If you want to make positive changes, don’t say this

I wonder how many people have been let down,  have held themselves and others back, and have limited themselves to doing the least possible to get by, by uttering the phrase: “that’s not my job.”

On the flip side, how many great things have been accomplished, charities launched, people promoted, ideas realized, and perspectives changed for the better of humanity, because someone chose to step up, even if it wasn’t their responsibility.

The medium and the message

The insightful book “Personal Development for Smart People” points out that most of us attach our identities to our jobs, but the way we generate income is the medium thru which we can express our message.

Therefore, a doctor, architect, programmer, and waitress can all express a message of conscious, healthy growth as a human being despite very different mediums.

The medium is a shell, and doesn’t define you as a person.  Your message, if you care enough to have one, is much more important.


Knowledge is…

Organizations should hire people because they believe that they are capable and motivated to do the job. If a hiring manager is qualifying them based on skills alone, she’s focusing on the wrong thing. Skills and knowledge only matter in the context of how they can be put to use. You can look at past accomplishments for evidence.

Contrary to popular wisdom and long-lasting cliches, knowledge is not power, it’s potential power.

Skills and knowledge you have aren’t important. It’s what you do with what you have that matters.

Using your alter ego

One fascinating truth about Superman is that Clark Kent is actually HIS secret identity, the alter-ego.

Kids are always playing and pretending to be people they admire.  Unfortunately for us we eventually grow up, stop pretending, and limit our true power so we can better assimilate into society (like Clark Kent).

But it’s useful and even magic to channel your inner (insert hero).

Find your strengths and don’t hide them.  We’re all Supermen and Women.

How to accelerate performance and happiness

600 people were told to pick their signature strength and use it in a unique way every day for two weeks.  Each was significantly happier and less stressed compared to control groups, a benefit which lasted long after the study.

Nothing fuels an upward spiral like progress.  And nothing accelerates progress like using strengths, as opposed to focusing on improving attributes that don’t come naturally.

In a sentence: focus most of your energy on identifying and leveraging strengths, and a small percentage on fixing weaknesses.

This works on the macro-level for organizations, and on the micro-level for each one of us.


Continuous improvement using the 1% rule

Anything that compounds 1% per day will be 37 TIMES better in one year. This is not always easy to quantify in exact terms. Who knows if your tennis game, your business, or your parenting skills, or your ability to be more patient is improving 1% every day?

But as with most things in life, more important than speed on the road to improvement is knowing that you’re on the right road, moving in the right direction.

Who’s your competition?

A study asked if people would rather be gifted a $400k house on a street with all $100k houses, or a million dollar house on a street with all $4m houses.  Most chose the $400k house – the smaller house, but the biggest on its street.

Who are you competing with?  Does your fulfillment come from comparison (better than the competition) or progress (better than yesterday’s version of me)?

I’m no authority on what’s “right”, but I bet we both know which one is the healthier mindset.