My Desk, Your Desk

I’m sitting at my desk. I have one thing to do.

If that thing I have to do is on my desk and nothing else, it’s easier to focus because that’s all there is. Even if the task is difficult or boring, not having distractions increase my chances for success. By a lot.

My mom used to say a messy desk is a messy mind. Keeping the clutter off is a never-ending job, but luckily, almost entirely within anyone’s control.

Learning Through Empowerment

I’m trying to get my six-year-old son to love reading. I tell him it’s a superpower, a way to make all areas of his life better.

He’s not convinced by that argument.

So I try a different approach. When he gets stuck during a trading card or video game, I show him how reading certain words will allow him to play better. I stimulate his curiosity about an exhibit when we’re in a museum, then point to the display’s sign that explains what it is. I allow him to fiddle with a map-based app on a computer, then point to unfamiliar words on the screen that would enhance his usage.

Being pitched a theoretical benefit isn’t the same as removing real-life pain. I’m hoping that solving firsthand problems is a huge learning motivator.

“I Don’t Know”

When someone says “I don’t know,” there can be two completely different meanings.

There’s the “I don’t know” that accompanies the shrug of the shoulders, when faced with a tough question. It’s the phrase used to deflect responsibility or accountability. They’re words used to end the conversation.

Then there’s the “I don’t know” that comes from honesty and humility. Spoken by a person willing to risk embarrassment by admitting a lack of knowledge, while inviting additional discussion to fill those gaps.

The first type of “I don’t know” embodies a lack of courage. The second type demonstrates an abundance.

I admire people willing to be vulnerable by saying “I don’t know.” We need more of them.

Positive Customer Feedback

The other day, I was in a check-out line at Target, something I’ve done many times before.

This day was different, because the employee at the register was nice. I mean, most Target employees I talk to are pleasant enough, but it feels more like an obligation — like it’s part of the job description. The young lady that rung my items up this day chatted like she cared about the conversation. She had enthusiasm. I actually felt happier afterwards.

As customers, we’re often quick to notify management or a business owner when we’re displeased. We should have equal diligence for the areas they do well, to let them know they’re on the right track. That’s valuable feedback too. Sometimes that means a quick word through the company channels.

But expressing appreciation directly to the person that performed the deed works too.

Time of Death

If it were possible to know the exact timing of my death, I think I would. While being diagnosed with terminal cancer would be terrible news, I’d welcome the certainty of having 2 weeks to say my goodbyes and secure closure.

So the idea of setting your own death timetable in advance was interesting to me. I imagine that this clarity allows greater appreciation for the days leading up to the fixed date, and greater peacefulness and acceptance afterwards.

Nevertheless, I don’t see this as a plan for me. I can follow the logic of why the author made the decision for himself — he’s saying living longer isn’t necessarily better, especially if it’s for a life of elevated pain and decline. What I can’t understand is why make a decision of how long he wants to live without knowing the circumstances around the quality of life he’s giving up.

Ideally, I wouldn’t need prompts to live life to its fullest. But I do believe being mindful of my mortality is an effective reminder not to waste my time on this earth. That’s something I do believe in.

Getting Closer to Certainty

Every day, I see the disappointment on my kids’ faces when they don’t get the result they want out of life. The allure of a guarantee is particularly strong for them, especially when it comes from a parent. I get it — being told something will 100% happen is comforting.

As much as I want to ease their pain of doubt, I’m careful to avoid those type of promises.

Instead, I want to them in the habit of gathering options and selecting the one that is likely to lead to the outcome they seek. Analyze, predict, then decide.

I hope my kids someday realize that most guarantees are illusions, and it’s better to focus on increasing the odds in their favor through smart decision-making.

Creating and Consuming

I like to think of creating as taking what you have and arranging the parts to make something new. You arrange words when writing, lines when drawing, and instructions when programming. It’s both beautiful and personal.

I view consuming as an experience enabled by a thing that was made. Whether it’s your own creation or someone else’s, the triggered feelings can be powerful and lasting.

My preference is to do both creating and consuming daily, but not at the same time. I enjoy total immersion, coming up for air, then switching activities fueled by a burst of inspiration.

It’s an awesome feeling.

Is There a Drawback to Being Kind?

Maybe there are people who take advantage of that generosity, by giving very little or nothing in return. That seems like a downside.

I hope most people believe best reward of kindness is the act itself, not what was reciprocation. There’s no judgment of whether the beneficiary is deserving or not. There’s no expectation of what will be received back.

You just do good and feel good, all the time.

Earning Tomorrow

Having the trust of customers and sufficient cash flow enables a company to stay in business.

When both sides put effort into a relationship then the partnership is more resilient when problems arise.

Proper sleep, exercise, and diet leads to a longer, healthier life.

Yes, we all want to excel. But sometimes just focusing on the right things is enough to keep playing the game.

Going on Tilt Is Not Helpful

Within poker circles, money not lost is as good as money won. Put another way, you have to avoid bad decisions in addition to making good decisions.

Useful advice at the card tables, but also in stressful situations where frustration can override rational thinking.