You don’t need to be a rocket surgeon to know that great work stems not from finding “best practices,” but from finding the best approach for you, your team, your customers — your situation.
But, uh ... how do we do that?
We don’t talk about that enough. We don’t discuss the subtle but crucial differences between “best practices” and “best for us” enough. And we certainly don’t explore how, exactly, we can tailor our decisions and actions to our unique situations … rather than the past precedents or trendy new tactics of our industries, companies, and jobs.
But shouldn’t we be doing just that? Isn’t THAT the goal when picking our path forward?
Today, I’m dance-awkwardly-around-my-office excited to release Break the Wheel: Question Best Practices, Hone Your Intuition, Do Your Best Work.
It’s now available on Amazon in print, Kindle, and audiobook editions. Get your copy now, or email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a bulk order for your team, company, or event.
Break the Wheel is a book about thinking for yourself in the face of endless conventional thinking. Through science and story, we deconstruct why we make decisions the way we do at work, relying on generalized or even outdated best practices or glomming onto trends.
Together, we explore how to make the best possible decisions for our unique situations, regardless of the best practice. In doing so, we'll act less like experts and more like investigators.
In the book, we learn about the psychological barriers to making great decisions in our work — things like pike syndrome and cultural fluency. We’ll then examine the downsides of relying on best practices, as well as consider the upsides, to overcome those barriers. Next, we dive headlong into a rather uncomfortable topic: why “intuition” should be taken more seriously as a skill we can develop to make better decisions in this era of Advice Overload. To do that, we’ll journey through history to see how this powerful but often misunderstood idea gets twisted and tossed aside. There, buried under centuries of pop culture and mythical muses, we’ll find a way to turn intuition into a practical tool we can wield — a sledgehammer to break the wheel.
Throughout the book, you’ll meet people who make exceptional work seem effortless and the unconventional path seem logical — people like…
The brash but bright Mike Brown, founder of Death Wish Coffee, who turned a failing coffee shop a thriving brand that sells the world’s strongest coffee — at least until they shot their product into space and became the galaxy’s strongest coffee.
The warm and witty marketing team at Merriam-Webster, and their leader Lisa Schneider, whose job is to make the dictionary seem cool in the digital age. (Sounds kinda like teaching Grandma how to twerk, cuz, uh, nope. Nuh-uh. Don’t make me do it…)
Paul Butler, “Parrot Man of the Caribbean,” and how he ditched decades of environmental conservation standard practice to save a species by dancing around in a costume and creating a radio soap opera about, of all things, protected sex.
From the eye-opening approach used by Starbucks to turn around 10 years of struggles in China, to the unlikely story of Unsplash, one of the most successful side projects in internet history, we’ll learn how the atypical approach can be the smart one. We’ll get behind-the-scenes stories from inside companies like InVision and Google and from sensational creators like Tim Urban of Wait But Why, Hall of Fame public speaker Scott Stratten, and Finn Dowling, the funniest writer in the pet rescue industry.
To turn inspiration into action, we’ll identify the 3 essential things we must understand in a given situation to find clarity in our work. Rather than over-promised “secrets to success” or any one individual’s supposed blueprint to follow, we’ll walk away with the 6 investigative questions we should ask to make better decisions, faster.
We all want to do our best, but our obsession with best practices is holding us back.
All those expert ideas and supposed “right” approaches bombarding us each day merely mask the truth: Exceptional work isn’t created by the answers others give us, but by the questions we ask ourselves.
In the end, best practices, conventional thinking, and trendy new tactics are spokes on a wheel. First one is on top, then another, and on and on the wheel spins. And this wheel leads straight to the one place we don't want our careers or companies to be: average.
Let’s push beyond commodity work. Let’s escape this endless cycle.