Morning rituals

You do not have to get up at 0300 and run a marathon in the morning to be successful. There are many other ways to get started with your days (or do it later in the day, whatever is best for you).

Consider these four elements when crafting your day:

Set your day with intention

Our intention creates our reality

Wayne Dyer

Decide for you what this day will be about. Will you finish a big piece of work, or will you attend meetings the whole day? Be intentional about what you will do and accept that you are not always in control of how your day will go.

It is not about achieving your intention. It is about working towards it.

Focus on you

Put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others.

Spend enough time with the most crucial person in your life: you. Do not touch your phone. For example, walk (or run that marathon) for a reasonable amount of time.

Be alone with only your thoughts.

Practice mindfulness

A mind is like a parachute. It doesn’t work if it is not open

Frank Zappa

Observe where you are, what you are doing and what is going on around you. Mindfulness is not an exercise to see if you are in the right place and if the right things are going. It is observing without judgement. Some people like to write this down in a journal. For some others, just the thinking is enough.

Practice gratitude

Feel compliments as deeply as you feel insults.

James Clear

It is easy to focus on what you need to do and what could be better. Though press pause and look around. What are the things you can be grateful for? Take your time for it and enjoy it. Also, is there anything you are thankful for that you can share with others?

Keep in mind: how you start your day and when you start your day is up to you. Pick something that works for you and that you enjoy. Remember that it is consistency that drives your progress.

You have to find your own rainbow to follow. There is no gold at the end of somebody else’s rainbow.

Bill Grundfest

If you focus on failure, you push away learning

“You need to fail fast.”

“embrace failure”

“Failure is a good thing.”

It is easy to write down more of these platitudes and motivational quotes that sound like good advice but aren’t. Since if you focus on failing, all you get is a failure. You get those 100 ideas that do not work, not the one that does. There is no need to glorify failure.

Nature doesn’t embrace failure. Evolution builds upon success and not on failures. Failures disappear. And that is the thing you should do: build upon success, not on failure.

Words Matter

It is not about failing. It never was. What it is about is learning. However, that doesn’t sound as sexy and as a struggle. Of course, you can brush this off as a simple play of words, though words matter. There is a massive difference between “I stopped smoking” (you stopped doing something) and “I am not a smoker” (you stopped being a particular type of person).

When you need to embrace failure and fail fast, your eyes and mind are on failing and not on the learning experience it brings you.

Failing was too easy anyways

Failing is that you need to do something that does not work. However, if this is the approach, you only know one thing: it does not work. Which only leaves you with 10,000 more options to explore that do not work.

And of course, I know that Thomas Edison said:

I Have Not Failed. I Have Just Found 10,000 Things That Do Not Work.

But did he find 10000 things that did not work? Or did he find something he did not know in every failure and learn from it? I assume Mr Edison would be as happy if he had managed to stop after 100 things that did not work or when it had taken 50,000 iterations since he was learning every time.

You either learn or find the solution

You need to experiment when you do not know if it will work. There is no use in experimenting (or failing if you want to persist on this language) when you already know it works or is not going to work. The outcome of an experiment is not either “it works” or “it does not”. Since “it does not” is not a scenario.

“it works or not” does not have to be that binary. It would be best if you were open that either it works (wow, fantastic you are done) or when it does not deliver the expected outcome, be curious about what it does, why it does this thing, how did you get there.

By going from either it is a success or a learning, you move from either it is a success, or it gives me insights on why we ended up here and not in the place I expected (and often in science, discoveries start with ending up in a very different place than expected, sometimes even by accident, such as penicillin)

Fall in love with learning for the future you

To learn to open yourself up to be creative, writer Mo Willems said once:

Creativity opens you up to brand-new worlds. It doesn’t open anything up to brand-new worlds. You don’t know what it opens you up to. It’s not a line from A to B. It’s a line from A to strawberry pizza.

Mo Willems

Suppose you stayed in your binary flow of failing and succeeding. You would only see that it was either a line from A to B or not. You would have missed out on the discovery of strawberry pizza. Is that pizza the thing you need now? Most likely not, though that is the beauty of learning: it stays with you, and whenever the moment is there, and there is a considerable demand for strawberry pizza, you are the one who was open enough to learn about it. The more you spend time running experiments exploring, and learning, the opener you make your mind to new ideas.

Work on your language

Make the implicit explicit. You are not looking for more failures. You are looking to learn. Talking about failure will get you that: one more thing that does not work. And that is where you will stay if you do not learn.

Success comes from persistently improving and inventing, not from persistently doing what’s not working.

Derek Sivers

If you focus on “failure”, you only do a binary evaluation of experiments. It works or doesn’t. When you concentrate on learning, you do precisely the opposite: you are opening more and more doors for now and for the future.

Have you considered a question?

A few weeks ago, I was asked to present for a group of CX professionals on leveraging data in their work, like telling people that the floor is made out of floor. It felt so contentious that I would describe what they needed to do as yet another white man.

The issue with telling other people what to do is that there is one certainty: you do not get any wiser out of it. Since it is just you telling people what you already know while hoping that it is somewhat relevant for them.

You do not precisely know what is relevant for the people you are presenting to, even when they have told you what they would like to know. You do not know their exact background, what they already have done, what they could do and why they are here. So why assume that your slides with statements are relevant.

You don’t always have to be the smartest person in the world.
It is better and easier to be the best at explaining things.
That local maximum will get a better outcome most of the time than absolute brilliance if there is no ability to recreate or incept that idea in others.

Garry Tan

Enter: questions

Questions are way more fun than making statements about how the world is. Since you are never talking about THE world, you are talking about how you see the world and what worked for you. It is survivor bias in the purest form.

However, when asking questions, you trigger your audience to apply their domain knowledge differently. If you can help people to rethink their reality and open their minds, you are doing a better job than telling people what to do while they do not know why they should do it.

Ask the big questions:

  • How would it look like if X
  • What is the 1 thing
  • If you are wrong and the others are right, what does it mean
  • How do you know what to do, if nobody tells you
  • If you did not know anything about this, what would it mean

It is not about forcing people to your answer with your questions. It is about being naturally curious and opening doors, even doors that are closed for you, since what is more beautiful than while you are helping others to discover and learn that you are on precisely the same journey with them.

Next time you have to explain something to experts. Consider not presenting with statements. Explore it together with them with questions. You do not have to have all the answers since you will discover better ones together.

Don’t waste your energy on judging

Good message, lousy packaging, friendly person, horrible person, good food, nice place, never go there again, I am so stupid, he is silly, I look stupid, this should be easy.

We are judging all the time, though why, and does it help you?

I don’t judge anybody, I start studying them, why did they do that. Not in a judging way, but to learn from them

David Goggins

How does judging others help you? It doesn’t. It might wind you up. It might give you a way to vent, though, in the end, you are still in the same place, with less energy. You can learn anything from anybody: is somebody doing horrible things? Learn to be not that kind of person. Somebody is doing something stupid but still making a lot of money? Learn what they do right to make that money, and avoid being stupid.

Spend your energy on learning and improving yourself. There is nothing gained by pointing your finger at people and judging.

You cannot look at other’s people performance to judge your performance. You have to look at yourself

Max Verstappen

Comparison is the root of all unhappiness. For example, the comparison with other people or a “future you” that you have not yet become. If you feel the need to judge yourself, look at “past you”, did you put in the work to better than who you was yesterday, last week of last year.

It is about putting in the work to improve. Consistency is the one thing that allows you to make progress since success is one thing at a time.

Find that one thing for tomorrow, work on it, and accept that putting in the effort is good enough. Do not judge whether or not you are good enough to anybody’s standards, including your own. As long you keep working, you keep on improving and as long as you keep on improving, you will get better.

Rate this from 1-10

The easiest thing to do is rate something from 1-10 since you know what a one for you is and ten for you. You can give the same answers as somebody else with this scale, but are the answers the same, or did you select the exact numbers but you meant something else.

In the Netherlands, where I live, a seven or an eight is good. You do not get a nine or a 10. We consider that too much, not because we dislike it, but because we score very conservatively. This mindset is disastrous for anybody trying to do anything around Net Promotor scores.

The workaround is that the people asking for an NPS tell you that if you are happy or satisfied that you should select “the very satisfied” option, which is at the end of the scale. And even while you might not be delighted, you might do it because the instruction tells you you should choose the extreme option over de moderate ones. This instruction helps people get some promoter scores (9s and 10s). However, they might not capture the real intends from people.

Net promoter score (NPS) is a widely used market research metric that typically takes the form of a single survey question asking respondents to rate the likelihood that they would recommend a company, product, or service to a friend or colleague. [..]The NPS assumes a subdivision of respondents into “promoters” who provide ratings of 9 or 10, “passives” who provide ratings of 7 or 8, and “detractors” who provide ratings of 6 or lower. 

NPS Wikipedia page

Image by u/vladgrinch showing the different grading systems in just Europe

Decision Hygiene

To not fall into this trap, you could introduce good decision hygiene. Decision hygiene consists of ensuring accuracy, breaking the tasks /judgements down, making them independent, and refraining from adding any information that could create bias.


First of all, make sure that not any of the scores is an individual expression (personal interpretation of a judgement) but an accurate one.

Break it down and make it independent

Please do not make it one single question/score. Make it several independent tasks. Break down complex judgement (are you likely to tell a friend about it, how difficult is it to work with us, are you happy with the service delivered) into smaller fact-based assessments and ensure that each one is evaluated independently for others.

No extra information when not needed

Do not add information that people do not need to complete a questionnaire or survey, not even when accurate.

If you want to get feedback from customers on what they think, make sure that they can express themselves in a way that does justice to their viewpoints.

How to be lucky?

Let’s talk about how to be lucky via a set of 5 quotes

There are only two things that determine how your life turns out: luck and the quality of your decisions. You have control over only one of those two things.

Annie Duke

Please do not wait till you get lucky. As Annie Duke shares in her excellent book How to Decide, the one thing you can control and improve is the quality of your decisions. You increase the chances that good things will happen to you by doing so.

What do other people say about how you can increase your chances of being lucky?

Good luck arises from putting yourself in the best position to take advantage of events. As often as not, bad luck is evidence that you are on the wrong track.

Ronald Cohen

As with many things, luck will find you when you are sweating. Put yourself in that best position. However, if you ran over and over again into a wall, perhaps consider there is no door in this wall, and you need to take a different direction. There is no requirement for good luck to appear after bad luck, so change your route if you find bad luck on your way.

In nearly any competitive endeavor, you have to be damned good before luck can be of any use to you at all.

Gary Kasparov

When does luck make a difference? Long after you have completed hard work. Long after you build your capabilities and experience. After that, luck can play a role and impact any outcome. Before that, your skill gap overshadows everything that luck could make up for you.

Work, time, and luck come with achieving a goal. Just know that if you pursue your goal with a steady drumbeat, the length between start and success will continually shrink.

Bob Bowman

It is no guarantee that luck will visit you if you work long enough and hard enough. Since then, it would not be luck but fate. As long you put in the work, and the time deliberately, luck might follow you and help you reach your goals.

What if you are somebody who says that luck does not exist? Perhaps Jean Cocteau can convince you why you should consider it is existing:

We must believe in luck. For how else can we explain the success of those we don’t like?

Jean Cocteau