Sunday Advice Column #14


When you start to feel overly confident in your abilities, it’s time to check yourself. Pride, as they say, comes before the fall. I mention this because of the savage beating Michael Bisping put on Luke Rockhold last night at UFC 199.

Bisping took the fight on two weeks notice and was a serious underdog. As a fighter, he’s known for toughness and heavy hands, but was never really thought of as a championship level fighter. Until last night.

Luke Rockhold looked bored the entire fight until Bisping smashed him. After that, he still didn’t seem to have too much respect for Bisping. And he doesn’t necessarily need to. He got beat by overconfidence. It was clear he didn’t respect his opponent and he paid a heavy price.

Bisping only has one working eye, yet still kicks ass. 

The lesson here is that you can become too comfortable. The danger is not just in halting advancement. You can get lazy and actually fuck up. Even with non-fighters this is a risk. I’ve worked on projects I didn’t respect and found myself getting stomped by them. They should’ve been easy, but my own attitude put me at a disadvantage. If you look at every situation like it could be fatal you will have an edge.

With that said, let’s get to some of those deadly questions.

How do I say no to time sucking projects?

It depends on the source of the project. If you’re not very high up at your job and you have been assigned projects that suck time, you have to tread a lot more carefully than a CEO who decides to cut time sucking projects. The CEO gets to just stop doing it, but is held accountable if the decision was bad.

Make better use of your work time. 

The way I’ve handled these projects in my own career is to do the project to the best of my abilities. This inoculates you against higher ups finding fault in your performance and also lets you have some credibility when you do raise your voice. If you put attention on something that causes you grief it also lets you find paths to efficiencies or opportunities to end the project or eventually remove yourself from it.

I had a project that hung around my neck like an albatross at work and I went hard on it for years. Eventually the processes surrounding the project were so dialed I was able to hand it off and do other things when better opportunities come up.

If you want to say no to freelance projects, just up your rates. I raised my hourly rate a few months ago and it immediately cut down the amount of work I didn’t want to do. I don’t have as much side work, but I’m making the same money.

Make time for your passion.

Sometimes your friends will cook up some scheme. If they don’t have a proven track record of success, don’t get involved. Your time spent together is much better spent relaxing from your serious work. I’ve been turning a lot of this type of thing down lately and it has felt great.

Are you born genius, or do you become one?

You have to be born a genius. A few years ago a Russian math professor I had took time out of his cigarette smoking and inaudible lecturing to give us a little speech, which I can only imagine he thought was motivational. It went something like this:


“Students, I want you to know something. No one in this room is a genius. Genius is rare and happens only once, maybe twice every 100 years. This is ok. Being average is ok. Genius is many times a curse. You people will have chance for happy life, unburdened by this trouble.”

I share this view. No one reading this blog is a genius. I am not a genius. But that doesn’t excuse you from working hard. The hard worker can often crush the gifted. Grit can overcome ability.

You see it all the time in lower level motorcycle racing. Some motivated badass on a safety wired together claptrap death machine goes out, hits it hard, and stomps all over dudes with hair gel and hot Ducatis.

Now this is a Real Genius.

What are three things everyone should do before they die?

You should love someone, fight someone, and help someone. They could be the same person if you’re into complication.

What is something that people never use correctly?

Their time.

It’s later than you think, friends. 

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