the path to progress
Yesterday was the first day at the Precision Nutrition annual gathering – one of my favorite events of the year. We all work remotely and do not get to enjoy each others’ company very often.
The theme for this year is PROGRESS – growing, developing, adapting, evolving, becoming better.
Phil Caravaggio, a co-founder and CEO of Precision Nutrition, gave the analogy of the horizon. As we strive to get better, faster, bigger, smarter, we continue running towards the horizon. Of course, horizon is an imaginary line we can never reach. And, if we forget that simple fact, it is easy to get frustrated. We never get there. “There” is imaginary.
The only way to realize how far we’ve come is to look over your shoulder. Where are you coming from? How far have you come? That distance keeps growing. While the horizon remains a moving target, the distance you have travelled is the only true measure of progress.
As we shared things we were proud of, two themes started to emerge. Again and again, people talked about FOCUS (aka getting your shit together) and LETTING GO (aka running out of fucks to give).
One of the most impressive things I pulled off in the last year is launching the beginning of the cohort with my team from a remote location. Being location independent is the holy grail of work flexibility, and I finally took full advantage when I flew out to Nicaragua in the middle of January, and spent the next three weeks working from a tropical island.
This was not an impulsive decision – in fact, many things had to fall into place just right before I could do something like that without compromising the quality of my work. I had to FOCUS and LET GO.
Direction –> internal, within.
We mentioned focusing on what’s important, improving and changing the work flow, reducing the amount of time spent switching between tasks, batching to-do items by context, and doing less.
Ahhhh…. this is a big one. Focus is my word of the year for 2015.
Focus implies hard choices. In Essentialism, Greg McKeown reminds us that if it’s not a “Hell, yes!”, it’s a “no”. Sometimes, that is not enough, and you have to say no to some “Hell, yes!”‘s as well.
In the video below (thanks, Rohan!), Jony Ive shares Steve Jobs’ approach to focus:
“When every bone in your body wants to do it because it is a great idea, when you even wake up thinking about it – and still say no because you are focused on something else. That’s focus”.
2. LET GO
Direction –> external, outside.
We talked about distributing authority and delegating (especially difficult for the control freaks among us), giving up tasks that do not add value, and allowing others to take on certain responsibilities, so we can focus (!) on what we do best.
As a coach, I let go by placing emphasis of my efforts on the things I can control, foresee and anticipate, and working on being more proactive, rather than reactive.
In preparation for my tropical island escape, I implemented two separate trial runs in the previous year – working remotely from Alberta and British Columbia (same country, same money, same language, different time zones) and from Boston (different country, different money, same language, same time zones).
Each experiment resulted in improved process and lessons learned for next time. Ask me about that time I completely forgot about time difference between provinces, and then making 4am client calls while in Vancouver. Or that time, an unstable wi-fi signal dropped in the middle of a difficult conversation, so the client assumed I hung up on her. Or that time I spent two hours on the phone with a cell phone provider, trying to set up an American SIM card.
If I can work from a tropical island in Nicaragua, I can work from anywhere. That’s a great lesson. Yet, the greatest lesson of the year is not about remote work and travel, it’s about structure.
(Just enough) structure creates (unlimited) freedom.
For a freedom junkie like myself, that’s an incredible realization.
YOUR TURN: Have you had any mind blowing realizations lately? Is there a “hell, yes” in your life that you can say no to, in order to focus on fewer things? What can you let go of?