July 13, 2009

New Shoes

New Shoes

This isn't really a post about new shoes, I promise.  Remember, I live in the world of pattern matching and analogies.  But I did go running yesterday morning — my first run in a new pair of running shoes.  I usually get new running shoes every 3-6 months, depending on how much mileage I'm logging.  And I find the same thing every time:  I may not realize I'm uncomfortable running in the old shoes, but the minute I put the new ones on, I realize just how far the old ones had deteriorated and just how much better life is in the new ones.  Same model shoe – just a fresh pair.  And I run faster, stronger, and happier.

How much of your professional life works the same way?  I often find that small tweaks to renew and refresh existing processes, relationships, thought patterns, and work product make an enormous difference in the energy I bring to work, and in the quality of the work I do.  Last week, for example, I had two such events.

First, I went through and overhauled what I call my "operating system," which is really my fancy, David Allen-style to-do list.  I changed some categories and formatting, cleaned out some dead items, rethought some items, added some new ones.  And voila – I went from semi-ignoring the system to running my priorities by it once again.  And I've had my most productive week in a long time.

Second, I completely re-thought the dynamics of my relationship with someone on the team.  They had grown stale.  Check-in meetings weren't interesting or productive any more, just perfunctory.  Together we sat down and crafted a new way of working together, a new list of topics we were going to tackle together that added more value to the organization.  It was like a breath of fresh air.

We can't completely reinvent ourselves every time we need a career pick-me-up.  But we can remember that every few months, it's time to put on a fresh pair of running shoes and put some spring back in our steps.

6 responses to “New Shoes”

  1. love this post, Matt. so easy to forget to do this. and now i'm wondering if it's too late to get new shoes before my half marathon in two weeks.

  2. Jeff says:

    You should do a post describing your "fancy, David Allen-style to-do list"!

  3. I never did a long post, but I did a super quick one:  http://onlyonce.blogs.com/onlyonce/2008/05/inbox-… Getting Things Done is well worth a read.

  4. fredwilson says:

    i love this post matt. i reblogged a piece of it at fredwilson.vc

  5. Mark Essel says:

    Thought you inadvertently stole the fire from my 1000 mile sneakers post (it'll get blogged tomorrow if something more necessary doesn't pop up).

    Then I realized this was a business post, whew.
    I go through 2 pairs of running sneakers every 3 months (slightly more in winter , less now). I get about 500-600 miles per sneaker (I walk a lot, not into running). Was about to post in search of a company that makes 1k mile sneakers that feel great the entire time.

  6. That would be nice…but I bet they’d cost twice as much!