A consultant from Calgary was in town working with one of our clients. As the marketing arm of this organization I was interviewed by the consultant. After asking a bunch of topical questions to what the organization was going through he then asked me a rather interesting question I thought;
“How are you staying current?”
How are you staying current? I’d never been asked that before. Well not in that context, I’m sure I’ve questioned my age and opinion’s relevance more and more over the past year. But every now and then I get a little too preachy and the coach in me comes out. It’s a bad habit I’m trying to stop.
The question at hand, “how are you staying current?” is a wonderful thought experiment. You ask yourself, “what IS current?”, “how would one stay current?”, “what’s the number one sign someone isn’t “staying current”?” I’m pretty sure he was wondering whether or not I was a growth or fixed mindset person. You know, someone who believes in the future and is bettering ones’ self. The growth mindset allows you to improve no matter what. If you have a growth mindset you’re probably staying current in a number of specific ways.
I’m definitely a growth mindset person. Growth mindset people never have to worry about a job, they’ll always be valuable because they can learn as they go. Reminded me of a podcast with an eerie subtext called: How Safe Is Your Job.
From John Mackey’s Conscious Capitalism he sums up what the vast majority of people are looking for when it coming to work.
A job, a career, or a calling.
We’ve all had a job. We’ve all hated a job.
A job is what we first want when we’re young. Mostly for means to an ends. We want cash money. We treat the job as such, we don’t get too attached, we try to do just a good enough job not to get fired. There are many people in this world that simply work at a job. It’s not fulfilling, they don’t love the organization they work for, and when another “job” comes along that seems similar but pays better, they’re gone fast than you can say “do you want fries with that?”
A career is a little different. Like a longer, well-paid boring job.
One of the worst parts of my younger years was ironically during the 2010 Vancouver winter Olympics. I say Ironically because unless you’re a close friend of mine, you’ve never heard this story. And it really wasn’t that bad looking back, while I was there I was going through utter turmoil .
My videographer friend (Riley Moynes) and I were hired to be the online video bloggers for the Saskatchewan pavilion during the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics! What an unbelievable experience I said, you have to do it I said to my self, at any cost. At any cost.
And boy did it cost a lot, but my trade off was I learned so much while being there, a once in a lifetime experience I’ll never forget.
When we agreed to do it we thought we could have a lot of fun doing Rick Mercer style interviews while producing Vice style video blogs. That’s wasn’t what we were hired to do. The Government representative flat out did not want this to come across as fun, no no, she had a much different idea. We were to report back to her with all video ideas before we were to shoot them. She’d send the ideas about to her counterparts in Saskatchewan and decision by committee made our lives pretty shitty for a while. Talk about micromanagement! I loathed it.
On top of terrible working situation I was staying in an apartment with a friend that was a bus, then train ride away to and from the Sask Pavilion. We didn’t have a fridge, 45 minute commute on a good day, a hour and a bit on a bad day. It was hell on earth. I know why people in big cities are miserable a lot of the time, it’s draining to commute so much. Every day the same, every day no more fun just shitty videos. I had to eat out every day on the same budget I was used to in Regina. I ended up using my credit card way to much. But I had no choice, it was a once in a lifetime experience, you don’t give up during those experiences. You bite your tung, you lie to yourself, you say everything will be alright.
I got home sick. So home sick my friend Derek asked if I wanted him to fly my girlfriend out there. It was a nice gesture, I declined.
My saving grace was Riley. He talked me off the ledge several times there, one day I had my head set on leaving early, but he convinced me to stay. We Sushi’d lots, went to a couple Olympic events, and one morning we almost lost him to a riot downtown Vancouver. He edited the videos we shot every day, he was a machine, I really don’t know how he did it. He had to work way more than I did, but that’s why I’ve always looked up to him. That’s why I still look up to him, he did everything I had to do without complaining. Incredible.
Towards the end of the Olympics we started just shooting our own thing. We thought “what the hell! They can’t fire us now, right?!”. Ironically those are the videos you won’t find on Tourism’s Youtube channel. HA! My favourite video to shoot was when Riley convinced me to wear green tights, a green cape and a watermelon on my head, we were going Rider fan hunting!! By far the funnest day. We had people from all walks of life yelling at us, heckling us with most of it in good fun.
Now I look back on it and it wasn’t as bad as I thought. A once in a lifetime experience that’s for sure. Most days we had a blast! We went to a curling semi final, women’s hockey game, and got busted one night for bringing a Mickey of rum into the pavilion. (beers were like $100, you can’t blame me, blame Vancouver!).
His theory of what’s wrong with society is that we continuously put achievement before fulfillment. We’re always looking for the next big thing, the next toy, house, car, or vacation. Nothing is ever good enough and you’re destined to die a lonely death.
Tony talks about Robin Williams and how he asks about Robin to crowds all over the world. Everywhere Tony goes he says 98% of the crowd LOVES Robin Williams, the other 2%? He makes fun of them too.
He asks crowds about Williams because he trying to make a point. Robin Williams of all people had it all, he’d won every award in his field, he was widely regarded as one of the best comedians and actors of his generation. Then Tony get’s mad. “And what did Robin after all of those achievements? He hung himself. He still wasn’t good enough in his mind.”
We have a duty in the life to help others. One major way is to focus on fulfillment and forget achievement. How can you do this? It’s hard to forget about achievement, we’re built to want ti achieve. It makes us feel good, it’s an ego boost. But the problem with achievement is that it can get addicting, you can want it at all costs, sacrificing things you never would have. Eventually simply focusing on achievement will lead you to disappointment.
The wise owls always worry about fulfillment before achievement, for achievement is but a fleeting emotion, fulfillment feeds the soul.
Fulfillment is sustainable. Fulfillment is that feeling that makes you smile when you wake up in the morning and the reason you’re happy falling asleep. It’s challenging, it’s spiritual, it’s something personal, it’s your journey. It has nothing to do with anyone else, it’s your art and only you know if you’re putting in 110% all the time. When you do, you’ll get a weird feeling of contentment.
“A Gold medal is a wonderful thing, but if you’re not enough without it, you’ll never be enough with it.” -Irv Blitzer to Derice Bannock after Derice asked why he had cheated in the Olympics.
Winning isn’t everything.
At times it may seem like it is but coaches, captains, players, and parents all need to understand that winning isn’t the goal of team sports. Like Irv (John Candy) says, if you’re not good enough when you lose, you’ll never be good enough when you win. But we insist on focusing on the score or the team record, when’s the last time you heard someone worry about the team culture or player wellbeing? That’s because most of us don’t know how to run a team successfully.
The first thing I tell my class when teaching is that I’m only good at two things, baking chocolate chip cookies (I’m really good at it) and getting excited about Volleyball, as in coaching or helping a team. Everything else I’m not that good at. When you really think about it, no one is amazing at a lot of things. I mean some people just seem to be really good in several areas of their life. But when you find someone who’s amazing at something, usually they lack in many other areas of their life. And when I say “lack” I don’t mean we’re bad at those things, we just haven’t had the practice we need. I feel a lot of people need to have the power of being “smarter” than others, be it ego, self esteem or lack there of. Anyone in a leadership role (coach, teacher, professor, manager, boss) should never deliberately act smarter than anyone else. This comes out in correcting others, arguing, overtly disagreeing, putting others down, and generally being a know it all. Don’t be that person in life. No one likes a know it all.
The Oxford Philosopher Isaiah Berlin wrote the now famous essay, The Fox and the Hedgehog. The Fox knows many things but the Hedgehog only knows one important thing. It’s an analogy that works for many different life situations. Psychologist Phillip Tetlock studied the political predictions of two different types of expert speculators, foxes and hedgehogs. Throughout the 20th century Hedgehogs were more likely to get prime time television slots on Fox political hour(they made the big bold predictions) but Foxes seems to be right far more often in their predictions. An anomaly in political predictions, the more press you get, the more you think you’re right.
“I am not very good at a lot of things.” -Jeph Maystruck
I like to look at the Fox and the Hedgehog in regards to my life. I was never the Jack of all trades growing up. I didn’t fix things around the house, I wasn’t overly helpful when things broke. I still don’t fix things around the house, I just not a fox. This amuses my family. I don’t change my own oil or winter tires. They usually bug me about it. Not any more!!
I say not any more because of what happened the other weekend. I bring my car over to my parents place and my family is going to help put on my winter tires. We get half way done when two tires won’t come off the vehicle. We literally tried and tried to no avail. I went home with two winter tires on and two summer tires. The next day I had to explain to the folks at Quicklane why I had two tires changed out already! ha! I told my family they can’t make fun of me for not wanting to be “handy”. I trust experts to do what they do best. Long live the hedgehogs.
You can get great at many things but you’re much better off to focus your attention on one thing and try to be the best in the world at it.
On June 26, 2013 we lost one of the good ones. One of the influencers. One of the thought leaders. He may not have been published in the Harvard Business Review regularly but he influenced the people around him and the students he taught in a way that changed their lives forever. Much, much, more of an accomplishment in my opinion.
I’m the type of person that needs music playing to help me work more efficiently. Not only does it keep me motivated, but it also helps keep me focused. What I listen to often depends on the type of project that I’m working on but I’ve put together a list of albums that are my go-to. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: I’m not a Top 40 kind of guy so you might find not be used to some of this stuff. A lot of the songs are instrumental so I don’t get distracted by lyrics. But hopefully you find one of the albums below to help you work.
Menahan Street Band – Make The Road By Walking
Toro Y Moi – Anything in Return
Zedd – Clarity
Anything by this guy!
CFCF – Exercise
(Slowing it down a bit here)
Nujabes – Spiritual State
Washed Out – Within and Without
That’s all I can think of for now! I’d love to hear what you play when you’re working in the comments below –>