Exponential Growth

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Our human brains have a hard time understanding or accepting exponential trends. We prefer and interpret events and trends to be linear.

Like a nice Sunday drive that is steady in course, direction and speed, we think life events unfold this way.

However, the reality is that we have acceleration occurring at unprecedented speeds. Whether it’s world population, bandwidth or medicine. We are not linear. We are exponential.

This comes from the compounding effects of technology. When technology enters your marketplace, you are off the industrial progress of linear trending and onto exponential growth.

We used to watch blue collar factory work get replaced by robots and automation. Now, the same has happened for white collar office workers. Robots are faster, cheaper and don’t complain.

The network effect of using LinkedIn, Upwork or Twitter to find talent or get things done with a modular project team is within everyone’s grasp now. You just have to rally around your idea and lead. All the resources are a few clicks away to make your ideas happen now.

The network effect is accelerating and available to anyone that is connected. And everyone is connected now.

So, what happens to your position right now? The world is not standing still and the security you might feel could be a deception. You might feel like it’s a linear zone when you are merely in the first part of an exponential curve. It’s not inconceivable you will be replaced or your cost will dramatically reduce.

Once network effects and digitization occur, the commoditization process begins. Computing power, bandwidth and storage are near zero cost. And every day our hypercompetitive economy keeps changing the rules because someone is building on top of the collective knowledge that makes the next step of innovation easier.

The strategy for a world of exponential growth is not to go hope and find places where things are merely linear. That’s not going to happen. The trend across modern reality is efficiency and demonetization.

No, the fit strategy is to map yourself into an exponential mindset. You can participate, thrive and get rich by keeping pace with and trending with exponential growth. Make it a foregone conclusion that automation will replace your work today. But it doesn’t have to replace you.

Your opportunity lies with the ability to develop your personal leadership and use the existing and emerging technology of today to build something people will buy. Start with a few. Make it work. Then make it work at scale.

Have you accepted exponential growth?

Move the Big Things

There’s more to life than just maintaining what you have and simply getting throug the day. Having laser focus around a few things that matter can make an immense impact towards big goals. However, that’s easier said than done.

First, you have to know what you want and stay singularly focused.

Second, you can’t get distracted by the myriad things that don’t matter. And most things don’t matter.

The game today, in a world where you have connection to the people and resources you need, simply requires your personal leadership.

This means you know where you are headed and you lead with clarity, conviction and decisiveness. Everyone around you can do the same. It starts with an idea and your commitment to that idea.

When you move the big things, you make your work count towards work that materializes into substance.

This requires energy and forcefulness that comes from your desire and consistency over time. And while everything is working against you, your ability with leverage today keeps showing up and makes that dent in the universe.

Think about what is getting in your way every day. Bad relationships, poor work habits and the other productivity snares out there. Get rid of them one by one.

The world is waiting for your work and it requires a focused mind that shows up and stays relentless. All that other scatter work simply dissipates comparatively.

Are you set up and committed to moving the big things in your life?

The Fit Matters More Than Your Desire

Ever notice that there are things you might want but you are just mediocre at it? Most of the things you attempt, you will be mediocre at, for that matter. Your body, brain and coordination simply underperform compared to a person who naturally steps in and makes it happen.

Being mediocre at something doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it. But you may not want to delude yourself into thinking you are going to get big bucks or a championship for your performance.

Fit matters. Your talent and aptitude for a certain thing matter a great deal. I liked John Maxwell’s assessment.

On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best, you can only move up 2 spots with hard work.

If you are a 2 at something, then with hard work, you can become a 4.

The world does not pay for 4’s, especially when there are plenty of 8’s and 9’s around.

But if you are a 7 at something, you can become a 9 at something with hard work.

You can waste a lot of time with good intentions trying to become a 4.

We have this strange folklore in our culture that if we work hard at something, then we can become anything we want.

It’s a myth. Has that played out in your life?

The better approach to finding success is:

  1. Get brutally honest with yourself. Look at how good or bad you really are. We all think of ourselves a little better than others around us see. You can’t get where you want to go if you lie to yourself.
  2. Take inventory. What are you naturally a 7 or higher at? While we may be mediocre at many things, we have an inventory of things that we are likely very good at.
  3. Pick 2. Get really good by showing up every day and practicing those 2 things that are a fit. It is what you are good for, what you are made for.

It’s not a hard process. But you do have to be honest.

And for those areas you don’t have talent, partner with people that can augment you.

If you want to find out what those areas of strength are, consider getting tested.

What can you let go of? What can you commit to more?

Buy Experiences Not Things

Spending money is easy. So is cluttering your life. The discretions or indiscretions we have on what we let into our life can keep us from going after even bigger and more adventurous things.

I like to buy experiences rather than things. Going big on travel, glacier landings, wilderness backpacking, business client adventures, and thoughtful gift experiences to others builds memories and enhances me and the people I get to share experiences with at a profound level.

Most everything decays or loses appeal. We think about our past and future a lot and buying experiences makes those memories and the person we are becoming a great investment.

Furthermore, all the stuff we tend to accumulate has to be managed, cleaned and upkept. It’s a waste of energy, a distraction, that can suck life from us as well as inhibit us from taking off and doing things that would be fun. The stuff we accumulate has anchors physically and emotionally. Piece by piece, these material objects have more than their purchase cost in our lives. And why?

So, what if you started to prune something every day? What if you could live with less? The little liberations you experience can start to remove a bit of the haze you might be experiencing. You have less getting in your way.

It could be an interesting experiment to shop less and give more. Give yourself and others more experiences that enhance you and build into the fabric of who you become. It’s not something anyone can take away and you don’t have to tidy up your purchases every day. You get to enjoy the investment of experiences that shape you.

What thing can you get rid of? What experience can you buy?

Solve Problems By Detaching

We are all trying to get something more and get problems solved every day. And a counterintuitive approach to problem solving is often to get away from your problems. I like to get away to remote and serene places to get my mind off of things.

It opens things up rather than converges. I get tunnel vision when I am trying harder to solve something that can get frustrating and elusive.

You gain more perspective and insights by letting things sit for a while. Your mind is extremely powerful and your subconscious can work to make sense of issues you face as well as bring forward associations and solutions to your harder problems.

Try and make it a daily practice to get away from your work and let your mind ruminate and relax. Here are some ways that you can inject a little detachment to your work day:

  • Walk for 30 minutes. You can be quiet, look around and simply enjoy distractions.
  • Take a bike ride. Run errands or head to a lunch destination by biking from place to place.
  • Get outdoors. Find nature trails or uphill hikes that get your heart pumping and use a lot of coordination. Nature tends to restore and keeps you focused on what is in front of you.
  • Swim laps. It’s meditative and relaxing to swim along a lane and just work your body. Not much equipment needed and you can easily go for a while until you are tired out.
  • Drive to an overlook. Beautiful places and expanses are extremely refreshing. You feel small in the vastness. Drive to a lookout and take in big views. Pray, meditate or sit without thoughts or worries.

You can keep grinding it out, but today’s work requires much more adept thinking with creative solutions. Distance, detachment and introspection taps into a part of yourself that can come up with wonderful solutions.

Be sure to jot your ideas down on your iPhone or pad of paper. It’s always handy to see what comes out of your mind and heart when you change context and location.

How can you change up your daily routine to get away more?

You Have All You Need to Start Something

We live in an unprecedented time in history. It used to be hard to start something. You needed infrastructure, people, permission, etc. That was how the industrial economy worked. The mass forced us to push with enough weight of force behind us.

But now, you can put the pieces together yourself. The only thing limiting you is your ideas and your hard work.

Oh, and you have to be ok with failure. Embracing failure means you like learning. That is how we learn when there are a massive amount of unknowns.

But, you can always get started and test.

Need talent? Get on upwork.com and hire a freelancer.

Need funding? Put an ad out on kickstarter.com.

Need systems? Find a cloud computing solution and start a low-cost subscription.

Need to know how to build a business and make money? Call me!

I doubt there is much stopping you from doubling your income or changing the world. The obstacles and costs have been ridiculously lowered and you have access to what you need.

But the scarcity is still around leadership to make it happen. You have to make that part of your modus operandi.

The world is moving at a relentless pace as you see people squeezed out of the middle class, middle management and middle thinking. It’s because everyone can compete now. And they are.

Take some time to think about how you can make a person happy. Think what you could do. Think about a plan to put the pieces together to make them happy. Then find another person. Refine your process.

If you do it enough times and see feedback from the world, you can scale and build on your innovation. But it does start with the desire and leadership to put all the pieces together and make what’s in your head and heart play out in reality.

What’s holding you back?

 

Commit to Things You Can Sustain

I think we have mass hysteria embedded in our humanity. When fads come along or some new shiny platform appears, people jump at it and go nuts.

At one time, blogging had millions of people participating in the blogosphere. Most of it was noise and clutter.

Youtube has hundreds of videos uploaded every minute. We all have cameras. Why not shoot some videos and store them? Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, you name it, make pushing things out so convenient wherever you are. 

But all these fronts have a cost. And the reality is that if you want attention and business deals, you have to play the long game. There are not nearly as many bloggers out there. Everyone’s chasing some new fantasy. But the real writers are still around working on their craft and sharing their thoughts.

Same goes for all the other platforms. Atrophy sets in for the masses. And those that experience success gaining new customers or an audience keep learning and keep showing up. As Jim Rohn said,

“Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day.”

If you keep flitting from one thing to another, you lose the momentum and discovery that comes from learning, connecting and being consistent. I think it’s why passion is so important. If you like something marginally, how are you going to be around for years building an asset in attention or engagement with those that resonate with you? The deal is that they give you attention and you give them consistency.

So, before you start pushing hard on some new platform, think about whether you can sustain it. Will it be core to your habits and something you look forward to doing every day?

I happen to enjoy writing with over 1,500+ articles to date on my blog. And I don’t anticipate stopping anytime soon. It’s sustainable and enjoyable. The work gets to compound and live on rather than simply stop and rot.

What few things do you find you can commit to and sustain?

Yes, But Do They Value It

Hearing that phrase, “You have to add value,” can sound wonderful as part of your business habits. But what does it really mean? It can be a lofty idea without materializing into something real that connects with another person.

The better question when you are working with a customer is to look at them with full attention and think, “What is valuable to them?” It takes concentration and intentionality.

We are in our own heads too much and think about what is valuable to ourselves without realizing it most of the time. Then we project what we value onto others. It’s easy to do. But it’s starting from the wrong place.

Asking what your customer truly values means you can see their worldview and the story they tell themselves. Often what they value is unspoken:

“I want to feel important. Make me feel important.”

“I want my network to respect me and see my accomplishments.”

“I want comfort and ease these days.”

“I want to not worry and feel secure about my position.”

“I want to win and be perceived as the top dog.”

The easy way to find out what is valuable to someone is to simply observe. Turn off the sound. Look at what they do and ignore what they say. We say things to position and appear put together.

And if you are thinking that you are providing great service and feeling good about your own efforts, you may miss what is really going on in the customer experience and relationship. The question is still about whether your customer values what you are doing, not whether you value it.

This kind of insight and approach to how you do business requires strategic thinking. Step back and think about what is valuable to people you deal with. Think about the things they are not saying but are true.

Then meet those deeply held motives and beliefs to retain, nurture and grow your relationships.

What do you observe as valuable to your clients that they are not saying?

Thinking Harder vs. Working Harder

Abraham Lincoln is often quoted as saying,

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

Is that what most people do? Most people start sawing away at their problems. I think it feels safe because you don’t feel as accountable. If something didn’t work out, you can fool yourself and simply say you tried really hard. It’s a loser’s mentality.

Winning requires analyzing what is wrong with a situation or yourself. That’s hard work to think things through and come up with a strategy that makes sense. You have to be vested in the idea and direction when you stop and think harder.

When you don’t know what to do you have that crossroads to buckle down and work harder or step back and think harder. What if you worked at the strategic level on the problems you are solving. Here are some ways to do that:

  1. Call a trusted advisor for coffee. Get in dialogue and open the problems up to see if you can gain additional insights and perspective.
  2. Create a decision tree. Whether by yourself or in dialogue with a business coach or advisor, think about outcomes and probabilities. Map out your options and what the probabilities look like with all the outcomes. Use your experience in reality to come up with an educated outlook.
  3. Get away for a walk. Your subconscious is an amazing resource to bring clarity of thought. Walk for an hour and let go of your problems. When you get back, you could likely have new approaches.
  4. Read for an hour. Let  your mind get dialed into a business book or even fiction. There are lots of nuggets of wisdom and insights that come from story and case studies that can feed your creativity to sharpen your saw.

Thinking harder has to be a reaction that becomes a habit. You won’t live and work so wastefully because you are taking on that leadership quality of deliberation and strategic thinking that is required to come up with elegant and holistic solutions.

Do you tend to work harder or think harder?

The Myth of Credentialism

The logic of getting more education or credentials used to make sense in the past in the industrial economy. Things were nice and neat then. If you wanted a promotion or you got laid off, the thought process of becoming more marketable by getting an MBA, a law degree or another degree altogether could position you for a better track than where you were.

In essence, this kind of thinking was a bet based on companies, recruiters and HR professionals looking at the signals you are presenting to slot you into a known hierarchy. The model and the credentials assume that there’s a nice box you can fit within.

However, if you are paying attention, look at the trends:

  • Companies are getting smaller, not bigger
  • LinkedIn shows a regular pattern of people switching jobs every 3-5 years
  • Older people are expensive and competing with younger talent a fraction of their pay
  • We have access to talent anywhere and everywhere in the world
  • What is working for a company can evaporate next year
  • Anyone can be an entrepreneur now
  • You can learn any skill you want. If you want to, that is.
  • Those at the top and the bottom have access to the same information and tools.

If you want to go $60K in debt to get some more credentials, ask yourself how that fits into the new economy and the trends. It assumes someone values and wants to pay for your new credentials.

What if you took that debt and invested it into an idea instead? Think about the bet you are making. You have the opportunity to put yourself on your own path. You get to learn skills that open the world up to you rather than limit you to someone else’s temporary paradigm for cash flow.

Just because something is working now in a business does not mean it will last for the next five years, much less the next year.

Yes, credentialism is a myth and dangerous bet. You could end up on the short end of the stick over-educating yourself while the world is outpacing your degree and learnings. It’s an old mindset for an old economy.

When you live in a world where someone who does not go to college can make millions if they work hard, learn from their failure and can test their ideas over and over, how does credentialism fit?

What’s your strategy for staying relevant and valuable enough to make the big bucks?