Better left unsaid

There are so many times when you want to indulge yourself. Lash out, say what you really thought about your friend/wife/lover/partner/co-worker.

You deserve to be heard.

But what good – really – does this ever do?  Is there a weepy moment where you both realize you were right?  Did that lecture *really* do anything?

All that happens is we feel a little better.  For a minute.  We sure told them.

Then the other person gets a turn to talk.

Then they get to sure tell us.  And where does it end? What’s to be gained? It’s bickering and we engage. We wind up justifying our own actions:

  • Oh, but it was different, see.
  • I grew up never to back down.
  • My situation wasn’t like that.
  • You don’t understand, what it was like.
  • It isn’t about the money it’s about the principle of it.

Really?  It’s not your ego?

Better to shape our world through actions. Restraint is hard.  It’s hard to have manners in the face of rudeness.

It’s it’s harder still not to engage when the barbs  that sting and the passive aggressive slights come. But it’s critical, man, to let that stuff bounce off your chest. Yeah, it wounds. But responding to it is almost always a bad idea.

When you are considering unloading, consider also:

  • Will I be able to have a relationship with this person if they continue to behave this way?
  • Is this a hill i’m willing to die on? (It’s fine to end relationships – even close ones – for meaningful matters. But just because someone is annoying or…)
  • What do I want the relationship to be like after I say these.

These are better questions. Better than “how can I make him understand.”  You can’t.

There is no apology coming. People are who they are.

Covey said “seek first to understand, then to be understood.”

The first part was right. But the second part? Should have left that out of the seven habits.

True Story In Sales

The phone rings on a random Tuesday. I answer, as one does.

“Congratulations,” she told me. “We’ve decided to go forward with you and work with you. We look forward to what you – and your team – can do.”

“Great” I say, “Sign the agreement and start the deposit, and we can make it work!”

“Actually, we’ll need to have a couple of changes to the agreement.”

“Ok, what are you looking at.” Often clients want to have something regarding copyright rights, or something similar. Sometimes they want an NDA which is generally no problem to sign.

“The agreement is perfect. We’re ready to sign, except for the price. We’ll need you to change that to $9500.”

“That’s $2500 different than what we proposed.”

“Yeah, I know,” she said. “Unfortunate, but that was the budget, so we’ll need that changed.”

I wasn’t even curious. “Well, bummer. Good luck with your project.” I said.

“But we’re hiring you!” she said.

“Well, the price is $12,000.” I said, “And we’re raising that in a couple of weeks anyway.”

“Look,” she said “My boss told me to hire you, but for $9500. Are you saying you don’t have the authority to reduce the price?”

“I appreciate your position – really. I don’t have good results for my company – or yours – when I reduce the price.”

“Well, we want to hire you, but we can’t pay your price. Can you come my way a little – say can you do it for $10,000?”

“We can do a shorter project for that, but we won’t do what you want.”

“I’m just looking for a win-win here.” She says. “So you’ll need to reduce your price.”

I won’t engage. What’s to be gained?

“Well, I’m going to go now,” I say. “I won’t reduce the price – but good luck to you.”

“You’re not giving me anything here are you,” she says.

“Hey, you can still work with us- we run through walls to deliver great work- at the 2014 prices- but if you can’t see the differences between us and others, it’s not that you’re a fit.”

“Well, you were the most expensive, I was told to work with you at the next best price.”

“Hey, I understand. Let me know if your position chnages, and best of luck – I was really excited to work with you, too.”

A pause. “Ok, we’ll do it with your price. ” she says. “But you’re not a very good salesperson.”

“I’ll get to work on that right away.” I say.


When you have a habit established, moving forward yields a certain kind of inertia.

You have run for 4 days, so you do what your supposed to on day 5.

You eat right so you don’t “waste” your run.  You run 4 miles because you don’t want to waste yesterday’s 6 miler.

You up the intensity at the office so you can be free to do another workout.  The heightened intensity means that the to do list gets shorter.

Every good, sustainable habit is likely to cause order in other areas.  I don’t suggest that we force every area of our life into some sort of lockstep.  That’s not particularly productive, it hits diminishing returns, and always watching the clock means that you don’t produce your best work, you’re not in flow as much as you might be.

Still, forcing one habit on yourself, something important (running, writing, coding, whatever), means that other areas fall into place.  There’s one set of actions that’s something like a lynchpin.

For me, there’s also action that cancers all I try and do.  If I play a video game, say Civilization or  World of Warcraft or if I jump on Facebook chat, there will be a smothering burden on me that won’t be lifted till a clean break is made.

For me, the important habits are:

  • Running. Not the elliptical, not “cardio”, not lifting weights.  Pure, real running. Attacking previous good times, seeing how far I can go.  The preferred workout is about a 9:40 pace with 1 mile as fast as I can go at the end (right now just under 8, but that’s with holding onto the treadmill for dear life).
  • Follow up: I ping people whenever I think I can add value.  I use a CRM to do almost everything, and stay familiar with people.  I don’t spend enough time doing this, and I have to push hard to do it.  But, when I work to help people, add value, and connect, good things happen.
  • Reading: Right now, I’m working off of a few of reading lists: Ryan Holliday’s is excellent, Brad Feld’s is good, and Derek Sivers’s  is pretty good.  The most interesting stuff is hard and not the low end business books that I’ve been reading forever.  (If you know of a list, email and I’ll work off of it).  I try to read at least 2 books a week, and it comes and goes.  Some of the bigger biographies I wind up skimming the long passages of exposition.

Of the habits, running is again new, and Reading has probably made the biggest difference in my life.  I’m still given over to lashing out at bloviating idiots, etc. etc. but as a whole reading has changed the course of my life more than I’d imagine it would.  Not just in knowing history, but in acting decisively, thinking clearly, understanding what great people did (hint, it’s not answering fools on quora)

If I’m regularly doing those three things, everything else takes  care of itself.

Proposed Routine


So with Ruby having inspired me, I need a routine.  A solid way to do things.  And it starts with what I intend to do regularly – what do I need to do more of.

Rescue Time has been a godsend to me.  I’ve been able to improve what I do, get better and go for it.  I’ve learned that I spend something like 6 hours a week – 45 minutes a day – concerneed with news and sports.

That’s 6 hours that I could be playing with Jack and Ruby.  That’s 6 hours that I could be hanging with Heather, or doing whatever else.   That’s six hours that I could use to invest in my life – reading above my level or whatever.  6 hours x 52 =  312 hours a year.  13 days a year.

910 days over a 70 year period.  2.5 years.

That’s a lot of time wondering how well Kobe Bryant did.  That’s gotta change.

Now, we can’t be perfectly efficient in every way – there’s going to be a diminishing return at some point.  I’m not going to lifehack my way into more, but if I can reduce 2.5 years of nonsense by 80%, I think I’ve done myself a service.

But, it’s apparent that I need to write more and better.  That fuels the rest of my business.  My friend Scott used to say Writing is the Road to all wealth.

Agreed.  And it’s not just physical wealth, it’s clarity of mind and purpose.  Reading other people’s writing leads to wealth.  So does writing for yourself.  This – when I execute it – will lead to wealth.

So, this has to be a routine.  These are minimums:

  • 3  hours  (min) of “alone zone” writing every day.  This doesn’t translate to six hours one day, a feeling of satisfaction and nothing for weeks on end.  This is a daily requirement.
  • 1.5 hours of misc content creation every day. (Tuts, etc).
  • 1.5 hours of selling every day.  (Let’s define selling, but it’s actively instigating and solving problems).
  • 1 hour of reading (books,not blogs, hard stuff that makes me better)
  • 1.5 (ish) hours of exercise + commute to and fro
  • 1 hour (ish) prayer/meditation/worship/study
  • 30 minutes of research. (finding leads, following up with clients, responding).

What gets cut/curtailed by this?

  • Recreational surfing.  Somehow I replaced “skimming news” with “catching up on my childhood,” due to
  • Chat on skype.
  • Facebook
  • Tweetdeck/twitter

What are the benefits:

  • Less screen time
  • better fitness
  • more energy
  • more time with my kids
  • happier wife.

How – specifically – does this happen?

First, I have to commit to a schedule and not worry about how I feel.  The first 3-4 minutes of waking up *always* stink.  I have to get over how I feel abou things.

I have to get up by or before 6am 5 days a week.  I can’t miss.

I have to get to the gym by or before 7:30am.  I can’t miss.  Have to do 30-ish minutes of wisdom seeking reading.

I have to get writing by 9 every day.  (I can’t miss).

I have to get selling by 11:30 (I can’t miss).

I have to lay out my life in such a way that this stuff is possible.

Put Upon

We live our lives with the expectation of bliss and joy all the time.  Some prerequisite to activity is the activity being fun, pleasant or joyful.  If what we’re doing, working on gets hard, we give up and lose focus.

This is sold to us by Madison Avenue.  We are led to believe that we are to tolerate nothing short of perfect joy and convenience.  And when we get less than that, our attention spans wander to something else.   We become incensed when someone trips us up with what is, at most, a minor inconvenience.

We Are Entitled.

We go to  Starbucks, and when it’s our turn, someone gets one of 11 details a little off on one of 30 trips through.  We then act as if it’s the end of our world. “Excuse me.  I’m not usually like this but, can you PLEASE get this RIGHT for once?  What will you do for me to make up for this screw up?”

When BlueHost went down–for less than 12 hours–people were apoplectic — ranting about their $6.95/month hosting service.  As if some army of people should be waiting on us for $85 bucks a year.

Our narrative is that we are these noble, heroic creatures that are constantly put upon by someone: our spouse, the clerk at Wal-Mart, or the driver in traffic who cut us off.

We’re always put upon by something, and it’s because we expect bliss.  We use pseudo slights as an excuse for anything: to snap at our kids, to be mean to our spouse, or whatever else.

What Does Entitlement Solve?

What if  we really knew world wasn’t responsible for arranging itself for our convenience?  What if the world wasn’t going to arrange itself just to please you?

What if we took away that the expectation of driving was going to be a glittering path to our destination, but accounted for reality, for humanity?

What if we knew that we could set our course but there would be obstacles?  Instead of being taken by surprise, we’d be well prepared and ready for the next thing.

What if we knew that our flailing tantrums would never get a resolution?  What if we spent that energy in an OODA loop, looking for solutions?

What if we considered our place in it as small, and worked not to be more recognized, but for the betterment of the world?



Most of us are listless at times.  That is normal, and to be expected.  What’s not normal is the bastardization of our Protestant ethic that makes us seem to work, seem to think, and seem to try.  People brag about how much they work. As if somehow time spent equates to value added.  We mark our time at our desks writing blog posts, answering email, and just sort of float on the surface.

We’re in some sort of holding pattern waiting for something to happen.  We’re present physically.  We know the real magic happens not with “presence” but with intensity.  Focus.  White hot burn.  Go to the gym.  Spend an hour or more on some elliptical machine. Not hard, probably does a little good.  Perfectly safe.

What if you spent the same time pushing yourself to your absolute limits?  What if you reached your pain threshold, and were not sure if you could do it or not?  That every fiber in your body had to focus on this one goal…would you get more out of that? What if you spent less time with more heat?

What if you pushed to your limit in your work?  Those are the difference makers, people that are indifferent to what the crowd does or thinks, but people that create the world and mold it regardless of resistance.  People that ignore the persistent tether of the mediocre and don’t brag about 70 hour weeks, but brag about how much of their mind, soul and spirit they engaged to solve a problem.

We don’t ignite our souls because of ego.  If we try our best and fail, it hurts a lot worse than if we half-ass and fail.  So we don’t bleed for what we want.  If it’s not us, but just some work that we’re indifferent to, then we can accept failure and our ego is unscathed because we weren’t engaged.

It seems safe, but the risk is greater because we never reach our dreams and our life is a morass of “woulda, shoulda & coulda.”

We must embrace the intensity that’s available to us, because only through intensity do we achieve what we are after.  We must seek out intensity and find a way to find–and push  through–the pain and doubt threshold each day.

Occasionally, time is the only currency that solves a problem.  More often it’s thought, energy, determination and passion that solves problems.  Just doing it.

That brings a question: are you putting time in, or are you putting your soul in?

What are you risking by merely putting time into what you’re doing?  What will happen to your life?