Collecting data

  1. Collect the data.

  2. Analyze the data.

  3. Take appropriate action.

If you’re only doing the first two things, you’re missing the most important part.

Data tell a story. They offer clues. They can let you know whether you’re moving toward your goals.

But if you’re not going to do something based on what you learn from them, why are you collecting the data in the first place?

I can...

I overheard an exchange at a local small business. It went like this:

  • Will those be back in stock next week?

  • Maybe.

  • Really? Oh! That's wonderful. Can you please call me when they arrive?

  • I can…

It’s the way the shop owner said “I can” that was telling. The word “can” was up-and-down sing-song in a way that conveyed, “I can, but I certainly don’t want to do that.”

The customer seemed surprised by the tone.

I know that brick and mortar shops face all kinds of challenges, particularly when so many goods are available online with next-day shipping.

But interacting with customers face-to-face is an opportunity where shop owners have the advantage.

Replace the reluctant “I can” with a cheery “I’d be happy to do that” and you win the valuable loyalty of a customer.

If someone has left her home and traveled to your store with a willingness to buy your wares, show appreciation and serve her well.

Sacrifice

Try to pursue work worthy of sacrifice. Not your own (that will happen naturally) but the sacrifices of others. That is, build something into your life so generous, so meaningful, so important, that other people are willing to make sacrifices in order to give you the opportunity to do your work.

Relevant

We want to be relevant. There are a couple of ways we can deal with this desire.

  1. We can identify a group to whom we’d like to be relevant, and bend to their will. Aim for that target. Try to meet their needs. Figure out what they like, and then do that as best we can.

  2. We can start by looking inward. We can work really hard to be our best selves. We can give fuel to our passions. And then we can make ourselves visible. We can find connections, one by one. Real connections to people who find value in what we do.

The first method requires some research. It will involve flexibility. If the group shifts, you need to shift. They write the script, and you are the actor.

The second method requires patience. It requires discipline and emotional labor. But it gives you the freedom to dig deep. You are the writer, the actor, and the producer. Your measure is not how well you match what the group wants, but how well you can be the best version of yourself.

So, we can become relevant either way. It just depends on where we start looking. Outward, or inward.

Comparing

Don’t forget that everything online is filtered. Social media, in particular. Content. Photos. Everything. What you see is what people want you to see.

So when you’re comparing your actual life to the filtered view of everyone else’s life... it’s never a fair comparison.

It’s better to stop comparing.