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The Clueless at The Work Podcast

Anthony Garone talks with several experts in his network about how to navigate the complexities of professional work.

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Episode 5: Systems and Mental Clarity with Adam Smith

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Adam Smith is an expert on personal, spiritual, and mental transformation. He is a pastor at a large, multi-campus church in southern California. He shares his thoughts on systems and the importance of mental clarity.

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Automated Episode Transcript

Published on: Sun, Dec 15, 2019

[00:00:03] Anthony: Welcome to the Clueless at the work podcast, where we talk through a framework for being successful in your job. My name is Anthony Garone, and I’ll be hosting this show with some friends who are experts in helping people grow. Content is based on my book Clueless at the work Advice from a Corporate Tyrant, which is published by Stairway Prince. You can find out more at Clueless at the work dot com. All right, welcome back to the clueless at the work podcast. Today’s guest is one of my favorite people on this planet, and his name is Adam Smith, and I got to know him a few years ago. I don’t know how many years ago, but several it

[00:00:48] Adam: would have been maybe about 10 now, which is crazy to think about more than that.

[00:00:53] Anthony: Yeah, I think it’s more than 10 and and he’s just the best. And I’m super excited to have him here because he is a master at storytelling and at personal transformation, and he’s been through so much. So, Adam, thank you very much for joining. I really appreciate you taking the time.

[00:01:14] Adam: Oh, absolutely. Thanks so much for having me on I, um, of bluffing a little bit as as hearing you Ah, introduce me and I mean instantly. When you asked me if I want to jump on, it was just a no brainer for me. You’re one of my favorite people to talk, Thio. And you know, any time I’m in town, because now I mean, we used to live right across the street from each other literally. But now, even anytime in Tallinn or you’re in town, it’s like, What do I have to do? It doesn’t matter what time of night it is. I want to I want to drive to where you are. That’s right, just for conversation. That’s right. Always interesting and fun and entertaining. And, um, I like the way your brain works. And so, like, it’s a privilege to get, uh, like, whether we’re recording or not. I just want to have conversations with you. So

[00:02:02] Anthony: I know. And we’ve had so many that have been good. I’m glad we’re finally recording one, but yes. So let’s get this started, cause I’m sure people are trying to Ah, fast forward through us, um, loving on each other. So, Adam, why don’t you tell uh, tell the audience a little about yourself. Um, you know what you’re currently doing for work and maybe some of your professional history, and, um and then we’ll start talking about transformation stuff.

[00:02:31] Adam: Yeah, well, currently, I work at a, um, an organization called South Hills Church. And so I’m one of the, uh, the teaching pastors here on We’re, like, Christian organization really focused on, uh, kind of in each thing, which is, um, creating church for people who hate church. Um and so which A lot of people here that and they’re like, Is there a market for that? Not really. Um, and so we’re doing, We’re creating one, um and so I teach. And I also do a lot of the branding and creative design here as well. We were, ah, multi site organization. So we’ve got 11 locations now on di do a lot of the content creation that goes out to all of those locations. So, um, I do that right now. And a man in my past lives. I worked as a youth pastor at a mega church. And that’s where actually, I met Anthony, um, and did that for man six years there, and that was a multi campus situation. Thio and worked with teenagers and ran summer camps and all kinds of good stuff there. And then before that, I ran a small little filmmaking design start up and got a chance to do a lot of design work and make short films, do commercials and work with different clients to try and figure out how to tell stories and get their product out there. And before that, I went to seminary. So not super linear, Uh, in terms of like, Quinn. Sure as you’re going backwards through it, Um, but I think that’s the way a lot of life works, but yeah, I’ve enjoyed it. I’ve gotten to do a lot of interesting things, and I think that’s one of things that I think that one of the things that we like about each other is. We’re interested in a lot of different types of things and can’t really be pinned down toe one specific, you know, interest or one thing that really defines us. And I think that’s like a kinship that we have

[00:04:31] Anthony: absolutely. So we have this book clueless at the work, and a lot of it is centered around the idea of going from clueless cluelessness to known cluelessness. Yeah, that you Ah, you go from realizing or thinking that you have a clue to realizing you have no idea what you’re doing in general, and you’re just winging it for the most part. So I would like to find out if you have any sort of stories, which I know you do. Ah, where you went from believing you were competent to realizing you had a long wait to be who you wanted to become.

[00:05:13] Adam: Man, I feel like I have a 1,000,000 of those moments in my life and I think specifically because I really like trying new things and challenging myself. And I think s o I have those moments a lot. Where on Dhe. You maybe have to Where I I think there’s a lot of these times where I got excited about doing something and had some sort of belief in myself. And then, of course, one of the prerequisites to get a job or to get someone to let you do something is you have to talk them into it. And so, in the process of talking someone into hiring you or funding you or giving you a shot at something. You are really talking yourself up in a way where you’re like, I kind of believe a lot of this, But then once you get the opportunity and it’s granted to you, I think one of the most vivid moments of that was when I I got an opportunity to my first job to oversee all these students in this huge youth ministry. And it was not a job I had before. I’d run a small, you know, ad agency. There’s something I wanted to do. I wanted to work with students. I want to work with youth and, like, underprivileged teenagers. And I never really had, like, you know, a staff that reported to me before I had now was given the whole building that I oversaw. And there was like, four offices in it. And there were multiple, you know, things that happened Events Service’s and there was four employees that were supposed to report to me. I had this big budget that I’ve never really had before that I was solely responsible for, and I had sold him on the fact that I could do this job, and I was like, pretty confident that I could do it. And I remember getting there and going through all the HR stuff and sitting down in my office, the very like first day of actually working and was this huge office. We had this giant corner desk and the desk was like it was a ridiculous, like lawyers desk from a movie. You don’t mean the giant mahogany bookshelf that’s connected to it, and it’s like wraps around you, and it’s absurd. And I had this little tiny laptop and remember sitting at the laptop and I had this yellow pad. It was me. There was nothing on the bookshelves. There was things is me in the laptop of the yellow pad, and I remember sitting there and literally saying out loud like, Okay, so what now? Like, I just genuinely I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing, like from a day to day basis, like I knew that there were certain objectives us supposed to hit or certain things that we’re gonna be expected to me. But that didn’t meant mean that I understood what I was doing Monday through Friday, and I was in this office, and I really I just had kind of that moment of, like, I have no idea what somebody who has this job actually does to accomplish the things they’re supposed to and then feeling the panic of you can’t tell anyone that just hired shoot. You know, you just tricked

[00:08:19] Anthony: them into higher.

[00:08:20] Adam: And it was like I had that feeling like I was a fraud. Like I maybe done something wrong, but it’s like I hadn’t lied anyone. But it’s just like the I think the difference between, like believing that you can accomplish a certain goal. But then, having not really thought through all of the action steps, that in hurdles you’re have to accomplish to do that and not really knowing and not really having seen really much of it behind the scenes in action I’ve seen, I’d seen the on stage stuff. I’ve seen someone you know, do the thing. But I hadn’t seen all the work that went into getting ready to do the thing. And so I think that was the part that I realized I didn’t know what to do with that and feeling scared, you know,

[00:09:02] Anthony: like, uh, the stage. Part of it is the tip of the iceberg, but the rest of the iceberg, everything under the water hiss stuff that nobody tells you about now and you’re just left Thio either discover it or realize, Oh, this is just like the last thing I did. But when you don’t have that last thing, it’s everything is a discovery. Everything. This is a surprise,

[00:09:26] Adam: right? And I think to It’s like you talk about like nobody really tells you how they do what they do. I think that’s a big mystery. Um, in almost any field and again, it’s not. I went to school like I had gotten an education. I done an internship like I’ve been a part of a new organization like this organization. I just never had this particular job and felt the pressures of that position and known what that person did day today. And you know, it’s that moment where you’re like I literally went to four years of school and nobody talked about how to do the actual work. And that’s one of things I really like about your book is cause I’m like, Why isn’t this just the college courses like things is the part that nobody talks about. And this is the essential stuff that I think really makes or breaks whether or not you are successful.

[00:10:20] Anthony: It reminds me of when you have your first kid and then people are like, Oh, my goodness, you’re having your first child. Let us. You know, let us provide all of these gifts and we’ll support you with meals and we’re gonna help you out. And then you have your third kid and they’re like, Oh, you had another kid. That’s cool. But if the need the need is totally inverted, like you need their help by the third kid, the first kid, it’s like you look back when you have your second kid or third kidding. You’re like, 01 kid that was so easy because you didn’t know what you didn’t know. And I think it’s the same thing with a lot of the jobs that we take. We especially one word like stretching. You know, we’re on our tiptoes to get that position. Yeah, you end up promising the world and then realizing, like, Wow, I they gave me an inch in on taking a mile, whereas I thought it was the other way around when I was applying, you know?

[00:11:16] Adam: Yeah, and I Look, it’s like I love people who stand on their tiptoes, reach for something, because I just I feel like that is that is the That’s kind of the, um, the source of all growth and like being stretched and discovering who you are, and and, um, and also like, creating new, amazing things that you didn’t know you were capable of, and neither did the organization of the field. Right. But, you know, at the same time, I don’t think a lot of us have a lot of access to just the practical, you know, the practical stuff of, Like, I feel like now that I’m older than more the conversations, um, I have with people are like Tell me about your day. Look, what do you What do you do? You know, like and people want to start telling me, like, big pictures of, like, none of the minutia like I want to know. Like Like what? You know. I mean, like, do you lay out your clothes or do you pick them that morning? Like, do you really mean Do you have. Do you know what your food is gonna be? Or do you have? Do you deliver? Do you bring a sack lunch? Like why? Why? That decision is causes more efficient because it saves time. Because this, you know I mean, like, why do you do the meeting this way and not that way. How come you You spend time studying this on this day and not that day? What do you split your workups Workouts up like that? Like those are the things I feel like I’m fascinated about now that I’m, like, approaching 40 you know, And I’ve been I’ve done a lot of different jobs of realizing like and somebody who’s figured out howto hack that all that little stuff Thio like that becomes the big stuff where they’ve got, they’ve got kind of this rhythm in their life that’s empowering them to do all the other stuff. And there’s a lot of other people who are just kind of, ah, hot mess. And they have these moments of brilliance. But no, there’s no consistency, there’s no reliability. And now that I’m like an employer, it’s like that is everything like right? No consistency, reliability. I don’t care if you conduce something amazing one time out of 10 times like that is not a skill. It’s a magic trick. And I can’t pay for that Like things I can’t bank on that, you know? And even if I were to be able to take that kind of a risk on somebody, the emotional cost of wondering is this is gonna be the time that they have a meltdown or they can’t keep it together. They’re gonna be later than that. And so it’s like I’m interested in, you know, both for me And, like, try and pass on the people that like I’m looking to partner with, like, how do you do the nuts and bolts of your life? Because that says a lot about like, what you’re gonna be able to deliver here long term. And that’s the big stuff. That little stuff is really the big stuff.

[00:14:06] Anthony: What are the systems that you have implemented? Because you’ve I mean, you’ve had spiritually transformation, physical transformation, mental transformation. Um, and I can think of several examples in each of those categories, but, um, I know that over the years you’ve gone, you’ve gotten a lot more disciplined and a lot more systematic. And you have things working for you in the background. So can you share what? What you might have been like, you know, 10 maybe 15 years ago, getting started in your career and what you have in place to take care of those things now,

[00:14:44] Adam: Yeah. I mean, I gosh, I wonder if you feel like this at all, But I look it’s hard sometimes to look back at, like, 10 15 years ago, because I just want to get a time machine and go shake that kid. I guess I just feel like And it’s not that I wasn’t accomplishing things or that I wasn’t talented or gifted and didn’t have moments like really bright spots of like where I look back and I’m like, Wow, that I really did something magic there. But they were kind of far apart, and I was like, just like a hot mess in between, and I didn’t know how to balance everything out. So it’s like it was extreme sacrifice, you know, so I could pull off something that was that I felt proud of and that I thought was amazing or really clicked in my field. But then at what cost? And it’s like, Well, gosh, look what it cost was, I had to gain this much weight, and I had to kind of put my, you know, my romantic relationship on hold. And I really wasn’t paying attention of my kids for this, you know? And I look at all that kind of stuff on my cash. I don’t What? I don’t I paid too much, you know, for that one little moment. And then, of course, the longer the further that moment is in the rear view for me, the less impressive it seems. You know, at the time, it seemed like such a big deal, right? Um and then what? I paid for it on my cash. Wish I had that back, you know? So I just think there was a lot of ups and downs from me, like I just didn’t really have a lot of like, I think a lot of of us now, a lot of people who are hitting their you know what 15 years ago would have been, you know, 25 coming into my first real big job, where had a lot of responsibility was managing a big budget and a lot of expectations and people looking to me for things. And I just didn’t have a lot of tools to know howto like Manage. I manage my life and managed like the work. And so I think, like what? What I feel like I have learned in the meantime is to pay really close attention to, like my daily weekly, um, and quarterly rhythms in my life and and really become attuned with the kind of person that I am and and how that’s different, maybe from other people and what I need to thio keep myself in like a healthy place because I think like what I did early on, I would self sabotage a lot. But I didn’t see it is self sabotage and so that I blamed everyone else, right? I blame my boss. I blame this stupid board that won’t fund me. I blame you know, the ah volunteers who aren’t stepping up the way they should, as opposed to like taking accountability for the way in which I really didn’t give my boss all the information he needed to make the best decision because I assumed that he would know everything that’s in my head unjustly, or the volunteers didn’t step up because I didn’t really envision them well, because I just was just hoping that they would just have the passion I do automatically. And it’s like, Of course, they’re not. I conned them into helping me do the thing with effort. It’s, you know, um or, you know, assuming that somebody should just give me money to do the thing. I think that’s awesome. I’m without, you know, having to feel responsible for, Well, what? Why would what would incentive what they have for doing that and just facing the reality that seemed too shallow for me? A 25 that people want to know, like what? What’s in it for me? And that’s a valid question for again investor tohave. So I think for me like takes slowing down and being like if I’m not like physically and emotionally healthy and I don’t haven’t an accurate self portrait of who I am in the way I function, I’m gonna do a lot of blame shifting and a lot of, um, you know, sloughing off responsibility and accountability for things and buying into the whatever story. I’m telling myself about why it’s everybody else’s fault, and, um, I just that’s such a Ah, I feel like a lot of people get trapped into that. Um, it’s a bummer now that I’m a boss and I watched like employees who they’re like, Well, you and this in the system And, man, it’s just a machine. It’s, like, so funny hearing things like that. And I’m like, Man, it’s really none of those things That’s not unreasonable for a boss to expect you to show up on time or be prepared for a meeting or have a positive attitude about what we’re all here to do together, like these air base level things. And and the big thing for me that affects a lot of those things is, um, you know how I’m doing, Um, in a lot of the areas that don’t affect work, I bring all that stuff with me to work, and I was just kind of living. I think in a lot of ways for my work and not taking care of myself personally in a lot of ways and not realizing like that personal bankruptcy I drug into work with me and was pulling the whole thing down in a again, like I was silly to accomplish things. But just at what price? You know. So I think Now, um, some things that are really a big deal to me is realizing, Um and the bummer about a lot of this stuff is it’s like it’s stuff that I remember now having conversations, maybe with my dad about where I was like, you’re old, you don’t know what you’re talking about was realizing like, I don’t know, there was a lot to that, like just the idea of, like, the value of getting up early earlier than I need Thio to take care of me, Um, which, you know, for me, looks like, um, like, going to the gym early in the morning, which isn’t it done for several years now? And at first it was I did it because I needed to get my blood pressure cholesterol that kind of under control. Loosen way. Now, it’s entirely for the, uh, just a mental clarity that I get from the first thing I d’oh getting up and doing something that is physically grueling that I don’t feel like doing as a discipline that I do five days a week, Um, and getting up early enough to make that happen, Um, so that I can still get to work on time when I’m expected to be there. And part of the reason why I do that is because, um, there’s gonna be a lot of things. I don’t want to do it work during the day, and I can use the dopamine endorphin release of the exercise in the morning. Um, and one of things I started off doing that going to in the worst way go into a boot camp in the back alley where the first day I showed up and I was like, Is this even a real thing? It’s just, um I gonna get is something gonna happen to someone Will attack me and steal my Prius. I was afraid, and my wife is like, no one wants that dumb Prius. And so I went to the scene. It was so was so hard. Remember, one day trying to get through this, it was like where there’s, like, a workout with different stations and stuff and trying to get through it and just hating. And I was like, six in the morning and just feeling angry and about to throw up and just I was so out of shape, I think those three weeks into it and probably about £100 heavier than I am now. So I mean, it was like, really the beginning of a determination to try and transformed my life and my body in my house. Remember, the guy said, like You can do this and win And he goes When you pushed through this moment that you want to die in the middle of you will have you will go into work having already done the hardest thing you will do all day. And there’s something about that that has always just stuck with me when I go in and I’m dealing with just somebody that I don’t want to deal with at work or a project that’s complicated and frustrating. I remember that I already did this really impossible thing. But I I thought I couldn’t do and I already pushed past that and I already took care of something that was a big deal. That’s gonna help me move throughout the rest of my day, and there’s something about what that does. I think to me psychologically, that makes me better at being at my job and people that work with me, Comptel. And, um that has been a big That’s been a big deal thing for me. Um, and I would say another piece of that is really just time blocking my whole life of, like, not really operating off of just like I used to have in my early twenties. Just you probably remember this. Like, yellow pads would just lists everywhere.

[00:23:43] Anthony: Oh, yeah,

[00:23:44] Adam: and just what? A train wreck system? And, um,

[00:23:47] Anthony: if you can call it a system,

[00:23:49] Adam: Yeah, I don’t even think it is. I think it’s just like a, uh I thinkit’s a non system that gives you the security of having a system. It’s the way in which like a like a security blanket, feels like armor for people. You know, that’s wool. Something could pierce right through that thing. You know, like that was the note pads to me, right? And just realizing, like and I again, there’s something about getting like I do think there’s something beneficial about brain dumping into a piece of paper. But that can’t be the governing system to actually get stuff done and manage your life like that’s that becomes too much. And so really, instead figuring out the categories of things that I need to do on a consistent basis and and figuring out, like, where my energy is a different parts in the day. And that was a big thing to like mapping my own energy and realizing like I’m not a morning person. Like now, with that said, I still get up at, you know, 5 30 every day to go to the gym. What I mean by I’m not a morning person isn’t that I can’t get up early because everybody can train their body to do whatever they needed to do. What I mean is, I’m not pleasant. I’m not pleasant in the morning. My wife is pleasant in the morning, right? We can both get up at 5 30 But the interactions you have, what the two of us is very, very different. So, like, um, in terms of mapping my own energy, I’m not gonna put I’m not gonna have a bunch of breakfast meetings and a bunch of like interactions and like, big, like meetings where I need to impress people in the morning because I’m not impressive. I’m I’m in a foul mood. I’m upset. And so, like, I you know, I go to the gym and I do I block off office work where it’s just me in my office, and I can check things off lists that are that need to be done. Um, and don’t require me to interact with the people to do them, because I’m not really in that mood, man. I hit lunchtime and I Now I’ve got all this energy for people, and so that’s a great time for me to have meetings, things like that. I think over time I’ve realized Oh, I don’t want to put a lot of meetings in the morning because, you know, I end up steamrolling people, you know, my colleagues, because I just want to get over with because I don’t want to be around people, cause I’m I’m just not I don’t like mornings or I’m just like, yeah, sure, whatever. And then later I’ve green lit something accidentally. Later, people gonna come back like you. That’s what you want. And I was like That didn’t count. It was in the morning and so just realizing. Like, you know, blocking my schedule with, like, this is something that I have to do once a month. I’m gonna do it always in this time block. There’s something I have to do once a week or once a day and really figuring out when those blocks are and giving myself a little bit of wiggle room in the middle and even planning in distractions for myself of, you know, I am going to force myself to be focused in this way from this time to this time on this particular task. I’m gonna get as much as I can done on that thing. And then I’m going to reward myself with a with a break of, you know, whatever it is. And I, my wife, makes funny about this, but it’s really, like, effective tool for me is everything goes in my calendar like everything is in there because then I just lived through a series of props because I’m enormously distractible and I get sidetracked. And I think, um, you know, learning that I don’t like. I didn’t at first when I was younger, like the constraints, but really realizing that those things set me free in a lot of ways because, um a nobody put them on me. I chose what I was going to do in those blocks. Um, and how much time I was going to give each thing and, um, I can move it any time I want to, but this is the experiment as it is, a lot like this is the experiment I’m enacting for this quarter. You know, this is not forever, but I’m also not going to change it this week because that’s not enough time for me to collect data and know if it’s working for my life. You know,

[00:28:04] Anthony: it reminds me of that great Martin Luther quote. I have so much to do today. I need to spend the 1st 3 hours of the day praying, you know? Yeah. And we think No, we’re busy. And that’s good. And the day will take care of itself. But that’s not true. And it’s like you’re saying you need to be prepared. You need to You need to know that. Yes, you can get things done, but is that the way you want to get things done? Yeah. And you see that companies all the time they The cost of getting the thing done is so great.

[00:28:45] Adam: Then

[00:28:45] Anthony: you can lose money. They call it the winner’s curse. You know, like you want a great deal and then what? Then you end up doing the deal and you’re losing money just so just because you didn’t think about how to get it done winning winning is such a short term thinking they were, you know, a sign of short term thinking. The win is the smallest part of winning. Yeah, you know what? You need to have a system in place to enable you to win effectively. And it goes into the book like there’s a section in the book practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.

[00:29:22] Adam: Yeah, yeah, and it’s like that thing of working on the things that you really struggle with, you know, and finding that thing where you’re pushing just beyond what is what it’s comfortable or what use your used thio. And I think even even those time blocking things like I know right now like I have, I have to give you no sermons and speeches and leadership talks and stuff. And so a lot of my time has to be writing and wordsmithing and research and how to put things together and rehearsing those things. And I know like a writing session for me, like about an hour and 1/2 is where I start to kind of lose focus. So it’s in my schedule right now is an hour 45 because I’m trying to train myself to, like, really fight through that last 15 minutes of pain to expand that from. I can focus for this long to I can. I can focus for a little bit longer and it’s the same like principle and, like, you know, running or weightlifting or whatever it’s like This is my Max. How can I push it a little bit more? It’s not just showing up in lifting the same amount of weight every day. It’s lifting a little bit more and a little bit more and kind of stretching and expanding that thing that you want to get good at. And I think for me figuring out howto program that into my schedule and then I don’t have to think about when I’m doing what I’m just following the prompts and the prompts air, forcing me to get better or to focus longer, or to be more disciplined in certain areas or in for me, which is sometimes a problem knowing when to go home and just to be done like I’m done, not because the project’s done or because I love where this thing is leaving off, but because it’s time to leave today. And I put in the focused energy that I said I was gonna put in and like, this is really important right now. But I’m not gonna remember this dumb project in five years. I’m gonna I’m gonna remember like the connection I had with my family during this time and whether or not like I got diabetes that year because I wasn’t taking care of my pocket. You know, like it’s all these things that we that we sell out in order to get a win we’re never gonna remember and it’s just so ridiculous.

[00:31:47] Anthony: It is totally ridiculous, and I feel like it’s really easy to get into that world pool of lies, and it’s like this maelstrom. It’s it pulls you in through its gravity, and you think it’s attractive and it’s a complete mirage. And when you realize it was a mirage. You’re looking at the next one going. Yeah, that’s where I want to go. Yeah, it’s all B s, and that’s what’s astounding to me. And that’s where the word clueless you know, it originates in many, many ways. You know, where I’ve realized the stupid things that I constantly do, the patterns in my life that are so counterproductive yet seductive. And, um, you know, I found that like, it’s the same thing. I’ve got to get this video done. I’ve got to get this project on. I’ve got to get this thing written and it’s on my mind all the time. And then when it’s done, I’m like, Well, that wasn’t that good or, you know, three weeks later I forgot that I even did it. So I feel I’m not chasing. I’m not chasing what I think I’m chasing. And maybe I am just chasing the dopamine rush or the You know the idea that I’m bolstering my own sort of portfolio so I can feel better about myself, but like it’s very difficult to articulate the be true value, the long term value of any of the work that we do when we don’t know who we are, and we don’t know what our motivations are. You know, when we don’t understand how to manage ourselves and we let the work manage us,

[00:33:24] Adam: Yeah. I like one of the things that this is reminding me of. Like, one of the things I started doing this year. My boys were getting older, and this is gonna sound hilarious to you because, you know, I’ve never been like a sports the sports games guy. Um, but ah, like, you know, I decided with my sons who have both really gotten involved in, like, soccer, and they’re getting interested in sports of like Okay, this is like a thing we’re gonna do to bond together of, like, we’re gonna watch, like the Lakers air in our backyard. You know, we live next to L. A. Had a buddy who had Lakers tickets last year and he let us go to a few games. It was a ton of fun of My boys loved it and they’re fired up that LeBron’s, you know, on the Lakers this year. And so we watched the Lakers on Wednesday nights. It’s like something that we do together and that of course, that has made them interested in maybe catching another basketball game on TV here and there. And it’s this thing that we’ve like, bonded over and they look forward to. And as you know, and I know you can understand, this is a dad of boys. It’s like the older they get, the more you realize is how truly awkward all boys are as they grow to be men. And you’re looking for these moments of how to connect. And one of the things that I like that I thought was so interesting the other night we were watching er, we’re watching a game and was the Minnesota Timberwolves, who are, you know, one of the highest ranked teams right now. And my boys were really excited because they wanted to see this. Their star player, the Greek freak. They want to see him play and he sat out. He sat out the game. They’re like, Is he injured? Is the weather and it’s like, No, he’s not injured. He’s just he just doesn’t need to play this one like his team can win without him, and he just doesn’t need it, so he’s gonna get his rest and he’s gonna sit this one out and just thinking about that idea of, like I think sometimes, you know, especially when you’re younger, you feel like you need to play every game and win every game and make a amazing play every game. You know, at work and every presentation has to, and you’re being evaluated on the last, a magical thing you just did. And it’s like the people who really are confident. Superstars are people who know when it’s like I’m a sit this one out. I’m going home early today like, and it’s not the fact that they are not invested because the guy is the only reason why their team is doing well. But he understands like he’s not gonna be at the end of his life, evaluated on every little individual game. It’s the sum total of you know how he played, and I think like just thinking about my life and the things I do. It’s like every presentation doesn’t need to be the greatest, most event of thing in the world. And sometimes there are other things going on in my life in, you know, um, I forget who said it, but like, you know, no art is is ever done. It’s just do you know, it’s just time to turn it in writing. It’s like I think they’re like, I think when I was younger, it was like, No, I don’t I don’t want to believe that It was like, I’m gonna stay up all night. I’m gonna stay late. I’m a ghost and it’s like for me now I’m like, and that is how much time I have that is going to be as good as it is going to be tomorrow. It is time to go to a soccer practice. You know, it is time to take my wife on a date, you know, and and leaving it behind. But the time I was there, I was focused. I wasn’t distracted. I really did give it my best shot for the time I had to invest in it. And that is going to have to be enough for now. And, um, and trusting that over time there will be a story that will be told about, like, men consistent. That guy was consistent, you know, I think that’s what people end up remembering.

[00:37:13] Anthony: I think the greatest realization is that you are not necessary when, Yes, like when you’ve built a system that works for you, you become unnecessary. And there is no greater freedom than realizing the thing you care about can be managed by other people because you’ve done a good job and you can’t get there until you’re you’ve mastered it, so you can’t just check out and go and they’ll take care of it cause that’s lazy. You know, that’s like, Yep, that’s not teamwork. But when you as the master or the leader or whatever it is, when you see there on the right path and I’m not gonna be able to really contribute so I can go focus on some other high value thing to me, it’s like it’s only something you can realize when you’re older when you’re more experienced, and it’s a blessing that we are all afraid of when we’re young. Like what if they don’t include me in that meeting 20 years later becomes Thank goodness they didn’t bring me in on that meeting. They don’t need me.

[00:38:20] Adam: Absolutely.

[00:38:21] Anthony: Yeah, it’s incredible, but it’s not something you can appreciate until you’ve gone through the cluelessness, you know?

[00:38:29] Adam: Yeah, well, and I think one of the things that I’ve had to tell myself because I think that is one thing I think about getting older is that you know, the older you get and you start to, like, realize certain things. The more frustrated I become about people haven’t figured it out yet. You

[00:38:45] Anthony: know, you know,

[00:38:46] Adam: and like reminding myself like they’re starting things that you like I have to go through in order. Not now. You can speed up that process by forcing yourself through it quicker and buy. You know, being around mentors that are going to tell you the truth and by obviously the type stuff you do and read and whatever. But it’s like there’s no way, like even, you know, I’m I’m bumping up against it with my own kids, and it’s like they do certain things and I’m like, So like, it’s just such a preteen thing to do is so annoying, like, why can’t they understand? You know, and it sounds so dumb. But my wife is just like you can’t skip puberty, right? Like you had it. You have to do it like, um, you can do it well or you can do it poorly, but you can’t not do it like you got to go through that kind of clueless phase. And I think, you know, for me, they remembering that I had to go through it too, and giving a little bit of a break to people that are still trying to figure it out. Right. But also, like there were not. And I know you have talked about this before, Like that Weren’t these tools that there are now And I think like you are a fool if you’re not leveraging tools like, um, like this book, like this podcast like mentors who are willing to sit down with you and tell you like, Hey, man, like I know I’m just some 40 year old guy to you, but, like, I’ve done a couple things, I don’t know everything, but, like you’re kind of missing the mark When you say and do X, everyone is thinking why, and it doesn’t matter that you accomplished this other thing over here like this is still how it’s coming off. Forget so

[00:40:24] Anthony: like her and

[00:40:25] Adam: really trusting those people in those voices in your life that, like I think when I was younger. I felt like they were trying to. They were out to get me like everyone was out to get me. That’s like no one is out to kid. It’s not like it’s not as sinister as I think. I thought everything was.

[00:40:41] Anthony: Yeah, and I talked about that a little bit in the book about the spotlight effect. How when you’re at a party and you’re worried about looking and feeling weird and yes, that’s how everyone’s feeling. So what’s you? Once you just say, Hey, let everyone else feel that way I’ll be the good guy, you know, like I can just take it easy and I can start a conversation and I can have a good time. Even if this other person is freaking out about how do I start a conversation? Who should I talk to? How do I look tonight? You know, whatever. So, um, you know, there there’s so much truth and just letting go loosening up and listening to older people’s advice because you end up realizing it’s true. But I don’t know if it’s true when you’re 20 it’s true when you’re 40 you know, like, is it possible for it? to be true when you’re 20. I don’t know. Maybe those are the people they say are wise beyond their years or something. But it’s I think it’s pretty hard for 40 year old wisdom to be true at 20 years old, you know, you have to find it out. You have to test it. You’ve gotta prove it to yourself. And it takes a while. You know,

[00:41:49] Adam: I always think like the benefit of like, you know, picking up a book and some wisdom of like, some of the stuff that you’ve taken the time to write down is it doesn’t cost anything to try it, right? And so it’s like, maybe it is all just junked out, old people believe, but it doesn’t really cost you anything to spend, you know, 1/4 Right. So three months just being, like for three months, I’m just going to see what it would be like toe Like, listen more than I talk in a meeting or be making Michael like I’m always gonna be five minutes early to everything like

[00:42:25] Anthony: wake on the 5 30 every day.

[00:42:28] Adam: Yeah, I’m gonna I’m gonna initially my response toe. Every idea is gonna be positivity and then clarifying questions as opposed to pushback or trying to top it. You don’t mean like, what if you just tried it for and just And just let the data of how that’s affecting your life, your relationships, how you’re being perceived at work. Let that speak for you and maybe maybe because I think the truth gets the win, right? So it’s like, um, if all this stuff is just junk, then you will quickly learn that. And if it’s not, you learned that too,

[00:43:04] Anthony: right? Absolutely. I think that’s a great note to end on. So thank you so much for taking the time. I really appreciate you having this chat, so thanks, Absolutely. I hope you enjoyed that conversation with my friend Adam Smith. You confined him on instagram with the user name Adam Joel Smith. One word. And for more information on my book, please check out clueless at the work dot com

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About the Author

Anthony Garone headshot

Anthony Garone is a creative technology leader with a heart for helping people understand who they are, where they excel, and what they can offer the world. He has co-founded and advised several startups, runs Make Weird Music, and leads software and technology teams at an identity theft protection firm, InfoArmor, which was acquired by Allstate in October 2018.

Anthony lives in Mesa, Arizona with his wife and three children.