The green iguana Sunk costs in mice Cruft Hall wikipedia on sunk costs Seth's blog and sunk costs
I don’t remember where I came across a recommendation to listen to Seth Godin’s podcast, Akimbo, but I’m glad I did. I really enjoy his episodes. The first one I listened to is titled “Ignore Sunk Costs”.
He talks about sunk costs as gifts from our past selves, and it’s up to you to decide whether to continue using this gift, or to decline it and embrace a new set of possibilities. I like his example of having invested in years of study at law school, followed by years of practice as one such sunk cost.
If you decide that being a lawyer is no longer for you, it’s up to you to stop using that “gift” of that education and work experience, and embrace something new. I feel like I had a similar choice when we moved to Israel, even though I didn’t think about it quite in these terms.
This is a great podcast to subscribe to, if you’re interested in different perspectives on challenges you may be facing. Plus, I really like how he has a featured non-profit segment in his shows.
The thing is, if you begin with standards and stick with them, you don’t have to become a jackal to make ends meet. Not only is there nothing wrong with having standards, it turns out to be a shortcut to doing great work and making an impact.
This has come up for me so many times in both of my careers that it quickly seems to be the “way things are done”. Sure, the people who cut corners do seem to get ahead often but at what cost and how long before it comes back to bite them (often in the form of a bigger jackal)?
Standing by your standards can be a tougher road to walk but doing so is often a pretty good representation of the kind of person you are.
Today is a challenging day for me. I’ve been thinking about doing the sort of work that enables me to make an impact by doing meaningful work, lately, so I really enjoyed Seth Godin’s post titled “Calling your finding” this morning. I really like this line:
When what you do is something that you make important, it doesn’t matter so much what you do.
It may be the stage of life that I’m in at the moment but the more I think about the kind of work I want to do, status and wealth are less important to me (well, except as a form of security for our future). Instead, I am more drawn to doing meaningful work that has a constructive impact.
It isn’t necessarily that some mystical event connected you to your Life’s Purpose. Sometimes it’s more about how you do the seemingly ordinary work you have been tasked with too. As Godin puts it:
It’s not that important where. It matters a lot how. With passion and care.
I find myself thinking back to my short time with iCommons around 2007 and 2008 and long for days when I was pretty focused on open licensing, open business and open access to information (even if it was in my limited role). The work organisations like Creative Commons does feels meaningful to me and I think I will always see my involvement in those organisations as some of the most meaningful work I have done so far.
Godin’s post is a short post (as many of his are) but read the whole thing anyway.
I’ve been pretty busy lately and haven’t been writing as much as I’d like. I have about 30 seconds before moving to the next task on my long list of things to do and thought I’d share this quote by Seth Godin (my go-to person for little bits of inspiration and passion re-ignition) about your evolving work in progress:
What works is evolving in public, with the team. Showing your work. Thinking out loud. Failing on the way to succeeding, imperfecting on your way to better than good enough.
I think Godin is talking more about the old production model Facebook popularised (“Move fast and break things”) but it is a great way to describe blogging, I think.
On the one hand I’d like to use the term “writing” instead of “blogging” because the difference between a blog and some other format is really the software you are using.
On the other hand, blogging is a distinct writing approach too. It is about removing the friction of a more formal publishing environment and writing more freely. It is very much about seeing your writing as a work in progress. That said, there are many writers who blog and their writing is about as professional as it gets.
Still, blogging has that indie feel and that is one of the reasons I really like doing it.
Seth Godin has another wonderful post about attention and perspective today. It is titled “Depth of field” and he writes about something which, I think, we all struggle with in varying degrees:
We have a choice about where to aim the lens of our attention. We can relive past injustices, settle old grudges and nurse festering sores. We can imagine failure, build up its potential for destruction, calculate its odds. Or, we can imagine the generous outcomes we’re working on, feel gratitude for those that got us here and revel in the possibilities of what’s next.
Like most of his posts, it isn’t a long one and I’d love to quote the whole thing but you really should just visit his blog and read the whole post. Lots of gems in this one and very relevant for me, in particular.
The thing is, when your model doesn’t match reality (when you have trouble predicting how your investments will do, whether a sales call will resonate, whether a presentation will work, whether a new hire will work out) it’s tempting to blame reality.
What is that old adage about insanity and doing the same thing over and over?