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Articles filed in: Success

The Seduction Of New Ideas

We, humans, are novelty seeking organisms. That’s why we find new ideas seductive. We are hardwired to respond to the novel and the new. Our motivation increases when we have a new project to work on. And yet we also have a strong bent towards mastery. We’re happiest when we feel like we’re making progress and making a difference, that’s why it’s important to keep honouring the ideas we’ve been working on with focus and momentum.

Yes, it’s tempting to seek out new opportunities. But we’re rewarded in more ways than one when we intentionally stick with the old thing.

Image by Hernán Piñera


These words spoken by Director of The London School of Economics, Minouche Shafik, in an interview last year ring true: ‘In the past jobs were about muscles, now they’re about brains, but in future they’ll be about the heart.’

The truth is our best work always has been about the heart.

And the good news is that we all start with the same advantage.

Image by Creative Arts Workshop

Get To The Heart Of The Matter

My granny had a chronic dry skin problem all her life. She tried every moisturiser on the planet. She stopped using soap and bathed in lotions the doctor prescribed for her. Nothing worked. No matter what the doctor prescribed or what granny applied to her skin it still cracked and flaked.

It’s obvious now looking back, that neither my granny nor her doctor got to the heart of the problem. He didn’t know what was causing or contributing to the condition. He didn’t know that my granny never drank water—only tea. Twenty cups a day. He didn’t know that she had a poor diet, devoid of fresh fruit and vegetables and healthy fats. He tried to fix the problem by treating the symptoms, instead of the cause.

We all do this at some point in our lives. We don’t get to the heart of the matter and end up with an ineffective solution. We waste precious resources, time and energy on tactics that don’t help us to create forward motion or get to where we want to go. We reason that there’s no harm in trying something that might not work while forgetting to account for the opportunity cost, that isn’t just wasted time or money—it’s wasted momentum.

Getting to the heart of the matter, whether that’s with your health goals or your business challenges, is harder than finding a quick-fix solution to treat the symptoms. But it’s worth the effort.

Alex Harvey

Be Ambitious

In our culture ambition is both celebrated and frowned upon—not always in equal measure. Ambition is encouraged and rewarded, but only to a point.

Perhaps it’s not ambition itself that’s the problem, but rather, our narrow definition of it? We aspire mostly to the ambition of accumulation. We want to be more and have more. More accomplished or influential, more wealthy or successful. Preferably all four. But if we’re asked to define success, we’re not always sure what it means to us.

If we’re going to find our calling, do meaningful work and live happy, fulfilled lives we need a more ambitious definition of success.

Be ambitious about the power and potential of your ideas. Be ambitious about the depth of the change you want to create. Be ambitious for the people you love and those you serve. Be ambitious for the people in your community who you’ve never met. Be ambitious for the children in your country who have yet to be born. Be an ambitious advocate for those who have lost hope.

Reflect on what you want. Then go after it with your head held high. And encourage and help others to do the same.

Image by Garry Knight

The Upside Of Generosity

The waitress supervising breakfast at the hotel was doing a great job of doing her job. The coffee pots and bread baskets were full. Dirty tables were promptly cleared, and not a single customer had complained that morning. She kept herself busy as the minutes to the end of her shift ticked by.

The couple from England who were visiting Australia for the first time stopped the waitress to ask her where the nearest cinema was. ‘I’m not sure,’ she said. ‘I’m not from around here.’ And in that moment the tourists’ impression of Australia and Australians lost some of its sparkle.

This isn’t just a story about the missed opportunity to serve. It’s also the story of the missed opportunity to find meaning and joy in being of service. The generous gesture (in this case a quick Google search) that costs nothing has the power to change not just the receiver, but the giver too. And when it’s withheld, it costs more than we realise to both giver and receiver.

Image by Kjell Eson

More Customers Vs. More For Customers

Every business begins with the founder’s intention about the outcome he or she wants to achieve. Every aspect of its development stems from that original intent.

As businesses owners, leaders and creators, we can adopt one of two strategies. We can build a business with the intention of getting more customers, or we can want more for our customers.

The outcome we want shapes the kind of business we build.

And the flip side, of course, is that when we want more for our customers, we end up being the kind of company more people want to do business with.

Image by Garry Knight

Why Didn’t It Work?

We’ve been learning by trial and error since we were six months old when we first noticed the effect of our actions on objects. As children we developed skills by learning from our mistakes, paying attention to what didn’t work as well as to what did.

As adults, we are not so keen to see our failures as an opportunity to learn. We might lament about the product launch that didn’t go to plan. The meeting that didn’t pay off. The idea that flopped. But often instead of asking why, we throw the baby out with the bathwater. And in that moment we overlook the opportunity to learn from our failures.

We didn’t learn to build a sandcastle or ride a bike by giving up and moving onto something new right away. We worked out what we needed to adjust, and we adjusted.

The path to success is progressive and iterative. We get there by being brave enough to ask the hard questions along the way.

Jim Purbrick

Nurture Vs. Growth

It’s virtually impossible to think of building a successful business (or life) without having the intention to grow. But sometimes growth for growth’s sake can be a trap. The idea that we have to make a particular metric go up at all costs can lead to unintended compromises. What if instead of thinking about growing our businesses, our expertise or our influence, we thought about how we could nurture them instead?

When we begin to think in terms of nurturing (protecting something while it grows), we are compelled to be more intentional about how we grow. And focusing on how makes all the difference.

Why does your business need to grow?
How does it need to grow?
What does sustainable growth look like for you?
What are you unwilling to compromise on to achieve growth?
What else should you consider before making your next move?

Every journey involves making two decisions. We happily get to where we’re going by figuring out where we want to end up and how we want to get there. Success comes in more than one flavour.

Image by Garry Knight

The Shorthand Trap

Everywhere we look in our digital world we increasingly see options to choose digital shorthand over a handcrafted, personal response. Gmail’s Smart Reply and Smart Compose features for responding to emails, and LinkedIn’s convenient Quick Replies will save us time today, but what might they cost us in the long run? Who do we become when we allow ourselves to communicate on auto-pilot instead of thoughtfully, with humanity?

Emoji are convenient and getting to inbox zero feels good. But if we don’t take time to find the words to say what we mean what do we sacrifice?

There is not shorthand for caring. No substitute for deep connection. There is no shortcut either.
We have to do the work of being the kind of people who make the effort to build the relationships we want if we are to create the future we want to see. What if we saw communicating longhand as an opportunity?

Image by Garry Knight

Adding Value By Subtraction

When we’re innovating a product or iterating a service, we tend to add value by introducing features and benefits. But more isn’t always better.

Sometimes improvements and progress are made by removing things that people wouldn’t miss.

What could you subtract or stop doing to improve your product or service?

Image by Garry Knight

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