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Focus on what you can control

(from Behavior Gap)

I’m currently reading (and enjoying) The Extra 2% by Jonah Keri, which combines a lot of my favorite things (baseball, business, innovation, etc) into one package (although it frustrates me as a Reds fan to have a guy like Dusty Baker running our team instead of Joe Maddon, but I digress).  In the book, particularly from Maddon, there’s quite a bit of discussion about focusing on what you can control, not on outcomes.  From a baseball perspective this means as a pitcher you focus on throwing the ball to the glove, not throwing the ball to prevent home runs.  Or it can mean as a hitter, working on your swing instead of trying to hit home runs.  These are simplistic examples, but I’m sure you get the idea.

I realize in my own life there’s quite a bit of head space taken up by anxieties, fears, and even excitement around outcomes that I have very little control over.  There’s no easier way to get yourself worked up than to become focused on and attached to outcomes that you simply do not have control over.  I think as difficult as not becoming attached to outcomes is figuring out what exactly you should be focused on, and what is really inside of your control.  I’ve been defining things in my control as things I can do everyday (and utilizing a habit development tool like to track this).

In Charlie Munger‘s amazing book, Poor Charlie’s Almanack (I  intend to blog about this book), he mentions multiple times throughout the book about his own obsession with the power of compounding, not only as it relates to finances but also to personal learning and development.  His practice and his focus is very simple:  How can I become a little bit smarter about the world today than I was yesterday?  I don’t know the outcome, I don’t know if it makes me rich or broke, but I know I can control this, do it everyday (by reading, writing, speaking with and learning from others), and I know it will help me take a step forward in the world.  It’s working on my swing instead of just trying to hit home runs.

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