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Clouds vs. Dirt
The clouds are your large overall vision. The dirt the tactical trench work needed to execute that vision. Everything in between is a waste of time.
Some people see minutiae and don’t know how to navigate, or they have the idea but lack the skills to do it right.
Most, though, get stuck in the middle. Signs of this include succeeding to a certain point then hitting a plateau, or getting bogged down by details or politics and losing sight of the bigger picture.
When you are stuck in the middle, you are doing commodity work like everyone else. You have to constantly be pushing on the edges of the clouds and the dirt. Seek a high buy-in on your vision, then dedicate yourself to learning the craft.
For Gary, the clouds represent ideals such as bringing 51% of the value into any relationship (client, employee, or total stranger), and playing the long game of lifetime value – i.e. never taking a shortcut for immediate gains.
Hustle means spending more time doing whatever it takes to get to where you want to go. Make every single minute count.
If you have time to watch Game of Thrones and Netflix, then that is time spent not hustling.
You may not be able to increase your natural talent in something, but you can increase your hustle. Expertise can’t be hacked, it takes honest hard work and practice. Working harder must be complemented by working smarter.
Speed and hustle are important, but must be combined with patience for the long term.
This is one of the most critical skills someone can master. Work hard to create an environment where the people around you can tell it like it is – and they feel safe in doing so (otherwise it will never happen). Your job is listen and thank people for bringing it to you.
Double down on people who tell you that you’re full of it. Those are the people who will improve you the most.
We live in a culture where we are encouraged to think we can be good at everything we set out to do. Be in the habit of evaluating your strengths and weaknesses, because not enough people acknowledge their weaknesses.