Ruckus

Our senses are constantly filtering data which we use to decide what we’ll do next. The fact that humans are so predictable is a testament to their ability to do this effectively. 

If you boil that down for long enough, our lives are nothing more than a long string of decisions, actions and inactions. 

Is this depressing? Maybe. Reductionist? Definitely. Could it be useful? I believe so. 

There are a million reasons we might choose to do one thing over another; we have ethical frameworks to pass quick judgement on wrongdoings of others; a moral compass to ensure that we align ourselves with internal principles of right and wrong; a relentless self interest which keeps us safe and ensures we can pass down our genes; and every now and then, we just do stuff because it feels good. 

The mental gymnastics our brains perform while making these decisions are but small parts of the lifelong games we use to define ourselves.

In the same way that ‘you are what you eat’ is true of the body, ‘you are what you do’ is true of the soul. 

There comes a time in every leader’s tenure when it’s time to start letting go.

Time to pass the batton, or risk letting their team die.

A good leader makes themselves replaceable.

A bad one leaves their project to perish along with their involvement.

If you’re not replaceable, your project isn’t sustainable, and unsustainable projects aren’t worth much investment.

It’s fine to start things on your own. Sometimes it’s the only way things get made.

But your ceiling operating alone is far lower than working alongside a group of compassionate people you trust.

Find your tribe.

Make a ruckus.

Get to work.

When people get lucky breaks, it’s easy to dismiss as pure chance. They were just in the right place at the right time… right?

But what if there was an art to being in the right places at the right times?

What if it took hard work and determination to put yourself in positions where your chances of a lucky break increase?

What if you could cultivate serendipity?

Jason Roberts thinks you can.

He believes that luck is governed by a pretty simple formula;

Luck = Doing x Telling

What does this mean?

It means that if you start doing something, you’re going to get better at it. You’ll continue to get better at it the more you do it and after you’ve done it for a long while, and got pretty good, your chances of having a lucky break get better also.

The other side of the equation is telling, and it’s as simple as you think it is. The more you tell people about what you’re doing, the better your odds are that someone is going to swoop in with a serendipitous offer or opportunity.

If you want your project to take off, Roberts suggests you focus on maximising your luck by doing more and telling more people about what you’re doing.

Copyright © 2010 Jason C. Roberts

The shaded rectangles in the above diagram represent what Roberts calls your luck surface area.

The more surface area you have, the more likely you are to succeed (or get lucky).

Doing without telling might lead to isolated genius, but it’s no way to sell your album.

And telling everyone what you’re doing even though you’re doing nothing at all is the trademark of a perpetual procrastinator.

Doing and telling are each necessary because they magnify one another.

Figure out which you do more often, and work on the other.

When it comes to finite play, the way we approach games has much to do with how well prepared we are for surprise.

Speed, trickery and deception are all most difficult to deal with when they can’t be anticipated.

True mastery is being adept enough at the particular game that nothing comes as surprise.

“A true Master Player plays as though the game is already in the past, according to a script whose every detail is known prior to the play itself.”

James P Carse

Further, being prepared for surprise and bracing for surprise are entirely different things.

“To be prepared against surprise is to be trained. To be prepared for surprise is the be educated.”

The goal then, when playing any finite game, should not necessarily be to win; it should be to become so educated in the given game that you no longer experience surprises which result in loss.

In such a situation, surprise would not be met with any resistance, as it would only be a detail in script which already resulted in victory.

Play not to win; play to continue playing, all the way to mastery.

We’re at our best when we’re creating.

We create at our best when we’re connected.

We’re most connected when we surround ourselves with brilliant people who care.

And we attract those people by being brilliant ourselves.

Next time you’re wondering what to do, think about what you have to give.

Then give it.

Minus the obvious, terrifying, life threatening fears which demand immediate attention, most of the stuff we’re afraid of really isn’t that scary at all.

Spiders don’t often actually want to bite you, food is generally fine to eat the day after its use by date, and being high up doesn’t mean you’re going to fall.

Fear is a signal. It’s a choice to pay it mind. Unless it’s the unavoidable, terryfing, immediate kind, there is always something you can do.

Clear up the cobwebs in your house. Organise your fridge better. Learn some breathing exercises.

The same applies for fears about the future.

There’s always something you can action immediately which can aid to mitigate your fear – the question is whether you’re willing to do the work?

Rejecting fear is a short road to more fear.

Instead, we have to dance with it.

Even if that entails exhausting, detailed and repetitive work.

The scariest point in any project is the moment just before you’re all in.

You’ve toyed with the idea enough to believe it could work.

But you haven’t invested yet. You haven’t signed the contract, bought the tool, or told your friends what you’re doing yet.

The scary part about pulling a trigger isn’t actually pulling it. It’s this moment before; where there still exists a version of the future where you did and didn’t do the thing.

Because once you do, there’s no going back. You’ll have too much skin in the game to play both sides.

If you’re worried about everybody liking your projects, they’ll all fail.

Show anything to enough people and someone’s bound to hate it.

Luckily, this works in reverse too. No matter how many times you get told it’s worthless, there is someone out there that your project suits perfectly.

Whether people tend to like or dislike the work you do is simply another metric to measure it by.

Van Gogh sold only one painting before he died. From his perspective, almost all of his projects failed.

Now they rest in galleries and museums all around the world, admired by thousands each day.

Projects don’t succeed when people like them and fail when people don’t.

There’s much more to it.

Likeability is a metric just like order quantity, quality or returns.

A cigarette isn’t better than a Porsche just because more cigarettes are sold each day.

So why would your project necessarily be worse than any other purely based on how many people like it?

Select carefully the metrics by which you measure failure and success.

In most cases, likeability will prove a far less useful metrics than impact or reach.

How many actionable thoughts did you have today?

How many did you resist?

Of those you resisted, did your resistance stem from logic or fear?

Your nature is to act.

Resist the resistance.

Do the thing.

Go.

In his worthwhile book, The Hapiness Hypothesis, Jonathan Haidt argues that the advantage optomists have over pessimists naturally compounds.

It’s true that the world is structured such that the rich tend to get richer as the poor get poorer, but it’s also true that the happy are likely to grow further happier than the sad.

When it comes to dealing with circumstances which are making them unhappy, “optimists expect their efforts to pay off, [so] they go right to work fixing the problem.”

Even when things fail, they have an inherent understanding that things tend to work out for the best.

When things go wrong, optimists naturally seek out the potential benefits buried within misfortune.

The narrative optimists write for themselves then, is one of constantly overcoming adversity.

Pessimists, on the other hand, live in a world with more apparent risk and less confidence to deal with it.

From the pessimist perspective it’s natural to feel trapped within a narrative wrought with hopelessness; one where bearing the consequences of injust circumstances seems more natural than attempting to change them.

Optimists and pessimists can be dealt the exact same adversity and each write opposing translations.

What’s frightening is that the way each retells the events in their own internal narrative has ripple effects on the remainder of their narrative.

Optimists are more likely to grow from adversity because they can antipate rewards for their efforts.

Pessimists are more likely to be enslaved by adversity because they spend more time managing their pain than resolving their adversity.

This doesn’t mean pessimists can’t grow from adversity. It just means they find it more difficult to do so on average.

“The key to growth is not optimism per se, it is the sense making which optimists find easy.”

Optimist, pessimist or anything inbetween, find a way to make sense of adversity. Come to terms with it. Relish it. Grow.