shopping at Publix and sacked my groceries wasn’t so bad either. I thanked him back. We both smiled and went about our own lives. Everybody wins.

In a way, I’m happy I contributed to their income. It didn’t cross my mind when I bought the groceries. I don’t think about them when I brew my coffee. I’m just glad they’re there when I need them. Providing a service. Exchanging their labor for my money. It’s brilliant.

So anyway, back to the coffee before it gets cold.

I sat down at the table to work. These days as I make my start in the mornings I pull up one page on my Macbook Air and another on the Microsoft Surface. I like screens. The more the better. What a cool world I live in where I can drink my coffee from the comfort of the house and talk with people miles away before I’ve even stepped a foot out the door.

I didn’t think about it this morning but I’m thankful for the people who built those machines. Not to mention the wireless internet. I bet the inventors weren’t thinking about me. Nor the manufacturers. Or the technician who installed the internet service. They were just living their lives. Just like I was living mine.

I finished my second cup of java and poured the remaining contents into my steel Yeti cup. If you’ve never had one I highly recommend it. I still burn my tongue in the afternoon from coffee I poured in the morning. It’s fantastic. Those two guys that created it did me a solid. I tossed on real people clothes and headed out. It’s pretty cool to lock the door and leave all of my stuff behind each day. Remind me to thank somebody for that later.

For the past couple weeks I’ve been switching between talk radio and podcasts on my morning commute. Today it was talk radio. What good entertainment. There were several riffs about Chris Rock’s monologue last night. Some demonized. Some praised. After about the fifth election ad I settled on another station. It was one where people call in and talk about terrible dates. “Who listens to this shit?” I thought to myself as I became invested in Jessica’s story about Todd. It was clear the talk show hosts weren’t thinking about me. They were each just doing their thing. I’m glad they did. I got a kick out of it.

By the time I made it to work this morning I had probably benefitted from a few dozen other people, maybe even a few hundred. I hadn’t even spoken a word aloud to any of them. I just used their stuff. The products of their labor. The stuff I’d traded money for. It didn’t cross my mind. Today was just another Monday.

I bet none of those people thought of me today on their way to work either. It doesn’t bother me. I didn’t think of them. They were each just doing their own thing. Just like I’m doing mine.

Tonight I scrolled through my news feed. I saw a million more campaign ads. I tried to ignore it. I couldn’t. I ended up watching a few spoof videos. “Little Marco Rubio…the light weight…” I laughed. I liked. I scrolled on.

I started to fall asleep on the couch. I got up. I took a shower. I laid down for a few minutes. I began to drift off and the words Make America Great Again stirred me back to life.

I started thinking about all the individual actors whose labor had gotten me through the day. I’m glad I could trade my money for their products and services. I bet they weren’t thinking about me. They were each probably just doing their own thing. Just like I was doing mine.

I thought about my coffee drip-drip-dripping tomorrow morning. America’s pretty great already I guess.


“It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own self-interest. We address ourselves not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities, but of their advantages.”

–Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature & Causes of the Wealth of Nations, Vol 1

 

 

 

 

America’s Greatest Homecoming

Take-Home Message: Good traditions should endure.

October represents a special time for every member of the Cowboy family. It’s a month when older siblings enjoy the privilege of introducing new and future members of the family to time-honored traditions that make Stillwater, Oklahoma the home of this yearly family reunion.

Each year, over 80,000 past, present, and future Cowboys join together to celebrate a rich legacy of familial cooperation, alumni and undergraduate achievement, and of course, Cowboy football.

To mark this celebration, students begin preparing many months in advance. In September, the campus evolves into a hub of chaos, hype, industriousness, and creativity, It remains this way until the Friday evening before the homecoming football game. On this evening, the hundreds, if not thousands, of hours of preparation culminate into the debuting of over a hundred and twenty years of history on display through the form of house decorations, hand-crafted signs, and a sea of orange.

On this special night, both distant and immediate members of the family join together, filling the streets to observe the spirit of Stillwater, Oklahoma on display. The dozens of house decorations merely serve as placeholders for of over a century of accomplishments, generosity, and commitment to excellence.

These massive, meticulously-tended to decorations serve as worthy placeholders, though. Each portrays its own unique definition of what it means to count yourself among the Cowboy family. Spanning at up to 80 feet and standing nearly 20 feet Ito the air, these brilliant emblems of cooperation, ingenuity, and creativity narrate the stories of many past family role models.

These incredible decorations take time, thoughtfulness, strategy, and resourcefulness. They join together around 200 students, per decoration, who have never before worked together, laboring round-the-clock, toward a creation that grows from infancy to adulthood in under two months. It is truly a beautiful microcosm of industry, engineering, innovation, and thrift.

To put things into even more stark perspective, consider these statistics: Eachecoatyion utilizes approximately 130 boxes of pomp (tissue paper), at 7,200 sheets per box, totaling 936,000 sheets, each cut into 1/4″ squares. That’s  3.744 million pieces of paper, not to make mention of the hundreds of feet of aluminum pipe, and likely miles of welding rods used to bbirth these behemoth artistic structures.

Though college as the establishment represents something different to each of us, I am proud to count myself a part of this Cowboy family, and to have had the opportunity to have participated in this rich tradition. I look forward to witnessing these masterpieces on display, and joining in with the tens of thousands of my Cowboy siblings as we celebrate 125 years.