Progress Vs. Perfection

twit1There are a couple of trends I’ve noticed among those I follow on twitter recently. The first is a belief that passive income is the path to success. That one isn’t wrong but it isn’t as easy as it sounds either. The other trend is the choice (maybe a false choice) between progress and perfection.
The Truth
It is true that if you wait until everything is known, until there is no risk and everything is perfect, you’ll never get started. Paralysis by analysis as it’s called. But that doesn’t mean you should settle. Strive for perfection while moving forward.
The Reality
In What Next I talk about the ability (metaphorically speaking) to hike or travel two or more paths at the same time. This is working a day job while pursuing a business idea you have, for example. Well the same is true with progress and perfection. Keep moving forward and when you fall short of perfection ask why and modify your course.
Simple Sells
The reason progress or perfection is presented as a choice or passive income is presented as the solution to success is that they’re simple. These choices let you off the hook. You don’t have to work hard because you have passive income – well that’s bull. It’s ok not to strive for perfection because at least you’re moving forward – also bull.
It may not be the simple solution you want, but the truth is, success is hard. If it wasn’t, you wouldn’t be reading this and other similar posts. Don’t let yourself off so easily, dedicate yourself to doing the hard work and find true success.

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Walking on Escalators

Walking on escaltorsWhen you get on an escalator do you just stand there or do you walk? If people are preventing you from walking on the escalator do you get annoyed? If you answered yes to both questions, then I think you’re a What Next kind of person. You’re the kind of person who wants to keep moving, doesn’t like obstacles, and wants to get where you’re going quickly so you can move on to the next thing.

There are times when walking on the escalator isn’t a good idea, when you need the time to think, to regroup. I have to remind myself of that sometimes because sometimes I get where I’m going without knowing what I’m doing.

People blocking you from walking on the escalator are all the people we are forced to rely on in life and in business. I’m dealing with this now as I negotiate a lease for my latest What Next adventure. What I really feel like is that I’m walking up the down escalator, expending a lot of effort but not getting anywhere. There are delays from the landlord, the bank, the government, and the countless other people I have to deal with. Some of this is normal and some goes beyond what is acceptable, but I deal with it and continue walking.

On my daily commute into and out of New York, I see people run through the halls and nearly knock people over to get to their train only to stand in place as the escalator slowly takes them to the track. To me this shows a lack of follow through. These people rush to get somewhere but then expect it to be easy when they get there, it rarely is. That’s why you have to keep walking even when the escalator is taking you where you want to go.

Can you share any examples of times you walked on the escalator of life, when you were proactive and got where you were going at you speed and on your terms?

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You Complicate Me

Jerry McGuireIn the movie Jerry Maguire, Jerry says “You complete me” (I never saw the movie but you couldn’t escape that phrase at the time). You complete me meant they were a perfect match, the missing part that each needed. If Julie and I had a similar statement I’m sure she would say “You complicate me.”

Living with someone who asks what next, a builder who is looking for progress, a person who is never satisfied with the status quo, can’t be easy. I hear this statement, usually asked as a question, quite a lot, “Why do you want to complicate our lives?” Julie asks.

When you only have one choice, no options, life may be easy but I’m sure that it’s not very interesting. One thing I can say is that my life is very interesting and I hope Julie says the same. As we consider a new option on the hike of life, a new challenge, a new complication, I know that we will approach it as we do all major decisions, together.

More important than taking on the challenge together is our belief in research. By asking the right questions, the hard questions, by asking all the questions, no matter how obvious, stupid, or hard, you are setting yourself up for success. Sometimes people get frustrated with our level of scrutiny but I don’t mind.

Whatever decision you’re making, whatever you do, don’t stop asking questions until you’re completely satisfied that all options have been fully explored. It’s only complicated if you don’t plan.

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ChangeMy latest newsletter The What Next Trail-Map to Success is out and the topic this week is change. I used this image for the newsletter and started to think of the link between actual change, coins, and change in our lives.

I like change, both the physical coin type and change in life. Each day I put the coins I’ve gotten into a jar and once it’s full I cash it in. It usually takes two to three years to fill up the jar. Not all change is immediate. My pockets fill up first, then I add to the jar. The growth I see as the money rises to the top is satisfying because I know I’m making progress. Change can be measured.

Some change is small, pennies for example, or the decision to dress better for work. Some change is a bit larger like a nickle or dime, decisions that bring you closer to your goal a little more quickly. Then there are the big changes, the quarters of life, the decision to leave your job or to start a business. These are the changes I like but as I’ve pointed out many times in my book and in previous posts, this is the change most people think is crazy or too risky.

Every once in a while I’ll get a dollar coin. I’m never quite sure what to do with those. Do I put them in the jar and wait until I cash it in? It would sure make the total higher if I did that. Maybe I’ll hold onto that and use it since it’s a fairly large amount, why wait? I do both, sometimes I put the dollar coins in the jar sometimes I keep   them. I don’t need change for change sake, I rather the change serve a purpose and that’s my goal in life.

I’m in the process of investigating a change, a big one, and as I’ve noted, Julie isn’t really on board yet. Julie handles her coin change differently, choosing to spend it rather than using bills and getting more change. And there we have the difference I want more change and she doesn’t.

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Always Happy Never Satisfied

Moving goal

An interesting thing happened today. I was looking over some old posts from a blog I used to run years ago. I found a post that reminded me of a concept I write about in my book, What Next A Proactive Approach to Success. Called “Moving Targets” it lamented the fact that once you think you’ve reached a goal you sometimes find out that the definition isn’t what you thought – the target moved.

What was really interesting was the language I used. A sentence I wrote back then is almost exactly a sentence I write in What Next, and is almost word for word what someone I interviewed for the book said in response to one of my questions. During the research phase of writing the book I interviewed an entrepreneur named Scott Loughmiller and I asked him a question I often get asked. “What do you say when people ask you why you’re never happy, question why you’re constantly moving from one idea to another?”

Loughmiller responded by saying, “When someone asks me why I’m not happy with the way things are, I always say ‘oh, I’m happy, I’m just not content.'”

The sentence in the post from early 2006 was “Actually I’m always happy I’m just not satisfied.”

In the book I talk about purposefully moving targets, that once you reach a goal you set a new more difficult goal – it’s called progress.

Some people think you should concentrate on the things you do well and outsource the things you don’t and, to some extent, I agree. But no one is perfect, so even the things you’re good at can stand improvement. To me that’s what not being satisfied is all about. Looking for ways to improve yourself, your skills, your relationships, anything that can use it.

Are you satisfied? Well get unsatisfied because satisfaction leads to stagnation rather than progress. Share what it is you are not satisfied with and how you’re going to improve.

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Often change is associated with progress but that doesn’t mean we’re happy about change when it occurs. “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” is a theory a lot of people might subscribe to and it’s not a bad thing.

Facebook’s recent change has a lot of people annoyed as did the other changes they’ve made in the past. notice no one is saying “we should go back to the way things were four versions ago.” With each change we got used to it and with each new change we want to go back, but only to the previous version.

With Facebook we don’t have a choice but when it comes to our own lives, the change we make is more in our control than we think. The desire for change may be prompted by something beyond our control but the power to change lies with us. Maybe a new boss makes work miserable for you, you have no choice about that, but you can decide to leave, to find a new job.

Rather than being caught off guard, asking What Next is about being proactive. Why not keep your eyes open for a new job opportunity even if you are happy at work? Why add to the stress that if things change you also have to put a resume together, make contacts, and otherwise begin the search?

Change is good, it shows progress. Sometimes the wrong kind of change is made but the good news is that can be changed as well.

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