"I feel stronger." Years later, the line still randomly comes to me, unbeckoned.
It was from one of the most odd and intriguing video games ever made -- Planescape: Torment. You woke up in the morgue as a scarred and battered man who didn't know his name. When you got killed, you would… wake up back in the morgue. You were immortal. You couldn't die. Your goal was to figure out how this happened, who you are, and what you should do about it.
It was beautiful, well-written, and immersive. But the point that still stands out to me is that line.
"I feel stronger."
It happened when you leveled up. The levels up weren't something you chose; they just happened when you accumulated enough experience. It's an interesting metaphor -- you wake completely ignorant, but as you accumulate experiences, you feel stronger. Not "I am stronger." I feel stronger.
That always stuck with me.
INTERNAL SCORECARD #16: Overland, Over Sea, and Over Fear
I write up an "Internal Scorecard" weekly -- we look at production, productivity, habits. Some people like this, because you see the implications of long-term decisions unfolding in a real-world context. I like it because it gives me an accountability mechanism as well.
This one covers 15 September to 21 September.
THREE POWERFUL QUESTIONS
In Internal Scorecard #13, "When Good And When Not," I did some analysis of my productivity.
This was an incredibly useful exercise. You can go read the whole post for my answer, but I definitely recommend this exercise --
"What situations/work mixes am I most productive in?
What are the traps/pitfalls that get me?
How to engineer more of the former and less of the latter?"
Seriously, it was incredibly valuable, thus leading to…
OVERLAND AND OVER SEA...
Heading from Beijing to Taipei, I had a crazy -- what if I didn't fly? Is it even possible?
As mentioned in Scorecard#13, time offline -- especially on trains and ferries -- is critical for me to be maximally productive, clear thinking, and staying on top of highest upside activities.
On Sunday morning, I departed from the Beijing West Railway Station on a 31 hour train ride to to the port city of Xiamen.
It was marvelous. I lucked out in that there were powerful outlets in the hallway of the single second class car on the train. It had been sold out, I was in third class instead of second class. But I pulled up a seat by the window with a power outlet, and no one minded me. I rotated my time between the dining car and that hallway for power.
It took me a while to get into a groove. I mostly read. But eventually, my mind cleared, and thoughts poured first. I started a huge initiative to standardize volunteer on boarding, and designed a whole Training Plan for new volunteers to make sure they're achieving the core goals, and building up in the four big currencies -- cash/assets, skills, contacts/network, and credentials.
It's marvelous. We're already putting it into action and it's just… marvelous.
I started work on some points around decisionmaking principles for the organization, and cleared a bunch of work I'd been putting off that just required hours. It was great.
Xiamen was extremely pleasant, I spent a night there, and then took the overnight ferry from Xiamen to the Taiwanese port of Taichung.
The ferry was also marvelous, and I designed a new set of standards to hold myself to which are working great. I'll detail those in a moment.
I also did a lot of reading on the combined journey.
Ironically, the worst part of the whole thing was a 1-hour bus ride! I assumed stupidly that the bus ride to Xiamen center wouldn't be far from the customs/immigration area at the port, so I just stood with my bags. Turns out, it's an hour long. The bus got crowded, and I was just exhausted and not enjoying the hot bus ride surrounded by people jostling me. So a 31-hour train ride and 14 hour ferry were no problems, but then I get clobbered by a 1-hour bus ride. Funny how things work.
From there, it was a 3 hour rail journey to Taipei (45 minutes on High Speed Rail at double the cost, or half the cost and the same time on the bus -- I opted for the longer train ride, since I like trains and don't mind being on them, but I think I basically hate buses).
I was pretty flat the rest of that day and the next day (travel fatigue), but the journey was marvelous overall. Lots of little work cleared out, lots of reading, lots of thinking, and a few major breakthroughs for GiveGetWin and my personal effectiveness.
…AND OVER FEAR
I reached some milestone recently. I can't pinpoint exactly when I got there. But I'm able to identify fear pressing on me in real time with a high degree of success, and then gently bring my mind around to moving past it. My results have been rather remarkable in doing this recently.
I think it's the combined training in will (mentioned last scorecard) and the general work in impulse control and meditation I've put in over the past few months.
I see fear. It arises. I acknowledge it. Keep working.
I don't know how this happened precisely. There was no single moment. It just… seems like an accumulation of positive experiences in detect/watching/acting through mood and impulse.
In short -- I feel stronger.
AND ON THE WAY TO OVER CAFFEINE
Speaking of impulse control, I was consistently feeling run down when I didn't have caffeine. I was also spending like half of my personal spending -- no joke -- on coffee while traveling.
So, I'm getting off of it.
There's a very effective way that minimizes downtime: I go to the pharmacy and buy 100mg caffeine pills. I just got 150 of them for 450 New Taiwan Dollars ($15 USD).
The average cup of coffee has ~100mg of caffeine. So I start taking caffeine pills instead, in a specific amount each day precisely, and then subtract one caffeine pill periodically until I'm off it. Works much better than cold turkey for me with caffeine.
I had a slight miscalculation. Last time I did this, I started at 400mg of caffeine each day and it was fine. I felt super run down the first two days I did this, and it took a lot of fight to power into my work, until I realized that I'd been consuming far more caffeine, maybe even as much as 1000mg per day before. So I ratcheted up to 600mg temporarily, and that went away. I'll come down from it slowly.
Please carefully do your own research and understand the dosages and health risks if you do this. To my mind, it's pretty darn safe. But get educated well before you do it. For me, it's magical. I'll be caffeine free in… perhaps a month or so? With minimal side effects. For $15. And no more coffee expenses. I'll take that, yeah.
MY 30W / 60S / 1IMN PLAN
I implemented a new basic guideline for each day:
*30 minutes of writing
*60 minutes of systematizing
*Clear 1 "Imminent" priority action
That's the new minimum standard and baseline.
"Clear an Imminent action" is pretty straightforward -- it means I check off one thing from my to-do list, so it'll never totally stagnate while I do high upside stuff.
For writing, I don't mean dashing off a piece for the blog or Medium. I mean, hardcore serious writing, like for The Strategic Review (are you subscribed yet? next issue comes out October 1st about Sam Walton, and it's a barnburner…). Book-quality writing, serious hardcore good writing. It's one of the most pleasurable things in my life to do, but an area I often "didn't have time for" (nonsense) or gave in to fear and anxiety about -- when I would try to do really good writing, I'd get all anxious. Well, combined with some success in the fear-killing and impulse-control arenas as described above, it's been a breeze.
Systematizing is of course the next thing that needs to happen at GGW. We've got a solid proven concept that people are enjoying greatly on the provider level, the donor/buyer level, and the volunteer level. Now it's time to systematize so that the experience is consistently excellent, and that we deliver the most value possible. I'm focused right now on Project Plans, Training Plans, Interviewing/Selection, and Communication with team members… taking the value for volunteers, the standards, and overall eliteness up.
Accomplishing more, with a super vetted team, and having incredibly precise mechanisms to make sure every volunteer are meeting key life goals… yeah, that's a nice place to be focusing. I'm tightening things down just a bit more, and then going to be taking on a number of new team members.
Final note -- I'm loving Clarity. It's a neat platform that handles all the deals of scheduling a quick consult with an expert. I signed up, and people seem to be really liking connecting with me on there. Here's some unsolicited reviews I got --
"I was impressed with how quickly Sebastian got to grips with my business model, and quickly found issues and solutions that I can start working on. I will certainly call him again to get more insight, and a plan for execution, let me just digest first... ;)" -- James Woolley
"In just 20 minutes, Sebastian helped me zero in on what I was struggling with and gave some really useful advice/insight on how I can move forward with a better sales process." -- Tim Craft
"I joined the call with tough questions. . . Sebastian listened, thought hard and then turned around actionable feedback and reference material. I expected a lot from Sebastian but I left the call with more value than I thought could fit in the timeframe." -- Keith Weinberg
"Excellent first call, and I will be doing another with Sebastian in 3-4 weeks time. Something important that he pointed out (which I didn't see from my perspective) was how strong my current position actually is and to leverage it instead of giving up. He gave concrete examples of what I could do to improve my situation. What we discussed will return value at least 10x to me in the next month alone as I implement it. If you're considering doing a call, go ahead, it's more than worth it." -- Kevin Damaso
Definitely connect with me on Clarity if you want to level-up your business or life.
I feel stronger. I hope you do too.
"Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more; Or close the wall up with our English dead. In peace there's nothing so becomes a man As modest stillness and humility: But when the blast of war blows in our ears, Then imitate the action of the tiger"
-- Shakespeare, Henry V
INTERNAL SCORECARD #12: ONCE MORE INTO THE BREACH
I write these Internal Scorecards up, usually weekly, so that you can see the pragmatic applications of strategy, habits, operations, production, etc. The good and bad, the upsides and downs, and so on. I get a lot out of it too -- it gives me and external accountability mechanism, and good feedback.
This one covers 11 August to 17 August.
I was just thinking about fifteen minutes ago, "I don't think I've ever personally used the word foist before". Not that I remember every word I've said, necessarily, but I think I'd remember if I said foist. Today I resolve to use the word foist at least once in a natural context - so watch out for that.
When we last left our heroes, we had just taken all of the seats out of our mighty new school bus.
To get this party started, check out the official BtyB-Time-Machine satellite photo of the bus. This is in no way blantantly ripped from google maps :