• Don’t Settle

    When I moved to Calgary, one of my first tasks was to find a barber. I got a strong referral from Amin and ended up seeing a fellow who did a really good job cutting hair. But he was unbearable in a lot of ways. He’d consistently start ~15-20 minutes later than my appointment. He’d pause mid-haircut to take a phone call or text. He’d talk at me (not with me) for the entire appointment. I’d usually say less than 10 words but be in a ‘conversation’ for nearly 45 minutes. It was painful. And I went to him for almost three years.

    Even though I had intentions to make a change, I was lulled into complacency, because the haircut itself was good and it usually fell to the bottom of the priority list to seek something better. It took COVID as the catalyst for me to find someone new. And after I did, I was mad at myself for waiting so long. Now I get as good a cut and have a way better experience.

    The older you get, the more professional services people you start to accumulate in your life. I’m not that old, and my list is already long. I’ve got a family doctor, dentist, barber, accountant, veterinarian, massage therapist, real estate agent, contractor, carpenter, landscaper, bike service person, house cleaner, dog walker, and dog sitter. And I have probably five stories like the barber one, where finding someone great in the service category and leaving someone who wasn’t has made a huge difference.

    Nearly every time I’ve changed service providers, it’s been a result of some outside force – like my person moving – instead of something I’ve done deliberately. And every time I think, why didn’t I find an alternative sooner. Finding amazing professional service providers can have a meaningful impact on your life. I was reminded of that this week; don’t settle. It’s worth spending the time to seek someone great.

  • Always Connected

    Airplanes were a last bastion of being truly off grid. No service and completely inaccessible.  Sadly, that’s changing quickly. It seems the majority of planes are now equipped with WiFi, as well as free in-plane text messaging. The airlines are servicing our need and desire to always be connected.

    This makes me sad. I have always loved being disconnected on an airplane. There’s something calming about knowing you’re completely unreachable for a set period. No temptation to scroll or chat or respond to anyone. It’s an easy place to leave distractions behind and it’s always been one of my favourite places to read or get focused work done. So it’s a shame to see the last mile become connected. I know using connected services is a choice that requires opt-in but the more convenient the service becomes, the more deliberate a choice needs to be to avoid using it.

  • What role does Luck play?

    I had a wonderful professor in University, Denis Shackle, who facilitated a classroom survey on our belief in luck, destiny, and fate. You had to respond to questions like “I am able to influence the outcomes in my life” and “Fate plays a large role in whether I will be successful or not”. The higher your score, the more likely you were to attribute events and outcomes to fate, chance, luck, etc. Dr. Shackle used the survey to convey a message and a warning: Your mindset plays a major role in your ability to influence the outcomes in your life. And a low score is great, but a score of 1 might indicate an unconstrained ego.

    The average class score was ~20 and I scored ~5. I have always been a strong believer in an individual’s ability to significantly influence their life, almost to an extreme degree. I generally subscribe to his philosophy and line of thinking; if you have the mindset that your life will be dictated by luck and out-of-your-control chance, you’re less likely to take ownership for your actions. Conversely, if you believe in your ability to act and influence your life, you’re more likely to feel empowered to do so.

    Luck is defined as: success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one’s own actions. Yet, you hear people attribute outcomes to luck all the time. “I was lucky enough to get into the PhD program!”. Never mind the years of schooling, intense study efforts, and preparation required. “I’m so lucky I have a good boss. She finally gave me the promotion I’ve been hoping for!”. Forget the many projects you delivered with exceptionally high-quality, the times you went above and beyond for your clients, and the tremendous impact you had on the company.

    So does that mean the outcomes in people’s lives can entirely be explained by their actions alone? Not quite. There are tragic examples of bad luck, such as being diagnosed with a certain illness or cancer. And importantly, there is one hugely influential aspect of your life that I believe fits squarely in the definition of luck: your genetic makeup and the family you’re born into. You don’t get to pick your parents and your upbringing is entirely out of your control. And, you still have the power to influence your life regardless of how lucky (or not) you are on the family front.