Musings on Doing

I’ve been thinking lately about the difference between what you say or know and what you do. Not really in the manner of being two-faced or hypocritical but rather how easy it can be to simply have a knowledge but never accomplish anything significant.

For example, I build software and in my industry change is constant. There is a fear of being left behind as new things come on the scene and are integrated into other’s toolkits. The reaction to that is to find ways to stay current. Often resources such as podcasts or a collection of active blogs can help keep you informed of what’s going on.

The challenge becomes actually learning the new things. It’s very easy to find your self in a situation where you know what the new things are and maybe how they are best used but not really understanding or personally using them. Your knowledge base looks like a shallow river: a mile wide but an inch deep. You’re more of a consumer of knowledge rather that a producer.

When you would have to draw upon that knowledge to produce something, you’ll quickly hit the bottom of your knowledge. You have a measure of knowledge and can communicate that to other people but you are unable to accomplish much or produce much.

There’s an old saying: “Ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge”. That’s the trap that I believe it is easy to fall into. How can we have a net positive output from our learning?

So, the million dollar question is: how do you avoid that trap?

Focus on Output

Set your focus on the output of every thing you do. Ask yourself what will the end result of this activity or effort be? Does it bring me closer to what I want. Will it improve me?


A commonly used phrase is “live intentionally”. I’ve heard that quite a few times but what does it really mean? It means to be thoughtful about how you live your life; making sure that the way you are living your life lines up with what you want. So if you want to learn something or to improve your skills, intentionally set aside time to work on it.


I saved the best for last! With execution the rubber meets the road. The single best way to acquire knowledge is to actually do the thing you want to learn about. So that means in my industry, if you want to learn to build software, you need to build software. Theory has it’s place but theory won’t build software. YOU have to knuckle down and build software.

Is there a difference between what you say or know and do? What’s the output of your efforts? Are you executing and really learning and doing?



Easy Steps to Poor Leadership

Just a short post today but I’d like to point to you a resource that I found interesting and helpful.

I was recently listening to Michael Hyatt’s podcast ‘This is Your Life’, specifically episode 74. The topic was: How to Frustrate Those You Lead (Are You Making These 13 Mistakes?).

If you’ve not listened to the podcast, go listen! His podcast is quickly becoming one of my favorites in my RSS reader.

Here are the 13 ways to frustrate those you lead:

  1. Don’t be responsive.
  2. Cancel meetings at the last minute.
  3. Reprimand team members in front of their peers.
  4. Change your mind frequently.
  5. Be vague with expectations.
  6. Always ask for things that weren’t requested.
  7. Focus on superficial rather than substantive.
  8. Assign work and then micro-manage it.
  9. Do all the talking.
  10. Never recognize team members for good work yet raise their standards.
  11. Always catch them doing something wrong.
  12. Communicate that you are the fount of all knowledge.
  13. Be moody.

If you want to be a good leader, simply invert each item and seek to achieve that. Good leadership requires hard work. It seems that it’s easy to identify bad leaders and to talk about what makes a leader good but it’s much harder to actually be a good leader.

There were many additions supplied by other listeners in the comments. Check it out!



Happy Thanksgiving All!

Here in the US it’s Thanksgiving day so no technical post for today. Rather, I’d like to reflect on being thankful.

I’m thankful for a God that loves and cares for me.
I’m thankful for a beautiful wife.
I’m thankful for my wonderful children.
I’m thankful for my family and friends.
I’m thankful for a roof over my head and clothes on my back.
I’m thankful for my job and the income it provides.

I believe it’s important to be thankful. It’s easy to become un-thankful and disregard blessings as they come our way. I read a quote today in an email from Rob Hatch:

“Adults don’t learn by doing, they learn by reflecting on what they have done.” –John Dewey

So, please, take time today to reflect on your blessings before you get caught up in the shopping and bustle. I know this, if you stop and reflect long enough, you’ll find that you’re very blessed! The more you stop and reflect, the less you’ll be focused on others and what’s going on around you.



The Why

Dreams and Goals: Where are you going?

It’s a fair statement to make to say that we all have dreams and desires for the future. I think that’s just part of human nature. Sometimes those dreams come to fruition and sometimes they remain dreams. However, I believe it’s important to keep and follow those dreams. They can be a source of inspiration.

It’s also important to have goals. But, I hear you say, aren’t dreams and goals the same thing? The simple answer is no they are not. A goal is a more concrete implementation of a dream. It’s more actionable and specific.

I want to talk just a bit about a certain part of your dreams and goals: the why. Why you have a specific dream or why that one thing is your goal. Whenever you set out to do something – really anything of significance in life – you need to sit down and figure out why you that thing is a priority.

The idea of living intentionally is the root idea here. We only have a fixed allotment of years here on Earth. It would be a shame to live out your years and yet never achieve any of your dreams or goals – especially if you spent your life doing things that didn’t matter or didn’t bring you closer to achieving them.  It’s an entirely different thing if you try for your dreams and goals and it simply doesn’t work out (i.e. flying to the moon; but you did work for NASA).

So back to the concept of why. What are the whys of your life? Why are you working at that particular job: advancement, learning, etc? Does that job line up with the whys of your life? If you have been offered a different job, consider the whys. What if your goal is to start your own business: consider the whys.

This concept is not knew, I first heard it a while back from a WordPress developer in Canada, Curtis Mchale. It’s stuck with me because I believe that if you know the whys of your life and you consistently evaluate them against what’s actually going in on your life, you’ll be able to reach your dreams and goals. In short it helps you live intentionally and that is valuable!



Creating Habits

I have a confession to make: I’ve been a terribly irregular blogger. In the past I’ve had more days go by that had no blog post than did. Recently, I’ve altered my morning schedule and have started blogging daily. I’m a bit surprised how much I enjoy it!

So what lead me to changing my habits? I suppose the reason is multifaceted. First, I’ve admired folks like Chris Lema in the WordPress community who blog on a daily basis. Chris writes his posts on a daily basis, not in a batch and scheduling them to be posted. He’s mentioned that over the past eight years he’s had a number of blogs but they always died. Writing daily has helped build a quality blog and platform.

Platform is the second reason I wanted to start writing daily. The software industry is a noisy place, especially online. It’s my desire that through writing good articles each day, I can help myself stand-apart a bit in the industry. While searching for answers to various coding problems online, I’ve seen many, many blogs (often very helpful) but the posts are either all very old or very sparse.

The third reason to blog daily is that it helps me solidify my programming skills if I can explain something in clear and nonsensical way. The old saying is (something to the effect of) “you don’t really know a topic unless you can teach it to someone else.”

My final motivator to blogging daily was a podcast called “Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots.” Great name, huh? Specifically it was episode 72. In that show, Nathan Berry talked about committing to writing 1,000 words per day. Out of that effort he has been able to write new books and update new books for things like iOS 7. These efforts have paid off for Nathan in a big way! I’d like to work toward a similar goal. Writing daily is something that will, and has so far, help me to work toward that goal. As they say in the personal finance world, just keep taking baby steps!