When the Problem Is the Problem

photo shows a blue, partly cloudy sky through a square courtyard of buildings

We like to think we are glass half-full kind of people. We are all for due diligence and preparation, but we also remain optimistic that over time, the best possible things can happen. So how do we keep that spirit? The trick is knowing what you’re up against.

We have to be realistic about the problems we face. Sometimes when a problem seems insurmountable, it’s because it is. Volatility in the markets? You might as well fight gravity. It’s part of the deal.

It can’t be a problem because it can’t be solved.

Making sure you have the resources you need to meet your goals? That might be something that we can address—specifically, with some planning, strategy, and arithmetic. And honestly, some hope. If you don’t think your goals are possible, you’re probably right. There’s a world of difference between “Could I…?” and “How could I…?” We just have to stay open to possibility.

The alternative, we think, is pretty unbearable. We’ve watched too many friends waste away fighting things that were out of their control. What if their energy had been given instead to activities they could control? It’s the difference between years of soul-sucking labor and years of life-giving pursuit.

We want you to benefit from the best of our perspective. You might remember we’ve talked about this sort of thing before, as when we cautioned “Don’t Let Your Anchor Drown You.” We’re not promising a rosy path of puppies and rainbows, but we are interested in any outlook that serves us for the long haul.

The obstacles, the possibilities—we’re ready to face all of the above. Thanks for joining us.

Clients, if you’d like to talk more about what this means for you, call or write.

Thoughts and Destiny

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Our thoughts become words; words, actions; actions, habits; habits, character.

What we “do” for work is sometimes hard to describe. Often, it starts in the mind. Either we have a hunch, or a client wonders, “What if…”

Soon, we’re writing or talking about it. We’re acting on our plan. We’re integrating the change into the overall vision. And we’ve done it! We’re working our whole, integrated system.

Simple enough, right? Deliberate motion.

But it starts with planning, taking those thoughts and arranging them in the direction of our goals.

Lately, we’ve been thinking about that series of relationships. We’ve seen the sentiment posted above in many forms over the years, and we found out that versions of that idea have been ascribed to various poets and teachers for hundreds of years (not to mention Lao Tzu, Margaret Thatcher, and even the Buddha!).

Maybe the credit ought to be shared after all, because we think there is treasure of wisdom in this notion. If we could condense the chain, it would be this: planning is the attempt to shape your destiny.

Planning is agreeing to take your ideas seriously enough to examine them. Planning is a decision that your life will no longer be a thing that happens to you.

Planning is “opting in” to your life.

Clients, there is no one path we’re prescribing here. But we are firm believers in helping you work toward your goals, and geez are we geared up about it.

Whether it’s a thought from your head or a question for us, we’d love to hear from you. Write or call anytime.

Work from Where?

woman at desk with feet up working with paper, pen, and a computer in a home office

Location, location, location—this real estate cliché is now dominating conversations about the changing world of work. Many businesses are learning a thing or two about the value of where work happens, and many leaders have said they intend to keep at least part of their workforce remote even after we’re through the limitations of COVID-19.

We’ve been thinking a lot about locale in recent years. I picked up a snowbird routine in 2010, and we launched our digital presence in earnest in 2015. Some of our “office” staff are rarely in the office—the one at 228 Main Street, at least.

From these experiences, we’ve learned a lesson that many business leaders are grappling with now: the fundamental question may not be where work needs to happen, but how it needs to happen. We’ve even shared with you about what we call the “URL–IRL connection,” the way our work online and our work in-person go together.

Yes, right now, the pandemic is putting some clear constraints on the question of location, but it would be a pity to come away from this challenging time with the wrong lesson. It’s not that WFH (“working from home”) is universally superior to working in a company office setting. It’s not that an office is superior to a WFH arrangement.

As Forbes contributor Laurel Farrer explained, what would happen if we focused on work as a thing we do and not a place we go? The short answer is that we make decisions based on the fundamentals. What do I need to get my work done?

Clients, we will continue to adapt—to changes in our lives, to changes in your needs, and to the world around us. Wherever life takes us, our work keeps us connected to you. And we are so grateful for that. Write or call anytime.

Enjoy Your Gift

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You never know what’s going to send your heart soaring—but it’s nice to be open for moments like that.

Recently, a swell of gratitude snuck right up on us. We received a package from a popular online marketplace. It should’ve been a mundane activity to open the box. It was full of office supplies, after all.

We discovered, however, that we must have checked the option that this delivery was a “gift.” Inside the package was a slimmed-down receipt bearing the automatically-generated greeting.

“Enjoy your gift,” the note said. We were gobsmacked.

No, no, we’re not in love with our office supplies. (They get the job done, but it’s no love affair.) We realized that our supplies let us do our work. And our work? To be of service, to you.

“Enjoy your gift.” The note seemed to be cheering us on. “Share your talents, flourish, go!”

We firmly believe that we’re all better off when each of us is free to pursue our ambitions and put our skills to use.

How can we help you in your pursuits?

Clients, you know I’m aiming to work until I’m 92, and we’re filling the shop with other talented parties who can help this endeavor thrive. What a joy to witness this little shot of confidence from the universe. And we’re happy to share it with you now.

When you’d like to talk about this or anything else, please write or call.

For You and With You

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“People rarely need to hear our conclusion,” writes Adam Grant about advice-giving in the Smarter Living newsletter. “They benefit from hearing our thought process and our perspective.”

Grant is an organizational psychologist, but even without working at his level of research, we have felt the truth of these findings. You’ll notice that our posts don’t typically promise “the right answer” or “the most perfect approach.” And it’s not because we’re the most humble organization in the world, either.

But imagine if an advisor made all the calls for you or claimed they had discovered a one-size-fits-all solution. Sound convenient? Probably would be—for them.

We could insert a cliché at this point about how it’s about the journey and not the destination, but maybe it’s more mundane than that. It’s more like math class: if you don’t show your work, it’s hard for others to have confidence in how you got there, and nobody involved learns or gets as much perspective.

Giving “good advice,” for us, is a process that we and you must navigate together. What are the goals? That’s all you. What are the possible ways to get there? Together, we can lay out some options. How do we proceed? Well… we’ll need to figure that out.

Grant says, “The most useful advice doesn’t specify what to do.” It helps folks “clarify their priorities.”

We do this work for you—clients, you’re the heart of it!—but we actually need your help to do it with you.

If you’d like to talk more about this or anything, call or write.

A MORE PERFECT UNION

picture of a roll of red and white "I VOTED" stickers

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union…”

So reads the Preamble to the Constitution, which frames the purpose of one of our nation’s fundamental documents.

The authors didn’t necessarily mean the plan was “flawless.” We’re not constitutional scholars, but a quick search will reveal that the word “perfect,” at the time, used this way, might have suggested something more like complete, confident, or whole.

In an election year, it can be hard to appreciate that idea. Party leaders insist on playing “spot the difference,” so our attention is often spent on divisions and comparisons.

Some people anticipate elections with anxiety about their holdings. They wonder how to “election-proof” their portfolio. History has some uplifting news for us here too. Again, it only takes a quick search to reveal that the outlook is generally okay immediately following a presidential election. Not “perfect” results or glorious returns, but generally okay.

No guarantees. Clients, we talk a lot about the long haul, and it is not measured in election cycles.

We are looking forward to an election season in which each of us can use our voices and exercise our rights, all in the name of improving this grand experiment, together.

We’ll see you on the other side, but in the meantime, call or write whenever you’d like to chat.