advice

Good Advice?

Good Advice?

What’s funny about this, is that everyone you know would look at this and nod enthusiastically. “Truer words” and all that. But if you’ve ever dared to heed these words in real life, you’ve seen how quickly those same people excoriate you for wandering off the beaten path. The well-worn ruts of those that came before you, pointing the way to certainty of some variety, and you can’t help but look to either side for what the others missed.
Just know it’s genuinely OK, and not just bullshit OK. Take those chances, just don’t expect much support. At least not for the chances that matter.
You really will regret it missing those chances, whether you ever know it or not.

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Never Let the Future…

One of my favorite quotes is from Marcus Aurelius’ book, “Meditations” – which, if you haven’t read it, please pick up a copy (the penguin version is a great translation and highly affordable).

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A lot going on there! Implications? 

So what do we do? Make YOU the best, most sturdy version possible. Become more patient, more trusting, more confident, more humble, more flexible, more worthwhile. 

Be the YOU that you’d like to imagine your “future” self to be. Your “weapons of reason” are your smarts and your ability to adapt. Your ability to think of new ways of looking at things. 

Go forth. Be bold, and mighty forces will rush to your aid. Shrink not from the daily scrabble of bramble brush and political quick sand. Grow large in your ability to love those around you and be confident in your ability to manifest awesomeness from your very fingertips. 

Be bold. Worry not. Awe more. You know what to do, now go do it. 

You Can Never Go Home Again…

There’s something great about that. You lived it once and that’s all you’re going to get it. God! You wish maybe you could go back and do that one thing differently and yet…

Don’t do that.

It happened. And it’s great. Or not. Doesn’t really matter at this point. It happened and that’s that.

So what’s the take away? What now?

You know that this isn’t how it ends. You know you’ve likely got (god willing) another 40-50-80 years to finish this run. How does your earlier experience influence your future behavior?

I miss old friends with the gravity of a dwarf star. Hell, I miss current friends the same. I don’t want to go through that again. I know what I want my future to look like: I want to look back and see myself reading to my kids after a LONG day. So, I read to them after a LONG day. I want to look back and see that I took the chances I needed to in order to start my own thing – because that’s what was needed to be happy. I didn’t “wait” because something was going to “happen” – whenever that is.

2002 was awesome. I’d love to spend a week there. So was 93′ and 05′ but that doesn’t mean we can live in space we already did. We have a new one of those every moment – RIGHT NOW. So what do you want your future self to say about this moment.

Would you want to go back to “right now?”

Not Quite Ready to Live…

Not Quite Ready to Live...

I’m not sure why it feels this way, but I’m sure it’s not just me. In fact, it was Ralph Waldo Emerson who actually said it first, and hell, that was what, 130 years ago?

Sure, there’s the tired expressions like “life is what happens when you’re making plans” and “life is the journey not the destination.” True to both of those, though not very useful in ridding us of this annoying tickle in our brain stem – the one that nags us that we’re just not LIVING, you know?

I think what Emerson meant, and what bothers me most, is the recognition that the “living” we’re never doing, is the kind that forces us to meld our highest desires and our most basic actions.

We want to be productive, but ‘damn it! the Oscars are on!’ We want to be more connected to our friends, but we can’t put down our smart phones for the person in the room telling us about their day. We want to get further ahead in life, but we neglect to take the steps to make it happen on our own.

Obtaining the authentic kind of living, the only true happiness available, is a process that requires nearly reckless independence from the rest of humanity. It requires that no one else set the docket for your day or your life besides you – even if that means you’re out of the loop on a lot of trivial things.

I don’t mean run off to a cabin in the woods (it’s been done before), I mean one has to reject a whole slate of obligations, or observances of custom in order to pair it down to what ultimately matters. To give those things, and little else, the total time and attention to live an authentic life.

Who gives a damn if you’re fast approaching 40 and there’s not a suitable candidate for a spouse in sight? Are you happy with your life? Do you do the things you’d ultimately love to do and say to hell with the rest? Do you work to make yourself the kind of person you’d like to be? REALLY like to be?

I can promise you this: If you are truly happy – No bullshit, actually, infectiously, enthusiastically, forest-fire-of-confidence-happy, then you won’t have a problem finding a spouse. Or a job. Or a friend. Or a good time on a Friday night.

Because you’ll make those things happen on your own. You’ll decide for yourself what a good time is and won’t have it decided for you by some televised guidos with a penchant for fist-pumping. Unless you like fist pumping, in your heart of hearts, in which case go nuts.

I think the “getting ready to live” is the idea that one day, we’ll just wake up and ‘want’ to; do all the things that are good for us, or what others would like us to do, or what we think we’d like ourselves to do. That doesn’t happen – it just results in more waiting for us to magically align with something we think we want or are told we want.

Don’t wait. Don’t think your going to wake up with a series of immutable desires that compel you to; work out, fall in love with accounting, or go to church three times a week.

Do: focus on what you love and what an actual life you’d die for looks like, and what steps exist between you and that life.

The happiest people around never hide their passion, and give few damns about what anyone ultimately thinks. No way that’s a coincidence.

Congrats! You’re living in the future!

So how’s that working out? The future I mean.

Everything you hoped? 

Oh. You don’t think this is the “future” or better yet “the FUUUUTTTTURRRREEE?” Just imagine a deep ominous voice announcing it. Or is that how you already imagine it? Like, maybe to qualify as the future it needs to be properly announced and fawned all over?

Make no mistake my friend. This is the future, and you are here. If you were alive yesterday, or a year ago, or 20 years ago, this qualifies. No, we’re not all living in Jetson-style cloud dwellings with robot maids, but that doesn’t change the fact that a significant portion of time has passed. I know, nine-year-old Rob is still pissed about his lack of a working hoverboard. 

So what do you think? Happy with your place in it? With your station in life, with your previous selves’ choices? Because you’re living here and you should be. Odd, because nothing you can do at this moment will change your immediate situation. Only, things you can start to do to change your new future. The good news is, for most of us, you get to have new “futures” all the time. Until you don’t. 

What do you want to do with this future to set up the next one, and the one after that? Every day, every hour is a chance to do something new – or more of what’s working for you. How will you use it?

The yacht doesn’t show up magically on your 50th birthday. The 30th wedding anniversary surrounded by adoring friends and family just doesn’t materialize out of thin air when you turn 60. The promotion, your business, your slate of memories of doing amazing things doesn’t just plop from the sky.

Odds are, when you hit those milestones you’ll likely feel like they won’t be the “future” either. They’ll feel just like this. Just like right now. After all, you’ll be there, and you only think you live in the present. 

I guess what you should ask yourself is this: Do you, only live in the future? And if not, what do you want to do now to make the new future what you’d like it to be? 

Yo Universe, I’m real happy for ya, and I’m a let ya finish…

Yo Universe, I'm real happy for ya, and I'm a let ya finish...

Am I telling Einstein to shut up?

Am I listening today? Really listening? To my team? To my managers? To my clients? To the data? To the market?

Am I so eager to make the world fit in to nice neat little boxes that I’m not actually letting it finish its sentence? Am I telling the universe “Immaletyafinish but Rob had one of the greatest ideas about sales ever”…?

I’m pretty sharp, right? I’m rarely surprised and thus I think I’m already “in the know” about most things in my comfort zone. Do I really need to wait to the end of the story before making up my mind or formulating a response?

A thousand times: YES.

What am I missing out on today because I’m not attuned to what’s happening right in front of my face? Is my swag getting so big it’s threatening to block my view of reality?

Are you listening today? Or are you hurrying to tell today what you know?

You were in Vietnam?

As usual, Seth Godin’s blog delivers succinct brilliance. Today’s is about the quickest way to bring about change, which he relays within three points. Spoilers: the answer is not electing someone to the Presidency.

Coming up in the Student Housing Industry in Gainesville (Go Gators), I worked as a Community Manager for an outfit that had 24 other such managers in the same market. We all managed similar assets (more or less) and were nearly exclusively in our early/mid-twenties. As such, we were eager to make names for ourselves and vault up the hierarchy. Competition was rampant and ruled the day – though it was nearly always friendly – akin to sibling rivalry. Read: A fun place to work.

As you’d expect; a few of us were terrible each year, most were average, and a few were incredible successes. I’m happy to report I was always in that last group – the ones who won every single year, in the country’s toughest Student Housing market.

To put it in perspective: if Student Housing is the Vietnam war – working in Gainesville is being in the shit.

When we’d get together after hours or at events, other Managers in the second group (average) would lament to me that I always got whatever I asked for – in regards to permission for certain types of promotions or money for improvements.

Nothing could have been further from the truth. I learned after the first year to never ask for anything. When you ask permission you give people the chance to say no. After all, saying ‘no’ insures you don’t screw something up and waste time or money by doing something new – and by definition – unproven. Saying ‘yes’ means you could fall on your face and they’d be blamed for authorizing your blunder. Guess which response got chosen almost reflexively?

That’s when I let them know that I just did what I thought best for the company and for my asset.

If I knew a “Cooler-Scooter” was going to draw attention on campus and actually make my Leasing people want to flyer (thus increasing our success in leading traffic to the property) then what was the big deal? Spend the $500. But what if someone got hurt? Are you kidding me?!

That was the part that they couldn’t get comfortable with. They wanted the blessing and the political cover to do what they thought best without any possible blow back if it pulled a giant Hindenburg. No risk – all reward. Life doesn’t work that way.

Here’s my spin on Seth’s advice:

Don’t demand the power or ask permission – just do what needs doing and make sure it falls in line with your company’s culture and beliefs.
Take the Responsibility for what happens next – if you decide to spend money on a marketing venture and it doesn’t bear fruit, own that and state what you’d do differently.
If you succeed in your venture you won’t be alone. “Success has a thousand fathers, Failure is an orphan.” Share the parentage with anyone who helped or assisted and be gracious. People will let you get away with being the Maverick if they know you’re not going rouge and losing touch with the greater team.

Probably the biggest thing I’ve failed to mention is that you have to believe in what you’re doing, overpoweringly so. If you owned the company and this was your money at play, would you do the same? If you hesitate even an instant in answering that question, slow down. Stop. There’s always tomorrow.