Dad is All In, not a bumbling idiot and it’s time to recognize that

I was having a discussion this week with two ladies at figure skating. They said they loved seeing me play with my kids that aren’t on the ice. For the first hour of figure skating, I have one kid on the ice, so I get to play with a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old.

For the second hour, I have one working out, and my 3-year-old gets on the ice.

I spend lots of that time walking around with the kids and tossing them in the air. Based on the experience of many of the women there, I’m a crazy involved dad.

Specifically one of the ladies talked about her dad. She’s probably getting close to 50, so this is a few years ago. She said that when dad came back from work it was the old cigar and whisky with the newspaper and you left dad alone. She can’t remember her dad playing with her ever.

This is the idea that dads are fighting, and in his book All In, Josh Levs is working hard to call out the parts of US society that enforce a less than an involved position on dads.

We’ve made lots of progress1 when it comes to making it socially acceptable for women to have careers, and much less on making it okay for men to be the stay at home parent.

Millions of stay-at-home moms want to get back to work and advance their careers. Millions of working dads want more time at home to raise their kids. But society doesn’t allow it.

Even talking to a friend at church about parental leave2 which is pretty stellar in Canada, he lamented the position of a former boss who was angry when he took a week off work for the birth of one of his children. Then in the next breath, he expressed the thought that men shouldn’t take more than a week off because they should be working.

Men face derision, demotions, and even loss of their jobs when they make family a priority. Women, meanwhile often face the opposite pressure. They’re punished for working full-time by bosses or coworkers who think they should be home more.

Needless to say, I was surprised. In our church, I know many families split the parental leave 50/50 through a number of children. He knows these families as well.

We talk a good game about family values in this country, but our laws, policies, and stigmas prove that we don’t adequately value families.

Changing these stigmas is the goal of Levs in this book. He wants gender/sexual equality to go both ways. Women should be able to work, and men should be able to stay at home. According to Levs, men even want to stay home. He cites a study that said about half of working dads would stay home if their spouse made enough money.

I know that if my wife was the lead income in the house, I’d happily assume the stay at home dad role. My wife and I have talked about it many times and try to get me more parenting time as often as possible3.

This sexism damages America. It tells people in power that their presumptions about gender roles are right. But it also does something even more insidious: it drives a wedge between men and women. It creates a false gender war, pitting us against each other. The stereotype sends the message that things would be better if only men would take responsibility at home instead of being so lazy and indifferent. It angers men who feel insulated and discounted.

All In is broken up into six parts covering some broad ideas where gender stereotypes are harming men in their role as a parent.

Part 1: The Parental Leave Battle

This part felt the oddest for me give the great laws in Canada around parental leave. In Canada a mother, biological or adoptive) has 50 weeks of paid maternity leave financed through our Employment Insurance program. Of those 50 weeks, 35 are parental leave. Parental leave can be taken by either parent in any split they decide to take.

Going past the leave questions, which the lack of leave is what inspired Levs to dig into what it means to be a dad today, Levs talks about the lack of close family support that most families had in the past.

The days when most couples had grandparents nearby helping are no more. Young couples move away more often, and older Americans are putting off retirement longer, either because they want to or have to.

This is our scenario for sure. My mother-in-law did come for about a month with the birth of our first two children. She wanted to for our third but had a bunch of travel planned already. Day to day, if the kids are sick or we need a break, there is no close family that takes our kids for us.

We do have one family member in town, and they are up for helping out if there is not another option4. But it’s not like when my wife grew up and had ten different family members in town. She spent after school time at someone’s house a few days a week while her parents worked.

This lack of family support, and by extension community connections, is an interesting topic on its own that I’d love to explore. Levs covers it in brief, but there is so much more to discuss around kids, our community connections, and how we can build a caring community around ourselves.

Much of section one talks about the stigmas surrounding a many staying home to be with his kids.

It boils down to simple, basic lack of equity. If policies keep pushing women to stay home and pushing men to rush back to work, how will women keep working up the ranks?

Not just when they’re born, but when they’re sick or there is a field trip. In so many jobs this is viewed as “mom’s job”, and something dad shouldn’t be doing.

The way much of corporate America sees it, a guy who gives up wild adventures and late nights of beer chugging to stay home and care for his children is trading manliness for femininity.

By doing these things with our kids, many men are viewed as not invested in their career. They’re subtly shifted to different roles with less responsibility. Their climb up the corporate ladder is halted or reversed.

They’re considered lesser men for being involved with kids.

For fathers, manliness means living up to the responsibilities you have to your family.

Those are all lies and should be considered as such in society. Men have a crucial role to play in their kid’s lives. They should be doing it and we should be prodding men to be involved as they are able to.

Part II: Beyond Leave – fixing the struggle between work and life

The second section looks past parental leave and at the structure of your work. It acknowledges that parents don’t work 80 hour weeks and may get punished for it.

Most people who say they work 80 hour weeks, don’t do it. They merely appear to do it and then get credit for it from their boss.

I believe that if you’re working more than 8 hour days, your business is broken. The job you work at is broken. There is no reason that you can’t get your work done well in 8 hours. In fact, with great planning, there is no reason you can’t do your work in 6 hours most of the time.

If you can be focused like that, then you can have a flexible job and get to field trips. Companies are going to have to recognize that parents value job flexibility and will need to start being okay with that if they want talented people.

Half of working parents have turned down a job that they felt would conflict with family obligations. The vast majority of workers want their companies to offer flexibility, and nearly six in ten working parents believe they’d do their jobs better if they were allowed a flexible schedule.

One thing I diverge from Levs on is that people shouldn’t have to work 100 hours to provide for a family.

But no one can argue legitimately that a U.S. citizen should have to work a hundred hours a week to get by barely.

I agree with the plain statement, but I disagree as he cites waitress jobs, coffee shop jobs, or other lower wage jobs as places where someone shouldn’t have to work 100 hours a week to make ends meet.

From an economic perspective, the question is how much value do these jobs provide? You always get paid for the value you provide, and while those jobs are fine, I don’t believe they provide the value commensurate with not needing to work 100 hours to make ends meet.

When I’m coaching people looking to get out of those jobs, we always find something they can do that has more value. After many chats with one of the local people that works at Starbucks, we got her personal training which doubled her wage. She was now selling a better future self to people.

That has more value than serving coffee and thus gets more money as a recognition of that value.

Now, I’m not advising that we should cut minimum wage, but I think that a blanket statement that no one should have to work 100 hours a week neglects to take into account the value that a job provides. Everyone has something of value to contribute; they need to spend the time to find it.

Part III: Fixing Pop Culture

Pop culture portrayal of dad is terrible. I’ve been the victim of it when we had our first child. One of the ladies at our church was talking to my wife and I. My wife mentioned that she was gone for the weekend for work and the lady turned to me and asked if I’d survive a weekend with the kids and if we had someone coming to check in on us.

I was already the primary caregiver since my wife’s commute meant she was gone for a good chunk of the day and I could pick our daughter up at daycare and spend a few hours with her before my wife came home.

But the assumption was that a child surviving with dad was only done by luck.

Unilever also released a survey of men in the U.S., UK, Germany, Brazil, and China. It found that 86 percent of men say masculinity has changed from their father’s generation, but only 7 percent of men say they can relate to the way the media depicts masculinity.

Men see these terrible portrayals of dad on TV and cringe. I do hair, nails, have dance parties and know much more about fairies than I did before I had three girls.

It’s far worse than the image of the hapless buffoon. It damages families, skews the minds of young children, isolates fathers raising kids alone, and even prevents some kids from having male role models at all. It’s the idea that men are dangerous and only women should be trusted.

Kids are often taught that they find a “women with kids” if there is trouble at a park. In the worst cases, they’re taught to avoid all men even if they have a gaggle of kids around.

Men are portrayed as a risk, and this harms kids. As Levs says when he ends the section:

For women to “lean in” more at work, men need to be welcomed into the world of stay-at-home parenthood.

Part IV: Fatherlessness

Not having your father around is bad for you. Not having dad involved harms children5.

Kids without dads are more likely to live in poverty, struggle with behavioral problems, commit crimes, turn to drugs, become parents at a young age, and do all sorts of other things we don’t want our kids to do.

Parents need to recognize this. It’s crucial for both parents to ensure that dad gets time with the kids. Even if dad works outside of the house and simply can’t be around lots, he should be involved as often as possible.

Being a dad is not being a babysitter, and not extraneous. You are uniquely qualified for that job.

If you’re not living with your kids, make a point of being with them as often as possible. You can teach them crucial things in a unique way.

Part V: Sex

This seemed like the least researched section. I’m not even sure why Levs included it and read it twice to see if I missed it.

The whole thing can be summed up in one quote.

American parents are having less sex than they used to. Sexlessness among parents has doubled.

There is a chapter on scheduling sex, but there are much better resources around sex like One Extraordinary Marriage.

One thing that would have made the chapter more useful is how the easier availability of pornography affects sex. You no longer have to head out to a space where someone may see you and purchase a magazine. You open up your tablet, and there are any number of websites you can visit.

Has this easy availability corresponded to less sex? I’m sure there are other avenues to dig into, but this is one that came to mind for me.

Part VI: The All-In Life

The final section acknowledges the mental health issues with being dad. I know that we get regularly asked how we’re making sure mom gets a break. The view seems to be that because I work and don’t interact with the kids for portions of the day I get a break and so making sure I get time to myself away from the kids isn’t as crucial.

“He not only came home, giving me a break and help,” Michelle said, “but he was shouldering the burden of a lot of the issues I was having as well. And because I didn’t have that network of moms in the beginning and I had Josh, I put everything on him.”

I’ve also seen the lack of community connection putting a similar burden on me, and so I continually encourage my wife to make these community connections with other moms. She needs someone to talk to about kids that isn’t me.

Finally, men have less support when parental struggle comes along, due to the manliness stigma. Men just aren’t supposed to talk about their feelings.

We need to change this men. We have struggles with our wives and our kids. We have times where we feel like failures.

We need support to get through these things. My friend Cory Miller has been a great leader in the talk about mental health and our need to search out support. You can’t, and shouldn’t go it alone.

Recommendation for All In by Josh Levs

While I don’t connect as much with some of Levs ideas around working wages and I don’t have the same experience with parental leave, I think this book is an excellent read for any father that wants to get a fire under their butt about being a good dad.

You should read this.

Get All In: How Our Work-First Culture Fails Dads, Families, and Businesses — and How We Can Fix It Together on Amazon.

photo credit: bricknave cc


  1. And we still have lots of things to change. 
  2. In Canada, a mother is entitled to 50 weeks of paid parental leave financed through our Employment Insurance system. A father is entitled to 35 weeks. Really the 35 weeks is built in to the 50 weeks and either parent can take any part of the 35 weeks split however they wish. 
  3. And I work at home so I see my kids for parts of most days. I make lunch and change diapers and drop off at school and built towers at some point in the middle of days most weeks. 
  4. To be clear, they love the kids and happily take them. We mostly try not to take advantage of it. 
  5. Acknowledging that either parent can be physically unsafe for the kids and in that case is better to not be in contact with the kids until they can be safe for their kids. 
All In: How Our Work-First Culture Fails Dads, Families, and Businesses--And How We Can Fix It Together Book Cover All In: How Our Work-First Culture Fails Dads, Families, and Businesses--And How We Can Fix It Together
Josh Levs
Fatherhood
HarperOne
May 12 2015
272

When journalist Josh Levs was denied fair parental leave by his employer after his child was born, he fought back—and won. Since then, he’s become an advocate for modern families and working fathers. In All In, he explores the changing face of fatherhood and what it means for our individual lives, families, workplaces, and society.

Fatherhood today is far different from previous generations. Stay-at-home dads are increasingly common, and growing numbers of men are working part-time or flextime schedules to spend more time with their children. Even the traditional breadwinner-dad is being transformed. Dads today are more emotionally and physically involved on the home front. They are “all in” and—like mothers—they are struggling with work-life balance and doing it all.

Are You Ready to Turn From Frustrated to Frickin’ Awesome?

Business is a frustrating endeavour. Most of it is hard work that gets little recognition punctuated by mistakes that everyone sees. Everyone once in a while there is a bright spot and it keeps us going.

In From Frustrated to Frickin’ Awesome, Alissa Daire Nelson is trying to help us remove some of that frustration so that we can get more bright spots.

By the end of this (intentionally) short, actionable book, you will have an amazing breakthrough about what your unique selling proposition really is, give up Impostor Syndrome, spend more of your time in tasks and areas that give you energy instead of sucking it out of you, and put wishful thinking away for good. You will have a four-step process that you can repeat with better results each time.

She begins by acknowledging that it’s hard to work for yourself. That roadblocks come up, and that business owners have huge hurdles to jump.

It is normal to get stuck when you hit a roadblock or crossroads. It’s normal to find yourself exhausted sometimes. The question is how long will you stay there?

Nelson covers a wealth of topics from sales

Here’s a baseline fact about selling: People buy from people they like. You will never have tho opportunity to pitch your products or services if you’re not first authentically connecting to your potential client.

To the fear of failure.

You can save yourself the pain of failing by…Never. Doing. Anything.

To how accomplishment, or lack of impacts our self-worth.

Many of us were taught that our self-worth is based on our accomplishments and production.

To trying to get ahead by shortchanging ourselves on sleep

We try to cut sleep on a routine basis, thinking this is the area where we can strategically find more hours in the day. But that simply doesn’t work in the long-term. Might you shout yourself every now and again and continue to thrive? Sure. But this is not the way to get “one up” on your competition.

Throughout the discussions on these topics, she provides us with homework to do. Specifically, there are a number of great journalling exercises that you should engage with if you want to get the most from the book.

Nelson walks us through how to great good goals, though I feel she misses the mark as she sticks with time periods that are far to long to serve as a motivating factor in sticking with actions. In fact, she mostly just tells us what SMART goals are, and then moves on1.

Not all the goal advice is generic though. Specifically she talks about taking a project task list and highlighting everything that doesn’t have to be done by you. Maybe you can’t outsource it all right now, but find something that you can either automate or get someone else to do and start there. Getting to a point where not everything has to be done by you is crucial in having a business instead of a hobby.

Recommendation

As always the final question is, should you read this book. I’m of two minds here. I didn’t find it very life-changing, but I already do (and have done for months or years) pretty much everything in the book.

For me it wasn’t a big amazing book, but that doesn’t mean it’s not for you.

If you’re totally overwhelmed and having trouble prioritizing tasks. If you don’t know where to turn, then get From Frustrated to Frickin’ Awesome. It’s a quick read that will get you on better footing, if you do the work.

Get From Frustrated To Frickn’ Awesome on Amazon

photo credit: kndynt2099 cc


  1. If you want to set better goals and then accomplish them, a much better book is The 12 Week Year, which I reviewed as well
From Frustrated to Frickin' Awesome: 4 Steps to Achieve the Success You're Wired For Book Cover From Frustrated to Frickin' Awesome: 4 Steps to Achieve the Success You're Wired For
Alissa Daire Nelson
Self-Help & Success
CreatSpace Independent Publishing Platform
March 13 2017
148

What 3 Questions Need to be Answered to Develop Grit?

Grit has become a fairly common word now. Most people would understand it as referring to someone who keeps going when the going gets tough.

I hope that all of you are ‘gritty’ people because if you’re looking for a voice that’s going to pat you on the back when you quit as the going gets tough, you better look elsewhere.

We can thank Angela Duckworth for bringing Grit into common parlance, specifically her book Grit. When she wrote it, she had the goal of discovering in why talent is no promise of success, or of grit.

So it’s surprising, really, that talent is no guarantee of grit. In this book, we’ll explore the reasons why.

She divides the book up into three main questions.

  1. What is Grit and why does it matter?
  2. How do we grow grit from the inside out?1
  3. How do we build grit from the outside in?2

Let’s look at these questions.

What Grit is and why it matters

I’ve already defined grit above, but let’s look at exactly how Duckworth defines it so we can make sure that we’re on the same page she is for the rest of this look at Grit.

In sum, no matter the domain, the highly successful had a kind of ferocious determination that played out in two ways. First, these exemplars were unusually resilient and hardworking. Second, they knew in a very, very deep way what it was they wanted. They not only had determination, they had direction.
It was this combination of passion and perseverance that made high achievers special. In a word, they had grit.

In Duckworth’s view, it wasn’t just the continuing on that made up gritty people. It was also a passion for what they had committed to. She mentions later in the book that people who we’re gritty ate drank and slept their field of focus.

Duckworth also spent a bunch of time defining the difference between talent and grit. She cited an interesting study where you listened to two piano pieces. Before one, you were told that the person was always naturally talented. Before the other, you were told that the person struggled long and hard to get to the top of their field, but with that struggle behind them, they were now as skill as the naturally talented person.

What we say we care about may not correspond with what — deep down — we actually believe to be more valuable.

The hook here is that both pieces of music were played by the same person and despite this, people usually judged the naturally talented person as better.

So why do we judge a natural talent as better than someone who has worked hard to achieve the same level of mastery? Why do ‘naturally talented’ people seem to excel?

Part of it has to do with the fact that someone identified with talent is often given many more opportunities to practice, so they are in fact better.

There’s a vast amount of research on what happens when we believe a student is especially talented. We begin to lavish extra attention on them and hold them to higher expectations. We expect them to excel, and that expectation becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Two of my three kids figure skate, and I expect that as the 1-year-old becomes old enough to get on the ice, she’ll want to skate like her sisters and her mother3. Each of them has different skills, and yet we know that it’s effort sustained over and over in the face of doing hard things that will help them be better skaters. Knowing this, we work hard not to comment much about talent, and comment lots about how many times you fell and got back up.

In my view, the biggest reason a preoccupation with talent can be harmful is simple: By shining our spotlight on talent, we risk leaving everything else in the shadows. We inadvertently send the message that these other factors — including grit — don’t matter as much as they really do.

We do this to build grit. To build the type of kid that will continue to work hard at things in the face of long odds.

How many of us start something new, full of excitement and good intentions, and then give up — permanently — when we encounter the first real obstacle, the first long plateau in progress?

We know that the longer they skate, the harder every little increment of improvement will be.

We even know this and try to call it out in the endeavours that us adults take on. I ran an ultramarathon this year and coming from basically not running I knew that any running would help me improve. Having finished my first 50km mountain run, I now spend time running in the flats because that’s where I have the hardest time, and we try to call that extra effort on my weaknesses to my kids.

A common philosophy in self-improvement books is the idea that you have a purpose or WHY. In Grit, Angela Duckworth calls it your main goal. She divides goals up into a few levels.

You don’t change your top-level goal4, but you may change your intermediate goals.

What I mean by passion is not just that you have something you care about. What I mean is that you care about that same ultimate goal in an abiding, loyal, steady way. You are not capricious. Each day, you wake up thinking of the questions you fell asleep thinking about. You are, in a sense, pointing in the same direction, ever eager to take even the smallest step forward than to take a step to the side, toward some other destination. At the extreme, one might call your focus obsessive. Most of your actions derive their significance from their allegiance to your ultimate concern, your life philosophy.

You may start a video course, and find it doesn’t get traction. So you write a book, or you start training people in your field. All of these things point towards your ultimate goal, so you’re still showing grit. You’re just sorting out the path to achieve the main goal.

Duckworth finishes off addressing her first question by defining the four assets that gritty people have.

1. Interest

Passion begins with intrinsically enjoying what you do.

Interest doesn’t mean that you enjoy every part. I’m pushing a bunch of products as we end 2017 and I’m stressed and feeling overloaded. Right now I don’t love every day of my work.

But it all goes towards my ultimate goal, so I work hard through this season.

I love the endeavour as a whole.

2. Practice

One form of perseverance is the daily discipline of trying to do things better than we did yesterday.

I met a guy recently who said he was writing a book. When I asked about how much he had done, it turned out after a bit of mumbling and waffling around, that he wrote one chapter 12 months ago and hadn’t touched it since.

That’s not what Duckworth is talking about when she says gritty people practice. She’s telling us that we need to have a daily session where we not only do our creative work, but we even get regular feedback so we can improve the quality of our work.

Gritty people continue to find their weaknesses and zero in on them to eliminate them.

3. Purpose

What ripens passion is the conviction that your work matters. For most people, interest without purpose is nearly impossible to sustain for a lifetime.

If you don’t think your work matters you won’t keep going when it gets hard. If you don’t get deep personal satisfaction from the results of your work, you won’t jump the hurdles that get put in front of you.

You need to find your purpose if you want to keep going.

4. Hope

From the very beginning to the very end, it is inestimably important to learn to keep going even when things are difficult, even when we have doubts. At various points, in big ways and small, we get knocked down. If we stay down, grit loses. If we get up, grit prevails.

Finally, a gritty person has hope that eventually they’ll win the day. They’ll build that business they wanted. They’ll figure out their marketing strategy.

I have hope that maybe next year, maybe the year after, I’ll run the Frosty Mountain Ultra in under 8 hours.

Without hope, you won’t continue when things get hard.

Growing Grit from The Inside Out

The second big question Duckworth addresses is, how do we make ourselves into gritty people? She starts with a fairly sad story about her own experiences with her parents telling her that she shouldn’t be following the areas she had passion in.

Instead, I was told that the practical realities of surviving “in the real world” were far more important than any young person living a “sheltered life” such as my own could imagine. I was warned that overly idealistic dreams of “finding something I loved” could in fact be a breadcrumb trail into poverty and disappointment.

Reading this as a parent, made me sad. I hope that I never communicate this to my kids.

So, in the face of this, how does one build grit? How do they get to the thing that they want to be doing? What is the path?

Most grit paragons I’ve interviewed told me they spent years exploring several different interests, and the one that eventually came to occupy all of their waking (and some sleeping) thoughts wasn’t recognizably their life’s destiny on first acquaintance.

My journey to coaching involved eight years doing all manner of heavy lifting jobs and lots of talks with my wife about things we’d never do when we ran a business. It involved getting a counselling degree and realizing that traditional counselling wasn’t for me.

It involved eight years running my own web development business as my sole income and many mistakes I had to learn from in those eight years.

Then, with all that under my belt and people calling me to ask questions about how to run their business well, we got back to coaching.

Second, interests are not discovered through introspection. Instead, interests are triggered by interactions with the outside world. The process of interest discovery can be messy, serendipitous, and inefficient.

It was this outside questioning that got me thinking about coaching a few years ago. Then it was thinking about the fact that throughout my life when friends have had issues they didn’t know how to handle they came and talked to me.

Is it “a drag” that passions don’t come to us all at once, as epiphanies, without the need to actively develop them? Maybe. But the reality is that our early interests are fragile, vaguely defined, and in need of energetic, years-long cultivation and refinement.

It may be frustrating that it took over 16 years to get to this point, but without those 16 years, I would only be talking about how to run a business from theory, not from practical experience.

It was only after a few years of reading at least 40 books a year on self-improvement and business that I had the depth to come up with many answers for people.

But I didn’t start with the passion to grow myself and my business.

Of course, developing an interest requires time and energy, and yes, some discipline and sacrifice. But at this earliest stage, novices aren’t obsessed with getting better. They’re not thinking years and years into the future. They don’t know what their top-level, life-orienting goal will be. More than anything else, they’re having fun.

My passion for reading and learning about how to run a better business started with my amazing wife recommending $100 Startup to me. At first, she was much more interested in personal growth.

It was with her encouragement that I started getting deliberate about the things I learned in my business.

Gritty people do more deliberate practice and experience more flow.

It was with her support that I stopped just reading these things for myself and started writing books about marketing, email, proposals, and really dove into writing on this blog.

It’s her fault you get to read me.

It’s my fault that I’ve kept going in the midst of lacking the traction I dream of. I naturally tend towards the mindset that, I can win if I keep trying and that tomorrow will be better, I just need to get to tomorrow.

I have a feeling tomorrow will be better is different from I resolve to make tomorrow better. The hope that gritty people have has nothing to do with luck and everything to do with getting up again.

Gritty people do suffer. They do get discouraged. They get down and think that they’re failures. They just don’t let those feelings linger for too long. They get back on the horse knowing that they can change what tomorrow will look like through action.

They know that the best predictor of future success is what they’re doing now. If they’re doing nothing, then expect nothing.

When you keep searching for ways to change your situation for the better, you stand a chance of finding them. When you stop searching, assuming they can’t be found, you guarantee they won’t.

That last quote is probably the shortest summary I could give you on what makes gritty people. They’re optimists. They know that further effort can bring a win, so they hang on and keep trying because the only thing not trying promises is that nothing will happen.

Part III: Growing Grit From the Outside In

This final section is the one I was most craving. I want to build kids that are gritty. Kids that work hard and keep trying and don’t whine about all the things that “life” owes them.

I also see that our society is all about policing how others parent, like this family who can’t send their kids on the bus in Vancouver anymore, and think that it’s this coddling from society that contributes to young adults that are crushed at the first point of failure in life.

In other words, don’t pass judgment on that parent lecturing their child in the supermarket cereal aisle. In most cases, you don’t have enough context to understand how the child interprets the exchange, and, at the end of the day, it’s the child’s experience that really matters.

I know that at the park I let my kids climb on things and have been told by other parents that I’m allowing my kids do dangerous things and they may get hurt. You know what, they’re right. My kids might get hurt, and while I don’t want that, they need to explore and push boundaries and deal with things if I want them to be gritty.

Enough on that tirade though, because if you want gritty kids, it needs to start with you. What are you striving for? What setbacks are you working through?

If you want to bring forth grit in your child, first ask how much passion and perseverance you have for your own life goals. Then ask yourself how likely it is that your approach to parenting encourages your child to emulate you. If the answer to the first question is “a great deal,” and your answer to the second is “very likely,” you’re already parenting for grit.

Do your kids see you being gritty in the face of the random stuff that life throws at you? If you’re not gritty, then don’t expect your kids to show that trait.

Kids are an excellent mirror for the behaviour we have.

Outside of your actions, according to Duckworth, the best thing you can do for your kids is to have them in some extracurricular activity.

There are countless research studies showing that kids who are more involved in extracurricular fare better on just about every conceivable metric — they earn better grades, have higher self-esteem, are less likely to get in trouble and so forth. A handful of these studies are longitudinal, meaning that researchers waited to see what happened to kids later in life. These longer-term studies come to the same conclusion: more participation in activities predicts better outcomes.

Not over schedule them into 12 activities, but one that they stick with for a season. If it’s dance, then they dance till the recital is done, or the payments are done. They don’t quit in the middle; they stick it out when it’s hard.

For many people, they jump to the idea that sports are the best way to build gritty kids when it comes to activities, but the research doesn’t support that. The type of activity matters much less than that they stay with it. In high school, the research cited in Grit shows that those students who stuck with an activity for two years did much better than those that quit.

Notably, the particular pursuits to which students had devoted themselves in high school didn’t matter — whether it was tennis, student government, or debate team. They key was that students had signed up for something, signed up again the following year, and during that time had made some kind of progress.

I know in my high school, extracurricular activities died because teachers were negotiating contracts and not liking what they got. In most cases, the teachers wanted to coach sports or run the theatre program5. It was the union that shut the activities down.

Research by Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam and his collaborators reveals that affluent American high school students have been participating in extracurricular activities at consistently high rates for the past few decades. In contrast, participation among poor students has been dropping precipitously.

In the research Duckworth cites, this is a trend. There is less and less participation in extracurricular activities and specifically with poorer students where costs are prohibitive.

These circumstances will mean that our kids have less sticking power when they head out on their own.

One of the final great things Duckworth cites is the “hard thing” rule she uses at home.

The Hard Thing Rule
1. Everyone (including parents) has to do one hard thing
2. You can quit when the season is over, or tuition is done, but not in the middle.
3. YOU get to pick your hard thing; no one picks it for you.
4. In high school, you have to pick else and stick with it for two years. It can be another commitment with your primary hard thing, or something totally different.

At my house, it’s two kids in figure skating. The 1-year-old doesn’t have anything yet. I’m transforming myself into a faster ultramarathoner, and my wife is working to overcome some injuries and get back to running.

The last great thing I want to highlight is Duckworth’s acknowledgement that happiness matters.

My second closing thought is about happiness. Success — whether measured by who wins the National Spelling Bee, makes it through West Point, or leads the division in annual sales — is not the only thing you care about. Surely, you also want to be happy. And while happiness and success are related, they’re not identical.

While I tell my kids6 that “I’m building great adults” I must acknowledge that they should be having fun. I see this in my oldest daughter when her face lights up, her whole body lights up, at skating. Our friends see it and comment on it.

I see it in myself as I enjoy amazing mountain vistas on my training runs. I’m happy and feel a sense of peace wash over me in those times in the mountains.

What are you doing that’s both hard and brings you happiness?

Recommendation for Grit

Yes, you should be reading Grit. It’s one of the books we’ll be reading if you join me for my 8 Week Business BootCamp. Learning what makes a Gritty person and then working to build that in yourself is a key if you want to run an awesome business.

Without grit, you should close up shop now, because things will get hard. Ideas will fail. Products will not get traction. Client projects will go south.

Through all of that, you’ll have to keep learning how to run your business better. You’ll have to keep going.

Get Grit on Amazon

photo credit: julochka cc


  1. As in, how do we build grit in ourselves? 
  2. How do we build grit in those around us, for me that’s my kids. 
  3. My wife is a skating coach and in her teens was a great figure skater if her room of trophies at my in-laws is any indication. 
  4. Like mine, to help men build a thriving business and thriving home life. Because success at work and broken relationships is still failure. 
  5. I was a stage manager, lighting technician, sound technician, pyrotechnician, and props person in school. It was one of the best things that happened to me and kept my out of so much of the trouble I was getting into. 
  6. And my 6-year-old can recite this to you. 
Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance Book Cover Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance
Angela Duckworth
Applied Psychology
Scribner
May 3 2016
352

In this instant New York Times bestseller, pioneering psychologist Angela Duckworth shows anyone striving to succeed—be it parents, students, educators, athletes, or business people—that the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a special blend of passion and persistence she calls “grit.”

Drawing on her own powerful story as the daughter of a scientist who frequently noted her lack of “genius,” Duckworth, now a celebrated researcher and professor, describes her early eye-opening stints in teaching, business consulting, and neuroscience, which led to the hypothesis that what really drives success is not “genius” but a unique combination of passion and long-term perseverance.

Better Habits Will Make You Better Than Before

How much of your day is routine? How much of it do you have to think about? How do those habits impact your day?

How many of those habits are ones you want to have? Ones you’d be happy if your children picked them up?

I know that I have a few in both categories. For instance, I’d like to stop the habit of eating sweets if they are available. I’d like my kids to unlearn that “dad eats all the cookies”.

The creation of habits, when it’s hard is what Gretchen Rubin is trying to help us with, in her book Better than Before. As she says early in the book, if we change our habits, we change our lives.

Habits are the invisible architecture of daily life. We repeat 40 percent of our behavior almost days, so our habits shape our existence, and our future. If we change our habits, we change our lives.

The book is broken up into five sections covering five areas of her research into habits.

Section one is about Self-Knowledge and explores two strategies that help us understand ourselves.

Section two covers the Pillars of Habits. Rubin discusses her essential strategies for developing and sustaining habits.

Section three tries to help us start a habit well because starting on the right foot is very important in the formation of the habit we’re trying to build.

Section four explores our shared desire to avoid hard things, and how we pursue what comes to us with little effort.1

Section five strives to understand our drives in light of the fact that we all think we are unique, just like everyone else.

A Comment on Gretchen Rubin’s Style

I always want to like Rubin’s work and not just her books, but her podcast as well. Unfortunately, her style drives me bonkers.

Looking at one of my first notes on the introduction, I’m a few pages into the book and annoyed that is seemingly trying to impress us with all the research she did for the book.

Many times I found myself rolling my eyes as I read the book and she talked about how annoying she was about trying to get others to try habits.

I was continually annoyed by her ‘Rules of Adulthood’ which was seemingly mentioned every five pages.

Finally, she talks about lots of studies that she read, but don’t look for citations in the text because there are none. If you want to find a study, you’ll need to go spelunking for some study that sounds similar because she doesn’t even provide a chapter by chapter break down of her sources at the end of her book. Evidently, we’re supposed to take it on faith that these studies exist, because you’ll be hard-pressed to tie the exact study to an idea in the book.

Despite a style that is apparently not one I mesh with at all. I read the book because Rubin is cited as a leading figure in happiness research. At the end of the book, I was annoyed, but there is a bunch of worth here.

Why do we want to learn to build habits

The creation of habits can be hugely beneficial. They can change our lives. But they aren’t comfortable.

Why in the face of great difficulty do we want to do the hard work to create new habits?

People with better self-control (or self-regulation, self-discipline, or willpower) are happier and healthier. They’re more altruistic; they have stronger relationships and more career success; they manage stress and conflict better; they live longer; they steer clear of bad habits.

Ultimately, creating new habits that we view as conscientious and healthy for our lives will build us into better people. Not just because of the new habit, which is better for us in theory, but because we’re training our ‘habit’ muscle.

In this way, training habits is gritty2. It’s doing something that’s hard because we haven’t done it before. Because sometimes, we’ve done the exact opposite.

Section 1: Self-Knowledge

To shape our habits successfully, we must know ourselves. We can’t presume that if a habit-formation strategy works for one person, it will work just as well for anyone else, because people are very different from each other.

I recently gave a talk at WooConf 2017 about saying no. I’ve talked with my friend Philip about saying no and what many people tell me is that I have a really easy time setting boundaries.

I know from my coaching that many others don’t. We’re different people with different experiences and priorities.

To try and understand the differences people have when it comes to habit formation, Rubin uses a framework she calls The Four Tendencies.

The Four Tendencies are:

  1. Upholders: Respond readily to both outer expectations and inner expectations.
  2. Questioners: Question all expectations, and will meet an expectation only if they believe it’s justified
  3. Obligers: Respond readily to outer expectations but struggle to meet inner expectations.
  4. Rebels: Resist all expectations, outer and inner alike.

Taking the Four Tendencies and holding them up against ourselves, or in my coaching against my clients, is immensely useful in helping train habits. Knowing what type of Tendency you naturally mesh with, means that you can tailor habit formation to appeal to where you’re strong, and where you’re weak.

The happiest and most successful people are those who have figured out ways to exploit their Tendency to their benefit and, just as important, found ways to counterbalance it’s limitations.

If you’re a rebel, then there is little point in beating yourself up over not conforming to habits (or anything really) in the way an upholder would. It doesn’t matter if you want to be an upholder your natural tendency isn’t in line with that. Work with what you’ve got.

Throughout the first section, she covers a bunch of topics, all around knowing who you are and what the best ways to motivate yourself are.

Interestingly, research suggests that Larks are likely to be happier, healthier, and more satisfied with life than Owls — in part, because the world favours Larks. Owls fall asleep later than Larks do, and because work, school, and young children start early, Owls get less sleep, which makes their lives harder.

Outside of the Four Tendencies, the best takeaway is that we are all different. We may even be a rebel in one area and then a questioner in another area. I’m an upholder when it comes to exercise. I never have trouble getting out the door rain or shine, or snow or heat.

I’m more an obliger with my wife and kids. I have my phone on Do Not Disturb pretty much all the time because I feel compelled to come home and help my wife with…anything if the kids aren’t having a great day.

With clients, I might be a rebel? I set a schedule and stick to it. If a client needs something different, then they should go with someone else.

Ultimately, the section can be summed up with this quote.

There’s no magic formula — not for ourselves, and not for the people around us. We won’t make ourselves more creative and productive by copying other people’s habits, even the habits of geniuses; we must know our own nature, and what habits serve us best.

Takeaway: Look at the Four Tendencies and know which one you are. Know yourself, and work with what you have as a starting point.

Section 2: Pillars of Habits

The second section covers the things that need to be done to build good habits. They are Rubin’s pillars.

Having read Switch3, much of the advice follows their ideas of Shape the Path.

Self-measurement brings self-awareness, and self-awareness strengthens our self-control. Something as simple as a roadside speed display to show motorists how fast they’re going helps them slow down.

In the motorist example above, by shaping the path and showing them that they’re speeding, we get slower speeds. With my cookie eating habits, not having cookies in the house would shape the path. I can’t eat what we don’t own.

Rubin also brings up a number of things that make it hard to choose the hard things we want, like lack of sleep.

Lack of sleep negatively affects mood, memory, immune function and pain sensitivity; it makes people more likely to fight with their partners; it contributes to weight gain.

Sleeping poorly means that we’re more likely to hit the default behaviours we may be trying to change. This idea of fatigue also comes up with decisions we’re making at the end of the day. We’re more likely to eat poorly later at night. We can shape the path here by brushing our teeth after dinner. For many people, this is a great cue that they’re done eating for the day.

Another practice people do when they look at starting habits, is to make the goal so big they can’t help but never start, or fail. Rubin calls this raising the bar.

People raise the bar when they consider starting a new habit, and then, from an impulse that’s either enthusiasm or unconscious self-sabotage, they suggest refinements that make the habit prohibitively challenging. A person decides to start exercising, and instead of aiming to walk for twenty minutes a day, he decides to start a routine that rotates between cardio, weights, and balance, four times a week for an hour. The bar is so high that it’s impossible to clear.

Raising the bar is a way to make failure inevitable. This is similar to the avoidance tactic talked about in Reach4. Specifically, what Andy Molinsky refers to as doing a job poorly so we can say it didn’t succeed and then avoid it. In Rubin’s example, we set the bar so high that we can’t help but do the job poorly, and thus we fail.

We never have to do it again.

One of my favourite strategies in Better Than Before is the strategy of scheduling.

The Strategy of Scheduling, of setting a specific, regular time for an activity to recur, is one of the most familiar and powerful strategies of habit formation…

I do the same tasks at the same time almost every day of the week. I read for the first hour of the day four days a week. I write for the next two hours four days a week. Friday is my only exception, and I coach all day on Friday and let myself tack away at email in between calls.

Habits grow strongest and fastest when they’re repeated in predictable ways, and for most of us, putting an activity on the schedule tends to lock us into doing it.

At first, it felt pretty hard to focus for an hour on a single book. I would want to do something else. Then write for two hours without any real break outside of what nature forces upon me. It was crazy.

After a year of this, those three hours always go much faster than I expected. If work allowed, I’d make it an hour of reading and three hours of writing.

The final key you should get in Section two is that you need accountability. Maybe not in all habits5, but in the ones you’re struggling with.

To be effective, the Strategy of Scheduling often must be paired with the essential Strategy of Accountability. It’s not enough to schedule a habit; we must actually follow that habit.

Saying we have a writing time lets us think of ourselves as a writer, but it doesn’t make us one. The process of writing is what does it. The process of getting our writing out into the world for others to see is what makes us a writer.

Many of us need others to hold us accountable to hitting those hard to reach goals. You should have a mastermind group of people that will kick your ass to do hard things.

Section 3: The Best Time to Begin

Many people look to start new habits with the New Year. It seems like a good time to start because things are changing anyway, but most people that start a gym membership in January, are not showing up on February 15th.

That begs the question, how do you start a habit on a good foot? We already know that you shouldn’t set the bar absurdly high, but what else should be considered?

Remember that quote that “A journey of a thousand miles starts with a step”. Sounds good doesn’t it, but according to Chip and Dan Heath in Switch:

But you know what else starts with a single step? An ill-conceived amble that you abandon after a few minutes. – Switch

No ambles all journeys is the goal.

The best time to start a new habit is…now.

Now is an unpopular time to take a first step. Won’t things be easier — for some not-quite-specified reason — in the future?

This is a core question I use with my coaching clients. They say they want to start using a new CRM next month, and I ask “Why not this week?”. It’s far too easy to put off the good behaviour we want into some mythical future.

In that future, we have a six pack and nice hair. Our kids behave all the time.

It’s a fantasy. The best predictor of your future is what you’re doing today. If you’re putting off the good habits you want to form, unless you change something today you’re going to be in the same spot next month.

Still putting off the good behaviours you want. At least you say you want them, but maybe you only want to talk about how good they are.

Rubin talks about a few studies that tell us6 that stopping a hard habit, makes it so much harder to stop. Like that friend you have who ran for a year training for a marathon. They got in the best shape of their life. They ate better and had better hair. Ran the marathon and took two weeks off that have now stretched into two years.

Habits are the behaviors that I want to follow forever, without decisions, without debate, no stopping, no finish lines.

When you set a habit, set a goal and as that goal comes up, set another one. I would not have called myself a runner prior to 2017, but in 2016 I decided that I wanted to run an Ultramarathon.

Yes from a 5km race around 10 years ago to a 50km race through the mountains. I finished it and cut back on running a bit, but I have a new goal. I want to run that same race in under 8 hours. That means I need to cut 90 minutes off my prior time.

Even in this season of less time on my feet, all my training is geared towards my weaknesses for next September.

When you start something, set a hard but achievable goal. Then set a stretch goal. Don’t break the chain.

Section 4: Desire, Ease, and Excuses

How can I deprive myself of something without feeling deprived? When it comes to habits, feeling deprived is a pernicious state. When we feel deprived, we feel entitled to compensate ourselves—often, in ways that undermine our good habits.

Part of this section felt like a repeat of section one, about knowing yourself. Rubin talks about knowing if you are an abstainer or not. When it comes to cookies, I need to be an abstainer. Having one as a treat doesn’t work for me. I eat them if they’re in the house.

Many of the strategies provided in this section also line up with Shape the Path from Switch again. She’s giving you some specific tools to shape your path, but if you’ve read Switch, they’ll seem obvious as methods that can be used to shape your environment for success.

One idea that had me thinking hard about how I motivate my children was the discussion on intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation.

Despite the greater power of intrinsic motivation, people frequently rely on extrinsic motivation — the easy carrot or stick — to try to prod themselves or others into action. But it turns out that extrinsic motivation undermines intrinsic motivation, so rewards can turn enthusiastic participants into reluctant paid workers, and transform fun into drudge work.

How do we help our children, and those under us in an organization, focus on their intrinsic motivation? How do we avoid a carrot and a stick as we try to build habits in our family and teams?

I don’t think that Rubin does answer this question well. Having just finished Grit, there are certainly a bunch of ideas there about how to build “gritty” people. Angela Duckworth’s ‘Grit’ is all about building people with intrinsic motivation.

Section 5: Unique, Just Like Everyone Else

The final section feels like a bit of a repeat of some of Rubin’s earlier ideas around knowing yourself, but it does provide some good insights into how to know yourself that were missing earlier.

Clarity also helps shine a spotlight on aspects of ourselves that we may wish to conceal. We should pay special attention to any habit that we try to hide. The desire to prevent family or coworkers from acting as witnesses—from seeing what’s on the computer screen or knowing how much time or money we’re spending on a habit—is a clue that in some way, our actions don’t reflect our values.

Here I cite my own snacks in the office. I’m not so much hiding them, as not making it obvious to everyone else that I’m snacking when I really shouldn’t be.

An alcoholic may mask the behaviour by frequenting a few bars and having no more than one or two drinks at each. No one has the whole picture, hopefully.

Rubin encourages us to have this hard honesty with ourselves. It takes a lot of self-knowledge to tell ourselves the truth. It takes, even more, to tell that truth to those that can hold us accountable to the behaviours we desire.

The second huge takeaway in the final section is around being specific and matches up with the stellar book The ONE Thing, which I looked at earlier this year.

The more specific I am about what action to take, the more likely I am to form a habit.

If you want to succeed at forming the new habits you desire, don’t be ambiguous. That means you don’t say “I’ll reach out to more clients”. Instead, you say “I’ll reach out to three previous clients a week”.

You either did it or not. There is no room to waffle around on the accomplishment of the goal.

Finally, language is so important to how we believe and behave.

Research shows that we tend to believe what we hear ourselves say, and the way we describe ourselves influences our view of our identity, and from there, our habits

I see it regularly with my coaching clients as they tell me they’ll ‘find’ time. Time is not change in the couch. Nor do you “make” time, you do not have a time machine. The only thing you can do is choose to use your time in a way that shows what you value.

Remembering to have our language match up with the habits we want to build, will help us get there.

Recommendation for Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin

As I said at the beginning, I very much dislike the delivery of many of the ideas in Better Than Before. Lot’s of eye rolls happened, and I’m sure my wife was getting tired of my small rants about parts of the book I found silly.

But the question is, is there enough in the book to warrant you reading it? Yes, in general, it’s a worthwhile read. Maybe grab the Kindle preview and if the style doesn’t suit you, skip it. Otherwise, there are many good tips here that can help.

If it doesn’t seem like something you want to read, then I suggest Switch as an alternative. While Switch doesn’t address habits specifically, it’s all about bringing change to your organization and yourself. So it amounts to very similar ideas.

Get Better Than Before on Amazon

photo credit: mabeljuillet cc


  1. The book I read just after this was Grit, so in retrospect, this section is especially interesting as Grit talks all about why and how people don’t avoid the hard things and in fact push through them. Watch for that summary coming in a few weeks. 
  2. See the book Grit for a bigger discussion on … grit. Funny that eh? 
  3. You can see my summary of Switch, here. In short, good book to learn new frameworks to bring about change in yourself and your team. 
  4. You can read my summary of reach here
  5. As I said, I run or ride or hike despite the weather, but I need a sweet accountability partner for sure. 
  6. Since she doesn’t ever cite a reference, I assume they’ve been checked and do match up with her conclusions. 
Better Than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits--to Sleep More, Quit Sugar, Procrastinate Less, and Generally Build a Happier Life Book Cover Better Than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits--to Sleep More, Quit Sugar, Procrastinate Less, and Generally Build a Happier Life
Gretchen Rubin
Happiness
Broadway Books
December 15 2015
320

Gretchen Rubin's answer: through habits. Habits are the invisible architecture of everyday life. It takes work to make a habit, but once that habit is set, we can harness the energy of habits to build happier, stronger, more productive lives.

So if habits are a key to change, then what we really need to know is: How do we change our habits?

Better than Before answers that question. It presents a practical, concrete framework to allow readers to understand their habits—and to change them for good. Infused with Rubin’s compelling voice, rigorous research, and easy humor, and packed with vivid stories of lives transformed, Better than Before explains the (sometimes counter-intuitive) core principles of habit formation.

How to Bring About Change and Get Your Elephant and Rider On The Same Page with Switch

Oh change, the invisible target we try to hit on our way to become the better people we want to be. Change isn’t merely a target; it’s a moving target. One that requires constant work. We fight ourselves even on the changes we know will be beneficial for our life.

Like sleep. Most of us know we don’t get enough, but when it comes time to turn off whatever show we’re binge-watching on Netflix, we can’t break the habit of just watching until we realize we’re falling asleep.

If you’re interested in making changes to the areas in your life that have plagued you as being hard, then Switch by Chip and Dan Heath, is for you.

This is a book to help you change things.

The goal of the book doesn’t just stop with the changes you want to make to yourself though; it’s really about changing you and the organizations/teams you’re in.

For anything to change, someone has to start acting differently. Your brother has got to stay out of the casino; your employees have got to start booking coach fares. Ultimately, all change efforts boil down to the same mission: Can you get people to start behaving in a new way?

The Heath’s approach change with the analogy of a Rider and an Elephant1. The Rider can force the Elephant to head in the desired direction for only so long. Once the Elephant has had enough, it heads off in the direction it desires the Rider is now along for the ride.

To look at ourselves in change, the Rider is our willpower, and the Elephant is our desire/emotions.

I may want to resist eating all the cookies, and my Rider does win out for a while, but if there are cookies sitting around at some point, the Rider loses out to the Elephant. The cookies end up in my belly.

In this case, the situation of cookies readily available is the first problem and fixing that is the third section of the book they call Shape the Path.

Switch, is broken up into three main sections. The first deals with the Rider, and how to make sure that intellectually we understand why a change should happen.

The Second section is all about the Elephant, and how to bring our emotions and motivation on board, so we don’t exhaust the Rider.

The third section covers how we can Shape the Path and is summed up in this single quote:

What looks like a people problem is often a situation problem.

To make change stick, we need to address all three of these areas.

Directing the Rider

The Rider will spin his wheels indefinitely unless he’s given clear direction. That’s why to make progress on a change, you need ways to direct the Rider. Show him where to go, how to act, what destination to pursue. And that’s why brights spots are so essential, because they are your best hope for directing the Rider when you’re trying to bring about change.

It’s easy to come up with elaborate ways to accomplish the change we want to see. We sit and plan and plan and sit, but little gets done.

The ability to plan and direct is a strength of the Rider, but also it’s weakness2. Like the quote says, the Rider is prone to continuing to analyze without taking action.

You can combat this by asking yourself “What is the first small thing that would show me something is happening?” If you want to go to the gym, this is not going to the gym; it’s taking the time to put your gym clothes out the night before, so you’re ready to go as soon as you get up.

It’s not some grand gesture in a relationship that’s doing poorly; it’s your husband making you coffee or bringing it home for you. It’s one small piece of a much larger puzzle that starts to look right.

In an organization, this means looking for the bright spots. Those spots that are working well despite the same access (or lack of access) to tools that everyone else has.

Best of all, bright spots solve the “Not Invented Here” problem. Some people have a knee-jerk skeptical response to “imported” solutions.

Then you use those bright spots and figure out what is different. From there, you get the teams to help bring the bright spot behaviours throughout the rest of your organization with small steps towards change.

Big problems are rarely solved with commensurately big solutions. Instead, they are most often solved by a sequence of small solutions, sometimes over weeks, sometimes over decades.

You limit the choices available to the Rider3 so that the only way to go is towards the behaviours you want. Limiting options is key because of Decision Fatigue4, you can’t keep making great decisions all day.

The more choices the Rider is offered, the more exhausted the Rider gets.

The Rider gets exhausted, and this is where the Elephant takes over.

It’s more than just limiting decisions though, you need to make sure that the change is understood by all the people that must participate in it. Assuming that the new path is visible to your team is a bad idea.

If you are leading a change effort, you need to remove the ambiguity from your vision of change. Granted, this is asking a lot. It means that you’ll need to understand how to script the critical moves, to translate aspirations into actions. It’s not good enough to ask your team to “be more creative” or to “tighten up on the purse strings.” That’s like telling the American public to “be healthier.”

You have to point out the destination and make it attractive (which is an Elephant thing). If your people don’t see the new direction as something that benefits them, they’re not going to buy into the change.

Your explanation can’t be fluffy or ambiguous. Ambiguity will allow people to easily fool themselves into thinking that they’re heading towards the goal when they’re going in the opposite direction.

If you’re worried about the possibility of rationalization at home or at work, you need to squeeze out the ambiguity from your goal.

As you see success, you’ll also likely see failure. When you see failure happening head back to the bright spots and clone them.

As you analyze your situation, you’re sure to find some things that are working better than others. Don’t obsess about the failures. Instead, investigate and clone successes.

Once you’ve learned to script the key decisions, it’s time to learn how to motivate the Elephant.

Motivate the Elephant

Positive illusions pose an enormous problem with regard to change. Before people can change, before they can move in a new direction, they’ve got to get their bearings. But positive illusions make it hard for us to orient ourselves — to get a clear picture of where we are and how we’re doing.

People overestimate how much they exercise and underestimate how much they eat. We do the same thing with sleep; we overestimate how much sleep we’re getting.

We fool ourselves by making the measuring stick favourable to us.

One reason we’re able to believe that we’re better-than-average leaders and drivers and spouses and team players is that we’re defining those terms in ways that flatter us.

For our spouse, we may speak the love language of gifts5, and so we give gifts to our spouse. But if they most naturally speak in time spent and we spend lots of time golfing or running, we’re missing the mark.

When you look at your team, you need to frame the change in a way that shows them they’re closer to the end than they anticipate.

People find it more motivating to be partly finished with a longer journey than to be at the starting gate of a shorter one.

The tendency to favour a longer journey that’s partly done is why Dave Ramsey tells you to start your debt snowball with the $20 you owe a friend. Yes, the ‘numbers’ may say that paying off the highest interest loan is best, but it’s also often so big that you don’t make any notable forward progress on it for months.

Paying off that $20 to a friend and then that $100 on a store credit card has moved the needle. You now have two fewer debts, and you’re excited about the progress. By the time you get to the big debts, you’re motivated to keep going because you remember all the progress you’ve already made.

Dave has set up, not huge milestones but inch pebbles, to use the terms from Switch.

You can’t count on these milestones to occur naturally. To motivate change, you’ve got to plan for them.

Like I mentioned above, what is the first little step that will show you something is changing? For a severely backlogged support team that wants to get down to 2 hour response times from 1 week celebrate when it’s at six days.

Celebrate again at five days and 4 and … every single day until you get down to the two hours you want.

Each celebration breeds hope that the big goal is doable.

When you engineer early success, what you’re really doing is engineering hope. Hope is precious to a change effort. It’s Elephant fuel.

Unfortunately, just because you set out a goal and plan to celebrate the little milestones, doesn’t mean it’s all going to be daisies and roses. Failure will happen. That support team that moved from 6 day response times to 4 days will get up to 5 again and then need to look hard at what needs to change.

Failing is often the best way to learn, and because of that, early failure is a kind of necessary investment.

You need to prepare your teams6 for this. There is a study showing that excellent nurses told their patients that the needle would hurt a bit but they’d try to be gentle. Compared to nurses that said it wouldn’t hurt, those people that were told it would hurt a bit rated the pain as less.

They had their expectations set properly, and thus the pain was framed in a way that allowed them to have the best experience possible.

In times of change, we need to remind ourselves and others, again and again, of certain basic truths: Our brains and our abilities are like muscles. They can be strengthened with practice.

Shape the Path

This last section of the book is my favourite. Mostly because it lines up so well with the things I do to get myself 5.5 solid, productive distraction-free hours in 6 hours of office time.

I shape my path by ensuring that there is nothing to distract me.

What looks like a person problem is often a situation problem.

For most of you, the problem isn’t so much you as it is the distractions you let in. You keep your phone ready at hand when you should be writing or coding. Then in a moment of Decision Fatigue, you “just check Twitter for a second” and that becomes 30 minutes.

If you put more intention into shaping your path, you’ll remove the opportunity to have these distractions.

If you want people to change, you can provide clear direction (Rider) or boost their motivation and determination (Elephant). Alternatively, you can simply make the journey easier. Create a steep downhill slope and give them a push. Remove some friction from the trail. Scatter around lots of signs to tell them they’re getting close.
In short, you can shape the Path.

Make it easy to do the behaviour you want and hard to do the stuff you don’t want. This can come in the form of pay or recognition or processes.

There is a story about FedEx at the beginning where they weren’t getting the package turn around times they needed at night. They tried all sorts of things but what made the difference was changing their pay structure. Instead of paying hourly, you got paid a flat rate for your shift. That meant if you finished quickly you were done and could go home.

Unsurprisingly, packages started moving faster, and they got the turn around they needed.

If you spend too much, freeze your credit card in a block of ice and make sure you don’t save your credit card numbers in any online store.

If you’re prone to check email at the park with your kids, either don’t take the phone with you or remove email from it.

This may sound like hard change, so to make it easier you need to plan when and where you’ll do these hard activities.

People are incredibly sensitive to the environment and the culture — to the norms and expectations of the communities they are in. We all want to wear the right clothes, to say the right things, to frequent the right places. Because we instinctively try to fit in with our peer group, behavior is contagious, sometimes in surprising ways.

Chip and Dan Heath call this visualization action triggers. In short, when given a hard task to do, say write an essay on your Christmas that needs to be handed in by December 26th, you’re more likely to do it if you visualize when and where you’ll do it.

Write down your ideal morning with no social media. Where will you be? What will you be doing? With this in hand, you’re more likely to accomplish the goal and break the habit of “just checking” what’s going on.

At work, get your team to write down how they’ll accomplish the new behaviours. How will they feel? When will they do it and where will they be? Planning will help ensure that the change happens.

“A long journey starts with a single step.” As clichés go, that’s pretty wise.
But you know what else starts with a single step? An ill-conceived amble that you abandon after a few minutes.

Recommendation for Switch by Chip and Dan Heath

While I don’t think that Chip and Dan Heath put quite enough emphasis on habit formation and how to form amazing habits, they provide an excellent framework to start building up good change in your life and organization.

Some further reading to support this would be Pivot, but only the section on Piloting change7. I’m currently reading Better than Before, and though I don’t love the author’s style, it’s shaping up to have some helpful stuff.

I do think that Switch is a good starting place if you’re looking to bring lasting change to your life and business. So, go get Switch.

Get Switch on Amazon

photo credit: ripster55 cc


  1. They borrowed this analogy from The Happiness Hypothesis 
  2. Because almost always our strengths taken to extremes are our biggest weaknesses. 
  3. Yes the start foreshadowing Shaping the Path right at the beginning of the book. 
  4. This is the tendency to have a harder time making good decisions the longer you have to make decisions. See Decision Fatigue on Wikipedia 
  5. If you’ve never heard of love languages read The Five Love Languages 
  6. And you need to prepare yourself for setbacks. 
  7. Most of that book is, well not great. I did a review of Pivot if you want to get a better idea of my thoughts. 
Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard
Chip and Dan Heath
Decision-Making & Problem Solving
Crown Business
February 16 2010
305

Why is it so hard to make lasting changes in our companies, in our communities, and in our own lives?

The primary obstacle is a conflict that’s built into our brains, say Chip and Dan Heath, authors of the critically acclaimed bestseller Made to Stick. Psychologists have discovered that our minds are ruled by two different systems—the rational mind and the emotional mind—that compete for control. The rational mind wants a great beach body; the emotional mind wants that Oreo cookie. The rational mind wants to change something at work; the emotional mind loves the comfort of the existing routine. This tension can doom a change effort—but if it is overcome, change can come quickly.

In Switch, the Heaths show how everyday people—employees and managers, parents and nurses—have united both minds and, as a result, achieved dramatic results:

Forget Seven Day Workweeks, What about a Seven Day Weekend?

How many of you check your work email on weekends? How about multitasking your way through your kid’s ball game or figure skating practice?

Probably most of you, and I’ve certainly been in that camp. The Seven Day Weekend, by Ricardo Semler, talks about Semco the company his father founded and he runs and addresses this overflow of work into life.

Semco is an odd company to most people’s eyes. It’s one that recognizes that people do work at all hours and so why can’t they come in late or leave early or split up work into a few chunks in the day with a bunch of breaks?

At its heart, Semco believes that employees should have as much control as possible over when they work and how they work. The only thing that matters is results.

The traditional weekend and workweeks ended long ago. This book faces that fact and explores ways of making work more fun, and of finding a balance between work and private passions, so both can be significantly gratifying.

Throughout the book, Semler tells us many stories that seem just a bit crazy. Take their meeting policy as an example. There are no mandatory meetings. If Ricardo Semler calls a meeting and nobody shows up, then nobody cared about the idea, and it’s shelved.

This goes for all levels. No one can call a mandatory meeting and attendance is the first gauge used to see if the idea is worth pursuing.

A second idea, which I have a hard time advocating, is that you really shouldn’t worry about specializing.

Once you say what business you’re in, you create boundaries for your employees, you restrict their thinking and give them a reason to ignore new opportunities. “We’re not in that business,” they’ll say.

I know my friend Philip would certainly take exception to this idea for anyone reading my site. Where Semco has the established business and can take huge risks in fields they aren’t currently in; you can’t.

Semco has many departments that can focus on marketing. You only have you. You only have you to do the work. So, despite the strong advocacy for not defining a niche in The Seven Day Weekend, don’t take that advice.

The Days of the week

Much like the title would suggest, The Seven Day Weekend is broken up into seven chapters. One representing each day of the week. There is no real method to the madness after that though.

Much like Semco, The Seven Day Weekend is rambling. There is a bit of coherence to the stories and topics covered, but not that much. The biggest thread holding the book together is the idea that employees are adults and should be treated like such.

People are considered adults in their private lives, at the bank, at their children’s schools, with family and among friends — so why are they suddenly treated like adolescents at work? Why can’t workers be involved in choosing their own leaders? Why can’t they speak up — challenge, question, share information openly?

Then it walks through all the ways that Semco trusts people to vote with their feet and do their job properly.

Why is it a given that work is the last thing someone wants to do?

It expects that it will help people love their work because they can roam pretty much anywhere in the company to do the work that interests theme.

Companies hoping to recruit the best and the brightest must demonstrate that they trust their employees with the freedom to work anywhere. They must assume that they’re buying talent and dedication, not what the Brazilians call “butt-on-chair time.”

It expects that it will hire the right people that can be trusted and then the business gives them the freedom to be adults and do their work.

People need more than a paycheck in their lives to feel gratification, yet most cannot figure out how to reconcile living with making a living.

They’ll give you the freedom to retire early. Want to work 80% time for 80% pay, totally fine. Just figure out a way for 100% of the work to get done, and you’re off to the races.

Semco recognizes that when an employee is having trouble performing, it’s possibly not the employee’s problem. In fact, since the person made it through many rounds of interviews with people at all levels of the organization (seriously anyone can show up and ask questions of a potential hire) that they have an awesome person. The place to start looking is the environment. Were they provided with the tools to succeed?

Organizations rarely believe they’re to blame when an employee underperforms, but if the organization doesn’t provide the opportunity for success, it’s their fault when people falter.

As I said at the beginning, Semco recognizes that employees will check email on weekends or do a bit of work in a quiet office. To counterbalance that, they also take the stand that success at work is not the only metric they need to be aware of to keep a happy employee.

The word “success” begs for a definition so we can understand what we strive for. It’s a deceptively easy word to toss around but a difficult one to comprehend. In a business context, most people define success as growth, profit, product acceptance, and quality. But if we apply this to personal life, those definitions do not hold up.

Semco encourages its employees to cut out of work early to spend time with family. They go as far as to let people on the factory floor set their own work hours. In Brazil, that means that when the World Cup is on you may find the factory floor empty during a game. Everyone came in early or will be working later to hit their production numbers, but during the game, they’re out with friends.

While they may not recognize it, Semco has been building a culture of Multipliers1.

In most conventional organizations, major decisions are only made by top-level managers. Everyone else is invited to check their brains at the door. That kind of management style can’t produce hostile and extremist views among workers.

A culture where employees of all levels are valued. They even have two open spots on their board for anyone at any level of the organization. The only requirement is that you sign up for the meeting and show up ready to make decisions.

I also mentioned that people are hired by a big committee. Again, anyone can show up to a hiring interview, and they all get a vote on the candidate. The company figures that when no one shows up to interview the position doesn’t matter and they cut it.

Power and position do not guarantee infallibility or even necessarily the best thinking.

All change must be supported by the people that are carrying it out. If they can’t get a new system adopted (and it’s not a regulatory requirement) they scrap it. It doesn’t matter who thought it was a good idea. They let their employees vote with their feet.

Top down change rarely occurs because the management tribe typically prefers to lay the burden on the employees rather than hoist it onto its own shoulders.

Recommendation

As I said at the beginning, The Seven Day Weekend is a rambling book. I took a good look at it again as I wrote this, and I still don’t see a solid structure.

Despite this2, The Seven Day Weekend is an inspiring read. It’s a book that will help you rethink how you run your business. Hopefully, it’s a book that will help you trust your employees more and let them vote with their feet.

It will not provide a guidebook for you to implement the suggestions though.

Get The Seven Day Weekend on Amazon

photo credit: photography-andreas cc


  1. See my review of Multipliers title: Becoming a Multiplier is Good for Business and Good for Fatherhood 
  2. I just like to have things in a easy to explain structure. That’s a me thing. 

If there was ONE Thing that would transform your business, what would it be?

One of the worst questions my wife ever asks me at the end of a workday is “Did you get everything done.” When you run your own business, you never get everything done.

There is a marketing revamp on the go. I have three other books in the queue for review. I have three books on my reading list for the next book I’m writing. It’s unlikely I have hit Inbox 0. I’m sure there are tasks for clients I need to do.

You never get everything done. This fact is also the bane of business owners because it means there is always a huge list of things to do. Picking which one to do at any given moment is overwhelming. You have many competing priorities and parties that want your time.

Sorting through this quagmire of tasks is where The ONE Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan comes in. Its purpose is to help you decide what the one most important thing is. The most direct way to do this is to ask their ONE question.

What’s the ONE Thing you can do this week such that by doing it everything else would be easier or unnecessary?

It’s important to recognise up front that this question is useful everywhere, not just in business contexts. What is the ONE Thing you can do today to let your wife know you love her that would make all other things unnecessary? What about with your kids?

What is the ONE Thing you can do this week to bring in clients that would make all else easier or unnecessary?

It can be hard to think of just ONE Thing though because we see others do so many other things. They’re successful with varied attention…right? The question to ask yourself is, how varied was their attention when they were at your stage? How did they build to the point they’re at now?

When you see someone who has a lot of knowledge, they learned it over time. When you see someone who has a lot of skills, they developed them over time. When you see someone who has done a lot, they accomplished it over time. When you see someone who has a lot of money, they earned it over time.
The key is over time. Success is built sequentially. It’s one thing at a time.

They got to that point by continual application of force over time. There is almost no overnight success. You keep focusing down on the one thing that is most important. With focus comes production and forward progress.

After the initial introduction chapters to get us all on the same page, Keller and Papasan break up the book into three sections. Part one is about the lies that stand between us and the success we want. Part two is about the truth we need to live if we want that success. Part three is designed to teach us the productivity views that will be needed to get us the results we want.

Part 1: The Lies

According to Keller and Papasan, there are six lies that get between success and us.

  1. Everything matters equally
  2. Multitasking
  3. A Disciplined Life
  4. Willpower Is Always on Will-Call
  5. A Balanced Life
  6. Big is Bad

The six lies are beliefs that get into our heads and become operational principles driving us the wrong way. Highways that end as bunny trails.

Almost nothing you have on your plate is mandated. You don’t have to clean your room like you did when you lived with your parents. You could write that blog post, or not. You could go to that networking meeting, or not. You could talk to people at the event, or stand in the corner.

When everything feels urgent and important, everything seems equal. We become active and busy, but this doesn’t actually move us any closer to success. Activity is often unrelated to productivity, and business rarely takes care of business.

Because everything feels urgent and important, we ask ourselves that ONE Thing question. By knowing what will make everything else easy or irrelevant, we know what the single thing is that we should be doing.

But so much of the world around us wants to pull us away from our ONE Thing and into…cat videos…gifs of random crap…things that don’t matter.

There is no such thing as multitasking. You switch between tasks fast and build up attention residue1 which means you do many things progressively poorly.

When you try to do two things at once you either can’t or won’t do either well. If you think multitasking is an effective way to get more done, you’ve got it backward.

We get ourselves into this mess because we’re not willing to say no even though it’s the most productive word in our vocabulary.

It’s not that we have too little time to do all the things we need to do, it’s that we feel the need to do too many things in the time we have.

We continue to say yes to every little thing that comes across our plate because it might maybe have some benefit at some point. In Deep Work2 Cal Newport calls this the Any Benefit Mindset.

The Any-Benefit Approach to Network Tool Selection: You’re justified in using a network tool if you can identify any possible benefit to its use, or anything you might possibly miss out on if you don’t use it. – Deep Work

The alternative presented to multitasking by Keller and Papasan is a disciplined life.

Success is actually a short race — a sprint fuelled by discipline just long enough for habit to kick in and take over.

Note that you don’t have to exert your willpower forever, you sprint for say 60 days until it becomes a habit. You no longer have to think about it.

Put up with the discipline long enough to turn it into habit, and the journey feels different. Lock in one habit so it becomes part of your life, and you can effectively ride the routine with less wear and tear on yourself. The hard stuff becomes habit, and the habit makes the hard stuff easy.

Assuming that you can exert willpower forever misses the fact that you have a limited amount of decision power to draw from each day. You get decision fatigue3. If you spend 30 minutes analysing your wardrobe, you’re more likely to snack on the cookies you know you shouldn’t have because you have used up some of your willpower.

Willpower has a limited battery life but can be recharged with some downtime.

In their book Switch, Chip and Dan Heath, talk about making decisions easier on willpower by scripting your decisions. When you get up you eat the same things, say three eggs, which means you don’t have to wrestle with the idea of eating the Fruit Loops because you eat eggs in the morning.4

Balance is another thing that Keller and Papasan don’t quite believe in, and I’m on board.

The reason we shouldn’t pursue balance is that the magic never happens in the middle; magic happens at the extremes.

I believe in seasons. Right now I’m in a season where I get out a bunch more to local events to meet local business owners. I’ll be out tonight. I’ve got two middle of the day coffee meetings planned, and a Friday morning 6 am breakfast.

My evening meetings leave my wife putting the kids to bed solo, but we agreed that I’d be out more as I build my coaching business.

To achieve an extraordinary result you must choose what matters most and give it all the time it demands. This requires getting extremely out of balance in relation to all other work issues, with only infrequent counterbalancing to address them.

I’m taking more calls and letting some of the random emails languish because email is not in my ONE Thing right now. Inbox 0 is great and all, but you are getting to a similar spot by deciding that some parts of email just don’t matter.

Some of you may be wondering what this means for your personal life. According to Keller and Papasan, you ‘counterbalance’ differently in your personal life and business life.

What that means is you may ignore email for a time and then give it one day of focus to ‘counterbalance’ the ignoring. With family/friends, you put much more effort into counterbalance. Say you’re out a bunch like me right now, I also endeavour to make sure every night I’m home I’m fully there for my wife and take as much of the duties with the kids as I can.

The final lie in The ONE Thing is that big is bad.

Big is bad is a lie.
It’s quite possibly the worst lie of all, for if you fear big success, you’ll either avoid it or sabotage your efforts to achieve it.

This ties in closely with your Upper Limit Challenge from The Big Leap5. According to Dr Gay Hendricks, when you have success you don’t feel you deserve you cause yourself pain/failure in another area to balance out the success you feel you deserve.

I feel that The Big Leap does a better job on this topic, but it’s a whole book devoted to the lies surrounding Big is Bad, so it would make sense that it has a deeper treatment of them.

Part 2: The Truth: The Simple Path to Productivity

The second section of the book is all about the Simple Path to Productivity, as noted right in its title. It starts out by driving home the ONE question they want us to ask which they call The Focusing Question.

What’s the ONE Thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?

Note they don’t say should do or could do. Both of those words can easily leave you in a dream world where you should land a contract with a Fortune 500 even though it’s your first day running your own business. They focus on what you can do because it’s within your reach.

Keller and Papasan want you to build this question into a habit in your life, and they provide a huge number of variations on their focusing question.

Here are a few of them. Remember, at the end, you add such that by doing it everything will be easier or unnecessary.

For my Physical Health
– What’s the ONE Thing I can do to achieve my diet goals…?
– What’s the ONE Thing I can do to ensure that I exercise…?

For my Personal Life
– What’s the ONE Thing I can do to improve my skill at _____?_
– What’s the ONE Thing I can do to find time for myself…?

For my Key Relationships
– What’s the ONE Thing I can do to improve my relationship with my spouse/partner…?
– What’s the ONE Thing I can do to show my appreciation to my parents…?

For my Job
– What’s the ONE Thing I can do to ensure I hit my goals…?
– What’s the ONE Thing I can do to help my team succeed…?

For my Business
– What’s the ONE Thing I can do to make us more competitive…?
– What’s the ONE Thing I can do to make us more profitable…?

Looking at the areas of your life and asking this question will provide lots of clarity with the actions you need to take. Don’t bother will all the other ‘nice sounding’ things, focus on the ONE Thing that will have the most impact.

Those questions bring us to their final section, which is all about productivity.

Part 3: Extraordinary Results Unlocking the Possibilities within you

A business can’t have unproductive people yet magically still have an immensely profitable business. Great businesses are built one productive person at a time.

While they don’t go into this aspect in detail6, a single bad team member can kill an entire team. You need everyone bought into the direction and ONE Thing for your team7.

For ourselves, we need to live with purpose8.

When our daily actions fulfill a bigger purpose, the most powerful and enduring happiness can happen.

For me, that means I help men run the business they dreamed of while being intentional about their kids and spouse. Every time I help someone repair broken relationships or solve an income problem, my day brightens up so much.

Because what I do matches with my purpose, I wake up ready to go to “work” even though it never feels like work.

That means when I focus on meeting with guys to talk about what’s going on in their business and family I’m doing the ONE Thing that matters most. Talking to people and helping them.

If disproportionate results come from one activity, then you must give that one activity disproportionate time.

The conversations I have with people that bring change are the best marketing for my coaching services.

Keller and Papasan also recommend what I keep calling The Mullet Productivity Schedule.

To experience extraordinary results, be a maker in the morning and a manager in the afternoon.

In the morning I spend 3 hours (6 am – 9 am) reading, writing, researching, creating. I dive in deep and focus. I don’t allow distractions. I check no email. I don’t take calls. I focus.

In that time I take care of my ONE Thing and then I’m free with a productive day to deal with email or other random tasks that come along.

The ONE Thing finishes off with two more thoughts. First is that there are four thieves to your productivity.

The first thief is your inability to say no.

People will ask for your advice and help. Co-workers will want you on their team. Friends will request your assistance. Strangers will seek you out. Invitations and interruptions will come at you from everywhere imaginable. How you handle all of this determines the time you’re able to devote to your ONE Thing and the results you’re ultimately able to produce.

The second thief is your fear of chaos. By focusing on ONE Thing, you will be letting go of other parts of your business. You’ve got to learn to live without Inbox 0.

Focusing on ONE Thing has a guaranteed consequence: other things don’t get done. Although that’s exactly the point, it doesn’t automatically make us feel any better about it.

Third, is your health. Not sleeping well only proves that you’re an idiot. Eating poorly and bad (or no) exercise is in the same boat. You may think you’re making time for other work, but you’re robbing yourself of energy.

When people don’t understand the power of the ONE Thing, they try to do too much — and because this never works over time, they end up making a horrific deal with themselves. They go for success by sacrificing their health. They stay up late, miss meals or eat poorly, and completely ignore exercise. Personal energy becomes an afterthought; allowing health and home life to suffer becomes acceptable by default.

Fourth is your environment, specifically the people you surround yourself with. If everyone that you surround yourself with says that writing a book is too hard, it’s more likely it will be too hard for you.

For you to achieve extraordinary results, the people surrounding you and your physical surroundings must support your goals.

This also goes with your physical environment. If your environment isn’t built to let you focus on ONE Thing, you won’t. If you’re constantly interrupted, you will never be doing your best work.

No one succeeds alone and no one fails alone. Pay attention to the people around you. Seek out those who will support your goals, and show the door to anyone who won’t.

The second main thought is that it’s a journey to get to success. There is no overnight success. It’s 10 years of doing the work and then suddenly you’re an overnight success.

Actions build on action. Habits build on habit. Success builds on success. The right domino knocks down another and another and another. So whenever you want extraordinary results, look for the levered action that will start a domino run for you.

When you’re feeling frustrated with where you’re at, remember this. It is a journey. I write fast because I have over 1200 blog posts. I’ve published more than 140k words in 2017 alone. In 2016 I published at least 140k. It’s only with this practice that I’ve developed the skills to write quickly.

You need to be willing to take the steps on the journey to get here as well.9

Recommendation

I know you don’t want to be average because average is a mortgage and car payments and living paycheque to paycheque. It’s dad that works lots and spends some time with the kids…sometimes. That time with the kids is punctuated with work email and phone calls and so many things that take away from quality bonding time.

You want to live an extraordinary life. A life that has purpose and brings value to the world. So let’s leave you with this final quote from The ONE Thing.

Anyone who dreams of an uncommon life eventually discovers there is no choice but to seek an uncommon approach to living it.

If you’re ready to live an uncommon life, then read The ONE Thing and most importantly put it into action. The best book I know to help you put it into action is The 12 Week Year10.

Get The ONE Thing on Amazon.

photo credit: yutakaseki cc


  1. Leroy, S. (2009). Why is it so hard to do my work? The challenge of attention residue when switching between work tasks. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 109(2), 168-181. Retrieved September 19, 2017, from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0749597809000399 
  2. I reviewed Deep Work as well 
  3. Decision Fatigue 
  4. We’ll be looking at Switch in a few weeks. I’m just reading it for the second time. It’s going to be a recommended book. 
  5. I have a long look at The Big Leap and your Upper Limit Challenge 
  6. Multipliers does a much better job looking at how a single team member can kill a team. I’ve reviewed it
  7. Again, watch for my upcoming look at Switch if you want to know how to bring a team on board with your ideas. 
  8. In The Art of Work Jeff Goins does a great job walking us through finding our purpose. I wrote about it here
  9. If you want to achieve mastery I wrote a book about it 
  10. I’m sure you’re surprised to know that I reviewed the 12 Week Year 

Can Tiny Habits Change Your Life?

Habits are what dictate much of what we do. We may think that we decide to eat that extra cookie, but really eating cookies is tied to drinking coffee. We’ve done it so many times that we almost can’t have coffee without cookies.

There used to be a book available on Amazon called Tiny Habits, by Michael Minsen, and the goal of the book was to help us build small habits that would have a big impact on our lives.

I say it used to be available because I can find no trace of it now. That’s a bit disappointing since it’s a really quick read and has some practical advice. I’m also not disappointed, but in many ways, it’s so basic.

The purpose of the book is to bring transformation to your life.

This book will help you transform your life for the better just by doing the tiny habits.

It hopes to do this by helping you build good tiny habits. With these building on each other, you’ll start to see your world getting better.

Once your good habits are properly instilled, little by little (if not suddenly) you will notice that you are changing — for the better.

It advocates tiny habits because they’re easy to start and stick with. Unlike huge goals which sit far away and at least slightly nebulous, tiny habits are with us every day.

It is not enough to set a goal with a target date of accomplishing it. It’s like declaring something awesome to achieve and wait for a miracle to happen to make it come true.

In this, it agrees with The 12 Week Year(my review). The 12 Week Year gets you to focus on the actions you need every week to hit your goals in the next 12 weeks. None of this yearly goal crap. 12 weeks is enough to get something done and short enough to keep it top of mind.

So the two books fit very well together on this point. Unfortunately, Tiny Habits makes the point in the first two chapters and then goes downhill in quality.

The introductory few pages (mostly chapter 1 and 2) are the best. After that, skim the book. It’s mostly just a list of the tiny habits that the author thinks you should implement in your life.

They provide few tools for you to take your bad habits and turn them into triggers for good habits. They don’t really provide many tools for you to use to accomplish this goal.

The tiny habit suggestions are good, but it turns out to be a fairly ‘fluffy’ book with suggestions like “Expand your Vocabulary” in the tiny habits. I say fluffy because expanding your vocabulary gets the same level billing as reviewing your day before you go home. Reviewing our day and planning the next one almost always revolutionizes what you get done. Expanding your vocabulary…hogwash.

Recommendation

This seems like a moot point since I can’t see how to purchase the book. But anyway, don’t bother. If you’re interested in changing your work and yourself then read something like Switch by Chip and Dan Heath.

It has much more utility.

photo credit: clement127 cc

Lost In A Sea Of Detritus It’s Time To Purge

I’ve got two entire drawers of spare cords and hard drives and … random electronic detritus. I swear I’ve been through the drawers at least once a year and I’ve never been able to get it below two drawers.

At the same time, I can’t tell you the last time I was actually in them to get stuff. It’s all stuff I think I might maybe use someday if the right circumstance comes along.

Those are just the two obvious drawers that are beside my desk. Let’s not talk about the number of backpacks I have for hiking, climbing, ice climbing, running, cycling, cycling in wet weather…it’s a serious problem.

All of these things I own also mean that I have to store them. I have to manage them. I have to spend a weekend cleaning them up, instead of getting out into the mountains like I want to.

I’ve been feeling like this for a while which is what prompted me to read The More of Less by Joshua Becker. It’s the same feeling that started Becker’s journey towards minimalism.

Not only are my possessions not bringing happiness into my life; even worse, they are actually distracting me from the things that do.

Dave Ramsey often says something along the lines of We purchase things we don’t want with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t even like. I’d like to think I’m not quite that bad because I’ve taught Dave’s material many times. I still have way too much stuff. I look at our closets and sigh inwardly looking at the shiny stuff I bought.

The More of Less is a book about how embracing Minimalism can change your life. According to Becker, there are multiple payoffs to going minimal.

Payoff’s we can expect by embracing minimalism

  • More time and energy since we don’t have to organise and store stuff
  • More money since we aren’t buying stuff
  • More generosity because we have money to give away and are less attached to stuff
  • More freedom, we don’t have to worry about moving our stuff
  • Less stress because we have less stuff overwhelming us
  • Less distraction because less competes for our attention
  • Less environmental impact because we consume less
  • Higher quality belongings because we think hard about what we purchase
  • Better example for our kids, we show them that the rat race of purchasing is not what we’re into
  • Less work for someone else, when we get to a point that others need to care for us
  • Less comparison, since we care less about what others have
  • More contentment as we break the cycle of trying to find contentment in purchasing things

If those sound like things you want in your life, then keep reading. If you’re happy with the stuff you have and don’t want to make some hard choices, then I guess stop and keep going the way you’re going now.

What is Minimalism

Becker defines minimalism as:

Minimalism: the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of anything that distracts us from them

But he doesn’t leave us there. He addresses the two biggest misconceptions he sees with those thinking about adopting a minimalist life.

  1. Minimalism is about giving everything up. Especially the stuff we love.
  2. Minimalism is about getting better organised.

Neither of these assumptions is true. Minimalism is about making sure that the stuff we own is in service of the things we value.

The goal of minimalism, let’s remember, is not just to own less stuff. The goal of minimalism is to unburden our lives so we can accomplish more.

If you didn’t have that stupid garage piled with stuff that needed to be cleaned over many weekends, what else could you do? That pile ‘o’ crap in the garage mostly doesn’t even get used because it’s a pile of crap you can’t bear to dig through.

Embracing minimalism means that you identify the things you want and then cut everything else out. It’s very similar to The ONE Thing which tells us to ask ourselves, What is the ONE Thing you can do in your (life, business, relationships…) that makes everything else easy or obsolete. I’ll be looking at that book in the coming weeks. Both books ask us to identify the things we want and then cut the rest out so we can have what we want.

Starting Minimalism

If you want to clarify your own life goals, my advice is to start by examining yourself. Get a strong grip on your talents, abilities, and weaknesses and on the issues that get your blood boiling.

What gets your blood boiling? For me, it’s struggling businesses. It’s men that focus so much on their career that they break relationships. I believe that if you have a successful business and break the relationships you have, you’ve failed. You’re not a success, and it’s crazy that most people celebrate those with business success and a wealth of broken relationships.

But it’s taken me years of narrowing down to that particular topic to say it so boldly.

To help us find what makes our blood boil Becker gives us some starting questions. Take some time to answer them now.

Questions the author gives us to find our blood boil

  1. What experiences, both good and bad, have shaped your life?
  2. What similarities can you recognise in your most notable achievements?
  3. What problems in the world are you most passionate about solving?
  4. If money were not an issue, what line of work would you be most drawn to?
  5. Which dreams in your life do you feel the most regret for not pursuing harder?
  6. What is the lasting legacy you want to leave?
  7. Whom do you most admire in life? What specific characteristics of this person do you want to emulate?

Now look at your life…does it match up with what you say gets your blood boiling? If not, it’s time to cut stuff. I’d recommend reading The ONE Thing to help you get more clarity on getting on the right path for the things that matter in your life.

Hurdles to Minimalism

I’d love to tell you that once you decide to go minimal, it’s all daisies and roses, but it’s not. Everything we see all the time is telling us that whatever we currently have is not enough. That someone else has something better, and we should try to get the next better thing.

Consumerism surrounds us like the air we breathe, and like air, it’s invisible. We hardly even know how much we are influenced by the philosophy that we must buy, buy, buy if we are to be happy.

Facebook, Twitter, TV ads, billboards…so much around us is a multi-billion dollar industry designed to steal our attention and get us to spend time on things that might maybe have some value. Most of that value is to Facebook, Twitter…not for ourselves.

Advertisers have been so successful at playing on our selfish desires for ownership that today buying and being happy are considered synonymous. It’s as if the purpose of life is self-gratification and buying things is the only way to get there.

This is where that Dave Ramsey quote is perfect. We get stuff we don’t even care about to ‘keep up with the Joneses’.

Success and excess are not the same.

Purchasing more better stuff is seen as a sign of success. We laud the large house because it’s big. We almost never stop to ask if we need it. We don’t question that bigger is better. We hardly realise that generations before us had families of 12 in a house 1/4 of the size.

We simply lament how hard it is to live with 5 in a 1500 square foot town home. As if we have a tough life and almost everyone around commiserates with us in our oh so tough row to hoe.

Becker makes a promise though if we can embrace minimalism.

Liberation from the need to possess. And liberation from conforming to a society built on consumerism. This is the promise of minimalism: to rejoice at the sight of all the things we do not need.

One of the final things that Becker highlights is that most people jump to the hardest things to purge when they think about being minimal. They think of grandma’s china that was passed down. They think of the piano that was a favourite during childhood and never gets played now.

Don’t start with the hardest stuff. Find the easiest space to purge and start there. Tackle the more difficult things when you have more practice under your belt.

Where to Start

Does the thought of handling every item in your home sound daunting? I hate to say it, but if it does, that’s an indication in itself that you own too much.

We have told our kids many times that if they can’t clean up their toys and it’s a fight then clearly they have way too many toys. We even boxed up all the kitchen toys and all the Barbies and put them in a toy library to be drawn out and played with then put away.

It’s easy to do for our kids, so why do adults let themselves ‘out’ on the same ideas.

If your stupid garage pile ‘o’ crap is too much to clean up, then you must purge it. Don’t let yourself off.

Becker recommends you use three piles as you start in a single room.

  1. Things to keep
  2. Things to relocate in the house – as in put away
  3. Things to remove then split them up and deal with them
    • donate
    • sell
    • recycle
    • throw away
    • don’t let the piles sit around or you won’t deal with them

Also, you must pick up every single item in the space you’re cleaning.

When tackling any space, it is important to physically touch every item. Almost every professional organizer will give you the same advice because handling an item forces you make decisions about it. It is too easy to leave items alone if you are only quickly scanning them.

As you head on your journey towards minimalism, it’s not just the stuff in your house that matters. You need to take a hard look at any technology you use.

Do you need the latest iDevice? Does whatever purchase you’re contemplating solve a problem in your life or is it simply shiny and new?

Technology should make our lives easier by solving problems both at home and at work quickly and more efficiently. But if our technology is not solving specific problems for us, it is only adding to them.

When my clients talk to me about changing billing software or writing software or moving the first thing we always do is to build a list of problems that must be solved for the change to be successful. If the new option doesn’t solve the problem, then we don’t even look at it.

Almost every time we find that all the other options don’t solve the problems any better or they bring up other problems. That means we stay where we are using the tools we know. We’ve successfully avoided shiny object syndrome.

One of the biggest hurdles in my house with embracing minimalism is that we don’t all see eye to eye on what is needed or not needed. A few years ago I got rid of almost all of my books. I kept a few hard back books that were collector’s items (and I liked) and one paperback that you can’t purchase digitally.

Everything else went.

Getting my wife to do a similar purge has been hard. She has an iPad but not a Kindle, and the reading experience is much nicer on a Kindle. She also looks at her hundreds of books and thinks of the expense purchasing them again.

To bring minimalism to your home, Becker has many suggestions. One big one is to make sure that you’re not just going after “other people’s stuff”. That’s only going to get their back up about the changes you want to make.

Focus on your stuff and slowly work through it. Often others in your house will come aboard as they see the changes around them. Once they get a glimpse of the peace that can be had, they’ll be on board.

Recommendation

Before I officially give you my verdict on The More of Less, I’ll leave you with one more quote.

Certainly there are seasons in life that require focused time and commitment. And we should never discourage working hard on things that matter. Unfortunately, however, most of us have become busy over all the wrong things and we have allowed false assumptions to drive our schedules.

If you’ve liked the ideas presented in this book then you must read The ONE Thing. It looks at the same ideas presented here from a productivity stand point.

As for whether you should read The More of Less, yes you should. I know you want to do more work that matters and that’s going to take a change in many areas of your life, not just at work.

Get The More of Less on Amazon

Becoming a Multiplier is Good for Business and Good for Fatherhood

While you could focus on building a mini-kingdom, or hoarding all the amazing people both of those things are terrible paths as a manager. I’ve regularly told my coaching clients that your only job is to make sure that those under and above you look marvellous.

Unfortunately, way too many managers take the first two options I provided. They build an empire inside a company. They regularly wonder why people aren’t performing up to their capacity. They may even rule with an iron fist.

Combating all these things is why Liz Wiseman wrote Multipliers. It all started with this single observation.

There is more intelligence inside our organization than we are using

Out of this thought, she embarked on years of research to figure out what it was that got the best out of employees. The original edition was published in 2010 and the revised edition in 2017. I read the revised edition.

Both editions look at this core thought:

Some leaders make us better and smarter. They bring out our intelligence. This book is about these leaders, who access and revitalize the intelligence in the people around them. I call them Multipliers. This book will show you why they create genius around them and make everyone smarter and more capable.

Wiseman’s goal is to help us become that leader that brings out the best in their people. One that builds up. One whom you always look back to and think of all the hard work, and how valuable it was for you.

Where the revised edition majorly deviates from the original is in three new essential insights Wiseman has found with more years of working with organisations to build multipliers.

3 Essential Insights of the New Issue of Multipliers

Early on Wiseman gives us the three key things that are in the revised edition.

1. The need for Multipliers is Universal

The need of Multiplier leadership spans industries and cultural boundaries; it’s not just for innovation centers like Silicon Valley

2. Sometimes the good guys are the bad guys

…I’ve come to see that the vast majority of the diminishing happening inside our workplaces is done with the best of intentions, by what I call the Accidental Diminisher — good people trying to be good managers.

3. The biggest barriers are contextual and cultural

To build organizations where intelligence is richly utilized, we need both an offensive and a defensive plan. Most leaders who read the book aspire to lead like Multipliers and find “the better angles of their nature,” as Abraham Lincoln once said. However, their efforts are stymied because too much of their mental energy is spent dealing with the devils around them.

Each of these three insights has a chapter devoted to dealing directly with the issue.

Structure

The structure of the book looks at where a Diminisher and a Multiplier differ in accomplishing the same goals. Take Chapter two as an example. It looks at how the Multiplier is a Talent Magnet, and the Diminisher is an Empire Builder. We’ll dive more into each opposing thought later on.

The book starts with defining what a Diminisher and Multiplier are so that readers are all on the same page with the terms. At its most basic, Wiseman defines a Multiplier as:

Multipliers are genius makers.

Multipliers recognise that while they may have the most experience, that doesn’t mean they have the best ideas. They don’t flaunt their intelligence over the people they work with. They look to challenge them and build up their thinking, knowing that this will make the whole organization better. Even if they don’t get the direct credit for success.

To contrast that, Diminishers feel that they’re the smartest people in the room.

Diminishers appear to believe that really intelligent people are a rare breed and that they are of that rare breed. From this assumption they conclude that they are so special, other people will never figure things out without them.

They ask questions that only they can answer to show how smart they are. Their intelligence is a weapon they use to continue to show their superiority. They make sure that if anything goes well, they get the credit even if most of the work was done by the team.

If it sounds like you want to be a Multiplier, then let’s look at the core ideas in the rest of the book, chapter by chapter.

Multipliers have a rich view of the intelligence of the people around them. They don’t see a world where just a few people deserve to do the thinking. In addition, Multipliers see intelligence as continually developing.

The Talent Magnet vs The Empire Builder

Diminishers don’t look to build teams; they look to build kingdoms inside an organization. They try to hoard all the great resources, even if they never plan to use them well.

The goal is ownership, not what’s best for the company or the people they’ve hoarded.

Contrast this with Multipliers, who attract talent. They build talent up, and talented people know that so they tell friends about it. Those talented friends want to work for the Multiplier.

This creates a virtuous cycle of talent building.

According to Wiseman, there are four practices of a Talent Magnet.

1. Look for talent everywhere

Talent Magnets are always looking for new talent, and they look far beyond their own backyard. Multipliers cast a wide net and find talent in many settings and diverse forms, knowing that intelligence has many facets.

2. Find people’s native genius

A native genius or talent is something that people do, not only exceptionally well, but absolutely naturally. They do it easily (without extra effort) and freely (without condition).

3. Utilize People At their fullest

A Multiplier finds where someone’s zone of genius is and helps them operate inside it. Talent Magnets are not threatened by the genius around them. In fact, they thrive on helping others succeed.

4. Remove blockers

They remove impediments, which quite often means removing people who are blocking and impeding the growth of others.
Individual genius can be deceptive. At first look, it would appear costly to remove one supersmart player, even if she has a diminishing effect on the team.

Finally, a talent magnet realises that they are a steward of a resource for a time. They don’t hold it with an iron grip keeping it away from everyone else in an organization.

Talent Magnets encourage people to grow and leave. They write letters of recommendation and they help people find their next stage to perform on. And when people leave their group, they celebrate their departures and shout their success to everyone.

Multipliers look for ways to help their people move on to the next level of success, even if that means they lose the talent.

The Liberator vs The Tyrant

Tyrants create a tense environment that is full of stress and anxiety. Liberators like Robert, on the other hand, create an intense environment that requires concentration, diligence, and energy. It is an environment where people are encourage to think for themselves and also where people experience a deep obligation to do their best work.

Most of us have worked for a tyrant. Someone that was sure everyone that worked for them was a slacker. That they couldn’t do their job well, so they needed constant badgering and monitoring on every little thing.

The thing is that tyrants expect mistakes and are ready to pounce in with accusations and punishments. Liberators also expect mistakes; they just look at mistakes as a scenario for learning.

Liberators are ready to jump in and help people learn from mistakes so that they don’t happen again.

One builds an organization where mistakes are feared and hidden. The other creates an environment where mistakes happen, and accountability for them happens.

The Challenger vs The Know-It-All

Diminishers operate as Know-It-Alls, assuming that their job is to know the most and to tell their organization what to do.

This is that person that asks some esoteric question that only sort of relates to the topic at hand or is so detailed no one can reasonably be expected to know the answer. The thing is, they did study down to the last tiny detail, so they knew and could ask the question.

The Multiplier challenges. They ask people to go deeper. Get more information, in a way that will make the decision better.

Instead of knowing the answer, they play the role of the Challenger. They use their smarts to find the right opportunities for their organization and challenge and stretch their organization to get there.

The Debate Maker vs The Decision Maker

By assuming there are only a few people worth listening to, Diminishers operate as Decision Makers: when the stakes are at their highest, they rely on their own knowledge or an inner circle of people to make the decision.

I also just finished reading The Seven Day Weekend which explains how a company called SEMCO works. Essentially SEMCO is all about debate. There are spots on the board table for any employee at all who signs up first. They readily admit that some of the great challenging questions have come from employees that cleaned the toilets. Decisions that had an impact on their global business.

When Multipliers are faced with a high-stakes decision, they have a different gravity pull toward the full brainpower of their organization. In harnessing this knowledge, they play the role of Debate Maker.

SEMCO also has a bizarre rule that all meetings are optional. Even meetings that the owner calls. If people don’t show up to the meeting, it means that the idea doesn’t move forward. It has no buy-in.

Both of these ways of working are inline with the Multiplier and opposed to the Diminisher.

Too many leaders exhaust themselves trying to garner buy-in across the myriad of stakeholders in their community. Instead of building support, their work often builds resentment as people reluctantly surrender to the inevitable.

The Investor vs The Micromanager

There are times in any business where the manager/boss needs to jump in and help solve a problem. The difference between a Diminisher and a Multiplier here is that the Multiplier looks for a way to jump right back out. A Diminisher takes over and ‘saves’ the day.

This saving means that employees don’t have ownership over outcomes. Employees feel like they still hit the mark while their manager feels like they had to jump in and save everything, so the mark was widely missed.

If you want to become an Investor give ownership over big things.

When people are given ownership for only a piece of something larger, they tend to optimize that portion, limiting their thinking to this immediate domain. When people are given ownership of the whole, they stretch their thinking and challenge themselves to go beyond their scope.

Back up the ownership of the outcome with resources. Don’t make them come back to you hat in hand all the time. Let them make decisions.

When leaders teach, they invest in their peoples ability to solve and avoid problems in the future

Hold them accountable. Don’t let people shunt their responsibilities back to you. Tell them “That sounds like a problem. What are you going to do about it?”

These leaders have a natural leaning to give accountability to others and keep it there. When their people push problems over to the manager’s side of the table, by the end of the conversation, those problems slide right back to where they came from.

They don’t give out participation ribbons. They hold people accountable to the good and the bad things that come from their effort. It’s only through having people face up to their mistakes (and remember Multipliers know mistakes happen) that they can learn from them and avoid them in the future.

When we protect people from experiencing the natural ramifications of their actions, we stunt their learning.

The Three other Insights

Starting in Chapter 7, we get the three new insights for the revised edition, starting with The Accidental Diminisher.

While narcissistic leaders grab the headlines, the vast majority of Diminishing happening inside our workplaces is done by the Accidental Diminisher — managers with the best of intentions, good people who think they are doing a good job leading.

One great example of this is The Idea Girl/Guy. They head home for the weekend and have a great new idea for a company direction. They bring it to the table on Monday, and everyone is jumping again to keep up with the changes.

This jumping limits your team and frustrates them.

Chapter 7 on the Accidental Diminisher is the best chapter of the book. If you’re in charge of people, read chapter 1 then 7. Then, go back through the book to grab the rest.

Not all of us are in positions of leadership. There will be Diminishers that we just have to deal with, and that’s where chapter 8 comes in.

Too many well-intended managers are stuck beneath diminishing leaders. They aspire to lead by bringing out the best in others but find themselves being sucked down a Diminishers vortex.

It tells us that the most popular reactions to Diminishers are the worst reactions. These reactions are:

  1. Confront them (tell them they are a Diminisher)
  2. Avoid them (they just chase you for control)
  3. Quit (doesn’t solve anything)
  4. Comply and Lie Low (you die slowly)
  5. Ignore the Diminishing behaviour (again they chase you for control)

Wiseman gives us three levels to work through to deal with a Diminishing boss. Level 1 reads like a Harry Potter magic class — “Defenses Against the Dark Arts of Diminishing Managers.”

Level one is seven tactics to minimise the damage a Diminishing boss can do to your motivation to be awesome at work. Most of them line up with research found in The Happiness Advantage and Broadcasting Happiness.

Level 2 is about Multiplying Up. Here we find the strengths of our boss and ask them to invest specifically in our project. We tell our boss how they can best help us succeed. We listen to the feedback they give, even if it’s given poorly, and build on it.

Using level 2 will help us build credibility with our boss and thus get out from under their thumb.

Level three is where we try to inspire those around us to be Multipliers by…acting like a Multiplier. There is one story Wiseman uses of a Diminishing boss who had someone under them start being a Multiplier. In a few months, the boss came to them to find out what was working so much better and started to work on becoming a Multiplier as well.

You don’t have to be at the top to be a change catalyst.

Becoming a Multiplier

The final chapter is all about becoming a Multiplier. To do this, pick one of the core assumptions of a Multiplier that comes the easiest, and focus on making it better.

Sure, note the other areas that need work, but go for a win first. Then take the other core values and put them up on your computer screen, or on your wall. Remind yourself daily what the traits of a Multiplier are if you want to be one.

Recommendation

Yes, I think that you need to read this book if you want to be awesome at business. This book extends far past just work even. Being a good parent means being a Multiplier. It means giving your kids responsibility for things and then letting them deal with consequences.

If you can become a Multiplier, you’ll be a better father.

Get Multipliers on Amazon