Lessons from 2010

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Ok, so everyone does the “Best of XXXX year”, “Worst of XXXX year”, etc lists right around the New Year. I have to tell you; They’re my guilty pleasure. Sure, most of them tend to be trash (especially the song/movie/cupcake, etc ones), but sometimes there are some real quality observations to be found floating around this time of year.

Plus, I am at times nostalgic and I love lists, so I suppose it makes sense that I’d be all over these “End of the Year” lists like a fat kid on a cupcake (any one of the Top 10 Cupcakes will do).

So with all that being said, rather than buck the trend, I figured I’d jump right in. You won’t find “Top Ten Exercises” or “Isaac’s Failed Pick-up Lines of the Year” (I’m not THAT nostalgic) here, though. Instead I’m simply going to go through a few points that 2010 really hammered home for me. Several of them were ideas that I thought I knew or had embraced, only to find that I wasn’t living it. 2010 was one of the best years of my life, and I owe it to really getting some of these ideas pounded home through my thick skull.

1. Personality trumps smart. Everyone wants to be smart. Some of us are (like what I did there?). However, once we get over being smart, we find that usually it doesn’t mean a fucking thing.

You know what smart people do? Over-think simple situations and screw them all up. They also make less smart people feel very unsmart, so as to prove how smart they are. This tends to not win friends. “Smart” people also spend lots of time trying to figure out how they “should act” to get the response they’re looking for from others. This is fake, and bullshit.

Now, people with really strong personality (whatever that happens to be) are real. They’re genuine. People are drawn to them. Even if they’re total dicks, there’s a group of the population that will be pulled to them like thumbtacks to a magnet.

There’s a reason for this. People are drawn to something that seems real and entertains them. Smart doesn’t always do this, but personality never fails.

Smart understands trends; Personality sets them. Smart analyzes problems; Personality fixes them.

What I’m saying is that if you want to be successful in business, at work, with women, or wherever, it’s great to be smart. Just make sure you’re letting your real personality shine through. Don’t spend so much time trying to be smart that you’re not real anymore.

2. Figure out what you want and work backwards. This one took a long time to internalize for some reason. I’ve long used this method of developing programs for my athletes with great success, but had never really applied it to my life.

Pick a goal. We all have them, and this is the time of year where people tend to look at them pretty hard. I’ll use a financial goal as it’ll be a pretty fast example: Let’s say you want to make six figures this year. That’s $100,000.

Now, most people pick a goal like that, and then start working on it. They tend to do the same shit that they’ve been doing, only maybe more of it. At the end of the year, they might have had some success, but they often didn’t reach their goal. Why? Because they never figured out how to exactly hit that goal. They just focused on “more” and hoped they’d get there.

Instead, work backwards. So you want to make $100,000? Ok, how much per month is that? About $8,333.33. Ok, now how much per day is that? $277.77 on a 30-day schedule, $416.67 on a 20-day schedule (four weeks of five work days). $300 clams per day? That’s a lot more manageable than $100k, isn’t it? You just need to figure out a plan to generate whichever sum works for you every day. Whether it’s marketing, a better job, a second job, selling stuff on eBay, building finely-crafted chairs in your garage, whatever.

3. “The map is not the territory”. I borrowed this phrase from NLP (Neuro-linguistic Programming) because I think that whether you buy into it or not, the phrase really fits life and helps keep you grounded. Basically what it means is that we all have a “map” which is the way that we view the world including our biases, past experiences, filters, and judgments. There is also the “territory”, which is what really is the world around us.

The two are never the same. The territory is constant. It is what it is. No matter how realistic you think you are, you ALWAYS view the world through some filters. If you didn’t, you’d go nuts because you’d have information overload. Make sense?

You know that guy who thinks that everyone is always out to get him, but you (and everyone else who’s “normal”) know that’s not true? He has filters and biases set up, for whatever reason, that create a map where he views everything as a (potential) threat. (Shitty way to live, by the way.) It works the other way, too. We all have (or have been) that buddy who’s girlfriend just treats him like a doormat but he sticks by her and thinks she’s a peach. That’s a shitty way to live, too.

The sooner you realize that there’s a difference between the map and the territory the sooner you can look hard at your own map for inaccuracies. This will help you understand your own reactions and thoughts as well as other people’s.

4. The number one problem we face is fear. Fear, man. It’s what stops us dead in our tracks. It’s what keeps people from realizing their dreams. After a while, it’s what keeps people from having dreams at all.

Now, I’m not saying that all fear is bad; It’s there for a reason. You, stuck in the middle between a mother grizzly and her cub? That’s a damn good reason to be scared. You were horsing around and knocked over your grandmother’s knickknack cabinet? Time to get scarce, boy.

Those situations are where fear meets survival skills.

What I’m more getting at is fear of the unknown and fear of change. How many people do you know that are stuck in a rut and hate their lives? They’re constantly complaining about everything and making themselves and everyone around them miserable, right? They hate their lives and yet they don’t do anything to change it. Why is that?

Fear.

They’re more afraid of taking a chance and trying something new (and possibly being happier) than continuing the misery they’re in because they know that misery.

Hey, I’ve been there. I know how it is. Here’s how you beat it, though. Think about the ABSOLUTE WORST CASE SCENARIO. What is the worst possible thing that can happen if you take action? Now, we all know that the worst case scenario, just like the best possible case, is pretty rare. Well, I bet if you really look at it objectively you’ll find that the worst possible case scenario, while sucking, isn’t insurmountable. More often than not, if it happened you could at least get back to where you are now. So why not try to make the jump?

5. Experience, don’t accumulate. We’re a consumerist culture. We want stuff, and so we get stuff. More and more stuff. Money buys stuff, which is cool… until it’s not. Soon you’re bored with the stuff and you’ve now got a place full of it and all you want to do is go get more stuff.

Money also buys experiences (usually for a lot less than the stuff). Experiences are awesome, and they don’t get boring. While you certainly need some stuff, the key is to focus on the utility of the stuff rather than the marketing. Experiences? Now that’s the good stuff.

6. You get paid for done. Here’s another one that people hear a lot but don’t seem to internalize.You don’t get paid, make advancements, or become remarkable for milling around and working on 37 projects but never finishing them.

You “get paid” for the things that are finished. Whether it’s business, personal life, or whatever, nobody cares about projects. They care about accomplishments.

Finish something. Go get paid.






What really hit home for you in 2011?

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Comments on Lessons from 2010 Leave a Comment

September 3, 2011

Jared @ 10:28 pm #

Nice blog post! Good insight on a number of things I particularly relate to your reference on the teaching of NLP and our perceptions of the world around us. This area of study helped me create new ways and levels of thinking that have produced great results in business and my personal life, it’s nice to see you hitting on these same concepts. I will be sure to check in more often. Rock on!

September 4, 2011

Isaac @ 7:55 pm #

Jared,

Thanks for stopping by!

The NLP work has definitely done some amazing things for both me personally as well as the way I work with clients.

Isaac

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