Quick Hit #2 – Ray Dalio – Success Steps

I am currently reading a must read book called ‘Principles’ by Ray Dalio – Ray is the founder of Bridgewater Associates, one of the largest hedge funds in the world. His book is based on the principles he has developed over 30 to 40 years running his company.

I just finished the first section where he talks about his five steps to success.  I thought I’d share these since they have made their way into my notes and thoughts.

  1. Have clear goals.
  2. Don’t tolerate problems that stand in the way of achieving these goals.
  3. Diagnose the problems to get at the root cause of them.
  4. Design plans that will help you get around the problems.
  5. Do what is necessary to push these designs  through to results.

To pull some thoughts from the start of this section. “First you have to pick what you are going after – your goals…you will encounter problems. If you must be calm and analytical so you can accurately diagnose your problems, design a plan that will get you around your problems and do what is necessary to push through those problems to get results”

I am not sure about you – I am great at number one and horrible from 2 through 5. Tony Robins Quote: “Remember: we all get what we tolerate. So stop tolerating excuses within yourself, limiting beliefs of the past, or half-asses or fearful states.” When problems come up with my goals, I am very quick to say “well, I cant do that..next.”

Ray outlines some useful steps to push through step 2.

For more information on Ray Dalio: Principles


Quick Hit #1 – Add soap to the bucket

Heard a story from Andy Frisella on his podcast this morning about why people cant crossover from good to great. The example that he give is if you were to wash your car using a bucket, soap, water and a sponge but you failed to put the soap in the bucket. How clean would your car be? It would be cleaner – but not as clean had you used the soap. Most people would be fine with having a cleaner car – some people would be irritated that the car is not as clean as it should be.

I use a phrase with my children – “If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over”. I continue to coach/teach my boys that “good enough” isn’t how champions or successful people think. Doing their best – giving that last 2% is where people that make a difference live.

People cant make that crossover because they don’t give that last 2%, or they don’t use every resource that is available to them. Frisella goes on to mention that people cant make that crossover because they just don’t know or are unaware of what is going on around them and they cant adjust to the changes. They don’t see the soap next to the bucket, they don’t think they need it, or they are comfortable with a cleaner car – but not a perfectly clean car.

I for one need to be more aware of the resources I have around me, tap into those resources more frequently to make what I am doing perfectly clean instead of just being “good enough”.

Andy Frisella’s Podcast can be found HERE : Warning…He is very ‘loose’ with his language – if that offends you – then you should pass on his podcast.

Who Really Wants This Money?

I subscribe to the mindset of ‘garbage in – garbage out’. So I try to make sure that I am always watching and reading things that educate me, uplift me or generally allow me to have a more positive daily outlook. Every night for the past few years, I will find a standup comedian on Netflix and listen to some comedy as I fall asleep. This has gone on for a few years and for the past year I have been on a Jim Gaffigan marathon. He has five Netflix specials (one for each kid he says) that I cycle through on a weekly basis. Gaffigan tells a number of stories about how fat he is getting and he has a number of routines centered on food. During one of his stories he makes the comment “Who wants to be thin, healthy and attractive? Argh, Not me. Really, Try Everyone!”

So 2018 has begun. Like many others, I have set some goals for this year, this quarter and even this week. I am locked in and ready to knock it out in 2018. I sit here though and wonder how is this year going to be any different than 2017. I set goals in 2017, I wrote things down, evaluated their progress and worked towards some specific professional and personal objectives. Why wasn’t 2017 an A+ for me? Driving into work I kept thinking about Gaffigan which seems strange given this context. I hear him asking, “Who wants to be thin, healthy and attractive? Everyone!” As I repeat that in my mind I shifted the thought to, who wants to be successful, valued, intelligent, driven and motivated? Everyone! Everyone wants those things. Everyone wants a great 2018. So why is it that when we review our year in December, we give ourselves a grade of a C or C+. The answer is simple for me. I do a great job of evaluating, thinking, documenting, planning and prioritizing what I want to accomplish in a given year. What I fail to do is take ‘massive action’ as Tony Robbins calls it, on any of these goals I’ve created for myself. I simply fail to execute.

A close coaching friend paints this illustration when he speaks to large groups. He holds up a $20.00 bill and asks who wants it. He typically is speaking to high school aged groups. When he holds the $20.00 up every hand in the room gets raised. He continues to ask this group, “Who really wants this money? I don’t believe it. Who really wants it?” Sometimes this goes on for 4 to 5 minutes with him continuing to ask, “Who really wants it?” At some point one of the kids will get out of their seat, walk up to him and take the $20.00 out of his hand. After the money has been exchanged he asks them. “What’s the difference between wanting the money and getting the money? It requires ACTION. You can want all day long, you’re never getting the money.” This year our hands have to stop being raised, we have to stop asking for permission, we have to stop wanting, we have to get out of our seat and take the money.

Who wants to be successful, valued, intelligent, driven and motivated? Everyone does! Although most of us refuse to take ‘massive action’. There are many reasons behind why we continue to sit with our hands raised and remain seated, and others get up and grab the money. There are two reasons why I am still in my chair with my hand up, although there are countless others and other that may limit you.

The first reason why I personally wind up with a C every year is embarrassment. We don’t take these massive steps to reach our goals simply because of the thought of what others may think. What if someone laughs, what if someone is smarter and wants to flex their intellectual muscles, what if I fail and it becomes public. It would be another sad year if we spent it stagnant on account of someone else’s opinion or thoughts. When I work with teams and young people I tell them one thing when it comes to dreams and goals. The people that tear you down, the people that tell you that you cannot accomplish your goals and dreams are the people that have already given up on theirs. They tell you these things to bring you down to their level because they have already quit and their C to C+ improvement and passion for life is acceptable. My 2018 decision is to move forward in spite of the thoughts others may have or the responses I may receive. Theodore Roosevelt has a quote that has been titled “The Man in the Arena”. Essentially he says in this quote, the credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, not the critic. In 2018 I would encourage all of us to enter the arena and take massive action on our plans for the year. A goal of mine this year is to get out of my chair and start speaking more at conferences and engaging more with people in the spaces I am passionate about. This year I am going to enter that arena and the critic can point – at least I am in the arena.

The second reason for me why I fail to take massive action on my yearly goals is simply because it is hard to do. Simple enough right, it is hard. Let me explain it this way. At some point when the enthusiasm of a new year wears off, I have to continue to grind it every single day to achieve these great things I planned. As the grind goes on day after day and into the weeks, my mind starts to tell me that a C+ year is actually not that bad, it becomes acceptable. I work with a group of people every week and the thought I left them with last week was “That which you don’t hate you will tolerate”. We have to hate not improving, we have to hate not knocking out a weekly goal that gets us close to a monthly or yearly goal. We have to hate not providing value to those closest to us or people we work with or our clients. We have to hate it the items that get me closer to my objectives have gone three days without being considers or completed. We have to hate having another C+ year. If we learn to hate these things in our life we will learn to no longer tolerate them and our C+ year can become the A+ year we thought we’d have in January.

What does 2018 hold for you? What plans do you have, what are you doing daily to reach for them? What are your limiting beliefs that will creep up to stop you from reaching them? Mine are embarrassment and tolerating another average year. I am on Chapter 3 page 16 of my 2018 book. So far it has been a decent book, still hovering around a C but I am working towards that B+ A- range. My hand is raised and I have made my intention clear, I want the $20.00 and Ill be damned if I am going to sit in this chair all year long.

Satisfaction and Happiness

One topic has dominated my reading and conversations this past week. The topic is simply happiness. Happiness is a random, high level topic to consider when thinking about leadership, motivation, team building, or someone’s professional career.

From Lean Enterprise pg 10/11– In 2013, PuppetLabs, IT Revolution Press, and ThoughtWorks surveyed 9,200 technologists worldwide to find out what made high performing organizations successful….the headline result from the survey was that strong IT performance is a competitive advantage. Analysis showed that firms with high-performing IT organizations were twice as likely to exceed their profitability, market share and productivity goals.

Two main points from that study really stuck out for me. First, a company with strong IT performance is an advantage in the marketplace. Two, companies with a high-performing IT organization are twice as likely to exceed a variety of expectations. A prominent St. Louis firm has spent the last ten years making substantial changes to how they deliver their services to their customers, and because of these changes they have stayed well above the competition and have been quick to find other market segments that they can provide value to. At a board meeting one of the board members said “It’s time we start thinking of ourselves as a technology company instead of just a distribution company. We have to understand and value that segment of our business more.” What the customer was realizing was that IT can have a much greater impact on the ability of the business to provide value if they are truly thought of as partners, rather than a cost center. I believe that most organizations in today’s landscape should view themselves as technology companies or at least value that segment of their business because software is either keeping their business running and organized or they are creating software for use by their customers. Today, software and technology touch and impact virtually every organization.

Continued from Lean Enterprise: The Survey also set out to examine the cultural factors that influenced organizational performance. The most important of these turned out to be whether people were satisfied with their jobs…The fact that job satisfaction was the top predictor of organizational performance demonstrates the importance of intrinsic motivation. Are these teams satisfied? Are these teams happy?

To summarize the content from Lean Enterprise – the most successful organizations have high functioning IT departments and high functioning IT departments are satisfied, or happy. As a colleague of mine and I talked on this topic over lunch, he stated something that I found really interesting: “Happiness…It’s simple, but profound.”

Friday when I got into work I struck up a conversation with Eric who sits behind me. Eric has been at this company for about a year as a consultant, and like other consultants has bounced around from company to company. I asked him how long he has been here, where he was before, what led to him leave the old company, what he liked about the new company. He went on for about ten minutes, repeating one phrase a few times as he struggled to articulate exactly what happened that led to him leaving his prior job. “I wasn’t happy, I don’t know how else to say it. I hated going into work, I started watching the clock at noon, started counting down the hours. My boss micromanaged everything. She made it so hard to work, I didn’t feel valued at all. I don’t know how to say it, I just wasn’t happy.” It’s simple, but profound.

Lean Enterprise identifies two factors that employees take into account when considering their job satisfaction:

  1. I have the tools to do my job well.
  2. My job makes good use of my skills and abilities.

When I work with teams, coaches and leaders at some point I will make the comment. “What does your team need and how can you help?” What do your employees need? What does your team need? They need the tools to do their job effectively and they want to use their skills and abilities effectively. I would also add that they want their skills to be stretched and challenged. How can you help? This is your challenge as a leader, each member of your team has to be reached differently. One of the main priorities of a leader is to put their people in positions to be successful and to improve. Evaluate, consider, discuss and establish roles that each member can excel at on your team given their different skills sets and abilities.

Ideas to Remember

  • Most successful organizations have high performing IT departments.
  • Cultural factors that influenced performance – job satisfaction
  • Satisfaction – top predictor of performance
  • Tools to do job well – and good use of skills and abilities.
  • “Happiness…It’s simple, but profound.”

Suggestions to Consider

  • Think about your team every day – each individual ask yourself “What do they need, how can I help” – Consider how you can provide VALUE to them.
  • Make sure each person understands how valuable their contribution is to the team’s mission and purpose.
  • Servant Leadership – shift mindset from “they need me” to one of “I need them much more than they need me”
  • Is each member of your team making use of their skills and how can you as a leader stretch their skills.

Humble, Jez and Molesky, Joanne and O’Reilly, Barry. Lean Enterprise, How High Performance Organizations Innovate at Scale. O’Reilly2015