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Calling Bullshit on Networking

August 1, 2018


Interesting Thought: Calling Bullshit on Networking


I can't stand books and seminars about how to be good at networking. If your goal is to be good at networking, I don't want you in my network. Sorry. I'm just not into networking. 


Having a network is important. It's just that the best way to develop a meaningful network has nothing to do with "networking." It's about doing good work, having the courage to put it out there, and engaging with people on topics you care about—not as a means to an end but as an end in itself. 


Unless your scheduling a doctor's appointment or a session with a therapist or coach, don't meet people with a goal of having them help you. Meet people because you're excited to interact with them and learn from them. It's super easy to tell whether someone wants the former or latter.


Also: if you're an introvert and reading this makes you nervous, don't sweat it. Put yourself out there and make yourself uncomfortable and all that, sure. But be true to yourself. What's the point of having a big network if you're miserable all the time? None. Think minimum effective dose. Close family and friends plus a bunch of books goes a long way. 


Networking has become an entire industry because, like so many other industries, it's built on making people feel like they need something and and then selling them a superficial way to have it, or at least think they have it. 


Not everyone needs a big network. Not everyone wants a big network. And for those who would benefit from a big network, the best way to get one is not to focus on networking. It's to focus on doing good work and being real.


Coaching Corner: Is Scrolling More Important than Everything Else?


As I sit here, 30,000 feet above the earth, I’ve written 10 pages; sketched out training plans for two athletes; and read a couple chapters of the book In Search of Wisdom. Generally, it's the most productive I've been in weeks.


My phone sits in my pocket, a useless brick thanks to no service or wifi. My computer, though active and inviting, also faces the wifi-less problem. I’m sandwiched between two individuals in the middle seat of the row. I periodically have water and a snack delivered to my seat. I have a defined amount of time in which to work: 3 hours and 5 minutes, after which I will be free.


An airplane is the optimal working environment.


Whenever I work in my office or a coffee shop, even if I put my phone away or keep it in my pocket, the temptation and pull is there. I can feel the urge to reach into my backpack and pull out my phone; mindlessly scrolling through emails or social media. As I work, a part of mind-brain is occupied by this urge. My brain keeps track of my phone thanks to the fact that I’ve assigned it such importance and value over the years. Like a new mom, whose attention is always partially directed to their child, my phone owns part of my mind. When I’m on a plane, however, the urge is practically non-existent. My mind knows that there is no point. Scrolling provides zero rewards. My attention rests squarely on whatever it is I’m doing.


Should I spend my life trying to mimic the environment of a plane, walling myself off in a connectivity free prison? Or, do I figure out how to deal with the compulsions?


Our phones or whatever else ‘distracts’ us have gained so much power because we have instructed our brains to pay attention to them. Every time we pick up our phone and scroll mindlessly at the dinner table instead of talking with our family or friends, we are sending a value message to our brains. Scrolling is more important than interacting.


While I may never be able to mimic airplane working conditions in the rest of life, what I can do is control the messages I’m sending to my brain on what’s important. Over time it will learn and rewire. And maybe, just maybe, that space that is devoted to my phone in my mind will slowly shrink to a lesser, more appropriate, level of importance; not that of a baby I must care for, but that of a useful tool, like a knife or fork. Something I pick up for a specific task.


Whether it is in productivity or in simply living life, my goal shouldn't be to wall myself off in a distraction-free zone, like the plane. That's a band-aid for the greater issue: To what is it that I'm assigning value and importance. Because whatever it is, that's where my mind will go.


Book of the Month:

New segment! We'll be sharing a book or two every month that we think will benefit the Peak Performance community. We'll also share key quotes from the book(s), welcome your dialogue, and devote the last newsletter of each month to a discussion on the book(s).

This month we will explore the theme of community and belonging, something we believe is a first principle for wellbeing and performance.

The books are:

Tribe by Sebastian Junger and Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown.

"To seek out moments of collective joy and to show up for moments of collective pain, we have to be brave. We have to show up and put ourselves out there. This means we have to be vulnerable. Courage requires vulnerability."


If you like this newsletter and want to learn more and support our work, please share it with your friends and consider buying our book, Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success. You can get a copy from AmazonBarnes and Noble, or your neighborhood bookstore.


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