“Product” can mean whatever you want it to. As a business, an influencer, an artist, or even (surprise!) as a human, your product is not for everyone. As Seth Godin brilliantly states, the least helpful mantra is “you can pick anyone, and we’re anyone!”

Of all the businesses and products…in all the ways they are expressed, packaged, and distributed…in any way we engage with the market, here is one simple question that can serve as a yardstick for how our product might be measured: Would they miss it if it were gone?

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Many of us admire and are influenced by smart people. I know that I hold people I see as “smart” in high regard. Unfortunately, there’s no correlation between intelligence and morality. Sociopaths offer one example of this truth, as one of their most common traits is intelligence — they just use it to selfishly manipulate to get what they want, without regard for how it affects others.

Intelligence is a respectable attribute, and it’s a worthy cause to try to get smarter. Just don’t assume that virtues come along for the ride. The only thing intelligence and integrity have in common is the number of syllables.

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At one time, most material things that we consider an expression of our style or identity only existed for their utility. The necktie was originally a bib to protect men’s shirts. Watches told the time. The first automobiles (magically!) moved people from point A to B. And now, the pricing of these items is so diverse that you have to move several decimal points to capture the range.

Form and function. We all have preferences. No one wants to drive an uncomfortable, unstylish vehicle. But being frugal on things that we only care about for their utility leaves us more to spend on items whose form or style we DO care about.

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What is the goal of communication? A seemingly tricky question with a remarkably simple answer: shared understanding. That’s it. It doesn’t matter whether you’re conveying something true or false, caring or cruel. The goal is that both parties understand what is being communicated.

One way to sharpen this skill is by examining the speech of people who are extremely articulate in expressing their ideas on complex topics (whether or not you agree with the content). Studying this shows that it’s more of an art than a science — it’s not always a matter of knowing more, but instead about using the most precise words that reflect your intent.

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Having a victim mentality makes it unlikely you’ll be able to learn from mistakes. Victims seek (and find) all the ways in which they’ve been preyed upon rather than pursuing ways to avoid similar outcomes or circumstances in the future.

One question helps expose whether you are capable of learning from mistakes: How often do you feel you have been wronged, versus how often you have been wrong.

As the old adage goes, when the student is ready the teacher appears. And willing students are the only ones capable of learning.

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Most things in life are much better maintained than fixed. A skill, your vehicle, a relationship, your house, and especially your health…it’s almost impossible to exaggerate their value until you’re on the edge and forced to fight to get them back.

Preserve. Maintain. Do it now while it’s not an…

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It’s obvious to me that any long-term physical or emotional pain I’ve endured was caused by my own unwillingness to endure short-term inconvenience or discomfort.

Discomfort could manifest in obvious ways like sacrificing long-term health through a lack of proper fitness, neglecting nutrition; or less obvious ways like avoiding uncomfortable but necessary conversations.

Being negligent and making excuses for what you know you should do today just make tomorrow more difficult. The opposite is also true. Slight inconvenience today, more gratifying tomorrow.

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Of course intent matters. There’s a massive difference between being intentionally insulting and accidentally offending someone. But…

Even with the best of intentions, it’s possible to be loved and not feel loved. To be supported and not feel supported. So while positive intent (or ignorance) should get us off the hook, if we care, we learn to communicate our intent better. In ways that others hear us.

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What is the goal of communication? A seemingly tricky question with a remarkably simple answer: shared understanding. That’s it. It doesn’t matter whether you’re conveying something true or false, caring or cruel. The goal is that both parties understand what is being communicated.

One way to sharpen this skill is examining the speech of people who are extremely articulate in expressing their ideas on complex topics (whether or not you agree with the content). Studying this shows that it’s more of an art than a science — it’s not always a matter of knowing more, but instead about using the most precise words that reflect your intent.

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Steve Acho

Steve Acho

I write very short articles (20 seconds to read) sharing perspectives on health, relationships and business that have been most helpful (SteveAcho.com for more)