Saturday, April 24, 2010

Is it worth it?

This week I've been involved in several internet discussions about the cost of tonight's pay-per-view MMA event (Aldo v Faber). A lot of the commenters feel the card is not "worth" the price. This got me thinking about how "worth" is determined.

The promoters of tonight's event are gambling. They've done their research, promoted their product, and decided that now is the time to try getting paid better for it. There are a lot of angry fans out there who are used to getting it for "free" (or almost free, after paying for cable tv or internet access and watching a bunch of commercials). Some of them want to see it and would normally be OK paying for it, but they've already paid big bucks to see other recent events that they feel did not end up being worth the money.

In the marketplace, quite simply, a product or service is worth what somebody is willing to pay for it. Take onions, for example. This morning I paid $7.50 for three medium onions. Am I crazy? No...I just really hate chopping onions. Plus I was short on time. So the price I paid included somebody cleaning and chopping them for me.

On some other day, in some other situation, I might not pay that price. But the people who produced those three containers of chopped onions took a gamble that there are people like me who don't want to chop onions.

And that, kids, is the nature of business. The consumer is king. YOU determine with your dollars what a product or service is worth to you. If enough people are not willing to pay the price, those producing that product or service will either change it or stop making it. But no product or service will ever be truly free.

As for me, the price of the event is worth it. At least today it is.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Three words - Part IV

Read from Part I

Right after I wrote the last post I left for a week-long visit with my Michigan family. I brought my computer with every intention of finishing this series within a few days. But having lost the momentum and being distracted by the rest of my life, here it sits unfinished a month later.

Sure, I'm busy. I'm in the midst of changing jobs, have been on a long business trip and am trying to keep up with lots of stuff. But I have also wasted a lot of time during the last four weeks. I could surely have taken an hour or two to sit and write. I'm only here now because of a combination of insomnia and a lack of new content (since late last night) on my favorite web sites.

Immediately surrounding me at this moment are reminders of at least 10 other things I need to do...bills to pay, meetings to schedule, emails to send, papers to file, plants to water, dishes to wash. And I just thought of something I want to take on next week's business trip. If I don't get up right now and put it near my suitcase I might not remember it later.* But if I get up right now and put it near my suitcase I am likely to get distracted by something else on the way back to my desk. And I just finished my coffee and want to make more. And I'm hungry. And my feet are cold.

It is taking every ounce of determination I have to stay in my chair right now. How the hell am I ever going to have even a fraction of the focus I admire in those MMA fighters?

An article in this month's Discover Magazine gives me some answers. The article reports the results of studies comparing the brains of athletes and non-athletes. Athlete's brains just seem to function more efficiently. But it is not just a matter of genetics:

Good genes may account for some of the differences in ability, but even the most genetically well-endowed prodigy clearly needs practice—lots of it—to develop the brain of an athlete. As soon as someone starts to practice a new sport, his brain begins to change, and the changes continue for years. Scientists at the University of Regensburg in Germany documented the process by scanning people as they learned how to juggle. After a week, the jugglers were already developing extra gray matter in some brain areas. Their brains continued to change for months, the scientists found.

How do I become that which I admire? The answer is practice. By staying in my chair until I finish this post, I am training my brain. I am developing my ability to focus by focusing. I am developing self-discipline by practicing self-discipline, one task at a time. The more I do it, the more natural it will become.

Will I ever reach the level of achievement in my chosen pursuits as these athletes have in theirs? I don't know. But I definitely won't if I cannot achieve small victories, like finishing this post. Even if I were the most gifted, inspirational blog writer in the world, it means nothing if I never get to the point of pushing the "Publish" button.

This weekend I'll be watching WEC 48. Don't know where yet, but I wouldn't miss it. Because I love these guys. I love them for their brains...their focused, passionate, excellent brains.

*The item was a nightlight, and it's been placed in my suitcase. And now I can make my coffee.