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The definition of execute is quite dramatic: “to carry out; accomplish; to execute a plan or order. But it is definitely true. I mean, think about it.
When you take a plan or an idea and you decide to make it happen, you execute it. You take the plan and put it into action. That’s why this year is going to be exciting.
For me, my goal for this year was simple: Build Something. I thought I had been building something, and to a certain extent I was, but I needed to shoot bigger. Now for 2012, I’m not sure what I am going to build, but I’m slowly getting clarity on that.
You may be asking yourself: Why Richard, are you executing your plan now? Haven’t you been doing that for the past five years?
Well, that is a complicated answer. But it is yes and no. I thought I was. But then I realized after two recent conversations that I really was not executing on my goals.
So now, I am doubling-down and working to make it happen.
What If I Fail?
What is the worst that can happen? I don’t reach this goal and I find something else to chase after? I lose some time? I lose some money?
I can chase another passion. I can find time. And I can always make more money.
Failure is a part of life. In fact, it’s essential. Think about it: What if you won at everything you did?! How would you ever grow?
An old saying in this genre goes something like this:
Don’t let the turkeys get you down.
And “turkeys” can mean anything. It can mean your friends. Your family. Your coworkers. Your significant other. Anyone who says you can’t do something. Maybe they are right that you won’t be successful, but only you will know the outcome if you do something about it.
Years ago, I fell in love with Ellen DeGeneres. This was before her hit daytime talk show back when she was doing stand-up comedy. Her set had a great running joke about how easily distracted she was working at home.
Her line at the end of the set was simple: “Procrastinate now. Don’t put it off.” While it is a funny line, it is not how anyone with a dream or goals should think.
If you don’t do something about your dreams and your goals, who will?
It is your story to tell. It is your movie script to write and your painting to paint.
So what if you fail? I mean, seriously … so the hell what! Go make it happen.
Take the plan and execute it.
If you want to learn how to be a smarter, healthier person, I recommend you start with Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School by John Medina. Hands down one of the most enlightening books about how we function at our core I have ever read. The great thing about Medina’s writing is that it is super-easy to digest and think about. And Medina is a developmental molecular biologist. I don’t even know what that means, but chances are, it means the dude is wicked smart. And it comes through in his 12 principles.
The details matter, but not as much as the meaning. Our brains are constantly working overtime and in order for us to learn anything, we need to be giving the high-level first. The core concepts. Then and only then should we be given details. Perhaps that is why reporters and public relations students are always taught that the first few paragraphs need to be able to stand on their own with the most important core details.
I’m reminded of a line in one of my favorite movies, Thirteen Days, when President Kennedy says, “We’ve got to figure out what we’re going to do before we worry about how we do it.” You have to know at the core what you want before you can develop the plan to get it and the same goes for learning. Know what you want to learn, then go and learn it.
The second key takeaway from this book is that we need sleep. Of course, this comes as no surprise whatsoever, but here is a direct research recap from the book. Be prepared, you may need to read it twice:
Students were given a series of math problems and prepped with a method to solve them. The students weren’t told there was also a shortcut way to solve the problems, potentially discoverable while doing the exercise. The question was: Is there any way to jumpstart, even speed up, their thoughts? Can you get them to put this other method on their radar screens? The answer was yes, if you allow them to sleep on it. If you let 12 hours pass after the initial training and ask the students to do more problems, about 20 percent will have discovered the shortcut. But, if in that 12 hours you also allow eight or so hours of regular sleep, that figure triples to about 60 percent. No matter how many times the experiment is run, the sleep group consistently outperforms the non-sleep group about 3 to 1.
Like I said, if you enjoy learning about how we learn and how to function at your highest level, then you need to read this book. Plus, Medina gives some great solutions on how to incorporate what this great brain research is telling us. Some of them might surprise you.
If I had all the answers, I probably wouldn’t be living in an apartment in New York City. I’d be governor or senator or the creator of Google or something. But I don’t. Not many of us do. But one thing I know is how to not find the answers.
What’s the key to success? I believe 37 Signals, a brilliant cloud-based apps designed to assist in collaboration, information sharing and making decision for people and businesses, has that answer.
Useful is forever – Bells and whistles wear off, but usefulness never does. We build useful software that does just what you need and nothing you don’t.
It works for them (and by the way, I am a business and personal user of their Basecamp app), and I believe it works for life too. I have made no secret that I have a lot of passions and sometimes that has gotten the best of me. I like do put my time into a lot of different things. I love sports and politics and education and art and exercise and the study of life. But there is not enough time in the day for me to do all those things. Therefore I have had to pair down what I do.
Sports. I used to watch a lot and know all the pertinent stats. Now, if you ask me, I couldn’t tell you who won the NCAA Men’s Tournament last year. I have changed that value. I still love sports, but I don’t devote my limited resources to as much of the game and facts. This has given me more time for …
Politics. I have always cared and always will about politics and policy. Election years are always fun for me especially as a past candidate but with my recent addition of an iPhone to my life, I am able to read more about current news than ever.
Education. This can be taken one of two ways. I love learning and I love learning about learning. The latter is new to my life so I have had to change my devotion to …
Art. I used to do a fair amount of photography and painting. Since moving to New York City, I have done a bit of photography, but no painting. Whether it is an energy, or a time thing, I just haven’t felt the desire to pick up a brush. But that’s okay because I need that time to …
Exercise. Obviously I am training for a marathon. And if you have never done that, it takes a lot of time to do so. But I’m enjoying that journey. But that still leaves …
Life. I need to live and so do you.
That’s why you need to know what your life is going to be about so you can cut out the things that don’t fit into the core of your app; your life. Once you strip the bells and whistles, you will be able to make more possible in your life.
(photo credit: jayneandd)