Deeper Weekend 2014

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Personal Growth

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  • Adrian Simmons
    Adrian Simmons
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REFM -  Adrian Photo Square - CATOBSystems are so important as enabling mechanisms. Sometimes I like to call them “structures of freedom.” I’m reminded of a quote from Tim Williams at Thriveal’s Deeper Weekend last fall, “Process is the architecture for getting things done.” Even creative processes, like transforming your firm, require some level of scaffolding to help you see it through from concept to realization.


Systems can compete with each other too. The system you know and use now will almost always beat out the one that’s fledgling or undefined. This is why it’s almost always easier to spend hours replying to e-mails than to change your firm. There’s a system for e-mail, but not for transformation.


So our goal is to develop a creative system for our firm, shield it during its fledgling stage, and then let it grow to become part of our way of doing things, that stands its ground and evidences its value as part of our firm’s operations.


Cracking this nut is not easy. But I feel like I took another step earlier this year in my own personal system.


–I’ve chatted before about how I use Evernote to capture ideas.


–Last year at some point, I also started using Evernote to create an overview of my week, including both personal and business items (this came from the “aha” moment that I couldn’t have a separate system to manage the two — things were getting lost in the shuffle).


–Earlier this year I ran across a blog post on the Evernote site by Michael Hyatt on how to use Evernote to achieve your long-term goals. There, he describes a system of creating a master note of your goals for the year. Then linking them to sub-notes that contain your key motivations for that goal, the next actions, progress reports to yourself, and random notes you might collect along the way of accomplishing it.


–Add to that the smartphone app, Swipes, and I was cooking. Swipes is a daily productivity app that “helps you collect, organize, and take action on the right tasks at the right time.” Swipes also has a basic Evernote integration, which is a nice bonus.


So my process became:


  1. At the beginning of the year, I laid out my big 3 goals for the year. I made a master note in Evernote, and linked those to sub-notes which contained a checklist of the items I needed to accomplish to complete that goal.
  2. Each week, I laid out the next seven days in my weekly Evernote template, with a focus on managing my personal energy wave, not just listing to-do items. If that week I was going to accomplish one of the strategic items from my big 3 goals, I’d include that too.
  3. At the beginning of each day, I typed that day’s items into my Swipes app and used its slick interface to prioritize, clear, remind, and/or schedule them. If one of the days included a strategic item from my big 3 goals, I used the Swipes integration to link it to the related Evernote note so the additional information was at my fingertips.
  4. And during the day, I used Swipes to manage the ebbs and flows. I really appreciated its adaptability, and how its design aided in keeping me focused.


The thing I learned (or re-learned from the above, is that we’re managing multiple time zones, and we need a system for each. We’re managing the long-term, the medium-term, and the today-term. My big 3 goals are my long-term. My weekly overview are my medium-term. And my daily tasks are my today-term. I finally had a system for each, and they were becoming enabling mechanisms. Structures of freedom.


And then one of the first TED Talks I had seen came back to me: The Psychology of Time by Philip Zimbardo. A fascinating talk, if you have the time to watch.
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Adrian G. Simmons is a CPA innovating ways to put money in its place. After working as an auditor out of college for KPMG, he joined his father in public practice in 2002, and now acts as the Chief Creative Designer there. With the team, he looks for ways to help their customers become financially strong, so that they can focus on what truly matters in life. Adrian likes tech, uses a fountain pen, successfully attempted a half-marathon (and may try another), and prefers dark over milk chocolate.

Greg Kyte 2On October 13, I wrote a blog post called “Without Risk, There is No Passion.” Melinda Guillemette left a very insightful comment that deserved its own post in response.


Greg – I’ve been thinking about this for a day or so. I know you’re right about the relationship between risk and passion, because I rappelled down an office building, scared the crap out of myself, and I would absolutely do it again.


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Personal Growth

Greg Kyte 2Read the title again. Sweet, right? I totally came up with that myself. And it’s totally true. Without risk, there is no passion. Prove me wrong, sucker.
I googled “without risk there is no passion” to see if anybody else ever thought that same thought that I thought. Here’s what I found:
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Other Thoughts, Personal Growth

Greg Kyte 2All joking aside, I’m scared, I’m insecure, and I’m worried that I’m making the stupidest decision of my life.


My mom sold drugs for 20 years on a street corner in Seattle because that’s what pharmacists do. She had a decent job, working part time at a drug store on the intersection of 56th and 232nd. To me as a kid, the job seemed like it gave her just enough money and just enough time to be a pretty damn good single mom.


Shortly after I got into middle school, she and two of her co-workers¹ decided to open their own pharmacy. I thought that was really cool, only partly because I figured the kid whose mom owned the drug store got candy for free.² Read more

Greg Kyte 2When Jason and I interviewed Cal Newport on the ThriveCast, he called BS on following your passion.


Everybody’s been told – and most people believe – that you first find your passion, and then you find a way to make money pursuing that passion.


And we buy it, even though the logic’s clearly flawed: I love napping. Always have. Everybody loves a good nap. Some people love napping so much it could be classified as a passion. Despite all that napping passion there are no professional mattress critics. Only semi-pro. And you can’t put the kids through college on a one-time $1600 semi-pro mattress critic stipend. Read more

Other Thoughts, Personal Growth, THRIVEcast