Mental Hustle & The Notebook

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The constant pursuit of new knowledge.  Staying sharp, up to date & relevant.  A desire to learn, assimilate and apply.  In the pursuit of excellence, capturing new knowledge, letting it sink in and applying it will never go out of style.  


So many people let their professions pass them by, when everything is blatantly obvious in front of them.  A generation of people have fought the Sea Change in Marketing and are risking career obsolescence.  The good news for those that look to stand out?  Many people CHOOSE not to.  Freedom is not only liberating, it’s a difference maker.

The information age has changed everything to stay sharp.  So many tools come to mind.  The Old School used libraries, encyclopedias, trade journals and seminars.  New School, not so much.

  • Google:  New knowledge is at your fingertips.
  • YouTube:  World-class presentations and seminars you used pay to attend
  • Social Channels:  Experts are a tweet away.  Not all engage, but listening is sometimes the best learning method
  • Blogs – Every topic known to man

An Old School tool caught my eye this past week:  The Notebook.

Old School Notebook

One of my team member’s tool of choice for learning her role is a notebook, with detailed “How Too’s” meticulously detailed out.  I get a kick out of the notes, details and discipline that comes with it.  You name the topic, there’s a chapter of notes, some with highlights, different colors, etc.

There is value in the NOTEBOOK….

  • Imagine having a work in progress playbook to the key lessons and recipes to success in your role.  Wouldn’t that help? Not a list of to do’s, the key procedures, check points and success factors.  

Here’s something that strikes me as glaring in business:  The person that does not ask questions.  Especially when they are either

1) New to a role, and/or

2) Team results are not at or above standard.

People that don’t ask real insightful, knowledge-seeking questions throw up red flags.  It could be a sign of the following:

  • They don’t do their homework:  
    • Ever have a job candidate not ask questions?  I’m sure you drew conclusions that they didn’t do their basic research, or they couldn’t think on their feet.  I can’t think of one person I hired who fell into this category.
  • They don’t push the envelope on results and how to “break through” inertia.
    • In other words, the let the game come to them vs. take themselves to the game.

Here are some things to capture in the Notebook:Results areas:  How is the business or work unit you are playing on doing?  Key metrics?  Getting better or worse?

  • Frustrations experienced on the job.  What are they?  What are some top of mind ideas you can do to handle?  
  • Problems your team is struggling with:  Are they focused on the problem or solving it?  What can you do to play a role?
  • Innovations – Off the wall ideas to change the game.  Could be new products, new ways to do the job, different ways to engage with other functions.
  • What are you doing to help others?  More or less effort in this area than last week?  If being a “team player” is a critical skill in business, why not track, measure and aim to improve in this area every single week?
  • How can your boss help to add perspective to what your journaling?  Other mentors?  Other team members?
  • “Hits & Misses”:  Where did you get satisfaction from?  Areas where you did not meet your own standards?  What’s the learning for the future?
  • If you had to “score yourself” on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being perfection, what score would you give yourself for the day?  The Week?  The month?  Is your trend-line moving north or staying flat?  Why?

No matter how “busy” people are in their jobs, there is ALWAYS downtime.  It’s a universal truth in business.  The 10 minute delay in a meeting where everyone’s BS’ing.  The morning water cooler talk.  There’s always a window to capture what matters in the Notebook.

Brains are like filing cabinets.  At some point, they become full.  Take the pressure off your brain and use a Notebook.

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