Weekly I/O #45
As Big as Love, Happiness as Income, Coach and Manager, Explain to Troubleshoot, Copy Others or Yourself
Weekly I/O is a project where I share my learning Input/Output. Every Sunday, I write an email newsletter with five things I discovered and learned that week.
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The below is extracted from the email sent on Sep 09, 2022
Here’s a list of what I’m exploring and pondering this week.
1. “You are precisely as big as what you love and precisely as small as what you allow to annoy you.” — Robert Anton Wilson
This quote beautifully adds another dimension to Winston Churchill’s saying: “A man is about as big as the things that make him angry.”
2. Bill Campbell defines his income as others’ happiness and success instead of just money received. We can redefine our measurement of happiness by adding different sources of income other than only monetary ones.
Bill Campbell is a legendary figure that was a former football player and coach and then turned into arguably the most successful business coach of all time. Bill mentored leaders like Steve Jobs, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Eric Schmidt, Sundar Pichai, Jeff Bezos, Jack Dorsey, and many others.
In the podcast Tim Ferriss interviewing Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google, Eric talked about how Bill did all his coaching for free. In Bill’s words, “I don’t take cash, I don’t take stock, and I don’t take shit”.
Bill was very motivated about the happiness and success of people. That was his income. Others’ happiness is his source of income, and he was happiest when his friend and coachee were winning.
I found his philosophy beautiful. In finance, we know diversifying our asset management portfolio can reduce risk, like having a free lunch. Nevertheless, it feels like Bill takes this even further to have a different source of “income” other than just the monetary one. If we think this way, things like treating a meal to people you care about, as Bill always did, will naturally be less about the figure on the check but the smile we all share.
Another story mentioned in the book Trillion Dollar Coach demonstrates how this even applies to people he barely knows.
Bill always buy super bowl tickets for all his friend to gather together. A year when Bill had extra tickets for the super bowl due to friends’ last-minute cancelation, he gave the servers from the restaurant where he had dinner the night before to join them at the game. It might be easy for a rich guy to do that. However, Bill was that way well before he was rich. He had a generous spirit, which anyone can afford.
3. A coach will say “What do you want to do” while a manager will say “Please do this”.
Kevin Kelly said in 103 Bits of Advice I Wish I Had Known, “When you lead, your real job is to create more leaders, not more followers.” In other words, the coachee should initiate a plan rather than wait for a plan to follow.
I’ve been working with an English coach recently, and I feel the same way. I learned the most when I initiated my own plan to learn instead of following the default learning material provided.
As to having a coach, Eric Schmidt also shared a story about “Everyone needs a coach”. In Eric’s first year at Google, John Doerr suggested that he needed a coach. Eric replied, “I don’t need a coach. I’m really good.” However, he still got a coach in the end since John said that “even the best tennis players in the world have coaches”. No matter what you’re doing in life, a coach will help you grow, stay on track, and see things you wouldn’t otherwise observe.
4. When you are stuck, explain your problem to others. Often simply laying out a problem will present a solution. Make “explaining the problem” part of your troubleshooting process.
Just having things written down for other people to understand clarifies most of the confusion. Related to the Illusion of explanatory depth (IOED), we often realize what we truly know and what’s missing until we have to explain it to others.
5. Copying others is a good way to start. Copying yourself is a disappointing way to end.
Oftentimes it is easier to learn than unlearn.
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