Muscle Memory

I’ve been thinking a lot about muscle memory over the past while.  It can make us great, or make us old dogs in the face of new tricks.

Yesterday I had a guitar lesson (I’m determined to learn to play something more portable than a piano) and my teacher told me that in learning to play any new song, to practice it 50 times slowly.  To learn something correctly, without mistakes, creates a muscle memory that then will always lead you to the right chords.  To practice something at full speed incorrectly a 1000 times only conditions your muscle memory to reach for the wrong chords.  Apparently Rachmaninoff never played a piece full speed until the concert itself.

Interesting.

Jason Freid writes in his book Rework that those who have failed in business and wear the badge proudly actually have the same success rate with their next venture as those that are starting out for the first time, whilst those who have succeeded have a much higher success rate the second time round.

Children conditioned to clean their plates have a tendency to overeat for the rest of their lives.  Teenagers that binge drink tend to be more inclined to become problem drinkers.  Those active from an early age tend to stay active.

Research shows it takes 21 days to create a habit.  Others have argued as much as 66 days, but either way the days are just an iota of my lifespan. Think of all the things that you could do differently in just 66 days.  Stop brushing change off with the defeatist behaviour that it’s ‘your genes’, or ‘just how things are’ or worse, ‘how you were raised’.

You can change.  It’s just a case of muscle memory.  What are you teaching yourself today?

 

Wrong is always worse

 

 

Having seen this situation recently in both a business and a relational situation, I’ve decided to categorise this post as both ‘Love’ and ‘Business’.

So often we can have the wrong person in our lives, who we know is the wrong person, but “will do for now”.  Don’t do it.  Wrong is worse than nothing.  Wrong is delaying right.  Wrong is square none – the square before square one.

That person in that role that you know isn’t the right person but will do for now?  Funny isn’t it how long now can last sometimes.  The wrong person in the wrong role isn’t helping you or them.  It can be scary removing someone when you’ve not got a replacement, but is average really what you want for your business?  Is their substandard delivery ok for your company to be producing until Mr or Ms Right comes along?  The wrong person can prove to be costly – not only in salary but in damage to your business that can last well past their departure.

That person you’re keeping around because they’re fun, because there’s no one better at the moment, because you’re lonely…  The wrong person sends signals to the right ones to stay away.  You’re potentially sowing in to your own loneliness, busying your mind and your emotions with something you know won’t last.  Or even someone if you’re anything like me that you end up really falling for and then go through the pains of a dysfunctional relationship and a messy breakup, only to look back and and think I knew at this beginning of all this they weren’t the one.

Cutting ties can seem risky.   I would suggest it’s worth the risk.

Bottlenecks & Socrates

I was recommended a book called ‘The Goal’ by Eliyahu Goldratt that has transformed how I look at our business.

Goldratt’s book takes his Theory of Constraints and winds it eloquently through a story of a man struggling to save his factory.  The book is a joy to read and comes packed with powerful lessons.

In reading the book I looked back at the business I am currently a part of and questioned not only what are the bottlenecks in our business, but also what is in front of the bottlenecks as the issue also lies there.  The book then introduces the Socratic Method for solving questions and issues, with the protagonist using these same techniques to save his marriage.  So really this is a post on both love and business, as this interesting method of solving problems in life.

If you are still searching for answers on why you can not predict or govern the output of your business, or if you simply are seeking another way to handle a troublesome relationship in any sphere of life, this book may just be for you.

Vision

 

 

There is a Proverb that says ‘People perish for a lack of Vision’.  I’m not suggesting that is always literally the case, but things most certainly fall apart.

Something in us inanely always needs to know what we are working towards, what we are aiming for.   Often this vision or goal sits in us undefined, but yet it exists.  The trouble starts when vision is never discussed or aligned.

My 1st marriage fell apart (along with a number of other reasons) when we realised we didn’t want the same things in life.  The same can happen with a company.  The obvious situations are amongst leaders, but the not-so-obvious ones are amongst team who all  – unaware to themselves and their colleagues  – are working towards different ends.

Vision exists in a person and in a company whether it is defined or not.  The difference is, if not defined you can most certainly bet your team are not all working towards the same vision.  I don’t mean vision as in how we are going to save the world – (although that would be a nice BHAG) but vision for what it is you are building, what type of company you are, what success looks like, and what the GOAL is.

Take the time to sit with your team and define your vision.  Take input.  Develop and refine your Vision, and then broadcast it.  At each turn weigh your decisions against your vision, reminding you and your team often of the common goal for best results.  Make it fun.  Print T-shirts.  Make mouse mats.  Whatever you do, define your vision before the wrong one defines you.

 

 

Fire-Fighting

 

 

 

The most common fail I’ve discovered in fire-fighting is the failure to continue to plan.

It’s easy when in a season of extreme pressure or extreme workload to focus on the now, forgoing the very meetings, processes and execution that will get you out of the hole you’re in.

Regardless of how full your day is, carve out time to plan.  Carve out time to still meet with your key influencers – the conversations may save you precious time in the revelations they bring.

Draw out processes.  Emails and back-of-fag-packets aren’t enough.  Let people visualise what ‘good’ looks like, show them light at the end of the tunnel and stick to your decisions like glue.

There’s a whole world out there.  It would be a shame to miss it.

 

Procrastination and The Big Black Box

 

 

I looked back today at a task I committed to doing for someone outside of work and was astounded to realise that it’s been 3 months and I’ve still not got my ass in to gear.

I’ve realised that the only thing standing between me and my career as a famous guitarist, author, dancer (well maybe that’s a bit rich) is the big black box that speaks so lovingly to me about crimes committed in Miami and New York, a family I’ll never meet in some made-up town and various other enthralling fairy tales.

TV is my nemesis.  I blame my weakness for procrastinating on the development of me outside of my career and role as a loving wife solely on the luring draw of Sky Plus.

I’m not really sure where I’m going with this post.  Maybe this is one of those rambling conversations that happens to stumble upon a revelation

 

Turn the bloody thing off.

 

Urgent Is The Enemy Of Important

After a few months in business of rather full days,  clients all over the globe (meaning somewhere, someone is always awake, wanting something) and looming deadlines, I’m discovering that the urgent is the enemy of the important.

What’s important is the innovation, the development and getting things out the door.  What’s urgent is the situation that pops up that demands immediate attention, but means that for someone, or some people, the innovation and development cease.

Seth Godin wrote a great piece on how to tell if the urgent is King in your day: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2005/08/hurry.html

The solution? Make room for the urgent in your day – but don’t let it take your day. Plan in time for the important – and stick to it like glue.  If the urgent always gets the front seat soon there won’t be a product to be urgent over.

 

 

Less Aggression Please!

Ladies.

This one is mostly for you – but trust me the men will benefit too.  Unfortunately it’s something though that only a woman can say to a woman.

Aggression does not equal strength.  Bitchiness does not equal business savvy.

Somewhere along the road many of us found that business can be a man’s world, and a quick route to getting our way is to be an all-out hard-nosed fire-breathing force to be reckoned with.

Somewhere along the road we forgot the unique gifts we bring to the table as women and lost our femininity.  But aggressive behavior is just an easy way through a tough environment, stripping us of our strengths and appeal.

Managing fairly but firmly, keeping an eye on what is best for the individuals without ever losing sight of what is best for the company, understanding situations through discernment and bringing creative solutions, charming clients whilst sticking to our guns, juggling the push and pull of finances without ever losing control of the bottom line – these are to name a few areas that we excel in as women.  None of these areas – nor any others for that matter – are better managed with the fire-and-brimstone act.

It’s also a sure-fire way to stay single… or to end up that way.

I’m not talking about meekness and submission, but embracing your femininity and using your skills to your advantage.  Let your confidence be in knowing you know what you’re talking about, that you’ve been here before, that you CAN run this company.

Not in proving you can shout the loudest.

 

 

Say It To My Face

Ah the power of email.

You can scream, swear, call your mother names, demand my way IN CAPITAL LETTERS and write threatening things I’d never dream of saying – all without the risk of you leaning over and punching me in the face.

 

Ah the power of text.

You can break-off long term relationships, fire me, address that ‘thing about me that has always driven you crazy’ call off plans last-minute or apologise that you stood me up – all without having to face the disappointment in my eyes.

 

Ah the power of twitter, facebook and the like.

You can pride yourself in all the relationships you have, the people in high places who retweet your tweet, like your facebook post and comment on your holiday photos– all without having to spend a single moment putting any true effort in to those relationships.

There is and will always be value in the face to face.  No matter how “connected” we are, nothing ever takes the place looking someone in the eye.  Harder though it may be, it’s how relationships – the ones that last in life, in business, in love – are built.

So go on – say it to my face.

The Danger in Routine

Routine is a funny word.  Not so much funny ha-ha; just odd.  I guess because we’re creatures of habit we like things that are familiar.  I guess that’s why we often try and create routines in just about everything.  Or is it more that once we have a routine we have a pattern that we can call our own?

Holidays always highlight for me how dependent I can become on routine.  I start sleeping more, eating more, doing less and voila! two weeks later I’m relieved to head back to my ‘other routine’ as the holiday routine always leaves a 10-pound leaving gift with me.   Why is it my routine that keeps me healthy and active, not my decisions?

Having recently married I’ve been thinking a lot about routine recently.  Mainly because having someone else in the shower when I’d like to be in there is wildly inconvenient.  So is being woken up at 6am on my morning to sleep in, the last piece of chocolate disappearing mysteriously from the fridge, and my laundry load magically doubling in size.

But what’s the flip-side?  Living alone forever because it’s more convenient?  For some, yes.  Not having many friends, as they can be hard work?  Some do.  Missing out on so many of the opportunities in life that present themselves – inconveniently – at the last moment?

I don’t want to ever be that person.  I want to be ready for anything – everything – that comes my way as life is full of gorgeous opportunities if you’re willing to be a little inconvenienced.  Heck, people are bloody inconvenient.

Don’t settle for the familiar.  There’s a whole world out there if you’ll just be willing to once and in a while break out of your routine.