Happy Super Bowl Sunday! Sorry for not posting in a while.
The past few weeks have been hectic. Most of our household caught a virus, work spilled over onto weekends, and we invested a bunch of time in Lunar New Year celebrations — happy year of the rat!
On the running front, I’m behind. I’m still preparing for the Big Sur International Marathon this April. Cold weather and viral infections have thrown a wrench in my training schedule. I’m getting back on track.
On the reading front, I recently enjoyed Sandworm by Andy Greenberg. It is a frightening narrative connecting some of the world’s most devastating cyber attacks and attempts to attribute the attacks to the people behind them. Hint: Eastern European nation state.
I’m also in the middle of reading Jock Willink’s new book titled Leadership Strategy and Tactics. It’s a bit of a rehashing of the principles explained in Extreme Ownership which was also co-authored by Willink. The leadership principle from these books I am thinking most about is “Decentralized Command”.
I’m also really enjoying by Scribd subscription which gives me on demand access to millions of eBooks and audiobooks. If you use my link to sign up for a free 1-month trial, I can also get a free month of Scribd. If you do, thanks for your support!
Via Scribd I discovered “Snapshots” which are like 5-10 minute summaries of great non-fiction books. My favorite one is a summary of the book titled The Productivity Project. The ideas in this book build on David Allen’s Getting Things Done.
On the writing front, I haven’t done much at all. In fact, I feel a daily pang of regret that I haven’t posted here or continued my work-blog. I still think about and see rampant gaps in communications. There is a lot going on, a lot more than is talked about. Every week I tell myself to write more, and then I allow other things to get in the way. Brutal truth!
Thanks for reading! See you next week. Please follow or subscribe. I love to read and respond to your comments, too.
Hi Team, I wanted to take one last opportunity to share some thoughts before the year closes.
At the end of 2019, there are more options than ever for endless entertainment. Binging TV shows on demand, video games, scrolling social media, junk food, etc. The path of least resistance leans heavily toward consumption and away from creation. Doing work and creating art is fulfilling. The path of least resistance is not fulfilling. In the 2020s, people who exercise willpower, avoid distraction, and focus their attention will appear more and more superhuman.
Today I was pruning the rose bushes in front of our house. The activity reminds me of my favorite blog post from 2018: The Rose Bush Metaphor: How to deal with too many ideas and too little time. In the past few weeks I’ve been digitally pruning, too. I call that effort Unsubscribe from Everything. I try to cut out low-value email. What remains is a few select blogs from authors I respect. I let them into my inbox because I trust the content is always high quality. I can take a 10 minute break to read and digest one of these blogs.
Speaking of blogs, I was struck by the wisdom of Mr. Money Mustache in his recent post titled Let the Roaring 2020s Begin. He succinctly describes timeless wisdom he has personally lived during the past decade.
1) This Too Shall Pass: nothing is as big a deal as you think it is at the time. Angry or sad emotions from life traumas will fade remarkably quickly, but so will the positive surprises from one-time life upgrades through the sometimes-bummer magic of Hedonic Adaptation. What’s left is just you – no matter where you go, there you are.
2) But You Are Really Just a Bundle of Habits: most of your day (and therefore your life) is comprised of repeating the same set of behaviors over and over. The way you get up, the things you focus your mind on. Your job. The way you interact with other people. The way you eat and exercise. Unless you give all of this a lot of mindful attention and work to tweak it, it stays the same, which means your life barely changes, which means your level of happiness barely changes.
3) Change Your Habits, Change your Life: Because of all this, the easiest and best way to have a happier and more satisfying life is to figure out what ingredients go into a good day, and start adding those things while subtracting the things that create bad days. For me (and quite possibly you, whether you realize it or not), the good things include positive social interactions, helping people, outdoor physical activity, creative expression and problem solving, and just good old-fashioned hard work. The bad things mostly revolve around stress due to over-scheduling one’s life, emotional negativity and interpersonal conflict – all things I am especially sensitive to.
Mr. Mustache’s words hit home. I had just been thinking about how important habits are and skills are. The thought also reverberates some of my favorite books from 2019 including Ryan Holiday’s Stillness is the Key and James Clear’s Atomic Habits. These are both worth re-reading while thinking about the year ahead. I think we can all use more stillness in 2020. And, habits are way more powerful than New Year’s resolutions.
The twins are three years old now, and I’m trying to spend as much time as possible with them and my wife, when I’m not at work. I don’t think it’s possible to feel like I’ve spent too much time with them.
Outside of family and work, my 2019 was filled with running, reading and writing. I don’t expect this to change in 2020. I will work on the balance. Sometimes I feel pangs if regret for not pushing myself more in one or all of these areas. These activities are key for me for health of mind body and spirit.
The first half of my 2019 was strong. I ran my first half marathon (13.1 mi), turned 30 years old, and also ran my first marathon (26.2 mi). In April I was probably in better physical shape than all of my 20s. While struggling to maintain that level now, I managed to finish 2 more half marathons later in the year, the Seawheeze Virtual Half Marathon and the PV Half Marathon (I mentioned in the last post). Now I’m preparing for my next challenge, the Big Sur Marathon, next April. For me, the races are an effective way to motivate me to keep up the running habit. And race day is a lot of fun 😀.
Happy New Year! and thank you for reading. I appreciate all and any feedback. Please help me out, subscribe and leave comments.
Hi I’m Torrey, this is my blog where I document my experiences as a runner , a reader, a writer and a thinker. It’s been four weeks since my last post, and I owe you guys an update. Sorry!
In this update:
Running to Work in California Summer Heat
Reading A Guide to the Good Life
Writing and Publishing the 22nd edition of Torrey’s Weekly Report
Thinking about Reducing Friction for Healthy Habits
Running to work in California Summer Heat
This month, I resumed running to work. I decided to alternate between biking and running. My bike route goes along the beach while my run route goes through LAX. I would much rather run along the beach but it’s 6 miles extra and it takes too long. So, LAX it is!
According to Strava I traveled 11.21 miles on foot. According to Actifit I took 20,148 steps to get there.
The last time I did this run was March. There is a huge difference between March weather and June weather. June is hot and my island shorter-distance route doesn’t have much of a coastal breeze.
Reading A Guide to the Good Life
Since my last update I’ve been reading a couple books. I’ll share some notes from one of them I’m enjoying.
The book is called A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine. I’m just getting started with this book, but I like the concepts so far. First, Irvine covers a psychology concept called hedonistic adaption. To understand this concept imagine someone craving a fancy, new car. Once the car is brought home, happiness from the new car quickly fades and a new, often more expensive, desire sets in. The mind adapts to material pleasure and then seeks out some new pleasure. Hence, hedonistic adaptation, it makes us all miserable. The same idea applies to personal achievements like running a marathon.
The solution is to want what we already have. The way to do this is to remind yourself daily that you can lose everything you have, including your home, your relationships and your life. Visualizing loss of what we hold dear is a forcing function for counteracting hedonistic adaptation. It helps us not take things for granted. Stoic practitioners are known for creating daily (or more frequent), morbid reminders that say something like “you are going to die”. Talk about sense of urgency!
The second interesting concept is internalization of goals as a mechanism for focusing on things inside our Circle of Influence. I’ve talked about the Circle of Influence before in How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others. The idea here is about setting goals where you have 100% control of the outcome.
For example, let’s say you are runner entering a 5K race. Your goal could be to earn a top 3 finish. This is an external goal, because you cannot control the outcome. You cannot control the weather, the other runners, and a hundred other variables. If you realize you have fallen far behind the top three, you will get discouraged knowing your goal slips out of reach.
An internalized goal would be to run the race to the best of your ability, to give it your all. You would be un-phased by your competition, and you’ll likely earn a better overall finishing rank because you won’t be discouraged. I call this idea Compete Against Yourself.
There are many chapters left to get through, and you can see I’ve already learned a lot from this great book. Shout to to Derik Sivers and Tim Ferriss who recommended this book during a podcast on the Tim Ferriss Show.
Writing and Publishing the 22nd edition of Torrey’s Weekly Report
This week I published the 22nd edition of Torrey’s Weekly Report, the weekly blog where I share knowledge and exciting news with my peers and colleagues.
I have settled on a sustainable and consistent schedule of publishing bi-weekly (once every two weeks). This schedule is working well (except for the obvious conflict with the blog’s name).
This week I shared a technology update, some SQL knowledge I recently gained, and a book review. I’m excited to publish report #23 in two weeks!
Thinking about Reducing Friction for Healthy Habits
I’ve been thinking about reducing friction for healthy habits, and increasing friction for unhealthy habits.
For example this month I started keeping a gym bag at work at all times. The bag contains a towel, change of clothes, shower shoes, extra shoes, toothbrush, toothpaste, etc. Having the bag ready each day, even though I may not need it, reduces friction. There’s less planning required to do one of my bike or run commutes. I can decide to do so any day of the week and there’s less reasons to say no. I’ve reduced friction between me and the healthy habit.
Similarly I’ve implemented a practice of having drinking water in front of me at all times, even if I’m not thirsty or I don’t think I need it. Doing this has dramatically increased the amount of water I drink. Because I’ve removed the friction, the healthy habit becomes super easy.
The same thing works in reverse. You can insert friction to curb unhealthy habits. Hiding the TV remote in your closet or trashing the chocolate chip cookies creates friction and makes it harder to maintain those habits. Spending way too much time on social media? Delete the app from your phone every day and reinstall it when you really need it.
This is a weekly blog where I share updates and document my journey. I focus on four areas: fitness, reading, writing and thinking. In the past, for the fitness category, I have written mostly about running. I am beginning to focus on cycling this week. After a month-and-half of talking about it, I rode my bike to work, finally!
This week I had a great conversation with a coworker about preparing for a half marathon. I’m no expert, but I wanted to share some of the ideas with you.
Q: How long did it take you to prepare for the half marathon?
A: It took me 4 months to ramp up to half marathon distance. In training before the race I ran a maximum of 11 miles. This was a mistake, because mile 12 and 13 were the most challenging 2 miles of the whole race. Lesson learned: train the full distance.
Q: Do you have any other advice for someone considering training for a half marathon or a marathon?
A: Talk to your family early. Carving out a few hours per week for training means taking time from somewhere else. You family is your support team and they may need to do extra work to support you. Be up front about the time commitment, and look for ways to get everyone involved. They will meet you at the finish line!
Back on the Bike!
It’s been over a year since I last sat in the saddle. I talked about biking to work for over a month, and other stuff kept getting in the way. This week I finally hopped on my bike! There were some hiccups (as expected) which turned the 90-minute ride into a learning experiences.
When I ran to work I travelled very light. I was able to do this leaving my laptop and my gym bag under my desk. It just required some extra planning ahead. On a bicycle you have the luxury of storage! So you pack everything up and jump on the bike in the spur of the moment.
I have 2 Nashbar saddle bags that clip on to the back of my bike. I filled one with clothes, towel, and other essentials. In the other bag I shoved in my whole laptop bag. I did this because I was worried about damaging the laptop, and wanted extra protection. This added a lot of extra weight. I think a better strategy is to wear a backpack or leave the laptop at the office the night before.
I rode my usual running route. For the first 5 miles I was fighting traffic lights and rush-hour traffic. I think for next time I will seek out a more bike-friendly road (with a bike lane). Some drivers just get too close for comfort.
The last 12-ish miles were sublime. I was right on the beach from Manhattan Beach to Marina Del Rey. And from the marina to the office it’s along a dedicated bike path.
What Went Wrong and What I Learned
Several learning opportunities arose from this trip. I’ll go into more detail below. First, here’s a short list of what went wrong:
Rush hour traffic and no bike lane
Saddle bag fell off
Forgot to turn on fitness tracker
Forgot to pack shower shoes
The first five miles of my route were packed with traffic lights and heavy traffic. I can experiment a bit here to look for an alternative road that has bike lanes. Wide pickup trucks were too close for comfort. Lesson learned: seek dedicated bike lanes.
I packed too heavy. Around mile 13-14, I accidentally kicked my starboard bag and it fell off completely. Luckily this was the bag with clothes. I could experiment with this to find a better way to attach it, or switch to front-wheel bags. Lesson learned: pack light.
Unintentional braking is tricky to explain. I took a break during the ride, and when I parked my bike I inserted a wedge into the front brake handle to freeze the front wheel. Then, I put two earbuds in my ears to make a phone call. I kept the earbuds in when I resumed my ride, listening to a podcast.
About a mile down the road I thought: why am I struggling so much? Then I heard the brake noise. And then the thought: What the heck is wrong with my front brake? … Stupid me had forgotten to remove the wedge I had stuck in the front brake handle. Laughable! Lesson learned: double check your brakes for an enjoyable ride.
After I crested the final hill in front of the office, I coasted in towards the front door. I slowly stepped off my bike and question popped in my head: how far did I go and how long did it take? Only then I realized I had forgotten to enable Strava to track the activity. I also have a bike computer hiding somewhere which could measure speed and distance. Time to dig that out. Lesson learned: double check you started your fitness tracker.
When I went to shower off I found that I had everything I needed, except for shower shoes. Oops! This is not ideal for many reasons which I won’t get into. I have done something similar once where I forgot my towel. I think the no-towel situation is worse, maybe. Lesson learned: double check you packed shower shoes and a towel.
I realized that I really enjoy trying new things, and then looking for ways to make it more fun and convenient, through experimentation and iteration. I’ve had a lot of fun writing about this experience. Lesson learned: try new things and constantly experiment.
I’ve been enjoying a book I did not expect to get into. It is called Street Smarts by Jim Rogers. The dude has a lot of interesting stories from living in Manhattan, working on Wall Street, and moving his family to Singapore.
I’m also reading a little Mouse Book called The Blue Hotel by Stephen Crane. Crane is a a Civil War era writer who died from tuberculosis at the age of 28. Despite his short life he produced well known literary works including his well-known novel The Red Badge of Courage. He was an innovative writer in his time.
It’s been a very busy week. I did a little bit of writing. I did not publish anything since last weekend’s Weekly Update #15.
I stopped thinking and started doing. There were plenty of reasons to not take the bike-commute plunge. I had already put it off for a month (I first mentioned the idea in Weekly Update – #13 – April 14th, 2019). I was congested with a head cold all week. The week was unusually over-scheduled. The weather was not great. The bike needed air in its tires and chain maintenance.
BUT, all that aside, it is done! And I want to make it a weekly routine.
What have you been thinking about doing for a while? When are you going to take the leap?
Hi, I’m Torrey. Each week I share updates in three areas: running, reading, and writing. This helps create accountability and keep in contact with my team. My team includes family, friends, and you, the reader.
This week was a battle of battles. Both of the twins caught a virus (in series, not parallel). A remarkable number of parts of our house were discovered broken. And a handful of other obstacles popped up.
Despite all the chaos, I managed to run 27.7 miles on Tuesday, with a long break in the middle. This was my last long run before the LA Marathon. Just one more week to go.
Here’s the proof — thanks Strava and Apple!
Apple Health includes all the other walking throughout the day. 53,000 steps , and approximately 6 hours of intense activity. Crazy!
The LA Marathon provides Gatorade Endurance Formula Lemon-Lime throughout the race. I picked up a cask of the powder to get adjusted to it before race day. It’s not soo bad. Iron Man!!
I’m reading Brick by Brick: How LEGO Rewrote the Rules of Innovation and Conquered the Global Toy Industry by David Robertson. There’s a great story towards the beginning of this book. Founder Ole Kirk caught his son Godtfred bragging about cutting corners while making a shipment of wooden duck toys. Ole Kirk ordered his son to retrieve the shipment from the train station and immediately fix the ducks. Godtfred stayed awake all night fixing the ducks.
Later, Godtfred took over at the helm of LEGO and turned this lesson into the company’s motto: “Only the best is good enough”. The outcome is remarkable: each one of the billions of LEGO bricks manufactured since 1958 snap together, they are 100% backwards compatible.
I received a handful of new books this week, adding to my growing pile of unread books. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries, Discipline Equals Freedom Field Manual by Jocko Willink, and a box of Mouse Books (On Service).
Mouse Books is neat. You pay for membership and quarterly you receive 3 little books.
I read through Discipline Equals Freedom Field Manual. It’s a quick read and more of a quick reference for healthy habits. Beneath the layer of super-macho male energy I found some good tips, some of which I’ve talked about before on this blog.
* Wake up early, preferably before dawn – get to work before the rest of the world does
* Compete against yourself – bring out the best in you instead of comparing yourself to someone else
* Work out every day – even if you don’t want to
* Eat clean – junk food is poison
At the end of the book there’s an appendix of tons of weightlifting routines. I’ll experiment with these later.
A few new people joined the team this week by subscribing to Torrey’s Blog. The group has grown to around 130. Welcome!
One of the new folks, Brandon, shared some valuable feedback over email. Thanks Brandon!
My internal work blog lost some momentum. I failed to publish this week. There are a few things in the pipeline I need to get done, but I haven’t given them enough attention. Other stuff is eating my head. Post-marathon I want to spend more time and energy on writing.
It’s the 4th week of 2019, and there’s a lot to talk about.
Running & Health
This week I ran my first half marathon. I finished in 2 hours 22 minutes. Woot!
Last Sunday I finished my first half marathon race, the Pasadena Half Marathon. This is the second race I’ve done this season, and my third, a full marathon, is coming up in March. No time for taking a week off!
The night before the race I could barely sleep. Everything I needed was laid out. We were to head out at 5am to arrive before street closures and get registered.
The weather was perfect, a bit cloudy but not a drop of rain. Los Angeles received a bunch of rain the week before. So the grass was shining and the air was clear for my run.
Going into the race, I set a goal to finish within 2 hours 45 minutes. But, the morning of I decided to push myself harder and go for 2:30. I finished in 2:22. Woot!
There were hundreds of runners on the course and I felt lost in a sea of people running through the streets of downtown Pasadena and around the Rose Bowl’s golf course. I did appreciate the designated pacers (from LA Road Runners club) who held up signs to indicate their target finish time. I found my 2:30 group and stuck with them.
In training the longest distance I ran was 11.5 miles. This was dumb on my part. The last 2 miles of the 13.1 were a struggle. Cramps, blisters, oh my!
What was really cool, and I didn’t realize this before, was the finish line. The race ended inside the Rose Bowl football stadium, home of the UCLA Bruins, on the 50 yard line. After I cooled down a bit, I snapped this awesome picture with Joe and Josie Bruin, the UCLA mascots. Go Bruins!
Such a great experience…I will remember this one for a long time.
Miscellaneous other health stuff
I ran to work for the third time on Friday, following the same route as two weeks ago. I was much slower than usual.
A few weeks ago I made a change to my coffee/caffeine habit. While I’m at the office, I only drink decaf. I’ve noticed on Thursdays and Fridays I feel less burned out. Cutting back caffeine seems to improve sleep quality (go figure!).
There are now 73 awesome people following this blog. About 10 of you found me in the last few weeks and hit the ‘subscribe’ button. I salute you! Get ready to learn and grow with me.
This didn’t just magically happen. I’ve made more effort to engage with other bloggers in the amazing WordPress ecosystem. Slowly bridges are connecting my little island to the rest of the blogosphere. Engagement is so crucial and so fun!
I published two blog posts on Torrey’s blog this week:
Three Truths — a written version of a 10 minute talk I gave in front of ~100 teammates. Bring Joy, Compete Against Yourself, and Help Others.
In my nightly journal entries I’ve started recording something unique the twins did/said that day. It’s so much fun going back through these notes.
I listen to audiobooks and podcasts while I run. I listened to a short, value-packed Audible called Power Moves by Adam Grant, which is about power dynamics in the workplace and government. The book ends with a powerful interview between Adam Grant and Kerry Kennedy (human rights activist and daughter of Robert F. Kennedy).
I’ve just started listening to Brene Brown’s Dare to Lead. This audiobook is read by the author, which is awesome because she excels at speaking. This is my first experience with Brene Brown, and after a few hours of listening I feel like buying a copy of every book she’s published.
I’m experimenting with waking up even earlier (5am) to read. It is challenging to do focused reading when anyone else in the house is awake.
I’ve just finished reading The 50th Law by 50 Cent and Robert Greene. The last chapter was my favorite and the hardest hitting. It was about 50 cent being shot 9 times (once in the jaw) and facing death. It talked about living life to the fullest, having a sense of urgency and courageously facing death. Carpe diem (sieze the day) and memento mori (remember you will die).
This week was yet another exciting week. It is unusual receive several days of rainhere. While we stayed safe and dry, the team still accomplished a lot.Reminder: You are part of my team.
Health & Fitness
I have relearned the same lesson many times. Health and fitness underpins everything else. To be the best you in mind and body you have to eat right and move your body. For couch potatoes and desk jockeys, making positive changes in the health & fitness area yields 10X results every other area. Negative changes compound in the wrong direction; garbage in garbage out.
This week I have not done any long, 10+ miles runs but I’ve done some short “active recovery” runs. I’m resting in preparation for my first ever half marathon race, The Pasadena Half Marathon. Early tomorrow morning I will embark on this 3 hour run, and it’s going to be so much fun. I’ll show you guys some pictures next week.
This week my blog Torrey’s Weekly Report hit a new milestone of 70 subscribers. I take time to thank every single subscriber, because what matters more than the number is the engagement and the overall impact. This is also why I don’t spam anyone or forcibly subscribe anyone. The blog achieves nothing if no one bothers to read it. The best way to make an impact is to grow a highly engaged readership.
I didn’t realize it when I started, but the blog has a potential to tear down silos. It is a blog available only internally to my company (~20,000 employees), and it is becoming a platform for sharing useful information far and wide.
In large organizations, silos naturally form in the hierarchical command structure. Information needs to be “cascaded down” but it doesn’t, it gets stuck. There’s this great parable called Silos, Politics, and Turf Wars by Patrick Lencioni if you’re interested in these kind of problems and solutions. Basically, the organization loses effectiveness because people don’t openly communicate, share information, and collaborate across imaginary boundaries. Silos.
Anyway! Torrey’s Weekly Report is a way to tear down silos. Every week, fresh and timely information goes out to a growing list of leaders in many levels of the organization. Multiple business units and roles, from support agents to recruiters to vice presidents have subscribed.
What would even cooler than seeing the blog grow would be this. Seeing someone else get inspired, seeing another blog spring up, documenting happenings in another corner of the global enterprise. Sign me up! I’ll read it.
My morning 20 pages reading habit is going strong. I finished up two books I bought last year.
I don’t usually read fiction, and The Battles of Tolkien isn’t entirely fiction. It talks a lot about mythical warriors and battles from many human cultures. And it draws connections between the Lord of The Rings universe’s history and these ancient human myths. For example, metallurgy and sorcery are common themes as shown by the evil anti-hero Sauron in LOTR.
I’m trying to finish up a book called On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King. Again since I’m not at all excited about reading or writing fiction, this one is taking me forever to slog through. But it does hold some good general writing tips and references other good writing books like Strunk & White.
Lastly, I started a new book that’s been sitting on my kindle for a while. It’s called The 50th Law by Robert Greene and 50 Cent. So far it talks a lot about overcoming fear and about self-management. Robert Greene is great at finding examples from history to explain his points.
It’s the second week of the year, and 2019 is already looking great. I’m changing up the format a bit this week.
Health & Fitness
I ran another commute run. I ran 11.3 miles from home to work. And I still made it to work on time at 10am. This run was more fun than the last one. I ran through LAX, and I had some interesting encounters with strangers.
I feel confident about the Pasadena Half Marathon race coming up in 8 days. Let’s go!
First date night of the year, at Mendocino Farms!
Took the twins to gymnastics class, but they lost interest and just wanted to play basketball instead. Also took them to experience live music at the local public library.
The first full work week of 2019 was eventful. I spent a lot of time preparing for an upcoming engine release, and a little time working on an invention. A ton of time goes into engine release preparation. The team ships engines to both Norton Security and Symantec Endpoint Protection customers. The delivery reaches millions of customer’s machines around the globe. This is why code quality must be extremely high, and why so much time goes into release preparation.
Nothing notable to report here.
This week I started a morning writing habit stacked on my established reading habit. This allowed me to publish more frequently. I’m able to read 20 pages and spend 30 minutes writing because I wake up one hour before the rest of the family. Every night before I sleep I write in my journal. I’ve made 7 journal entries this week.
Torrey’s Blog Gained 1 subscriber (total of 58). Thanks for your support!
Torrey’s Weekly Report gained several subscribers (also total of 58)
Torrey’s Weekly Report is a publication currently available only to Symantec employees. It enables folks across the company to learn about what my team (STAR engines) is doing. Torrey’s Blog is public, it’s where you’re reading this now.
Most of us do it. It’s human nature to compare ourself to other people. Sometimes it’s inferiority (she is better than me) and other times it’s superiority (I am better than him). Either way, it’s not very effective to dwell on those thoughts because you have very little control over the traits of other people. What has personally helped me get off these complaints is a concept I call compete against yourself.
The Circle of Influence
Stephen R. Covey, in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, explains how many of our concerns fall outside our circle of influence. We have no control over those outcomes. To be highly effective, one must focus on concerns/outcomes inside the circle of influence.
Comparing yourself to others has one foot inside and one foot outside the circle of influence. Thoughts like ‘she is better than me’ or ‘I am better than him’ are concerns where you can only control one side of the equation and not the other. You have no control over she or him. You also can’t control what people think about you. You only have control over you. Your thoughts and your actions.
Compete Against Yourself
What has greatly helped me get off these concerns is to drop the ‘she’ and ‘him’. She has 10 more years experience than you, anyway, so it’s not useful to compare apples to apples. He just started out so of course he finishes the task slower, with lower quality. That comparison isn’t so useful either.
What is useful is to know your own personal best, what you are capable of. And then try to top your best. Become 1% better than you were yesterday. It’s highly effective because you have 100% control over your own decisions, thoughts and actions. Compete against yourself!
Managers differ from leaders in that no one wants to be managed and most people want to be led. As a leader I care deeply about enabling my people do their best work.
I know that people cannot do their best work when their health, home and family are not in order. If their own health is not in order they cannot do their best work and cannot do their best to care for loved ones. They are at work, and the family crisis is always in the back of their mind.
The person’s health comes before family comes before work. When those things are in order, when they are at work, they can give their all. They are enabled to do their best work.
Creating a safe environment and enabling this to happen distinguishes a Multiplier Leader from a Diminisher Leader.
Your Own Health
Sometimes it’s hard. What if a key team asset has a crisis and needs to take months leave of absence? The team needs to come together and cover the gaps. Each individual person may deal with a future crisis.
How to apply it:
Take an honest assessment of your own health of mind and body. Are you taking care of yourself?
Take an honest assessment of what baggage you carry to work. Are you thinking about a brewing home crisis instead of being fully present?
Practice empathy with your peers. Support them when they need it most.