Jul 26, 2010

The Harder I Work, the "Luckier" I Get!

Two books I would highly recommend, The Black Swan, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb and Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.

Both books for me had a similar message: there is a lot more luck, or randomness, if you will, to life and "apparent" success than we would like to admit. This was quite challenging to me at first.

Like many of us, I really bought into the idea of the "self-made person" who "succeeds" because of following some given formula for "success" and happiness.

Both books show that many "successes" or "outliers" can be shown to have, in many cases been in the right place at the right time. That is not to say that these people did not work very hard or not deserve their success, but rather, that many others worked just as hard or harder, were just as talented or more so, but simply did not become household names with their respective level of success. They may have achieved very significant results nonetheless, or in some cases not at all, but those who became household names, the Bill Gates', Michael Jordan's, or Wayne Gretzky's had in many cases many circumstances that worked in their favor.

You would have to read the forementioned books to truly appreciate my point, but for one quick example, consider that Bill Gates happened to go to a high school in the late sixties that actually had computers, and just happened to have a teacher that allowed him access to these computers with his own key 24 hours a day. Without taking away the fact that he spent literally thousands of hours on them, others may have as well, but simply did not have the opportunity. Very few high schools had computers in the sixties.

Taleb refers to Black Swans, (unpredictable events that change the world, or, on a smaller scale, change an individual's life) some of which are bad (9-11, World credit crisis) and some of which are good (Google), and points out that a strategy for living in a world of randomness and in which there is far more that we don't know than what we do know, involves a couple of simple instructions.

First off "insure" against bad Black Swans, which is interesting, because as a financial advisor, it struck me that with insurance I am in the "bad Black Swan" business. After all, most people who purchase insurance don't believe they will ever need it, or tragically, most people who don't purchase it.

Secondly he suggests we should try to "get in the way" of as many "good Black Swans" as possible. What does he mean by that? Get out of the house! Meet new people, make new connections. The next person you meet may change your life completely... if not them, then the person you meet through them, or the person you meet through the person you met through them. Maybe today, or maybe in 10 years from now!

This is why I named this entry, "The Harder I Work, the "Luckier" I Get". I used to think of this saying as a mockery of the concept of luck, but after having read these books, I believe it may be literally true.

I've heard it said, "Activity, even the right type of activity will not guarantee success, but success is impossible without it!"

Please note that above I used the term "apparent" success, and I put the word "success" in quotations. The reason for that is that I believe the actual goal of living a Heroic life, is not the actual "success" that it brings as in how we may surpass others in a given field, or how much money we make (both of which are worthwile goals to have) but to be truly HAPPY.

Leading a Heroic life greatly increases the "odds" of achieving "outer" success, but no guarantees on that, however, here is the really great part in all this:

If you live a Heroic life, you will be happy regardless of any actual outcome, simply in the knowledge that you've done your best, because what you will achieve, regardless of circumstances, is your own personal growth which is truly life's greatest reward.

The person who relies on outer evidence of success for their self-esteem is left with nothing if they ever lose those things.

The person whose self-esteem is based on their own knowledge of their adherence to their carefully chosen values and principles, enjoys all the "rewards of success" they may earn, but even in their absence remains whole and intact and most importantly happy!

So can all of us become multi-millionaires and achieve every goal we set for ourselves. Sorry to all the people selling self-help advice who may claim this, but, no, there are no guarantees.

But can all of us lead truly happy lives? You bet! (get it luck... betting...)

Best of LUCK to all reading this and as far as work, I always love the quote: "It Works if you Work it, so Work it, You're Worth it!"

Jul 24, 2010

Travellin' Man!

I'm off in a few days for a new adventure. After 5 wonderful years in Moncton, New Brunswick, my career is now taking me to Ottawa, Ontario.
While this is a terrific opportunity, and the people I've met there so far seem great, as I am now just days from actually driving away, the reality of what I'm leaving is becoming extremely clear and a little scary.
My time in Moncton has been truly amazing. I had my greatest career successes, made some true friendships, had and recovered from major surgery and also competed and placed in bodybuilding contests! And this only a partial list.
I have much to be truly grateful for, mainly for the fact that in my middle age, my life continues to improve!
Now, I take off for a new adventure, and while it is exciting, it is also daunting in leaving the familiar for the new and untried; it is also sad, in that I am leaving people that I love, and, although I know we will keep in touch, there is no denying the nature of our relationship will change. In short, Lorraine and I are beginning a new chapter in our lives. ("The Continuing Adventures of Rick and Lorraine!")
Years ago, I learned that it is important to continually remind myself to "Do my very best, just for today." This has served me well so far. No one knows what their future holds, and there are no guarantees in life, but I have always found comfort in the knowledge that whatever challenge or reward I encounter, the answer is always the same, "do your best just for today"....
This has prevented me from wasting time pondering, "what will I do, if "blank" doesn't work out?.... or what if "blank" goes wrong?... because the answer is always the same: "do your best just for today".
The title of this entry is from the song by Bob Seiger, and the lyric that reminded me of how grateful I am to have experienced what I am leaving now, and what I've left behind with other moves, is
"Those are the memories that make me a wealthy soul"

I'm a very lucky man.

Jul 19, 2010

I'm back!

I have been delinquent in blogging and am getting back to routine as of today.... Recently found out that I'm relocating to Ottawa, and life has been chaotic, but... enough with excuses... will be striving to blog more often but shorter.... Three things today that came to mind:

1. Seek first to understand, THEN seek to be understood.

2. Align myself with cherishing reality, so that I may be aware of, and profit from all aspects of reality, especially those golden opportunities that could be disguised as problems or hardships.

3. I'm a creature of habit, and I need routine, or I am in danger of losing focus.

"Seek first...." I messed up today, didn't know all the facts, filled in the blanks and lunged out at someone verbally, only to find out that person needed support, not criticism. I should have known better. Now I have some amends to make....

"....golden opportunities that could be disguised as problems or hardships...." I realize in the last week, of trying to juggle my job from two different areas, selling and buying a home and helping out at home while my wife recovers from achilles tendon surgery, that I am capable of far more than I was honest with myself about. I wasted a lot of time, especially in the morning..... this is extremely valuable insight that will serve me... thank goodness for challenges!

"... I NEED routine...." I simply can't just go "with the flow"... I have to continually create accountabilities for myself, and I suspect, I'm not alone.... daily inventory of my actions to see if they are aligned with my values, mission and goals is indispensable! (example of reminding myself, one more time, of things I already know, but sometimes allow myself to lose sight of...

Best to all in your HEROic exploits!