I Could Get Fired For This Blog Post

Challenges is what drives most people, it’s what keeps us engaged.  I’m one of those people, but I like really difficult challenges. I’m not talking about a challenging task at work, or having to deal with a particularly difficult person. I’m talking about being over my head where every day is a challenge, where I feel I need to be on my toes all the time and if I drop the ball I could get fired kind of challenge.

The Marissa Mayer type of challenge (someone I highly admire); she left an executive position at Google to become the next CEO of Yahoo in 2012. I bet every morning she wakes up thinking that everything she does that day needs to count and at night before going to bed hoping that this isn’t her last week on the job. Image that thrill. 

When you feel like your job’s on the line, you do what ever you can to learn as much as possible as fast as your brain is able to absorb it.  You try to improve processes to ease your job.  Every task you do is an adventure in itself.  You quietly walk out of meetings with new terms you need to look up to get ahead. Yet throughout all this struggle you keep your cool and tell yourself you deserve to be here because you’ve earned it.

Now that’s a challenge.

The best part is when your boss comes along after a few months of struggle and says nice job. Not that you were fishing for complements, but gives you that two minutes of release from the pressure you’ve been putting yourself through.

There is no better feeling.

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Evernote, the best thing since Word

So what makes a tool an incredible productivity machine, to me that’s simple:

  • It must run on multiple platforms: web, mobile, tablet, desktop, laptop, home, work, you get the idea.
  • It must backup its data into the cloud and sync across all those devices mentioned above.
  • It also must work when off-line.

For me there aren’t too many productivity tools that fall into this category. The ones that I currently do use regularly include:

  • Todoist
  • Google Calendar
  • Google Keep
  • Pocket
  • Evernote

Evernote is one of those ultra simple tools, much like Twitter is a super simple social network.  It allows you to write notes, mark those notes with tags and organize those said notes in notebooks and those notebooks into stacks and then you can set-up alarms to remind you to do stuff.  The power in Evernote isn’t what it does, but how you use it.

File Sharing

How often do you need to share files between co-workers and have no clue how to go about it.  The usual solution is to send it via email, but then run into issues like the file is too large or the virus scanner rejects it for whatever reason.  Or when someone new needs the file you need to dig through your emails to resend it.  But if you use Outlook like 99% of the corporate world, it chews up your storage, so you delete those sent emails.

The simple solution to this is to create a note, write your instructions and attach the files right into Evernote.  What’s great about this is because Evernote’s culture is to organize, it’s easy to find your document later when you need it.  But what’s even better is that you can email the note directly from Evernote to any recipient which sends the note as is, WYSIWYG-style with the files attached.  Or you can Copy Share URL and distribute that link via email, IM, SMS and the document becomes viewable in a browser where the user can download the file.

Project Documentation

Whenever you start a new project with a client there is always ramp-up documentation that needs to be done.  If you’re in software development there’s software you need to install, environments you need to set-up and get access to, network configurations that need to be made and all that for each individual developer.

Usually this information comes in bits and pieces via phone conversations, emails, maybe even faxes, or an already printed document that needs to be scanned.  And often no one collects this information.  But if you use Evernote and are an organization Nazi you can collect all this information and instructions and document it.  When someone new is added to the team you can share the document, I find that sharing the URL is best that way the document can be regularly updated and you don’t need to resend the document.

Resume

Your resume should be a living document that is updated every few months.  This is especially important if you want to keep yourself on the market even if you aren’t actively looking. On my resume I have a URL that points to an Evernote note with my latest resume.  This may seem redundant, but often recruiters want that initial resume which I usually provide in PDF format which will contain that link, so this provides a way for them to get my latest resume themselves.

Evernote is indeed a powerful tool, I use it to write my blogs, track some famous quotes that I find in articles, to writing short stories, etc.  If there is one tool anyone should use it’s this one, it is the best invention since Word.

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Risk, Fail, Succeed and then have dessert, maybe.

You’re read it several times, in order to succeed you need to fail, not once, not twice, but several times.  For to succeed without prior failure is not success but luck. But what you never read is that in order to fail you need to take risks.

So in order to succeed, you need to take risks, and depending on the challenge will lead you to fail a little or a lot.  Only when you learn from those failures do you achieve success.

The Dieting Challenge

Dieting is the most popular RFS (risk, failure, succeed formula) in the world, people all over take up the challenge of dieting regularly, all of them will fail at least a dozen times when they break down and have that piece of chocolate cake.  A lot of people will give up after the first failure, some after the tenth failure, but the ones that succeed and reach their goal are the ones that learn from their failures and retry.

Two Outcomes to Failure

There are only two outcomes to failure: giving up or retrying. Too many who do fail give up without having learnt anything and hence don’t succeed.  They are also the ones that assume that challenges lead right to success.  

Finding Your Way

Anyone who’s succeeded at dieting learn quite a few things along the way, losing weight is not a short term goal, but a life style change.  Also that along the way failure becomes a fact of life and those people figure out a way to make it fit; ever heard of cheat meals. But the biggest surprise to anyone embarking on this new journey is that the elites, the ones that make it look so easy, fail all the time.  A cheat meal turn into a cheat day and into cheat week, but along this journey they figure out a way to turn it around and get back on track.

66 Days

It takes 66 days to form a new habit, so say these scientists in a study.  So if you’re used to eating McDonald’s and Twinkies daily but want to eat healthier and lose weight, then guess what, you’ll need to tough it out for 66 days before the new dieting goal becomes a life style change.

So What?

This Risk, Fail, Succeed formula can apply to any situation in life: business, hobbies, relationships and yes, dieting. The bigger the challenge, the better chance of failure the larger the risk and the more amazing success will feel.  And somewhere along the way, have a piece of chocolate cake.

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