Lessons Learned

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The little guy and I are headed up north tomorrow morning.

After a couple days in the city early next week, we are headed for the Jersey Shore through Labor Day (please hold all sarcastic comments to yourself).

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Before hitting pause on another multi-week work sprint, I took some time to stop and reflect on what we’ve accomplished this year, what we’ve learned, and how we can improve.

This is all part of an ongoing process.

The process begins with planning.

Five minutes of planning every morning can save hours of wasted time.

For me, planning begins with a single prompt: This morning I am grateful for . . . .

The list is short. It’s maybe three bullet points, tops. It can range from a Starbucks Flat White to wrestling in bed with Lucca and the Power Rangers.

From there, I review near-term goals (I typically set goals as quarterly sprints, followed by periods of rest and recovery) and outline one or two tasks for the day to move the goalposts.

One or two wins is all it takes.

Everything else during the day is just noise as long as I hit those targets.

At the end of (almost) every day and every week, I set aside five or ten minutes for reflection. I wish I could say this happens every day but I’m not a robot. Things come up.  But some is better than none. Some of the questions I ponder:

  • What could I have done better?
  • What was the biggest lesson learned?
  • Did I spend my time on the right things?
  • Did I spend my time on the most important things?
  • How will I improve tomorrow? How will I improve next week?

Celebrating the small wins is important, but can be easily overlooked. Most of us move right on to the next thing without taking a moment to step back and reflect. Moving right along is easy because there is always so much more to do. But we need that moment to reflect.

It is that moment that helps us improve wherever and whenever we can. All learning is cumulative. If we strive to get a little better every day, we can get a lot better over time.

I have a long way to go on this journey. There is no particular destination in mind.

Success is the journey itself.

So, with that said, here are a few of the lessons I’ve learned (and a few I’m still trying to learn) during my journey this year. I’ve provided some context when available. But most of these bullets are just ideas I scribbled in my journal along the way. They come from various sources, quotes, and random thoughts that occurred to me throughout the day.

If you don’t pause to think about them, they are easily lost in the shuffle.

  • Get yourself a Jar of Awesome.
  • See things not to worry about, here.
  • Tuesday’s with Morrie; read this regularly.
  • Send someone a handwritten note every day.
  • Plan the night/week before to hit the day/week running.
  • Must. Block. Mornings.
  • Need. More. Cardio.
  • Accept Extreme OwnershipPrioritize and Execute.
  • You can do anything, but not everything.
  • Direction is more important than speed.
  • Slow down and focus only on what matters.
  • Produce something every day; limit consumption.
  • Break big projects into small chunks; make SMART goals.
  • Take Stella for a walk every morning; it’s good for both of you.
  • Draw something every day; get those creative juices flowing.
  • Write something every day; how else will you know what you think?
  • When writing a lengthy report or letter, start your draft in Google Docs with zero formatting;
  • The early bird gets the worm . . . but 3AM is too early!!
  • Get! Some! Sleep! If you don’t, your personal and professional life will suffer.
  • Don’t ever schedule more than one or two calls in a day; ever.
  • Limit the number of calls you schedule in a week; batch all of them.
  • Read at least one annual report per week; that’s 52 companies per year.
  • Reconnect with your executive coach; a good sounding board and an open ear are invaluable.
  • Leverage local resources; outsource all non-core activities (except those that you enjoy).
  • Do things which please you.
  • The best way to learn is doing something with such enjoyment that you don’t notice time pass.
  • The hardest day is Day Two.
  • Only when you can clearly see how you fail will you be able to overcome those failures.
  • It’s not that you stumble, it’s that you get back up.
  • It’s not failure that matters; it’s how you respond to it.
  • What makes a fire burn is the space between the logs.
  • You give little when you give of your possessions; it is when you give of yourself that you truly give.
  • Tutor someone every week; you’ll never feel like you have the time.
  • Make the time; it’s normally the highlight of your week.
  • Anytime you have to wait, take one mindful breath.

And last but not least, remember that you can’t force creativity; deep thinking requires empty space: “I’ve won 869 matches in my career, fifth on the all-time list, and many were won during the afternoon shower.” – Andre Agassi, Open.

Thanks for “listening” all. I’ll be back online after Labor Day. Until then, here are a few thoughts from Oliver Sacks on the benefits of keeping journals. I highly recommend On The Move for the beach this summer.

I started keeping journals when I was fourteen and at last count had nearly a thousand. They come in all shapes and sizes, from little pocket ones which I carry around with me to enormous tomes. I always keep a notebook by my bedside, for dreams as well as nighttime thoughts, and I try to have one by the swimming pool or the lakeside or the seashore; swimming too is very productive of thoughts which I must write, especially if they present themselves, as they sometimes do, in the form of whole sentences or paragraphs.

I rarely look at the journals I have kept for the greater part of a lifetime. The act of writing is itself enough; it serves to clarify my thoughts and feelings. The act of writing is an integral part of my mental life; ideas emerge, are shaped, in the act of writing. My journals are not written for others, nor do I usually look at them myself, but they are a special, indispensable form of talking to myself. The need to think on paper is not confined to notebooks. It spreads onto the backs of envelopes, menus, whatever scraps of paper are at hand. And I often transcribe quotations I like, writing or typing them on pieces of brightly colored paper and pinning them to a bulletin board. When I lived in City Island, my office was full of quotations, bound together with binder rings that I would hang to the curtain rods above my desk. Correspondence is also a major part of life. On the whole, I enjoy writing and receiving letters—it is an intercourse with other people, particular others—and I often find myself able to write letters when I cannot “write,” whatever Writing (with a capital W) means. I keep all the letters I receive, as well as copies of my own. Now, trying to reconstruct parts of my life—such as the very crucial, eventful time when I came to America in 1960—I find these old letters a great treasure, a corrective to the deceits of memory and fantasy.

Article by Christopher Pavese, Broyhill Asset Management

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