My mind has been scrambled the last couple days. I don't know why, it came on very suddenly. I've made massive strides over the two weeks before - I accomplished about six months worth of work over two weeks. I felt on top of the world. I wasn't even very tired afterwards, I felt good, ready to go.
Then yesterday, just bzzt - nothing. Foggy, almost like confusion. Couldn't focus at all. Strange. I said, y'know what? I haven't had a day off in a while, I'm just going to take the day off. Went and sat at a cafe and listened to some audio for about four hours, walked around and saw the city, went and had a massage, and then sat and ate fruit. Spend like 10 hours in a row just thinking and relaxing, which is good, I don't take full days off very often. I had some good ideas when I was out at the cafe and took some extensive notes, so I got some production out of it too without even trying to.
Now, I wish I could say, "And then I was recharged, and today I was awesome!" But no, I woke up in a fog again. Damn this. I track my time and have some routines to keep me running well, but I was foggy despite it, unable to focus really. Suck, what is this?
I was working, but it was half-working. Now, half-working is a big problem in my opinion. Half-working tires you out as much or more than real full working, but you get about 5% as much stuff done. Yes, 5%. Good work requires something like focus. It doesn't necessarily require the highest levels of focus and flow (though that stuff is very good), but it requires working through the mentally difficult parts when they come up. The worst part about half-work is you cruise through the easy enough stuff, then stumble on a difficult part.
This is doubly bad, because when you come back to your work, you're staring the hardest part in the face. This sucks, you need to kind of regroup and double down to get re-started while staring a difficult or complex part of work in the face. But again, I was in that mental fog and so I start half-working on it, and then I wander off again. And I try to come back to the work, but then - bam, there's this hard problem staring me right in the face, that I already failed to conquer twice.
The "Lights Spreadsheet" concept is pretty well-covered at this point. This was Week 8. I think you understand the general concept of what's going on here.
I'll definitely keep using this; it's a wonderful control and it promotes good action.
But I ask myself, "Is this still worth covering on the blog weekly? It works, but is it interesting to read about?"
You're welcome to weigh in -- actually, please do comment and let me know if you find these posts worthwhile in particular, I always appreciate more feedback on what people really like -- but my basic thinking is that picking a specific point or two each week would be more fruitful and actionable.
INTERNAL SCORECARD #2 --
Meditate on this for a moment -
What's the difference between a person who is genuinely very useful and a person who just does useful things for people all the time because he wants to appear to be very useful?
I think there's a correct answer to this one.
Hint: It's three words.
Strategist Dictum 1: Do things for reasons.
So, what is this is absurd strategist nonsense I'm always going on about?
Reflecting today on the nature of the world, I believe I have come to the core tenet of strategy. The one from which all other tenets flow, the quintessential, alpha-omega principle of strategy, which is -
Do things for reasons.
There's probably lots of reasons. I always got a kick out of it when I was up before dawn. I'd think, "Everyone else is sleeping, and I'm awake and alive!" That's a nice feeling.
But I don't think that's the biggest reason.
I've been on the nocturnal sleep schedule plenty. Sometimes I'm in Asia, and I have calls back to the USA during USA-daytime. That means I'm awake at the night, and sleeping through the morning into early afternoon.
It's fine to wake up at 2PM, as long as you start working immediately.
Y'know, you can read all the case studies you want. It's hard to fully understand international business without going to different countries and walking around.
So, let's talk business and walking around. I was in Seoul, South Korea for a month last summer.
I came to like Korean culture a lot. Koreans are some of the strongest, proudest people I've come across. They manage to combine a strong warrior culture with the utmost civility, order, cleanliness, and quality of life.
It's pretty incredible, actually. Many societies with a strong militant, warrior feeling about them descend into kind of a barbaric police state sort of vibe, constant terror in the air.
Korea? Nope. The men are proud, masculine, patriot, somewhat militant, but in a good way. There's a mix of strong, expansive, traditional values, along with a large minority undercurrent of modernity. It's really good - it's the best of all possible worlds. There's problems - the blatant racism and xenophobia kind of sucks, but I don't mind it so much. Nowhere's perfect.
March 10, 2010. Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Late morning.
I pulled on my swim trunks, trainers, and a tank top and walked out of my little guesthouse room, sliding through the cramped restaurant strewn with tables, and out into the hot, dusty air of Phnom Penh. It's a hot day. It'll be good to swim after lifting weights.
I said, "No no, thank you" to the tuk-tuk drivers offering to take me somewhere in the city, pushed through the little crowd, and out onto the street. The streets in Cambodia more resemble alleyways than streets, and I navigate around people and vehicles.
I went down to the end of the street, turned left, and skirted along close to the local restaurants, half-tent half-storefront type places to get food. I stepped into the crosswalk, the Hotel Cambodiana rising in front of me. I check right and then left, and I watch left as I cross, watching for oncoming traffic.
A loud scream rings out. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.
A few years back, I was getting complacent. I was a successful entrepreneur, in the top 1% for my age. Whenever I compared myself to people similar to me, it wasn't even close. I worked more, accomplished more, produced more, did more meaningful things, was traveling the world. I read more books, did more writing, was generally healthier and more disciplined, spent my time well. I was the top 1% for my age, and even better than that if you measured me against people from similar backgrounds.
I think it's easy for people who are doing great to get complacent. You look at the general sloth and laziness and complacency of most people, you see that you're achieving greatly, and you feel like you're so far above that. You give yourself a pat on the back. "Ah, yes, I'm doing great!"
I had a shift. I don't remember the exact day, but one day I thought to myself -
"I'm not going to compare myself against people my age any more. I'm going to start comparing myself to the greatest men of all time."
Just started re-reading Haruki Murakami's "What I Talk About When I Talk About Running" -- a nice, reflective book. Recommended.
Question for you: What's your ratio of reading a book new to re-reading something you've already read? I find myself, more and more, re-reading works I enjoyed and looking for more lessons rather than picking up something new.