Have you ever wondered why the U.S. flag on the right shoulder of a military uniform has the union (the stars) on the right side? It looks backward if you’re not used to it.
The proper display of the U.S. flag puts the star field at the position of highest honor. On a stationary display (like mounted on a wall), it’s the top-left corner as you’re looking at it. (Usually—there are exceptions.)
When displayed on a moving object, the position of highest honor is on the leading side, so star field is positioned at the front. This gives the appearance that the flag is waving in the breeze as the object moves forward. (Picture the flags mounted on the front of a diplomatic limousine.)
This is why the flag on a soldier’s shoulder might seem backwards—it’s how the flag would fly if the soldier were running forward, into battle. It’s also why the bison on the Wyoming state flag faces left. It faces into the storm.
This is part leadership manual, part biography. Rudy Giuliani shares the leadership principles the guided him through his twelve years as mayor of New York City.
The chapters alternate between leadership lessons and the events of September 11, 2001. Giuliani takes you with him, like you’re a member of his entourage, as the day unfolds, the impact is assessed, and the plan to respond and rebuild is formed. I read this in 2003, not quite two years after, and I enjoyed the behind-the-scenes look at how New York stepped up when it was put at the center of the world stage.
One of the key lessons I took away is that it’s okay to focus on numbers. It’s not cold and disinterested, it’s how you step back and focus on results instead of the actions taken to get the results. This is a critical distinction to make if you’re going to delegate anything to someone else.
I have thousands of unread articles in Pocket. According to ReadKit, it’s 2,264. I doubt I’m going to read them all.
When I have time, I’ll sit down and read through articles. I’ll share the best with others who might find them interesting. Some are deep reads that make me think. Some are light reads that I just skim.
Some of the articles, I delete without reading. At some point, I thought I wanted to read it. Or might want to read it. Maybe. Possibly.
This probably feels familiar to you. If you use a similar workflow for reading the news, checking email, or anything else, you shouldn’t feel guilty about dropping work you deferred until later. It may have already served its purpose.
When my children are watching a movie and we need them to take care of something outside of the room, they have one request: pause it.
It’s a fair request—they don’t want to miss Elsa building her snow castle. They know the words better than Idina Menzel, but they’re still as engaged as the first time they watched it.
I’m not sure this is something we ever really outgrow. We like results. We like progress. We like setting up goals and projects and ticking off little boxes and relish that sense of satisfaction at the end. Ah, dopamine!
Being productive is good. It’s how we create value. But there are times where we need to step back and push pause so we can take care of something else.
When the iPhone was introduced, one of the most innovative and controversial aspects of the design was the keyboard. Before the iPhone, phones either had a physical QWERTY keyboard (like the prevalent Blackberry phones) or relied on a numeric keypad with T9 (like my stylish Motorolla RAZR).
The power of this design choice (obvious in hindsight) is that you can easily change the keyboard without having to change the hardware. Parlez-vous Français? Bam! You’ve got an AZERTY keyboard. Chinese? You have a keyboard that lets you draw characters. TextExpander’s keyboard will expand macros as you type them and Google’s keyboard lets you swipe between letters to spell out words. You can search and browse emoji. On the iPad, there’s even a keyboard that recognizes handwriting.
This is a flexibility that you just don’t have with a hardware keyboard. You can customize how you type according to personal preference.
There’s another keyboard built in to iOS that you may not have tried: the Siri Dictation keyboard. It’s 3x faster than typing.
Some decisions take forever to make. We agonize over them. We weigh our options, list the pros and cons, and do 10–10–10 analyses. Finally, we’re out of time, and we default into whatever outcome we last vacillated to.
And then there are decisions that are so clear, the question hasn’t had time to make it all the way across our minds and we’ve already acted. The decision isn’t any easier to reach. It’s just that we’ve already spent time thinking about the desired outcomes we want in principle. When the choice is placed before us, we find that we’ve already decided what we’re going to do. Now it’s time to act.
There are five levels of what I’m going to call Peak Productivity. It’s a mountain we all climb every day. Some busily run up and down the foothills all day. Some stay on the lofty peaks and never come down. If we want to get the most out of life—day-to-day and over the years—we need to spend time at all levels.