It’s Easy When the End is Near

For those of you who meditate, you’ll have noticed that it’s easy at the beginning and at the end. 

If I open my eyes and discover I only have one minute left before the timer goes off, I am SO Zen for that last minute. 

What this teaches us is that our challenge, often, isn’t that we don’t know how to do the actions we’d like to do. 

Our challenge is how easily we get distracted, how often we lose sight of our purpose or intention, how hard it is to stay grounded when we get triggered by someone’s words or actions. 

This means that the most important difference between the hacker and the expert isn’t the expert’s greater skill or technique, it is that the expert is able to practice her art regardless of the chaos and challenges of her surroundings. 

Kindle reflections: Do nothing badly

I got a Kindle as a birthday gift, a practical, non-iPad antidote to caving to an iPhone 18 months ago, when I turned in my trusty Blackberry.

(Side note for int’l travelers: AT&T iPhone data plan does not cover Kenya).

The Kindle has a great feature with a tiny glitch:  “Sync to Furthest Page Read.”  It works seamlessly between the Kindle and the Kindle iPhone app, letting you read on your Kindle at home, pick up where you left off on your iPhone, and come back to your Kindle at the end of the day without ever having to flip pages.

The glitch is that you can never go backwards.  So if you go to the end of the book once (because, say, someone else read the book before you; or you’re rereading a  book; or you went to the index once), the sync becomes useless – it always syncs to the last page ever read in the book, with no way that I can find to reset it.

I was trying to figure out if there’s an easy fix to this glitch by skimming the Kindle User’s Guide, whose three different version (v3, v4, v5) take up too much real estate on my Kindle’s Home screen.  And while I didn’t find a fix to the problem, I did discover that my Kindle can do all sorts of things I never knew about: I can post to Twitter from my Kindle about a book I’m reading; I can browse the web; I can type notes in the margin of whatever I’m reading; and on and on.

And guess what?  Nearly all of those features are slow, clunky, and nearly unusable.  It’s the kind of meager feature creep that happens with subsequent iterations on a product – ironically cutting directly against what Kindle did so well: create a reader that’s JUST a reader, and make it incredibly quick and easy to buy books from the largest online store around.

“Do nothing badly” is not an inspiring mantra, but it’s a good way to kill lots of nice-to-have ideas that you know you won’t execute better than anyone else.  It’s much more actionable than “do everything well” because “everything” sounds like too much and what exactly do we mean by “well?”

“Nothing,” on the other hand, is much clearer.

“We will not do one thing, not single thing badly.  Not even one.  Not ever.”

Epiphany

Nothing magical happens when my Inbox is empty.

There’s no pot of gold at the end of that rainbow.

Which means I can decide whether or not to care about this.

And so can you.

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You, only better

There are certain things that you’re best at.

The moments when you thrive, when you shine, when others say, “Wow, that was just amazing.”  The moments that make you feel energized and clear and focused.   The moments that pass quickly.

This is you at your best.

We all have things things we need to work on.  We all need to round out the picture.  But we need to know where to start.  And why not start with your strengths?

I’ve never been a five-year career plan kind of guy, and for a long time that worried me.  I secretly feared that I would never have that plan and that without knowing where I wanted to go I would never get there.

Lately, though, I’ve gotten a glimpse of what my highest and best use might be.

And I’m beginning to think it may well be all that I really need to know.

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