Author: Dave Tabor

New Year, The ONE Resolution

I made a New Year’s Resolution and have been trying it out. It is based on principles from two sources:

The foundation of my resolution is from The One Thing, and it’s related to work.  The One Thing’s main premise (my words) is that while we all strive to do many, many things (again, I’m talking work here) there is ONE THING, one activity, that if done well, drives successful results more than all the other things that we think we need to do – including things we want to do, maybe things we think only we can do… The ONE THING acts like the proverbial “first domino” in the sequence to results.  I have found that ONE THING for me, and am doing my best to apply discipline every day toward accomplishing it.

And this is where the second principle comes into play – the idea that Ego is the Enemy.

In order to focus on the ONE THING, I have to put my ego aside because my ego is happiest doing MANY things.  My ego reminds me that I am good at more than just the ONE THING, and my ego (all of me really) feels stimulated when I do many things.  Plus, my ego loves demonstrating to others my wide range of expertise and wisdom – when I do, my body is flooded with pleasant hits of dopamine!

So, the second principle requires that I put my ego’s desires on hold until I’ve accomplished enough of the ONE THING.

This seems to be working.  Of course, it’s just January 20th.

Flipping a Finger Injury

During a nice family walk on Christmas Day, I was tossing a miniature football with my sons and it hit a fingertip causing something called “mallet finger.”  It’s a condition in which the tendon detaches from the bone. REALLY?? This was a TOY football!  Anyway, it’s supposed to be painful, but in my case it’s just aggravating. The finger must be splinted for six weeks.

I acknowledge that this is a very minor injury and in the grand scheme of medical problems and life inconveniences, it’s is pretty small.

I’m writing about it because at first I found it strangely demotivating.  I would try to be productive but as I sat at my keyboard I couldn’t focus and I couldn’t get going. There was no rhythm to my work. I found that all very frustrating and quite strange, and then I compared myself (very unfavorably) to people who have truly life changing injuries and conditions.

This simple, minor process of reflection drove me to get a grip. I remembered that I had Dragon software installed on my computers and began dictating. That’s what I’m doing now. The rhythm is coming back to my work, and when this splint comes off, I expect I’ll still be dictating most of what I write.

Two Emails from Famous Authors

I was struck by the coincidence of receiving thematically related email posts from Seth Godin and Ryan Holiday on the same day.  Both (excerpts below) remind that gratification in life, both personal and in business, won’t be about money.

Ryan Holiday – “It is Seneca who writes most eloquently of this desire, this insatiability we all have. Alexander the Great, he notes, was poor, despite his conquests of most of the known world. Because he could only think of the next campaign. He notes that money rarely makes us rich because all it does is give us a craving to earn more.”

Seth Godin – “After a stock market adjustment, billionaires give less to charity. They still have more money than they can count, but they’re not as rich as they used to be, and not-as-rich is easy to interpret as not rich.  Which means that for many people, feeling rich is a choice.”

Good reminder during the holiday season to seek happiness more deeply with family, friends, team members, customers, and community.

So, Why is There a Worker Shortage?

Speaking with over 100 Colorado business leaders in 2021, the most puzzling challenge they deal with is the shortage of workers.  Common refrains: “I don’t get it – where ARE THEY?  Where did they GO?”

I was curious so I read, pondered, listened… and I’ve developed a theory:

Six forces we’ve all been hearing about have in aggregate and in varying markets, caused a shortage across the economy:

  • Older worker exits. Covid-related job stress and complexities combined with either or both of a) getting used to not working and/or b) strong financial portfolio performance.
  • Young investors who don’t need a job. Who was buying crypto before Covid?  Younger workers tossed in a few hundred or a few thousand dollars now worth hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars.  Why work a J-O-B?
  • Working not worth it for lower wage earners. Compounding real challenges including securing affordable daycare, reduced mass transit schedules, less affordable housing options within a reasonable commute all make working less attractive, perhaps particularly for a 2-worker household where only one returns.
  • Government payments. Daniel Henninger of the WSJ writes that “transfer payments suppressed work-response patterns across labor markets.” That’s what I hear from employers too.
  • Shift to self-employment. The Wall Street Journal on Nov 30th reported that self-employment rose 500,000 since the start of the pandemic.  Of course, some of the self-employed still have regular jobs… still, that’s a lot of people trying not to be an employee.
  • Competition in high-demand sectors. Heightened need for nurses during Covid, Amazon and others hiring over one million logistics workers, the tech industry trying to hire tens of thousands in areas like security and cloud technology.

I’m not an economist, and I don’t know to what extent each contributes to the shortage in different sectors, or how long the shortages will last.  So, what are leaders doing?  Right now, their answer starts with paying more and we’re seeing wage inflation broadly reported. As Ray Dalio says in his newest book, Principles for Dealing with The Changing World Order, “…what you are reading is a work in progress.”

Between Courage and Ego

I’m deeply thinking about a complex personal dilemma, the details of which are not important here.  I decided to turn for ideas to Ryan Holiday’s newest book, Courage is Calling.  If you ever wanted to be brave about something and need to be pumped up to act, this book is for you.  I want to be brave BUT asked myself, “Is my desire to be brave being driven by my EGO?”  I decided to revisit the ideas in an earlier book of Holiday’s called Ego is the Enemy.

I encourage reading both books – then perhaps what I’m about to say will make more sense.,..

If ego is my enemy, then can the brave thing my ego is calling me to do be courageous, or even smart?  If courage is a virtue, is courage still a virtue when called on by ego?

So confusing, until…

Holiday’s books seemed in conflict until I concluded this: if courageous behavior is stimulated by ego, then it’s not courage – it’s something else – somewhere on a continuum between vanity and foolhardiness.  I’ve decided that true courage is not ego centric – it’s bravery centered in rational thought and humility.

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