Most of my life, I have been a consumer, a great one. If there was something that I could get with little or no effort, you can be sure that I will show up.
I recall my engineering studies. The teacher will draw a rectangular box and write the word “system” on it. At the left, there is an entering arrow, preceded by the word “Input”. An arrow will come out of the box, pointing to “Output” on the right hand side.
She explains: a system takes in some inputs, processes them and then outputs them in a different way so that the output is different to the input.
Basically she was explaining the magic equation of quality performance for a great system:
Output = Input + black magic
This equation applies to things like smartphones, movies, music, books, exercising, and much more.
This applies also to people that we love to have in our lives, inspiring leaders, artists, mentors, authors, athletes, and much more.
This applies also to one specific person: us. We love that feeling of learning a new skill, overcoming an obstacle in our life, achieving things we thought we could not, being the leader in our field of expertise, and much more.
What is the common denominator, the black magic in this equation above?
The answer is quite simple: like all systems that perform well, the magic ingredient is: adding value.
In this article I will share how cultivating the mindset of adding value in 3 different areas of your life will make you get more out of your life.
The 3 main areas where this equation yields the most benefits are:
- Adding value to things
- Adding value to people
- Adding value to yourself
Let’s examine further how we can leverage this simple habit to make sure to always get more than what we put into the system. By system, I mean the only system on which we have control over: our life.
Let’s unveil the magic behind this equation.
1. Adding value to things
As I said in the beginning, I spent my whole life consuming things. By doing so, clearly, I was not the kind of person that would add value to things like a project at work, a chore at home like cleaning the dishes.
The best I could do is keep the thing the same way it was handed to me.
With this mindset I felt good quite sometimes. Yet something was not feeling quite right from within. I was not performing at my potential. I am talking about performing at my best even. I was just a tube in the system and no box at all.
I always have the feeling that I am in this world to play my part. I am here right now at this exact moment because I am what my world needs right now. And all that shine was going to waste.
In France at 35 years old, you receive a paper from the government telling you how many quarters you have contributed to for your retirement. And most importantly, they emphasize how many quarters are left before you can get your full pension.
Here I am, sitting in my living room with my balance. And I had like 133 quarters remaining before I could get a full pension. That is a lot.
I asked myself whether or not I will wait until my retirement to start living and contributing. And the answer for me was clearly no. It was that day that I decided that I would take care of being a contributor in this world.
I asked myself the kind of things I loved in my life. The answer was :smartphones, movies, music, books, exercising. And I dug deeper to understand why. The answer was obvious, eventually: when I used those things, they added value to my life.
Well I said, I want to be like the people behind those things: I want to add value to whatever project, task I am given, to make the output different from the input.
This was in 2016. It will take me two years until 2018 to start the processing in a systematic way.
I was just another guy at work, doing what he was told. And I remember the acronym at the office: GIGO, Garbage In, Garbage Out.
I said to myself that, no matter what project I am given, I would turn that poop into gold!
In the answers I gave to our customers at Airbus, I would always craft them in a beautiful way so that it would please their eyes when they read it.
In the way I do my bed in the morning, I will do it as if I was doing it for my best friend.
This is not about perfectionism. It is more about taking the conscious effort to output things in a way different than how they were given to you.
No matter how small the task, no matter how insignificant, I ask myself: Is this the best I can do?
By using this approach, I feel like I am leaving a part of me in all the things that come through my hands. And soon, I see that people started noticing: this guy adds value to poop!
2. Adding value to people
I am not the kind of friend that will call you often and try to see how things are going every week or month. I am not the kind that, when you call me, will say: Hey Pal, it’s been a long time, why didn’t you call before?
I am not the kind of colleague that will try to put you down so that I can feel better. I will not vomit my knowledge over you to show you how smart I am. I might be a little bit jealous of the fact that you earn more than me, while doing the same job. Yet that feeling will not last.
My parents, my teachers, some of my coworkers invested in me, in my life and in my potential. They believed that I could do things that I didn’t even know I could. Even if I could not do those things at the end, the fact that they backed me up gave me the drive to move forward. In one word, they are the kind of people that added value to my life, added value to me. They nurtured me, sheltered me, guided me and showed me the way.
I remember when I was in High school, in Dakar, Senegal, my French class teaching Professor. He will not just do what was in the program of that school year. He would take time to share more of his time and energy with us. To this day, I see his face and his smile in my mind, even if I don’t recall his name.
Investing in people is the best way for me to add value to their lives. Teaching me a new skill, sharing a tip on how to do things in a more efficient way, giving me advice on how to handle a difficult situation, those are the kind of things that people added into my life.
I am the kind of friend that will make sure to make you smile. I am the kind of friend that will not judge you by default, because I know that there are at least 2 sides in each story.
I am the kind of colleague that will share what I know with humility. I am the kind of colleague that will do my best to build a safe work environment for my colleagues and myself. I am the kind of colleague who will speak-up with respect and state the facts from my perspective.
In all the interactions I have with anyone, if I don’t make them smile, I will do my utmost to not make them cry in any shape or size.
I believe that we all have our shines and we must shed a light in other people’s journey. Because when we are surrounded by darkness, every light matters, no matter how small.
3. Adding value to yourself
Often we can go further in adding value to other people’s life than we forget one person: us. Or worse, not only we don’t add value to other people’s lives, yet also we don’t add value to our own life.
This is the most selfish attitude for me: forgetting ourselves in the equation of our own life. Being the x, the unknown variable in our own story.
After finishing my engineering studies, after being hired at Airbus, at some point I thought: This is it, let’s enjoy and wait for retirement! No more effort required.
This is one of the single biggest mistakes in my life so far. To think that I can be in a position in my life that does not require any more improvement, any more input, any more learning, is just the dumbest idea I ever had in my life. Well maybe not the dumbier, but close to, at least.
When I started reading books in 2017, making videos to share other people’ stories in 2018, writing articles on social platforms like LinkedIn and medium in 2019, those moments were pivotal to me.
To read books regularly, I needed to get my time in order to build back reading into my life as a habit. Reading provides me with valuable knowledge and I use what I read as an input to improve my life and contribute to my world.
Making videos required from me learning how to use softwares like iMovie and Final Cut Pro. It introduced me to storytelling in movies and the Hero’s journey behind each of those stories. I will use those skills to tell stories of people that inspire me, that I love to hang out around and that have the same mindset as me.
To write articles consistently, I needed to build a discipline into the process. I cannot just wait for inspiration to come. I had to build a system to record my ideas, I had to consume other people’s content, I needed to test different styles of writing.
And I use all of those things to output something that is valuable to me while improving myself all along the process. I am not just adding more strings to my bow. I am also making each of them grow stronger at the same time.
One more thing I would like to add that is paramount in this approach is the magic ingredient that most of us miss sometimes.
And that is the feedback loop.
You may ask what the feedback loop is. And I say: a picture is worth a thousand of word:
That is the magic trick behind not only adding value for the sake of it. We have to take feedback from our environment to add value that has meaning to us, to those around us and to the things we aim at touching with our shine.
There you have it. The 1 simple ingredient that will yield amazing results if you sparkle it in your everyday life’s recipe. Have a thing, put an added value spice on it. Want to impact people around you, put a spice in their lives. Don’t forget your own meal: put that black magic spice on it!
“Add value and get rewarded.”
How do you add value in what you do everyday?
What kind of actions did people do that added the most value in your life?
What is the most spicy thing you added to your life meal this week?
Leave a comment below.
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#BIOS #BringInyourOwnSoul #LeadHeartship #Leadership
You can read my previous article on Want to be your own Time Lord? Implement those 3 simple habits