Motivation

Which way to go?

The choice is easy, because there’s only one way we can: forwards.

Wraping around the side? That’s moving forward. Doubling back? You’re moving forwards. Staying exactly where you are and waiting out the storm? That’s forwards too.

We can only move through time in one direction. All other movement is secondary, and will soon be beside the point.

We each have only two things, which we share equally: this moment in time, and the next.

Writers less creative than you have published books.

Producers less organised than you have made movies.

Entrepreneurs less intelligent than you have built million dollar businesses.

You are not the sum of all your parts.

You are the sum of how well you work. Not how hard, but how effectively.

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.

The games we play always offer opportinites to grow and learn. The degree to which we embrace those opportunities and implement the lessons we learn is another story.

Usually, meaningful growth which has lifetime value is burried under a lot of hard work.

This work is hard because it tends to involve a lot of losing. Losing feels like crap, but it’s a necessary prerequisite to succeeding – to a point.

If the player’s experience involves too much losing, they stop playing altogether.

The trick then, is how do we play these games in a way which helps us enjoy the process of trying and failing?

I believe the answer is by reframing failure into feedback.

Feedback is information gathered from a negative source which offers positive change.

By taking the raw data in our losses, we can find ways to look at them which track the incremental steps we can take towards more frequent victory.

If you suck at tennis and you’re really focused on trying to win every match, you’re going to have a rough time.

But if you suck at tennis and you’re really focussed on returning more serves than you were able to last week, you might enjoy a victory even if you get crushed.

The match is no longer played just between you and your opponent; there’s a separate game being played between you and yourself, in which you have much greater chance at victory.

These micro victories compound on one another.

For one month your focus is on returning serves, the next it’s on your forehand, then you backhand, then all of a sudden you’re not so bad at tennis – which is a whole lot better than losing four out of five matches and then selling your racket on Gumtree.

When failure equals feedback, losing equals winning.

“Every action is a vote for the type of person you wish to become.”

James Clear

People say you are what you eat, but I’m more inclined to believe you are what you do.

Make good food decisions, you’ll be a healthy eater.

Juggle every day, you’ll be a juggler.

In many ways, we are all of the things we’re performing in each moment.

Which is why it’s so important to optimise yourself in the immediate term.

Long-term goals are great, but they have no relevance to who you actually are outside of the effect that have on focussing your immediate goals.

Dreams are so fun to imagine because they skip all work required to realise them and get right to the reward.

For them to come true, a through line must be forged which connect the dream to the now.

People who lose sight of this live in a world of constant inaction with distant goals which will sadly never eventuate.

Every action, every second, is a vote for the person you’ll become.

Vote wisely.

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.

Pursuits are the infinite games we play which involve clear feedback and trackable progress.

Playing slot machines can never be a pursui because there’s no way to get better at it; over time, you’re guaranteed to lose.

However, playing poker could be a pursuit. There are a set of skills involved which can be honed over time with practice.

Pursuits are not habits, but they can involve habitual practice.

Mixed Martial Arts is a pursuit which benefits greatly from a habitual routine.

Pursuits are the goals we set which never end.

They’re the things which over time we wish to master. Which we do for the sake of continuing to do them.

Nobody ever wakes up and realises that they’ve mastered a pursuit.

Mastery is not a destination, it’s a practice.

“Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action.”

Benjamin Disraeli

Irrespective of how many good reasons one can collect to remain unhappy, inaction is the only way to guarantee that the unhappiness will stick around.

We’re not responsible for the hand we’re dealt, but we are responsible for the way we play it.

If you’re not seizing every moment you’ve been gifted, you’re not doing everything you can to be happy. It’s simple as that.

This means that nearly none of us are doing everything we can to better our lives. This sounds bleak, but it’s actually the opposite.

Inherent in every future day is the potential to grow.

Aim to grow 1% happier each day, and you’ll be stunned how quickly life feels like it’s turning around.

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.

Sometimes the most creative thing you can do is spark inspiration into others.

It’s not the kind of work you always get noticed or thanked for, but the impact potential of inspiring others far exceeds the potential impact of any work you could do in isolation.

1 + 1 doesn’t always equal 2 because humans magnify one another.

Surround yourself with people who magnify the change you seek to make in the world. Even more importantly, make sure that you’re doing the same for them.