Firing on All Cylinders and the Opportunity Stream

by Mike Levin SEO & Datamaster, 03/17/2009

The metaphor I use for things running well is going to be dated very soon: firing on all cylinders. That metaphor will go the way of the combustion engine. But that’s exactly what’s happening in my life now. After many years of turbulent change, which made me a victim of what Joel Spolsky would call “fire and motion,” things are starting to settle down for the better. Settling can be a good thing, because when all the radically changing variables in your life become constants, you can turn your attention to optimizing, which can lead to things like becoming that entrepreneurial billionaire you always thought you could be, but for reasons beyond your control (yeah–really, beyond your control), you’re only just living day-to-day dealing with the radicals.

I once heard Stephen Covey advise someone in an audience that you can just write off that asshole in your life that’s making you miserable. There’s no bond so strong that allows someone else behave like they own you. Yep, well consider me 3 steps past that. Writing off mere family-related boondoggles is the easy part. After that, you have to line up about 1000 little details–many of which, you are unaware of like a fish’s awareness of water. Getting your life truly under your control is 50% maslow self actualization, and 50% illusion. Luck does play a role, but conscious decisions need to be applied as a constant and dilligent force against the random circumstances of life. It’s what people mean when they say success is a matter of opportunity meeting preparedness. So the trick is to elevate yourself to a near-Batman level of preparedness (shark repellant, anyone?) while exposing yourself to the best opportunity-stream you can step into.

That opportunity-stream is why things like LinkedIn are so big, despite Twitter and Facebook. Many people who HAVE the opportunities are too busy to hang out on Facebook, no matter how cool it’s real-time homepage may be (hear that, Hermann Mazard?). You need LinkedIn lurking there in the background being an inactive part of people’s lives for 99.9% of the time. It’s that 00.1% of the time that matters when the perfect opportunity comes along.

Anyway, I digress. Back to the firing on all cylinders metaphor. Once those radical variables in your life settle down, it’s time to go Maslow self actualization big-time. You need to analyze your life as a objective outsider, or as objective of an outsider as you yourself can be. If you’re lucky and have a life-mate who is into such things–Warren Buffett said the choice of your spouse is the most important success-decision you will make–then they can help you with the objectivity thing. I know for example I need to dump my Gap / J. Crew high school-personal clothing appearance style in favor of something that more reflects my CurrentTV technological counterculture geek sheek leanings–but without being a hipster poser. Personal style will come in time.

But more important are managing the really big challenges of my life, like keeping a healthy balance and not becomming obsessive over work, while still performing at work far beyond expectations to the point of overhauling the entire search engine optimization field. The time is right. The iron is hot. Change is afoot. And I NEED to be firing on all cylinders to take advantage of the opportunities that are plummeting down the opportunity stream like a train.