Die Empty by Todd Henry

Die Empty

RATING: 6/10…ADDED: 8/29/14

How to step out of your comfort zone and unconventional strategies on passion and career.

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You must structure your life around daily progress based on what matters to you, building practices and activities that allow you to plant new seeds each day, with the knowledge that you will eventually see the fruits of your labor.

I’ve found that the only way to effectively gauge my work is to answer the question Can I lay my head down tonight satisfied with the work I did today?

Empty space wants to be filled, and where there is an absence of purposeful activity and meaningful progress, any activity that brings the ping of immediate productivity will fill the void. With a lack of clear purpose to drive your work, efficiency often supplants effectiveness, and it’s possible to move ever faster without any sense of direction.

The key to long-term success is a willingness to disrupt your own comfort for the sake of continued growth.

It’s not that there’s anything wrong with their new job; it’s because they changed their external situation without changing their mind-set and methods. They were trying to solve an internal problem by changing their external circumstances, which rarely works. You have to begin by finding alignment internally, then question your work environment.

There is little personal gratification in unintentional success.

Problem finding is increasingly more critical than problem solving.

The inherent problem with the advice “follow your passion” is that it frames the conversation as if you are the center of the world, or as if a state of joy, bliss, or fulfillment is the objective of life. When this is your mind-set, you’re starting off with the wrong question, and will ultimately spend your life chasing after the next buzz when things get dull. The most fulfilled people I’ve encountered in the marketplace approach their work, in any context, with the question “What can I add?” rather than “What can I get?”

Instead of asking “What would bring me enjoyment?” which is how many people think about following their passion, we should instead ask “What work am I willing to suffer for today?”

What you want to identify is productive passion, the sort of passion that motivates you and is also beneficial to others. Productive passion is others-focused, not self-focused. It is what drives you to labor “on behalf of” rather than to simply satisfy your own needs, though it may stoke your own fires as well. It’s what drives you to work a little later than necessary, or to exhibit an extra measure of craftsmanship.

The word “compassion” means to “suffer with.” Where do you see dynamics in the marketplace or the world at large that cause you to feel a desire to step in on behalf of those who are suffering in order to bear part of their burden or rectify a wrong?

this doesn’t have to mean that you’re working to overcome some pressing social ill. Your compassionate anger may be on behalf of an underserved market or a group of people who are not being given an adequate platform or the tools they need to do their work.

Martin said that one of the other people present on draft day was his pastor, Leroy Joseph. Joseph quickly reframed the conversation by reminding Martin of all of the great things he might be able to do for other people, such as single mothers and kids who came from broken and abusive homes. He told Martin that the platform an NFL career would grant him might be a wonderful opportunity to do everything he’d always said he’d like to do.

I knew the only way I was going to be successful at this game called football is if I played for a purpose that was bigger than the game itself, because I knew that the love for the game just wasn’t in my heart.”

[A sacred place] is an absolute necessity for anybody today. You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes to you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation. At first you may find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen.

How would you act differently tomorrow if you knew that your actions and attitude on that one day were going to be a permanent testament to your life? If you’re like many people to whom I’ve posed this question, you would probably get up a little earlier, pay extra attention to your family and the barista at Starbucks, be fully vested in every meeting, be meticulous in every task, call up an old friend for lunch, reconcile with an alienated colleague, and generally wrap up your loose ends.

Knowing our actions are being recorded causes us to go outside our comfort zone and do what we know to be right rather than what feels right in the moment. It forces us to act rather than defer action.

Please stop waiting for a map. We reward those who draw maps, not those who follow them.”

A stretch goal is big. It’s a major feat. It’s something that will challenge you to grow. The important factor when choosing a stretch goal is that it’s something you can control and measure. If you can’t control it, you can’t plan for it. While getting a promotion and landing a major client are valuable goals, there are too many factors you can’t control. However, improving your sales skills, writing a book, learning to write code, or developing aptitudes that will increase your chances of landing a promotion are things you can control and measure, and therefore make good categories for stretch goals.

There are four key areas where you want to consider implementing stretch goals: business/work (developing skills or context for your work), mental (developing your intellectual capacity and ability to process complex information), relational (cultivating and growing your relationships), and personal/spiritual (physical health, emotional growth, self-awareness, or personal skill development).

You cannot pursue greatness and comfort at the same time.

I did stand-up comedy for eighteen years. Ten of those years were spent learning, four years were spent refining, and four years were spent in wild success. . . . I was seeking comic originality, and fame fell on me as a by-product. The course was more plodding than heroic.

What do you already suspect to be true, but are ignoring because it seems impractical on the surface? You will never do your best work until you learn to hone and trust your instincts, then develop the courage to take small steps in the right direction.

Great work results when you stop doing only what you know you can do and instead begin pursuing what you believe you might be able to do with a little focused effort.

Ideas that seem obvious to you may be incredibly profound to others, but you may be inclined not to share them because of a fear that they will be perceived as too shallow.

There’s a false belief that tranquillity equals health, but a tranquil team is often a sign of imminent death because it may mean that no one cares enough to make waves.

I always challenge leaders to encourage dissent and foster discontent on their teams. This doesn’t mean provoking fights for the sake of it. Rather, it means demanding that team members speak their mind, and then highlighting points of disagreement so that everyone is clear about the argument being made by all sides. Then I encourage them to persist in prodding people to fight for their position until there is clearly a winning idea. To be effective, we must resist the urge to censor the conversations—no matter how tense—that might lead to breakthrough ideas.

“You can name about a hundred people throughout all history who meet your criteria of being great. Do you mean to tell me that you’re making it your ambition in life to try to be number one hundred and one? Is that what you’re going for?” He encouraged his son to focus less on the perceptions of others and instead on finding an interesting field to work in, and to spend his energy trying to make a difference in the world around him. Don’t worry about being great in the eyes of others; focus on excelling at your work.

To have an opportunity to excel, you have to put in the time to develop a platform that provides the kind of opportunities you desire.

Two things will paralyze our creativity faster than anything else: 1. We haven’t defined success. 2. We haven’t defined failure. If we don’t have a clear definition of what we’re trying to do, we will spin out. Simultaneously, if we don’t have a clear definition of “missing the mark,” we will experience paralysis. The simple act of clarifying these two concepts can immediately yield courage for your work.

In the past, successful people were typically those who were good problem solvers. They could take disparate bits of data, crunch them, and weave together an elegant solution to the problem. Over the next several decades, people who are especially adept at problem finding will define the world of work. These are people who are intensely curious and willing to apply their cognitive abilities to exploring the gray zone adjacent to existing opportunities until they identify a vein of gold.