In the words of Harvard Business Review writer Anthony K. Tjan, “…there is one quality that trumps all, evident in virtually every great entrepreneur, manager, and leader. That quality is self-awareness. The best thing leaders can [do] to improve their effectiveness is to become more aware of what motivates them and their decision-making.”
Taking pause, and allowing a moment of reflection where we gain clarity and realize our foolishness is so vital to cultivating self-awareness. You’re fighting against all your adaptive and evolutionary behaviors—your mind is hardwired to protect itself at all times—so instead of expending energy on fruitless actions for the sake of a damaged ego, you pause, reflect, and do what’s best for you.
Self-awareness is defined as conscious knowledge of oneself; it’s a stepping stone to reinventing oneself, learning to make wiser decisions, and helps you tune into your thoughts and feelings. So often we place blame on externalities because it’s the easiest excuse, when in fact we should be thinking about our thinking, reflecting, trying on different perspectives, and learning from our mistakes.
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The ‘Design Process’ as told by a disassembled AK47 bullet
Each piece of the bullet represents a different part of the design process.
“Inspiration” is represented by the primer. A small explosion puts everything in motion. Inspiration is a tricky business: Obsession with your interests alone leads to unproductive fantasy, while obsession with capabilities alone leads to paralyzing fear. Inspiration ignites when you’re brutally honest about both. The explosion from the primer is controlled by the shell casing, labeled as “discipline,” which contains and directs your energy.
Gunpowder represents the risks implicit in the design process. When you start bringing an idea into the world, you don’t know how it will behave. If the idea is worth anything, there’s no precedent. If you fear or try to mitigate this uncertainty, the inspiration will remain an idea.
The bullet tip? That’s humility. Design your project to cut through apathy and reach those who will appreciate it, but realize that once it’s in the world, its success and failure are no longer yours. Temperature, dew point, and Earth’s rotation affect a bullet’s flight as much as the shooter’s intention.
The harder I push, the more I find within myself. I am always looking for the next step, a different world to go into, areas where I have not been before. It’s lonely driving a Grand Prix car, but very absorbing. I have experienced new sensations and I want more. That is my excitement, my motivation.
I’m huge advocate of standing desk, everyone who works with me knows this. I’ve done everything from sitting, to yoga ball chairs, to even the treadmill desk. And the standing desk was my personal favorite (treadmill got me too distracted, so it serves more for those that really have no opportunity to exercise in their life, IMO).
Although most places I’ve worked have required a doctor’s note (something I’m still struggling to understand the reasoning behind), I’ve managed to weasel through that protocol and ‘build’ my own. It should be mentioned that I use the word build with quotations b/c it isn’t always pretty, and it usually involves boxes, tape, and stacks of books.
It dawned on me today, the wonder of why certain places have yet to adopt the “standing desk culture” (not saying all employees should have it, but that the option to have it is open). And I thought I would list the benefits, other places that use it and even a favorite option of mine too.
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A life well lived is - I believe - a combination of achievement and appreciation. But whatever measure of success you apply - it is difficult to argue that Will Smith isn’t in the process of living it to the full. There is a brilliant compilation of interviews with Will here - the full transcript is below. Whenever I’m feeling any lack of motivation I watch this. When I’m about to start a new project I watch this. When I’m wondering what to do with my life I watch this. Watch it now and go do something awesome with your day.
“I have a great time with my life and I wanna share it. I love living, I think that’s infectious, it’s something that you can’t fake.
Greatness is not this wonderful, esoteric, elusive, god-like feature that only the special among us will ever taste - you know it’s something that truly exists in all of us. It’s very simple, this is what I believe and I’m willing to die for it. Period. It’s that simple. And that’s all I need to know, so from there you do what you need to do. I think what happens is we make this situation more complex than it has to be (because we’re looking for complexity).
We didn’t grow up with the sense that where we were was where we were gonna be. You know we grew up with the sense that where we were almost didn’t matter, because we were becoming something greater.
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Thank you to the TV show “Chuck" for always having an endless playlist of indie songs in every episode for me to find and play again on repeat.