Don't go chasing (outcomes)

Focus on delivering value first

Hello to the 457 Intentional Wisdomer's receiving today's newsletter, and a 🎉SPECIAL WELCOME🎉 to the 20 new readers who've joined us from last week! I've got a lot to catch you up on. This week, I've got lots of ideas swirling around in my head and have been inspired by so many great pieces of content. Will I be able to pull them all together into one cohesive narrative—or will it be a scattered mess? There's only one way to find out. Read on. But before you do, if you're not yet subscribed… well, something about smashing a blue button…

The big idea 💡

American novelist and author of The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald, once wrote:

"…the test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function."

While I do not claim to have a "first-rate intelligence," I do intend to propose an idea today that some—including me—might view as contradictory to advice that I doled out just a fortnight ago.*

*(Side note: I've looked into it and it turns out that, contrary to popular opinion, you do not, in fact, need to hold a British passport to use the word 'fortnight.')

Anyhow, two weeks ago, I laid out a framework for achieving seemingly impossible goals. A key part of that framework was the inclusion of quantitative metrics associated with achieving said goal. And as an illustration of such metrics, I quoted the number of newsletter subscribers and Twitter followers I was targeting for the very content you’re reading right now.

Thankfully, one of my readers, a Nigeria-based writer, pointed out that maybe I was thinking about it the wrong way.

I agree with this comment—thank you, Chioma. In fact, it got me thinking about this quote from Seth Godin (in his book, Linchpin):

"Great work is not created for everyone. If it were, it would be average work."

And after listening to a wonderful (and highly recommended) podcast conversation between Jack Butcher and Jim O’Shaughnessy (the inspiration for this week’s ‘big idea’), I was reminded of something I think I already knew, but like many of us, could use a reminder of once in a while; and that is that we can’t control outcomes.

Of course, we love to TRY to control outcomes—from making our business successful to earning more money to getting that big promotion—but the irony is the more we focus on the outcome itself, the further away it seems to get it.

So what does actually get us closer to achieving those outcomes we so desire?

👉Delivering value.

This idea of delivering value has been bouncing around in my head all week, almost as a mantra of sorts. How can I deliver value—like actually deliver value—in every aspect of my life?

Because I believe it is this, delivering value (to others), that is the great unlock for all of the outcomes that we desire.

And after lots of thinking and listening to people much smarter than me, here’s what I came up with:

4 Strategies for Delivering Value

  1. Focus — You already know that I think focus is a superpower. And you know I think 'flow states' are when our best work (by far) gets done. But how can you possibly focus in this world of constant buzzing, dinging, vibrating interruptions, and endlessly competing responsibilities? By saying 'no' way more often than you think you should. By making that one decision that will help you to avoid a thousand follow-up decisions. Sometimes that one decision is hard! Sometimes it's not what they want to hear. But if it gives you the ability to get laser-focused, it will ultimately benefit you and everyone in your life. In other words, it will help you deliver value.

  2. Leverage your unique talents — Believe it or not, you can be the best in the world at something. You just need to find your unfair advantage. And often, it lies not in literally being the best in the world at something, but at the intersection of the things you are ‘pretty damn good’ at. Romeen Sheth summed it up perfectly here:

    Is there something that feels like play to you, but miserable work to others? That’s a good clue as to where your focus should be. Channeling your energies to the right places is key to delivering value.

  3. Process — You know I’m not going to rattle off a 4-part advice list without mentioning process. It’s all about process. The process is what you can control. The outcome is not. I can commit to write for one hour every day—and then do it. That’s the process. I can commit to be in my home gym with my workout clothes on, every morning at 6 am—and then do it. That’s the process. What happens after that is out of my control. But committing to the process—and even falling in love with it—that’s where the magic happens.

  4. Do something / Make something / Be someone — YOU ARE PROUD OF — When we were kids, they always asked us: “Did you do your best?” I ask my kids the same thing. That’s all I really care about as a parent. But we forget to ask ourselves the same thing. Did we actually do our best? Like our hand-on-heart best? Again, in this crazy world of competing responsibilities and just getting stuff done, it’s very easy for that question to never cross your mind. So maybe we need to slow down. Take a breath. Say no to more so we actually get to a place where we can legitimately say “yes, this is it. This is my best. And I’m damn proud of it.” If we’re trying to be the best in the world at something, or even just really, really good at something, you damn well better believe that it has to be our best work.

I could be wrong. I often am. But I think that giving a bit more attention to these four things might just exponentially improve our chances of delivering value.

And at the end of the day, that’s what we can control—what we put in. Not the outcome.

That’s it for this week.

See you next Thursday. — Greg


Extra credit: Podcasts, Emojis and Left Eye

Photo credit: Mike Lewis HeadSmart Media via

Reporting a Crime — As usual, all of the ideas in this week’s newsletter are stolen (from people who stole them from other people, of course). Have I mentioned there are no original ideas? I’ll write something on that soon. It’ll probably be lifted from someone else. Anyhow, here are some of the great sources I stole ideas from this week.

Infinite Loops podcast — Jack Butcher with Jim O'Shaughnessy

Daily Stoic podcast — James Clear with Ryan Holiday

Happen to Your Career podcast — Greg McKweon with Scott Anthony Barlow

Is there an emoji for emoji? — It’s like that time my dad asked me “How do I google Google?” and I felt like I was at the nexus of the universe. Anyhow, I figured out how to put emojis in the newsletter this week, so, sorry about that… feel like I could go down a 🐇🕳 with this.

Waterfalls — Yes, the title of this week’s newsletter is inspired by the 1990s TLC classic, Waterfalls, which topped the Billboard charts for 7 weeks in 1995. And, you’re welcome, the song is now out of my head and into yours. #BringBackTRL #RIPLeftEye

That’s it for this week. See you next Thursday. — Greg