Ripe for Resolution

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This is not a new year’s resolution. This is just the right time.

As I’ve just gotten my “new endeavor” underway (i.e. my 60-day writing challenge), today I got to thinking about how many new endeavors are actually new.

It’s a little bit embarrassing to say this out loud, but I’ve been “working” on becoming a daily writer for the better part of two years.

I write every day. Many of us write every day.

But it wasn’t until my 21-day writing challenge last month that I made the day-in-day-out commitment to focus my practice.

I wrote every day, twice a day, to someone about something that mattered.

None of it was new, in fact much of it was old stuff. I just chose to look at and approach it in a new way.

It was incredible how it opened me up to parts of myself that I had not reached through regular verbal communication.

And it enabled me to find clarity within myself through the articulation of thoughts and feelings that I have not been able to articulate in a long time, if ever.

So while I don’t think new year’s resolutions work for me, I’m all for resolutions in general.

I do think they work provided the time is right – or ripe – to be resolute about something.

Speaking of peaches – did you know most varieties are only ripe for about 2 weeks?

Could that be just the right amount of time to make some progress on something ripe that matters to you?

2014 has been a hard year. It has also been the best year of my life.

Those 21 November days of writing brought me great clarity in heart and mind.

While I didn’t know exactly where I was going when I started, I was ripe for resolution in that moment.

And, as a result, I started and ended 2014 in radically different mindset.

After a month of digesting those thoughts, I’m eager to see where this 60 day cycle will take me.

But this isn’t only about me. What about you?

What have you been waiting for that’s ripe for resolution?

What have you been hoping will happen next?

And how do you move that mindset from hope to make it happen?

What is that one thing – that one step – you can do or take today to move forward that hope?

Think of where you’ll be in a few days when you take a step each day.

The time is right, so why not start today?

Then continue tomorrow. And we’ll see where we’re at the day after, okay?

Need a hand? Take mine. We can take a walk forward together.

—–

Today’s image is more delicious than usual because when I think of ripe, I think about my favorite fruit.

And I don’t think of apples from New York or oranges from Florida, I think of peaches from South Carolina.

The photo linked me to an interesting episode of All Things Considered on NPR, Sweet Lessons from a South Carolina Peach Professor.

There were too many good quotes from this interview, but I love when Clemson University peach specialist, Desmond Layne advised us, “To pick a perfect peach, obviously you need to pick it off the tree yourself.”

And aside from giving credit for the picture above (courtesy of iStockphoto.com), do listen to those sweet lessons from Desmond Layne. I could practically see him fall down, blown away by the flavor of the Winblo he bit into.

But maybe you’d prefer a visual aid. If so, see below.

Have you had a piece of fruit that dripped off your elbows lately?

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Managing Measurement – Just a Numbers Game?

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You’ve heard people tell you this before – you may have even told yourself this before: you can’t manage what you don’t measure.

So what’s so different about this mantra today over any other day?

Nick Ganju, that’s what’s different.

Over the past few months I’ve developed a taste for the podcast world. And while I still need to write about the podcast that has made me into a semi-rabid fan of the medium (thank you Alex Blumberg, Startup Podcast, Matt Lieber, and Gimlet Media!), I have my buddy Hsu to thank for introducing me to Tim Ferriss‘s experimental podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show, at a time where there were a few episodes out there with things that I needed to hear.

This morning I listened to two excellent inbetweenisodes and then happened upon the Nick Ganju conversation.

I’ve been intimidated by math, numbers, stats, etc. for as long as I can remember. Unlike Tim, while I had some a great teacher in 10th grade (and beyond), I just always had a tough time getting my head around that stuff. And I completely gave it up when I got to college.

These days, even though I’ve come to be a believer in data-driven approaches to decision-making, that doesn’t mean I’ve always been equipped to determine what should be measured on the way to reaching goals and supporting dreams to come true.

Because if there’s one thing that should accompany the mantra, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure”, its that, “Not all data is created equal.”

These are the kind of things I appreciate talking through with others. It’s not only for the purpose of bouncing ideas and getting to a better place as a team, but also to move beyond my own numerical insecurities. Sometimes we all just need a little hand-holding.

Although there are many great things within this conversation including a note on the probability of one sharing a birthday with another (if interested in this, see below), it was two lines that encouraged me to immediately write this reflection.

“The big secret of mathematicians is that everyone started from 1 + 1 = 2 and built their way up. Each step is not a big step once you understand the previous step.”

How often do we make things much more complicated than they need to be?

How often do we take steps without truly understanding the previous step?

And how often do we measure things that actually don’t matter in the context of what we’re looking or aiming for?

Let’s go a bit further on this.

You’ve heard of SMART goals, yes? Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely goals.

But do we take the time to make projected assumptions based on specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely criteria? (Or should I have asked if we make any type of project assumption?)

Do we follow-up to compare assumptions with the actual results? When and if we do, do we explore how they compare and seek to understand why we’ve arrived at the results we have today?

For all the time we put into the things we believe matter, why do so many of us not put in the due diligence and/or the right structure for a more appropriate framework by which we can judge whether we succeeded or not?

“Lose weight” vs. “Lose 10 pounds in 100 days” is a very simple version of this. We have these “goals” without anything to hold us accountable – be it to ourselves or others.

But generally speaking, in business and in life, many of us just decide on “goals” (myself included). We haven’t done the underlying math. Or really enough structured thinking about it.

It’s great to have goal, but then you need a plan to execute. And the follow-up, the accountability piece, might be just as important than the original goal.

Besides, how do we know if we get there / don’t get there? How do we choose if it’s a good idea to keep going or stop?

So I’m a perfect example of someone who has fallen into this lack of specificity and due diligence in setting goals.

Actually, it’s only been recently that I’ve finally felt the confidence to even set and articulate these goals to myself.

It got me to thinking, how can we articulate out-loud and to others if we can’t even tell ourselves?

Even more dangerous, what happens when what we tell ourselves is not honest?

Though this is tricky.

Because even when we think we’re being honest with ourselves, sometimes, we’ve elected to not do the due diligence in thinking about what really matters.

Do we know what motivates us to do what we do, on the road to going where we want to be?

One last quote from Nick, “The mark of intelligence is to learn from your mistakes and change your attitude about things.”

I thought I was quite good at this before. But maybe that was my problem.

At my most unsuccessful, it was usually because I knew the problem and solution rather than seeing myself as part of the problem and the solution.

I recognized a need for a change in my attitude on certain things. This has taken space. This has taken time set aside for active thought and reflection.

Only by taking a step or two (or three or more) back have I been able to move forward with a renewed sense of confidence.

You know what it was, I was afraid of “the wrong answer” before. Of “making a mistake.” While this wasn’t with everything, it was with the biggest most important things in my life.

Intelligence for me started to become less about knowing the answer and more about finding the answer with the people interested in the same or similar questions.

Besides, if I believed there was only one answer or way of doing things, then I’d just be deceiving myself.

How about you, what mistakes have you learned from lately?

And beyond just knowing these mistakes, did you give yourself the space to reflect and allow for your attitude to change?

—–

Hear more from Nick and Tim’s conversation here.

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Happy-Birthday

Interested in the birthday vignette mentioned above? You came to the right place.

At around 21:00 minutes Tim brings up the birthday problem / paradox as a part of their discussion of probability.

When there are 367 people in a group there is 100% probability that 2 people will have the same birthday. Easy, right?

More surprising, though, might be that in a group of  23 people there is actually a 50% probability.

Nick pointed out that it’s not that one of those 23 people could walk around and ask the other 22 if they have the same birthday and likely find a match, it’s that any two of those 23 people could have the same birthday.

What happens when data is presented a bit differently? And how do we start to see the world, the issues around us, and ourselves differently?

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Today’s images –

Numbers – from designer and animator giada_ghw, which I found on the Continuous Business Planning site. giada_ghw has some other fun cartoons on there, as well.

Happy Birthday – from the Soylet blog of all places. Posted by user gambit.

Google image searches sometimes take me to the most unexpected places.