There’s a bit of a side-effect to getting along in the years and I’m growing fond of it. Apparently, if you stick to it, there’s a sort of force-multiplier that happens to you in your life and career. Albert Einstein is said to have called “compound interest the most powerful force in the universe.”
I think the same thing applies to people.
“Human Interest” is traditionally most impactful (and visible) when you’re focused on the same thing each day. Not necessarily the same talent, but rather things that build a foundation for a variety of talents that make you the exceptional and unique person that you are.
Example: When I was sixteen years old, I used to code websites for free for anyone who would let me. Today, I’m a part of a company that builds massive, beautiful website powerhouses.
I don’t code anymore, but I know enough about HTML/CSS to make it difficult for an engineer to pull the wool over my eyes. That’s a helpful thing that’s gone very far in my career.
So here’s the theory: Every single moment of your life can count when it’s appropriately used for something that helps you grow. Every interaction counts, too. The people you meet today could change your life ten years from now, even if it’s just for a second. But that’s a topic for another time.
“Every single moment of your life can count when it’s appropriately used for something that helps you grow.”
Every moment of focus, every book you read, every person you touch, it all compounds; and so, the more deliberate you are with each step, the more you put care into the daily tasks and decisions that you have, the more interesting (and ‘successful’) outlay you’ll have a decade from now.
With that in mind, I want to give you a series of small steps to charge towards your highest value, to make moments that shape your future. This is important to me because maybe someday we’ll work together, maybe someday we’ll be friends, or maybe we already are. I’m investing in you with these words, but also investing in my own future, because it takes a village to build the most amazing things.
Be Interested In What You’re Creating/Doing
This can mean either at work or, if that’s not possible, it can be outside of work. Work on things that fascinate you. In my opinion, it can start with a mixture of both. Take little steps to find that. Remember: What you focus on today builds the reality of what you become tomorrow.
The best output you can generate is when you’re plugged in and fully paying attention. Powerful things happen when you mix a little bit of passion into your professional pursuits. The world can see when you’re paying attention, and it’s a very special thing.
Take Some Hits, Skin Your Knees, Experiment
Finding your success and highest value is easier when you’ve gotten the shit kicked out of you a few times — or a lot of times, depending on how quickly you learn. Personally, it usually takes me more than one hit to remember. Put another way: Wisdom comes from experience, which means there’s no better way to get wise than to try (and maybe fail).
If you’re constantly too afraid to take a leap, you may never experience the pain of ‘taking a hit.’ Or, if you refuse to take the risk of trying something new you may never find your favorite thing. Sometimes that means taking a step backwards, taking a fall, or just plain not liking something. And that’s okay. At least you tried.
Groom Excellent Habits, Discourage Bad Ones
Grooming good habits and shaking off bad habits are a part of that compound interest. My Co-Founder at Model B, Dan, says that he tries to do something each day that has a return for him forever. That’s the same theory of human interest put into immediate action. You should do that, too (I try). If you improve things a tiny bit each day it’s more meaningful — over weeks, months, and years — than doing one major thing one time.
In summary: since it’s the holiday season we can say that starting in January, you try to do one thing for yourself each day. I don’t mean like checking off a “bucket list.” Think smaller to start triggering those important, recurring actions that mean the most. Here are some examples of great habits:
- Get lousy stuff done. Do something you don’t want to — something that you’ve been dreading. I personally keep a “don’t want to” list. Those are things I really, really don’t want to do. Checking things off that list makes me very happy.
- Learn something new. Learn something new by looking up that thing you’ve been meaning to look up. Things aren’t generally as complicated as we assume, and it’s fun to learn more about things you care for.
- Work on something different. Professionally, take on a project at work in the New Year that you have some passion about. If there’s nothing immediate, have a conversation with your manager about your desire(s) and interest(s).
- Suck less at something. You know that thing you’re bad at that your friends and colleagues hate? Whatever it is, try to do that less. Communication is a great place to start (we all have a million communication flaws).
The point is, do something that improves you in some way and then try to keep it up. It’s like investing $1 into a high-interest savings account. Keep it up and you’ll see the return. It won’t be night and day or black and white, but eventually you’ll surprise yourself. Once more: what you focus on today becomes the reality of who you are tomorrow. I promise.
“..what you focus on today becomes the reality of who you are tomorrow. I promise.”
P.S. This whole thing was supposed to be a big announcement about how awesome Model B is, and how much I love working with Abtin Buergari and Dan Bender. But they already wrote about how much they love working with me here, and here (respectively).