Monday Morning Edge (09/21/2020)

Greetings from 30,000 feet above the ground!

I’m coming to you aboard a flight from Milwaukee, Wisconsin back to Charlotte.

Jess and I had an awesome weekend with our families celebrating my brother’s marriage!

It was an great time. The weather was great, the ceremony was beautiful, and the reception was a blast. Congrats to the newlyweds!

During the wedding, I got to talk to some friends who are also Monday Morning Edge subscribers. It was humbling to hear your encouraging words of support for this newsletter. Thank you. I will do my best to continue delivering fresh insights to you on a weekly basis.

I’m thrilled to share this newsletter with you. So without further ado, here’s what we’re going to cover today:

  • How coaches are similar to newspaper editors
  • Understanding systems
  • And what you can do to stop undervaluing your time

Good Coaching is Simplifying (or why coaches are like newspapers)

I recently discovered “How to Operate”, a lecture given by Keith Rabois at Stanford.

Rabois has an incredible professional track record and has gained an insight or two into building successful companies.

The lecture is great in its entirety, but today I want to share one main idea with you.

For any manager, there are two modes of work. Rabois calls them writing and editing.

Remember last week’s takeaway? Coaches aren’t just managers. Nor are we just makers. Instead, we’re a hybrid. Our role is to both create and lead.

This adds some complexity to our schedule, but knowing this will certainly help us become more effective in our career.

While coaches operate as both a writer and an editor, today I want to focus on coaches as editors—what it means and how we can use this insight to become better at what we do.

According to Rabois, an editor (manager) has two main duties: to clarify and simplify.

“The first thing an editor does and you have all probably had this experience in school, is you submit a paper, to a TA, a draft to your friend, and the first thing that editor does is they take out a red pen, or nowadays you go online, and they start striking things. Basically eliminating things, the biggest task of an editor is to simplify, simplify, simplify and that usually means omitting things. So that’s your job too, is to clarify and simplify for everybody on your team. The more you simplify, the better people will perform.”

This idea of simplifying me reminds me of Gall’s Law:

A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked. A complex system designed from scratch never works and cannot be made to work. You have to start over, beginning with a working simple system.”

A team is a complex system. In all domains—not just sport—the highest-performing teams seem to exhibit gestalt—the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.

If Gall’s Law is true, the application for coaches is that we must always seek to simplify and clarify the objective and message for those we lead.

So the question is this: how do we create a simple and clear system—one that functions well?

The answer is obvious: You take out your red pen and start getting rid of the unnecessary.

Being an editor isn’t easy, but without you being willing to cut out the fluff and excess, you’ll end up with a dysfunctional complex system.

So, take out your red pen and get to work.

Further Reading: How to Operate (Full Transcript)

Systems Thinking

On the topic of systems, I enjoyed reading the overview of Systems Thinking by Blas Moros and the LTCWRK team.Two of my big takeaways from the article were:

  1. Systems are interconnected networks. If you want to understand systems, you have to think holistically. Each part must be considered because each part plays a role in the final outcome.
  2. Before you try to change a system, you should first observe it to see how it behaves. Ask questions. Seek first to do no harm. Respect the work that’s been done before you got there. Doing this requires a high level of second-order thinking: knowing that for any action you take, there are immediate first-order effects and subsequent second-order effects further down the line.

Further reading: Systems Thinking by

Learning to Value Your Time

Another thing I’ve recently learned from Keith Rabois is that most people systematically undervalue their time.

I put out a Twitter thread about this last week, but I want to recap some of the main points here.

One thing I’ve observed during my first few years as a coach is that coaches don’t value their time properly. Collectively, we’re so focused on “grinding” and working tons of hours just to stay afloat that we neglect to ever step back and look for leverage points. I believe that we should regularly ask ourselves, “What’s the highest leverage opportunity available to me right now?” and then go find ways to do more of that thing.

Leverage is hard to understand because it requires asymmetric thinking.

For example: During college summers, I worked in a factory. 1 hour put in produced x parts and rewarded me with y dollars.

But as a coach, there’s an input/output asymmetry. One hour of work doesn’t have a static, predictable output. It’s not like spending 1 hour with an athlete will yield the same improvement each time. When this kind of asymmetry exists, it’s crucial that individuals look to gain leverage. Using leverage allows you to save time, have a wider network of influence, and make more money.

Personally, I believe that the best way to do this is to share your ideas online.

When you write, podcast, or create videos and publish them on the Internet, you build a portfolio of assets that can go to work for you without you being there. For example, this edition of Monday Morning Edge went out to over 400 people all across the world, but I didn’t have to write 400 emails. It required me the exact same amount of work to send it to 400+ than it did to send it to one person. That’s leverage.

That’s all for this week. Thank you for reading!

Take some time to read the articles and send me your thoughts in an email or over on Twitter. I promise to read and respond to each one.

Have a great week!


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