Return on Investment

Return on Investment

I’ve recently listened to a series of podcasts from Jocko Willink that explored the premise of life as a game. I highly recommend taking the time on your next leisurely walk, workout, or commute and listening to them (parts one, two, three, and four). They are lengthy but definitely worth your time.

The main thread throughout the series is the notion of Life as a Game. Once you realize that you participate in multiple games throughout life you become aware of the rules of these games and consequently, that can give you a playbook on how to maximize your chances of winning these games.

We’ve written here a lot about the games of health and performance, for example. We’ve shared some insights that resonated with us and have given us, and hopefully you, new inputs to introduce into your own game plans.

What stood out for me the most from the series is the concept of Return on Investment (ROI) which can be applied to any and all actions we take daily. I found the application of ROI when it comes to decision-making very helpful in tackling resistance to doing and procrastination. Here’s a brief example.

There are two types of decisions that have either short-term or long-term implications. In life, you have to run a fine balance between the two and try to push the scale on the side of the long-term benefit. That’s easier said than done. When faced with a task we always take into account the ROI, whether we are aware of it or not. We are constantly evaluating the Return and the Investment but often ignore the relationship which will result in choosing one over the other.

For example, eating a cake now. The Return of that activity is so obvious (and delicious) while the Investment we need to make is minimal. When the scale is heavily skewed towards the side of the Return we can often become oblivious to the type of Investment we are making. The short-term reward is so impactful it blinds us to the long-term implications of the decision.

Then, there is the decision to work on hard problems today. We may be faced with challenging work the thought of which makes us postpone the things that need doing. In situations like these, we are heavily skewed towards the Investment - the effort we need to put in, and become blind to the size of the Return. For example, we may have to put in a few extra hours of work on the new client project over the weekend which will put us ahead of the competition and earn the client’s trust and future business. Yet, the Inner Voice is so paralyzed by the size of the task at hand that it can distract you from the outsized reward you could achieve.

I hope to push you to think more about the value of ROI when it comes to decision-making in your life with these two very simplistic examples. Once you become aware of the concept, you’ll apply it to everything. Eventually, that insight will hopefully start pushing you towards a decision with a positive long-term impact. There’s a popular quote out there that goes something like “Easy choices, hard life. Hard choices, easy life. “ That about sums up the gist of what the ROI concept means to me. Think about it.

Things that make you go hmm (TTMYGH)

I’ll borrow this concept from Grant Williams who has an excellent podcast and newsletter with this title, in order to share a few interesting links from the past couple of weeks that may hold some value for you.
  • The Right Now List. An excellent piece of advice that aims to push you to do the tasks you want to postpone immediately by triggering you to start right now. Simple but very effective.
  • Venture Catastrophists. If you were on Twitter over the last 10 days you probably witnessed the implosion of Silicon Valley bank in real-time and the crowd losing their mind over the situation. A lot has been said, but if you want a measured summary of the saga, this post will do it for you.
  • Manufacturing Intellect. Once in a while, a gem pops up on YouTube and this channel which collects old interviews is a great alternative to the attention-sucking focus on the now and the new. Go backward to go forward.

Think of the ROI,

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