three quotes and the truth

In some crapy job years ago I used to have to get three quotes for every piece of maintenance work for the property I was looking after. It was dull, and it was pointless because I always went with who I had preferred the whole time.

For some reason, i hung on to this habit once I had my own home. Bathrooms, Kitchens work on my car I visit, and I wait, and I make comparison tables. Then I do what I was always going to do.

My wife and I just started to compare schools for my son to start at next year. I know which school I would like him to go to. I know which school I really hope he doesn’t have to go to and there is one that we know less about that were going to visit to give them a chance to impress us. We’re arranging tours because I want to feel better about the fact he probably has to go to the school I would rather not use. I don’t really want to compare and chose, I want to look back and say that I compared and chose.

Right now in life what I get from the process is some level of peace in my decisions and a rather dull story about filling out a table and making a smart choice.

I am starting to wonder though, what if? What if I once or twice let myself chose what I think I want all along? What if I did away with the process? What if I were to go to the body shop they tell me how much to fix the scratch on my car and I decide there and then at that moment whether to proceed with the work or live with the scratch? Maybe my feeling becomes one of trusting myself? Maybe my story becomes ‘I just like the guy and the body shop near my house.’

Everything we do is becoming. Every action has its primary impact and its learning legacy. (I can’t remember right now where I learned this or whether I am making up some gold for you right now) The learning legacy i give myself each time I use three quotes on a decision that doesn’t actually require it is one that says ‘hey Benjamin there’s still so much you still don’t know. It says your feelings are not to be trusted, it tells me my time and that of the service persons I waist is a small value compared to the few hundred quid I save from time to time.

How bad could it be if I got a quote and went with it? Maybe I get stung, perhaps one day in the future I find out I could have got the same work done for less. Maybe also I would have been riding around it car without scratches, showering with hot water, cooking in a finished kitchen maybe even having friends over to a house that’s respectable and telling a story about the nice guy who finished the surfaces for us and how come I just liked him.

I have a ton of habits like this that are mild sensible things I have hung on to just slightly longer than is helpful. I wonder what do you still do just cause it seems grown up and sensible?  What would be the alternative?  Is the alternative potentially better?


forming the habit

Everyone says just write. I have known as head knowledge for years that every day that I don’t get started is one where my writing stays at the same piss poor undeveloped level.

Seth Godin told me to write to develop and discover my voice. Mark Manson just told me to get started and I can’t quite remember his point but it was sweary and I found myself agreeing with the audio book. Ramit Sethi told me to and it had something to do with developing a platform.

So seriously for this post, I don’t mind if you’re not reading this one is for me. this one is getting started and hitting ‘publish’ on my nothing much to say just to desensitise myself from feeling that I have to get it perfect. this is the post that will get deleted once there’s some better ones. its the before picture to compare to some wonderful ripped after picture I will one day create.

Grammarly told me last week at work I wrote 4000 words, most of those were apologetic explanations to clients I felt I had let down one way or another. I can’t say that that much practice is getting me any better at writing that kind of mail.

My friend Chris Writes, a few days ago he posted this Falling Out of the (Writing) Habit and the thing I loved about it was that it was just the one thought no grand life changing conclusion just an acknowledgement that there’s a good thing to do, he hadn’t been doing it and his action which happened to be the post itself.

and I thought to myself that is it. that’s my starting point, it’s about starting

Linchpin by Seth Godin

I recommend Linchpin especially for individual contributors who currently feel like work is too much compromise and takes them away from who they are.

The central argument is that it is possible to make yourself indispensable to the business you work for or the wider market.  

In it set explains how we got to the world we are in where many jobs are dull, low paid and not particularly secure.

How you can secure a future by bringing more of yourself to work rather than becoming more and more standardised.

How to push past the resistance that makes us hold back our creativity.

The first time I have ever immediately re-listened to an audiobook was this week, and the book was the linchpin. I cannot be 100% sure if this is because of the timing of when I listened to it (during the week that I was changing jobs) or if is so loaded with goodness for anyone wanting to develop their contribution to the human race that multiple listens is just what it takes.

Seth Godin writes in short sections each would be removable as a blog and maybe that is where he conceived the ideas This means when listening to it you could take it in very short sections at a time, but as a whole, it has a compounding effect.

This book changed me, especially around one particular point.

Before listening, I felt the pressure of many ‘shoulds’ in the direction of running my own business. After listening I was aware that my gameplan of being as useful as possible to my employer while incomplete was still a valid approach or at least the start of one.

How Seth gets there includes a wonderful spin through so many fields that I felt I was reeling at times.

At some level, I accepted his point simply because I was dizzy. I have decided that I like that and might try writing that way in future.

What I liked was that I immediately felt ready for action. I had a much clearer sense than ever before of how I can begin making more of a contribution.

Personally, I feel like I am passing into a phase in my 30s where contribution is more the deciding factor when I am choosing work that interests me.

I have gotten to this point from a lot of personal development programs like Tony Robbins’ and a lot of plain business books like Peter Drucker’s the effective executive.

Why Linchpin helped so much and why I am recommending is that the argument is clearly laid out. There have been several times I have tried to have this argument with colleagues who at that moment were advocating a ‘not my job’ point of view.

My answer had always been lacking something along the lines of ‘its the duty of the strong to protect the weak’ which I think I heard Michael Portillo say once and I may have knicked it. I think I even said it at the end of year review once. I do not advice that.

I was reading Linchpin at the same time as inevitable by Kevin Kelly. I found them very complimentary.

If you read it too, I am interested to hear what you did with it. What have your tried? The whole book reads like a call to action, and I am sure I can’t be the only person who felt moved to make changes.