To Keep A Streak Alive You Just Need One

Joe DiMaggio stills holds the record longest streak for consecutive games with a hit.

To keep his streak alive, he didn’t need multiple hits each game. He didn’t need home runs. He just needed one good at bat and one good pitch.

It’s a good reminder – progress doesn’t have to be monumental each day. Just keep showing up and make one pitch count. Consistency compounds.

*In honor of keeping my one post per day streak alive, I’m typing this while pumping gas somewhere in Arkansas. Sophie, my Bernese Mountain doggo and I are well into a 1,200 mile road trip across country. But, that’s no excuse to let pitches go by.

 

Optimizing Your Career for Income is Like a Dog Chasing His Tail

Meet Doug.

Doug is a good boy. Some have even called him the best of all the good boys. But that was a long, long time ago.

By all accounts, Doug was no ordinary show dog. He didn’t come from a champion pedigree. He didn’t have the best coat, nor the best markings.

But Doug had something few other dogs are born with: a willingness to work harder than any other dog.

Doug had never seen a show ring, let alone win a prize. But that all changed when Master rescued him.

The Master took Doug under his wing. He gave him a nice house. He fed him good food. But most importantly of all – the Master recognized Doug’s potential and he treated him with respect.

The Master told Doug stories about legendary show dogs – how they bounded across the arenas with grace and how they lifted the spirits of crowds.

Doug wanted nothing more than to be a champion someday, so he could inspire crowds. The Master warned Doug how hard he would have to work – still it did not deter him.

So the Master agreed to train that ordinary rescue pup into a champion show dog.

Doug’s work ethic served him well. When the Master said sit, Doug sat, and the Master rewarded him with a treat. When the Master said lay down, Doug laid, and he received a treat.

Occasionally, Doug would encounter an obstacle that didn’t come naturally – there were no treats for bad performance.

Still, the Master patiently instructed him through drills to improve his footwork – so Doug worked harder and harder until he got it.

After several months, Doug and the Master entered some contests. Doug performed well and earned third prize, but not well enough to win. Doug still had much to learn.

Master warned Doug they would need to work harder yet to win – but if Doug wanted to quit, they could. Doug refused. He said he wanted to become a champion.

So they continued to train.

Several months and contests later, Doug had developed quite the reputation for himself. He had taken home several modest winnings. But his attitude began to change. Doug became prideful.

Doug began to forget why he wanted to be a show dog. He liked the level of success he had attained, and he forgot about hard work. No longer did he dream of glory – instead he dreamed only of more and more treats.

One day, Doug confronted the Master. Doug demanded more treats. Doug warned the Master, if he didn’t pay up, he would find a new Master.

The Master didn’t want Doug to leave. But he didn’t want Doug to miss out on his potential, either. So he told Doug a hard truth…He told Doug the only way to get more treats was to win more.

But Doug refused to hear it. So Doug left the Master who had trained him behind and set out to find a new one.

And a new Master he found. The new Master gave Doug all the treats he wanted. He showered Doug with a regular treat allowance and bonus treats – even if Doug didn’t train. After a few months, Doug gave up training all together.

Then one day Doug woke up. He realized he had gotten fat. It had been years since he competed in a contest…and he felt empty. He had forgotten how to bound across the arena and longed for the applause of a crowd.

He even missed the old Master. The treats had made him too comfortable, and distracted him from his goal…

But now, Doug realized, he was too old to compete. He had missed his chance at glory…all for a few extra treats…

I was once Doug. I set out with high hopes and good intentions. Then I got distracted by money.

It made me forget all the people who helped push me to become better. But it was an easy way to keep score, so I chased it.

Until one day I realized that doing the kind of work that makes me happy is worth more than all the treats…

May you discover the same before it’s too late.

*I originally published this post on Quora in response to the question What career limiting moves have you seen people make?

You Can Walk Away

I got my first real job at age 16 – bagging groceries at the local supermarket.

The experience taught me a lot about business and how to work.

Lessons like:

  • How easy it is to stand out among peers just by working hard.
  • How attitude about work is a personal choice.
  • How decisions are made about which items go where and why.
  • How a customer’s journey impacts their buying behavior.

But the very last lesson I learned proved to be the most important.

I graduated to stocking shelves several months in. I loved it. Walking up and down a perfectly-faced aisle brought me untold joy. I gained responsibility fast.

Until one day a manager issued a strange request. He asked me to peel date labels off an entire shelf of expired items, then put them back.

This posed my first real ethical dilemma: Should I do what I’m told or what I think is right?

I chose wrong. Afraid of performing poorly at my job, I peeled the labels off.

The decision haunted me the rest of my shift.

So I went back. I took down every item and threw it away.

Then I quit. But I never forgot.

The situation taught me why I should trust my conscience and take ownership of my actions.

It’s easy to become complicit when you blame someone else’s judgment. Don’t give away your power.

It takes courage, but you always have a choice. You can walk away.

*This post originally appeared in my weekly Crash Newsletter earlier today – where I share inspiration, and the week’s best content on careers, personal growth, and how to get ahead. If you’re interest in learning more, sign up here!

When To Walk Away

I spent two hours at a car dealership this morning.

Before I left the manager asked me about my experience.

“Honestly, this is taking longer than I’d like,” I replied. He acted shocked.

“Really? Usually people are here for 4-5 hours, you’ve only been here for two!” he replied.

It reminded me of something I often take for granted: the freedom to walk away.

So I exercised it.

Maybe it’s easier to see this freedom on display when it involves a pricey transaction. But we carry the same freedom into nearly every arena of life.

It’s Always an Option

Hate your job? You don’t have to stay.

Toxic relationship? Call it off.

Don’t like where you live? Move somewhere else.

It’s easy to forget we have this power. Especially when other parties benefit. They’d have us believe we’re powerless. That we have to be confined to our current circumstances.

Exercise Your Freedom

We have the freedom to walk away when things don’t satisfy our needs or interests.

It’s a super power. But only if you exercise it.

When is the last time you walked away?

 

 

 

Let’s Shake On It

I grew up in a place where handshakes mattered. Where a man’s word was his bond.

Call me old fashioned but the same principle still governs my worldview.

Doing business shouldn’t require contracts.

Except today, you’re probably making a stupid decision if you’re not getting something in writing.

Sure, contracts make things easier in some ways. Contracts define the scope of expectations for both parties. They provide a means for recourse if terms aren’t met. These legal instruments hedge against untrustworthy behaviors.

But contracts also create business friction. They introduce a third-party (lawyers) into a situation that could otherwise be settled between two competent, consenting parties. Contracts extend the sales cycle. They create a barrier to satisfying two party’s unmet needs.

Incentives matter.

People respond to incentives. Where there’s a big enough incentive, there’s also a temptation to violate an agreement. Sure, contracts provide an avenue for reconciliation in these cases – but at what cost? (Read: more lawyers).

Skin in the Game

As Robert Frost said, “Good fences make good neighbors.” In some sense, contracts are one way for a person to up the ante on someone else’s behavior. They add a little skin in the game for both parties.

Absent a contract, what’s the worst that could happen? Maybe it’s a line of thinking that ruining your reputation isn’t that high a cost. That with the right amount of money you can buy a new reputation – or better yet, buy the victim’s silence.

Kinda shady, right?

The Future

Blockchain holds a lot of cool possibilities for getting us closer to “handshake” agreements again. Not in the sense that everybody suddenly begins acting out of good faith. Rather, it takes everyone as they are. Hey, let’s just pretend everyone’s a shady motherfucker. Instead, imagine a world where people don’t have to trust one another to do business.

That’s not to say that blockchain will eliminate the need for trust. But what if it could minimize the need for trust? What if two parties could engage in transactions that didn’t require egregious legal fees, lengthy due-diligence, and an arthritic-inflicting pile of paperwork?

What if a handshake created an actual binding, digital contract? Instead of needing to “insult someone’s honor” or demand a contract – imagine if contracts generated spontaneously.

Pretty wild to think about, right? Maybe not.

Nice guys finish last.

Sadly, I don’t think honoring handshake deals is back on the rise. But the cost of transacting business AND providing means for enforcement is getting a lot easier.

I like to imagine a world where, instead of looking over your shoulder or worrying who’s going to screw you, you can confidently go about your business in good faith.

Maybe there’s still hope for the nice guys out there after all. But for everybody else, get it in writing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two Minutes of Fury

When he was 16, Sports Illustrated ran a feature on Bryce Harper.

A lot of people remember that issue.

They remember it because Harper made an outrageous claim – He said his goal was to be the greatest baseball player that ever played.

It struck a nerve that some kid had the audacity to make such a bold statement. But as I read on I remember thinking, he very well may do it.

What stood out to me most about that article though was the mindset Bryce approached the game with. He sported the phrase “2 min of fury” underneath the bill of his cap.

2 minutes. The average time of an at bat.

And while he was on that mound – that’s exactly what batters could expect. Fury.

It inspired me. Both as a young dude trying to make his way – and a pitcher. I immediately broke out the sharpie and pulled out my own cap – to sketch a reminder to myself.

I haven’t picked up a baseball in years. But the concept of 2 minutes of fury sticks with me.

The idea of time as finite. The idea of approaching that finite window as a competitor. Unyielding. Relentless.

There’s something about approaching life that way.

Not just as another casual encounter. But as a competitor working with limited time.

What a mindset to approach life with. Just think about it.

By God, when I step on the mound, hell or high-water…if they get on base, they’ll have earned it.

Embrace Yourself

Get this – there is no other schmuck on the face of the planet identical to you.

Profound, right? Across some 7.5 billion people – I am the only me and you are the only you. That’s fucking wild.

Yet, for some reason, we (myself included) make a ton of effort to fit in. To migrate in and out of our ecosystems unseen. To go without disrupting or disturbing.

But why?

Maybe as a species, we’ve found it easier to fit in than to stand out. Perhaps many of us do not possess intimate self-knowledge. Or maybe when we step out we feel ostracized.

There seem to be deep psychological underpinnings of the tribal mindset within us all – where we see ourselves as an individual functioning unit within a larger body.

Perhaps many of us walk around with a proverbial Dr. Jekyll in our pocket – a dark side – the unknown self of our personal Johari window. 

Regardless of why – the more fascinating question is what would we find if we all embraced our purest selves?

An Identity Crisis

I find the idea of ubuntu challenging – that I am who I am because of who we all are – as if the fabric of human identity is a maze with no beginning or end point.

It seems likely and obvious that we should all be somewhat a by-product of the people we surround ourselves with; the environments we inhabit; and the endeavors we pursue.

But what lives underneath all the extremities? What lives a few layers deeper – near our core?

Divorced from our surroundings, what form would we take on? Who would we be absent the influence of other people – or rather, absent the influences of influences that detract from the purest version of ourselves?

Surrounded

If there is merit in the idea our surroundings impact our identities and personalities, then it would follow we should deliberately guard ourselves from unwanted influences.

Yet – in order to grow, we must break down barriers of ignorance. We must effectively expand beyond our current states of understanding.

So perhaps eradicating “unwanted influences” is not the proper aim. Perhaps instead we should seek to avoid inhibiting influences.

Influence Audit

I wonder, what would you find if you audited the influences in your life? Would you discover the people, activities, and environments in your life are desirable or undesirable?

Why?

If desirable, what makes them so? What influence does the agreeableness of another agent have over desirability?

Are you surrounding yourself with people and ideas primarily because they agree with your worldview or because they challenge you?

Do the people in your life push you to become a more pure version of yourself or do they coax you to conform more?

You must set your own standards – but as for me, I choose to surround myself with people who sharpen me, who push me to embrace myself more, who challenge me to enhance my game.

I don’t see comfort as the goal of life. Nor conformity. There’s a reason we’re each unique. Embrace it.

 

 

The Power of Intentional Choice

The world would have you believe your options are limited by your circumstances.

That’s bullshit.

You have exactly as much power of your life as you’re willing to exact.

You Have Choices

If you want a better job, go get it. There is a formula that works for getting a better job. Run it.

If you want to live in a different city, sell all your shit and move. If you really examine your life, there are fewer excuses holding you back than you let on.

If you want a different car, go buy one. Yes. It may be a dumb financial move. But that doesn’t mean you can’t.

If you’re in a shitty relationship, end it. You don’t have to be in one at all. If it adds meaning to your life, fly solo until you find someone who enhances your life. And don’t settle.

If you’re broke, you can earn and save more money. As fast as you want to and depending on how bad you’re willing to work for it.

Kill Your Excuses

Whatever you want, you have the capacity to go get it. The first and hardest part is to kill your excuses.

How do you do this? Start by examining the assumptions that are holding you back.

Take your job, for example. Maybe you’ve felt it’s time for the next big thing. Why haven’t you done it yet? Is it the steady paycheck? That you don’t know where you’d go next? All your friends work there…?

Define your reasons for inaction and demand the truth from yourself.

The Burden of Proof

Try approaching your goals and ambitions from the opposite direction for once. Instead of getting lost in all the reasons you can’t do something or trying to articulate all the reasons you should, define all the reasons why you shouldn’t.

Why shouldn’t you move to a new city?

Why shouldn’t you go take a new job?

Why shouldn’t you…

Self honesty takes practice. Approaching your life intentionally also takes practice. But you do yourself a disservice if you pretend you don’t have the power to improve your station in life.

The real question is not do you have the power, but are you willing to exercise it?

Clear Your Cache

Ever feel like you have so much going on you lose track what you should be working on?

Happens to me. It can be a damn hard thing to combat.

But there’s a secret solution.

I call it clearing your cache.

If you’re into self-helpy bullshit, you’ll find tons of people suggest making to-do lists the night before, about planning their week on Sundays, about avoiding email in the morning, or having their daily calendar emailed to them first thing…

I tried most of these. Some help. Others don’t. But none of them work as well for me as clearing my cache.

What’s a cache?

A browser cache is basically a stored version of a website on your drive so you can access it faster.

In sorts, a cache is a lot like the cognitive load you carry around.

The more shit you have to do, the more things you have to remember. That’s more things you have to forget. Or, the more tasks you have rattling around inside your head to distract you from actually getting anything done at all.

So, what’s it mean to clear your cache?

Clearing your cache is about reducing your cognitive load. It’s about deliberately removing many things from the top of your mind so you can focus on one thing.

I like to start small. What’s one thing I could cross off my list quickly? Do it immediately.

What’s another small thing? Cross that off, too.

But the real power of cache-clearing comes in the form of routine. 

I don’t mean the kind of routined, predictable, set-your-clock-to-it behavior. What I mean by routine, is intentionally structuring your day around the things you know you must complete. Define the amount of time you have to do those things. Then devote only that amount of time to them.

This kind of behavior allows me to forget things until it’s time to do them. It reduces my cognitive load and frees me up to focus on the task at hand.

But it’s not easy. It takes practice.

Start with today.