Frankology

Ultimately, we are all “in it to win it.” This is true of our personal lives, professional lives, careers, and businesses. If you believe this statement to be untrue of yourself, you are either naïve, lying to yourself (and others) or both.

If you focus on the personal front first, all you need do is ask yourself when was the last time you chose your needs or even wants over those of someone else? Took the last of the treats in the cupboard, parked in a parking space you clearly were not supposed to, didn’t obey the rules because you were late. There are countless instances where we place our own requirements above those of others, we do this almost automatically. Those of us who are more “selfless” (or strive to be) are better at considering others before ourselves, but when it comes down to it…

On a professional level, this detail is even plainer to see. Even the most “selfless” among us would not pass up a promotion, for the greater good of someone else’s wellbeing and that of their family. Of course not, our duty is to our family first, right? Strange how stating it this way, making it a duty, suddenly transforms the lack of selflessness–selfishness–into something more palatable, honorable even.

Not one among us can claim looking after your family first, is in any way deplorable, but if this is true, where do we draw the line as to what is selfish or disdainful ambition, and what is morally decent and proper? I contest that this is a very fine line and that it keeps moving, depending on circumstances. Circumstances global, individual and specific.

Let’s take an easy one: bribery or corruption. Ask anyone if they will pay a bribe in return for benefits of any kind and they will without hesitation reply with a resounding “no.” Yet, bribery and corruption are rife, at all levels of society, meaning someone has to be offering and accepting bribes. The same question would have completely different implications for the individual depending on their circumstances. If it were their last 10k on offer, which in return would revive their business with say 100K. Would offering the bribe still be equally appalling? Or, if offering the 10k meant they could retire and someone else would stand the chance to move up a rung and fill their shoes? How do we feel about it then? What if there were a sick child involved, and the money was all which was needed to recover? Still unacceptable? What if it were your child?

While the moral high road is exceedingly easy to occupy in public, the truth is far more complex and far less clear-cut. The history of the British Secret Service, their many branches, and those of other countries, is yet more proof of this.* I am currently reading a book on the subject. The sheer number of double agents, betrayal, and treachery is astounding. If society was as moral as we all proclaim it to be, how do conditions like this even exist? The answer is a simple one; we are all “in it to win it.”

Being in “it to win it” is neither deplorable nor honorable, it is natural.

In a recent ‘life experiment’ I stopped using an alarm clock – all together. Now, I should mention at one point I was completely governed by alarms, literally living my life from one to the next, eight to ten a day.

A little over a year ago, I set myself a goal; I was not going to use any alarms at all. There was no time-frame for this other than as soon as possible. One by one, I implemented changes which allowed me to dump an alarm for each. Of course, the most obvious, and most difficult, was to be the morning alarm. In truth, I doubted whether I'd ever be free of this one.

Turns out, it's fairly easy to stop using an alarm clock to wake up in the morning. It's nothing more than a habit, really. Today (and every other) I woke to the sounds of the day. Birds chirping, pets and neighbors, that sort of thing.

Admittedly, depending on where you are in the world, and even on the season (sun doesn't rise till well after 08:30 in the winter here), it may prove to be trickier than simply deleting your alarm. Even so, there is something liberating about it. Strange when you think you're still getting up at the same time.

While I'm not sure what the mechanism is, I'm sure it makes a profound difference. Not in the sense of bucking the system but rather, the system no longer owns you, or, possesses less of you.

Time is the single most precious commodity available to us. Managing it in a different and more natural way, I believe, is where the growth lies. While there is no more time than when I started, I do own more of it now.

When a hobby becomes work it becomes a stressor, in which case it's time to dump it. I'm of an age where I no longer do things “because I have to.” I do things because I want to.

Sure, there are times when one must follow through on goals and targets because we need this to stay grounded and to challenge ourselves, but there is no good reason to continue a pursuit if it no longer has an upside (keeping in mind the upside might be on the other side of discomfort). This is even more the case when it is only a hobby.

Hobbies are supposed to be fun, if you're not enjoying it, fuck it.

I'm quite sure a cursory Google would yield at least some information on the subject, but I'm not in the mood. Instead, I'll pose it as a question; I wonder how much damage, physical and emotional, is caused by sitting staring at our computer screens all day?

The answer would probably vary based on the parameters of the study and maybe even the opinion of the reply, but one thing is for sure, it can't be good for us. While chasing up and down, back and forth, for meetings, errands and the like, seems tedious at best, it sure must be healthier than vegetating in front of the PC all day.

In the same vein, how much of the “PC time” is in fact productive? I venture to say less than 50%. Maybe, in the future, we should work on projects designed to change this. Projects which encourage productivity over input. This is a future I could better live with.

“Change is as good as a holiday.” I disagree, but that’s just me.

I don’t like change. I don’t like it at all. I like it so little I find it menacing. That said, there is also something to be said for change. It brings a fresh perspective, hopefully, better results and definitely new ideas. As challenging as it may be for some (including the learning curve), I am still convinced it is for the best.

Being stuck in your ways, married to service providers, or unable to do away with the “old model,” has never brought anyone forward. Forward momentum is brought on by change. Sad but true.

Every year this time of the year, I am asked (more times than I care to think about) what I think the year to come has in store for us. Well, first, I don’t know, just the same as the rest of you. Second, what makes anyone think this year will be any different from last year?

There are immeasurably few factors which actually change at all. The only major change is the date-stamp, your attitude, and how old you are when you read this. This, and possibly your level of optimism, especially this early in the year. This early, you still have high hopes, your energy is overflowing and you have a to-do list longer than your arm – and good for you.

My to-do list for the year is dead simple: nothing at all.

This year will be a time for the grand “rethink,” restructure and reinvent. Often, we are stuck in our ways, the systems we use and the processes we have developed. We find it difficult to recognise a better way, easier way, better product to help us achieve less workload, less cognitive load and by association less stress.

This year is all about stepping back and finding better ways to do the things I already do.

So, what do I think about the year to come? I don’t.

There are people in this world who perpetually turn discussions into debates. If you are one of those, you need to stop it, now.

Discussions are a conversation about any given topic. Debates are an argument about the topic. Discussions warm and engaging. Debates agitated and antagonistic. Discussions inclusive and free-flowing. Debates belligerent and competitive.

Do you see now?

Goal setting is vital to long-term success. Nobody can dispute this and any who do will base their arguments on philosophical nonsense. If you don't know where you are going, you'll never get there.

Targets are not the same thing as goals. Goals contain a measure of optimism and ambition. Targets, on the other hand, imply a requirement. A requirement is to be considered done before it is even done. It is not an option.

Implementing targets to complete goals is a useful tool which will work every time and in all circumstances, personal and professional.

“When you invent the ship, you also invent the shipwreck…”– Paul Virilio

The sayings intention is to convey that all inventions have both positive and negative effects. But, it applies equally well to the idea of “nothing ventured nothing gained.” Every ship ever produced did not end up at the bottom of the ocean of regret.

Each of your failures could just as well have been a success. Failed attempts should never be a reason for not trying. Instead, it should become a chapter in your textbook of prosperity. Something you learn from, draw knowledge from and use to improve your next version.

Rile against laziness.

We are all innately lazy. Even those of us who proclaim to be otherwise. We aim to work harder, longer, better, and sometimes this might actually be more than just what we tell ourselves. We believe ourselves to be ahead, or even above the rest because we have earned it through hard work and dedication. But, given the opportunity, we will divert to our default and do less. As little as possible.

More work does not equal more enjoyment. If we were as energetic as we'd like to be, we would enjoy the tasks more. Instead, they are chores. It's OK to admit this. The key lies within consistency. Consistency is what breeds success. If we are constantly fighting off laziness, then accomplishments will follow.