Posted in know better do better, mindset, podcasts

Sunk costs

A while back, I was listening to Akimbo by Seth Godin and something really stuck with me. He’s said this in previous podcasts, but, like most things, it took repetition before it hit.

It’s about sunk costs—things that you’ve invested time and money into, but that the time and money shouldn’t be part of a current decision (though, because we’re emotional people, it often is).

I went to school and now I’m thinking about changing careers. But I spent all that time and money on school!

“It is a gift from the you of yesterday to the you of today.”

The you of yesterday gifted you with education, with whatever else came from those years. But standing here today, what do you want to do?

This is especially applicable to getting out of unsavory situations, whether they be relational or monetary. Instead of thinking about how much you already invested, look forward, find a path, and follow it.

Maybe it’s continuing on the same path, but make that decision without the burden of the past.

Of course, the advice is also simplistic and there are variables that come into play in some cases and on and on. But the basic premise is solid. And if you peel away layers of your arguments as to why you can’t change paths, how often do you get down to sunk costs? (Often. Not always. But often.)

Eliminate those arguments, and help yourself move forward.

Posted in audience participation, connections, know better do better, mindset, motivation, podcasts

Old dogs, new tricks, and endless possibilities

Schools in this area have an evacuation site. If, for whatever reason the whole school needed to be evacuated, where would we all go?

At my first job in Arizona, the steak house was mentioned.

New to the local area and vegetarian, I couldn’t think of any steak houses nearby … and also thought that was an odd place for a fairly large elementary school to evacuate to. We’re definitely bigger than their maximum capacity.

Turns out, it’s a Mormon thing. (Based on my Wikipedia research before writing this, she was incorrect to call it a stake house, but perhaps the locals differ from Wikipedia in their vernacular.)

The area has a large Mormon population. Nowhere I’d lived up to that point had much if any Mormon population, so these words/buildings/customs were unfamiliar to me.

My brain making connections the way it does, when I thought of this story, it reminded me that on Freakonomics Radio a few months ago, they were talking about trying new things:

…basically if you are not listening to a certain style of music by the time you’re 28 or so, 95 percent chance you’re never going to. By age 35, if you’re not eating sushi, 95 percent chance you never will. In other words, these windows of openness to novelty close.

Honestly … I think we can do better. Clearly, we need to be nudged … or pushed … or dragged against our will sometimes, but we can do it!

35? 28?! That’s less than half of a life trying all sorts of things and more than half a life with the same old same old. No wonder so many old people are cranky.

Seriously. If we’re open to new things, our lives will be richer, our brains will be healthier, and we have a much better chance at forward progress (in our personal lives, in our communities, in our country, in the world).

In the last 10 to 15 years, I’ve tried a lot of new foods and tons of old foods in new combinations. I’ve learned a lot of new stuff. Tried new activities. Befriended new people.

That said, I’m quite happy much of the time to eat the same stuff, read the same stuff, talk to the same people, and so on. Really, I could just stay home a lot of the time and be perfectly content.

How do I get into new stuff?

Well … every now and then, it’s something that I’ve been interested in for a while but never made time for (because you can’t do it all at once) — like photography.

Even more rarely, it’s something that creeps into my life in such a way that I don’t even remember how it got there, and then it grows and I feed it and it grows and I feed it… — like triathlon (currently defunct) and healthy living stuff.

Most of the time? Someone else introduces me to it. Most of the music I listen to; all “ethnic” food that isn’t Italian, Polish, or American Chinese; running; rock climbing; camping; a trove of details about dinosaurs, Saturn V, and Minecraft. These are all things that I would not have come into on my own — someone else introduced me to them.

And my life is richer for it.

Though I would be OK without Minecraft.

If you know my eating habits, you know some of my favorite restaurants are Indian, Thai, Ethiopian, Mediterranean. I never ate any of these before I moved to Arizona. (Thank you to the people who introduced me to these amazing cuisines!)

What have you done or eaten or listened to or read or watched lately that was new? (And what do you love that you can share with me that might be new to me?)

Posted in connections, know better do better, marriage, mindset, parenting, podcasts, thoughtfulness, tips, vulnerability

Apologies

Apologies.

We tend not to be good at them.

We tend to force children to mutter them insincerely.

We get in the habit of muttering them insincerely, if we mutter them at all.

The first place I heard an excellent, clear explanation of what an apology should be was in Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture at Carnegie Melon. (To be clear: I wasn’t there; I saw it online.) It was given and recorded in 2008 and the linked video has almost 20 million views. But the one I saw was a reprise on Oprah. It’s much shorter; you can watch it here. (It has a lot of good stuff in it.)

He says (starting at 7:40 in the shorter clip) that a proper apology has three parts:

  1. I’m sorry.
  2. It was my fault.
  3. How do I make it right?

A long time later, I heard an episode of Radiolab that was all about apologies. Legal, religious, secular. The history of apologies. It was fascinating and infuriating and frustrating and well worth the hour. (There’s about 5 minutes of business at the front end that might not interest you.)

But what prompted me to put this out to you today was this article from the Harvard Business Review that a friend texted to me the other day.

Like Pausch’s lecture, it includes three components of a good apology. The three pieces are a little bit different:

  1. Admit you were wrong and you’re sorry.
  2. Show them you understand the effect it had on them. (This would be amazing as a receiver.)
  3. Tell them what you’re going to do differently in the future so it doesn’t happen again.

But what really made this article impactful was the story it told prior to getting into the general “this is how you do it” part. (As per yesterday, it’s always the story we connect with…)

In the end, with mediation, someone at work apologized to someone else at work for being a jerk, and the man being apologized to broke down and cried. Because he had never been apologized to. For anything.

Part of me finds this hard to believe, but much of me sees life as it is, sees people as they are, sees my own experience, and believes that this is true.

So … own your shit. (This seems to be less and less lately.) Acknowledge it to the appropriate person or people. See what you can do to fix it, whether in the present or in the future. Make the world better by making your connections better.

Posted in books, meandering, podcasts

Magnetism in enthusiasm

There is something delightful about people who get jazzed about a topic, even if the topic is weird (by my standards) or not something I’m necessarily interested in.

I have read most of Malcolm Gladwell’s books and have enjoyed them thoroughly. Some of the pieces within them are about topics that I wouldn’t necessarily choose to read about. But they were in the book. So I read them. And they were interesting!

He has a podcast called Revisionist History. Some of them I enjoyed because the content was up my alley. But then he turned to talking about music history which, oddly, I wasn’t super-interested in.

And yet, I was captivated.

He was so immersed in what he was talking about and so excited to share it that it was interesting to listen to.

Six-ish months ago, I bought a one-year subscription to MasterClass. Not entirely understanding what I’d purchased, I was delighted to learn that I had access to all of the classes, not just the one I thought I had bought.

I’m taking in all of the classes about either writing or photography. (The Kid has enjoyed some episodes of Penn and Teller and others about space travel.)

In the time I’ve been a member, new classes have been added, including one by Malcolm Gladwell.

It’s about writing, so I was going to watch it regardless, but by this point, I’d become a fan enough that I would have watched at least some of it anyway.

And it doesn’t disappoint.

Listening to the podcast adds voice, inflection, etc. that the consumer doesn’t get in writing.

Watching the MasterClass adds gestures and facial expressions.

If nothing else, he is excited about his work and the stories he tells.

I have no connection to him though I’d love to share a meal or afternoon tea, I get no kickbacks for books, podcast listeners, or MasterClass subscribers (though I think I can maybe give you a referral link to MasterClass and get a discount on a renewal). I am just delighted that his work has crossed my path at this point in time when I appreciate them.

Have you been in a space where you’ve been captivated by someone’s enthusiasm about something that you otherwise might not be interested in?

Posted in meandering, podcasts

Recent podcasts I’ve loved

I listened to and loved two very different podcasts recently.

The first, titled Not really having this argument, was from Akimbo by Seth Godin. It’s only about 18 minutes long (the subsequent 10 or so minutes are follow-up questions from the previous episode, though there was one in there that I also found compelling, so keep listening after “the end”). I’ve listened to it three times. He talks about something I knew already but couldn’t have articulated most of the time, and I want to do a better job remembering it. So I’ve listened to it every few days.

The second is from Armchair Expert and is a live show with Dan Savage. I love Dan, and I love Armchair Expert, so this was a mashup of two of my favorite podcasts. If you’re not familiar with Dan Savage or Dax Sheperd, let me give you a heads up that the language isn’t clean and the content isn’t PG, but it’s fantastic to listen to.

Their fact check at the end (as they do with all of their episodes) is somewhat tedious for the first few minutes (but I had already heard Dan talk about what they were talking about, so maybe you’ll find it more interesting?), but then they fact checked the story about the girl who got pregnant from oral sex and it was true. So keep listening just for that, if nothing else. Super interesting (and no, obviously not something that the majority of us need to worry about, as you’ll see if you tune in).

Has anything you’ve listened to or watched or read really connected with you lately?