It’s an uneasy nagging feeling, there’s just so much content to keep up with.
Our inboxes spill over with newsletters (like this, irony), articles, weekly recaps, daily headlines, how-to lists, and the top five best ways to do anything.
It’s great, mostly. There’s so many people doing their best to share what they think is helpful, informative, necessary. But it can be overwhelming. If you’re anything like me, you feel this sense of responsibility to your inbox, like if you don’t read it, you’re going to miss something (is there such a thing as e-mail FOMO?).
Fast forward to an empty inbox, having deleted everything but that note from your boss and a weird sense of guilt presides – like you just got caught in a lie. Why?
I think for most of us we have no framework for how to deal with our e-mail, at least not for all that thought leader, inspirational, life-hacking, intellectual capital content we subscribe to – work is an entirely different beast that requires a decidedly different approach (which I’ll cover another time).
Why wouldn’t you sign up for James Altucher’s newsletter, Corbett Barr’s? Seth Godin’s? James Clear’s? They’re fantastic, they’re superstars and share all kinds of useful nuggets.
You didn’t bargain for the avalanche of content they share though – yet you can’t unsubscribe – there might be that one thing that changes everything. And they’re just a few of the many flooding your inbox.
Well, here’s my pitch – what if you could easily decide what to read and what to toss – and not feel guilty in the process? It’s easier than it sounds, with one little thought exercise.
When you come across that intriguing headline, ask yourself, “Does the subject matter speak to me?”.
While this is very subjective and at first glance might not appear helpful, hear me out. When you read that header, does it make you curious? Is the topic connected to something you’re interested in or passionate about? Do you recognize the author and want to learn more?
If you answer yes, these are good indicators that the content speaks to you.
If you read that title and think, “This is something I should care about,” or “I should read this,” or “I should know more about this subject,” then you’re not being spoken to, you’re being manipulated by crafty wordsmiths.
This approach is about that feeling you get when you come across something that really piques your interest – pay attention to that and you’ll have a new framework on what to read.
This simple approach will allow you to filter what’s not important to you and feel good about what you discard.
Or, you could always just unsubscribe.
If you just can’t bring yourself to ditch it, file it away.
I have a folder called ‘Maybe Later’ where much of what I don’t read but think might be useful someday lands. Then, if I’m in a pinch and looking for something, I simply use the search function and type in a few keywords and see what comes back – usually this yields a decent result. This is actually how I manage all my email – big catch-all buckets for everything – Friends, Family, Career, Finance, etc.
On that note, I’m sharing a handful of articles that spoke to me this month about life, work and everything in between.
I hope you enjoy and if this lands in your trash, I won’t be offended and you shouldn’t feel guilty.
How do you decide what to read? Who are your favorite content creators out there? How do you manage your email? Hit reply and let me know.
Neill Beurskens is Founder of This Fearless Life and creates profound change for incredible people looking to get more out of their life and work. To explore the possibilities of a life lived fearlessly visit www.thisfearlesslifecoaching.com
“When motivation is high enough, or a task easy enough, people become responsive to triggers such as the vibration of a phone, Facebook’s red dot, the email from the fashion store featuring a time-limited offer on jumpsuits. The trigger, if it is well designed (or “hot”), finds you at exactly the moment you are most eager to take the action. The most important nine words in behaviour design, says Fogg, are, “Put hot triggers in the path of motivated people.”
“Facebook gives your new profile photo a special prominence in the news feeds of your friends, because it knows that this is a moment when you are vulnerable to social approval, and that “likes” and comments will draw you in repeatedly. LinkedIn sends you an invitation to connect, which gives you a little rush of dopamine – how important I must be! – even though that person probably clicked unthinkingly on a menu of suggested contacts. Unconscious impulses are transformed into social obligations, which compel attention, which is sold for cash.”
“When we’re in a safe place, we can interpret that threat response as we do any high arousal response like joy or happiness,” says Margee Kerr, a sociologist and author who specializes in fear. “The response is triggered by anything unpredictable or startling. But when we’re in a safe place and we know it, it takes less than a second for us to remember we’re not actually in danger. Then we switch over to enjoying it. It’s a kind of euphoria. That’s why you see people go right from screaming to laughing.”
“Jefferson knew what he was doing when he wrote that “pursuit of happiness” line, a perfectly delivered slap in the face to his joy-shunning oppressors across the pond.”
“Americans seem to have a deep cultural aversion to negativity. This can be a welcome change, but the pressure to remain positive at all times often results in some complicated mental gymnastics. My son’s report card at preschool divided his performance not into strengths and weaknesses but into strengths and emerging strengths.”
“Like a stony-faced “that’s hilarious” after a joke in place of laughter — another mildly unnerving staple of conversation in this country — it appears that somewhere along the line, the joy has been sucked out of American happiness.”
“When we’re feeling frustrated with others, when we notice ourselves judging others … we can use this as a signpost that it’s time to try understanding them instead.”
“The profit motive can be a powerful force for the common good, driving businesses to create products that consumers rave about or motivating banks to lend to growing businesses. But, by itself, this will not lead to broadly shared prosperity and growth. Economists have long recognised that markets, left to their own devices, can fail. This can happen through the tendency towards monopoly and rent-seeking that this newspaper has documented, the failure of businesses to take into account the impact of their decisions on others through pollution, the ways in which disparities of information can leave consumers vulnerable to dangerous products or overly expensive health insurance.
More fundamentally, a capitalism shaped by the few and unaccountable to the many is a threat to all. Economies are more successful when we close the gap between rich and poor and growth is broadly based. A world in which 1% of humanity controls as much wealth as the other 99% will never be stable. Gaps between rich and poor are not new but just as the child in a slum can see the skyscraper nearby, technology allows anyone with a smartphone to see how the most privileged live. Expectations rise faster than governments can deliver and a pervasive sense of injustice undermines peoples’ faith in the system. Without trust, capitalism and markets cannot continue to deliver the gains they have delivered in the past centuries.”
“As a country and around the world, we confront a wide array of urgent issues that our leaders must address—from terrorism to job creation to migration. Our next president will be part of a new group of global leaders who will wrestle with these urgent problems. Those leaders can either prioritize alleviating poverty, making everyone healthier, and accelerating economic growth—or they can let progress stall. The key to prioritizing progress is support for innovation.”
“When these smart new recruits arrived in the office, they expected great intellectual challenges. However, they quickly found themselves working long hours on ‘boring’ and ‘pointless’ routine work. After a few years of dull tasks, they hoped that they’d move on to more interesting things. But this did not happen. As they rose through the ranks, these ambitious young consultants realised that what was most important was not coming up with a well-thought-through solution. It was keeping clients happy with impressive PowerPoint shows.”
“Companies would be much better off forgetting wishy-washy goals like encouraging contentment. They should concentrate on eliminating specific annoyances, such as time-wasting meetings and pointless memos.”
“But the biggest problem with the cult of happiness is that it is an unacceptable invasion of individual liberty. Many companies are already overstepping the mark”
“I was too young and inexperienced to realize that working for a bad boss is only painful if you take the bad boss seriously.”
“One of the best things you can do for yourself when you’re stuck working for a terrible boss is to grow a thicker skin.”
“Simply choosing the behaviors you want to eliminate from your culture and focusing relentlessly on not tolerating them should be fairly straightforward, right? But this process hits at the heart of something most of us would prefer to avoid –- the difficult conversation. It’s so much easier to say nothing, especially when performance numbers are good. It takes courage to speak up, but it becomes easier when those at the top are clear on the standards and values they expect within their culture.”
“More and more positions require employees with deeper expertise, more independent judgment, and better problem-solving skills. They are shouldering ever-greater responsibilities in their interactions with customers and business partners and creating value in ways that industrial-era performance-management systems struggle to identify. Soon enough, a ritual most executives say they dislike will be so outdated that it will resemble trying to conduct modern financial transactions with carrier pigeons.”
“We have to move to a place where we define what good leadership looks like in our business or organization and start setting a standard for it. What if we measured leaders based on a combined scale that included employee engagement, individual improvement, and business performance? What if we assessed the culture on the leaders team at regular intervals against what we would consider an optimal culture for sustainable growth in our business? We need to create some kind of bar that managers have to hurdle to become leaders rather than accepting any form of management as some variation of leadership.”
“The barn-raising approach purposely and actively elevates community, connection, and a diversity of viewpoints above ideas and individuals. Too often, new initiatives – especially in big organizations – are developed through a series of inward-facing brainstorming sessions, which are designed to capture the core team’s thinking on the subject. Too often, proposals that look great in PowerPoint turn out to be unappealing, unhelpful, or unworkable to the people whom the success of an idea ultimately depends.”
“In strategic decisions, I’d be really concerned about overconfidence. There are often entire aspects of the problem that you can’t see—for example, am I ignoring what competitors might do? An executive might have a very strong intuition that a given product has promise, without considering the probability that a rival is already ahead in developing the same product. I’d add that the amount of success it takes for leaders to become overconfident isn’t terribly large. Some achieve a reputation for great successes when in fact all they have done is take chances that reasonable people wouldn’t take.”
“The premortem technique is a sneaky way to get people to do contrarian, devil’s advocate thinking without encountering resistance. If a project goes poorly, there will be a lessons-learned session that looks at what went wrong and why the project failed—like a medical postmortem. Why don’t we do that up front? Before a project starts, we should say, “We’re looking in a crystal ball, and this project has failed; it’s a fiasco. Now, everybody, take two minutes and write down all the reasons why you think the project failed.”
T”he logic is that instead of showing people that you are smart because you can come up with a good plan, you show you’re smart by thinking of insightful reasons why this project might go south. If you make it part of your corporate culture, then you create an interesting competition: “I want to come up with some possible problem that other people haven’t even thought of.” The whole dynamic changes from trying to avoid anything that might disrupt harmony to trying to surface potential problems.”
Life + Work
“Make time every week to talk about the things you aren’t talking about in your business and your life. Find a coach, a mastermind, a consultant, or even a close friend and sit down and tell them what I really don’t want to talk about is . . . and then take it from there.”
“According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Factbook, Americans work an average of 34.4 hours a week — the longest of any other country in the world — and receive the fewest vacation days. But, it doesn’t have to be that way.”
“Because of the stroke, I reset my professional priorities. With each new career opportunity — from writing books to starting a company to consulting on various projects — I learned the value of a calendar and how to avoid overcommitment.”
“Overload is the way of work these days. It’s how the ambitious among us are hard-wired, and it’s quite dangerous, as my experience showed. But it’s also dangerous for us not to fully pursue — and give our all to — opportunities that move us forward. This is the dynamic tension we face in today’s creative economy.”
“A lot of people are intimidated by the prospect of reinventing their careers because they feel like they need to first hatch a master plan. But I didn’t have one, and you don’t need to either. If you’re not sure what you want to do next, yet you know you want a change, you should go ahead and get started—with a focus on helping others, organizing (or attending) events where you’re likely to strengthen those weak ties, and finding a way to contribute something to the world that other people will value.”
“All this focus on separating work and life can lead to an unhealthy division of yourself, especially if you’re trying to become great at something.”
“These sales experts also emphasized the larger scope of a person’s needs, rather than focusing solely on the merits of the product or service being sold. “They recognized that the psychological frame in which an appeal is first placed can carry equal or even greater weight,” he writes.”
“In challenging spaces, the greatest challenge is that we don’t know what’s causing the challenge — you can’t see it correctly, so you can’t ask the right questions.”
“Investigations into character has become systematized. For players the Cubs may want, Epstein asks his scouts to produce three detailed examples of how players faced adversity on the field, and three examples off the field.”