It’s easy to acknowledge that a problem exists:

Our users are churning.

This business process is broken.

Our partnership isn’t as successful as we thought it would be.

The thing is, merely saying “there’s a problem” doesn’t bring you any closer to a solution. It’s a declarative statement with zero momentum. You can effectively say these things from your couch.

Instead, add “and” at the end:

Our users are churning, AND here’s how we can stop it.

This business process is broken, AND here’s a better one.

Our partnership isn’t as successful as we thought it’d be, AND here’s how we can improve it.

And is an invitation to look for a path forward.

Making things better isn’t just about investing time in finding problems but also in coming up with ideas and solutions.

Contrary to popular advice, visualizing success is a poor predictor of success (Oettingen & Mayer, 2002; Oettingen & Wadden, 1991).

To investigate why this might be the case, Dr. Heather Kappes and Dr. Gabriele Oettingen ran a series of studies that compared the energy levels of participants who visualized positive…

“But” is the quickest way to introduce resistance and get stuck in your mind.

I’m working on a project, but there’s a roadblock.

I’m looking forward to the weekend, but I have this challenge at work is on my mind.

I’m on vacation, but it’s raining.

By saying ‘but’, Rosamund…

“The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.” — Clarke’s second law

There’s a profound difference between impossible and undiscovered.

Impossible means it can’t happen.

Undiscovered means it hasn’t happened yet.

The default for undiscovered things is to masquerade as impossible:

Marvelous things like flying through space, light bulbs, and capturing solar energy were all thought to be impossible until we figured out how to make them happen. At which point, they were exposed for what they really were: merely things undiscovered.

If you’re facing a challenge that seems impossible, the more likely reality is that it’s simply awaiting discovery by someone who is sufficiently curious, audacious, resourceful, and persistent.

Perhaps that person is you.

“You will never be 100% ready.”

That’s the sage advice that my first boss gave me that has proven to be true time and time again.

Most decisions involve some level of risk that cannot be completely accounted for:

Pivoting into a new career does not guarantee that you will…

Some things make total sense to validate outward:

If you’re working on a project for a client, then it makes sense that the client should be the one to validate whether or not your work meets expectations.

If you’re trying to sell a product, then it makes sense to let…

A trainer I used to work with would often tell me when I was stretching to “take a deep breath and lean into to the stretch.”

If you’ve ever made a point to stretch before, you might imagine that this command is somewhat counterintuitive — namely, because leaning into a…

It’s normal to sometimes be overwhelmed by the amount of information and potential courses of action in front of you.

Having just started a new job recently and experiencing this right now, I’ve started to pose a question to myself every morning to help anchor the day’s activities: “what’s the one thing I should ship today?”.

This isn’t to suggest that I can only do one thing each day — of course not. But by posing this question, I am effectively forcing myself to a) identify early on what the most impactful and useful thing to do is and b) make sure it’s a priority.

Whether it’s with work or other areas of your life, asking yourself this question can help transition you from feeling overwhelmed to feeling focused, reassured, and able to move forward.

In his short 2-year tenure as the United States’ first-ever Chief Data Scientist, DJ Patil generated an impressive list of accomplishments, including establishing nearly 40 Chief Data Officer roles across several government departments and programs, and launching the Data-Driven Justice Initiative, Precision Medicine Initiative, and Cancer Moonshot program.

To help…

William Liao

Taiwanese American, daily blogger of ideas about impactful work in service of others, photographer (ephemera.photography)

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