Disclaimer: Below are the show notes and script that covers the podcast more or less. These notes will be more concise and tight as I find my narrative style and framework for the show. So bear with me.
Welcome to THE Heroik Hour Podcast and thank you so much for tuning in to episode three. I’m your host Nicholas McGill, Chief Experience Officer for Heroik Media, and I’m going to share a little bit of Heroik TLC, technology, leadership and culture to help YOU elevate, connect and grow and give you the adaptive skills that will get you mission ready for life.
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In the last episode I introduced the concept that heroes aren’t born they’re MADE, and made is an acronym for 4 core Heroik pursuits of mastery, abundance, discernment, and exploration. In the last episode we talked about abundance, And In this one I’m totally psyched to talk about the power of Discernment. I’ll give you a functional definition, talk how you can use it to transform some habits, business practices, and build a better life. And I’ll show you examples of Discernment in action, how we use it to build our entire business, all by giving examples, recommendations and techniques that have helped me grab the best gear, become a better leader, and build unique methods a better culture with my team. So from values, principles, practices, and purchase recommendations, this episode has got it all.
A word of warning, this episode is going to be long, and wordy, because we’re going to be going deep and broad. We’re going to get really nerdy, we’ll talk tech, gear, and mindset in what may be the most helpful and practical Heroik Hour Podcast to date. If you’re at the gym or on the commute, be sure to visit our site for our show notes for recommendations when you’re back at your at your big screen. Alright, this is one of my favorite topics – let’s get pumped.
What is Discernment?
Discernment is the ability to go beyond the surface perception, and do the deep dive into more critical elements, the nuances, and form a sharp, precise, more informed and intentional judgement.
It is the ability to really recognize down to the nitty gritty if what you’re doing, using, and looking at, the people you’re interacting with are really serving you.
Discernment allows you to determine the vital, the essential, the MVPs and channel your focus and energy to those, and by definition away from the non-essential, non-critical distractions.
Ask yourself, what do you need to be focusing on right now to achieve your goal? What’s next? What’s important? Don’t just answer from the hip, map it out and understand your answer. Discernment involves critical thinking skills.
You can try to do and juggle everything, and fail at getting anything done. Spreading yourself too thin is all too common, especially in a world abundant with choices, opportunities and distractions.
Certain efforts produce better results than others. Sometimes what you don’t do is just as important as what you do do.
You really need to pay attention to where you’re pouring your TEA, time, energy and attention and measuring the impact on your life. If you’re not getting the results you want, make changes and focus on doing more by focusing on less but better activities.
Discernment demands Intention, Precision, Discipline, Understanding, and Gentleness. The first 4 are self explanatory, but the pro tip, if you want to master discernment, you must be gentle as you go. You will notice yourself and others ,making choices are worse than others at first. Discernment is like X-ray vision and it can be depressing at first when you discover you didn’t think things through. Go easy on yourself. It is a gift to notice that there are better choices to be made. Don’t beat yourself up. You can’t be too much of a hard ass on yourself. Don’t dwell in the past, focus on discerning the choices and tradeoffs you need to make right now in your life.
So how do you use it?
Discernment is an adaptive skill that gives you the ability to filter all the aspects of your life, clarify the stuff that really serves you, recognize the things that help you build momentum and differentiate them from the things that cause drag.
In these ways Discernment helps you focus on what matters
- Clarify thinking, and refine your decision making process
- Create filters and frameworks to quickly sort the best from the rest
- Focus on the important and say no to the rest
- Understand and measure the trade-offs of your decisions
The discipline of discernment brings you more of the great and less of the mediocre. It helps you find
- The books and content that move you forward
- The challenges that help you grow
- The people, places and things that energize, motivate and keep you enthusiastic about your pursuits
Discernment as a discipline represents an entire industry, a collection of multiple types of businesses that you can practice.
- Creating Better Content Strategy, understanding what makes for the right mix for high quality content to drive engagement
- Curation -wrangling the best stuff (content, products, etc.)
- Building a Curated Brand – Take great white label products and slap your brand on them.
- Providing recommendations, reviews, etc.
- Refining Business Models and Brand Identities
- Providing Direct Consultation, Coaching & Training
- Developing Methodology / Framework
Since there are more options, vendors, solutions and choices than ever before, there is a huge market for helping people:
- Filter down to the best options
- Play matchmaker, review, recommend and choose for them
- Become better curators themselves – Develop Frameworks and content strategies to show refined taste,
- How to optimize their products and services to make the cut in terms of quality.
- Curate the curators – reveal the best of the best resources, build networks and communities around them.
- Develop Methods and Algorithms to guide decisions for big business
Heroik Media uses Discernment to do all of the above for it’s clients.
Discernment is an essential ingredient in our secret sauce.
I will give you the TLC of Discernment, how it applies to Technology, Leadership and Culture.
These 3 areas are mission critical to business growth. One of the most common mistakes I see companies of all sizes make, is that they simply try to add tools and technology and bolt it on to what they’ve got. Without strong adaptive, leadership and culture that are aligned to grow with a particular solution, I was an IT consultant for a decade, and found more and more that success requires buy-in, leadership, and a fit with the organizational culture of the client.
This is why I shifted my work, to create Heroik Media, to focus on the big holistic picture, to help companies grow effectively.
Now there are many empowering values in Heroik Culture, but DISCERNMENT is probably the number 1 value, practice and pursuit for us simply because in a world filled with choices, we rely heavily on discernment, to discipline ourselves to bring clarity, make it easier to focus, and filter the choices, narrowing them down to a few great ones. A discerning mind is a disciplined mind.
We apply discernment to Technology to develop the H6 Methodology which in turn allows us to identify lean, linchpin strategies, tactics and preferred tools we package together with training and implementation, to give businesses the added capacity and capabilities required to build growth engines within their organization.
How’d we do this? The short version is we studied and paid attention to how business and technology were evolving and coming together. This was like watching Godzilla vs. King Kong. We paid attention to the little things, the flaws, the weaknesses, the signals no one else noticed, and determined 6 factors that affect the flow and value of information as it travels and changes across platform, device, and format. We refer to this flow as digital liquidity.
In the Heroik Methodology, we use this insight to pursue the right mix of these 6 factors in many of our decisions and designs: speed, simplicity, independence, mobility, control and tactility.
Basically by using these 6 factors, we can quickly filter out a majority of solutions that would hinder the flow for our clients and our firm. And we can identify the most effective solutions and deploy them, resulting in a huge edge that can serve any organization. This filter allows us to narrow down many available options to a few great ones at lightning speed.
A quick way to understand this, is that if things are easy to understand, if you can get your hands on them quickly, you can be more productive. If you have the appropriate degree of control and ownership, you’re managing your technological dependencies well, and can operate and adapt independently. If you’ve got the means to be effective even at your most mobile, you’re far more empowered than others.
If that sounded like gobbledygook to you, let’s bring it down to practical decisions that everyone makes
When you go to choose a laptop, If you’re goal is to choose the one that best suits your needs and growth, our method, developed by critically studying or discerning your key success factors with tech, act as a filter.
You’re constrained by the performance and reliability of the hardware, the speed which is controlled by the processor, memory and storage, the ease of use or simplicity of the operating system and so on.
Some people prefer Macs, some prefer PC’s. We’re power users and use both, but when we apply our filters, and get discerning about which great solutions really fit, the options are narrowed down to gaming laptops and Macbook Pros.
Another example, when you’re trying to figure out which office software to use – Basically, we’re looking for solution that allow us to work faster, are easy to understand, do not create dependencies, are mobile/independent across multiple platforms
This is discernment in action. We look at our needs, preferences, results, and indicators to develop a better way to make more effective decisions.
Our method allows us to create leaner, meaner, more effective teams and capabilities inside of organizations.
Let’s get down to the practical level and change gears a bit.
You know you’re listening to a discerning opinion when a person is describing their decisions that are reflective of direct experience.
I figured I’d teach you this by providing some examples of discernment in action while giving you some reviews and recommendations for gear and equipment. What I want you to pay attention here is how I get nitty -gritty with filtering to apply the Heroik golden rule – cultivate that which serves you and hit the eject button on that which does not.
Here’s some tech we use and prefer that fit with our methods and and illustrate our decision making process.
1-We use Google Docs because it works well everywhere on just about any Internet connected device, and allows for multiple people to collaborate in real time. This is great for organizations of all sizes.
2-We build web presence on the WordPress platform. It’s open source content management system that’s used by almost 25% of the web. It’s easy to learn, adaptable for many uses, and there is a solid community and ecosystem of solutions and professionals to use and rely on as you grow forward.
3-We use Slack to communicate and cut back on email communications. Slack provides a focused, spam free means of communicating on projects. It is also asynchronous, meaning I don’t have to be online at the same time as my team to stay in the loop. I can invite teammates later and they can catch up on the whole conversation as well. I can’t say enough good things about these platforms.
4- We also use Dropbox. I know I can use Drive, but I’m hedging my bets here. At the time of purchase, neither solution gave us everything we needed. I feel safe and secure with Drive, but love that I can quickly provision a new device with all of Heroik tools and assets quickly via Dropbox.
So there’s some software, now let’s get discerning with some hardware and other gear to make it even more personal.
I’m going to give you some recommendations or lightning reviews of some of the gear I carry with me on a daily basis – hopefully you’ll hear how being discerning, leads to better, precise decisions.
In general, when it comes to gear, I want great performance for intended use, lasting durability, function over fashion but style is still important, and prefer the look of the professional. I’m dependent upon electricity, information, Internet access storage for books, laptops, pens, pencils, notebooks, post its, and highlighters.
Let’s talk about some study habits of successful professionals. READING – you know that thing you only do when you’re forced. To me it’s a passion.
- I read a lot of books, and I used to hate catching a dud. Finishing a bad book can take at least 5 hours of your time. So I got smarter and more discerning about my book selecting process. I don’t read as many duds as I used to because I’m careful to be discerning and dig deeper into my research before I buy a book. I read a lot of reviews but focus my attention on the 3 star reviews on amazon, because these readers see something good and usually pinpoint the flaws. If the flaws are dealbreakers for me, I consider not buying the book. This is a simple hack. The 4-5 star reviews rarely explain specifically why they loved the book, it’s just blanket praise from fan boys. The 1-2 star reviews are usually whining about shipping/ or politics, and were just destined to hate the books.
- When I read, I read with a few highlighters. I abuse books. I highlight anything worth reading a second time. This isn’t for everybody. I don’t read to say I’ve finished or read or conquerd a book. I read to study, to master, to refine, to synthesize information and apply it to my life. So much of what I read I re-read. But on the second time through, I usually just re-read my highlights and can remember the rest of the information. This not only increases my retention but reduces my study time. If there’s an Idea I have while reading, I’ll even deface the book and write notes on the margins. Books are there to serve you – so let them. Use the highlighter hack, study to integrate, to synthesize and to master.
- Even though I travel – I don’t use my Kindle for books. I carry a few books with me at any time, because I have no need to read 15 books at a time. You can’t read that much on your travels anyway, unless you’re an unemployed nomad. There simply is no need on any given trip for me to have the iPod of books at any given point in time. Thanks to Amazon Prime, any book I want is 2 days of free shipping away from arriving at my front door. My travels are engaging enough, so at most, I might get through 4-6 books on vacation…yes I’m that nerdy.
- Also I refer to re-read, study, refer to and master books I enjoy and I don’t trust the Kindle system because in the past it has accidentally lost/ dumped people’s libraries and highlights before. It’s happened to me, and was a huge loss of assets and insights.
- Further, on the Kindle, you do not legally own a copy of the book, nor do you own your highlights. So while I do use the kindle app from time to time, I still love physical books.
- I love that I can protect the insights that I see and find in a book, and don’t assume that other people see what I see. I’ve tested this and found I tend to highlight more than most people anyway. And the shared highlights that Kindle provides stick out like sore thumbs, so I don’t really get added value.
- This is proof that the wisdom of the crowds, aggregate information, isn’t necessarily insightful. I’m not interested in Forest Gump’s highlights. What appeals to him also appeals to his strengths and probably can’t be leveraged by mine. So trust yourself and have some damn confidence.
- I travel quite a bit, and don’t want to carry a ton of superfluous gear, so I focus on buying great gear with a smaller footprint to make it easier for me to travel.
- Everyone seems to carry a mobile office with them – and I’m no exception. I carry more gear than can fit in my briefcase, especially when I travel, and I still want to preserve a professional look, so I bought a Tumi Alpha Kingsville backpack, which is code for super fancy backpack. It is top-notch, looks elegant and professional, and was carefully designed down to the stitching and zipper for the pro on the go.
- Truth – I paid way too much for this backpack. There have since been new lines with new features from the company. I’m not fond of wasting money.
- I use a zip up, soft pencil box, that I bought for a dollar at Wal-Mart to house my power brick and cable for my Macbook. Why? When you think of the goal of what you want to achieve, the instant you google search for a niche solution, the markup is amazing. What I mean by that is a cardboard box is cheap, but if I know that you’re looking for a cardboard box to carry your most prized possessions, I’m going to talk up that cardboard box and sell it for a hell of alot more to get you to protect your investment. A zip up pencil box can be the exact same container as the zip up cable organizer, but guess which one costs more? Context is everything. So be discerning as you look to solve your problems and don’t eliminate the more basic solutions that are outside of the box and category of what you’re thinking.
- To wrangle cables and chargers, I caved and bought some Hyde and Park leather cable organizer for like $40. It’s nice but my previous solution was cheaper and had an added feature. Again for $1 I had a pencil organizer that fit inside of a 3 -ring binder. It had a clear window of plastic so you can see it’s contents. Now it doesn’t look cool, but I could always see what gear was in that bag, and thus wouldn’t leave things behind or assumed I had packed something. I’m usually function over fashion, but I too am just a human, and get sold on overpriced hipster shit every now and again.
- When it comes to notebooks – I love BLANK moleskine notebooks. I like the freedom to draw and write anywhere on the page in whichever form I feel appropriate. So the lined versions are out. Also, because so many of my notes get put in, it’s important that I don’t lose the notebook (Which of course I did about a year ago). So I upgraded to the Moleskine Livescribe edition, Livescribe pen records all my notes and syncs them to Evernote via my phone. Livescribe pens used to record audio, but this version requires your phone be unlocked in order to continue to record, making the audio recording feature utterly useless. Other than that the livescribe app sucks, but the note recording works. I recommend you check out. I’m considering the Moleskine branded Neo2 smartpen notebook combo. It syncs with Google Drive (which is great because I don’t use Evernote that much). It too records audio. The point I want to emphasize is that those beautiful handwritten notes you make should be backed-up digitally, in case you lose the notebook, because Believe me it sucks when you do.
- When I’m not writing with the LiveScribe, I use a uniball jetstream pen, or variation on it. Why should you care? I hate half working pens, and have lost a train of thought in client exercises because a pen failed. These days we take pens for granted, and are prone to buying cheaper versions, but not me. If a good idea goes uncaptured, it costs far more than the extra buck or two that could be spent on a reliable pen. Also, I’m left handed and prone to smudge writing and these pens don’t smudge. This is discernment in action, getting down to the nitty gritty of why choose this over that, and think about what trade-offs are made in the process.
- I also carry a USB charger with enough power 4 ports for any plug. The reason being is this ensures my wife and I can charge two devices each while sharing a plug.
- Same setup in the car, 4 ports and everyone is happy. I even put another 4port charger in the back seat for guests.
- I also have a small extension cord, Bluelounge Portiko 6 foot extension cord that has two 100 volt plugs and two usb plugs on it. I use this at Cafe’s and in rooms where the couch is a great deal away from the outlet. This also allows me to get power I can share with someone who might have been at the plug first.
- I carry an Anker Astro E4 power pack. The E4 has been replaced by the E5 which has 16,750mA of power. Sometimes I’m not near an outlet and need some juice.
- All of these devices have QI (pronounced “chee”) charging to ensure the right amount of power goes to the device.
Across all of this technology, and all of these decisions large and seemingly small, the implications are huge. And at the core of our method though is discernment, we created a framework that allows us to determine what’s important, what serves us and our clients, and what hinders everyone else, and creates drag. This allows us to analyze the trade-offs, and really filter based on our criteria and results in better and more empowering decisions. This is Discernment in action.
Discernment isn’t just a value you use to get critical about deciding which gear and software to use.
Discernment literally means to separate, to discriminate, to determine, to decide or to distinguish between things. Discernment allows you to weigh the trade-offs and know net net what is good, what supports growth and advancement for you and your organization. It is really your ability to determine what serves you and what does not in all areas of your practice.
Discernment is an essential leadership practice as well.
Discernment is essential to effective decision making. Discernment comes from clear thinking, clear planning and a focused understanding. Whether you’re leading your own life, managing others, or trying to help clients and customers problem solve, you need to pay close attention to drive the results you want not just in the near term but the long term as well.
Effective decisions are a byproduct of knowing what is important and what is not. The discerning leader, defines the vision, the future path, the steps involved in reaching the desired destination. It’s important to carve a path of what to do as well as what not to do’.
Discernment is a process of thought based on circumstances, options, meaning, implications, and motivation. A discerning leader, A Heroik Leader – is managing more variables than the project. They’re managing the expectations, trust, energy, and momentum of those under their care.
As you probably can tell, discernment requires more work, and is embodied by those willing to put it in to build high quality results. Thus the discerning mind is a more disciplined mind and makes for a more effective leader.
Discernment can save you from making a big mistake. Sometimes, choosing none of the above is the best decision you can make. Don’t be afraid to walk away from a bad deal, a bad relationship, tainted advice, or a false choice, that doesn’t feel right in your gut.
#1 Insist on High Standards – Integrity is consistency in word and deed, aligning values to practices is the linchpin of the top performers and it’s hard work. EARN AND KEEP TRUST – Trust is lost when you cave on your values and principles to save your neck. If you’re willing to compromise your values to save your skin, you’re probably willing to sacrifice others as well. And for this seed of doubt alone, your team’s performance will be hindered from what it can be, when trust isn’t at 100%.
#2 Bring your own Bravery – Heroik Leaders have a backbone. They don’t merely fold and complain when some disagrees. They stand by their thoughts and beliefs until they are convinced otherwise by the other side.
#3 Knowing vice from virtue and leveraging it effectively as an individual or organization, is another exercise of discernment. You need to be Unapologetically Authentic, comfortably uncomfortable, Knowing who you are, where you are, with what you’ve got. As a person, as a leader, you must be able to be aware of strengths, weaknesses, and areas that you’re blind as well, as a person, team and organization.
If you give in to others’ judgements without reflection, you will confuse confidence with arrogance, speed with haste, healthy ego with narcissism, assertiveness with abrasiveness, and the list goes on. The person is smart, the people, the mass of people, the aggregate, often behaves like scared crabs in a bucket. They don’t want to believe you can escape because they’re too afraid to try. So everytime they see a leader, a rogue, a renegade or maverick, they act like an angry mob of haters and try to pull you back down. You must discern between objective advice, and the underhanded, pretentious, and jealous distraction.
#4 Saying what others want you to say may win you their favor for a day, but people don’t follow the flavor of the month leader. They look for and pay attention to people of high integrity, and virtuous character that isn’t as easily corrupted or swayed by the trends.
Heroik Leaders are challengers, those who refine, convince, inspire, and invite their team to step up their game for glory in a shared vision. The measure of a Heroik Leader is not his or her ability to convince people who already agree with them.
Those of you who believe it’s correct to fold in the face of a mob, lack the integrity to lead. Leadership is about being intelligent enough to take-on greater ownership and accountability for outcomes, and being responsible for the care of those they lead. Many accept the title of leaders but do not practice leadership, nor do they measure up to a Heroik Standards.
Political Correctness has little business in the big leagues. It’s a PR and political stunt that the public used to fall for. Firing an intern when your company fucks up, as a sacrificicial lamb to appease the public is not leadership. Saying that you’re for everyone and everything and every trend cannot be possibly sincere position, yet that is what PR and politically correct organizations attempt to practice. It waters down the brand. You can be discerning, refining, and still authentic without selling out to a watered-down, unpracticed position.
These are the qualities of discernment in leadership. Leadership however, is often limited by the lens of decision making provided by culture.
The culture provides the values, the beliefs, and operating principles of the organization, the team and the board, use these as a lens to make decisions.
Culture – How to practice some more discernment when defining values s and valued behaviors
So what can you do in your life, as an entrepreneur and manager, just one person in a greater world. You can set and define values, and valued behaviors that help you achieve higher levels of performance. You can build a culture of one.
Using this lens should result in focus on the most important aspects of the work and be reflective of the core values of the organization.
When it comes to culture – Some values are more important than others. If your values aren’t helping guide to better behavior and more effective decision making, you’re missing the point.
Discernment itself, promoting critical thinking can improve the decisions of any organization.
Here are some Discerning Tips for building better culture.
1. Listen to diverse and divergent opinions. Be a constant student of your environment, industry, community, customers and genuine interests. This means paying close attention,being aware and present. Determine specific priorities for your business and focusing on that.
2. Allow everyone to take on a designer mindset. Give them a part in at least dreaming up solutions. Design thinking scales to business of all sizes.
Design to enhance efficiency, flexibility and responsiveness. This is the mindset of a designer, a problem solver, and refiner. If your team is empowered and encouraged with the autonomy to solve their own problems and sort out the hiccups, you can see amazing results.
3. Reward those who can eliminate waste and identify the key, value adding activities. Those willing to cut out the wasteful busy work. This requires having an objective and expected return in mind, as well as just saying no to mental masturbation of work for work’s sake.
4. Emphasize and edify people who demonstrate the ability to add value to your life and work.
Discernment as a value doesn’t align with the idea of MORE time in, MORE effort IN equals / or guarantees better results or better outputs. This would be like saying if you just blindly, attack with great energy, you’ll be rewarded greatly. The real world doesn’t work this way. You have a limited supply of TEA, time, energy and attention, where you pour your TEA where it will have the biggest impact. Not all tasks are created equally.
To all of you who celebrate working 20 hours a day. You’ll never stop. There will never be an end to that grind. You have shitty boundaries. You’re buying into the fairy tale of hard work now will pay off later, so you mismanage your time, energy and attention, and set yourself up for burnout and big failures, where others are focused more on the marathon and less on the sprints.
If you pour your efforts everywhere, you just make a mess and get little done. If you find the glass of a worthy cause, you can fill it and achieve great results. Discernment is the ability to identify the key activities, the linchpins, the great opportunities, so you can focus your effort on those vital, life changing few activities.
People seem to develop culture without comparing /or even knowing their core business/ mission or vision, let alone. The lack of discipline in culture and leadership building and failure to align these elements to the business is symptomatic of a systemic lack of integrity in business.
This is the lipstick on a pig version of culture, and the organizations with this type of culture, find culture building a waste of time, but they don’t acknowledge their own attempts were fake and insincere to begin with, since they could not be aligned or mapped out to valued behaviors, only the aspirations of Public Relations and marketing.
Discernment isn’t nice and fluffy. It’s an invitation to get real, to be honest with yourself, your current position and situation and know exactly what you need to do to improve it. Discernment is an invitation to get you to realize the true costs of faking it, of half-assing it, of giving into a bucket of crabs, and not being true to yourself. But, if you bring your own bravery, if you step up your game, if you get Heroik, and decide to be unapologetically authentic as an individual, as a team, as an organization and brand, the results of your efforts with technology, leadership and culture will vastly improve. Discernment is but one tool that helps you navigate the road and get Mission Ready for Life.
This has been a long one – I want to hear from you, what do you like, what do you hate, whatever, send me an email or contact us at Getheroik.com