Thursday, December 30, 2010

Linchpin - Executive Summary

The Linchpin series was the first Free MBA blog series that focused on overcoming our anxiety and fear caused by own lesser evolved lizard brains to ship our ideas, and give up on following instructions.

The information material of 11 pages was contributed by Seth Godin from his latest book Linchpin, which I used as support/inspiration for this blog series.

In this series, I learned fear often let's us know we are on the right track (outside our comfort zone), anxiety does no good, to ease up on ourselves, and then ship your idea.

Linchpin Capstone

We'll I did it. I shipped an idea. Made it real. It's not perfect (far from) but it made the exodus from my mind into the world.

Seth Godin agreed to let me borrow 15 pages from his book Linchpin.

I only needed 11.

Here is what I learned:

#1 - Give Up Instructions, Give Away Ideas
#2 - Solve Interesting Problems and Lead
#3 - Give ART
#4 - The Lizard Brain
#5 - Playing It Safe Is Risky Business
#6 - Wrong Choices for the Right Reasons
#7 - You are Your Biggest Critic
#8 - Anxiety = Fear^2
#9 - Do Nothing, Be More Productive
#10 - People Only Laugh at Good Ideas
#11 - Anxious Hours = Ulcer
#12 - Ease Up

For this capstone, I had planned for a long-winded post. But then the beauty of a good idea is that it speaks for itself.

Linchpin taught me to confront my lizard brain and resistance. Before this project, I was a guy with ideas who had too much anxiety to share them, too concerned that people would laugh.

But please laugh, it means this idea is good.

I am easing up on myself, and giving up on instructions. Doing less to do more.

This blog/project is the right choice for the wrong reasons.

Stay tuned. I have a lot of ideas, and I am just itching to give them away.

Note to Seth:
Seth thanks again for the contribution of social capital. It really is worth more than money.

Linchpin (Page 11): Ease Up

Have you ever heard the golden rule, "treat others as you would like to be treated"?

There's a part that was left out, which when tacked onto the end of the sentence, makes it much more helpful for the hypercritical lizard brain.

Golden rule + "including yourself"

If we always knock ourselves down we'll burn out long before we've ever had a chance to shine.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Linchpin (Page 10.4): Anxious Hours = Ulcer

The Jedi can exert their mental power on the universe to mold it. But for the rest of us, we only think we can. The last time you were anxious about an event or issue outside of your control, did it change the outcome. More likely, it just ruined the day.

The linchpin recognizes anxious hours only cause one thing: ulcers.

When something is outside the gravity of our influence, no matter how much force (anxiety) we exert nothing is accomplished.

Instead, we can focus on what we can control. Eventually maybe our circle of influence will grow to encompass what we could not formerly control.

Linchpin (Page 9.5): People Only Laugh at Good Ideas

How many times have you enjoyed a movie critics have lambasted? Most films I enjoy are flops according to the critics standards (may be that's why me and film school did not mesh).

When faced with a tough decision, we often reduce often the seemingly complex reasons to avoid a risk (perceived most of the time) to one simple excuse: people will laugh at me.

When we offer our ideas to the world and critics laugh derisively at us, we retract.

We assume our ideas are bad (some are, but not all). The difference between a good and bad idea is that people take the time to laugh at a good idea whereas they disregard a bad one.

People laugh at good ideas because there is nothing comparable--it's unique. So it's only natural to laugh--there's comedy in what we can't conceive.

Next time someone laughs, thank them.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Linchpin (Page 9): Do nothing and Be Productive

Often, in my personal and business lives, I am hard-wired to simply react with anxiety, often needlessly. Once I knew the cause of anxiety (fear^2), then I learned to choose a more productive response--to do nothing at all.

I am guilty of subscribing to the first, more common, reaction to anxiety (below). It takes a lot of energy to keep up with anxiety.

Sounds familiar, checking and checking again. We all do it (some more than others). It makes you think: what else could I do with all the wasted energy spent on worrying? I think the answer is a lot. A linchpin can harness that energy and redirect it to something worthy of their efforts.

Just sitting with our anxiety allows us to realize how much energy is wasted. We can't always rid ourselves of anxiety, but perhaps we can choose to change our response to it.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Linchpin (Page 7.6): Anxiety = Fear ^2

So I boiled down this Linchpin excerpt into a simple mathematical representation:

Anxiety = Fear ^2

Anxiety takes hold when we fear (the act) fear (the state of being).

It's the unknown we fear. Those seemingly endless possibilities that haunt us. Apparitions of an uncertain future.

We want a map (as Seth put it). We want a free pass.

But once we accept responsibility for the fact that no one but us can knock us down, or build us up then we have the choice.

I choose up over down. After that the anxiety dissipates.

Linchpin (Page 6 5/7): Turning Your Biggest Critic into Your Greatest Proponent (Yourself)

Have you ever noticed there seems to be an inflections point where more effort is actually harmful to whatever you are trying to accomplish?

For instance, in my daily life during meetings, I can prepare with agenda's, detailed notes, the best PowerPoint, but it seems people just know you are trying to hard and don't buy in.

So then I started thinking, why am I trying so unnecessarily hard?

Well it's simple enough: anxiety (not to be confused that life-saving fight or flight fear). For whatever reason, at that meeting and with that subject matter I feel little confidence which breeds anxiety.

So we try our best to mask it, with big words, flashy presentations and feigned insights. The only problem is everyone knows. No one buys it. So all that anxiety has actually caused our worst case scenarios to self-fulfill.

What if we could forsake giving into fear and anxiety. Not react to it and overcompensate. Let the fear cycle helps us, rather than be our detriment. Well that's the focus of this excerpt from Linchpin.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Linchpin (Page 6): The Right Choice for the Wrong Reasons

As an accountant people always remark somewhat confused when they learn about this blog. We're supposed to be rule-followers, and cling to the status quo (not saying that the majority does not), but a lot of people go into my field because they want a steady job and good money (all positives, don't get me wrong), but that seems like the right choice for the wrong reasons. Perhaps, that's why when I meet people they assume I am fear consumed person.

I know I chose to start in accounting to learn the basics and develop my business acumen, and may be to some extent I was also enticed to take a safer route, who knows.

People in general are fearful. Fear of what may happen beyond their control and most scared about the future. That's fine, hell, I get scared about taking chances and seeming like a fool. But the difference is to not let that fear stop you.

We're so afraid because do not want to take responsibility if we should fail.

Take responsibility. Accept fear, but don't stop. Otherwise, what you fear the most seems to come to fruition (see page 7).

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Linchpin (Page 5): Playing it Safe is Risky Business

We've all done it. Not followed through with that idea, held back when we know we're on to something. Why would we want to upset the status quo. Upset the order. The lizard brain entices us to put our heads in the sand. Play it safe, or put another way: let the opportunities of today become yesterday's if only's, which brings me to this post's linchpin tid-bit.
Linchpin Excerpt - Page 5

Why do we yield when everything compels us to move forward?


Fear's ok (Linchpin taught me that). Unchecked anxiety is the true culprit.

Anxiety our propensity to avoid change, to let ourselves fail.

Hell, I am anxious about putting my ideas out here. But, that won't stop me, and it shouldn't stop anyone else.

What we are really doing is letting potential remain just that--potential.

Unless...we push through the resistance. Let go of anxiety, embrace fear (it let's us know we're on the right track), and become true Linchpins.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Linchpin: My Resistance

I finished reading Linchpin. And dog-eared about every other page. Seth donated up to 15 pages to this project. The only problem is that every page is worthy of dedicating further attention to.

So, then I hit a road block and couldn't figure out what to do next. So many choices, I didn't want to screw up. I was afraid of failing. Not posting something good enough, or savvy enough. I reverted to yearning for someone to tell me what to do, tell me how to think, and what to write and learn.

But, then it hit me...fear. The lizard brain crept on me, and moved me down the evolutionary time-line--fight or flight, all or nothing. Why should I be so anxious, I am failing in advance (future post). So, I am challenging the anxiety and pushing through the resistance.

For me, linchpins simply fear less than the rest of us. Of course, there are other things to learn (for them all I encourage you to pick up a copy-I got mine at the library), but the most important is that fear shouldn't stop us in our tracks. We need to endure, and be the rock waves of anxiety crash against in a sea of uncertainty.

So, the remainder of this Linchpin series will be overcoming anxiety and reigning in fear so we can each create forward motion.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Linchpin (Page 4.25): The Lizard Brain

External iteration of the lizard brain: Do it this way, it's easier. Don't step out of line.

Internal Iterations of the lizard brain: I could look foolish. If this fails, then I am a failure. I'll just stay safe, it's not worth it.

Me and My Lizard Brain:
For me the lizard brain (that anxiety in your chest) sets in when I trust the idea of the Free MBA. I have friends who are pursuing their degrees from prestigious institutions, but for some reason, at least in this point in time, this project seems as though its teaching me more than any university could. Teaching me to overcome the resistance I have succumbed to so many times before. It seems odd, staying out of school to learn.

But I can do it, with a library card and social capital. Seth is the first contributor. And I’ve learned a lot.
In this economy where information and knowledge are no longer guarded jewels of industry, but available to any industrious person, we can ship our own ideas. Make them real.

This makes the lizard brain crazy (my is going nuts). But, we can learn to evolve farther up the evolutionary brain chain, and achieve the potential in our ideas (and us) that the lizard brain would have us otherwise squander.

I am fighting my lizard brain (with this project). So far, so good.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Linchpin (Pages 2 1/5 - 3.5): Giving ART

We think of art as reserved for painters and writers. But, we all are capable of giving art. As long as it changes whoever receives it in a meaningful way. As Seth explained in Linchpin.
Linchpin Excerpt - Page 2 1/5

So everyday we have the ability to be artists, to choose to do something meaningful, or make the seemingly mundane meaningful. This is the difference between having a job and a vocation.

Art is human. Art isn't being a cog. It's realizing human to human creates art. That we have the ability to bring our ideas into the world, it's a choice, it's what we learn to do at The Free MBA.
Linchpin Excerpt - Page 3.5

IF you want to change someone with your work (give art), then it's about the human interaction. You have to care. People know when you don't. When you don't care, you revert to being a cog. That's fine, if that's all you need. However some need more, to feel connected to their product, the reason their efforts matter. So they need to give art.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Linchpin (Pages 1 thru 2 1/4): Solve Interesting Problems and Lead

Do you remember 1/10th of what you learned in school? Half the time I was lucky to remember what class to go to, let alone seemingly useless facts and obscure mathematical formulas. Seth has an alternative idea of what school's (for all levels) should teach in Linchpin, which is the focus of the Free MBA (see Ciriculumn page):

Linchpin Excerpt - Page 1 1/4 (cummulative total):

What? no structured courses, graded exams, or obscure facts? well, yes. True learning takes place at the nexus where traditional business subjects collide into one. At this point, connections are made, ideas form, and problems are solved. So while everyone else scurry's to learn subjects in silos, we'll focus making connections and shipping ideas. How? Keep reading.
Linchpin Excerpt - Page 1 11/22rd's

Huh, makes sense. So let's focus on problems you can't Google. But solve them by using information we can Google. What do we have to do, to do what hasn't been done, if we are to do it....

Linchpin Excerpt - Page 2 1/4

So moral of story: the Free MBA Project will base its education on (1) solving interesting problems, and (2) leading. Short, Sweet, but says a lot.