Andre Durand

Discovering life, one mistake at a time.
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Archive for August, 2009

Forget About Winning (you’ll win more…)

August 19, 2009 By: Andre Category: Life

Competition

I’m competitive. I can’t help it. Growing up, I played competitive tennis, fueled in part by the fact that my father really pushed me. 8 to 12 hours per day of tennis was the norm. As a child, competition and winning consumed me, and it manifested itself in really nasty ways — I lost friends over it.

I never thought about how I thought

With all the emphasis on winning, I spent every minute learning the physical game of tennis. Never once did I ever spend a second on the psychology of competition or the mental game of playing. As a result, I would essentially blow the critical points. I would think, “…this is important, I better not screw this up!” Then I played it safe, hoping to keep the ball in play. Some times it worked, but the result was that I played under my potential. Short-term gain consumed me.

Playing not to lose

With so much emphasis on the outcome, winning, I wouldn’t play to win when it counted most, I’d play not to lose. I had it all backwards. I never really grasped the mental game of competition.

Letting go of the outcome

My breakthrough came when I started to ignore the outcome, and simply focus on how I played. In life, when the outcome mattered more, I started to invest less in the future and take fewer risks.

Realize a higher potential

In retrospect, I wasn’t limited by my physical abilities as a child, I was limited by my mental game, and how thoughts of winning essentially weakened me during critical moments. I essentially beat myself.

Doing the opposite of conventional wisdom.

Lately, I’ve started to let go of the outcome. I’ve started to play every point like it was just practice. (I’m actually losing more right now, but not because I’m beating myself per say.) I’m losing more right now because I’m just not as physically good as I think I am. Given enough practice, I’ll become a better player overall. My limits are now tied to my real limits (physical and mental), not simply my mental limits.

Skooby snacks for the brain.

The key to changing my behavior was subtle. It essentially boiled down to how I rewarded myself. Before, if I won a point, I was happy, if I lost, I was angry. I was mentally rewarding myself on the outcome, not the play. I’ve since reversed this, and it’s made a big difference. Reward yourself when you know you gave it your all, when you risked it, and it mattered. Let go of the outcome, and you’ll play better. Trust me.

Happiness Quotient

August 19, 2009 By: Andre Category: Life

yachthot_tub_twilight_600

I’ve had my share of good times in the past spending excessive amounts of money in the pursuit of happiness. Nice cars, expensive hotels, fancy vacations. I don’t regret them, and I enjoy the pictures now and again, but I’ve really come to appreciate what I refer to as my Happiness Quotient.

My happiness quotient from any particular purchase is essentially:

Derived Happiness from Purchase / Price

For example, every year I’ve gone to Lake Powell for a 1 week vacation. It’s not expensive, perhaps costing me $1k/year. I derive a lot of pleasure from that vacation, but what makes it even better is the fact that it’s cheap. If the vacation cost me $10k, I’d be 1/10th as happy with it.

Several of my purchases over the years have bubbled to the top of my happiness quotient. My hot tub for example cost me $2,200 on Craigslist. Every time I get in it, it puts a smile on my face. Now, I love hot tubs, so I have no doubt that I would have loved a new hot tub costing twice as much, but every time I get in this particular hot tub, I think ‘what a great deal this was…’, and I’m 2x as happy as if I’d paid double for a new one.

If you’re happiness is somehow derived from ego, and you allow judgment of others into your happiness quotient, well then, you had better make a lot of money, because you’re going to spend it to get to the same amount of happiness per $1 than me!

I for one have learned that the simple, random or unexpected event (because of how my expectations are non-existent) is often where I derive the most happiness. Spending a lot and expecting a lot often produces a less than optimal happiness quotient for me.

Pure Diamond

August 15, 2009 By: Andre Category: Life

Every now and then I meet a pure, untainted, diamond in the rough entrepreneur. If you’ve ever met one, you know what I’m talking about. These people are bursting with positive energy and an optimistic can do attitude. They are going to change the world, and no one is going to stop them.

Many of these entrepreneurs have a difficult time raising money, so to build their businesses, they’re forced to do it the old fashion way, hard work, revenue and persistence.

Howard Ryan of Desktop Alert is one of those entrepreneurs. He’s worked and struggled for years, but his persistence is starting to pay off. His company, Desktop Alert, provides real time desktop alerts to US Defense agencies, and he’s kicking ass.

I love seeing success stories like this. People like Howard deserve the success they achieve.