As humans we tend to mark our lives by the years that pass. It’s why we celebrate birthdays.
What if—instead of counting years—we marked our lives by the impact we make?
In the book, Slipstream Time Hacking, Benjamin P. Hardy proposes measuring life by distance rather than time. This means you stop trying to hack time by doing more. Instead, you hack life by jumping further along the timeline of life. For example, by finding a great mentor, creating a great relationship, signing a 10/10 client, landing a dream job, or reading a book that radically alters your thinking, you can jump 5,10 or 20 years ahead of your peers.
He calls this a wormhole—a shortcut generated through created luck.
Portals and Serpents
I recently took the members of 4PC—my community of leaders—through an exercise designed to help them create their next wormhole, to leap to their next level.
But I didn’t do it by having them look into the future, to make an educated guess as to what strategies should work for them.
I had them turn around and look back on their life, to see what strategies had already worked for them. You see, the real shortcut in life is to understand it backwards.
As a kid, I played the game Snakes and Ladders. It’s known as Chutes and Ladders in the US. You play it on a board with numbered squares. The fastest to the end wins—and you’re helped by climbing ladders but hindered by falling down snakes.
It’s much like life. Sometimes an opportunity, a connection, or an idea gives you a boost. And sometimes losing a job, a recession, or a pandemic arrives out of nowhere and you take a tumble.
Let’s play an updated version of this game, called Portals and Serpents. Actually, you’ve already been playing it… for your entire life!
A portal, in science fiction, is an opening in the fabric of space and time that allows space voyagers to travel faster than the speed of light—as a quick shortcut to anywhere in the universe.
A serpent, is an ancient mythological symbol of a large snake. It often refers to a sly or treacherous person, often someone who exploits a position of trust in order to betray it. What’s interesting (as you’ll see in a moment) is that in many cultures, the serpent represented dual expressions of good and evil.
Portals, that have always massively accelerated my own life and career tend to come from meeting fascinating people.
Serpents, tend to occur for me when I don’t pay attention to red flags—tiny warning signs that I am willing to ignore, in the hope of something better down the road.
Early in my career, I was drawn to very powerful and charismatic leaders. It turned out such power often has a dark side. Another serpent for me has been continuing saying yes to opportunities that I’ve outgrown.
Interestingly, serpents can sometimes be portals in disguise… Much of what I learned about how to be a really good leader came from observing extremely poor leadership and getting very clear on what not to do.
Now it’s your turn…
- What were the 3 biggest jumps in your life and career (unexpected sources of momentum or success)?
- How can you create more of them?
- What were the 3 biggest downturns in your life and career (unexpected sources of breakdown or failure)?
- How can you avoid them in the future?
Portals in disguise
What was one Serpent (a downturn, breakdown or failure) that turned out to be a Portal (an unexpected source of momentum or success)?
PS. For most of human history, it wasn’t called coaching. It was called leadership. And for over a decade, I’ve helped great leaders become great coaches.
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