How to get what you want

Aadil Kazmi
4 min readAug 23, 2023

Intro

I’m Aadil, I started this newsletter to share the lessons I wish I had earlier with the intention of creating value for others. As a millennial who was aware enough to rmr life before everything went from fast to instant I’m convinced the highest leverage skill in an increasingly bifurcating world is the ability to cut through noise and focus.

This newsletter is a compilation of the lessons l learned going through the ups and downs of life; selling driveway sealing services door-door, serving customers as a cashier at Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits, early adopter of web3/crypto, losing all my savings buying/selling used cars based on a faulty price aggregator we built, owned/operated a fast-casual restaurant, worked in FAANG and built a technology startup.

Also, someone somewhere has already tweeted, written about, recorded a YT vid about the lessons I speak about in these posts — it’s bc there are no secrets in life, the lessons are all there.. but it all starts with knowing what you want

everything starts with knowing what you want

Being intentional is a forcing mechanism to ask what do you want and why do you want it (both being equally as imp). Less spoken about is that intention creates intrinsic motivation — the kind that isn’t easily replicated.

For most people (inc myself) defining the ‘what’ is easy while struggling with the ‘why’. Ignoring the ‘why’ manifests itself differently depending on situational context but an analogy I like is: speed without direction (in tech we like flywheels, not hamster wheels). Find clarity in thought through prayer, meditation and support (family, friends, therapy).

want things for the right reasons

Amongst a set of important values, pick a single uncompromising value that governs all others and do your best never to compromise on it — despite how tough things get. Compromising (even a few times) creates misalignment (in oneself and teams when managing others as well) which eventually leads to speed without direction.

What’s worked for me

“Money” is not a motivator, it’s a tool and don’t act on it (I’ve done it wrong both ways, trying to convince top hires with large comp packages and left an opportunity for a higher comp package). As a salesperson on a commission plan early in my career I wanted to exceed quota bc I believed I valued money (or the thought of the things I could do with the money). After exceeding quota it hit me that what actually mattered was the recognition I received from my colleagues and manager, though the desire to feed my ego wasn’t sustainable to keep me motivated — so I left despite getting what I wanted.

In contrast, I’ve always found a tonne of fulfillment helping others achieve their goals. Amazon executes this well, training its people towards customer-centricity. Looking at things with the right value system allows you to find fulfillment, purpose and eventually motivation.

craft a plan

Crafting plans is ridiculously difficult for oneself and the hardest thing I’ve ever done leading companies bc we don’t control the outcomes to our decisions so any plan over the long-term is a vision at best. Guess what though — you still have to do it bc the plan is the link between what is and what can be. I don’t have a perspective on how to build better plans, still learning 🙂 .

What’s worked for me

A mentor who is a bit farther along a similar journey as the one I’m taking. I’ve been fortunate to have had mentors who’ve already achieved the final milestone for my own plans but these persona’s are rare to work with bc there’s usually little value to provide in return or they’re too busy. Knowing when to ask and how to ask for things is a topic for another post but high-level, know that most relationships are transactional and that’s okay — our job is to find people with similar intentions (also — easier to work w/ ppl who know what they want + why) and align incentives.

Mentors who are further ahead but not yet there are extremely powerful resources. Please, choose your friends wisely and think about the network you curate. I’ve missed many opportunities not being grateful for the people around me, to those reading, forgive me — you are missed.

be patient and consistent

We don’t control outcomes. That said, we can guess an outcome with greater certainty based on how long the outcome takes to materialize. Example: choosing to exercise everyday for 6 months does not mean mean you’ll get fit (if that’s the goal) but with near certainty exercising today means you will lose a few calories.

Since decisions with instant outcomes can be guessed with greater certainty, you need to excel at doing the little things with consistency (applying values to decision-making) and patience (maintaining the motivation to keep going despite not being able to always see the bigger picture).

summary

In an uncertain world and to manage stress, learn to do three things really well:

  • be intentional — define what you want and why (example q’s below):
  • what happens if you get what you want?
  • what happens if you don’t get what you want?
  • what else could you want?
  • have a plan — break big goals into small ones, estimate effort, evaluate decision outcomes often with feedback from others
  • love the journey

But if you really want something.. then do things with the right intentions bc it’s the only way you’ll find the motivation to do the little tasks over and over and over again.

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