Valuing yourself

A hangover from the industrial age is the idea that a salary is for a job which is for a long time.

Many people live in fear of losing their job.

They could instead be considering the value they bring to the organisations they inhabit on a daily basis. 

I remember, when I had a job, dividing my salary by 21 days and again by 8 hours to see how much I was worth an hour.

Or figuring out my annual pay as a reward for everything I did in the year.

It begs the question, ‘Am I worth it?’

These are fun ways to shake the paradigm that a job and a salary will always be there. 

A slightly harder question is ‘how much am I worth?’

Whether being paid by the hour, by the talk, by the session, by the day or by the deal, do we perhaps always gravitate to what we believe we are really worth?

Coming up with a figure can be the hardest question of all.

Many people prefer to be undervalued than to ask their true worth.

How much am I worth

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I only need 1%

Many budding entrepreneurs base their business strategies on the premise that, “The market it worth gazillions and all I need is 1% of that to have a viable business.”

If only it were so simple.

Most businesses will fail with this approach.  Markets are built by people who have worked hard for each percentage that they hold. They do not give up percentages without a fight.

If it was easy,  there would already be five other businesses grabbing their 1%.

Existing players have lots of experience operating in their market. A new business will take months and years to get to know customer needs and supplier capabilities in the same way.

Thinking about taking 1% of the market is not strategic.

What is strategic is deciding why and how you will get your share of the market starting with the first 1%.

Getting 1% of the market is easier said than done

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Strategy and yoga

The game of chess is often rolled out as being useful for strategic thinking.

The chess requirement to think ahead and manage decisions on multiple fronts is valuable for strategists.

But the practice of yoga is more apt as both metaphor and training.

Chess masters can get obsessed with winning and losing, making it a zero sum game.

Yogi’s on the other hand spend their time challenging their awareness. Finding ways to continually improve. The winners in yoga are those who do the practice. Pushing the limits over and over again.

In the process we get to know ourselves. It is hard to be biased about our yogic abilities when we have to face them on the mat, in all their glory.

Strategists could learn from yoga that daily practice, awareness, learning and incremental improvements are more important than a fascination on competition and winning.

We can also think about Yoga as much as we want, but if we do not do the practice, nothing happens.

And the reward lies in reflection. Looking back on where we have come from provides the motivation to keep pushing the limits.

Thanks to Jarvis and the YogaSpirit team for giving me a magical place to practice and, without knowing it, the inspiration to make this connection.

Jim Harrington, world renowned Yogi showing Vashista-Padangusta on Table Mountain with Lions Head in the background

Image source: Jim Harrington Yoga

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Slowly and suddenly

Real change happens like this doesn’t it? Slowly and then suddenly. 

Particularly when we set off on a significant new direction. The type of personal change where we fundamentally shift our outlook and start behaving in a different way. Or maybe we no longer accept something which we have accepted for a long time.

When we look back on our lives and are amazed at how we were previously, we know we have made a big change. 

However we seldom, if ever, notice the day when things are different.

On reflection, we look back, and say something like, ‘I can’t believe I used to think/be/behave like that’.

And yet looking forward, we often long for the day when something will change.

Here is the bad news.

Even if significant change happens, it is unlikely that you notice on the day it does.

Leading up to the change it feels like it is taking for ever or will never happen.

Only when we have made the change and look back on it, can we see the point where things suddenly changed.  

Leading up to the change it feels like it is taking for ever. Only when we have made the change and look back on it, can we see the point where things suddenly changed.

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The essence of a strategy

The essence of your strategy is contained in these four questions.

The first three set your direction and without the fourth we all struggle to keep up momentum and stay on track.

  1. Where will we be three years from now?
  2. What are we going to stop doing to get there?
  3. Once those things are stopped, what is left over that is really important?
  4. Why are we doing all this anyway? 

Use your strategy to make decisions and do your planning. Tell others about it and check that you understand each other.

Measure your progress towards it and constantly review that where you are heading is in line with where you want to be. 

Most importantly, don’t stray to far from #4.

Finding your way with essential strategic thinking










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Walking out the door

Ideas are easy. 

Everyone has thought of the new way to shake up an industry or take advantage of some new technology. 

Ideas are cheap.

Very little input capital nor expenses.

Ideas are hard to protect..

Ask the Winklevoss twins who first thought up Facebook.

Value starts accumulating when you walk out the door and start making things happen. 

The real skill requirement for today’s world is getting things done. Thinking about getting things done is vastly overrated.  

Ideas are cheap. They only start accumulating value when you walk out the door

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It’s always more complex

At the start of a new project we are always unrealistic about what needs to be done.

The reason for this is that we cannot think about all the steps that are required to create our new offering. The gap between the theoretical project and the actual project is always bigger than we think, and more complex.

Much of the complexity is caused by too much activity or information. When we think strategically about our project we can simplify things by forcing our thinking into a sharp yet detailed picture of the future. This way we focus our minds and keep unneeded items out of the way.

A tool like can help you to sharpen your thinking. By answering a few open questions about what you want, you are quickly presented with a strategy that makes sense to all involved.

If you ask your partners to also complete a 1strategy, in a few minutes you can check that you are all on the same page.

1strategy net to create your strategy on one page





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The purpose of fear

Fear keeps us alive. 

Neanderthal cavemen knew to climb a tree when the feeling deep inside them alerted them to buffalo about to stampede.

Today, we know to pay more attention when driving at 100 miles an hour than when we are driving through the mall.

However we do not always see the fear that holds us back from taking the next step in our business or personal endeavours.

Fear’s purpose is very simple, it is an emotion that says, ‘pay attention you could get hurt here.’

We often focus on the second part of that and ignore the first. 

The purpose of fear is to make us cautious, not to paralyse us. 

To keep calm, acknowledge the fear and keep going.  

Paralysed cavemen did not last very long.

Keep calm and carry on even if you are feeling fearful













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Critics don’t count

I think I can safely say that most of us enjoy compliments and feel hurt by critics. We love to feel that what we put out into the world is valued.

The quote below from Teddy Roosevelt is probably the most profound on how to ignore critics. I remember my friend Chris de Bruin quoting it many years ago when he decided to do Ironman Korea. It really resonated – so much so that I decided to do the Ironman in 2008 (success) and 2009 (DNF). I’ll be back to do it in 2017 when I turn 50. 

When I’m feeling cautious to take a risk and put my work out into the world, I re-read this quote and it all seems better.  

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

Theodore Roosevelt 
Citizenship in a Republic, Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris
April 23, 1910

Theodore Rooselvelt speaking at the Sorbonne Paris in April 1920













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Creation and destruction

A friend told me once how in one night vandals destroyed six months of building work at the house he was building.

Creativity in business is similar to this. New ideas that take a lot of risk, vulnerability, hard work and commitment can be destroyed in seconds.

Typical approaches to idea destruction are:

  • Comparing new ideas to failed old ones
  • Trying to get a fixed answer about the risks of the new idea
  • Trouble shoot the proposal to find all potential faults

We have to think differently to foster idea creation. Especially if we want to turn those ideas in innovation.

New ideas are like newborn babies. They are vulnerable. Like a baby, they need nurturing, support, flexibility, love and care. Most important they need the right space to grow.

It is far easier to destroy something than it is to create. Make space for the creators so that their ideas can grow.

Vandalism kills creative ideas








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