Jason Womack is an educator, author, entrepreneur, and CEO, among other things. He is an avid practitioner of his own philosophies on work/life balance, productivity, and forward progress, and with Master’s degrees in Education and Psychology, is well-educated in the way we think. These facets of Jason’s life and work have inspired his contribution to Paper Napkin Wisdom, which is a simple straight line from point A to point B. The philosophy behind Jason’s napkin focuses on how to get to point B without getting knocked off course, how to persevere when the path gets rough, and how to focus when it gets easy.
As Jason explains, from a certain age, we are programmed to look towards “what is next” (e.g. in high school, we look towards college as the next step). This is the difference between destination-based goals and direction-based goals. “Getting through the day”, for example, is a destination-based goal - it is not necessarily a bad thing, but it may be limiting your perspective. After a few instances of concentrating on destination, however, you begin to understand your direction - the experience(s) you want to have, both in your work and your life.
Direction, according to Jason, is all about momentum. It allows you to experience - and learn from - everything along the path to point B. An exercise that Jason employs is to consistently acknowledge when something is complete, rather than rerunning it internally to find mistakes or weaknesses. This exercise not only helps to push forward, but also helps to commit to systems and processes. This creates a flow of psychology, sociology, and technology, which Jason says will help clarify your direction-based goals.
In terms of psychology (the thinking side), create an “at my best” list - an explicit inventory of conditions when you are most successful (e.g. eating a full breakfast, meeting first-thing with key players, etc). Think of this list as another version of strength-finder, where you create an opportunity to move forward. Another way to think of this is resilience. Most would consider resilience when faced with major, life-changing, negative events, but Jason encourages us to also consider everyday stressors and obstacles that you get past, which indicate that you’re making progress.
The second phase - sociology - is all about support. Ask yourself who are you going to hang out with next, and decide whether that person is someone who will help you get to the next level. You will eventually find yourself in an atmosphere of mentorship, friendship, family, and support. The “who” in this instance will always have a profound impact on the “why” the “how” and the “why”, and will further influence your movement, momentum, and destination.
Finally, Jason talks about technology. Rather than just the screen size, battery life, and cord length, Jason refers to any tool that will help with tracking and accountability. In other words, how do you utilize the tools - high- and low-tech - available to you in order to keep moving forward? How do you track yourself and what systems do you employ?
From these three areas, Jason has developed three questions to ask yourself on a daily basis to help focus your direction: 1) what did I complete today? 2) who can I acknowledge today? 3) what am I grateful for today? This exercise will help show that everything is relative - both the successes and the failures (e.g. the guy without shoes complains until he sees the guy without feet). It also creates a powerful historical record to show that something that seems significant now might not seem that way a few months or years later.
As entrepreneurs, we are experts in cognitive dissonance, according to Jason - the ability to notice a gap or when something is off. We must challenge ourselves also to notice what is there and what is “on”.