Pretty Damn Good
I didn’t know what to write about. I have a list of ideas scribbled down that say things like, “oh sh*t, my wife was right,” to “that jackass looks just like me,” but I couldn’t get myself moving on any of them. Then, I realized today marks 5+8’s 6th anniversary. So how about a list of my six most remarkable missteps? I don’t do enough lists. They’re so easy to write and read. I think because the numbers give us clear direction on where we’re going and when this thing will be over. They’re also the lazy man’s way to write. Sounds good to me.
Macromanagement: Micromanaging gets all the scrutiny, but its lazy cousin deserves some ridicule as well. I love leading but I don’t like managing. Managing is tedious and requires heaps of patience. To absolve myself of this responsibility I tout this cliché, “I hire smart people who don’t need me to tell them what to do.” But, that is just an excuse wrapped in a boastful tortilla. Sure, people don’t need to be micromanaged, but we all need some management. We all need systems in place and someone checking up on us to ensure we’re being efficient. If you’re a manager, you probably have a wealth of knowledge to share with someone who is on your team. They may not want to hear it, and you may be uncomfortable managing them – tough; that is your job, brah. If we keep our experiences and expertise for just us, then we’re missing the point of everything. Your work (and life) is only fulfilling when you can share with someone.
Outsourcing sales: If you’re in the creative world, it might be due to a healthy fear of the business world. And nothing screams being a suit like being in sales. I told myself, I just want to design and write. I told myself, I’m not a sales person. Trouble with that thinking is that no one knows and loves this business like I do. Not only will I sell it the best, but new clients want to talk to the person in charge. And, here’s the best part that I did not understand early on: if you care deeply about something, selling others on it is a piece of cake. If I needed to sell you on how improved Poppy is on her cartwheels, I guarantee I’d make you a believer in minutes (she’s really gotten good).
Nothing is everything¹: We’ve all heard someone say, “relationships are everything” or “it’s all about the work.” It’s also likely the folks who made those statements are really good at the respective quality they declared is “everything.” The less quotable truth, however, is that success is made up of a hundred little things – relationships, business acumen, follow-through, attention-to-detail, kindness, accountability, etc. If something was everything, we’d all already be doing it.
Slooooooow down: Even as I write this I know I won’t do it. But, I should and when I do good things usually happen. Going for a walk before work starts, waiting a day to send an important email, and listening before I give advice. These are all awesome ways we can slow down and be better for it. Ok, enough about this, I’ve got two more mistakes to write so I can get back to real work.
Wishing a duck is a dog: This can be an employee, a client or even you. I have spent a lot of energy wanting someone to be something they are not. I have tried to make uncool² clients cool. I have labored to motivate the unmotivated. And, I have tried to be a hard-ass when I’m much better suited as a jackass. Hire slow and fire fast is an unapologetic motto, but in my experience, it’s a good one. I bet if you look around your world right now you know a duck that is waywardly waddling around. No matter how hard you try, this duck is never going to bark. But, it’s not his fault. He’s a duck.
Which brings us to number six. And, here’s why lists are dumb. Why on earth would there be six things I’ve learned? I mean, it’s way more likely there are 14 or 44, but I forced it to six so it would match up with our anniversary. Alas, I am making a list of six things so here’s number six:
Giving a fleck what people think.³ For example, I didn’t start this blog sooner because I was scared of what people would think. Does anyone care? Am I an egomaniac for thinking anyone is interested? Who am I to write my thoughts down and share them? I’m Adam, that’s who. I’m a human and humans like me have been sharing their thoughts since sin was original. I have insights that are unique to only Adam. And when we send this email out you know will read it? Well, not that many. But, the ones who do get something from it and that absolutely makes it worth it.
Failure is hot right now. There is a lot out there about failing and iterating and learning from our mistakes. And, for good reason. It’s how we get better. To be honest, that’s kind of what this whole thing is about – getting better.
I told Poppy if she did 15 cartwheels before bed she would be able to do a perfect cartwheel in a month. I figured 450 attempted cartwheels should lead to one perfect one. She has done 15 cartwheels every night (not including the bonus round) for over a month. She still can’t do a perfect cartwheel, but they’re pretty damn good. And pretty damn good sounds as close to perfect as I’d like to be.
¹ Thanks for this one, dad.
³ I still care what people think. Like, a lot.