Notes From My Journal
A Passing Jealousy
Delray Beach, FL– Walking to my office, a woman passes me, going the other way. She is attractive. Tall, lean, and handsome. And I notice that she is dressed attractively too, in a linen skirt and matching jacket.
She pays no attention to me. She is looking ahead, walking with a confident gait, speaking animatedly into her phone. I hear one phrase: “I mean… you can’t wear it all at the same time, can you?”
And that sends me spiraling into that existential despair. No, not despair. More like ennui. No, not ennui. But a pang. A reminder of how much I’m missing.
“I mean… you can’t wear it all at the same time, can you?”
I’m not judging her, as they (imprecisely and insistently) say these days. I’m jealous of her. Truly.
She is living in a world I do not, have not, and never will inhabit. Yet it’s a full world and it seems to me to be in many ways a happier one than mine.
I try to imagine what things in life I loved that much – what material objects gave me such pleasure that such an idea would have occurred to me.
I am a little sad that I have never felt that way: that I wanted to have it all but at the same time.
Of course, that world is entirely open to me. I have only to wish to enter it to become a denizen. Why don’t I?
From My “Work-in-Progress” Basket
The Miracle of Compound Knowledge
I have a little gift for you. A simple idea that can mean the difference between struggling and being immensely successful. It is a very small idea that will be worth a great deal to you if (a) you really understand it, and (b) you make it a part of your life.
The idea in a nutshell: Knowledge is a form of wealth. Like wealth, it provides dividends if it is invested. Over a long period of time, those dividends compound. Eventually, they become gargantuan.
Let me explain.
I’m working with two clients right now who are in exactly the same business. One (let’s call him George) has been in business for four years. The other (Ted) has only 18 months of experience. That 30-month difference has given George some extra knowledge that Ted is missing. Other than that, they are both on an even footing. Both are bright, both are hardworking, and both are good marketers.
Yesterday, I sent each of them the same memo suggesting a specific promotional strategy they could benefit from.
I want them both to succeed. If I had my druthers, they would benefit equally from my memo. I know, however, that they won’t. George will get much more out of this idea than Ted will.
Why is this?
Simply because George’s knowledge has been compounding for 30 extra months.
First, George will understand my memo better. He will get the big picture immediately because he has seen it before. He will understand and remember the details because they will be more familiar to him. He will be able to translate my suggestions into decisions that can be communicated and implemented quickly.
Ted will spend some time wondering if my idea is really all that good. Since he has less experience to judge it by, his natural (and sensible) skepticism will come into play. He’ll think about it for a while, ask me some questions, have some doubts, etc.
This is all well and good, but it puts Ted on the slow track.
While George is turning the idea into a promotion, Ted will be struggling to understand it. By the time Ted has figured it out and puts a plan into place, George will be getting results on his first marketing test and will be making the adjustments needed to roll it out.
George’s extra knowledge is not just personal. He’s developed a staff that is taking advantage of that extra, compounded wisdom. They will “get” the idea faster and will more quickly understand how to implement it, fill the holes, and repair the cracks. They will push all the specifics forward at a much faster rate than Ted’s people will – even though Ted’s people are just as smart, hardworking, and motivated.
Here’s the point:
Knowledge is not static unless you do nothing with it.
If you take an idea and plant it – not just in your mind but in the operations of your business – it will start to grow. What seems like an insignificant seed today will look like a healthy tree in a few years’ time – and a huge, towering oak in 10 or 20 years.
When someone gives you a valuable idea, do something with it immediately. If you are inexperienced, don’t expect it to change your world – but put it to work anyway, because it will become more valuable over time.
Value good advice. Put it to work immediately. Cultivate it over time. As the months and years pass, crossbreed it with other new ideas. As time goes on, your capacity to use new ideas will grow enormously.
One day in the future, what seems hard today will seem easy. An idea that makes you $500 today will make you $50,000 or $5 million. It will be the same idea, but it will be much, much more powerful because you will be more powerful. You and your business will have grown like an oak tree.
Note: If you understand what I just told you, you can appreciate the following paradox: Although Ted gets less from the idea today than George does, his potential for getting more from it is just as great because he will let that idea grow an extra 30 months later on. (I’m assuming they each end up in business for the same amount of time.)
Today’s Word: rood (noun) Rood (ROOD) is an old word for crucifix. As used by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in his historical novel The White Company: “By the black rood of Waltham!” he roared. “If any knave among you lays a finger-end upon the edge of my gown, I will crush his skull like a filbert!”
Did You Know?: Carl Sandberg’s first book of poetry and prose, Incidentals, was self-published.
Worth Quoting: “You cannot create experience. You must undergo it.” – Albert Camus
‘The Elephants That Came to Dinner’