5 Steps to Achieving Great Things

If you want to achieve really big things. The kinds of things that people believe to be difficult, improbable or even impossible.  It will require passion, purpose, planning and the ability to execute actions. To accomplish them you have to have a plan. That plan has to has to be fueled by passion. The plan has to have an ultimate purpose. Most importantly you have to have the discipline to take the actions necessary to achieve them.

It takes time to map out a plan and be purposed. However, you can’t plan forever, at some point you have to act. When you do, expect people to freak out on you. They will question you. They will tell you it can’t be done. Hell, they will even tell you that you are wrong or stupid. The best innovation comes when the goal you are reaching for is seen to by others as impossible to achieve. You have to have the courage to set a course and stick to it.

The things that are the most worth doing are the ones with the biggest risk. The more impossible or likely to fail the more worth doing something probably is. The only way to ultimately succeed is to take massive risk with the utmost of determination. Performing action while others stand by and mock, laugh or ridicule isn’t fun. It isn’t glamorous. It won’t win you friends.  However, it will allow you to achieve great things.

To achieve great things you need to do the following.

  1. Find what you are passionate about.
  2. Redirect that passion into a purpose. (what to achieve)
  3. Plan what it would take to fulfill that purpose.
  4. Execute the actions in your plan.
  5. Have the courage to stick to it until complete.

When you learn that the world is your oyster, then all have to do is just take it. When you understand that the only thing keeping you from doing the impossible is you, new doors open up. Fear can be replaced by action. Several actions chained together with purpose can do tremendous things.

It is important to remember that the most important achievements were done by someone taking some sort of action. Leonardo da Vinci expresses it well, “I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.”

I urge you to stop trying to know everything. Stop just saying you are willing to make change. Instead, get up and start applying what you know and start doing the change you want to see.

Political Bites: Lessons from September 11th

What most lasting lesson should Southeast Valley residents take from the events of Sept. 11, 2001?

The lesson we can all learn is that a community united is capable of tremendous things.  The human spirit is caring and compassionate and extremely resilient.  We need to not wait for tragedy for a community to find its common fabric, but instead drop our personal baggage and exude that cohesiveness today.

The Future, It’s About People..

We have been talking about concepts in software development for the last few years at Integrum getting back to humanity.  That the separation of goals and values between developers, product owners and users is out of control.  We have executed a grand experiment with Gangplank of restoring fellowship and collaboration back to the workplace.  Tearing down the context of work and ushering in a place of collaboration, connectivity, creation and innovation.

Recently, I was listening to famed economist Richard Florida talk about what he sees in store for us in 2050.  He ends with “But I think by 2050, we’ll have a much more urban, a faster-paced world, a hopefully a more diverse world, and a world that I think at the bottom not only treats the natural resources and natural environment better, but really for the first time in history, really values human creativity and human beings.  And, you know, if we can leave that kind of world for our kids and grandkids, we’ll all be better off.”

I am excited for the day where we celebrate the human spirit and all that it encompasses, seeing every person not as a cog or a stepping stone, but as a person that should be valued for their uniqueness.  I hope that is the world that my grand kids are able to enjoy.

What is the Motivation of Making Gangplank Free?

A common question is “How does Gangplank work?  Why is everything free?”.  The common theory is that if you don’t charge people something they won’t see any value in it.  Maybe if they are working on an assembly line, but for creatives this just isn’t true.  Our value lies in three things..

1. Gangplank is nearly completely self-autonomous.  If something is missing someone steps up and does it or organizes with others to get it done.

2. Gangplank believes it’s okay to fail as long as you keep trying.  The goal is a journey of excellence.  Seek mastery in what you do.

3. Gangplank has purpose.  It believes that you should be making a positive impact in the community you live in.  Not just for today but in the long run.

None of this should be surprising or new.  Economists, Psychologists and Sociologists have been saying it for years.  I found this great talk from Dan Pink that is animated in real time that explains it well.

I hope this helps answer the question.

The World is Changing and so is our Economy

We might be in the midst of a recession, but I don’t think we have seen anything yet.  Most of America is not willing to acknowledge a few key concepts.

1. Things won’t bounce back to where they were, expect recovery to be in decades not months.  A new normal has been set.

2. The old economy is dying.  The days of manufacturing things is now a commodity.  That other countries are able to much better and cheaper.

3. Our educational system is broken to prepare America’s youth for the new economy.

I understand that I sound like chicken little and at this point people are laughing at the mention of the sky falling.  I could point to statistics and reputable journalists, but perhaps the best thing to do is show you reality.  Let’s take a look at a great city that at one time was the “model city” for “industrial” America, Detroit.

It literally lays in ruins.  It looks vacant similar to Chernobyl after a nuclear meltdown.  Will all cities be in this position?  No.  Is there a little of Detroit coming to every city?  Yes.  We can no longer stand idle and watch as things decay.  It is time to step up and unite.  Tackle the tough problems we face in educating our youth and training a displaced workforce.  It is time to make creativity and innovation core to our culture and walk through to the other side prosperous and and top.   As you watch these samples of urban decay ask yourself what you can do to change your neighborhood, city and state.  How can you help be part of the solution?

Coworking is a commodity. It is a race to the bottom.

I read  “A case against ‘free trial coworking‘” by Alex Hillman from IndyHall and it reminded why I can’t relate to the coworking movement.  I purposefully use the word collaborative workspace when talking about Gangplank because implying that there is a coworking component is a misleading comparison.

Coworking claims to be trans-formative and future thinking.  Changing how people work and think about work, but in reality it is a lie.  It highlights independence of the worker, but still structures itself on old economy models of thinking.

Don’t believe me?  Let’s examine a single phrase from this article to highlight the point.

‘..it’s unwise in an early stage business to give ANYTHING away that you wouldn’t otherwise charge for..’

That is conventional wisdom.  That if you give something away it costs what you gave. The more you have the less I have.  The more I share the more I lose.  This is a dying model.  Repackaging it as a revolution by telling the participants they have ‘independence’ is disingenuous.

The truth is charging for space turns the relationship into a transaction and destroys the ability for real community to flourish.  Coworking is a commodity.  It is a race to the bottom.

At Gangplank we choose to give our space away for free.  All the time, not just on a trial basis. When you give something away, you benefit more than the recipient does.  The act of being generous makes you rich beyond measure, and as the goods or services spread through the community, everyone benefits.  Giving space as a gift with no reciprocity allows us to experiment and create.  We seek to help people be dangerous and challenge the status quo. It’s not for everyone, but it’s how we see the world and we hope to help the right people change their view of the world and how they contribute back to it.  We want to give them the gift of finding the creator within themselves.

Metro Phoenix has been hit harder than most during this recession.  We feel that giving to the community freely let’s us all prosper more quickly.  It increases the quality of bond between our members and ultimately strengthens our community.  It leaves an obligation for our members to help the next person.  The gift creates a surplus as it spreads and ultimately gives us joy.

The argument we always hear is ‘Some one has to pay for it.  You can’t run a space for free’.  The truth is if you were remarkable you would find a way to give it away for free.

The reason Gangplank is hard to quantify is because its worth something more than we could ever charge in rent.

Do We Want It Badly Enough?

Richard Florida a leading economist talks answers the question “Will Phoenix rise from the ashes?“.

I am a firm believer that in fact we do need to build on our assets.  I say this every chance I get.  I often wonder if anyone is listening.

He lists some of our assets as follows:

  • We are big. [My assertion is that we need to focus on getting those here skilled]
  • Reasonable Universities. [My assertion is we need to add smaller private colleges to the mix see item above]
  • Technology to build on. [My assertion is we need to invest heavily in seed funding technology]
  • Has to want it. [ I can rant on this forever]

The last point is the one that imperative.  Do we want it badly enough?  If we do, we need to mobilize, unite and most of all raise the bar.  Mediocrity can no longer be accepted and a push for excellence needs to begin.  It’s time this city grew up and got real.  We need to look long and hard in that mirror and decide what we want to do to set ourselves up for a prosperous future.  It’s time to roll up our sleeves and get to work.

Get Deliberate

@tdhurst posted on “It never gets easier“.  A good post that had one of those triggers: Work Smarter, Not Harder.   Oddly, @evo_terra had posted something similar the other day on twitter.  I hear this all the time at work as well.  Frankly, the phrase just pisses me off lately.

Assuming that the goal is excellence (in whatever it is you are doing relationships, work, running, etc) and that excellence is a journey not a destination.  It is important to remember that NO ONE moves down the path towards excellence without hard work. However, work alone is not enough. It has to be deliberate work or as researchers would say “deliberate practice“. That is where the smarter part comes in.

My new mantra is work harder and smarter. Get deliberate in what you want to be better at. Always easier said than done, but you can’t fail if you don’t try.

Sunday Review: Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

I have decided to do a dead simple book review every Sunday. Some of this is to just share what I’m reading. Rather than go with some complex rating system a book will either be a thumbs up or a thumbs down. Thumbs up means I highly recommend reading the book. A thumbs down means read something else unless you have free time on your hands. I will then do a one or two sentence at most comment on the book.
Take Away: Again, Gladwell does a great job making a point, but does so in about one chapter.  Then the remainder of the book is just supporting stories.

Sunday Review: Extreme Programming Explained by Kent Beck

I have decided to do a dead simple book review every Sunday. Some of this is to just share what I’m reading. Rather than go with some complex rating system a book will either be a thumbs up or a thumbs down. Thumbs up means I highly recommend reading the book. A thumbs down means read something else unless you have free time on your hands. I will then do a one or two sentence at most comment on the book.
Take Away: This is the current bible of good software development practices. Kent unchains the disciplined programmer by introducing him to the team.