Having moved five times in the last six years, I’m no stranger to temporary storage units. They’re all pretty similar. You pay a monthly fee and get access to a small space to store your belongings.
When you purchase a storage unit, they are always quoted in width x depth. A 10′ x 10′ space might cost $120 / month or a 5′ x 10′ space might be $80 / month.
Here’s a little secret. The value is in the space above.
The height of the storage unit determines how much you can store. A 5′ x 10′ unit with high ceilings can store as much as a 10′ x 10′ with low ceilings. Now I always pack my items in sturdy, stackable containers.
Think about your own business or relationships. Is there ‘space above’ that you’re not utilizing?
On that long drive, instead of listening to the music, you could listen to a great audio book or catch up with that relative or old colleague you’ve been meaning to call.
On that plane ride, instead of watching the in-flight movie, you could write the business plan for your new idea or draft the first chapter to that book you’ve been meaning to write.
At home, instead of watching House reruns, you could start a blog for yourself or with your child.
Space above is everywhere. Look for it and use it.
Alec Baldwin’s phenomenal speech as Blake in Glengarry Glen Ross is even more true than when the movie was released.
Now, more than ever, it is critical to be the best in the world. The internet has flattened everything out. If your customers want something else, your competitor, or the next, or the next, is just a click away.
Choice has become infinite, so being the best in the world is paramount.
There is good news, though. The same internet that flattened everything out and requires you to be the best in the world has a hidden secret. It allows you to define the size of the world. If you find yourself at the bottom of Blake’s chalkboard, the internet allows you to define your own chalkboard and write your own name at the top.
The killjoys over at at Challenger, Gray and Christmas waste a bunch of money running an annual study of (ironically) the money and productivity lost by people checking out the NCAA tournament while at work. CGC calculates it to be as much as $1.7 billion in wasted work time over the 16 business days of the tournament.
I don’t buy it.
It’s not about the bracket. It’s not about the entry fee or the prize money.
It’s about the incremental camaraderie.
It’s about the shift of power when the mousy receptionist taunting the big shot sales guy about her team upsetting his.
It’s about the invisible IT guy gaining respect by hacking together a system for the office to enter their pools ‘online’ (in 1998).
It’s about the female CFO finding out that the janitor majored in finance at Syracuse, a year ahead of her.
It’s about the new connections and conversations that occur every March.
Challenger, Gray and Christmas can’t put a dollar value on that.
Because teachers don’t give open ended essay questions to 2nd graders. Because nobody ever tells a girl scout troop to go raise money however they see fit. Thin Mints and Samoas are the tasty, structured proof.
Because the jobs we get early in life are always very structured (ever had a paper route?). Everything is laid out, do this, then do that, then do the other thing. When you’re done, it will look like this. Exactly like this.
It extends beyond childhood. The jobs we get after college are also very structured. Consulting is often nothing but repeating for a new client the same methodology, process or technology that worked for the last client. Lists of what to do and how to do it are everywhere.
Lists aren’t evil. Many times, lists are important, such as in accounting, CPR or the construction of a safe building. But we all want to know that if we check all the right boxes, that we get the A+, admission to the right school, a good review and a 7% annual raise.
Almost everyone is more comfortable with lists. Almost everyone wants people to tell them exactly what to do and exactly what finished looks like.
This is why the people that don’t need lists are so valuable.
Learn to be that type of person. Learn how to take an ambiguous task and figure it out. Learn how to fundraise without Samoas. Learn how to improvise. Learn how to host a conference. Learn how to start a company.
Learn how to do things without lists. You’ll become indispensible.