Ideas from the book Die Empty by Todd Henry.

  1. Ask yourself: “Did the work I did today really matter?”
  2. You are in a better position to make a contribution if you align work around your values.
  3. The love of comfort and security is often the enemy of greatness.
  4. Your legacy is built one decision at a time.
The great problems we see in the world today will not be solved by people functioning at half capacity, cranking out work they don’t care about in order to buy more things that will eventually rust or rot.
  1. The key to long-term success is a willingness to disrupt your own comfort for the sake of continued growth.
  2. Every brilliant achievement begins with a deep ineffable knowledge that something great could happen, be brought into existence or change the status quo.
  3. No one charts a course for mediocrity, but it’s still a destination of choice.
The seeds of tomorrow’s brilliance are planted in the soil of today’s activity.
  1. Maintain a level of disciplined curiosity by staying in touch with your deeper questions and practising divergent problem solving.
  2. You must have an accurate sense of your skills, weaknesses and core drivers.
  3. When you isolate yourself from other people, you cut yourself off from the most valuable opportunities to grow and collaborate.
What can I add?
  1. Productive passion motivates you and is also beneficial to others.
  2. Where do you feel a desire to step in on behalf of those who are suffering in order to bear part of their burden or rectify a wrong?
  3. Are there specific problems you consistently gravitate towards? Are there issues that drive others to come to you for help for which you are uniquely equipped to handle?
  4. Where do you consistently see possibilities other overlook? Where are you optimistic even in the face of overwhelming odds, where you continue to work long after others have given up?
  5. What are you aspiring toward, on or behalf of others? What hope do you have for creating change, and how can you work in order to bring it about?
What will you stand for today? What will you refuse to compromise on, no matter what? What will define your terms of engagement?
  1. What do you know you should be doing, but have been ignoring? Make a list of the things you know, deep down, that you should be doing but haven’t taken action on.
  2. To avoid aimlessness you have to stand for something.
  3. Your unfinished projects, halfhearted efforts or unreconciled relationships should be either made a priority or immediately closed.
  4. Ask yourself: “Why?”, “What if …”, “How?”
  5. Give yourself permission to not know things.
  6. People who seek wisdom are not threatened by new or disconfirming information
  7. Before learning or experiencing something new consider the questions you are hoping it will answer. Use those questions as a filter to guide what you learn.
  8. Keep a list of questions that you haven’t been able to answer. Review them regularly.
  9. Create a commonplace book - A collection of quotes, recipes and other items centred around a theme, designed to aid in recalling important information.
  10. Leave time at the end of reading or study to reflect on what you’ve learned and how it relates to your work or life.
  11. Learn about insights in an unrelated industry. See how you can apply those insights to your own industry.
Prototyping is problem solving.
  1. Prototyping allows you to make progress before you even know what progress looks like.
  2. Is there something you could build or sketch that would give you a fresh perspective? Are there ways you could play around with the problem, break it apart, and recombine the pieces into something new?
  3. Find a physical place where your only job is to pursue the things that evoke your sense of wonder.
  4. Refuse to settle for status quo ideas and relentlessly embrace the pursuit of great ones.
  5. When you have clear boundaries to work within, you can feel more comfortable asking extremely divergent questions and exploring initially irrelevant possibilities.
  6. When you’re stuck on a problem ask yourself: “What does this want to become?” “What is it aspiring to be?” “What would be the ultimate end, if we were to perfectly solve this problem?”
  7. Ask better questions such as:
    • “What am I really trying to accomplish here?”
    • “What is this problem like?” (Use Metaphors and parallel problems)
    • “What’s inspiring me right now?” (Can you use those same motivators here?)
    • “Where do I feel the most constrained?” (what are the bottlenecks? Can you remove them?)
    • Where do I feel out of control?”
    • What do I not understand?”
  8. Pay attention to where you mind naturally wants to go.
  9. Ask yourself “What do I want to learn today?” each morning and “What did I learn today?” each evening.
  10. Types of Goals:
    • Step Goal: What will I do today no matter what? Small, measured steps that will help you maintain forward motion. Eg. Writing everyday
    • Sprint Goal: A series of step goals extended over a period of time. You sprint for a week or two, then take a break then recommence sprinting. Allows you to stretch your endurance and make significant inroads into your stretch goals. Eg. Writing a chapter of a book.
    • Stretch Goal: Something big that you want to achieve. Should be measurable and under your control.
  11. What is your objective for today? How will you know that today was a success?
  12. Keep a daily record of learning and new insights that might help you tomorrow.
  13. Is there any area of your life where you are staying safely in your comfort zone rather than stretching yourself to grow? If so what are you going to do about it?
  14. Areas where you feel resistance at work are often areas where your true work lies.
  15. Make a list of five people you admire. Are there any qualities they exhibit that intimidate you? Make of a list of those qualities. How can you begin cultivating them in your own life?
  16. When something inspires you write down the context, the person who was involved, and any general thoughts you had at the moment. What did it inspire in you? What did it cause you to aspire to? What did it make you think about in your own work?
  17. Read biographies of people you admire. Get to know their lives, the decisions they made and the obstacles they overcame on the road to success. Pay attention to their attributes that you would like to cultivate in your own life. Think about what you can apply from the lives of your heroes to your own work.
  18. When you face a challenging problem consider how one of your heroes might have solved it.
  19. Set aside time each day for reflection.
  20. What would you change about how you engaged today?
  21. Write words that describe how you would like to engage in your work.
  22. If there a place in your life where you are overcomplicating your work out of a desire to make what produce appear more valuable?
Cultivate a service mindset. “What can I offer?”
  1. Write notes of encouragement to others.
  2. Set aside some time regularly to play with ideas and toy with possibilities. Do not set any expectations for this time.
What do you already suspect to be true, but are ignoring because it seems impractical?
  1. Great work results when you stop doing only what you know you can do and instead begin pursuing what you believe you might be able to do with a little focused effort.
  2. Ideas that seem simple to you might be profound to others.
  3. Are you holding back insights or actions because they seem too obvious to you? Brilliant work doesn’t need to be complex.
  4. Imitate others while you are trying to build your skills. After that take risks and experiment with your own form of expression.
  5. Asks others around you how they feel about the work and take the time to consider how you feel about it as well.
  6. If you stretch yourself to win smaller battles each day, you will find that you are making important progress on the large fight as well.
  7. What have you been meaning to do but haven’t made the effort to work it into your daily routine?
You can’t do everything at once and hope to do it well.
  1. What needs to be removed from your lists today so that you can focus your attention on what’s most important?