#26 Summary of Posts 1-25

[Transcript] With 25 posts behind me, I've decided it's time for a summary. An index to help make the site easier to consume and understand. Here we go...

In #1 I shared why this site exists - to help me sort through confusing life/business questions. I also mentioned that I'd much prefer to just talk business, but I can't figure out how to separate the two.

In #1a I talked about how the site works. That we’d start with motivation research by Frederick Herzberg. That we'd use this baseline to build a map of me. That we'd then throw various "ideas" or "common advice" at the map and edit as necessary. 

In #2 I took a shot at admitting vulnerability. Admitting that I usually lead with what I know versus expressing who I am. And I suggested you take a look at some Brené Brown TED videos here and here.

In #3 I got into the Herzberg motivation research. I shared his finding that only certain factors create motivation.  These Motivation factors are all about the actual doing of your job. The factors that can't create long term motivation are called Hygiene factors. The most they can do is make you NOT DISsatisfied. These Hygiene factors are things that surround the actual doing of your work . Context. Stuff like management skills, money, size of office. 

In #4 I mentioned the top attitude/hygiene killers.

  • Enforce policies that lack fairness.
  • Hire and promote incompetent managers that also have poor interpersonal skills.
  • Put a confusing salary structure in place.

You must get these factors right for people to feel like they’re being treated fairly. But don’t kid yourself. An A+ in hygiene will not bring motivation.

In #5 I mentioned two top motivators - Achievement and Recognition. I also shared that Recognition can be a DEmotivator. That when you provide Recognition without actual Achievement you kill motivation. People know when you’re blowing smoke up their ass and they don’t like it. 

In #6 I dove deeper into the motivators. Recognition for real Achievement was tops on the list. Then came Work Itself - finding motivation in just plain old doing the work. Then came Responsibility - owning the resources and authority to get your work done.

In #7 I tackled Money. Salary was one of the few criteria that was listed as both a hygiene factor and a motivator. But, in the end, Herzberg classified it as a hygiene factor. In other words, Money can NOT motivate people in the long term. I also shared how I learned this lesson the hard way early in my career.

In #8 I differentiated between positive reinforcement and intrinsic motivation. Positive reinforcement is about reward systems - carrots and sticks.  Motivation is about internal growth.

In #9 I talked in detail about a review Herzberg did of his own work. In my eyes his motivators boiled down to 2 simple factors.

Direct Feedback - feedback from pretty much anyone or anything. Meaning from a person or from observing your own work.

Responsibility - self scheduling, authority to communicate, control of resources, accountability.

In #10 I attempted to put Herzerg’s research into a single sentence of my own. “Be fair to people and help them grow”. I then worked to rephrase the sentence to get it onto my map of me. I came up with two key points. BE FAIR DAILY (BFD) and HELP GROWTH HAPPEN (HGH). My new map looked like this


In #11 I agreed with Herzberg's idea of Responsibility as a motivator. I liked his definition (see #9 above) but decided to change the label. For my map I replaced Responsibility with the word Freedom. When I'm responsible to get something done, I'm more motivated when I get to choose my path.  I'm still a bit unsettled here, since I like both words. Maybe down the road I'll change this one again to something stupid like Freesponsibility. We'll just have to see what happens as my map develops.

In #12 I ripped on big businesses for their tendency to demotivate people via excess bureaucracy. Not a good fit for me and my temperament, but perfectly fine for others. This is why I'm not trying to build a map that works for everyone - I don't believe it exists. My map is mine, yours is yours. To each his or her own!

In #13 I dove into Feedback - one of two main components of Help Growth Happen in my map of me. I made two points. First, when you’re breaking new ground, feedback from third parties is mostly guessing. So you need to tap multiple sources to round out your thought process. Second, the only feedback that matters is from people that love you or your topic enough to engage. Feedback from people that aren’t in the arena with you is just noise. To make these points clear I changed Feedback to Feedback(s). The "s" is a reminder to get several sources of Feedback. The parentheses represent a crucible - the intense heat of engaged feedback.

In #14 I talked about the person who gives me the harshest feedback - ME! How research suggests that up to 80% of self talk is negative. But how I can also be my biggest fan. This led me to the reluctant conclusion that before I can dive deeper into WORK I have to explore SELF. And going in I have to understand that SELF can be an absolute train wreck to figure out.

In #15 I dove into SELF by focusing on why I get out of bed each morning. I pointed out that my focus has to be on ME first and then others. I next introduced Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and agreed that I’d like to become “everything that one is capable of becoming”. So I put a big “I” at the center of my SELF map.

In #16 I guessed that finding my Passion might belong at the center of my I in the center of my SELF map. Upon further research, I decided that this idea is bullcrap due to survivorship bias - the logical error of concentrating on the people or things that "survived" some process and inadvertently overlooking those that did not because of their lack of visibility.

I more believe that passion is a symptom of making progress. That Passion grows after things begin to roll in my favor rather than the other way around. I am 100% NOT searching for my passion.

In #17 I guessed that following my innate Talent might belong at the center of my I in the center of my SELF map. Wrong again. In fact, I convinced myself that the existence of talent is less certain than I’d ever thought. It’s too hard to differentiate between talent and skills developed by deliberate consistent practice. It’s also a fact that thinking you don’t have a talent can become an excuse for poor performance. All in all, I’ve decided to de-emphasize the idea of innate talent. Why invite yet another potential source of excuses for underperformance?

In #18 I talked more about how lack of passion and talent can give me excuses for quitting.  And then I revealed that I believe my WHY is what lives at the center of my I in the center of my SELF map. I get out of bed each morning to “chase my WHY”. WHY gives me the energy of passion and talent without the self-limiting baggage of being predetermined or mystical.

In #19 I detoured a bit to point out that lots of business and self help books are based on iffy data. They violate good research design and make claims that should have more asterisks behind them. So I begged you to arm yourself by reading the book The Halo Effect. And I begged you to realize that there are no one size fits all answers to these hard questions. That’s why I believe everyone must draw their own map. Mine won’t work for you and vice versa.

In #20 I talked about how the concept of WHY works in the human brain. I shared that logic is nice, but that my decisions are actually made by my emotional limbic brain. And it makes decisions based on my primal need as a human being to belong. It’s all about making connections. And, as Brené Brown warns, “Connection is why we’re here. We’re hardwired to connect with others, it’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives, and without it there is suffering.”

In #21 I talk about how to find my WHY. I also shared that I found mine by answering the following question. “What captures you so completely that you sometimes forget to eat and maybe even breathe while you’re doing it?” My answer is “learning about stuff that interests me”. I then backtested this potential WHY to see if it could help explain decisions from my past - and it did. I’ll never know for sure but I'm more convinced than ever that my WHY is correct.

In #22 I dug further into WHY by using the “5 Why’s” technique. This suggested that I focus on learning because it helps overcome my interpersonal insecurity. It gives me a place to hang my hat and park my self worth. I then tried to clean up my WHY. In the end, I settled on “To Learn and Share”. 

In #23 I focused on keeping my WHY wide and horizontal rather then getting specific. So being vertical - saying your WHY is to be a banker - is bad. Being horizontal - saying I like helping people manage their finances - is good. This leaves lots of options other than just playing the role of banker. So being wide is good and it’s OK that this makes your WHY less unique.

In #24 I introduced WHY’s partner ME. I talked about how ME is the set of traits that define my strongest preferences. How I found my ME by looking at all the negative things I’ve been called consistently over time. And how these preferences are often double-edged swords.  My need to KNOW can manifest as being oblivious or as well-informed. My need to DISTILL before moving forward can look like bullheadedness or wonderful simplicity. My communication style of being DIRECT can look like rudeness or refreshing candor. Regardless of which side of the sword I use, KNOW, DISTILL, beDIRECT are my ME . And they partner with my WHY (To Learn and Share) to make me who I am.

In #25 I shared some GOTCHA’s that I found while trying to figure out my WHY/ME. I won’t list them again, but they’re required reading if you’re drawing your own map.

And that’s it. After all this, I’m left with this map of my SELF.


The main change you’ll notice, other than the new shape (ditched the circles and went with rectangle), is that I’ve replaced “I” with my silhouette. I think it better describes exactly where my WHY and ME live - in the back of my brain. You’ll also notice the small DuO sitting at the base of my ME - this was GOTCHA #1 from post #25.

You can also see by the image that there are 2 more slices in my head that we need to explore. Somehow we have to get from these things that define me - WHY/ME - to real live action. And these 2 slices are going to get us there. 

And then, finally, once we have a more complete map of my SELF, we're going to switch back to building my WORK map. If all goes as planned, we'll be able to use the exact same map for both my SELF and my WORK. We shall see...

***Note: This site works best when you read the posts in order. So please head to the ARCHIVE to get started.