A common mistake I've seen people make, and I've made a lot myself --
Thinking others will give the same care to your affairs that you would to theirs. It doesn't happen.
There's a quote from the Talmud, it's one of my favorite quotes and I think one of the most important:
"We do not see the world as it is. We see the world as we are."
On the surface, it's a simple quote. The optimists see the opportunities and the pessimists see the barriers.
But it also applies to things like integrity, people keep their word, carefulness, diligence, etc.
I've seen a lot of talented and focused people, time and time again, be disappointed in the results they get from other people.
Other people are actually perfectly reliable, as long as you've got the correct expectations and you structure things correctly. It's only when you start to expect unrealistic things and structure things poorly, that things don't work out well for you.
So bear this in mind next time you're delegating something to an employee, staff member, or even a skilled professional like an attorney, accountant, or doctor -- don't project your values and work ethic onto them.
A few people -- very few -- will do better work for others than they do for themselves and in their own life. To some extent this is cultural: Japanese people are more likely to act this way. It also relates to pride in work: people who see themselves as master craftsmen and love their craft are more likely to act this way. And some people have a particular honor code about it.
These are fantastic people to work with, and ought to be looked for. But even then, the assumption should be that a person will handle your affairs as well as they handle their own at best, and oftentimes slightly worse. So bear that in mind -- if you're focused and diligent, make sure to bring realistic measured expectations to table, and then you'll never be disappointed.
My co-founder is a counter-example. He always put effort into managing others' affairs meticulously. The funny thing is that he's a bit of a douche, so it's not a charity thing. More of a perfectionist/pride thing.
His care of the affairs of others ranges from setting up great company networks for friends (VPNs, DMZ, firewall, etc) to UX/design/progamming work for our clients to preparing business meetings with every detail taken care of (looks up what the other party's favorite food is) to even cleaning my toilet once. It was the cleanest that bathroom had ever been.
Needless to say, this man is very well trusted by everyone and readily given responsibility. I am sometimes in awe to work with him, and that he deems me worthy to work with him :p
The man who can truly motivate, discipline, and work himself to 100% of his productive capacity is rare. It's hard to estimate the number, because I don't know anyone that truly sustains that level of performance day-in and day-out.
What percent of people do that?
It's hard to say. If you were working as focused and as hard as you could, very consistently, you'd hit the upper reaches of your growth curve and stay on it. Yet, when you benchmark performance, you see that most people are not doing as well as they could be.
Crude metrics like sales calls, deals worked on, words written, features created, and so on, would show most people don't put in the focused effort they could.
Likewise, subjective ratings of effort on a daily basis would likely show the same thing. If you got down to the nitty-gritty of tracking time, the picture gets even bleaker. How many days do you actually put in a focused effort of 10+ hours without distraction or screwing around?
I mentioned in my last post that systems (or, in the view of these posts, “universes”) might have things in common that have made them so successful. I asked the question “why do people—myself included—find these universes so interesting?” I don’t think that they “feel real” is a good enough, or complete enough, answer. There must be something more. When a universe seems to have the air of reality to it, there must be elements that approximate our reality, or there must be elements that lend themselves to human involvement, so that when we experience them, we willingly suspend our disbelief and accept a place as a native of that system.
But, this does not entirely explain why these universes work. There are some systems which ask the participants to not only suspend disbelief, but to get rid of it altogether. Religious systems—which I equate with the fictional universes, not because religions are fictional (that is a matter of one’s personal beliefs) but because they carry a somewhat arbitrary system of rules, histories, ideas—they ask their adherents to believe in something quite unlike the way life and its interactions exist in reality.
I believe there are certain meaningful criteria which one can use in order to compare these seemingly different universes:
Using these found criteria, I believe there are connections between the different, successful, universes.