Do you treat yourself like you do your car?


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Does anyone else think their car feels cleaner, faster and snappier as you drive away from a passed MOT inspection? Or is it just me?

By the same token, how do you feel when you leave the dentist after a clean and polish? Or when you’ve filed all your paperwork?

The reason for all this contentment is because your essential maintenance is finally complete and you feel that you have a fresh start available to you. Despite the fact that most of us consider ‘maintenance’ to be in the pile of ‘things I HAVE to do but which don’t achieve anything meaningful’, our brains recognise that completion of those things is an enabler to carrying out of more important things. Our brains are cleverer than we are.

Think about it. How well could we do what is important if we didn’t, at some point, carry out the foundational ‘unimportant’ admin and saw-sharpening that supports us? How well could we write and research if we didn’t maintain our computers? How could we get around if we didn’t maintain our transportation? How could we charge clients if our billing records weren’t up to snuff?

How embarrassing is it when your pen runs out of ink just at the signature stage of a contractual negotiation?

Maintenance is a way of ensuring effectiveness at the front end, folks.

That goes as much for ‘you’ as it does your ‘stuff’. It’s all very well you accepting this advice and setting about checking your pens for ink, your pencils for lead and your car’s service schedule for late oil changes, but what about you?

Your body needs to be properly maintained constantly if it is to enable success and effectiveness in all of your roles. Eat too much and you slow down while your body digests it. Poison it with alcohol or excessive caffeine and you make it jump before it plummets again. Fail to exercise and the lubricants clog and congeal and eventually need changing. If they CAN be changed.

Your brain needs to be fed and nurtured, too. That doesn’t solely mean intellectual data input, it also means that stuff which calms the neurons, like music and (paradoxically) silence in nature. Although from a work perspective, keeping up to speed with practice and protocol changes is a necessary activity if we aren’t to become redundant in an intangible way – or worse, a tangible, ‘go-work-somewhere-else’ kind of way.

Take a few minutes today to find out if there is anything you need to know or do to improve your relevancy at work, and to ensure that the only tool through which you do everything – your body – will remain capable of serving you for longer. Like until you are 101, not up to ‘65 and knackered’ There are plenty of apps, books and facilities providing advice and equipment for these purposes.

You can also ignore all three of those and just take the odd moment to sit quietly and enjoy the silence.

Keep your saw sharp. It’s a cutting edge philosophy.

20th Century Thinking. It’s BRILLIANT!


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Are your practices outdated?

I don’t mean the skills you possess and perform. Most professions require, expect and train you for competencies specifically relating to your role. It’d be a poor employer who didn’t, surely?

In this context, I am asking whether the ‘soft skills’ surrounding your professional productivity are up to scratch, and whether or not you’re still utilising pre-digitalisation thinking in your processes and procedures.

I’ve just left the police service, and that has been wholly digitalised. You’d think, as you watch NCIS press the “evidence button” that identifies, in one click, which suspect car has a specific tyre tread bought in that shop with that credit card by a person with that driving licence (doesn’t and a can’t happen, btw), that police forces would be completely at ease with IT.

Nope. And I wonder if this is reflected in other organisations, too.

First of all, and I admit I can only speak for the organisations I worked for, people are trained in THAT programme but never in ‘how computers work’. For proof, next time you’re arrested, watch the custody sergeant hunt and peck with the mouse instead of tabbing from field to field. No-one has told her how to use ‘computers’, just how to use ‘the custody programme’.

Next, the counter to IT training is the associated inability to think for themselves once digi-trained. If it isn’t ‘in the system’, no one knows that you can knock a neighbour’s door to see if someone still lives at 123, Acacia Avenue. No-body seems to be willing or able (or allowed) to leave ‘their’ patch to make eye-to-eye enquiries, relying on the uninformed to do it for them.

Finally, and this just blows my mind, they’ve stopped working for each other. In 1986, if I wanted a statement done in Essex (200 miles away) I would telex (look it up) that force and they’d do it for me. Now, we send someone that 200 miles because Essex is busy. A working day and a half to take a one or two page statement, instead of (for us) little time at all and (for them) an hour.

Personally, my preferred option for ‘outside force enquiries’ was to conduct a telephone interview with the witness and then arrange an exchange of documents via email, which was never challenged in all the crown court trials where I used that method (which also crossed international boundaries but don’t tell anyone). Occasionally a visit was necessary, but not every time.

My point is that people get so bogged down in ‘doing it like this’ that we stop thinking ‘is there a better, more efficient AND effective way to get X done?’ Or, as suggested above, ‘How did we do this before IT got in the way?’

Look at how you do stuff – do you send people places to get things that could be electronically got? Do you send emails or texts and then wait to get urgent information, instead of making a telephone call and getting the answer right away? Do you email people in the next room instead of getting up off your ‘arris and talking to them. Yes, I had a boss who did that.

In other words, has IT stopped you using your head and your imagination?

If so – Houston, you have a problem.

I just had a funny thought about millennial combat pilots using texts in a dogfight…………………….

“As Emerson said about Trump…….”


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Time management. It’s a term that seems niche, but the more I read and write about it, the broader the definition becomes. To get the subject of this post, I will restrict the definition to one of ‘maximising the use of time on the things that matter.’

And go straight into the weekend’s events in Iraq. I am not talking about the assassination of the Iranian general, though. I am talking about the social media storm which followed.

As soon as possible after the incident was reported, social media posts began ringing around saying ‘Trump did this’ and ‘Trump did that’. Emotions ran high, depending on which side of the political divide you sat. The Left said the man was a war-mongering despot committing us to World War 3, a helpful conclusion designed to keep us all calm, I am sure. The Right commended Trump for taking positive action – an unusual term for killing someone.

But here’s the thing. Most posts I read, read like the posters assumed that Trump woke up one day and decided to top this fella. Never mind that the Left forgot that their narrative (an oft-used media term) was that Trump is an idiot, so couldn’t even spell or pronounce the general’s name. And would probably have put the H in the wrong place in Baghdad. Like I just did.

I try not to waste time espousing opinions on things I know next to nothing about. It wastes time engaging in arguments which I can’t win because I am unarmed. Yet there is a whole world out there of people who engage in this regularly, thus wasting time which could be better spent in the Circle of Influence.

One thing I do know, based on watching The West Wing (and the documentaries which I then had to watch because they were so informative), is that decisions like this involve a whole bunch of experts. And time. Yes, the President makes the final decision, but not until he has been briefed by the military, intelligence experts and various diplomats. Such advice includes the why to do it and the how to do it. The Why, in this case, appears to be based on the General’s involvement in a lot of outside-the-combat-zone terrorist activity. The How, we know.

But there would have been a whole lot of ‘What If’s’ considered about the aftermath. And considering that the US has apparently been surveilling this man for some years, we can reasonably assume that there would have been a lot of information available that led to the decision.

All of which means that while the ‘proper’ media seems to be trying to address it sensibly (partisanship aside), the time spent by all too many of us on Social Media debating the issue based on a belief that he just had an idea one morning and made a phone call, has been ill-informed, un-authoritative and emotional. Which does not reflect the best use of anyone’s time.

Social Media has its uses. It has its limitations. But above all, it has an all-encompassing ability to divert us from what is truly important.

I use it to entertain and, occasionally, brag. I do not use it to display pictures of undrunk pints and uneaten dinners. (I lie – I did, once, show a picture of a partially incomplete meal from a San Francisco fish restaurant because it was the first meal that had ever beaten me.)

It is a great place to start a debate, but if you are going to do that, at least make sure that your opening comments are based on a reasonable level of understanding. Consider your post and ask, “Is this all as it seems?” If you can’t answer that, do the research. You’ll be better informed, which is a great use of time.

And you may save the time you would have spent sending a post that would have made you appear stupid.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once opined, “What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.” Which may be more about character but the message remains clear.

Be in no doubt. Posting ill-informed opinion says a lot about you.

Put your focus on focusing.


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Last October I wrote about the Circle of Influence, and in doing so I made a fleeting mention of the briefly identified but ne’er seen again ‘Circle of Focus’.

Just to recap, Covey had detailed the Circles of Concern (everything affecting our lives) and Influence (things upon which we can have an effect) in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. In his later First Things First he and his co-authors went further and defined a further, inner Circle of Focus.

They defined it as ‘things we are concerned about, that are within our ability to influence, that are aligned with our mission and are timely.’

He went on: ‘When we operate within our Circle of Influence we do some good, but what we do may be at the expense of something better. When we set and achieve goals that are in our Centre of Focus, we maximise the use of our time and effort.’

The question arises, therefore – how much time do we spend administering, pandering, diverting, interrupting (and being interrupted) and time-wasting at the expense of the time we should spend within that focused centre?

Life gets in the way. Professionals who once had staff to assist with all those things now find they have to do their admin (etc.) themselves and so their focus has become blurred as a result. But that doesn’t mean we can abandon the Focus at the expense of the mundane. It just means we have to manage our selves better.

Now, what tends to happen is that we do whatever arises as it arises – an e-mail pings, someone pops by, the phone rings – and we redirect our (very important) focus away in their direction.

Stop it. Stop it now – or at least as much as the Gods of customer service allow.

A thing that pings or rings or is passing(s) should be given only appropriate attention, not undivided, immediate attention if you are to maximise your productivity and effectiveness.

I suggest that you do a couple of things which might help you do that.

  1. Ignore emails, and plan to deal with them at a time which suits your responsibilities – maybe at the start of the day, immediately after lunch or last thins as part of tomorrow’s planning.
  2. Shut your office door if you can. People won’t interrupt if they can’t see you. Honest.
  3. Turn your smartphone off if you want uninterrupted time.
  4. Block time out for uninterrupted, focused thinking/doing time in your planning system Or, put another way, make an appointment with yourself and keep it inviolable.

While Covey and his associated training company never again seemed to refer to the Circle of Focus after the 1994 publication of First Things First’ I find that the concept of the Circle of Focus (like the short chapter on The Three Resolutions in ‘Principle Centred Leadership’) is one of the most profound time management concepts I’ve ever known.

Try it at work, if possible.

Set time aside for the most important stuff, the stuff which, if focused upon 100%, will provide the maximum bang for buck you can achieve.

Then try this at home……………………

The Painful Truth.

Jan the 2nd. Where HAS the year gone?

If you’re like me, you’ve already discovered that the resolutions you set 3 days ago are faltering. I think there’s a good reason for this.

You got drunk on New Year’s Eve, and your promise to do something physically or mentally challenging the following day got lost in a fog of sleep deprived, alcohol- or food-induced discomfort. If not, good for you. For the rest of us, it’s reality.

But that excuse doesn’t exist this morning, does it?

Time to go back to work unless you organised time off, and already the routines have obstructed any likelihood that a new behaviour can kick in. Your environment has, over the years, created psychological cues that dictate a conditioned response. Which is why, despite the intent to eat well, the smell and convenience of toast, bacon or a breakfast roll trump those good intentions.

“I can start tomorrow.” When the same conditions apply.

No, folks – personal improvement is never easy. In fact, it’s damn hard. But it’s also common sense.

Which is why I recommend that IF you are lulled by bookshops into buying any self-help title with the words ‘easy’ or ‘secret’ in their title, you resist the impulse to buy them with every fibre of your being. The books that promise how you’ll be unstoppable in your goal-achievement ‘in 90 days’ are also suspect unless your goal is to buy something you can afford.

Seek out the ones that make it plain that it’s going to take some effort on your part to make things happen. Recognise that anything meaningful takes effort, planning, time, occasionally money (which takes time, effort and planning to obtain), and commitment.

Commitment to The Cause, allied to recognition that you are that Cause, followed by the creation of a better, healthier more prosperous you is not selfish – because a better, healthier more prosperous you can serve other better and for longer than an ill, skint, half-arsed version of you.

Happy New Year – and Happy New You.

Now to go walk my talk………….

Did it all go to plan? Did you HAVE a plan??


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That’s that, then. In a few hours we’ll be celebrating the end of 2019 and the start of a new set of numbers, the Twenties. And some New Year’s Resolutions will begin their Mayfly-long existence of ‘a day’. ‘Twas ever thus.

Recently you will recall I posted about the planning process, which included an Evaluate the Week activity, where you review that past 7 days to identify what went well, what you learned and what you’ll do next time. (It all gels when you look deeply into what Covey wrote about personal planning, productivity and execution instead of decrying it.)
Today, there’s an opportunity to do your Annual Review, looking at the past 365 days to see – well, you know.

What went well? I got a new job and I was learning as I executed, which was fun. I restarted my daily blog. I maintained qualifications and memberships that helped me to serve others, and everyone I served obtained the objectives my service was intended to support. I had fun learning to enhance those abilities, too. I’d say I achieved 60-70% of what I intended.

What did I learn? I learned that some people have more than one face. That I am not perfect but I can stand up and accept my failings. That some things aren’t worth fighting for. I learned that I have some excellent friends, supportive and non-judgmental. And I have learned that I can’t keep pretending that I can start eating and exercising well ‘tomorrow’. I need to start NOW. (Again.)

And what will I do in the future? To be frank, that’s probably what today will be about (as it is for so many), even though some goals have been telegraphed by the lessons I learned in the last months.

This is, of course, the brief version of a review. I propose you use the Review to look at things like your sense of purpose and meaning, your intellectual life, service to others, your finances, your relationships, and anything else which comes to mind. Ask the three evaluation questions and discover for yourself what the next year is going to ask of you.

I’ll be making an Annual Plan of objectives/outcomes/goals that should keep me occupied and productive. All of which, I hope, will make me better in the round. And as I will be inviting my own circle of family and friends to help me in my pursuit of ‘success’ as I define it, I will be doing my best to help them do the same.

I’ll be utilising the time I have – turning 58 and seeing so many famous people croaking at 79 makes you feel time’s a-wasting – and using my time management skills to best effect. I’ve invested enough time and money is developing those skills, after all.

What’s your plan?

And if you haven’t got one, enjoy helping someone else with theirs. You might as well be doing something useful, even if someone else benefits more than you.

Or you could benefit together?

Just a thought……..

An Italian’s view on Competence.


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Am I Competent?

No, I don’t mean me, specifically. It’s a question I often asked myself in times of doubt, and I’m sure it’s a question you may have asked yourself. It is something I know I’ve asked myself when a colleague has pulled some masterful piece of work out of his or her bag, a piece of work I either should have considered or could have considered – but didn’t. Occasionally the reverse happened, and I did something that made a colleague think ‘Wow!’ I liked days like that. I’m sure you do, too.

What IS Competence? In my book The Three Resolutions I define it as “the ability to get things done in accordance with the current technology, methodology and ethics of the role being undertaken”.

That general definition covers a multitude of professions, trades and pastimes. The ‘things to be done’ are the results expected from the individual that relate to the objectives of the organisation – it may be sales, it may be production, it may be distribution, it could be the provision of any services you can think of. If you disagree with the definition just apply your own – it’s your understanding of competence that is important, and even more so when you apply it to your own work.

The chances are that having obtained your current job you either received training or were expected to already know what it was you were supposed to be doing. Even in that latter situation I’d imagine there was some tempering of what you knew in the sense that it had to be applied to the specific new situation in which you found yourself. I know, for example, that after 14 weeks Police training my naïve colleagues and I underwent a Force-level ‘local procedure course’ where we were enlightened as to “how we do it ‘round ‘ere”, followed by another “how we do it ‘round ‘ere” inflicted on us when we got to our first station. Then there were to be many other “how we do it ‘round ‘ere” courses as we were to transfer between stations and departments. I probably inflicted a few rounds of “how we do it ‘round ‘ere” myself.

And on each pf my subsequent HWDIRH courses I probably discovered that either I was not competent in the eyes of new ‘trainer’ because of the way I HAD been doing it, or the ‘trainer’ was evidently incompetent because I could see (having got older and wiser) that s/he was regurgitating ‘facts’ with no understanding whatsoever of the principles behind them. Such incompetence, by the way, was often the reliance on HWDIRH being set in stone – the ONLY way.

It is clear to me that no matter where you go and whatever you do, there is a ‘window’ that exists, through which you will be viewed as competent or otherwise, and this is called the ‘AYNOBETA WINDOW’ after Paulo Aynobeta, famed Italian business consultant* and expert in on-the-job training.

Someone, somewhere, will always know more than you. It is plain if you are wholly new to a field and are completely uninformed that people will see you through this window, and be right. On such occasions, suck it up, accept the impatience as a sense of urgency that you learn the new things being taught. (Particularly if you’ve just joined the Marines)

But in progressing along a ‘training continuum’ where you’ve already gained some competence in your field, the situation may be a bit different with the other party’s AYNOBETA WINDOW. If they DO know more than you do it will be evident the moment that they take the time to explain their thinking and you discover a new perspective. If they DON’T know more, that will become evident the minute they shout you down, refuse to listen to you, or call you an idiot for your failure to succumb to their greatness. Avoid these people like the plague. And don’t become one.

A friend of mine suggests that when we disagree with somebody, a great sentence is this: “Ah, you see things differently – tell me more.” It’s seldom easy to remember to use it, but there it is. Another question to be asked in any difference of opinion is, “What is your underlying concern?” They both send the same message – ‘your opinion is important to me and may be correct – tell me more’, and it actually invites the respondent to review their own understanding of the situation. This practice may well develop BOTH parties to the conversation.

Competence can be learned and incompetence can be unlearned. And in the great continuum of life, the skills applicable today may no longer work tomorrow and our competence needs to take new possibilities, and the subsequent need for new learning, into account.

We’re only competent until something changes, but after that change we are only incompetent as long as we are unable or unwilling to learn the new skill required. Once we take the time to be retrained, or to train ourselves, we resume our journey through competence to expertise. And that is a place many of us would like to be.


*Yes, I made him up.

Taking your (de)briefs down properly.


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A LinkedIn post yesterday spoke of a person who’d received their ‘Debriefing’ certificate. Hands up, my first thoughts were ‘who needs to be trained in criticising?’ Uncharitable, and definitely a bit closed-minded.

Particularly so because while I have not myself been on such a course, I have had input that could easily be described under the term ‘debriefing’, from a good friend. So I have been trained. Whether it is the same level or content I may never know.

Most debriefs celebrate either ‘what went wrong’ if the project failed and will be heavily laden with ‘I told you sos’ from those who were never asked their opinion beforehand and feel piqued, or who were asked – but said nothing. They would be the types heavily reliant on hindsight. Of course, the same people would also contribute on a successful operation’s debrief, but would be claiming credit or, at least, that their contribution was the ‘bit’ that made everything work.

The problem, as far as my good friend would be concerned, is that both focus only upon the majors – they focus on went wrong (failed project) or celebrate what went right (successful project).

Both debriefs fail, therefore, to see a broader picture that would better serve the next event.

My friend, on the other hand, said all debriefs should rely on just three questions.

  1. What went well?
  2. What did we learn?
  3. What will we do next time?

This set of questions is brilliant. It allows for the ‘good’ stuff to be celebrated first. A positive start, creating a positive environment for the next question.

The order of the three questions is also brilliant because without using the word ‘wrong’, the second question invites people to both own and solve the problems they have identified, rather than just focusing on the fact “it was someone else’s fault and I would have done it differently but I wasn’t asked”. (See above.) It is solution focused but does not avoid the issue that the solution will address. It lets people contribute to a better end rather than just allow for a typically selfish hit job on somebody else – who frequently won’t be present but that’s a different post. (Guilty, and ashamed.)

The last question brings the answers to the first questions into a plan, rather than leaving everything hanging and allowing the detractors to carry on buck-passing.

My friend (John M, thank you!) used this trilemma of questions every time –and I mean every time – we did anything together, and it served me well. It must have done because he let me do things on my own later on, some great opportunities that his mentoring allowed me to take.

Which is another thing – keep hold of your mentors. They believed in you as much as you believe in them, and that’s a beautiful situation for any aspirant to greatness.

Learn the three questions, and apply them frequently. Even if you’re the only one present at the debrief.

Print your own certificate…………………

All at sea, or well on course? It’s up to you.


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“We all have some vision of ourselves and our future. And that vision creates consequences. More than any other factor, vision affects the choices we make and the way we spend our time.” Stephen R. Covey

And the corollary of that is a lack of vision also affects the choices we make and the way we spend our time. Which also has consequences, consequences we would not ordinarily choose. I thin Jim Rohn put it best when he opined that people who have no sense of a plan work for people who do.

So why do many people drift about?

First of all, society. Philosophers suggest that we are the average of the 5 people with whom we spend most of our time, which means that what those 5 people think, say, feel and do diffuses into our own souls and creates ‘us’. Which would explain why people spend such a lot of time ‘socialising’ by standing in loud, dark rooms imbibing intoxicants and consider that activity to be ‘creative’. (In my world, every retirement ‘do’ starts in the same pub in Cardiff, 20 miles from where most of the participants live. As if there are no pubs nearer. Weird. And hugely unimaginative.)

In other words, the majority goes along with the majority. They talk the same, think the same – and end up with the same. I love my retired colleagues, but when you go to a meet-up for a chat, it’s allotments and holidays. Like they’ve given up.

Secondly, the belief that talent is something you have or you haven’t. maybe. But the key to progress is the ability and willingness to learn. If you know what you want, learn what you need in order to get it, don’t just bemoan the lack of opportunity. Fortune, they say, favours the prepared mind. Go prepare.

In my own case, years ago I had the opportunity to provide training to others but had no training experience. So I joined a speakers’ club, attended courses and gained a training qualification. It is really not rocket science to learn. (Although school is wasted on the young.)

The third, tragic reason for drifting is – not knowing what you want (or not knowing that you are allowed to seek out what you want). Now that really is a challenge. Floaters (unfortunate term!) go with the flow and end up where the masses collect instead of discovering something wonderful, like the opportunity to contribute beyond oneself.

And finally, simple stubbornness. The number of floaters I have met who refuse to take training in self-development ‘because it’s American/pointless/pop-psychology/mumbo-jumbo’ probably equals the number of people whose retirement won’t be noticed because they just did what was expected and nothing else. And they probably didn’t do what was expected very well, either. Turned up, did the minimum, went home. (Although truth be told we all have days when we feel like that!)

Look, if you haven’t ever done an exercise designed to identify what could make you different, to stand out, to succeed, then go to this page and just take 30 minutes or so to find out. Buy a book from Stephen R. Covey, Tony Robbins, Charles R. Hobbs, Hyrum W. Smith or some-such (me?), and do the exercises and thinking they promote. Find out what you really want from life, then develop the plan that will make it happen. Then execute the plan violently, as Patton would say.

You might just surprise yourself.

Prepare to pack it all in. It’s worth it.



Do you love your work? Do you love where you work? Do you wish you could be doing something else, or doing the same thig somewhere else? Or even making a fresh start in a whole new field because you’ve ended up in a situation that you fell into rather than looked for?

Already, some less happier readers will be answering those questions accordingly, but will be inserting the word ‘but’ into their responses.

“I hate where I work/what I’m doing….but…….”

“I want to do something else, but …….”

Been there, done that. In the 1990s I often wished I could be doing something other than beat policing, and the reasons varied. Now and then something happened to reinvigorate my enthusiasm for the work, but all too often the powers that be shoved a spanner into that enthusiasm and the cycle continued.

Like many of you, I remember thinking that the pay I was getting, the commitments I had, and the potential for what has proved to be a marvellous pension all combined to keep me where I was, and over time things improved to the degree that, having retired, I kept going back. Into the same cycle but I have concluded that ‘loving your job/hating your job’ is a bit of a repetitive loop and the mental approach is a big part of that.

I never addressed my ‘pain’ and spent the money as fast as it came in. so here is some advice.

Stop spending and start saving if you want to change fields.

Sell your 3 year old car and buy a 7 year old car. Save the difference. Eat less, and wisely. Eat out less often and eat fewer takeaways. Keep a record of money you don’t spend on that which you used to pay, and have fun doing so. Find a new evening pastime that educates you without costing much money.

Do that for 6 months and see how much money you can amass.

Now, if you can save up 6 months’ pay – okay, it may take longer but we are researching to start with – you have a small safety net if you want to just quit and seek a new job. Alternatively, you have a safety net AND still have a job while you look for a new one.

Having that financial trampoline will free up your mental juices to start seeking a ‘want to do’ rather than remaining, unproductively and unhappily, in a ‘have to do’.

My experience is that many people have a lifestyle that they feed but hate what they have to do in order to live it. I even counsel parents to look at what they pay in order to have two jobs – second car, more clothes, child-care costs and self-management related to child-care, two social lives, etc. – and to make a conscious decision whether or not it’s working for them. (Usually accused of sexism, and I reply that I never say which partner/gender should consider ‘retiring’.)

We all chase what we think we want, but so few of us truly look at ourselves to decide what that is – we look outside ourselves to see what society tells us we should be working for.

What a waste of time it is working really hard for something we don’t really want in the interests of keeping up with others’ expectations.

Find what you love to do. Get a job doing it. Live within your means and pursue what your values and mission say you need. Everything else is just show.