Yesterday I got to taste some of the cleanest, freshest, coldest water I will have in my entire life. I didn’t realize that at first.

I was about seven miles into a hike in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and I was out of water. I had passed some dead and stagnant pools of water that I can draw from in an emergency but was holding out for a better source.

Near the top of the ridge I passed over a small stream and so there wasn’t much water there. At first, I was a little incredulous. To draw enough water I was going to have to hike down at least 25 or 50 vertical feet and slowly fill up my water filter.

I sullenly hiked down. It wasn’t until I got further down I realized that the stream was small because that was the spring bubbling out of the side of the mountain. This was living water. I was as close to drinking cold, fresh and pure water as I could be.

But my perspective had to change.

  1. I had to literally get down so I could observe that this wasn’t a small muddy stream but a fresh spring
  2. When I got down I realized that there was as much water that as I needed
  3. I had to change my mindset to realize that this was a privilege and not an inconvenience.

The stream I came across wasn’t good enough, the spring I drew from was the best. The only difference was my perspective.

How would you like it if I recommended products to you based on the prizes and SPIFFs I would get in return? I hope you’d be pissed.

Yet, exactly that is rife inside the IT industry. Just last week I got an email from a vendor that would enter me into a contest to win a Tesla Model 3 every time I signed up a new customer for one of their products. I.e., every one of our clients we sold this widget to would count towards a Tesla entry for me.

Friends: this is a terrible way to do business and we won’t play that game. If you want my stamp of approval there is one rule: you and your product need to be so good that people thank me for recommending it. In short, you need to be a rockstar for my clients.

Also, this means that if I recommended someone or something to you I meant it.

If I wanted a Tesla I’d buy it myself.

It’s easy to forget to take time off during the day to physically refresh your eyes, your back, your hands and to mentally refresh. Sometimes you can feel lazy for taking a 5-minute break or, God forbid, you’ve become enough of a workaholic that not working through lunch feels like an outright sloth. Stop it.

The first time I ever ran a marathon I hadn’t done much research to know what to expect. I let a crazy friend talk me into it. It went… fine. Especially if you discount the 8-10 miles where I was wondering why did I pay money to hurt myself like this?

The night before my second marathon my uncle gave me some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten: walk through the aid stations. In long races aid stations with water snacks and porta-potties are set up roughly every 3 miles, or every 24-40 minutes. Each aid station is roughly 100 feet long.

My uncle explained to me that the refreshment my legs would get in 30 seconds of walking woud more than make up for the time “lost.”

He was right.

I ran my second marathon 20 minutes faster than my first and on an injured leg.

At work and in life we also need to walk through the aid stations. The work we do is important, a lot of it is hard and there is always another day’s worth of work to get done. You will get more done by giving your mind and the body the short spurts of rest they both need during the day then slogging through.

As a leader to anyone the only thing you earn solving a problem is the privilege to solve a bigger problem.

Big problems mean you’ve had big earnings.

The highest performance athletes all have a common thread in their workout structure. Over the course of a week, they have at least one “easy” workout day and one recovery day — typically no workout.

Why?

To perform at the top of the game you have to give your body time to heal itself and let muscles grow back stronger. If you only workout you’ll only tear up your muscles and never give them time to grow back larger.

Incredibly, this is true in the workplace as well, as high performing individuals tend to take more time off than their less productive counterparts.

As you look forward to a holiday weekend don’t try to outwork the other guy by working an entire holiday. Think about how you can give your mind and body the time and space to recover, to recharge, so that you grow stronger.

in many (most? all?) areas of life there are two areas that you will be judged on:

results: how well did you do, especially compared against a reasonable goal or standard.

how you treat people: were you kind? did you go the extra mile when it mattered to a person?

how early you rose, how late you stayed, how much you sacrificed — all of these are apparitions. they are void of all meaning without results and treating people beyond well.