Strive not to be a success but to be of value – Albert Einstein
Going Past The Recipe
“Deconstruct the cool things you see.
If you’d like to become a better musician and you see an amazing performance, start paying attention to how they do it. How did they promote the event? What happens in the first ten seconds of each song? How frequently are they engaging directly with the audience? Is there a progression of energy throughout the show?
When something fascinates you, pay attention to the details. The person who thinks, “That was cool” is a consumer. The person who thinks, “How did they make something that cool?” is on the path to being a creator.
Don’t just taste the recipe, look for the ingredients.”
The above words by bestselling author James Clear serve as a reminder that what separates consumers and creators are questions. The consumer feeds while the creator asks questions. This thin line keeps consumers tied to the value they get from a thing while the creators consistently ask, “How can I add value?”
A Shift In Thinking
Shift to asking “how can I add value” has all the ingredients to raise your quality of life from simply consuming to creating and thereby contributing. I have witnessed my friend Samson, become a person who constantly looks for ways to add value to others. In doing so, his value increases. It’s a net positive result that yields dividends over and over. You can see how he adds value at https://samsongichuki.com.
The level of attention you give to the value question is proportional to the creative level you reach in life. When I see players who play at a high level for many years, I instinctively ask, “What are they doing when no one is watching?” What we do in obscurity is a measurement of the greatness we experience.
Consumers versus Contributors
While consumers get satisfaction from what they withdraw, a contributor is satisfied by what they put in. They know an investment is a prerequisite to withdrawal. Most people live beneath the quality of life they are capable of because they never make the switch to adding value to others. Their lives become a revolving door of activities that gratify on the surface but never bring profound rewards.
From Wow to How
Making the value switch begins by asking the value question. It starts when you start hunting for ingredients, not just a recipe. Many people want the recipe to succeed but don’t really want to look for the ingredients that make up the recipe. Like a cook must go to different locations to find ingredients to cook a great meal, one must search for the details of what makes a great life. It’s a detailed process that impatient people cannot engage in. Not only do the ingredients need to be procured, but they are also prepared.
This year, become an ingredient seeker; after you say “wow” to what you see, follow up with “how?” “How” motivates you to dig past the surface.
Why The “How” Matters
Sustained success in life is a product of what happens behind the scenes. NBA star Ja Morant was recently named the Most Improved Player in 2022. Nobody thought he would make such great strides in such a short time. For five years, Morant worked hard in obscurity, daily putting in the work that we now see on display as he amazes us on the hardwood and has the Memphis Grizzlies playing elite basketball. Morant will be the first to tell you his ascent is not a silver bullet. Instead, Morant talks about developing in a place that many people have an aversion to; the dark. For five hours a day, Ja honed his craft. Away from the limelight, Morant worked on his shooting, passing, and defense. The jaw-dropping moves we now see are the offspring of greatness cultivated in obscurity. Players like Morant ask the “how” question and then put in the work to unlock their value thereby benefiting others.
According to the Harvard Business Review, asking questions is a uniquely powerful tool for unlocking value. Like a shovel used to dig for buried treasure, questions help us unlock the hidden treasure of ideas, push us past our limits and even help us avoid pitfalls and hazards by uncovering them. Questions reveal ingredients that contribute to being a person of value.
Aside from asking the value question, this month will feature four other questions to stir our minds to think in terms of ingredients, not just recipes:
The Value Question (today’s post)
The Focus Question (January 12th)
The Vision Question (January 19th)
The Preparation Question (January 26th)
Final Thought: This year, make an effort to go behind the scenes of things you see that make you go “wow” and ask “how.” Draw back the curtain with this shift in thinking. You will unlock a desire for learning and the impetus to go past the surface of being a consumer and into the depth of a contributor. Start asking, “How can I add value?”
Keep on keeping on!