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Advice and Systems

Advice is everywhere. Inspiring advice. Life-changing advice. Bad advice. It flows to the top of our Facebook feeds. It's in our email inboxes. It's the must watch  inspiring TED talk or YouTube graduation speech.

The challenge of access to information no longer exists. Everyone can now view that TED talk. Everyone can now hear that interview.

But a new challenge is introduced. What to do with all the information? You invest time to consume the information, and yet forget the message  a week later.

Recently I've  come across two inspiring conversations. A graduation speech by Parker Palmer and a Q&A with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Both conversations have lessons that if implemented could have a profound impact on my daily life. Some takeaways from the Arnold Q&A:

  • Looking back on one thing he would have done more of back in late 20s: OK to be goal-oriented for personal achievements. But volunteer, give back to those less fortunate.
  • You can't be good at everything. Have to sacrifice certain things in order to achieve your biggest goals.
  • Life is about taking risks. Just go for it. Don't let thinking about failure deter you. Risk taking shouldn't be viewed as an oddity. It's just part of life.

The level of impact of such advice is determined by timing and your system for implementing it. The timing is linked your mental state. Does the message resonate strongly because of your current state? Would it have the same impact if you heard the same message at a different time?

The other aspect is the system you put in place to follow though. I know that if I don't write down these lessons, I'll forget them. And  even though I have the intention of trying to implement them, I'll come across more advice in the near future and I'll forget about these lessons. I have a system for collecting new information, but not a system for following through on existing information.

One approach is to take down the information, and review it everyday. Keep it top-of-mind. Then commit one or two weeks of practicing the lessons in my daily routine.

There is no lack great advice that we can all access. Getting the information is easy. But putting in systems to implement that information and to take action on it. That's the hard part.