UniqueThis 's Entries

54 blogs
  • 27 Jul 2011
    Last night I had a really cool lucid dream. It started out as a regular dream that involved a bunch of robbers stealing items from a large house. I was trying to foil the robbers’ plans. At some point I realized that I was dreaming and became lucid. I ignored the robbers after that and decided to try something interesting. Instead of donning super powers and going around flying, I wanted to see if I could get my dream characters to become more lucid themselves. Could I get them to realize that we were in a shared dream together and to rise above their pre-scripted dream roles? Could I get them to fess up to that fact that our shared reality was a dream? I went outside and found some characters to interact with, but they seemed pretty dim-witted. They acted like plain vanilla NPCs that couldn’t handle off-script events. Then I had the idea that perhaps within the dream world, there are somehow limited “computing” resources available. Since I was outdoors in a complex scene, could it be that rendering the outdoor environment was chewing up a lot of dream resources, and that fewer resources were then available for the characters themselves? I thought that if that were the case, then perhaps I could experience richer character interactions if I went to a simpler, less visually complicated location in the dream world. Then perhaps the dream “computer” could devote fewer resources to rendering the environment and transfer some of those resources to creating richer dream characters that were more responsive. If I could say that the whole dream is happening within my physical brain, then I’m just saying that if my brain doesn’t have to render the illusion of rich, sprawling outdoor scenes, then perhaps it can devote more neurons to the task of creating richer characters. I went back to the house where my dream began, and I found a small room there. It had a basic layout with white walls, a window obscured by blinds, a bed, a couch, and a table. I figured that the dream renderer wouldn’t be overly taxed by such an environment. Three characters appeared in the room. Two were representations of friends I know in real life, and the other was some dream character I’d never seen before. I talked to the dream characters, and they seemed much smarter and more self-aware than the NPC-like characters I tried interacting with outdoors. We had a fascinating discussion about the nature of the dream world. They were aware that our shared reality was a dream, although one of them was skeptical about it. We talked about different ways of explaining how the dream world worked and why it seemed so real. We didn’t really understand how our dream world worked, but the best analogy we came up with was that it functioned much like a Holodeck from Star Trek. In other words, the dream world was being rendered as if by a computer, but that computer has limited computing resources (analogous to a physical computer’s processing power, memory, secondary storage, etc.). This dream computer only renders what is seen and interacted with, much like a computer game only renders what is visible on the screen. These computing resources are general purpose, so they can be transferred among “systems” like scene rendering, event creation, character development, etc. For a complex outdoor scene, we could say that most of the available resources are being used to render the scene. For a simpler environment, more resources might be available for simulating character interactions. When I awoke from the dream, which seemed to last for hours, I wondered if our “physical” world operates in much the same way. Does it also have limited computing resources? Do public interactions with NPCs seem to be more shallow because the world’s renderer is devoting most of its resources to rendering complex scenes? Do private interactions in a home seem to have more depth because there are more resources available to simulate the characters we interact with? What if the world really does operate like a giant simulation with limited computing resources that get transferred? Do other parts of your life seem to become richer when you cultivate a zen-like space that’s free of clutter and distraction? Do you tend to have experiences that aren’t as deep or rich when you’re out in a busy public area where hundreds of NPCs are being rendered? Do you have the deepest conversations when you’re alone with someone in a simple environment? Is there a special advantage to simplicity? Does it free up more computing resources to enrich the simulation of other parts of your life experience? If you fill your life with clutter in any form — visual clutter, shallow interactions with NPCs, a job you dislike — is it possible that you’re essentially wasting computing resources that could be used to simulate a much richer life? How can life’s computer bring new experiences into your simulation, such as a rewarding relationship, if you’re wasting it’s resources simulating what you don’t want? Many people have discovered that when they drop from their lives that which doesn’t inspire and fulfill them, a temporary void is created, but that void is soon filled with new experiences. As the saying goes, “When one door closes, another opens.” When you shut down one aspect of your reality, perhaps you’re freeing up computing resources that can then be used to enrich your simulation in other ways. What if you assume that most of the time, the computer that’s simulating your life is running at full capacity? You can’t add anything new until you delete something old. If you want to launch some new programs, such as a new relationship or a richer career path, you must first close some programs that are already running. One of the simplest ways to do this is to, at least temporarily, go to a very simple, quiet, uncluttered space, and be alone for a while. Another idea is to physically throw out or give away what you don’t need. If something is present in your life, but it’s not adding value, then it’s wasting computing resources. You’re asking life’s computer to keep rendering it. Why waste its resources? Is your reality simulating what you want it to be simulating? If not, then delete from the simulation that which you no longer desire. You certainly have a lot of control over the simulation. Close the unwanted programs, so you can reclaim the resources needed to create what you desire. That’s a lot better than intending what you want and having your reality respond with an hourglass icon.
    2056 Posted by UniqueThis
  • Last night I had a really cool lucid dream. It started out as a regular dream that involved a bunch of robbers stealing items from a large house. I was trying to foil the robbers’ plans. At some point I realized that I was dreaming and became lucid. I ignored the robbers after that and decided to try something interesting. Instead of donning super powers and going around flying, I wanted to see if I could get my dream characters to become more lucid themselves. Could I get them to realize that we were in a shared dream together and to rise above their pre-scripted dream roles? Could I get them to fess up to that fact that our shared reality was a dream? I went outside and found some characters to interact with, but they seemed pretty dim-witted. They acted like plain vanilla NPCs that couldn’t handle off-script events. Then I had the idea that perhaps within the dream world, there are somehow limited “computing” resources available. Since I was outdoors in a complex scene, could it be that rendering the outdoor environment was chewing up a lot of dream resources, and that fewer resources were then available for the characters themselves? I thought that if that were the case, then perhaps I could experience richer character interactions if I went to a simpler, less visually complicated location in the dream world. Then perhaps the dream “computer” could devote fewer resources to rendering the environment and transfer some of those resources to creating richer dream characters that were more responsive. If I could say that the whole dream is happening within my physical brain, then I’m just saying that if my brain doesn’t have to render the illusion of rich, sprawling outdoor scenes, then perhaps it can devote more neurons to the task of creating richer characters. I went back to the house where my dream began, and I found a small room there. It had a basic layout with white walls, a window obscured by blinds, a bed, a couch, and a table. I figured that the dream renderer wouldn’t be overly taxed by such an environment. Three characters appeared in the room. Two were representations of friends I know in real life, and the other was some dream character I’d never seen before. I talked to the dream characters, and they seemed much smarter and more self-aware than the NPC-like characters I tried interacting with outdoors. We had a fascinating discussion about the nature of the dream world. They were aware that our shared reality was a dream, although one of them was skeptical about it. We talked about different ways of explaining how the dream world worked and why it seemed so real. We didn’t really understand how our dream world worked, but the best analogy we came up with was that it functioned much like a Holodeck from Star Trek. In other words, the dream world was being rendered as if by a computer, but that computer has limited computing resources (analogous to a physical computer’s processing power, memory, secondary storage, etc.). This dream computer only renders what is seen and interacted with, much like a computer game only renders what is visible on the screen. These computing resources are general purpose, so they can be transferred among “systems” like scene rendering, event creation, character development, etc. For a complex outdoor scene, we could say that most of the available resources are being used to render the scene. For a simpler environment, more resources might be available for simulating character interactions. When I awoke from the dream, which seemed to last for hours, I wondered if our “physical” world operates in much the same way. Does it also have limited computing resources? Do public interactions with NPCs seem to be more shallow because the world’s renderer is devoting most of its resources to rendering complex scenes? Do private interactions in a home seem to have more depth because there are more resources available to simulate the characters we interact with? What if the world really does operate like a giant simulation with limited computing resources that get transferred? Do other parts of your life seem to become richer when you cultivate a zen-like space that’s free of clutter and distraction? Do you tend to have experiences that aren’t as deep or rich when you’re out in a busy public area where hundreds of NPCs are being rendered? Do you have the deepest conversations when you’re alone with someone in a simple environment? Is there a special advantage to simplicity? Does it free up more computing resources to enrich the simulation of other parts of your life experience? If you fill your life with clutter in any form — visual clutter, shallow interactions with NPCs, a job you dislike — is it possible that you’re essentially wasting computing resources that could be used to simulate a much richer life? How can life’s computer bring new experiences into your simulation, such as a rewarding relationship, if you’re wasting it’s resources simulating what you don’t want? Many people have discovered that when they drop from their lives that which doesn’t inspire and fulfill them, a temporary void is created, but that void is soon filled with new experiences. As the saying goes, “When one door closes, another opens.” When you shut down one aspect of your reality, perhaps you’re freeing up computing resources that can then be used to enrich your simulation in other ways. What if you assume that most of the time, the computer that’s simulating your life is running at full capacity? You can’t add anything new until you delete something old. If you want to launch some new programs, such as a new relationship or a richer career path, you must first close some programs that are already running. One of the simplest ways to do this is to, at least temporarily, go to a very simple, quiet, uncluttered space, and be alone for a while. Another idea is to physically throw out or give away what you don’t need. If something is present in your life, but it’s not adding value, then it’s wasting computing resources. You’re asking life’s computer to keep rendering it. Why waste its resources? Is your reality simulating what you want it to be simulating? If not, then delete from the simulation that which you no longer desire. You certainly have a lot of control over the simulation. Close the unwanted programs, so you can reclaim the resources needed to create what you desire. That’s a lot better than intending what you want and having your reality respond with an hourglass icon.
    Jul 27, 2011 2056
  • 14 Jul 2011
    I saw this posted in the Association of Shareware Professionals newsgroups today and couldn’t resist sharing: What really happens at an internet help desk Although it’s a humorous video clip, it illustrates a pretty common societal frustration. It can sometimes be difficult for geeks and non-geeks to get along when it comes to computers. There’s such a huge lack of understanding by the typical non-geek as to how to perform tasks that we computer geeks would consider basic. To use a computer effectively still requires a fairly high degree of intelligence and skill, although I suppose that depends on how you define “effectively.” I’ve been comfortable with computers since I was 10 years old (I’m 33 now), so it’s difficult for me to even understand what it must be like for people with low or average computer skills. How do they live? To not have the strong technical skills I’ve developed over the years… would be like losing one of my senses. The great thing about technical skills is that they’re so versatile. Take this web site, for example. I whipped it up from scratch in a few days. To me it was easy, and many of my fellow geeks could do the same thing and also consider it easy. But think about all the technical skills that we just take for granted to make a fairly simple site like this. Registering a domain name. DNS. Configuring an Apache web server to host the new site. HTML. PHP. Making forms. MySQL. CSS. FTPing files. SSH. Finding, installing, and configuring the script for this blog. Search engine submissions. There’s no way a non-geek could even begin to attempt something like this on their own. They have to find a geek to do it for them. In some cases that can be cost-efficient even for a geek, but if you have the technical skills yourself, it’s often far faster just to do something yourself than to try to explain it someone else. But for a non-geek, they’re often stuck with a great deal of limitations on what they can do without having to pay more than it’s worth to them. This is probably why so many small business web sites are poorly maintained. What would it be like for a geek to wake up one morning and suddenly lose all his/her technical skills? What kind of career might you pursue? It’s interesting that as I transition towards writing and speaking as my primary career, I’m doing so in a very geeky fashion. While I’m speaking at least 1-2x per month locally to build up skill, I’m mainly focusing on adding new content to this web site and building an online info products business. First there will be lots of online articles (great for search engines and links). Then I plan to put up some downloadable audio content. Then maybe podcasting support. Lots of geeky features. But I think my technical skills give me an edge that other writers and speakers can’t easily take advantage of (unless they have lots of money). But even prominent speakers that do have lots of money to spend on their web sites will often hire someone that gives them an overanimated flash site or one that isn’t well optimized for search engines because virtually all the text is done as graphics (and no ALT tags to boot). It’s rare to find a non-geeky speaker that has a really well-done web site, and many of these sites aren’t updated, some listing speaking schedules from 2002 and earlier. What it will be like to transition to working in a non-geeky profession while doing so in a geeky way? I’d be curious to hear from any fellow geeks who survived such a transition and if/how you used your technical skills creatively in your new career.
    1452 Posted by UniqueThis
  • I saw this posted in the Association of Shareware Professionals newsgroups today and couldn’t resist sharing: What really happens at an internet help desk Although it’s a humorous video clip, it illustrates a pretty common societal frustration. It can sometimes be difficult for geeks and non-geeks to get along when it comes to computers. There’s such a huge lack of understanding by the typical non-geek as to how to perform tasks that we computer geeks would consider basic. To use a computer effectively still requires a fairly high degree of intelligence and skill, although I suppose that depends on how you define “effectively.” I’ve been comfortable with computers since I was 10 years old (I’m 33 now), so it’s difficult for me to even understand what it must be like for people with low or average computer skills. How do they live? To not have the strong technical skills I’ve developed over the years… would be like losing one of my senses. The great thing about technical skills is that they’re so versatile. Take this web site, for example. I whipped it up from scratch in a few days. To me it was easy, and many of my fellow geeks could do the same thing and also consider it easy. But think about all the technical skills that we just take for granted to make a fairly simple site like this. Registering a domain name. DNS. Configuring an Apache web server to host the new site. HTML. PHP. Making forms. MySQL. CSS. FTPing files. SSH. Finding, installing, and configuring the script for this blog. Search engine submissions. There’s no way a non-geek could even begin to attempt something like this on their own. They have to find a geek to do it for them. In some cases that can be cost-efficient even for a geek, but if you have the technical skills yourself, it’s often far faster just to do something yourself than to try to explain it someone else. But for a non-geek, they’re often stuck with a great deal of limitations on what they can do without having to pay more than it’s worth to them. This is probably why so many small business web sites are poorly maintained. What would it be like for a geek to wake up one morning and suddenly lose all his/her technical skills? What kind of career might you pursue? It’s interesting that as I transition towards writing and speaking as my primary career, I’m doing so in a very geeky fashion. While I’m speaking at least 1-2x per month locally to build up skill, I’m mainly focusing on adding new content to this web site and building an online info products business. First there will be lots of online articles (great for search engines and links). Then I plan to put up some downloadable audio content. Then maybe podcasting support. Lots of geeky features. But I think my technical skills give me an edge that other writers and speakers can’t easily take advantage of (unless they have lots of money). But even prominent speakers that do have lots of money to spend on their web sites will often hire someone that gives them an overanimated flash site or one that isn’t well optimized for search engines because virtually all the text is done as graphics (and no ALT tags to boot). It’s rare to find a non-geeky speaker that has a really well-done web site, and many of these sites aren’t updated, some listing speaking schedules from 2002 and earlier. What it will be like to transition to working in a non-geeky profession while doing so in a geeky way? I’d be curious to hear from any fellow geeks who survived such a transition and if/how you used your technical skills creatively in your new career.
    Jul 14, 2011 1452
  • 14 Jul 2011
    How do you deal with difficult, irrational, or abusive people, especially those in positions of authority who have some degree of control over your life? I’ve never met a totally rational human being. Our ability to store and process information is far too imperfect for that. But our emotions are a shortcut. The book Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman describes people diagnosed with alexathemia, the condition whereby people either don’t feel emotions or are completely out of touch with their emotions. You’d think such people would be hyper-rational, but they aren’t. They can’t even function in society. They have no emotional context for deciding what’s important to them, so earning a dime is just as important as earning a million dollars. They’ll spend hours on tasks others would consider trivialities, like deciding what time to schedule a dentist appointment. Our emotions are a logical shortcut — we “feel” the difference between the relevant and the irrelevant. On to dealing with difficult or irrational people… I certainly haven’t been sheltered from such people, even though I’ve only been an “employee” for a total of six months of my life when I was in college. They’re everywhere! I’ve still had to deal with irrational/abusive people in business deals, landlords, etc. But such people rarely get to me because of how I deal with them on two levels: 1) There was a story about the Buddha where a verbally abusive man came to see him and starting hurling insults. But the Buddha just sat there calmly. Finally the man asked the Buddha why he failed to respond to the insults and abuse. The Buddha replied, “If someone offers you a gift, and you decline to accept it, to whom does the gift belong?” If someone is irrational, abusive, etc., you can mentally decline to accept “the gift.” Let that person keep their anger and insanity, and don’t let it affect you. This takes practice, but there are many mental imagery techniques that can help. I usually visualize the anger as a red energy that bounces off me or passes through me and simply returns to the source. This is a message to my subconscious mind to acknowledge that the anger belongs completely to the other person. So this part tackles the other person’s effect on my emotional state. And it works very well. I never lose my cool unless I’m doing it on purpose for some specific reason. Sometimes it’s better to respond to an angry person with some shouting of your own and then slowly bring them back down. I also mentally acknowledge that it’s probably a lack of love and happiness in their life that causes them to behave as they do. 2) Now that you’ve gotten your emotions handled, you still have to deal with the practicalities of this person and their effect on your life. Sometimes it’s enough to just manage your emotions, but other times that isn’t enough — you need to take action to address the situation. In this case I use my logic and intelligence to decide what to do, depending on the specifics of the situation. It’s like playing a game of chess — if I do this, then how will this person react? Even with irrational and hurtful people, their behavior is often predictable to some degree if you know a little about them. Human behavior is purposeful, but it can be hard to figure out the other person’s intentions. Use what you do know to anticipate their responses to various possible actions you might take. Your information may be imperfect, but do the best you can. Think of it as an exercise in risk management. Here are some possible actions: Remove the person from your life. This is a bit extreme, but sometimes it’s the best option. If your landlord is really bad, consider moving. If your boss or coworkers are terrible, leave. Many years ago I once told a friend I could no longer continue to have him in my life because he was deeply into software piracy, and I just didn’t want that kind of influence in my life. Confront the person about his/her behavior directly. Raise your standards for what you’re willing to accept in your life, and enforce them. This strategy is my personal favorite, but some people aren’t comfortable with it. The advantage of this approach is that you stop playing games, and you find out exactly where you stand with the other person. This is what I’d use if I had a difficult boss or coworker — I’d just lay everything out on the table with that person, explain why certain things were no longer tolerable for me, and detail what I wanted to see happen. Now the other person may decline your “demands,” but then at least you know where you stand and can decide based on that. Paint a line, and if the other person crosses it, you now know the abuse is willful. Use behavioral conditioning on the other person. I know of a team that did this with their verbally abusive boss. They conditioned their boss to be encouraging and supportive. Going to their boss and confronting him just didn’t work, so they got together and worked out a behavioral conditioning strategy. They stopped rewarding his negative behavior and began rewarding his positive behavior. Whenever he was abusive, he would either be ignored, or his employee(s) would say, “Are you intending to manipulate me through verbal abuse?” They would constantly point out to their boss when he was being abusive. But whenever he was the least bit encouraging, like if he said, “good work” or “thank you,” they’d thank him for his kindness and encouragement. Within a few weeks, this boss had completely turned around. I wrote a previous entry on behavioral conditioning techniques, so there are other ways to gently change another person. But this assumes you have enough leverage on the person. Get leverage, and use that leverage to force action. This can be risky, but sometimes it’s the best option. You might need to see if you can get another person fired if they really are hurting productivity. In software companies it isn’t uncommon for a team to petition management to fire a weak member that’s holding them back. I use this a lot myself when dealing with difficult people in business in cases of willful misconduct. You contact everyone who does business with that person to let them know what’s happening. And if it’s a big enough deal, throw in local govt reps and members of the press too. You might think of this as the whistleblower strategy. Let it go. Sometimes this is the best option if someone injures you in some way. Just let it go and move on. There’s a deeper issue here too… Are the reasons you’re allowing this difficult person to remain in your life valid? For example, if you make money a higher priority than quality of life, then how can you complain when you get the former but sacrifice the latter? I think people often have a hard time making quality of life a high enough priority — we’re taught to just suck it up and tolerate it if we have a difficult boss (and then die of a heart attack or stroke). The one time I was an employee, I didn’t particularly like my boss; he behaved like a jerk and didn’t seem too bright either. But I also figured that if I was a lifelong employee, I might have other bosses like this too, and it wouldn’t always be convenient to quit. So I decided not to be an employee. Then when I worked with retail game publishers, I encountered dishonesty and incompetence, and this was so common that I felt it would be hard to run that kind of business and not have to deal with such people, so I decided not to work with those people either. When I switched to doing game development independently, I loved the people and really enjoyed it, so I stuck with that for years. I chose not to base my career around working with difficult people. And now that I’m getting into speaking, I’m having a great time at that too, and I get along great with the people, so I’m happy on this path too. It seems that different kinds of careers attract different kinds of people, and some industries seem to attract more jerks than others. You don’t have to work in a slaughterhouse (which reportedly has the highest turnover rate for any kind of job), but you don’t have to work in a tech sweathouse either. You might think that dealing with a difficult boss is a “have to,” but it isn’t. You can’t control everything, but in most cases you have enough control over your life to avoid having to deal with such people. Just because everyone else around you tolerates an abusive boss doesn’t mean you have to.
    1484 Posted by UniqueThis
  • How do you deal with difficult, irrational, or abusive people, especially those in positions of authority who have some degree of control over your life? I’ve never met a totally rational human being. Our ability to store and process information is far too imperfect for that. But our emotions are a shortcut. The book Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman describes people diagnosed with alexathemia, the condition whereby people either don’t feel emotions or are completely out of touch with their emotions. You’d think such people would be hyper-rational, but they aren’t. They can’t even function in society. They have no emotional context for deciding what’s important to them, so earning a dime is just as important as earning a million dollars. They’ll spend hours on tasks others would consider trivialities, like deciding what time to schedule a dentist appointment. Our emotions are a logical shortcut — we “feel” the difference between the relevant and the irrelevant. On to dealing with difficult or irrational people… I certainly haven’t been sheltered from such people, even though I’ve only been an “employee” for a total of six months of my life when I was in college. They’re everywhere! I’ve still had to deal with irrational/abusive people in business deals, landlords, etc. But such people rarely get to me because of how I deal with them on two levels: 1) There was a story about the Buddha where a verbally abusive man came to see him and starting hurling insults. But the Buddha just sat there calmly. Finally the man asked the Buddha why he failed to respond to the insults and abuse. The Buddha replied, “If someone offers you a gift, and you decline to accept it, to whom does the gift belong?” If someone is irrational, abusive, etc., you can mentally decline to accept “the gift.” Let that person keep their anger and insanity, and don’t let it affect you. This takes practice, but there are many mental imagery techniques that can help. I usually visualize the anger as a red energy that bounces off me or passes through me and simply returns to the source. This is a message to my subconscious mind to acknowledge that the anger belongs completely to the other person. So this part tackles the other person’s effect on my emotional state. And it works very well. I never lose my cool unless I’m doing it on purpose for some specific reason. Sometimes it’s better to respond to an angry person with some shouting of your own and then slowly bring them back down. I also mentally acknowledge that it’s probably a lack of love and happiness in their life that causes them to behave as they do. 2) Now that you’ve gotten your emotions handled, you still have to deal with the practicalities of this person and their effect on your life. Sometimes it’s enough to just manage your emotions, but other times that isn’t enough — you need to take action to address the situation. In this case I use my logic and intelligence to decide what to do, depending on the specifics of the situation. It’s like playing a game of chess — if I do this, then how will this person react? Even with irrational and hurtful people, their behavior is often predictable to some degree if you know a little about them. Human behavior is purposeful, but it can be hard to figure out the other person’s intentions. Use what you do know to anticipate their responses to various possible actions you might take. Your information may be imperfect, but do the best you can. Think of it as an exercise in risk management. Here are some possible actions: Remove the person from your life. This is a bit extreme, but sometimes it’s the best option. If your landlord is really bad, consider moving. If your boss or coworkers are terrible, leave. Many years ago I once told a friend I could no longer continue to have him in my life because he was deeply into software piracy, and I just didn’t want that kind of influence in my life. Confront the person about his/her behavior directly. Raise your standards for what you’re willing to accept in your life, and enforce them. This strategy is my personal favorite, but some people aren’t comfortable with it. The advantage of this approach is that you stop playing games, and you find out exactly where you stand with the other person. This is what I’d use if I had a difficult boss or coworker — I’d just lay everything out on the table with that person, explain why certain things were no longer tolerable for me, and detail what I wanted to see happen. Now the other person may decline your “demands,” but then at least you know where you stand and can decide based on that. Paint a line, and if the other person crosses it, you now know the abuse is willful. Use behavioral conditioning on the other person. I know of a team that did this with their verbally abusive boss. They conditioned their boss to be encouraging and supportive. Going to their boss and confronting him just didn’t work, so they got together and worked out a behavioral conditioning strategy. They stopped rewarding his negative behavior and began rewarding his positive behavior. Whenever he was abusive, he would either be ignored, or his employee(s) would say, “Are you intending to manipulate me through verbal abuse?” They would constantly point out to their boss when he was being abusive. But whenever he was the least bit encouraging, like if he said, “good work” or “thank you,” they’d thank him for his kindness and encouragement. Within a few weeks, this boss had completely turned around. I wrote a previous entry on behavioral conditioning techniques, so there are other ways to gently change another person. But this assumes you have enough leverage on the person. Get leverage, and use that leverage to force action. This can be risky, but sometimes it’s the best option. You might need to see if you can get another person fired if they really are hurting productivity. In software companies it isn’t uncommon for a team to petition management to fire a weak member that’s holding them back. I use this a lot myself when dealing with difficult people in business in cases of willful misconduct. You contact everyone who does business with that person to let them know what’s happening. And if it’s a big enough deal, throw in local govt reps and members of the press too. You might think of this as the whistleblower strategy. Let it go. Sometimes this is the best option if someone injures you in some way. Just let it go and move on. There’s a deeper issue here too… Are the reasons you’re allowing this difficult person to remain in your life valid? For example, if you make money a higher priority than quality of life, then how can you complain when you get the former but sacrifice the latter? I think people often have a hard time making quality of life a high enough priority — we’re taught to just suck it up and tolerate it if we have a difficult boss (and then die of a heart attack or stroke). The one time I was an employee, I didn’t particularly like my boss; he behaved like a jerk and didn’t seem too bright either. But I also figured that if I was a lifelong employee, I might have other bosses like this too, and it wouldn’t always be convenient to quit. So I decided not to be an employee. Then when I worked with retail game publishers, I encountered dishonesty and incompetence, and this was so common that I felt it would be hard to run that kind of business and not have to deal with such people, so I decided not to work with those people either. When I switched to doing game development independently, I loved the people and really enjoyed it, so I stuck with that for years. I chose not to base my career around working with difficult people. And now that I’m getting into speaking, I’m having a great time at that too, and I get along great with the people, so I’m happy on this path too. It seems that different kinds of careers attract different kinds of people, and some industries seem to attract more jerks than others. You don’t have to work in a slaughterhouse (which reportedly has the highest turnover rate for any kind of job), but you don’t have to work in a tech sweathouse either. You might think that dealing with a difficult boss is a “have to,” but it isn’t. You can’t control everything, but in most cases you have enough control over your life to avoid having to deal with such people. Just because everyone else around you tolerates an abusive boss doesn’t mean you have to.
    Jul 14, 2011 1484
  • 14 Jul 2011
    What is your career? Forget about how you define this to others for now, and just think for a bit about how you define your career to yourself. What does it mean to you to have a career? Is it just your job? Is it something you do to make a living? Is it what you do for money? Is it your work? Most people would define a career as more than a job. Above and beyond a job, a career is a long-term pattern of work, usually across multiple jobs. A career implies professional development to build skill over a period of time, where one moves from novice to expert within a particular field. And lastly, I would argue that a career must be consciously chosen; even if others exert influence over you, you must still ultimately choose to become a doctor or a lawyer or an accountant. If you didn’t make a conscious choice at some point, I would then say you have a job but not a career. One of the difficulties I see a lot of people experiencing lately is that they spend the bulk of their days working at a job that isn’t part of a consciously chosen career. Once you graduate from school and enter the work force, you don’t suddenly gain the knowledge of what kind of career to build. Most likely you just focus on getting a job as your first step after school. And you probably have to make this choice in your early 20s. After a decade or two, you’ve established a pattern of work and built up some expertise. But at what point did you stop and say, what is my career going to be? Sometimes when you ask people what their career is (instead of asking what their job is), the question makes them uncomfortable. Why? Because they think of a career as something intentionally chosen, purposeful, and meaningful, and they don’t see those qualities in their job. Another possibility is that they feel deep down that their real career lies elsewhere. Just because you’ve been working in a field for many years doesn’t mean you have to turn that pattern of work into your career. The past is the past. You can continue to run the same pattern and follow that same path into the future, but at any time you’re also free to make a total break with the past and turn yourself onto an entirely new career path in the future. Ask yourself if you were starting over from scratch today, fresh out of school, would you still choose the same line of work? If the answer is no, then you only have a job right now, not a career. Your career lies elsewhere. I went through this process myself last year when I asked myself, “What is my career?” I’ve been developing and publishing computer games since 1994. And that was exactly what I wanted to do when I was 22 years old. Game development was the career I had consciously chosen; I didn’t just fall into it. It took a lot of work to start my own company and build it into a successful business. But at age 33, I had to stop and say that I no longer wanted game development to be my career. I still enjoy it, and I may continue doing a little on the side as a hobby for many years, but I no longer think of it as my career. And yet, when I looked around for what else I might define as my new career, I was in a quandary. I saw all the assets I’d built in my game development career… and a long list of goals yet to be accomplished. Of course, the real problem was that I was looking to the past and projecting it onto the future. So all I could see on the road ahead was a continuation of the road behind. My solution was to use zero-based thinking… imagining I was starting from scratch again, forgetting the past for a moment, seeing the present moment as something fresh and new that didn’t already have a directional vector assigned to it — it could point in any new direction I gave it. At the same time I started thinking like this, I also decided to broaden my definition of career. While running my games business, I had been operating with a very 3rd-dimensional view of a career. It was about success, achievement, accomplishment, making a good living, sales, serving customers, etc. At different times my career was that I was a game programmer, a game developer, or a game publisher. Those were the labels I used. But whereas these kinds of objectives were very motivating to me when I was in my 20s, years later I found them to be far less motivating. Achieving more and succeeding more just wasn’t enough of a motivator by itself. And I’ve seen others fall into the same situation too — the things that motivated them greatly at one point no longer seem all that motivating years later. The motivational strategies that work in your 20s don’t necessarily keep working in your 30s. The solution I found was to look behind the labels and discover the core of my career. When I looked behind the labels of game programmer, game developer, and game publisher, I saw that the core of my career was entertaining people. That was the real purpose behind what I was doing. And that’s when it made sense to me that this was a very motivating purpose for me in my 20s, but that in my 30s it lost its edge because I had grown to the point in my own life where I felt that entertaining people was no longer the BEST way for me to contribute. Think about this for a moment. What is the core of your career? What do you contribute? What is the big picture of what you do? If you work for a large company, then how do your actions contribute to some larger purpose? Be honest with yourself. And don’t ignore the role your company plays in your career; your career depends heavily on what you’re contributing down the line. If you truly assign a noble purpose to what you do, that’s great. For example, if you work at a grocery store, you might be inspired by the fact that you help feed people. But don’t force it if you don’t actually believe it. If you feel your contribution is weak or even negative, then admit that to yourself, even if you don’t immediately plan to do anything about it. Go behind the labels. Don’t stop at definining your career as computer programmer or lawyer or doctor. What are you contributing as a computer programmer? How does your career make a difference in other people’s lives? Is it nothing more than a way for you to make money? As a lawyer do you resolve disputes and spread peace, or do you milk conflict for money? As a doctor do you heal people, or are you just a legal drug pusher? What is the essence of your career right now? Now when you have your answer, you next have to ask yourself, is this you? Is this truly a career that reflects the best of who you are as a person? For example, if you see the real purpose behind your current line of work as making a handful of investors wealthier… nothing more noble than that… then is that an accurate reflection of your best contribution? Is that you? If you already have a career that accurately reflects the best of who you are, that’s wonderful. But if you don’t, then realize that you’re free to change it. If your career as a regional distributor for a major soda manufacturer basically boils down to pushing sugar water to make people fatter, you don’t have to keep it that way. I think if you realize that your current work doesn’t fit who you are, then you have to make a choice. You have to decide if you deserve having a career that truly suits you. If you don’t feel you deserve it, then you will settle for defining your career in such narrow terms as job, money, paycheck, promotion, boss, coworkers, etc. No one is forcing you to accept that as your definition of career. On the other hand, you can choose to embrace another definition of career that uses terms like purpose, calling, contribution, meaning, abundance, happiness, fulfillment, etc. This requires a top-down approach. You first think hard about what your purpose here is… what kind of contribution do you want to make with your life? Once you figure that out, then you work down to the level of how to manifest that in terms of the work you do. And for many people, the seeming impossibility of that manifesting part is paralyzing. This is especially true for men, who usually take their responsibility as breadwinners very seriously. You see yourself logically having two choices: I could stay in my current job, which pays the bills and earns me a good living, or I could go jump into something that fits me better, but I just can’t see how to make money at it. I have a mortgage to pay and a family who depends on me; I can’t do that to them. The problem though is thinking that these are the only alternatives… thinking that you have to make a choice between money and happiness. That assumption is what causes the paralysis against action. You can also envision the third alternative of having money and happiness together. In fact, that’s actually the most likely outcome. If you don’t currently have a career that is deeply fulfilling to you in the sense that you know you’re contributing in a way that matters, then deep down, you will sabotage yourself from going too far with it. You will always know that you’re on the wrong path for you, and this is going to slap a demotivating slump over everything you try to do in that line of work. You’ll do your job, but you’ll never feel that you’re really living up to your potential. You’ll always have problems with procrastination and weak motivation, and they’ll never be resolved no matter how many time management strategies you attempt. Your job will never feel like a truly satisfying career — it just can’t grow into that because you’ve planted your career tree in bad soil. You’ll always be stuck with a bonsai. But when you get your career aligned from top to bottom, such that what you’re ultimately contributing is an expression of the best of yourself, the money will come too. You’ll be enjoying what you do so much, and you’ll find your work so fulfilling, that turning it into an income stream won’t be that hard. You’ll find a way to do it. Making money is not at odds with your greater purpose; they can lie on the same path. The more money you make, the greater your ability to contribute. But most importantly you’ll feel you really deserve all the money you earn. When your career is aligned with the best of who you are, you won’t secretly feel that your continued career success means going farther down the wrong path. You won’t hold back anymore. You’ll want to take your career as far as you can because it’s an expression of who you are. And this will make you far more receptive to all the opportunities that are all around you, financial or otherwise. But how do you make this transition? Is a leap of faith required? Not really. I don’t think of it as a leap of faith. It’s more of a leap of courage, and it’s a logical kind of courage, not an emotional one. It comes down to making a decision about how important your own happiness and fulfillment are to you. Really, how important is it for you to have meaningful, fulfilling work? Is it OK for you to continue working at a job that doesn’t allow you to contribute the very best of who you are? If you find yourself in such a situation, then your answer is yes — you’ve made it OK for you to tolerate this situation. But you see… self-actualizing people who successfully make this leap will at some point conclude that it’s definitely not OK. In fact, it’s intolerable. They wake up and say, “Wait a minute here. This is absolutely, totally unacceptable for me to be spending the bulk of my time at a job that isn’t a deeply fulfilling career. I can’t keep doing this. This ends now.” These people “wake up” by realizing that what’s most important about a career is the high-level view that includes happiness, fulfillment, and living on purpose. Things like money, success, and achievement are a very distant second. But when you work from within the first category, the second category takes care of itself. Before you’ve had this awakening, you most likely don’t see how that last sentence is possible. And that’s because you don’t understand that it is nothing more than a choice. You have probably chosen to put money above fulfillment in your current line of work. That choice means that you won’t have fulfillment. But it’s not that you can’t have fulfillment — you can choose to change your priorities and act on them at any time. The real choice you made was not to be fulfilled in your current line of work. You bought into the illusion that money is at odds with fulfillment, and that money is the more important of the two, so that is all you see. No matter what job you take, you find this assumption proves true for you. But once you go through the “waking up” experience and firmly decide to put fulfillment first, you suddenly realize that being fulfilled AND having plenty of money is also a choice that’s available to you. There are countless ways for you to do both; you simply have to permit yourself to see them. You realize that you were the one who chose EITHER-OR instead of AND, while all the time you were totally free to choose AND whenever you wanted. You set the standards for your career choices. Most likely your current standard ranks fulfillment and meaningful contribution very low in comparison to working on interesting tasks and making sufficient money. But those standards are yours to set. At any point you’re free to say, “Having a deeply meaningful and fulfilling career is an absolute MUST for me. Working for money alone is simply not an option.” And once you make this conscious choice, you WILL begin seeing the opportunities that fit this new standard. But you’ll never even recognize those opportunities as long as it remains OK for you to spend all your work time being unfulfilled. I want to drive home this point. Having a fulfilling career that earns you plenty of money doesn’t require a leap of faith. It only requires a choice. You just have to wake up one day and tell yourself that you deserve both, and that you won’t settle for anything less. It’s not about finding the right job. A career isn’t something you find; it doesn’t require someone to give you something. You aren’t at the mercy of circumstances. A career is something you create, something you build. It means that the work you do each day is aligned with what you feel to be your purpose. Once you start doing this kind of work, even if for no pay initially, your self-esteem will grow to the point where you’ll become so resourceful and open to new opportunities that you’ll have no trouble making plenty of money from it. However, when you do so, the money won’t be that important. It will just be a resource for you to do more of what you love. Your life is too precious to waste working only for money or for a purpose that doesn’t inspire you. No one can hold you back from making this decision but you. Especially don’t hide behind your family’s needs. If your family truly loves you, then they need you to be fulfilled and living on purpose far more than anything else. And if you love them, then isn’t your greatest role to serve as a model to them of how to be happy? What would you want for your own children for their careers? And do you want the same for yourself?
    1215 Posted by UniqueThis
  • What is your career? Forget about how you define this to others for now, and just think for a bit about how you define your career to yourself. What does it mean to you to have a career? Is it just your job? Is it something you do to make a living? Is it what you do for money? Is it your work? Most people would define a career as more than a job. Above and beyond a job, a career is a long-term pattern of work, usually across multiple jobs. A career implies professional development to build skill over a period of time, where one moves from novice to expert within a particular field. And lastly, I would argue that a career must be consciously chosen; even if others exert influence over you, you must still ultimately choose to become a doctor or a lawyer or an accountant. If you didn’t make a conscious choice at some point, I would then say you have a job but not a career. One of the difficulties I see a lot of people experiencing lately is that they spend the bulk of their days working at a job that isn’t part of a consciously chosen career. Once you graduate from school and enter the work force, you don’t suddenly gain the knowledge of what kind of career to build. Most likely you just focus on getting a job as your first step after school. And you probably have to make this choice in your early 20s. After a decade or two, you’ve established a pattern of work and built up some expertise. But at what point did you stop and say, what is my career going to be? Sometimes when you ask people what their career is (instead of asking what their job is), the question makes them uncomfortable. Why? Because they think of a career as something intentionally chosen, purposeful, and meaningful, and they don’t see those qualities in their job. Another possibility is that they feel deep down that their real career lies elsewhere. Just because you’ve been working in a field for many years doesn’t mean you have to turn that pattern of work into your career. The past is the past. You can continue to run the same pattern and follow that same path into the future, but at any time you’re also free to make a total break with the past and turn yourself onto an entirely new career path in the future. Ask yourself if you were starting over from scratch today, fresh out of school, would you still choose the same line of work? If the answer is no, then you only have a job right now, not a career. Your career lies elsewhere. I went through this process myself last year when I asked myself, “What is my career?” I’ve been developing and publishing computer games since 1994. And that was exactly what I wanted to do when I was 22 years old. Game development was the career I had consciously chosen; I didn’t just fall into it. It took a lot of work to start my own company and build it into a successful business. But at age 33, I had to stop and say that I no longer wanted game development to be my career. I still enjoy it, and I may continue doing a little on the side as a hobby for many years, but I no longer think of it as my career. And yet, when I looked around for what else I might define as my new career, I was in a quandary. I saw all the assets I’d built in my game development career… and a long list of goals yet to be accomplished. Of course, the real problem was that I was looking to the past and projecting it onto the future. So all I could see on the road ahead was a continuation of the road behind. My solution was to use zero-based thinking… imagining I was starting from scratch again, forgetting the past for a moment, seeing the present moment as something fresh and new that didn’t already have a directional vector assigned to it — it could point in any new direction I gave it. At the same time I started thinking like this, I also decided to broaden my definition of career. While running my games business, I had been operating with a very 3rd-dimensional view of a career. It was about success, achievement, accomplishment, making a good living, sales, serving customers, etc. At different times my career was that I was a game programmer, a game developer, or a game publisher. Those were the labels I used. But whereas these kinds of objectives were very motivating to me when I was in my 20s, years later I found them to be far less motivating. Achieving more and succeeding more just wasn’t enough of a motivator by itself. And I’ve seen others fall into the same situation too — the things that motivated them greatly at one point no longer seem all that motivating years later. The motivational strategies that work in your 20s don’t necessarily keep working in your 30s. The solution I found was to look behind the labels and discover the core of my career. When I looked behind the labels of game programmer, game developer, and game publisher, I saw that the core of my career was entertaining people. That was the real purpose behind what I was doing. And that’s when it made sense to me that this was a very motivating purpose for me in my 20s, but that in my 30s it lost its edge because I had grown to the point in my own life where I felt that entertaining people was no longer the BEST way for me to contribute. Think about this for a moment. What is the core of your career? What do you contribute? What is the big picture of what you do? If you work for a large company, then how do your actions contribute to some larger purpose? Be honest with yourself. And don’t ignore the role your company plays in your career; your career depends heavily on what you’re contributing down the line. If you truly assign a noble purpose to what you do, that’s great. For example, if you work at a grocery store, you might be inspired by the fact that you help feed people. But don’t force it if you don’t actually believe it. If you feel your contribution is weak or even negative, then admit that to yourself, even if you don’t immediately plan to do anything about it. Go behind the labels. Don’t stop at definining your career as computer programmer or lawyer or doctor. What are you contributing as a computer programmer? How does your career make a difference in other people’s lives? Is it nothing more than a way for you to make money? As a lawyer do you resolve disputes and spread peace, or do you milk conflict for money? As a doctor do you heal people, or are you just a legal drug pusher? What is the essence of your career right now? Now when you have your answer, you next have to ask yourself, is this you? Is this truly a career that reflects the best of who you are as a person? For example, if you see the real purpose behind your current line of work as making a handful of investors wealthier… nothing more noble than that… then is that an accurate reflection of your best contribution? Is that you? If you already have a career that accurately reflects the best of who you are, that’s wonderful. But if you don’t, then realize that you’re free to change it. If your career as a regional distributor for a major soda manufacturer basically boils down to pushing sugar water to make people fatter, you don’t have to keep it that way. I think if you realize that your current work doesn’t fit who you are, then you have to make a choice. You have to decide if you deserve having a career that truly suits you. If you don’t feel you deserve it, then you will settle for defining your career in such narrow terms as job, money, paycheck, promotion, boss, coworkers, etc. No one is forcing you to accept that as your definition of career. On the other hand, you can choose to embrace another definition of career that uses terms like purpose, calling, contribution, meaning, abundance, happiness, fulfillment, etc. This requires a top-down approach. You first think hard about what your purpose here is… what kind of contribution do you want to make with your life? Once you figure that out, then you work down to the level of how to manifest that in terms of the work you do. And for many people, the seeming impossibility of that manifesting part is paralyzing. This is especially true for men, who usually take their responsibility as breadwinners very seriously. You see yourself logically having two choices: I could stay in my current job, which pays the bills and earns me a good living, or I could go jump into something that fits me better, but I just can’t see how to make money at it. I have a mortgage to pay and a family who depends on me; I can’t do that to them. The problem though is thinking that these are the only alternatives… thinking that you have to make a choice between money and happiness. That assumption is what causes the paralysis against action. You can also envision the third alternative of having money and happiness together. In fact, that’s actually the most likely outcome. If you don’t currently have a career that is deeply fulfilling to you in the sense that you know you’re contributing in a way that matters, then deep down, you will sabotage yourself from going too far with it. You will always know that you’re on the wrong path for you, and this is going to slap a demotivating slump over everything you try to do in that line of work. You’ll do your job, but you’ll never feel that you’re really living up to your potential. You’ll always have problems with procrastination and weak motivation, and they’ll never be resolved no matter how many time management strategies you attempt. Your job will never feel like a truly satisfying career — it just can’t grow into that because you’ve planted your career tree in bad soil. You’ll always be stuck with a bonsai. But when you get your career aligned from top to bottom, such that what you’re ultimately contributing is an expression of the best of yourself, the money will come too. You’ll be enjoying what you do so much, and you’ll find your work so fulfilling, that turning it into an income stream won’t be that hard. You’ll find a way to do it. Making money is not at odds with your greater purpose; they can lie on the same path. The more money you make, the greater your ability to contribute. But most importantly you’ll feel you really deserve all the money you earn. When your career is aligned with the best of who you are, you won’t secretly feel that your continued career success means going farther down the wrong path. You won’t hold back anymore. You’ll want to take your career as far as you can because it’s an expression of who you are. And this will make you far more receptive to all the opportunities that are all around you, financial or otherwise. But how do you make this transition? Is a leap of faith required? Not really. I don’t think of it as a leap of faith. It’s more of a leap of courage, and it’s a logical kind of courage, not an emotional one. It comes down to making a decision about how important your own happiness and fulfillment are to you. Really, how important is it for you to have meaningful, fulfilling work? Is it OK for you to continue working at a job that doesn’t allow you to contribute the very best of who you are? If you find yourself in such a situation, then your answer is yes — you’ve made it OK for you to tolerate this situation. But you see… self-actualizing people who successfully make this leap will at some point conclude that it’s definitely not OK. In fact, it’s intolerable. They wake up and say, “Wait a minute here. This is absolutely, totally unacceptable for me to be spending the bulk of my time at a job that isn’t a deeply fulfilling career. I can’t keep doing this. This ends now.” These people “wake up” by realizing that what’s most important about a career is the high-level view that includes happiness, fulfillment, and living on purpose. Things like money, success, and achievement are a very distant second. But when you work from within the first category, the second category takes care of itself. Before you’ve had this awakening, you most likely don’t see how that last sentence is possible. And that’s because you don’t understand that it is nothing more than a choice. You have probably chosen to put money above fulfillment in your current line of work. That choice means that you won’t have fulfillment. But it’s not that you can’t have fulfillment — you can choose to change your priorities and act on them at any time. The real choice you made was not to be fulfilled in your current line of work. You bought into the illusion that money is at odds with fulfillment, and that money is the more important of the two, so that is all you see. No matter what job you take, you find this assumption proves true for you. But once you go through the “waking up” experience and firmly decide to put fulfillment first, you suddenly realize that being fulfilled AND having plenty of money is also a choice that’s available to you. There are countless ways for you to do both; you simply have to permit yourself to see them. You realize that you were the one who chose EITHER-OR instead of AND, while all the time you were totally free to choose AND whenever you wanted. You set the standards for your career choices. Most likely your current standard ranks fulfillment and meaningful contribution very low in comparison to working on interesting tasks and making sufficient money. But those standards are yours to set. At any point you’re free to say, “Having a deeply meaningful and fulfilling career is an absolute MUST for me. Working for money alone is simply not an option.” And once you make this conscious choice, you WILL begin seeing the opportunities that fit this new standard. But you’ll never even recognize those opportunities as long as it remains OK for you to spend all your work time being unfulfilled. I want to drive home this point. Having a fulfilling career that earns you plenty of money doesn’t require a leap of faith. It only requires a choice. You just have to wake up one day and tell yourself that you deserve both, and that you won’t settle for anything less. It’s not about finding the right job. A career isn’t something you find; it doesn’t require someone to give you something. You aren’t at the mercy of circumstances. A career is something you create, something you build. It means that the work you do each day is aligned with what you feel to be your purpose. Once you start doing this kind of work, even if for no pay initially, your self-esteem will grow to the point where you’ll become so resourceful and open to new opportunities that you’ll have no trouble making plenty of money from it. However, when you do so, the money won’t be that important. It will just be a resource for you to do more of what you love. Your life is too precious to waste working only for money or for a purpose that doesn’t inspire you. No one can hold you back from making this decision but you. Especially don’t hide behind your family’s needs. If your family truly loves you, then they need you to be fulfilled and living on purpose far more than anything else. And if you love them, then isn’t your greatest role to serve as a model to them of how to be happy? What would you want for your own children for their careers? And do you want the same for yourself?
    Jul 14, 2011 1215
  • 14 Jul 2011
    What if you currently live a very comfortable lifestyle and you have a lot of assets? How can you justify running off to do what truly makes you happy if it might put all your current assets at risk? Here’s my take on this…. To abandon a comfortable lifestyle that isn’t deeply fulfilling is to abandon nothing. There’s nothing of real substance there to protect. An income, a car, a house, or a lifestyle are not worth protecting if the cost of such protection is your own fulfillment and happiness. People who achieve some of the external trappings of success without internal fulfillment are only living an illusion when they tell themselves they have something of value to protect. In most cases the feeling that there’s something to protect is just an excuse used to avoid facing the real fear — that maybe all this stuff isn’t really worth anything compared to what’s being lost… that maybe I should be living more boldly and not be so concerned about what happens to all my stuff. I currently have some material stuff in my life. I have a business, computers, a car that’s fully paid for, and my wife and I are closing escrow on a new home we’ve bought. But that’s all just stuff. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t have any real value. I’d gladly give it all up and live in a shack if that was the price I’d have to pay to live my mission. I want my life to have had more value than just acquiring stuff and living comfortably. I may die rich, or I may die broke. But I won’t die with my music still in me. After all, why are we here? Is it to acquire stuff, live a comfortable lifestyle, make our families as comfortable as possible, and then die? Whether there’s an afterlife or not, one thing is clear — we can’t take any of that stuff with us. Our comfortable lifestyle has no power to endure. And here’s the worst part. While you’re working so hard to acquire and protect all that stuff, you could die unexpectedly. You might die today. You might die tomorrow. Maybe you won’t die for another 70 years. Maybe your consciousness will be transferred into an android body a few decades from now, but you could still be destroyed in an accident, even if you make a backup of yourself. At least in the present, you’re still vulnerable. Death happens to people every day. 150,000+ people died from the quake and tsunami in Southeast Asia. How many of them knew at the beginning of December 2004 that they only had a few weeks left to live? And look what happened to all the stuff those people acquired — destroyed. Fisherman or tourist — it doesn’t matter. We all end up the same way. So what is the point of a life dedicated to the acquisition and protection of stuff? All of your money and possessions can be taken away from you by forces outside your control. No matter how many asset protection techniques you apply, you can never guarantee full security of your stuff. It’s perpetually vulnerable. There can be no true security then in a life based on the acquisition and protection of stuff. So what have you got to lose? What are you truly risking if you go after your dreams? If your current lifestyle is unfulfilling, then you’re starting broke, no matter how much money you have. It doesn’t matter if you start with $0 or $1 million. You have nothing to lose either way. Money and material assets are just resources to use while you’re here — you can’t take them with you. You’re only a temporary steward of the money and possessions that pass through your life. So when you risk money, you don’t risk anything of any enduring value. Earn money, lose money, invest money. But don’t make material objects more important than your own fulfillment and happiness. If you’re sitting behind a desk working at a job you hate in order to protect your current lifestyle, you are protecting nothing. Isn’t there a part of you, deep inside, that wants to just walk away from all of that junk and start really living? Can you feel how empty and hollow your days are, how devoid of meaning? Have you forgotten what it’s like to really live a day that fulfills you deeply as a human being? Look around your home at all your stuff. Recognize that in the long run, it will all eventually end up as dust. None of it will endure. It’s all temporary. Your house will eventually crumble. Your car will wind up in a junkyard. You cannot permanently keep any of this stuff. Eventually you’re going to lose it all. Or it will lose you. So what kind of life is that — one that’s dedicated to the guarding of dust? Is that what you want your life to be about? If you feel there’s any purpose to your existence as a human being, then is this it? Life is just too precious to waste. If you are spending your days working at a job that isn’t deeply fulfilling to you, then you’re spending your days guarding dust. There’s no real value there. Stuff cannot fulfill you. Ultimately it will only distract you from living on purpose. What does it mean to really live? Deep down, you already have a sense of the direction where this answer lies for you. Ultimately, it’s a choice. You’re totally free to live the kind of life you want. But you’ll know you’re really living when you would live pretty much the same way even if you knew you only had 18 months left. If you would make some big changes in your life upon learning that you only had 18 months to live, then why not make those changes now? Someone reading this blog entry probably has less than 18 months to live. Maybe it’s you. Live for what is real to you. Live for what truly matters to you. What matters to me — what is real to me — is inspiring and helping people. Directly or indirectly, whenever I’m able to help someone solve a really tough problem or to motivate someone to finally push past a big obstacle, that is something I find tremendously fulfilling. And the fulfillment I get from doing this is so great that it trumps all the external stuff. It doesn’t matter how much money I make. It doesn’t matter if people reject my ideas or poke fun at what I enjoy doing. This blog entry may be read by over 1000 people, but it may be such that the ideas within are only able to help one person in a very small way. The other 999 may conclude I’m nuts and unsubscribe. And that’s fine. It’s that one person I’m writing for. But at the same time, starting from the point of spending each day doing something that fulfills me, I’m building this work into a business that can support and sustain me and my family. This will ultimately include paid speaking engagements, and information products like books and audio programs. So I’m starting with doing what I love and building it into a source of income. The more money the business generates, the more people I’m ultimately able to reach. So making money is aligned with my own personal fulfillment — they aren’t at odds with each other. If you do what you love, then you can surely find a way to turn it into an income stream — then the more money you make, the more you expand your capacity to continue doing what you love in bigger and bigger ways. Taking what you love to do and turning it into a source of income, either as an employee or an entrepreneur, seems hard to resist. If you’re going to spend so much time working to make money, why not make that money in the pursuit of your dreams instead of in the protection of dust? What does your current to do list look like? Is it filled with tasks that aren’t even real to you? Are you typing stuff that doesn’t matter, going to soulless meetings, shuffling papers and filling out forms to appease computers, while sitting in a Dilbert-style cage all day? Why do you continue to choose that life each day? You’re always free to stop at any time. You make the rules. What percentage of the tasks on your to do list will fulfill you deeply to do them? What kind of to do list would be real to you? What items might it contain? Compose a new piece of music. Write something inspiring and share it with others. Give your spouse a massage. Exercise. Play with your kids. Make a snowman in Las Vegas (my wife did this one yesterday). Clear out some clutter. Read a really great book. Audition for a local play. Start your own business. Tell your boss, “Talk to the hand. I don’t do soulless work anymore.” Do something that leaves you feeling at the end of the day that you really contributed the best of yourself. Don’t die with your music still in you.
    1041 Posted by UniqueThis
  • What if you currently live a very comfortable lifestyle and you have a lot of assets? How can you justify running off to do what truly makes you happy if it might put all your current assets at risk? Here’s my take on this…. To abandon a comfortable lifestyle that isn’t deeply fulfilling is to abandon nothing. There’s nothing of real substance there to protect. An income, a car, a house, or a lifestyle are not worth protecting if the cost of such protection is your own fulfillment and happiness. People who achieve some of the external trappings of success without internal fulfillment are only living an illusion when they tell themselves they have something of value to protect. In most cases the feeling that there’s something to protect is just an excuse used to avoid facing the real fear — that maybe all this stuff isn’t really worth anything compared to what’s being lost… that maybe I should be living more boldly and not be so concerned about what happens to all my stuff. I currently have some material stuff in my life. I have a business, computers, a car that’s fully paid for, and my wife and I are closing escrow on a new home we’ve bought. But that’s all just stuff. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t have any real value. I’d gladly give it all up and live in a shack if that was the price I’d have to pay to live my mission. I want my life to have had more value than just acquiring stuff and living comfortably. I may die rich, or I may die broke. But I won’t die with my music still in me. After all, why are we here? Is it to acquire stuff, live a comfortable lifestyle, make our families as comfortable as possible, and then die? Whether there’s an afterlife or not, one thing is clear — we can’t take any of that stuff with us. Our comfortable lifestyle has no power to endure. And here’s the worst part. While you’re working so hard to acquire and protect all that stuff, you could die unexpectedly. You might die today. You might die tomorrow. Maybe you won’t die for another 70 years. Maybe your consciousness will be transferred into an android body a few decades from now, but you could still be destroyed in an accident, even if you make a backup of yourself. At least in the present, you’re still vulnerable. Death happens to people every day. 150,000+ people died from the quake and tsunami in Southeast Asia. How many of them knew at the beginning of December 2004 that they only had a few weeks left to live? And look what happened to all the stuff those people acquired — destroyed. Fisherman or tourist — it doesn’t matter. We all end up the same way. So what is the point of a life dedicated to the acquisition and protection of stuff? All of your money and possessions can be taken away from you by forces outside your control. No matter how many asset protection techniques you apply, you can never guarantee full security of your stuff. It’s perpetually vulnerable. There can be no true security then in a life based on the acquisition and protection of stuff. So what have you got to lose? What are you truly risking if you go after your dreams? If your current lifestyle is unfulfilling, then you’re starting broke, no matter how much money you have. It doesn’t matter if you start with $0 or $1 million. You have nothing to lose either way. Money and material assets are just resources to use while you’re here — you can’t take them with you. You’re only a temporary steward of the money and possessions that pass through your life. So when you risk money, you don’t risk anything of any enduring value. Earn money, lose money, invest money. But don’t make material objects more important than your own fulfillment and happiness. If you’re sitting behind a desk working at a job you hate in order to protect your current lifestyle, you are protecting nothing. Isn’t there a part of you, deep inside, that wants to just walk away from all of that junk and start really living? Can you feel how empty and hollow your days are, how devoid of meaning? Have you forgotten what it’s like to really live a day that fulfills you deeply as a human being? Look around your home at all your stuff. Recognize that in the long run, it will all eventually end up as dust. None of it will endure. It’s all temporary. Your house will eventually crumble. Your car will wind up in a junkyard. You cannot permanently keep any of this stuff. Eventually you’re going to lose it all. Or it will lose you. So what kind of life is that — one that’s dedicated to the guarding of dust? Is that what you want your life to be about? If you feel there’s any purpose to your existence as a human being, then is this it? Life is just too precious to waste. If you are spending your days working at a job that isn’t deeply fulfilling to you, then you’re spending your days guarding dust. There’s no real value there. Stuff cannot fulfill you. Ultimately it will only distract you from living on purpose. What does it mean to really live? Deep down, you already have a sense of the direction where this answer lies for you. Ultimately, it’s a choice. You’re totally free to live the kind of life you want. But you’ll know you’re really living when you would live pretty much the same way even if you knew you only had 18 months left. If you would make some big changes in your life upon learning that you only had 18 months to live, then why not make those changes now? Someone reading this blog entry probably has less than 18 months to live. Maybe it’s you. Live for what is real to you. Live for what truly matters to you. What matters to me — what is real to me — is inspiring and helping people. Directly or indirectly, whenever I’m able to help someone solve a really tough problem or to motivate someone to finally push past a big obstacle, that is something I find tremendously fulfilling. And the fulfillment I get from doing this is so great that it trumps all the external stuff. It doesn’t matter how much money I make. It doesn’t matter if people reject my ideas or poke fun at what I enjoy doing. This blog entry may be read by over 1000 people, but it may be such that the ideas within are only able to help one person in a very small way. The other 999 may conclude I’m nuts and unsubscribe. And that’s fine. It’s that one person I’m writing for. But at the same time, starting from the point of spending each day doing something that fulfills me, I’m building this work into a business that can support and sustain me and my family. This will ultimately include paid speaking engagements, and information products like books and audio programs. So I’m starting with doing what I love and building it into a source of income. The more money the business generates, the more people I’m ultimately able to reach. So making money is aligned with my own personal fulfillment — they aren’t at odds with each other. If you do what you love, then you can surely find a way to turn it into an income stream — then the more money you make, the more you expand your capacity to continue doing what you love in bigger and bigger ways. Taking what you love to do and turning it into a source of income, either as an employee or an entrepreneur, seems hard to resist. If you’re going to spend so much time working to make money, why not make that money in the pursuit of your dreams instead of in the protection of dust? What does your current to do list look like? Is it filled with tasks that aren’t even real to you? Are you typing stuff that doesn’t matter, going to soulless meetings, shuffling papers and filling out forms to appease computers, while sitting in a Dilbert-style cage all day? Why do you continue to choose that life each day? You’re always free to stop at any time. You make the rules. What percentage of the tasks on your to do list will fulfill you deeply to do them? What kind of to do list would be real to you? What items might it contain? Compose a new piece of music. Write something inspiring and share it with others. Give your spouse a massage. Exercise. Play with your kids. Make a snowman in Las Vegas (my wife did this one yesterday). Clear out some clutter. Read a really great book. Audition for a local play. Start your own business. Tell your boss, “Talk to the hand. I don’t do soulless work anymore.” Do something that leaves you feeling at the end of the day that you really contributed the best of yourself. Don’t die with your music still in you.
    Jul 14, 2011 1041
  • 14 Jul 2011
    It’s fair to say that if you don’t know your purpose in life, you won’t be spending much time working on it. So what will you end up doing with your working time instead? Three things: 1) Working on your needs, 2) Working on other people needs, 3) Working on other people’s purposes. If you don’t know your purpose, the limit of the work you do for yourself will be stuck at the level of need, which at best has the potential to grow into greed. Not particularly fulfilling spending your whole working life this way… Try it yourself for a few decades if you don’t believe me, and then look at the passionless shell that stares back at you from your mirror. As you work with/for other people, most likely you’ll be putting lots of effort into satisfying other people’s needs and greeds: your boss, your customers, your company’s investors, etc. Even in your free time, you’ll be working to fulfill the desires of advertisers who want you to watch TV and buy stuff. Again, not particularly satisfying, although you may be thrown a few bones by your benefactors, such as the “gift” of working on some interesting projects. This kind of life will ultimately make you want to stand up and shout, “What exactly is the point of all of this?” But if you actually do that, you’ll only get blank stares in return. There is no point. Now if you’re very lucky, you may get the chance to work for someone or some organization which is itself focused on achieving a conscious purpose. However, there’s no telling what that purpose might be. If you don’t know your own purpose, you can’t consciously choose to work for someone whose purpose aligns with yours except by accident or chance, and the odds of alignment are low. So there’s a good chance you’ll be working hard to achieve a purpose you don’t agree with. For example, if you join the military, you may be put to use to achieve some big purpose, but what exactly will it be? Most likely, in such situations you’ll be given a purpose to achieve that isn’t what you’d choose consciously for yourself. Fulfilling to spend your whole life this way? Not likely, but it’s at least a decent path for people who don’t like to think much — others will take care of all the thinking for you (and benefit greatly from all your thoughtless doing). So if you don’t know your purpose in life, what kind of life will you end up living? I’ll sum it up with one word: owned (or if you’re a tremendous nerd, pwned). Your life is owned by others — their needs, their goals, their purposes. Why? Because if you don’t know your purpose, others will put you to good use achieving theirs. Advertisers spend billions every year to get you to take some small action. The company you work for or the customers you serve — they want to own you too. And how can you say no? You don’t have a better option, do you? Might as well get a job and buy stuff, make some customers happy along the way, and die quietly. That’s what others have planned for you. That seems to be what everyone else is doing. Might as well jump on the same bandwagon… seems safe enough. Is that the plan you wish to follow? Yes? Great… here’s a Scooby Snack. End of blog entry. Hmmm… still reading, eh? Ok, welcome to the super secret society for purposeful living. Shhhh…. If you happen to be someone who’s consciously aware of your purpose in life, then you already know what’s missing from the above — freedom. When you don’t choose your own purpose, a purpose will be given to you by others. You give up your freedom. Sure you still maintain the illusion of freedom. You can decide the low level actions you take each day. But you’ve lost the greatest freedom — the ability to choose your own answer to the question, “What is the meaning of my life?” If you let someone else answer this question for you, then you’re owned. And it may not even be a single person giving you that answer. Most likely it’s a collection of many sources: advertisers, employers, coworkers, friends, family, social pressures, etc. Each contributes a small piece to your answer. But because there are so many contributors, the answer that comes out is fuzzy and complicated. So you end up living a fuzzy, complicated life crafted by third-party biographers, many of which you’ve never met. On the other hand, when you know your purpose and live it consciously each day, you’re free. No one else owns you. Whether you run your own business or work for someone else, you always see yourself as self-employed. You lead your own life, and although others may hold formal authority over you in some situations, you focus on what you can control and don’t whine about what you can’t, and in so doing, your influence expands to the point that you become a leader no matter what your formal position. Your leadership comes from knowing your purpose. While your circumstances will change, your inner compass is constant. You could be caught in a sea of external chaos, yet you’re always steering a clear straight-ahead course, which allows you to feel certain when no one else can. It doesn’t matter what position you hold. When you live your purpose, you become a leader. When you don’t live your purpose, you become property. When you choose the kind of work you do, you consciously choose what aligns with your purpose. Every day your actions are your answer to the question, “What is the meaning of my life?” You’ll still be bombarded by messages from others who want to own you in some way, but those influences will become harmless background noise, unable to sway you. Whatever happens out there, it’s like the waves tossing around on a stormy sea while you’re 1000 ft below the surface, where the water is calm. By knowing your purpose, you begin living on a deeper level where surface happenings like corporate politics can’t knock you around. Your purpose provides unshakable stability and security. If you don’t live on purpose, then you don’t even know how to set goals. Even when you think you’re being proactive, where are your goals really coming from? Ultimately, they’ll come from your past conditioning, which means they’re coming from others. You set a goal to buy a new house or a new car, but if those goals aren’t driven by your own conscious purpose, then they’re really the bank’s and the car dealer’s goals for you, both of which are spending lots of money to get you to adopt them. Even if you want to advance in your career and make more money, there are many who want you to achieve that goal too, especially since it will allow you to spend more money and do more productive work. So whose goals are you working so hard to achieve? Sure you think you want all those things. You’ve been taught to want them by your owners. To break free of working on your owners’ goals, you have to know your own purpose. And this means you have to empty your head of all your owners’ thoughts and conditioning and get deep down to 1000 ft below sea level, where your thoughts are clear and calm, where you once again remember who you really are. At that level all the external fluff fades, and you can hear yourself clearly. You have to squeeze your brain like a sponge to get all those owners’ voices out. The owners’ voices are the ones that make you feel weaker and more afraid. Once you go deep enough though, your own voice will begin to reassert itself. You’ll remember what you’re here to do, and you’ll recall the state of passion that drives you to do it. After that, the hard part is listening to this inner voice and trusting it. It’s so easy to trust your owners because they seem so certain, and there are so many of them. Your inner voice is much quieter, but if you let it drive you instead of the external world, you’ll come to know your purpose, and your life will become immensely fulfilling. You’ll finally be free.
    1028 Posted by UniqueThis
  • It’s fair to say that if you don’t know your purpose in life, you won’t be spending much time working on it. So what will you end up doing with your working time instead? Three things: 1) Working on your needs, 2) Working on other people needs, 3) Working on other people’s purposes. If you don’t know your purpose, the limit of the work you do for yourself will be stuck at the level of need, which at best has the potential to grow into greed. Not particularly fulfilling spending your whole working life this way… Try it yourself for a few decades if you don’t believe me, and then look at the passionless shell that stares back at you from your mirror. As you work with/for other people, most likely you’ll be putting lots of effort into satisfying other people’s needs and greeds: your boss, your customers, your company’s investors, etc. Even in your free time, you’ll be working to fulfill the desires of advertisers who want you to watch TV and buy stuff. Again, not particularly satisfying, although you may be thrown a few bones by your benefactors, such as the “gift” of working on some interesting projects. This kind of life will ultimately make you want to stand up and shout, “What exactly is the point of all of this?” But if you actually do that, you’ll only get blank stares in return. There is no point. Now if you’re very lucky, you may get the chance to work for someone or some organization which is itself focused on achieving a conscious purpose. However, there’s no telling what that purpose might be. If you don’t know your own purpose, you can’t consciously choose to work for someone whose purpose aligns with yours except by accident or chance, and the odds of alignment are low. So there’s a good chance you’ll be working hard to achieve a purpose you don’t agree with. For example, if you join the military, you may be put to use to achieve some big purpose, but what exactly will it be? Most likely, in such situations you’ll be given a purpose to achieve that isn’t what you’d choose consciously for yourself. Fulfilling to spend your whole life this way? Not likely, but it’s at least a decent path for people who don’t like to think much — others will take care of all the thinking for you (and benefit greatly from all your thoughtless doing). So if you don’t know your purpose in life, what kind of life will you end up living? I’ll sum it up with one word: owned (or if you’re a tremendous nerd, pwned). Your life is owned by others — their needs, their goals, their purposes. Why? Because if you don’t know your purpose, others will put you to good use achieving theirs. Advertisers spend billions every year to get you to take some small action. The company you work for or the customers you serve — they want to own you too. And how can you say no? You don’t have a better option, do you? Might as well get a job and buy stuff, make some customers happy along the way, and die quietly. That’s what others have planned for you. That seems to be what everyone else is doing. Might as well jump on the same bandwagon… seems safe enough. Is that the plan you wish to follow? Yes? Great… here’s a Scooby Snack. End of blog entry. Hmmm… still reading, eh? Ok, welcome to the super secret society for purposeful living. Shhhh…. If you happen to be someone who’s consciously aware of your purpose in life, then you already know what’s missing from the above — freedom. When you don’t choose your own purpose, a purpose will be given to you by others. You give up your freedom. Sure you still maintain the illusion of freedom. You can decide the low level actions you take each day. But you’ve lost the greatest freedom — the ability to choose your own answer to the question, “What is the meaning of my life?” If you let someone else answer this question for you, then you’re owned. And it may not even be a single person giving you that answer. Most likely it’s a collection of many sources: advertisers, employers, coworkers, friends, family, social pressures, etc. Each contributes a small piece to your answer. But because there are so many contributors, the answer that comes out is fuzzy and complicated. So you end up living a fuzzy, complicated life crafted by third-party biographers, many of which you’ve never met. On the other hand, when you know your purpose and live it consciously each day, you’re free. No one else owns you. Whether you run your own business or work for someone else, you always see yourself as self-employed. You lead your own life, and although others may hold formal authority over you in some situations, you focus on what you can control and don’t whine about what you can’t, and in so doing, your influence expands to the point that you become a leader no matter what your formal position. Your leadership comes from knowing your purpose. While your circumstances will change, your inner compass is constant. You could be caught in a sea of external chaos, yet you’re always steering a clear straight-ahead course, which allows you to feel certain when no one else can. It doesn’t matter what position you hold. When you live your purpose, you become a leader. When you don’t live your purpose, you become property. When you choose the kind of work you do, you consciously choose what aligns with your purpose. Every day your actions are your answer to the question, “What is the meaning of my life?” You’ll still be bombarded by messages from others who want to own you in some way, but those influences will become harmless background noise, unable to sway you. Whatever happens out there, it’s like the waves tossing around on a stormy sea while you’re 1000 ft below the surface, where the water is calm. By knowing your purpose, you begin living on a deeper level where surface happenings like corporate politics can’t knock you around. Your purpose provides unshakable stability and security. If you don’t live on purpose, then you don’t even know how to set goals. Even when you think you’re being proactive, where are your goals really coming from? Ultimately, they’ll come from your past conditioning, which means they’re coming from others. You set a goal to buy a new house or a new car, but if those goals aren’t driven by your own conscious purpose, then they’re really the bank’s and the car dealer’s goals for you, both of which are spending lots of money to get you to adopt them. Even if you want to advance in your career and make more money, there are many who want you to achieve that goal too, especially since it will allow you to spend more money and do more productive work. So whose goals are you working so hard to achieve? Sure you think you want all those things. You’ve been taught to want them by your owners. To break free of working on your owners’ goals, you have to know your own purpose. And this means you have to empty your head of all your owners’ thoughts and conditioning and get deep down to 1000 ft below sea level, where your thoughts are clear and calm, where you once again remember who you really are. At that level all the external fluff fades, and you can hear yourself clearly. You have to squeeze your brain like a sponge to get all those owners’ voices out. The owners’ voices are the ones that make you feel weaker and more afraid. Once you go deep enough though, your own voice will begin to reassert itself. You’ll remember what you’re here to do, and you’ll recall the state of passion that drives you to do it. After that, the hard part is listening to this inner voice and trusting it. It’s so easy to trust your owners because they seem so certain, and there are so many of them. Your inner voice is much quieter, but if you let it drive you instead of the external world, you’ll come to know your purpose, and your life will become immensely fulfilling. You’ll finally be free.
    Jul 14, 2011 1028
  • 14 Jul 2011
    Success literature going back hundreds of years espouses the benefits of hard work. But why is it that some people seem to feel that “hard work” is a dirty word nowadays? I define “hard work” as work that is challenging. Both hard work and “working hard” (i.e. putting in the time required to get the job done) are required for success. A problem occurs when people think of challenging work as painful or uncomfortable. Does challenging work necessarily have to be painful? No, of course not. In fact, a major key to success is to learn to enjoy challenging work AND to enjoy working hard at it. Why challenging work? Because challenging work, when intelligently chosen, pays off. It’s the work that people of lesser character will avoid. And if you infer that I’m saying people who avoid challenging work have a character flaw, you’re right… and a serious one at that. If you avoid challenging work, you avoid doing what it takes to succeed. To keep your muscles strong or your mind sharp, you need to challenge them. To do only what’s easy will lead to physical and mental flabbiness and very mediocre results, followed by a great deal of time and effort spent justifying why such flabbiness is OK, instead of stepping up and taking on some real challenges. Tackling challenges builds character, just as lifting weights builds muscle. To avoid challenge is to abandon one’s character development. Now it’s natural that we’ll tend to avoid what’s painful, so if we see challenge as purely painful, we’ll surely avoid it. But in so doing, we’re avoiding some very important character development, which by its very nature is often tremendously challenging. So we must learn to fall in love with challenge instead of fearing it, just as a bodybuilder can learn to love the pain of doing “one more rep” that tears down muscle fibers, allowing them to grow stronger. If you avoid the pain, you miss out on the growth. This is true both for building muscles and for building character. While a common philosophy says to go with the flow, the downside to this belief system is that you must yield control of your life to that flow. And that’s fine if you don’t mind living passively and letting life happen to you. If you feel you’re here to ride your life instead of drive it, then you’ll have to accept where the flow takes you and learn to like it. But sometimes the flow doesn’t go in a healthy direction. You can go with the flow and end up in a pretty screwed up situation if you don’t assume more direct control when needed. On the other hand, there’s the alternative way of looking at life with you as the driving force behind it. You create and control the flow yourself. This is a more challenging way to live but also a much more rewarding one. You aren’t limited to those experiences that can only be gotten passively or painlessly — now you can have much more of what you want by being willing to accept and take on bigger challenges. If I only went with the perceived easy flow of my life, I’d never have learned to read, write, or type; those were all challenges where I felt I was going against the flow of what was easy and natural. I wouldn’t have gotten any college degrees. I wouldn’t have started my own business. I certainly wouldn’t have developed any software. No way I would have run a marathon — one doesn’t exactly flow into such a thing. And I most certainly wouldn’t be doing any public speaking. This web site wouldn’t exist either; it was definitely an entity created more by drive than by flow. I do believe there is an underlying flow to life at times, but I see myself as a co-creator in that flow. I can ride the flow when it’s headed where I want to go, or I can get off and blaze my own trail when necessary. When you step up and learn to see yourself as the driver of your life instead of the passive victim of it, then it becomes a lot easier to take on big challenges and to endure the hardships they sometimes require. You learn to associate more pleasure to the character development you gain than the minor discomforts you experience. You become accustomed to spending more time outside your comfort zone. Hard work is something you look forward to because you know that it will lead to tremendous growth. And you eventually develop the maturity and responsibility to understand that certain goals will never just flow into your life; they’ll only happen if you act as the driving force to bring them to fruition. When faced with the prospect of saying to yourself, “If I always avoid hard work, I’ll never in my life get to experience X, Y, or Z,” it’s a little easier to embrace the benefits of hard work. What will you miss out on? You’ll probably never run a marathon, marry the mate of your dreams, become a multi-millionaire, make a real difference in the world, etc. You’ll have to settle for only what going with the flow can provide, which is mediocrity. You’ll basically just take up space and die without really having mattered. The world will be pretty much the same had you never existed (chaos theory notwithstanding). If you want to achieve some really big and interesting goals, you have to learn to fall in love with hard work. Hard work makes the difference. It’s what separates the children from the mature adults. You can keep living as a child and desperately hoping that life will always be easy, but then you’ll be stuck in a child-like world, working on other people’s goals instead of your own, waiting for opportunities to come to you instead of creating your own, and doing work that in the grand scheme of this world just isn’t important. When you learn to embrace hard work instead of running from it, you gain the ability to execute on your big goals, no matter what it takes to achieve them. You blast through obstacles that stop others who have less resolve. But what is it that gets you to this point? What gets you to embrace hard work? Purpose. When you live for a strong purpose, then hard work isn’t an option. It’s a necessity. If your life has no real purpose, then you can avoid hard work, and it won’t matter because you’ve decided that your life itself doesn’t matter anyway. So who cares if you work hard or take the easy road? But if you’ve chosen a significant purpose for your life, it’s going to require hard work to get there — any meaningful purpose will require hard work. You have to admit to yourself then that the only way this purpose is going to be fulfilled is if you embrace hard work. And this is what takes you beyond fear and ego, beyond the sniveling little child who thinks that hard work is something to run away from. When you become driven by a purpose greater than yourself, you embrace hard work out of necessity. That child gets replaced by a mature adult who assumes responsibility for getting the job done, knowing that without total commitment and lots of hard work, it’s never going to happen. Desire melts adversity. Show me a person who avoids hard work, and I’ll show you someone who hasn’t found their purpose yet. Because anyone who knows their purpose will embrace hard work. They’ll pay the price willingly. If you don’t know your purpose yet, then in the world of mature human beings, you don’t yet matter. You’re just a piece of flotsam on the flow created by those who do live on purpose. And deep down you already know this, don’t you? If you want to make a difference in the world, then hard work is the price. There are no shortcuts. Purpose and hard work are buddies. Purpose is the why. Hard work is the how. Purpose is what turns labor into labor of love. It transmutes the pain of hard work into the higher level pleasure of dedication, commitment, resolve, and passion. It turns pain into strength, eventually to the point where you don’t notice the pain as much as you enjoy the strength. Once again it all comes down to purpose. Create a purpose for your life, and live it each day. And many of the other success habits like hard work and working hard will fall into place automatically. Figure out the why. Why are you here? Why does your life matter? That is the ultimate test of your free will.
    1029 Posted by UniqueThis
  • Success literature going back hundreds of years espouses the benefits of hard work. But why is it that some people seem to feel that “hard work” is a dirty word nowadays? I define “hard work” as work that is challenging. Both hard work and “working hard” (i.e. putting in the time required to get the job done) are required for success. A problem occurs when people think of challenging work as painful or uncomfortable. Does challenging work necessarily have to be painful? No, of course not. In fact, a major key to success is to learn to enjoy challenging work AND to enjoy working hard at it. Why challenging work? Because challenging work, when intelligently chosen, pays off. It’s the work that people of lesser character will avoid. And if you infer that I’m saying people who avoid challenging work have a character flaw, you’re right… and a serious one at that. If you avoid challenging work, you avoid doing what it takes to succeed. To keep your muscles strong or your mind sharp, you need to challenge them. To do only what’s easy will lead to physical and mental flabbiness and very mediocre results, followed by a great deal of time and effort spent justifying why such flabbiness is OK, instead of stepping up and taking on some real challenges. Tackling challenges builds character, just as lifting weights builds muscle. To avoid challenge is to abandon one’s character development. Now it’s natural that we’ll tend to avoid what’s painful, so if we see challenge as purely painful, we’ll surely avoid it. But in so doing, we’re avoiding some very important character development, which by its very nature is often tremendously challenging. So we must learn to fall in love with challenge instead of fearing it, just as a bodybuilder can learn to love the pain of doing “one more rep” that tears down muscle fibers, allowing them to grow stronger. If you avoid the pain, you miss out on the growth. This is true both for building muscles and for building character. While a common philosophy says to go with the flow, the downside to this belief system is that you must yield control of your life to that flow. And that’s fine if you don’t mind living passively and letting life happen to you. If you feel you’re here to ride your life instead of drive it, then you’ll have to accept where the flow takes you and learn to like it. But sometimes the flow doesn’t go in a healthy direction. You can go with the flow and end up in a pretty screwed up situation if you don’t assume more direct control when needed. On the other hand, there’s the alternative way of looking at life with you as the driving force behind it. You create and control the flow yourself. This is a more challenging way to live but also a much more rewarding one. You aren’t limited to those experiences that can only be gotten passively or painlessly — now you can have much more of what you want by being willing to accept and take on bigger challenges. If I only went with the perceived easy flow of my life, I’d never have learned to read, write, or type; those were all challenges where I felt I was going against the flow of what was easy and natural. I wouldn’t have gotten any college degrees. I wouldn’t have started my own business. I certainly wouldn’t have developed any software. No way I would have run a marathon — one doesn’t exactly flow into such a thing. And I most certainly wouldn’t be doing any public speaking. This web site wouldn’t exist either; it was definitely an entity created more by drive than by flow. I do believe there is an underlying flow to life at times, but I see myself as a co-creator in that flow. I can ride the flow when it’s headed where I want to go, or I can get off and blaze my own trail when necessary. When you step up and learn to see yourself as the driver of your life instead of the passive victim of it, then it becomes a lot easier to take on big challenges and to endure the hardships they sometimes require. You learn to associate more pleasure to the character development you gain than the minor discomforts you experience. You become accustomed to spending more time outside your comfort zone. Hard work is something you look forward to because you know that it will lead to tremendous growth. And you eventually develop the maturity and responsibility to understand that certain goals will never just flow into your life; they’ll only happen if you act as the driving force to bring them to fruition. When faced with the prospect of saying to yourself, “If I always avoid hard work, I’ll never in my life get to experience X, Y, or Z,” it’s a little easier to embrace the benefits of hard work. What will you miss out on? You’ll probably never run a marathon, marry the mate of your dreams, become a multi-millionaire, make a real difference in the world, etc. You’ll have to settle for only what going with the flow can provide, which is mediocrity. You’ll basically just take up space and die without really having mattered. The world will be pretty much the same had you never existed (chaos theory notwithstanding). If you want to achieve some really big and interesting goals, you have to learn to fall in love with hard work. Hard work makes the difference. It’s what separates the children from the mature adults. You can keep living as a child and desperately hoping that life will always be easy, but then you’ll be stuck in a child-like world, working on other people’s goals instead of your own, waiting for opportunities to come to you instead of creating your own, and doing work that in the grand scheme of this world just isn’t important. When you learn to embrace hard work instead of running from it, you gain the ability to execute on your big goals, no matter what it takes to achieve them. You blast through obstacles that stop others who have less resolve. But what is it that gets you to this point? What gets you to embrace hard work? Purpose. When you live for a strong purpose, then hard work isn’t an option. It’s a necessity. If your life has no real purpose, then you can avoid hard work, and it won’t matter because you’ve decided that your life itself doesn’t matter anyway. So who cares if you work hard or take the easy road? But if you’ve chosen a significant purpose for your life, it’s going to require hard work to get there — any meaningful purpose will require hard work. You have to admit to yourself then that the only way this purpose is going to be fulfilled is if you embrace hard work. And this is what takes you beyond fear and ego, beyond the sniveling little child who thinks that hard work is something to run away from. When you become driven by a purpose greater than yourself, you embrace hard work out of necessity. That child gets replaced by a mature adult who assumes responsibility for getting the job done, knowing that without total commitment and lots of hard work, it’s never going to happen. Desire melts adversity. Show me a person who avoids hard work, and I’ll show you someone who hasn’t found their purpose yet. Because anyone who knows their purpose will embrace hard work. They’ll pay the price willingly. If you don’t know your purpose yet, then in the world of mature human beings, you don’t yet matter. You’re just a piece of flotsam on the flow created by those who do live on purpose. And deep down you already know this, don’t you? If you want to make a difference in the world, then hard work is the price. There are no shortcuts. Purpose and hard work are buddies. Purpose is the why. Hard work is the how. Purpose is what turns labor into labor of love. It transmutes the pain of hard work into the higher level pleasure of dedication, commitment, resolve, and passion. It turns pain into strength, eventually to the point where you don’t notice the pain as much as you enjoy the strength. Once again it all comes down to purpose. Create a purpose for your life, and live it each day. And many of the other success habits like hard work and working hard will fall into place automatically. Figure out the why. Why are you here? Why does your life matter? That is the ultimate test of your free will.
    Jul 14, 2011 1029
  • 14 Jul 2011
    The hard work vs. laziness productivity blog showdown between myself and Fred Gratzon has begun at Slacker Manager. Brendon Connelly first invited each of us to provide our own definitions of certain terms: success, hard work, passion, happiness, laziness, productivity, work ethic, efficiency, and motivation. Here is my response, and here is Fred’s. It seems that the difference between Fred’s philosophy and mine goes beyond semantics. Perhaps the key difference is how we define going with the flow of what Fred refers to as “Mother Nature.” He explains that as physics itself always goes with the flow of nature and takes the path of least resistance, then we humans will achieve the greatest success when we align ourselves with these natural laws. Fred’s response sounds beautiful. I’ve read many books that espouse a similar philosophy. But I don’t adopt this philosophy as my own because in the long run I believe it will ultimately self-destruct. Here’s why: Where will going with the flow of nature take us? What will laziness get us? Do you actually know where this path will lead? Not just us as individuals but all of humanity? Given the status of our planet and the history of our world as we appear to understand it, where will this philosophy take us? Where has it already lead most of the other species on our planet? Where did it lead the dinosaurs? You see, if you want to accept the philosophy of going with the flow and living in accordance with nature, then you must accept the whole package, which includes giving up control of your life to natural processes outside your control. You must trust that the path of least resistance will lead you somewhere good. This is an easy (and very tempting) philosophy to adopt. And if you don’t mind becoming extinct, then by all means go for it. But if you’ve fallen in love with humanity’s potential as I have, then perhaps you’d prefer that we don’t drown in our own pollution and go the way of the dinosaur. Maybe it’s worth the effort to keep this wonderful and creative species alive and see just how far we can go. We humans are the only earth species to have left our planet. We visited the moon. Isn’t that absolutely incredible? And we busted our butts to do it. Think about all we’ve accomplish as humans and how hard many of us worked to achieve these goals. What we’ll accomplish over the next 100 years is astonishing to even contemplate. I for one am glad to live at this time in history, and I’m grateful for all the hard work of previous humans to get us to this point. To me this is not a time in history to be lazy, complacent, and cowardly. Humanity has some big challenges on the horizon. So let’s get busy and tackle them with our intelligence, our courage, and our capacity to work hard. Stop bemoaning the existence of these challenges and wishing we could all take the easy way out. If you want the easy way out, there are plenty of drugs to choose from. I’d rather participate actively instead of passively letting life slip away. If that requires some effort and hard work and facing down fears, then so be it. I’ll pay that price willingly. I won’t go to my grave thinking of the people I might have helped but didn’t because I was too lazy and fearful to make the effort. Hard work IS painful when life is devoid of purpose. But when you live for something greater than yourself and the gratification of your own ego, then hard work becomes a labor of love. Who wants to work hard for money? You want to dedicate your whole life to collecting smelly pieces of paper with pictures of dead people on them? What kind of pathetic motivation is that? Of course you’ll cringe at the thought of hard work if that’s all you care about. But there are so many more interesting things to live for that make hard work worthwhile. And this requires getting out of your own little shell of personal gripes and fears and taking a look at the rest of the world and asking yourself, “How can I contribute?”
    1028 Posted by UniqueThis
  • The hard work vs. laziness productivity blog showdown between myself and Fred Gratzon has begun at Slacker Manager. Brendon Connelly first invited each of us to provide our own definitions of certain terms: success, hard work, passion, happiness, laziness, productivity, work ethic, efficiency, and motivation. Here is my response, and here is Fred’s. It seems that the difference between Fred’s philosophy and mine goes beyond semantics. Perhaps the key difference is how we define going with the flow of what Fred refers to as “Mother Nature.” He explains that as physics itself always goes with the flow of nature and takes the path of least resistance, then we humans will achieve the greatest success when we align ourselves with these natural laws. Fred’s response sounds beautiful. I’ve read many books that espouse a similar philosophy. But I don’t adopt this philosophy as my own because in the long run I believe it will ultimately self-destruct. Here’s why: Where will going with the flow of nature take us? What will laziness get us? Do you actually know where this path will lead? Not just us as individuals but all of humanity? Given the status of our planet and the history of our world as we appear to understand it, where will this philosophy take us? Where has it already lead most of the other species on our planet? Where did it lead the dinosaurs? You see, if you want to accept the philosophy of going with the flow and living in accordance with nature, then you must accept the whole package, which includes giving up control of your life to natural processes outside your control. You must trust that the path of least resistance will lead you somewhere good. This is an easy (and very tempting) philosophy to adopt. And if you don’t mind becoming extinct, then by all means go for it. But if you’ve fallen in love with humanity’s potential as I have, then perhaps you’d prefer that we don’t drown in our own pollution and go the way of the dinosaur. Maybe it’s worth the effort to keep this wonderful and creative species alive and see just how far we can go. We humans are the only earth species to have left our planet. We visited the moon. Isn’t that absolutely incredible? And we busted our butts to do it. Think about all we’ve accomplish as humans and how hard many of us worked to achieve these goals. What we’ll accomplish over the next 100 years is astonishing to even contemplate. I for one am glad to live at this time in history, and I’m grateful for all the hard work of previous humans to get us to this point. To me this is not a time in history to be lazy, complacent, and cowardly. Humanity has some big challenges on the horizon. So let’s get busy and tackle them with our intelligence, our courage, and our capacity to work hard. Stop bemoaning the existence of these challenges and wishing we could all take the easy way out. If you want the easy way out, there are plenty of drugs to choose from. I’d rather participate actively instead of passively letting life slip away. If that requires some effort and hard work and facing down fears, then so be it. I’ll pay that price willingly. I won’t go to my grave thinking of the people I might have helped but didn’t because I was too lazy and fearful to make the effort. Hard work IS painful when life is devoid of purpose. But when you live for something greater than yourself and the gratification of your own ego, then hard work becomes a labor of love. Who wants to work hard for money? You want to dedicate your whole life to collecting smelly pieces of paper with pictures of dead people on them? What kind of pathetic motivation is that? Of course you’ll cringe at the thought of hard work if that’s all you care about. But there are so many more interesting things to live for that make hard work worthwhile. And this requires getting out of your own little shell of personal gripes and fears and taking a look at the rest of the world and asking yourself, “How can I contribute?”
    Jul 14, 2011 1028
  • 14 Jul 2011
    Working hard and setting limits… a. Can a person work a maximum of 40 hours a week at something and still be successful? b. Real-life story problem #1: I’ve recently graduated from university and launched into full time work with the company I have been working part time with for the last 3 years. I love working there and I get paid on an hourly rate so that the more hours I work, the more money I get. I like the idea of working 40 hour weeks or less, so that I have more time to do my own things, but my boss is encouraging me to treat those 40 hours as a minimum! Consequently, I find myself surrounded by workers that work 60+ hours a week and myself working 50 hours a week or more. So I guess I’m torn between working a 40 hour week and having more time to focus on other things in my life or working 50+ hours a week and getting the extra money and industry experience. So should I work more hours or less? Why? What other factors should I consider? c. Real-life story problem #2: Extreme programming is a set of rules/mindsets/methods for programming. On the one hand, several of those methods aim at keeping you as hard working and productive as possible. On the other hand, the official “rules” almost forbid you to work more than 40 hours per week. So working as hard as you can for 8 hours, 5 days a week, but not more. This ‘d be a nice statement to react upon for both of them. d. Is a day’s work it’s own reward, or is there a way to change your perspective regarding mind-numbing work so that it becomes fun? Here is my response, and here is Fred’s. In this case while we both agree on the importance of being well-rested and that fatigue kills creativity, we each have a different way of describing how to actually work. Fred gives the example of putting in short days, working from 10am to 4:30pm with a long family lunch in between. I recommend a more cyclical approach of working hard with tremendous focus and then resting completely. If I’m feeling lazy and don’t want to work very much, it’s a sign I’m tired or I’m feeling burnt out — it means I’ve been “overtraining.” And in that case, I’ll take a day or two off with no work at all to rest and recover completely. I’ll spend time sharpening the saw — reading, journaling, reflecting, revising my goals, visualizing where I want to go. I’ll take a nap. I’ll read over some old feedback emails to remind myself of what effect I’m having. I’ll ask those big “why” questions again until I absolutely want to go back to work. If you really love what you do, then what’s so painful about putting in a 8-hour day on it? When I’d go to Disneyland, I’d want to go there from when the park opened until the park closed and pack in as much fun in a day as I could muster. If work is play, then why not play hard and squeeze more juice out of it? Fred says, “I see a day’s work as a day’s punishment.” To me that’s suggests you want the end result of what you’re trying to achieve, but you don’t enjoy the path to get there. This comes from setting goals that focus too much on the end but not paying enough attention to the means. If I think “I have to work,” that’s a problem. For me it has to be, “I want to work.” After all, being an entrepreneur I don’t actually have to work much at all to support myself, so if I don’t want to do it, I won’t. But the desire to work, not the compulsion to work, is what got me out of bed at 5am this morning, full of enthusiasm to get going on a fun new day. If you’re at Disneyland, are you going to procrastinate on going on the rides? C’mon, this isn’t painful. Do you think I’m feeling stressed out doing what I do — writing, working on speeches, improving my web site, communicating with people, etc.? Where’s the pain? Where’s the stress? A day’s punishment? Why would I want to avoid this? And yet, all of this is productive work for me — it contributes directly to my purpose. Punishment would be forcibly keeping me away from it. Getting work done through other people, as Fred suggests, is great. No argument there. That’s the whole idea of leverage, and you’ll have a hard time getting anywhere financially if you don’t use leverage. My favorite form of leverage is technology — it does the dirty work like processing and filling orders through my game site and automatically depositing money into my bank account each day. But no matter how much you leverage outside factors like people and technology and capital, the ultimate form of leverage is still your own time. Time is the juice of life; if you aren’t living passionately and loving what you do each day, to me that’s punishing yourself, and your accomplishments won’t provide much fulfillment if you aren’t enjoying the journey. If you find the path to your goal so painful that you feel you must minimize the time you spend on it, regardless of how much you lust for the final destination, then you’re on the wrong path. Before you embark on any path ask the question, does this path have a heart? If the answer is no, you will know it and then you must choose another path. The trouble is that nobody asks the question. And when a man finally realizes that he has taken a path without a heart the path is ready to kill him. - Carlos Castaneda So ask the question. Does your path have a heart? This is one of those questions where you will know with certainty if the answer is yes. If you aren’t certain it’s a yes, then it’s a no. Don’t take the path without a heart, regardless of where you think it will lead you and how great it will be when you finally arrive. Find another way to get there. I know it’s not easy to find a way to make a great living doing what you love each and every day, but it’s a lot easier than the alternative.
    985 Posted by UniqueThis
  • Working hard and setting limits… a. Can a person work a maximum of 40 hours a week at something and still be successful? b. Real-life story problem #1: I’ve recently graduated from university and launched into full time work with the company I have been working part time with for the last 3 years. I love working there and I get paid on an hourly rate so that the more hours I work, the more money I get. I like the idea of working 40 hour weeks or less, so that I have more time to do my own things, but my boss is encouraging me to treat those 40 hours as a minimum! Consequently, I find myself surrounded by workers that work 60+ hours a week and myself working 50 hours a week or more. So I guess I’m torn between working a 40 hour week and having more time to focus on other things in my life or working 50+ hours a week and getting the extra money and industry experience. So should I work more hours or less? Why? What other factors should I consider? c. Real-life story problem #2: Extreme programming is a set of rules/mindsets/methods for programming. On the one hand, several of those methods aim at keeping you as hard working and productive as possible. On the other hand, the official “rules” almost forbid you to work more than 40 hours per week. So working as hard as you can for 8 hours, 5 days a week, but not more. This ‘d be a nice statement to react upon for both of them. d. Is a day’s work it’s own reward, or is there a way to change your perspective regarding mind-numbing work so that it becomes fun? Here is my response, and here is Fred’s. In this case while we both agree on the importance of being well-rested and that fatigue kills creativity, we each have a different way of describing how to actually work. Fred gives the example of putting in short days, working from 10am to 4:30pm with a long family lunch in between. I recommend a more cyclical approach of working hard with tremendous focus and then resting completely. If I’m feeling lazy and don’t want to work very much, it’s a sign I’m tired or I’m feeling burnt out — it means I’ve been “overtraining.” And in that case, I’ll take a day or two off with no work at all to rest and recover completely. I’ll spend time sharpening the saw — reading, journaling, reflecting, revising my goals, visualizing where I want to go. I’ll take a nap. I’ll read over some old feedback emails to remind myself of what effect I’m having. I’ll ask those big “why” questions again until I absolutely want to go back to work. If you really love what you do, then what’s so painful about putting in a 8-hour day on it? When I’d go to Disneyland, I’d want to go there from when the park opened until the park closed and pack in as much fun in a day as I could muster. If work is play, then why not play hard and squeeze more juice out of it? Fred says, “I see a day’s work as a day’s punishment.” To me that’s suggests you want the end result of what you’re trying to achieve, but you don’t enjoy the path to get there. This comes from setting goals that focus too much on the end but not paying enough attention to the means. If I think “I have to work,” that’s a problem. For me it has to be, “I want to work.” After all, being an entrepreneur I don’t actually have to work much at all to support myself, so if I don’t want to do it, I won’t. But the desire to work, not the compulsion to work, is what got me out of bed at 5am this morning, full of enthusiasm to get going on a fun new day. If you’re at Disneyland, are you going to procrastinate on going on the rides? C’mon, this isn’t painful. Do you think I’m feeling stressed out doing what I do — writing, working on speeches, improving my web site, communicating with people, etc.? Where’s the pain? Where’s the stress? A day’s punishment? Why would I want to avoid this? And yet, all of this is productive work for me — it contributes directly to my purpose. Punishment would be forcibly keeping me away from it. Getting work done through other people, as Fred suggests, is great. No argument there. That’s the whole idea of leverage, and you’ll have a hard time getting anywhere financially if you don’t use leverage. My favorite form of leverage is technology — it does the dirty work like processing and filling orders through my game site and automatically depositing money into my bank account each day. But no matter how much you leverage outside factors like people and technology and capital, the ultimate form of leverage is still your own time. Time is the juice of life; if you aren’t living passionately and loving what you do each day, to me that’s punishing yourself, and your accomplishments won’t provide much fulfillment if you aren’t enjoying the journey. If you find the path to your goal so painful that you feel you must minimize the time you spend on it, regardless of how much you lust for the final destination, then you’re on the wrong path. Before you embark on any path ask the question, does this path have a heart? If the answer is no, you will know it and then you must choose another path. The trouble is that nobody asks the question. And when a man finally realizes that he has taken a path without a heart the path is ready to kill him. - Carlos Castaneda So ask the question. Does your path have a heart? This is one of those questions where you will know with certainty if the answer is yes. If you aren’t certain it’s a yes, then it’s a no. Don’t take the path without a heart, regardless of where you think it will lead you and how great it will be when you finally arrive. Find another way to get there. I know it’s not easy to find a way to make a great living doing what you love each and every day, but it’s a lot easier than the alternative.
    Jul 14, 2011 985
  • 14 Jul 2011
    As children we all hear the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” So we grow up, we pick a career and work at it for a while. But then what? Does the choice we made at age 20 bind us until age 65? For many people that seems to be exactly what happens, and that’s a fine choice if you’ve made it consciously. But there’s no rule that says you have to pick one career and stick with it until you retire. You can enjoy many different careers if you so choose. Many people experience this by accident (such as when they lose a job), but you can also do it by choice. Sometimes young people are paralyzed when faced with choosing a lifetime career. Picking one thing means denying yourself everything else. What if you have a lot of different interests? Pick one career and get started. Go into it with the expectation of mastering it, but also feel free to move onto something else when you get bored. A career switch will often give you much more growth than staying in the same line of work for decades. Consider Leonardo da Vinci, one of the greatest geniuses of all time (if not THE greatest). His interests included painting, sculpting, engineering, architecture, science, geology, anatomy, flight, optics, gravity, and lots more. This variety of interests served him well because he was able to use his scientific knowledge to improve his art (more realistic and precise artwork) and his art skills to improve his science (detailed drawings and diagrams). Instead of trying to follow 10 different interests at once though, try to focus on one or two at a time. But keep open the possibility that you can switch down the road. So if you love art and music and medicine but can’t find a way to combine them into a single career, try pursuing one in your 20s and 30s, one in your 40s and 50s, and another in your 60s and 70s. As you age your priorities will shift. There’s a strong chance that the career you choose at age 20 will be a lot less interesting to you at age 35. Even if you have to take a massive pay cut to do something else, it may be worth it for the experience. The money isn’t going to make you happy anyway if you no longer love what you do. Let your career become a dynamic experience instead of a static one if that appeals to you. The people around you will probably whine a lot when you switch careers, but don’t let that bother you. There’s no honor in sticking to a path that doesn’t have a heart.
    1077 Posted by UniqueThis
  • As children we all hear the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” So we grow up, we pick a career and work at it for a while. But then what? Does the choice we made at age 20 bind us until age 65? For many people that seems to be exactly what happens, and that’s a fine choice if you’ve made it consciously. But there’s no rule that says you have to pick one career and stick with it until you retire. You can enjoy many different careers if you so choose. Many people experience this by accident (such as when they lose a job), but you can also do it by choice. Sometimes young people are paralyzed when faced with choosing a lifetime career. Picking one thing means denying yourself everything else. What if you have a lot of different interests? Pick one career and get started. Go into it with the expectation of mastering it, but also feel free to move onto something else when you get bored. A career switch will often give you much more growth than staying in the same line of work for decades. Consider Leonardo da Vinci, one of the greatest geniuses of all time (if not THE greatest). His interests included painting, sculpting, engineering, architecture, science, geology, anatomy, flight, optics, gravity, and lots more. This variety of interests served him well because he was able to use his scientific knowledge to improve his art (more realistic and precise artwork) and his art skills to improve his science (detailed drawings and diagrams). Instead of trying to follow 10 different interests at once though, try to focus on one or two at a time. But keep open the possibility that you can switch down the road. So if you love art and music and medicine but can’t find a way to combine them into a single career, try pursuing one in your 20s and 30s, one in your 40s and 50s, and another in your 60s and 70s. As you age your priorities will shift. There’s a strong chance that the career you choose at age 20 will be a lot less interesting to you at age 35. Even if you have to take a massive pay cut to do something else, it may be worth it for the experience. The money isn’t going to make you happy anyway if you no longer love what you do. Let your career become a dynamic experience instead of a static one if that appeals to you. The people around you will probably whine a lot when you switch careers, but don’t let that bother you. There’s no honor in sticking to a path that doesn’t have a heart.
    Jul 14, 2011 1077
  • 14 Jul 2011
    Yesterday I was working in my home office, and my son Kyle was playing on the floor next to me, mostly trying to reorganize my bookshelf. Kyle stood up and pointed to an apple I was eating and said, “thash an apple.” Then he took about 5 steps towards me without holding on to anything — his very first steps. I quickly grabbed my wife, and with some encouragement we got him to do it again for her. Later that evening I gave a speech for Project Outreach, a 12-week business incubator program intended to help people start their own businesses and increase their financial success. I ended the speech by telling everyone how my wife and I were able to be at home to see our son take his first steps because our businesses gave us that kind of flexibility. We didn’t have to stick him in daycare just so we could both work. One reason people decide to work from home is the opportunity for greater freedom, and that perk is certainly there. But of course working from home can also be difficult and distracting if you have kids. I’d say the biggest breakthrough my wife and I figured out was to decide which hours of the day each of us is primarily responsible for the kids. So certain hours I’m in charge of the kids, and my wife has that responsibility the opposite hours. This means we each get a block of uninterrupted work time. This allows us to schedule complex tasks during those periods and less challenging tasks for when the kids might be interrupting us often. I can still get some work done with the kids playing in or near my office, but I also know that while I have the kids, my wife is at least getting her top priority work done. Also, while our son is napping, we’re both able to work productively.
    954 Posted by UniqueThis
  • Yesterday I was working in my home office, and my son Kyle was playing on the floor next to me, mostly trying to reorganize my bookshelf. Kyle stood up and pointed to an apple I was eating and said, “thash an apple.” Then he took about 5 steps towards me without holding on to anything — his very first steps. I quickly grabbed my wife, and with some encouragement we got him to do it again for her. Later that evening I gave a speech for Project Outreach, a 12-week business incubator program intended to help people start their own businesses and increase their financial success. I ended the speech by telling everyone how my wife and I were able to be at home to see our son take his first steps because our businesses gave us that kind of flexibility. We didn’t have to stick him in daycare just so we could both work. One reason people decide to work from home is the opportunity for greater freedom, and that perk is certainly there. But of course working from home can also be difficult and distracting if you have kids. I’d say the biggest breakthrough my wife and I figured out was to decide which hours of the day each of us is primarily responsible for the kids. So certain hours I’m in charge of the kids, and my wife has that responsibility the opposite hours. This means we each get a block of uninterrupted work time. This allows us to schedule complex tasks during those periods and less challenging tasks for when the kids might be interrupting us often. I can still get some work done with the kids playing in or near my office, but I also know that while I have the kids, my wife is at least getting her top priority work done. Also, while our son is napping, we’re both able to work productively.
    Jul 14, 2011 954
  • 14 Jul 2011
    I recently read that Malcolm Gladwell wrote most of his book Blink while away from his desk. He wrote at coffee shops, restaurants, and other public places. I’ve only done a little of this myself, but I’ve always found it a valuable practice. If I feel stuck in a creative rut, working in a public place is a great way to get new ideas flowing. On Monday I spent most of the day on the Las Vegas Strip (only a 20-minute drive from my house), alternating walking around and stopping at various places to write and/or eat. I didn’t bring my laptop — just a pen and some folded up paper. Mostly I was brainstorming, so as soon as I’d get an idea, I’d stop and sit somewhere and write it down along with any others that came to mind. Usually I could find a good place to sit, like a food court area, but sometimes I’d sit and write at a slot machine. Then I’d get up and start roaming again. I started at the south end of the Strip at the Luxor Hotel and gradually worked my way up to the new Wynn Hotel and then back again. With all the wacky themed hotels, there’s an abundance of visual stimulation — a giant pyramid, a castle, a miniature New York City, the Eiffel Tower, a pirate ship, Roman statues, a volcano… plus lions, tigers, and ferocious flamingos. I love the vibrancy of the Strip… the ching-ching-ching of the slot machines, the cheers and groans around the craps tables, the unskilled blackjack players who don’t know you should always hit a soft 17, the rowdy college kids, the happy newlyweds and their wedding parties, and of course… the buxom cocktail waitresses who look like they’re about to spill more than a tray of drinks. Oddly it’s sometimes easier to concentrate when I’m surrounded by distractions. I think the reason is that I know they’re distractions, so I can tune them out more easily. But in my home office, I’m surrounded by unconscious distractions — the kinds of things that seem important but aren’t. When you go out and leave your computer and internet connection behind, you can’t succumb to routine distractions as easily. If you bring only one kind of work with you, like a pen and paper for brainstorming, you can’t easily kid yourself that you’re working when you aren’t. You can’t simply claim to be working merely because you’re at the office. The line between working and not working becomes much sharper. Try spending at least a half day away from your usual work environment. Walk around, eat at interesting places, and just sit for a while. Change your scenery often. Bring some simple work where you can carry all the materials in your pocket, like a pen and paper for brainstorming. If you can’t take the time away from your office to do this, then do it for yourself on one of your days off. Take a list of decisions you need to make, and consider them one by one as you walk. Set some new goals. Write a personal mission statement. Great ideas don’t always come knocking on your office door. A day outside can help scramble those stale inputs and get your creative juices flowing again.
    1040 Posted by UniqueThis
  • I recently read that Malcolm Gladwell wrote most of his book Blink while away from his desk. He wrote at coffee shops, restaurants, and other public places. I’ve only done a little of this myself, but I’ve always found it a valuable practice. If I feel stuck in a creative rut, working in a public place is a great way to get new ideas flowing. On Monday I spent most of the day on the Las Vegas Strip (only a 20-minute drive from my house), alternating walking around and stopping at various places to write and/or eat. I didn’t bring my laptop — just a pen and some folded up paper. Mostly I was brainstorming, so as soon as I’d get an idea, I’d stop and sit somewhere and write it down along with any others that came to mind. Usually I could find a good place to sit, like a food court area, but sometimes I’d sit and write at a slot machine. Then I’d get up and start roaming again. I started at the south end of the Strip at the Luxor Hotel and gradually worked my way up to the new Wynn Hotel and then back again. With all the wacky themed hotels, there’s an abundance of visual stimulation — a giant pyramid, a castle, a miniature New York City, the Eiffel Tower, a pirate ship, Roman statues, a volcano… plus lions, tigers, and ferocious flamingos. I love the vibrancy of the Strip… the ching-ching-ching of the slot machines, the cheers and groans around the craps tables, the unskilled blackjack players who don’t know you should always hit a soft 17, the rowdy college kids, the happy newlyweds and their wedding parties, and of course… the buxom cocktail waitresses who look like they’re about to spill more than a tray of drinks. Oddly it’s sometimes easier to concentrate when I’m surrounded by distractions. I think the reason is that I know they’re distractions, so I can tune them out more easily. But in my home office, I’m surrounded by unconscious distractions — the kinds of things that seem important but aren’t. When you go out and leave your computer and internet connection behind, you can’t succumb to routine distractions as easily. If you bring only one kind of work with you, like a pen and paper for brainstorming, you can’t easily kid yourself that you’re working when you aren’t. You can’t simply claim to be working merely because you’re at the office. The line between working and not working becomes much sharper. Try spending at least a half day away from your usual work environment. Walk around, eat at interesting places, and just sit for a while. Change your scenery often. Bring some simple work where you can carry all the materials in your pocket, like a pen and paper for brainstorming. If you can’t take the time away from your office to do this, then do it for yourself on one of your days off. Take a list of decisions you need to make, and consider them one by one as you walk. Set some new goals. Write a personal mission statement. Great ideas don’t always come knocking on your office door. A day outside can help scramble those stale inputs and get your creative juices flowing again.
    Jul 14, 2011 1040
  • 14 Jul 2011
    Once you’ve defined your purpose and identified some goals and projects based on that purpose, most likely you’ll find that you’ll have to move in a very different direction. You may have been trekking down your current path for years, and now you’ve set a whole new direction. It’s possible that almost every part of your life will have to change — your health habits, social relationships, work/career, and even your spiritual practices. Having gone through such a transition myself multiple times (usually by conscious decision), I have some advice to share about making such a transition you may find helpful. Shifting Gears Clarity is greatly reduced whenever you turn a corner in life, so the first thing you can expect when you change directions is that you’ll experience a tremendous lack of clarity. Imagine you’re driving a car through a busy downtown area. You may be able to clearly see the road for many blocks ahead of you. But if you’re about to make a turn, you may not be able to see more than a few yards around the corner as you approach it. Your view is blocked by obstacles, and if it’s a road you’ve never been down before, you won’t quite know what to expect. However, once you’ve completed most of the turn, you will again be able to see very far down the road in your new direction. Life is much the same way. Your ability to see what lies ahead will be very limited as you shift directions, but as you complete the turn, clarity will once again return. I experienced this when I shifted my career last year from full-time software publishing to full-time writing and speaking. Before I committed to the transition, I had only a fuzzy notion of what the new career would be like. No matter how much planning I did, it was still fuzzy — there were simply too many variables I couldn’t predict. I was out of my element. As I began to transition, almost every week I had to rethink my plans — long-term planning was impossible because I was constantly learning new things that would corrupt my old plans. I had to live one day at a time through much of it. But after a few months, I was able to get my bearings and could see the road ahead of me very clearly. Then I was able to again set long-term goals with confidence. Take Your Time When you make a big transition in your life, take your time. You don’t have to change every area of your life simultaneously within the next 30 days. Changing too many things at once can be stressful, so take steps to manage the stress by keeping some parts of your life stable as you change others. If you turn a corner too fast, you’ll flip your car or spin out of control. But even if you take the turn gradually, you’ll still feel a force pulling you to the side. You have to maintain your grip on the wheel and keep control as you change directions. Once you’ve completed the turn, then you can relax and loosen up a bit — your new momentum will carry you forward. During the past two years, my wife and I had a second child, we moved our family and businesses from Los Angeles to Las Vegas (with all the side-effects of moving to a new state), I began a whole new career, and we bought a new house earlier this year. My local social circle has changed completely — most of the people I spend the most time with now are people I didn’t even know two years ago. And then there’s all the personal development work I did, which caused me to experience many personal changes during this time, including changes in long-term habits. This was a lot of change, and if we tried to do it all at once, it would have been overwhelming. But by splitting it up and spreading it out over many months, it became manageable. After our son was born and while we moved to Vegas, we kept our careers and incomes stable. Then we took a few months to get settled into our new city (new preschool for our daughter, exploring the city). Once we had a stable routine going, then I began building new skills and developing a local social network, and a few months later, I made the career switch full-time. During that time my wife kept her career and income stable, while mine was unstable. Now over the next year my work and my income are likely to change even more, so I’m keeping the other parts of my life relatively stable. Usually I’m operating outside my comfort zone in at least one area of my life (but not all areas), and I find that the more I do this, the more simultaneous change I’m able to tolerate. Preparing Your Environment for Change One easy step you can take in beginning your transition is to prepare your environment to help reinforce your new goals. Most likely your environment reflects your current identity, so if you want to change your identity, you can start by changing your environment. For example, one of the first things I did when transitioning from software to speaking was to reorganize my office. I asked myself, “What kind of office would a professional speaker/writer have, and how would it be different from that of a software developer?” I made a list of changes and then implemented them quickly. I removed all my game programming books, packed up my shareware awards, packed up all the games, etc. I reorganized my filing cabinet with empty file folders for future speeches and cleared some shelf space for new books. This created a void to be filled with the trappings of my new career. I did this clearing process about a year ago, and now that void is filled. My files are full of past speeches and reference material. My bookshelf holds new books on speaking, writing, and personal development. I have a shelf with a half-dozen speech contest trophies and plaques. So every time I walk into my office, it reinforces my identity as a speaker/writer. I’ve written more about this here: Environmental Reinforcement of Your Goals Dealing With Social Resistance Aside from the things in your environment, you also have to deal with the people. Many readers have told me that social resistance is a big problem for them. They make a plan to change their lives, and then their friends or family talk them out of it. You need to trust your own judgment more than the opinions of others. Even if you turn out to be wrong, you’ll learn more about yourself in the process and will be able to make better decisions in the future. Many people fear change, and your attempt to change your life for the better is perceived as a threat. Ask yourself which of your friends will be able to handle the new you once you’ve completed the transition? Will you still be able to be friends after the change? Close, genuine friendships can handle such a transition. But many casual friendships and associations cannot. The same goes for other relationships. Many relationships do not survive such a change. But what kind of relationship did you have anyway if making a change to better your life results in a breakup? It just means the relationship was based on something impermanent. You’re better off making the change and seeing if your relationship is strong enough to handle it than using the relationship as an excuse for staying put. A good relationship should help you grow, not hold you back, and there’s nothing wrong with temporary relationships. A breakup is not the end of the world. People do it every day and live to talk about it. When I transitioned to building a personal development business, a lot of casual friendships were broken. It’s probably no surprise that many people in the gaming industry don’t respect the field of personal development, even though they often invest enormous time in improving their technical skills (which I see as a form of personal development). Such people reacted to my change as if it was a personal affront. I expected this though, so it didn’t slow me down. I went through the same thing when I first started my games business. When you make a big change in your life, you can expect social resistance regardless of the nature of the change. Social resistance is ubiquitous– don’t take it as a sign that you’re doing anything wrong. Use your own intelligence to figure out if you’re on the right path. No matter how right your decision is, there will be people to tell you you’re wrong and that you’re making a big mistake. Just allow those people to be upset, and be on your merry way. Don’t take it personally. Most of all, don’t argue with them — you’re just wasting your breath. Focus on taking action, and let them adjust if they can. I believe the best way to confront social resistance is by counteracting it with social harmony. Get involved with a new social group that will mitigate the effects of your old group. Develop new friendships in harmony with your new self-image. I recommend you do this as early as possible, before you break off any old relationships that can’t handle the transition. Start spending more time with your new reference group than your old one. Your new group will help pull you in the direction you want to go, which will automatically loosen the bonds with your old group. You’ll naturally enjoy spending more time with people who are encouraging you and less time with those who are discouraging you. For me this involved joining Toastmasters, which is an organization devoted to personal growth, communication, and leadership skills. Over a period of several months, I built a new social circle starting with a single Toastmasters club and gradually branching outward, and my old reference group gradually faded as I spent less and less time in their midst. A few old friendships were able to endure this transition with me. Some people that knew me for years as a game developer were able to accept my new identity, so we still keep in touch, but the nature of these friendships has changed. I think the best friendships are those that can stand the test of time, where the friendship is based more on who you are than on what you do or what you have. For Deep Space Nine fans, say you’re friends with Curzon Dax. Could you still be friends with Jadzia or Ezri? It depends on the nature of the friendship. I’ve written more about this here: Are Your Friends an Elevator or a Cage? When you consciously undergo a major life transition, be patient with yourself. When you meet with environmental or social resistance, take steps to reduce or minimize the resistance instead of struggling against it. Expect that clarity will be reduced as you turn the corner, but know that it will return as you’re speeding off in a new direction. Managing a major life transition is a lot of work, but you’ll come out the other side in a much better position. The long-term gain is well-worth the short-term pain.
    1592 Posted by UniqueThis
  • Once you’ve defined your purpose and identified some goals and projects based on that purpose, most likely you’ll find that you’ll have to move in a very different direction. You may have been trekking down your current path for years, and now you’ve set a whole new direction. It’s possible that almost every part of your life will have to change — your health habits, social relationships, work/career, and even your spiritual practices. Having gone through such a transition myself multiple times (usually by conscious decision), I have some advice to share about making such a transition you may find helpful. Shifting Gears Clarity is greatly reduced whenever you turn a corner in life, so the first thing you can expect when you change directions is that you’ll experience a tremendous lack of clarity. Imagine you’re driving a car through a busy downtown area. You may be able to clearly see the road for many blocks ahead of you. But if you’re about to make a turn, you may not be able to see more than a few yards around the corner as you approach it. Your view is blocked by obstacles, and if it’s a road you’ve never been down before, you won’t quite know what to expect. However, once you’ve completed most of the turn, you will again be able to see very far down the road in your new direction. Life is much the same way. Your ability to see what lies ahead will be very limited as you shift directions, but as you complete the turn, clarity will once again return. I experienced this when I shifted my career last year from full-time software publishing to full-time writing and speaking. Before I committed to the transition, I had only a fuzzy notion of what the new career would be like. No matter how much planning I did, it was still fuzzy — there were simply too many variables I couldn’t predict. I was out of my element. As I began to transition, almost every week I had to rethink my plans — long-term planning was impossible because I was constantly learning new things that would corrupt my old plans. I had to live one day at a time through much of it. But after a few months, I was able to get my bearings and could see the road ahead of me very clearly. Then I was able to again set long-term goals with confidence. Take Your Time When you make a big transition in your life, take your time. You don’t have to change every area of your life simultaneously within the next 30 days. Changing too many things at once can be stressful, so take steps to manage the stress by keeping some parts of your life stable as you change others. If you turn a corner too fast, you’ll flip your car or spin out of control. But even if you take the turn gradually, you’ll still feel a force pulling you to the side. You have to maintain your grip on the wheel and keep control as you change directions. Once you’ve completed the turn, then you can relax and loosen up a bit — your new momentum will carry you forward. During the past two years, my wife and I had a second child, we moved our family and businesses from Los Angeles to Las Vegas (with all the side-effects of moving to a new state), I began a whole new career, and we bought a new house earlier this year. My local social circle has changed completely — most of the people I spend the most time with now are people I didn’t even know two years ago. And then there’s all the personal development work I did, which caused me to experience many personal changes during this time, including changes in long-term habits. This was a lot of change, and if we tried to do it all at once, it would have been overwhelming. But by splitting it up and spreading it out over many months, it became manageable. After our son was born and while we moved to Vegas, we kept our careers and incomes stable. Then we took a few months to get settled into our new city (new preschool for our daughter, exploring the city). Once we had a stable routine going, then I began building new skills and developing a local social network, and a few months later, I made the career switch full-time. During that time my wife kept her career and income stable, while mine was unstable. Now over the next year my work and my income are likely to change even more, so I’m keeping the other parts of my life relatively stable. Usually I’m operating outside my comfort zone in at least one area of my life (but not all areas), and I find that the more I do this, the more simultaneous change I’m able to tolerate. Preparing Your Environment for Change One easy step you can take in beginning your transition is to prepare your environment to help reinforce your new goals. Most likely your environment reflects your current identity, so if you want to change your identity, you can start by changing your environment. For example, one of the first things I did when transitioning from software to speaking was to reorganize my office. I asked myself, “What kind of office would a professional speaker/writer have, and how would it be different from that of a software developer?” I made a list of changes and then implemented them quickly. I removed all my game programming books, packed up my shareware awards, packed up all the games, etc. I reorganized my filing cabinet with empty file folders for future speeches and cleared some shelf space for new books. This created a void to be filled with the trappings of my new career. I did this clearing process about a year ago, and now that void is filled. My files are full of past speeches and reference material. My bookshelf holds new books on speaking, writing, and personal development. I have a shelf with a half-dozen speech contest trophies and plaques. So every time I walk into my office, it reinforces my identity as a speaker/writer. I’ve written more about this here: Environmental Reinforcement of Your Goals Dealing With Social Resistance Aside from the things in your environment, you also have to deal with the people. Many readers have told me that social resistance is a big problem for them. They make a plan to change their lives, and then their friends or family talk them out of it. You need to trust your own judgment more than the opinions of others. Even if you turn out to be wrong, you’ll learn more about yourself in the process and will be able to make better decisions in the future. Many people fear change, and your attempt to change your life for the better is perceived as a threat. Ask yourself which of your friends will be able to handle the new you once you’ve completed the transition? Will you still be able to be friends after the change? Close, genuine friendships can handle such a transition. But many casual friendships and associations cannot. The same goes for other relationships. Many relationships do not survive such a change. But what kind of relationship did you have anyway if making a change to better your life results in a breakup? It just means the relationship was based on something impermanent. You’re better off making the change and seeing if your relationship is strong enough to handle it than using the relationship as an excuse for staying put. A good relationship should help you grow, not hold you back, and there’s nothing wrong with temporary relationships. A breakup is not the end of the world. People do it every day and live to talk about it. When I transitioned to building a personal development business, a lot of casual friendships were broken. It’s probably no surprise that many people in the gaming industry don’t respect the field of personal development, even though they often invest enormous time in improving their technical skills (which I see as a form of personal development). Such people reacted to my change as if it was a personal affront. I expected this though, so it didn’t slow me down. I went through the same thing when I first started my games business. When you make a big change in your life, you can expect social resistance regardless of the nature of the change. Social resistance is ubiquitous– don’t take it as a sign that you’re doing anything wrong. Use your own intelligence to figure out if you’re on the right path. No matter how right your decision is, there will be people to tell you you’re wrong and that you’re making a big mistake. Just allow those people to be upset, and be on your merry way. Don’t take it personally. Most of all, don’t argue with them — you’re just wasting your breath. Focus on taking action, and let them adjust if they can. I believe the best way to confront social resistance is by counteracting it with social harmony. Get involved with a new social group that will mitigate the effects of your old group. Develop new friendships in harmony with your new self-image. I recommend you do this as early as possible, before you break off any old relationships that can’t handle the transition. Start spending more time with your new reference group than your old one. Your new group will help pull you in the direction you want to go, which will automatically loosen the bonds with your old group. You’ll naturally enjoy spending more time with people who are encouraging you and less time with those who are discouraging you. For me this involved joining Toastmasters, which is an organization devoted to personal growth, communication, and leadership skills. Over a period of several months, I built a new social circle starting with a single Toastmasters club and gradually branching outward, and my old reference group gradually faded as I spent less and less time in their midst. A few old friendships were able to endure this transition with me. Some people that knew me for years as a game developer were able to accept my new identity, so we still keep in touch, but the nature of these friendships has changed. I think the best friendships are those that can stand the test of time, where the friendship is based more on who you are than on what you do or what you have. For Deep Space Nine fans, say you’re friends with Curzon Dax. Could you still be friends with Jadzia or Ezri? It depends on the nature of the friendship. I’ve written more about this here: Are Your Friends an Elevator or a Cage? When you consciously undergo a major life transition, be patient with yourself. When you meet with environmental or social resistance, take steps to reduce or minimize the resistance instead of struggling against it. Expect that clarity will be reduced as you turn the corner, but know that it will return as you’re speeding off in a new direction. Managing a major life transition is a lot of work, but you’ll come out the other side in a much better position. The long-term gain is well-worth the short-term pain.
    Jul 14, 2011 1592
  • 14 Jul 2011
    A frequent question I ask when trying to improve some area of my life is: If I were to rate this area’s current performance on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being the worst imaginable and 10 being the best imaginable, where am I right now? Very often I find that areas get stuck somewhere in the 6-8 range, usually at a 7. A 7 seems very close to a 9 or 10, but often a 7 is a local maximum — you can’t get any higher by continuing to follow the same path that got you to that 7 in the first place. You’re already at a peak. The only way to reach a true 9 or 10 is to climb back down (sometimes back to a 2 or 3) and take a new path. How many times do people get stuck at a 7 and remain there for years? Is your job a 7? Your health? Your relationship? Your family life? Your self-esteem? Is it likely to improve much if you keep heading down the same path you’ve been on for the past year? A 7 is pretty good. At this level you feel generally content. It’s OK, fine, acceptable, satisfactory. A 7 is above average. Compared to most people, you’d say your 7 isn’t bad at all. You feel like you’re ahead of the pack. People often get to a 7 and then coast for a long time. At a 2 or 3, you know something is very wrong, and you’re probably driven to action. But a 7 is like a warm bath. It’s cozy and non-threatening. You feel fairly safe at a 7. So why are you stuck there? Are you waiting for everyone else to catch up? Getting past a 7 is hard. It can take more effort to get past a 7 than it takes to reach a 7 in the first place. Some people would complain that it takes too long to get past a 7. But the truth is that the time is going to pass anyway. Even if it takes 5-10 years, you might as well get yourself to a higher level within that time, since the years are going to pass anyway. Whenever I feel I’ve gotten stuck at a 7, I stop and ask myself: What would a 10 look like? It’s a simple question, but forcing myself to list the specific factors that would be part of a 10 and which differentiate a 10 from an 8 or 9 helps me get clear about my definition of the best. Then I can start setting some clear goals to get me moving in that direction. You might be able to go from a 6 to a 7 in a week or a month, perhaps even a day with conscious effort. A few tweaks here and there, and you’ve got it. But to go from a 7 to an 8 might take a year or two. 7 doesn’t always connect with 8. You might have to take a path like 7-6-4-2-3-4-5-6-5-4-6-7-8 to get there. Sometimes getting to an 8+ requires a career change (it did for me). Or it may require a relationship change, a diet change, a location change, or re-education. Escape the trap of 7 Don’t let yourself get stuck in the trap of 7. Define your 10 in writing, and ask yourself if you can transition smoothly from your 7 to that 10. Maybe you’re already on the right path and can see the trail ahead of you with great clarity. But for most people this isn’t the case. The path to a 10 may lead through the darkness of 2 or 3, maybe even 1. But you will eventually get through it and re-emerge on a new path. And even if the very next path you try doesn’t reach a 10, you’re still better off trying any other path than the one that dead-ends at 7. However, some people become overly attached to their 7s. You may be afraid you won’t be able to get to an 8 or 9 or 10 even if you try. What if you go for it, and the best you ever see again is a 5? Wouldn’t that be foolish? A bird in the hand…. Guess what? You could be right. I don’t know your situation, so I have to imagine that it’s entirely possible that if you leave behind your 7, you may never reach that level again. You could drop down to 3 or 4 and get stuck there and never rebound. You might quit your job and never find another career as good as the one you left. Maybe there are unseen factors you aren’t aware of. It’s a risk. What I can tell you though is what lies on the other side once you’ve left behind a 7. I’ve done it enough times to feel pretty comfortable describing what you’re likely to find. There is no 7 What you’ll find when you leave the comfort of your 7 and go chasing after that 10 is that your 7 was never a 7. It was only a 3. If you think you’re at a 7, you’re really at a 3 maximum. The 10 is way, way out there. You think you can see it, but your definition of a 10 is based on your experience of a 7, and you can’t even see a real 10 when you’re standing at 7. It’s beyond your ability to fathom. If you were to go out and find someone who’s actually at a 10 in your area and asked them how you were doing on a scale of 1 to 10, they’d be able to label your 7 accurately as a 3. How would an Olympic gymnast rate your current diet and exercise habits? Are you really at 70% of their level? Ask a couple that seems to be googly in love with each other how they’d rate your relationship? Ask the most motivated, successful person you know how they’d rate your career? Is your 7 really a 7? Or is it a 3? A perpetual 7 is a clue that the whole path is wrong A second discovery I’ve had is that when you’re stuck at a 7, you’re using the wrong type of rating criteria anyway. You’re rating your current status, your location on the path. What you should be rating is the path itself. What is your path right now? How clear is it? Where will it take you in 5-10 years? How would you rate the path itself if you were to view it outside of time? For example, in observing your health status, rate the path you’re on. Is your health declining or improving? Are your diet and exercise habits making you stronger and fitter and more resistant to disease, or are you becoming weaker and sicker? What path are you on? When you think about what path you’re on, rather than just your current position, you’ll become much more aware of where you really are on a scale of 1-10. Life is a journey, not a destination. When you get stuck at a 7, your path is the problem — it’s your path that’s really a 3 because it isn’t moving you forward. You’ve stagnated. In physics terms I’m saying that what matters is not your position but your velocity. Velocity is a vector which has both a direction and a speed. Where you’re headed and how quickly is more important than where you are. If you rate your position as a 7 but your speed is virtually nil (meaning that your situation is stable/stagnant), then your speed is probably no greater than 3. You’re moving at a snail’s pace. And when moving that slowly, you can’t overcome inertia, so you’ll only end up circling your current location — the direction of your velocity vector will keep shifting. You’ll feel unfocused, and even when you do manage to focus, it won’t last. If you try to make a change, your environment will simply pull you back to the same old status quo. You’ll never hit escape velocity. Things will only change when an outside force acts upon you and forces a radical shift in your velocity vector — you lose your job, get dumped, suffer a serious illness, etc. So how do you get out of a stuck situation (aside from waiting to be rescued)? You speed up — deliberately. You might get a bit scratched and bruised along the way. You might mess up your current relationship, your career, or your lifestyle. You won’t be able to see very far in front of you because everything will be moving faster than you’re used to. Sometimes you’ll just have to take it one day at a time and guess at the best direction. You might even hit a wall now and then. Bruises just come with the territory. But getting moving again is far better than remaining stuck. The wounds will heal, and I’ve always found an exciting new path to explore. It sure beats dying a slow death while waiting for the vultures to swoop down. As you do more and more of this kind of path switching, you’ll develop a higher tolerance for it. The pain won’t sting so much. The pain level is still the same, but you’ll be stronger and more capable of handling it. If you never do this path wandering though, you’ll grow weaker with each passing year. A thorn prick will be enough to send you fleeing back to the comfort of your previous position. You’ll be too afraid to venture far off the path. And most likely you’ll die right where you are. Your only hope will be that some other adventurer comes along and shows you a way out or that some event forces you out. But often that never happens, or it happens on terms that are much less pleasant than what you would have achieved through conscious action. You control the accelerator If you want to get onto a new path, you have to be the one to initiate it. Not me. Not your boss. Not your spouse. Not some divine being. It has to come from you. If you’ve stalled at a 7, it’s because you’ve slowed down. If you know your path is wrong, then you know you need to get off it. Take some time to figure out the best direction to go next, and then get moving. Take baby steps if you need to. Wear lots of protective gear. But just get moving. If you’re stuck then almost any path is better than remaining stagnant. Think of one small action you can take to get yourself moving in a new direction, and take it today. Don’t wait. Don’t put it off. Don’t suckle your 7. Wean yourself, and get moving again. You may not find that 9 or 10 position, but you can find that 9 or 10 path. There is no 10 As you begin charging ahead towards your 10, you’ll eventually discover that there is no 10, at least not in the sense of a fixed position. It was just a mirage. You may reach the 10 you defined back when you were a 7, but once you reach it, you’ll see a new 10 off in the distance. There will always be another pot of gold ahead of you. The real 10 is not some position. It’s the path itself. Human beings aren’t cattle — we aren’t supposed to be settled and domesticated. We need to keep things stirred up in order to continue learning and growing. No matter what fixed position you arrive at in life, it will never be fulfilling. Fulfillment comes from action, not position. If you want to experience deep fulfillment, take lots and lots of action. Action can be physical, mental, social — even spiritual. The only true security lies in action. No fixed position is ever secure. Security comes from dynamic action, knowing that no matter what happens, you can always do something about it. The true 10 is doing your best. And that can never be attained by standing still. Get moving!
    823 Posted by UniqueThis
  • A frequent question I ask when trying to improve some area of my life is: If I were to rate this area’s current performance on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being the worst imaginable and 10 being the best imaginable, where am I right now? Very often I find that areas get stuck somewhere in the 6-8 range, usually at a 7. A 7 seems very close to a 9 or 10, but often a 7 is a local maximum — you can’t get any higher by continuing to follow the same path that got you to that 7 in the first place. You’re already at a peak. The only way to reach a true 9 or 10 is to climb back down (sometimes back to a 2 or 3) and take a new path. How many times do people get stuck at a 7 and remain there for years? Is your job a 7? Your health? Your relationship? Your family life? Your self-esteem? Is it likely to improve much if you keep heading down the same path you’ve been on for the past year? A 7 is pretty good. At this level you feel generally content. It’s OK, fine, acceptable, satisfactory. A 7 is above average. Compared to most people, you’d say your 7 isn’t bad at all. You feel like you’re ahead of the pack. People often get to a 7 and then coast for a long time. At a 2 or 3, you know something is very wrong, and you’re probably driven to action. But a 7 is like a warm bath. It’s cozy and non-threatening. You feel fairly safe at a 7. So why are you stuck there? Are you waiting for everyone else to catch up? Getting past a 7 is hard. It can take more effort to get past a 7 than it takes to reach a 7 in the first place. Some people would complain that it takes too long to get past a 7. But the truth is that the time is going to pass anyway. Even if it takes 5-10 years, you might as well get yourself to a higher level within that time, since the years are going to pass anyway. Whenever I feel I’ve gotten stuck at a 7, I stop and ask myself: What would a 10 look like? It’s a simple question, but forcing myself to list the specific factors that would be part of a 10 and which differentiate a 10 from an 8 or 9 helps me get clear about my definition of the best. Then I can start setting some clear goals to get me moving in that direction. You might be able to go from a 6 to a 7 in a week or a month, perhaps even a day with conscious effort. A few tweaks here and there, and you’ve got it. But to go from a 7 to an 8 might take a year or two. 7 doesn’t always connect with 8. You might have to take a path like 7-6-4-2-3-4-5-6-5-4-6-7-8 to get there. Sometimes getting to an 8+ requires a career change (it did for me). Or it may require a relationship change, a diet change, a location change, or re-education. Escape the trap of 7 Don’t let yourself get stuck in the trap of 7. Define your 10 in writing, and ask yourself if you can transition smoothly from your 7 to that 10. Maybe you’re already on the right path and can see the trail ahead of you with great clarity. But for most people this isn’t the case. The path to a 10 may lead through the darkness of 2 or 3, maybe even 1. But you will eventually get through it and re-emerge on a new path. And even if the very next path you try doesn’t reach a 10, you’re still better off trying any other path than the one that dead-ends at 7. However, some people become overly attached to their 7s. You may be afraid you won’t be able to get to an 8 or 9 or 10 even if you try. What if you go for it, and the best you ever see again is a 5? Wouldn’t that be foolish? A bird in the hand…. Guess what? You could be right. I don’t know your situation, so I have to imagine that it’s entirely possible that if you leave behind your 7, you may never reach that level again. You could drop down to 3 or 4 and get stuck there and never rebound. You might quit your job and never find another career as good as the one you left. Maybe there are unseen factors you aren’t aware of. It’s a risk. What I can tell you though is what lies on the other side once you’ve left behind a 7. I’ve done it enough times to feel pretty comfortable describing what you’re likely to find. There is no 7 What you’ll find when you leave the comfort of your 7 and go chasing after that 10 is that your 7 was never a 7. It was only a 3. If you think you’re at a 7, you’re really at a 3 maximum. The 10 is way, way out there. You think you can see it, but your definition of a 10 is based on your experience of a 7, and you can’t even see a real 10 when you’re standing at 7. It’s beyond your ability to fathom. If you were to go out and find someone who’s actually at a 10 in your area and asked them how you were doing on a scale of 1 to 10, they’d be able to label your 7 accurately as a 3. How would an Olympic gymnast rate your current diet and exercise habits? Are you really at 70% of their level? Ask a couple that seems to be googly in love with each other how they’d rate your relationship? Ask the most motivated, successful person you know how they’d rate your career? Is your 7 really a 7? Or is it a 3? A perpetual 7 is a clue that the whole path is wrong A second discovery I’ve had is that when you’re stuck at a 7, you’re using the wrong type of rating criteria anyway. You’re rating your current status, your location on the path. What you should be rating is the path itself. What is your path right now? How clear is it? Where will it take you in 5-10 years? How would you rate the path itself if you were to view it outside of time? For example, in observing your health status, rate the path you’re on. Is your health declining or improving? Are your diet and exercise habits making you stronger and fitter and more resistant to disease, or are you becoming weaker and sicker? What path are you on? When you think about what path you’re on, rather than just your current position, you’ll become much more aware of where you really are on a scale of 1-10. Life is a journey, not a destination. When you get stuck at a 7, your path is the problem — it’s your path that’s really a 3 because it isn’t moving you forward. You’ve stagnated. In physics terms I’m saying that what matters is not your position but your velocity. Velocity is a vector which has both a direction and a speed. Where you’re headed and how quickly is more important than where you are. If you rate your position as a 7 but your speed is virtually nil (meaning that your situation is stable/stagnant), then your speed is probably no greater than 3. You’re moving at a snail’s pace. And when moving that slowly, you can’t overcome inertia, so you’ll only end up circling your current location — the direction of your velocity vector will keep shifting. You’ll feel unfocused, and even when you do manage to focus, it won’t last. If you try to make a change, your environment will simply pull you back to the same old status quo. You’ll never hit escape velocity. Things will only change when an outside force acts upon you and forces a radical shift in your velocity vector — you lose your job, get dumped, suffer a serious illness, etc. So how do you get out of a stuck situation (aside from waiting to be rescued)? You speed up — deliberately. You might get a bit scratched and bruised along the way. You might mess up your current relationship, your career, or your lifestyle. You won’t be able to see very far in front of you because everything will be moving faster than you’re used to. Sometimes you’ll just have to take it one day at a time and guess at the best direction. You might even hit a wall now and then. Bruises just come with the territory. But getting moving again is far better than remaining stuck. The wounds will heal, and I’ve always found an exciting new path to explore. It sure beats dying a slow death while waiting for the vultures to swoop down. As you do more and more of this kind of path switching, you’ll develop a higher tolerance for it. The pain won’t sting so much. The pain level is still the same, but you’ll be stronger and more capable of handling it. If you never do this path wandering though, you’ll grow weaker with each passing year. A thorn prick will be enough to send you fleeing back to the comfort of your previous position. You’ll be too afraid to venture far off the path. And most likely you’ll die right where you are. Your only hope will be that some other adventurer comes along and shows you a way out or that some event forces you out. But often that never happens, or it happens on terms that are much less pleasant than what you would have achieved through conscious action. You control the accelerator If you want to get onto a new path, you have to be the one to initiate it. Not me. Not your boss. Not your spouse. Not some divine being. It has to come from you. If you’ve stalled at a 7, it’s because you’ve slowed down. If you know your path is wrong, then you know you need to get off it. Take some time to figure out the best direction to go next, and then get moving. Take baby steps if you need to. Wear lots of protective gear. But just get moving. If you’re stuck then almost any path is better than remaining stagnant. Think of one small action you can take to get yourself moving in a new direction, and take it today. Don’t wait. Don’t put it off. Don’t suckle your 7. Wean yourself, and get moving again. You may not find that 9 or 10 position, but you can find that 9 or 10 path. There is no 10 As you begin charging ahead towards your 10, you’ll eventually discover that there is no 10, at least not in the sense of a fixed position. It was just a mirage. You may reach the 10 you defined back when you were a 7, but once you reach it, you’ll see a new 10 off in the distance. There will always be another pot of gold ahead of you. The real 10 is not some position. It’s the path itself. Human beings aren’t cattle — we aren’t supposed to be settled and domesticated. We need to keep things stirred up in order to continue learning and growing. No matter what fixed position you arrive at in life, it will never be fulfilling. Fulfillment comes from action, not position. If you want to experience deep fulfillment, take lots and lots of action. Action can be physical, mental, social — even spiritual. The only true security lies in action. No fixed position is ever secure. Security comes from dynamic action, knowing that no matter what happens, you can always do something about it. The true 10 is doing your best. And that can never be attained by standing still. Get moving!
    Jul 14, 2011 823
  • 14 Jul 2011
    Having played a fair amount of blackjack (I learned card counting when I was 21), I’ve noticed some interesting patterns in the way people play the game that seem to reflect larger life patterns. Background Story Feel free to skip ahead to the “Interesting Observations” section if you just want to read the lessons. This part simply provides some background info for the curious. When I was 21 years old and living in Los Angeles, some friends and I decided to take a weekend trip to Las Vegas, my first trip there as an adult. I decided to read up on some of the casino games before I went, so I could be prepared. I quickly learned that most of the casino games were skewed to give the house an advantage — how unfair is that? — but blackjack was supposedly beatable if you learned a technique known as card counting. So I bought a book on blackjack, learned the rules of the game, memorized the basic strategy, and then studied a simple +/- card counting system. It took a heck of a lot of practice and was tedious to learn, but I eventually felt comfortable with it. Then I was off to Vegas to try my luck with a whopping $40 of gambling money. Not much of a bankroll I know…. My friends and I stayed at the Aladdin Hotel (before it was demolished and rebuilt). Since there are many variations on blackjack rules, I scoped out the nearby casinos to find one that had the best player-favorable conditions. That turned out to be the Barbary Coast on the Strip (across the street from Caesar’s Palace), which had a nice double-deck game with liberal rules (the fewer the decks, the better for the player, all else being equal). Plus they offered a $2 minimum, so my $40 had a chance of lasting. $400 would have been a more adequate bankroll for that limit, but at the time I didn’t want to risk $400. I felt a bit intimidated playing blackjack for the first time in a real live casino. But I trusted I was as prepared as I could be, so I sat down and dove in. The preparation paid off, and after a few minutes I began to feel at ease. Aside from making a few minor etiquette mistakes, I played my hands perfectly and had no trouble keeping track of the cards. After a few hours of playing I had turned my $40 into $165 while betting only $2-10 per hand… making more than enough to pay for my trip expenses. This was during the time when you could still find buffets for about $5. After that first trip I was hooked on the game, not so much for the money but for the challenge of it. Card counting appealed to the nerd in me far more than the entrepreneur. I made many return trips to Vegas and played in dozens of different casinos all around the city. One of my favorite places to play was the Frontier Hotel, which used to have a single-deck game with generously player-favorable conditions. That was very lucrative until they changed their rules, like many other casinos eventually did, probably in large part due to card counters. Between Vegas trips I studied blackjack and card counting ever more deeply. I read 10-12 books on the subject and mastered different counting systems (Thorpe, Uston, Revere, etc.). I practiced advanced counting systems that keep a side-count of aces. I drilled myself until I could count down a deck of cards in under 14 seconds. I learned to vary the play of hands according to the count, memorized optimal strategies for different rule sets, and learned the subtleties of the game that would increase my edge even the slightest degree. We’re talking a total edge of maybe 1%. As I gained experience, I became comfortable doing all these mental gymnastics under actual casino conditions. I learned to play cat-and-mouse with the pit bosses. I even got a lot of comped meals for myself and my girlfriend (now my wife), although we got tired of eating at the same places over and over. Casinos have grown stingier with the comps, but back then you could play $5 blackjack for about 30 minutes and get a free buffet for two without much difficulty (and without being asked to join a players club). Card counting isn’t illegal, but casinos will kick you out for it and sometimes ban you for good. Fortunately I was never banished for life anywhere, and I was only kicked out once (from the Barbary Coast of all places). Mostly this was because I played only in the $5-25 or $10-50 range of betting… too small for the casinos to care much. At that level I certainly wasn’t going to get rich, but I was doing this more for fun than for profit. The funny thing is that now I live in Vegas, I hardly play blackjack at all… I’ve played only twice this whole year for a total of about 45 minutes (and won both times). Even though I found that card counting worked, I never seriously considered trying to make a career out of it. For one it’s very hard work, and for another it doesn’t contribute anything. I still enjoy blackjack as a diversion sometimes, and I like meeting people from around the world at the table, but I wouldn’t want to try to make a living from it. Interesting Observations While learning to master the game of blackjack, I made a number of observations in the way players approached the game, especially the contrast between novice and expert players. Most people who play blackjack are novice or intermediate players. During all the times I played blackjack, I felt I had identified another card counter at the same table with me on only two occasions. In both situations we could each tell the other person was counting cards, and we gave each other knowing looks. But card counters are extremely rare as a percentage of total players… way, way below 1%. Novices will make correct decisions most of the time. About 80-90% of the time, novices will play their hands the same way an expert player would. But the house gains a big advantage on the 10-20% of decisions they don’t make correctly. That 10-20% makes all the difference in the world between winning and losing because it’s cumulative. How is this different from other parts of life? An extra 10% makes a big difference. Eat 10% less food, and you lose weight. Save 10% of your income, and you retire a millionaire. Spend 10% of your day on some key goal, and by the end of the year, you’ve written a book, started a business, or found a mate. Novices miss golden opportunities. Novice blackjack players will almost invariably play their hands too conservatively. They’ll stand too often when they should hit, and they’ll fail to double down and split pairs as often as they should. They hesitate to hit 16 against a dealer’s 7 or to split a pair of 2s against a dealer’s 4. They give up a lot more to the house by playing defensively, trying not to bust. But expert players exploit every opportunity to maximize their wins, meaning that they’ll double and split far more often when the odds favor doing so. Expert players will bust more often, but they’ll also hit their big hands more often. You see a similar pattern in life too. High achievers will bust more often, while underachievers play too conservatively, afraid to take calculated risks for fear of losing what they have. In blackjack, it’s those splits and double down hands where you make your real money. Novice players think it’s the ten-ace blackjack hand that’s the best — the guaranteed win. Expert players know it’s those hands where you split pairs 4x and double down on each one and see the dealer bust, winning 8x your original bet (but also risking 8x) instead of the mere 1.5x you get from a made blackjack. The big wins come disguised as garbage hands, like a pair of 3s. So it is in life — real opportunities come disguised as problems. Novices don’t put in the time to fully understand the game. Expert players understand the game inside and out because they’ve invested many long hours studying it. Experts work harder. Novices have a strong understanding of certain parts, but their knowledge is very fuzzy in other areas. They often get confused on how to handle situations that arise infrequently. But eventually those situations do arise, and that’s where novices lose. Novices can’t handle the exceptions as well as the experts. But aside from a lack of understanding, novices also have some false understanding. If you could play blackjack and be dealt an 18 every hand, would you do it? A novice will usually say yes, thinking 18 to be a pretty good hand because a dealer has to hit 19-21 to beat it. But an expert player knows that 18 will lose more often than it will win — if you have an 18 every hand, in the long run, you’ll lose money. Experts have a more accurate understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of each hand than novices. It’s the same with life. Novices don’t take the time to master the basics, like goal-setting, time management, motivation, and self-discipline. They do OK most days, but whenever an exception occurs such as the loss of a job, they’re thrown completely out of whack, and it takes them a long time to recover. You can throw a bankruptcy or a divorce at certain people, and they recover quickly and then keep on going. But novices are more likely to allow temporary setbacks to drift into long-term ruin. Experts are more disciplined. Novice players tend to play their hands inconsistently. When the same situation arises, they often make different decisions with no rhyme or reason. They exhibit poor discipline and will often drink alcohol while playing. Experts understand that you can make the correct decision and still lose, but they focus on making correct decisions, not on trying to force a particular outcome. Experts have the patience to know that making correct decisions is all it takes to win in the long run. You see this in real life too, don’t you? Achievers tend to be more consistent in making decisions and taking action; they focus their energy. Underachievers, however, waste their energy, never applying enough force in a consistent direction to bring about a breakthrough. Private victory precedes public victory. Novices learn how to play in the casino. Experts learn how to play at home and then apply their knowledge in the casino. Experts spend a lot more time practicing, which takes tremendous patience. Their real victories are unseen. Talented people who perform in public have often spent many years honing their skills in private. #2 is the observation I find most applicable to business. Even winning blackjack players will lose most of their hands. They typically win about 48% of the hands they play. That’s just the nature of the game; you’re going to lose more hands than you win. But on average the winning players will bet more money on the 48% of winning hands than they will on the 52% of losing hands. These bigger bets are made in two ways. First, with card counting you can recognize when the deck composition is in your favor and when you’re more likely to win than lose, so you increase the amount of your initial bet. But also you can recognize situations to double down or split pairs where you can increase your bet after you see your first two cards. Novice players miss opportunities in these same two ways then. They don’t know when the odds are in their favor, so they don’t know when the conditions are right for a bigger initial bet. And secondly, after they see their first two cards, they don’t know when it’s a good idea to put more money out. And by missing these two key opportunities, they lose money in the long run, typically giving the house around a 5-8% edge. How does this lesson apply to real life? Life isn’t about the quantity of successes and failures you experience. You also have to consider the magnitude. When you perceive the conditions of your life are ripe for success in some area, that’s the time to bet big. Plus there are also situations where you have the chance to see what results you’re getting, and if they show promise, you can raise your bet even higher. For example, suppose your goal is to find a long-term relationship. When the conditions in your life suggest you have a better chance of succeeding at this goal than you did in the past, that’s a great time to push yourself. Perhaps you have a stable job and money in the bank and your health is great. It’s time to place a big bet by focusing hard on your relationship goal. Go out on a lot of dates. Ask! Don’t sit on the sidelines waiting and miss the opportunity. It will be a lot harder to achieve this goal under less optimal conditions. And then when you find a person who seems compatible with you, double down and raise your bet. Find ways to spend more time with that person, and put your lesser goals on the back burner. Don’t neglect the opportunity to grow closer. Strike while the iron is hot. Have a lot of fun together. Build your relationship when the conditions make it easy to do so. When the conditions in your life are right to seek out opportunities instead of merely holding your ground, get out there and take advantage of them! And when you start getting promising results in some area that show you the odds are in your favor, push yourself to capitalize on the situation as best you can. Don’t sit around waiting and waiting. Sometimes the conditions in your life aren’t right for going after opportunities. Maybe it’s a struggle just to hold your ground or to dig yourself out of a pit you find yourself in. Be patient and stay your course. Eventually there will come a time where things are going your way again. And when that happens, do NOT allow yourself to be complacent. Everyone loses when the deck is stacked against them. But the biggest losses come not from the no-win situation but from the could’ve-won-but-failed-to-act situation. Could’ve started the business but didn’t. Could’ve gotten the date but didn’t. Could’ve lost the weight but didn’t. As in the game of blackjack, the could’ve-but-didn’ts are the biggest losers in life. Don’t join them.
    1065 Posted by UniqueThis
  • Having played a fair amount of blackjack (I learned card counting when I was 21), I’ve noticed some interesting patterns in the way people play the game that seem to reflect larger life patterns. Background Story Feel free to skip ahead to the “Interesting Observations” section if you just want to read the lessons. This part simply provides some background info for the curious. When I was 21 years old and living in Los Angeles, some friends and I decided to take a weekend trip to Las Vegas, my first trip there as an adult. I decided to read up on some of the casino games before I went, so I could be prepared. I quickly learned that most of the casino games were skewed to give the house an advantage — how unfair is that? — but blackjack was supposedly beatable if you learned a technique known as card counting. So I bought a book on blackjack, learned the rules of the game, memorized the basic strategy, and then studied a simple +/- card counting system. It took a heck of a lot of practice and was tedious to learn, but I eventually felt comfortable with it. Then I was off to Vegas to try my luck with a whopping $40 of gambling money. Not much of a bankroll I know…. My friends and I stayed at the Aladdin Hotel (before it was demolished and rebuilt). Since there are many variations on blackjack rules, I scoped out the nearby casinos to find one that had the best player-favorable conditions. That turned out to be the Barbary Coast on the Strip (across the street from Caesar’s Palace), which had a nice double-deck game with liberal rules (the fewer the decks, the better for the player, all else being equal). Plus they offered a $2 minimum, so my $40 had a chance of lasting. $400 would have been a more adequate bankroll for that limit, but at the time I didn’t want to risk $400. I felt a bit intimidated playing blackjack for the first time in a real live casino. But I trusted I was as prepared as I could be, so I sat down and dove in. The preparation paid off, and after a few minutes I began to feel at ease. Aside from making a few minor etiquette mistakes, I played my hands perfectly and had no trouble keeping track of the cards. After a few hours of playing I had turned my $40 into $165 while betting only $2-10 per hand… making more than enough to pay for my trip expenses. This was during the time when you could still find buffets for about $5. After that first trip I was hooked on the game, not so much for the money but for the challenge of it. Card counting appealed to the nerd in me far more than the entrepreneur. I made many return trips to Vegas and played in dozens of different casinos all around the city. One of my favorite places to play was the Frontier Hotel, which used to have a single-deck game with generously player-favorable conditions. That was very lucrative until they changed their rules, like many other casinos eventually did, probably in large part due to card counters. Between Vegas trips I studied blackjack and card counting ever more deeply. I read 10-12 books on the subject and mastered different counting systems (Thorpe, Uston, Revere, etc.). I practiced advanced counting systems that keep a side-count of aces. I drilled myself until I could count down a deck of cards in under 14 seconds. I learned to vary the play of hands according to the count, memorized optimal strategies for different rule sets, and learned the subtleties of the game that would increase my edge even the slightest degree. We’re talking a total edge of maybe 1%. As I gained experience, I became comfortable doing all these mental gymnastics under actual casino conditions. I learned to play cat-and-mouse with the pit bosses. I even got a lot of comped meals for myself and my girlfriend (now my wife), although we got tired of eating at the same places over and over. Casinos have grown stingier with the comps, but back then you could play $5 blackjack for about 30 minutes and get a free buffet for two without much difficulty (and without being asked to join a players club). Card counting isn’t illegal, but casinos will kick you out for it and sometimes ban you for good. Fortunately I was never banished for life anywhere, and I was only kicked out once (from the Barbary Coast of all places). Mostly this was because I played only in the $5-25 or $10-50 range of betting… too small for the casinos to care much. At that level I certainly wasn’t going to get rich, but I was doing this more for fun than for profit. The funny thing is that now I live in Vegas, I hardly play blackjack at all… I’ve played only twice this whole year for a total of about 45 minutes (and won both times). Even though I found that card counting worked, I never seriously considered trying to make a career out of it. For one it’s very hard work, and for another it doesn’t contribute anything. I still enjoy blackjack as a diversion sometimes, and I like meeting people from around the world at the table, but I wouldn’t want to try to make a living from it. Interesting Observations While learning to master the game of blackjack, I made a number of observations in the way players approached the game, especially the contrast between novice and expert players. Most people who play blackjack are novice or intermediate players. During all the times I played blackjack, I felt I had identified another card counter at the same table with me on only two occasions. In both situations we could each tell the other person was counting cards, and we gave each other knowing looks. But card counters are extremely rare as a percentage of total players… way, way below 1%. Novices will make correct decisions most of the time. About 80-90% of the time, novices will play their hands the same way an expert player would. But the house gains a big advantage on the 10-20% of decisions they don’t make correctly. That 10-20% makes all the difference in the world between winning and losing because it’s cumulative. How is this different from other parts of life? An extra 10% makes a big difference. Eat 10% less food, and you lose weight. Save 10% of your income, and you retire a millionaire. Spend 10% of your day on some key goal, and by the end of the year, you’ve written a book, started a business, or found a mate. Novices miss golden opportunities. Novice blackjack players will almost invariably play their hands too conservatively. They’ll stand too often when they should hit, and they’ll fail to double down and split pairs as often as they should. They hesitate to hit 16 against a dealer’s 7 or to split a pair of 2s against a dealer’s 4. They give up a lot more to the house by playing defensively, trying not to bust. But expert players exploit every opportunity to maximize their wins, meaning that they’ll double and split far more often when the odds favor doing so. Expert players will bust more often, but they’ll also hit their big hands more often. You see a similar pattern in life too. High achievers will bust more often, while underachievers play too conservatively, afraid to take calculated risks for fear of losing what they have. In blackjack, it’s those splits and double down hands where you make your real money. Novice players think it’s the ten-ace blackjack hand that’s the best — the guaranteed win. Expert players know it’s those hands where you split pairs 4x and double down on each one and see the dealer bust, winning 8x your original bet (but also risking 8x) instead of the mere 1.5x you get from a made blackjack. The big wins come disguised as garbage hands, like a pair of 3s. So it is in life — real opportunities come disguised as problems. Novices don’t put in the time to fully understand the game. Expert players understand the game inside and out because they’ve invested many long hours studying it. Experts work harder. Novices have a strong understanding of certain parts, but their knowledge is very fuzzy in other areas. They often get confused on how to handle situations that arise infrequently. But eventually those situations do arise, and that’s where novices lose. Novices can’t handle the exceptions as well as the experts. But aside from a lack of understanding, novices also have some false understanding. If you could play blackjack and be dealt an 18 every hand, would you do it? A novice will usually say yes, thinking 18 to be a pretty good hand because a dealer has to hit 19-21 to beat it. But an expert player knows that 18 will lose more often than it will win — if you have an 18 every hand, in the long run, you’ll lose money. Experts have a more accurate understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of each hand than novices. It’s the same with life. Novices don’t take the time to master the basics, like goal-setting, time management, motivation, and self-discipline. They do OK most days, but whenever an exception occurs such as the loss of a job, they’re thrown completely out of whack, and it takes them a long time to recover. You can throw a bankruptcy or a divorce at certain people, and they recover quickly and then keep on going. But novices are more likely to allow temporary setbacks to drift into long-term ruin. Experts are more disciplined. Novice players tend to play their hands inconsistently. When the same situation arises, they often make different decisions with no rhyme or reason. They exhibit poor discipline and will often drink alcohol while playing. Experts understand that you can make the correct decision and still lose, but they focus on making correct decisions, not on trying to force a particular outcome. Experts have the patience to know that making correct decisions is all it takes to win in the long run. You see this in real life too, don’t you? Achievers tend to be more consistent in making decisions and taking action; they focus their energy. Underachievers, however, waste their energy, never applying enough force in a consistent direction to bring about a breakthrough. Private victory precedes public victory. Novices learn how to play in the casino. Experts learn how to play at home and then apply their knowledge in the casino. Experts spend a lot more time practicing, which takes tremendous patience. Their real victories are unseen. Talented people who perform in public have often spent many years honing their skills in private. #2 is the observation I find most applicable to business. Even winning blackjack players will lose most of their hands. They typically win about 48% of the hands they play. That’s just the nature of the game; you’re going to lose more hands than you win. But on average the winning players will bet more money on the 48% of winning hands than they will on the 52% of losing hands. These bigger bets are made in two ways. First, with card counting you can recognize when the deck composition is in your favor and when you’re more likely to win than lose, so you increase the amount of your initial bet. But also you can recognize situations to double down or split pairs where you can increase your bet after you see your first two cards. Novice players miss opportunities in these same two ways then. They don’t know when the odds are in their favor, so they don’t know when the conditions are right for a bigger initial bet. And secondly, after they see their first two cards, they don’t know when it’s a good idea to put more money out. And by missing these two key opportunities, they lose money in the long run, typically giving the house around a 5-8% edge. How does this lesson apply to real life? Life isn’t about the quantity of successes and failures you experience. You also have to consider the magnitude. When you perceive the conditions of your life are ripe for success in some area, that’s the time to bet big. Plus there are also situations where you have the chance to see what results you’re getting, and if they show promise, you can raise your bet even higher. For example, suppose your goal is to find a long-term relationship. When the conditions in your life suggest you have a better chance of succeeding at this goal than you did in the past, that’s a great time to push yourself. Perhaps you have a stable job and money in the bank and your health is great. It’s time to place a big bet by focusing hard on your relationship goal. Go out on a lot of dates. Ask! Don’t sit on the sidelines waiting and miss the opportunity. It will be a lot harder to achieve this goal under less optimal conditions. And then when you find a person who seems compatible with you, double down and raise your bet. Find ways to spend more time with that person, and put your lesser goals on the back burner. Don’t neglect the opportunity to grow closer. Strike while the iron is hot. Have a lot of fun together. Build your relationship when the conditions make it easy to do so. When the conditions in your life are right to seek out opportunities instead of merely holding your ground, get out there and take advantage of them! And when you start getting promising results in some area that show you the odds are in your favor, push yourself to capitalize on the situation as best you can. Don’t sit around waiting and waiting. Sometimes the conditions in your life aren’t right for going after opportunities. Maybe it’s a struggle just to hold your ground or to dig yourself out of a pit you find yourself in. Be patient and stay your course. Eventually there will come a time where things are going your way again. And when that happens, do NOT allow yourself to be complacent. Everyone loses when the deck is stacked against them. But the biggest losses come not from the no-win situation but from the could’ve-won-but-failed-to-act situation. Could’ve started the business but didn’t. Could’ve gotten the date but didn’t. Could’ve lost the weight but didn’t. As in the game of blackjack, the could’ve-but-didn’ts are the biggest losers in life. Don’t join them.
    Jul 14, 2011 1065
  • 14 Jul 2011
    One of the best pieces of advice for improving at public speaking is to videotape yourself and then watch the video, looking for ways you can improve. This technique is commonly used by the best speakers in the world. But this idea can work for any kind of performance, not just public speaking. If you’re a salesperson, tape one of your sales presentations. If you’re a realtor, record yourself showing a piece of property — just bring your own camera and tell people you’re videotaping the property as you show it to them. If you have a desk job, setup a camera in the corner of your office or cubicle, and tape yourself doing your work for 30 minutes or so. Your co-workers may think you’re weird, and they’re right, but that’s OK. Weird is good. When you watch the video, you’ll probably be surprised by what you see. Take notes. After you watch the video normally, make two more passes through it. On one pass watch the video without sound, and on another pass listen to the sound without video. By focusing on one channel at a time (visual or auditory), you’ll pick up more detail. Now if you want even better results, find someone who’s more talented or skilled than you in your particular field, and invite them to watch your video and give you feedback. Have another salesperson watch your sales presentation. Ask another realtor to review your property showing. Have another speaker watch your speech. They’ll be able to point out even more ways you can improve. Even a single minute of footage can reveal volumes. Take their advice. You can use this technique to improve in any area where visual or auditory feedback is possible. Videotape yourself making dinner, exercising, playing pool, changing a diaper, cleaning a room, mowing the lawn, sewing a dress, doing maintenance on your car, etc. It may take a bit of courage to show your video to someone you perceive as an expert, but you’ll experience rapid growth by using this technique liberally. If you manage other people, you can even turn this into a group project. Invite everyone to tape their performance (with their permission of course), and review the tapes together. Then invite round-robin feedback and suggestions to help each participant improve. Five minutes of footage + five minutes of feedback = ten minutes per person. If people care about their careers and possess a modicum of maturity, they should generally welcome this kind of feedback, as they’ll gain many new ideas for improvement and become aware of blind spots that are hurting them. However, if the idea meets with staunch resistance, you’ve got a much bigger problem on your hands as a manager. Grab a camera and start taping.
    1729 Posted by UniqueThis
  • One of the best pieces of advice for improving at public speaking is to videotape yourself and then watch the video, looking for ways you can improve. This technique is commonly used by the best speakers in the world. But this idea can work for any kind of performance, not just public speaking. If you’re a salesperson, tape one of your sales presentations. If you’re a realtor, record yourself showing a piece of property — just bring your own camera and tell people you’re videotaping the property as you show it to them. If you have a desk job, setup a camera in the corner of your office or cubicle, and tape yourself doing your work for 30 minutes or so. Your co-workers may think you’re weird, and they’re right, but that’s OK. Weird is good. When you watch the video, you’ll probably be surprised by what you see. Take notes. After you watch the video normally, make two more passes through it. On one pass watch the video without sound, and on another pass listen to the sound without video. By focusing on one channel at a time (visual or auditory), you’ll pick up more detail. Now if you want even better results, find someone who’s more talented or skilled than you in your particular field, and invite them to watch your video and give you feedback. Have another salesperson watch your sales presentation. Ask another realtor to review your property showing. Have another speaker watch your speech. They’ll be able to point out even more ways you can improve. Even a single minute of footage can reveal volumes. Take their advice. You can use this technique to improve in any area where visual or auditory feedback is possible. Videotape yourself making dinner, exercising, playing pool, changing a diaper, cleaning a room, mowing the lawn, sewing a dress, doing maintenance on your car, etc. It may take a bit of courage to show your video to someone you perceive as an expert, but you’ll experience rapid growth by using this technique liberally. If you manage other people, you can even turn this into a group project. Invite everyone to tape their performance (with their permission of course), and review the tapes together. Then invite round-robin feedback and suggestions to help each participant improve. Five minutes of footage + five minutes of feedback = ten minutes per person. If people care about their careers and possess a modicum of maturity, they should generally welcome this kind of feedback, as they’ll gain many new ideas for improvement and become aware of blind spots that are hurting them. However, if the idea meets with staunch resistance, you’ve got a much bigger problem on your hands as a manager. Grab a camera and start taping.
    Jul 14, 2011 1729
  • 14 Jul 2011
    Since I received positive feedback on Life Lessons From Blackjack last week, I thought I’d share some lessons I learned from poker as well. Background Again, feel free to skip the background story if you just want to read the lessons part. I only include this for the curious. I first learned to play poker when I was 18, just playing nickel-dime-quarter games with friends from school. I was a fairly weak player back then, mostly using a loose-aggressive style and bluffing way too much. But I enjoyed the game and would usually play at least once a week. Of course, this was only in home games where I mostly played those deviant forms of poker not found in casinos. My favorite game was called 3-5-7. I only played for fun at this time and for many years thereafter, I never took the game seriously. When I was 21 and living in L.A., some friends and I made a few trips to Commerce Casino. I played mostly 7-stud at the time and a little bit of hold’em. I didn’t keep records back then, but overall I probably broke even. I played at Commerce perhaps 5 times total. It was an hour’s drive from my home, so it wasn’t convenient enough to bother with, since I was only playing for fun anyway. From the age of 24 to 33, I hardly played poker at all, maybe once a year on average. It just wasn’t a big part of my life. In January 2004, my family and I moved to Vegas. The availability of poker games in Vegas (and the recent surge in popularity) means that you can always find a game. The Las Vegas Strip is only a 20-minute drive from my home, and Downtown Vegas is 15 minutes away. Plus the closest casino to my house (Santa Fe Station) recently added a poker room, so now a game is only 10 minutes away. When I first moved here, I thought it would be fun to play poker more often, since I always enjoyed a good game. I had no intention of making it into a career, but nor did I have any interest in losing money at it. I figured that if I could learn how to count cards at blackjack, surely I could become decent enough at poker to consistently beat the low-limit games. That way I could have fun and win a little money at the same time. Turns out I was right. Based on recommendations from others, I picked up a few books on the subject. My favorite was Winning Low-Limit Hold’em by Lee Jones. I followed Jones’ recommendations fairly closely, and they worked well. I only play the cheapest limits, like $1-3 and $2-6 spread games or the $2-4 structured games. I play in smoke-free poker rooms, which fortunately are becoming more common. Personally I like the campy/friendly (and smoke-free) atmosphere of the Excalibur poker room, so that’s where I usually play. It’s a very winnable, low-pressure game if you’re halfway decent, especially on a Friday or Saturday night when the place is filled with tourists who are mostly there for fun and free drinks. I know most of the dealers there by name, and all are very friendly. I’m not out to make a career out of this, and I certainly don’t consider myself a shark. I just love the fun and the challenge of the game. I’ve always enjoyed competition. On average I play a couple times a month, usually on weekends. I record every session I play in a spreadsheet, so I can see how I did — I want to know if I’m winning or losing. Last year I came out positive, with a per session win rate of about 70% and a positive hourly rate of $2.27 (net of tips). Obviously I’m not going to get rich playing such low limits, but to me this is only an entertaining hobby, not a serious entrepreneurial venture. I only play in person, not online, because I like chatting with other players and meeting interesting people from around the world. Poker is by far a much tougher game to master than blackjack because your decisions depend on the actions of other players, not merely on pre-determined rules of play and probabilities. Playing poker also takes a lot more patience than blackjack in my opinion. Between poker and blackjack, I enjoy poker a lot more because of the human factor. Poker Observations Whereas in blackjack most of my observations came from watching other players play their hands, in poker I’ve learned the most by observing myself, partly due to the nature of the game (I can’t see every decision other people make as I can in blackjack). Here are some observations I’ve make from playing poker over the years: 1. You can learn a lot about other people by studying yourself. Simply by observing myself and watching my own tells, like seeing my hands shake when I looked down and saw pocket aces on the button, I learned to look for those same tells in other players. In low-limit games, virtually anytime you see a player’s hands shaking as they try to place their bet, it means they have a monster hand. I’ve thrown away many solid hands after reading this tell, and so far every single time it was the right decision. By observing my own behavior, I could watch for it in other people. How does this apply to life itself? If you know how you behave when experiencing certain emotional states, you can watch for that behavior in others to gain information (which can be extremely helpful in certain situations). For example, if I’m watching someone give a speech, I can observe how I behave when I’m really bored or really interested. Then when I’m the one giving the speech, I can watch for those reactions in the audience. If I see people leaning forward, smiling, and nodding, I know I have a captive audience because that’s what I do when I’m captivated. If you’re a salesperson, how do you behave when you watch someone else give a good/bad presentation? If you’re a manager, how do you behave when someone tries to delegate something to you and you don’t intend to do it? If you’re married, how do you behave when you aren’t really listening to your spouse? Observe how your own behaviors reflect various internal states, and then watch for those behaviors in others to gain information. You may be surprised to find that emotional states produce a physiological response that is extremely similar from person to person. 2. You can learn a lot about yourself by studying other people. This is the reverse of #1. By observing how others behave in poker, and then seeing what kind of hand they have, I can connect their behaviors to information. Then when I see these physiological tells again, I can more easily put that player on a hand. Many poker players do this. No big whoop. But how many poker players take what they learn about other players and then apply it to themselves? This means watching for the tells you pick up from other players in yourself, especially when you’re heads-up against the player you saw express those tells. So if you see someone looking away from the table when they have a monster hand, make sure you don’t look away when you’ve got a monster. You can also take this concept a step further and use it even more proactively. If you see other people behave a certain way when they have a great hand, you may find it beneficial to exert that same behavior on purpose when you’re heads-up against that player and want to bluff him/her out. It’s a sneaky way of using that person’s own physiological response to feed them false information. Just make sure you aren’t too obvious about it, or the other player will catch you. I find it works best as a subconscious signal that alters their intuitive feeling about the hand. So what’s the life lesson here? The lesson is that this kind of manipulation also works outside the game of poker. By learning someone’s tells, you can consciously exhibit a certain behavior to activate the response you want. Certainly this sounds manipulative, and it is. But by being aware of this tactic, you can reduce your susceptibility to it. TV commercials use this kind of manipulation all the time. They know all the tells for various emotional states, and they use them to attempt to manipulate your emotional response. This is one reason so many commercials appear logically stupid, but they can still be effective if they include the proper signals that bypass your mind and drive their message into your subconscious. Think of those drug commercials where they read the side effects (which often sound worse than the symptoms the drug is supposed to treat), but the visual imagery suggests the exact opposite. The characters exhibit the tells of the emotional states the advertiser wants you to associate to their product or service. But those signals often have nothing to do with the product itself. In other words, you aren’t being shown the real emotional states the product will induce in you, but far more pleasurable states that probably won’t occur by using the product at all. How many beer commercials show drunk people behaving stupidly? 3. Both intellect and intuition can provide input for making correct decisions. In poker sometimes logic is correct, and other times intuition is correct. Sometimes they agree; sometimes they don’t. In life, however, you generally have more options than check, bet, call, raise, or fold. Life is more open-ended, and when logic and intuition disagree, sometimes it’s best not to choose sides but to listen to both and seek out a third alternative. When my logic and intuition seem to disagree, I try to step back and see the situation from other perspectives. In the past I’d usually favor my logic, only to find that my intuition was right. Then I’d slide too far the other way, and pay the price of ignoring my intellect. Now I know that both inputs provide information, but they do so by acting upon imperfect data. In poker you’re limited in how much data you can gather. But life offers other extra opportunities for peaking at the cards. You can ask for expert advice while you play. You can take in new information to augment the data your logic and intuition are processing. You can wait for clarity before acting. You can even dive in with your best decision, see what the next card looks like, and adjust course afterwards. 4. Don’t be a fish. “Fish” are bad poker players who are essentially there to give away their money. They don’t bother to develop much skill at the game, so they just play badly. And the longer they play, the more they lose. Isn’t life the same? If you play badly long enough, eventually you lose. Abuse your health, your relationships, or your finances, and you can kiss them goodbye. Good players learn the rules of the game and build their skills. They eliminate negative habits that would otherwise bring them down. 5. You can make no mistakes and still lose. In poker you can expect to take bad beats again and again. Eventually you’ll take one in a heartbreaking situation when someone draws highly improbable runner-runner cards to beat your made hand. Life is the same. You can play perfectly and still lose. There’s no security in the cards. The only true security lies in knowing you did your best. Focus on making correct decisions, and let the cards fall as they may. 6. No single hand will kick you out of the game for life. When you take a bad beat, just take a deep breath and brush it off. It’s in the past, and there’s nothing you can do about it now. Stay focused on the present. There’s another hand to be played. 7. Do not play J8s UTG no matter how seductive it looks and how certain you are of achieving a multiway pot. The life lesson here is left as an exercise for the reader. If you’re a poker player yourself, I invite you to share your own life lessons from the game by posting a comment.
    1014 Posted by UniqueThis
  • Since I received positive feedback on Life Lessons From Blackjack last week, I thought I’d share some lessons I learned from poker as well. Background Again, feel free to skip the background story if you just want to read the lessons part. I only include this for the curious. I first learned to play poker when I was 18, just playing nickel-dime-quarter games with friends from school. I was a fairly weak player back then, mostly using a loose-aggressive style and bluffing way too much. But I enjoyed the game and would usually play at least once a week. Of course, this was only in home games where I mostly played those deviant forms of poker not found in casinos. My favorite game was called 3-5-7. I only played for fun at this time and for many years thereafter, I never took the game seriously. When I was 21 and living in L.A., some friends and I made a few trips to Commerce Casino. I played mostly 7-stud at the time and a little bit of hold’em. I didn’t keep records back then, but overall I probably broke even. I played at Commerce perhaps 5 times total. It was an hour’s drive from my home, so it wasn’t convenient enough to bother with, since I was only playing for fun anyway. From the age of 24 to 33, I hardly played poker at all, maybe once a year on average. It just wasn’t a big part of my life. In January 2004, my family and I moved to Vegas. The availability of poker games in Vegas (and the recent surge in popularity) means that you can always find a game. The Las Vegas Strip is only a 20-minute drive from my home, and Downtown Vegas is 15 minutes away. Plus the closest casino to my house (Santa Fe Station) recently added a poker room, so now a game is only 10 minutes away. When I first moved here, I thought it would be fun to play poker more often, since I always enjoyed a good game. I had no intention of making it into a career, but nor did I have any interest in losing money at it. I figured that if I could learn how to count cards at blackjack, surely I could become decent enough at poker to consistently beat the low-limit games. That way I could have fun and win a little money at the same time. Turns out I was right. Based on recommendations from others, I picked up a few books on the subject. My favorite was Winning Low-Limit Hold’em by Lee Jones. I followed Jones’ recommendations fairly closely, and they worked well. I only play the cheapest limits, like $1-3 and $2-6 spread games or the $2-4 structured games. I play in smoke-free poker rooms, which fortunately are becoming more common. Personally I like the campy/friendly (and smoke-free) atmosphere of the Excalibur poker room, so that’s where I usually play. It’s a very winnable, low-pressure game if you’re halfway decent, especially on a Friday or Saturday night when the place is filled with tourists who are mostly there for fun and free drinks. I know most of the dealers there by name, and all are very friendly. I’m not out to make a career out of this, and I certainly don’t consider myself a shark. I just love the fun and the challenge of the game. I’ve always enjoyed competition. On average I play a couple times a month, usually on weekends. I record every session I play in a spreadsheet, so I can see how I did — I want to know if I’m winning or losing. Last year I came out positive, with a per session win rate of about 70% and a positive hourly rate of $2.27 (net of tips). Obviously I’m not going to get rich playing such low limits, but to me this is only an entertaining hobby, not a serious entrepreneurial venture. I only play in person, not online, because I like chatting with other players and meeting interesting people from around the world. Poker is by far a much tougher game to master than blackjack because your decisions depend on the actions of other players, not merely on pre-determined rules of play and probabilities. Playing poker also takes a lot more patience than blackjack in my opinion. Between poker and blackjack, I enjoy poker a lot more because of the human factor. Poker Observations Whereas in blackjack most of my observations came from watching other players play their hands, in poker I’ve learned the most by observing myself, partly due to the nature of the game (I can’t see every decision other people make as I can in blackjack). Here are some observations I’ve make from playing poker over the years: 1. You can learn a lot about other people by studying yourself. Simply by observing myself and watching my own tells, like seeing my hands shake when I looked down and saw pocket aces on the button, I learned to look for those same tells in other players. In low-limit games, virtually anytime you see a player’s hands shaking as they try to place their bet, it means they have a monster hand. I’ve thrown away many solid hands after reading this tell, and so far every single time it was the right decision. By observing my own behavior, I could watch for it in other people. How does this apply to life itself? If you know how you behave when experiencing certain emotional states, you can watch for that behavior in others to gain information (which can be extremely helpful in certain situations). For example, if I’m watching someone give a speech, I can observe how I behave when I’m really bored or really interested. Then when I’m the one giving the speech, I can watch for those reactions in the audience. If I see people leaning forward, smiling, and nodding, I know I have a captive audience because that’s what I do when I’m captivated. If you’re a salesperson, how do you behave when you watch someone else give a good/bad presentation? If you’re a manager, how do you behave when someone tries to delegate something to you and you don’t intend to do it? If you’re married, how do you behave when you aren’t really listening to your spouse? Observe how your own behaviors reflect various internal states, and then watch for those behaviors in others to gain information. You may be surprised to find that emotional states produce a physiological response that is extremely similar from person to person. 2. You can learn a lot about yourself by studying other people. This is the reverse of #1. By observing how others behave in poker, and then seeing what kind of hand they have, I can connect their behaviors to information. Then when I see these physiological tells again, I can more easily put that player on a hand. Many poker players do this. No big whoop. But how many poker players take what they learn about other players and then apply it to themselves? This means watching for the tells you pick up from other players in yourself, especially when you’re heads-up against the player you saw express those tells. So if you see someone looking away from the table when they have a monster hand, make sure you don’t look away when you’ve got a monster. You can also take this concept a step further and use it even more proactively. If you see other people behave a certain way when they have a great hand, you may find it beneficial to exert that same behavior on purpose when you’re heads-up against that player and want to bluff him/her out. It’s a sneaky way of using that person’s own physiological response to feed them false information. Just make sure you aren’t too obvious about it, or the other player will catch you. I find it works best as a subconscious signal that alters their intuitive feeling about the hand. So what’s the life lesson here? The lesson is that this kind of manipulation also works outside the game of poker. By learning someone’s tells, you can consciously exhibit a certain behavior to activate the response you want. Certainly this sounds manipulative, and it is. But by being aware of this tactic, you can reduce your susceptibility to it. TV commercials use this kind of manipulation all the time. They know all the tells for various emotional states, and they use them to attempt to manipulate your emotional response. This is one reason so many commercials appear logically stupid, but they can still be effective if they include the proper signals that bypass your mind and drive their message into your subconscious. Think of those drug commercials where they read the side effects (which often sound worse than the symptoms the drug is supposed to treat), but the visual imagery suggests the exact opposite. The characters exhibit the tells of the emotional states the advertiser wants you to associate to their product or service. But those signals often have nothing to do with the product itself. In other words, you aren’t being shown the real emotional states the product will induce in you, but far more pleasurable states that probably won’t occur by using the product at all. How many beer commercials show drunk people behaving stupidly? 3. Both intellect and intuition can provide input for making correct decisions. In poker sometimes logic is correct, and other times intuition is correct. Sometimes they agree; sometimes they don’t. In life, however, you generally have more options than check, bet, call, raise, or fold. Life is more open-ended, and when logic and intuition disagree, sometimes it’s best not to choose sides but to listen to both and seek out a third alternative. When my logic and intuition seem to disagree, I try to step back and see the situation from other perspectives. In the past I’d usually favor my logic, only to find that my intuition was right. Then I’d slide too far the other way, and pay the price of ignoring my intellect. Now I know that both inputs provide information, but they do so by acting upon imperfect data. In poker you’re limited in how much data you can gather. But life offers other extra opportunities for peaking at the cards. You can ask for expert advice while you play. You can take in new information to augment the data your logic and intuition are processing. You can wait for clarity before acting. You can even dive in with your best decision, see what the next card looks like, and adjust course afterwards. 4. Don’t be a fish. “Fish” are bad poker players who are essentially there to give away their money. They don’t bother to develop much skill at the game, so they just play badly. And the longer they play, the more they lose. Isn’t life the same? If you play badly long enough, eventually you lose. Abuse your health, your relationships, or your finances, and you can kiss them goodbye. Good players learn the rules of the game and build their skills. They eliminate negative habits that would otherwise bring them down. 5. You can make no mistakes and still lose. In poker you can expect to take bad beats again and again. Eventually you’ll take one in a heartbreaking situation when someone draws highly improbable runner-runner cards to beat your made hand. Life is the same. You can play perfectly and still lose. There’s no security in the cards. The only true security lies in knowing you did your best. Focus on making correct decisions, and let the cards fall as they may. 6. No single hand will kick you out of the game for life. When you take a bad beat, just take a deep breath and brush it off. It’s in the past, and there’s nothing you can do about it now. Stay focused on the present. There’s another hand to be played. 7. Do not play J8s UTG no matter how seductive it looks and how certain you are of achieving a multiway pot. The life lesson here is left as an exercise for the reader. If you’re a poker player yourself, I invite you to share your own life lessons from the game by posting a comment.
    Jul 14, 2011 1014
  • 14 Jul 2011
    What’s your greatest strength? Can you identify it? I’m not saying your greatest strength is necessarily unique, and it probably won’t put any comic book heroes to shame. But if you can identify any strengths at all, then one of them must be your greatest (or at least a few are tied for first place). So what is it? Not an easy question. But think of an answer anyway. How has your greatest strength served you thus far? Do you simply take it for granted, or have you been using it deliberately and consciously? What’s the downside? Do you find as I do that your greatest strength is also your greatest weakness? Do you find that your best human superpower is also your personal kryptonite? For example, my greatest strength is probably my ability to learn very quickly and to retain well. I’m a fast learner. I can learn things in a few days that often take other people several months. But this ability is also my kryptonite. Because I’m rapidly soaking up new information and ideas, my mental understanding is constantly racing far ahead of my external world. I take in knowledge far faster than I can apply it, so I’m always outpacing my surroundings. It would be exceedingly difficult for me to thrive in a corporate environment doing the same type of work year after year. If I wasn’t getting promoted every month or two and assigned bigger and bigger challenges as opposed to repetitive gruntwork, the pace of change would be too slow for me, and I’d feel bored and trapped, like a caged animal. I had the same problem with my games business. One reason I opted to retire from game development was that it was too slow and restrictive a business model for me. I outgrew the desire to make entertainment products. But because I was so deeply entrenched in that business, I held myself to follow through on many past commitments that I would never have made again if I were starting fresh. I kept making and publishing games, and my new perspective simply oozed out around the edges. For example, I shifted the focus of the business away from arcade shoot-em-ups and towards highly cerebral, largely nonviolent logic puzzle games. I was trying to shift the business to become a better fit for me. I even toyed with the idea of using electronic entertainment as a medium for teaching personal development. But the nature of the business (and the industry as a whole) made the pace of change too slow for me to manage. I soon realized that by clinging to the current state of my external physical world, I was only putting the brakes on myself. My reality was becoming a very inaccurate reflection of who I was on the inside. This web site is a fair reflection of who I am now, but a year ago there was very little in my external reality that accurately reflected the real me. I realized that I needed a far more adaptive and flexible career, one that could help compensate for my kryptonite and take better advantage of my strength. This helped me commit to working directly in the field of personal development. Since the very basis of my work now is learning and growth, I have enough flexibility to keep reinventing myself without feeling trapped by an overly rigid business model. Consequently, I’ve been able to release the leash I’ve put around my growth, and in the past year I’ve probably experienced more growth than I have in the previous ten. Do you see yourself in any of this? Have you ever felt that your current life situation is preventing you from taking full advantage of your greatest personal strength? Is your career the best fit for your personal superpower? Or does it repeatedly expose you to kryptonite? Can you think of a different career that would allow you to work directly from your strength? One of the advantages of working from your strength is that it produces a high ROI. You get disproportionately high results for the time and energy you invest. Once you have a general sense of your personal strength (and if not, take your best guess anyway), brainstorm a list of 10-20 new careers that would take advantage of it. See what new possibilities you can imagine for your future. What’s your yellow sun?
    903 Posted by UniqueThis
  • What’s your greatest strength? Can you identify it? I’m not saying your greatest strength is necessarily unique, and it probably won’t put any comic book heroes to shame. But if you can identify any strengths at all, then one of them must be your greatest (or at least a few are tied for first place). So what is it? Not an easy question. But think of an answer anyway. How has your greatest strength served you thus far? Do you simply take it for granted, or have you been using it deliberately and consciously? What’s the downside? Do you find as I do that your greatest strength is also your greatest weakness? Do you find that your best human superpower is also your personal kryptonite? For example, my greatest strength is probably my ability to learn very quickly and to retain well. I’m a fast learner. I can learn things in a few days that often take other people several months. But this ability is also my kryptonite. Because I’m rapidly soaking up new information and ideas, my mental understanding is constantly racing far ahead of my external world. I take in knowledge far faster than I can apply it, so I’m always outpacing my surroundings. It would be exceedingly difficult for me to thrive in a corporate environment doing the same type of work year after year. If I wasn’t getting promoted every month or two and assigned bigger and bigger challenges as opposed to repetitive gruntwork, the pace of change would be too slow for me, and I’d feel bored and trapped, like a caged animal. I had the same problem with my games business. One reason I opted to retire from game development was that it was too slow and restrictive a business model for me. I outgrew the desire to make entertainment products. But because I was so deeply entrenched in that business, I held myself to follow through on many past commitments that I would never have made again if I were starting fresh. I kept making and publishing games, and my new perspective simply oozed out around the edges. For example, I shifted the focus of the business away from arcade shoot-em-ups and towards highly cerebral, largely nonviolent logic puzzle games. I was trying to shift the business to become a better fit for me. I even toyed with the idea of using electronic entertainment as a medium for teaching personal development. But the nature of the business (and the industry as a whole) made the pace of change too slow for me to manage. I soon realized that by clinging to the current state of my external physical world, I was only putting the brakes on myself. My reality was becoming a very inaccurate reflection of who I was on the inside. This web site is a fair reflection of who I am now, but a year ago there was very little in my external reality that accurately reflected the real me. I realized that I needed a far more adaptive and flexible career, one that could help compensate for my kryptonite and take better advantage of my strength. This helped me commit to working directly in the field of personal development. Since the very basis of my work now is learning and growth, I have enough flexibility to keep reinventing myself without feeling trapped by an overly rigid business model. Consequently, I’ve been able to release the leash I’ve put around my growth, and in the past year I’ve probably experienced more growth than I have in the previous ten. Do you see yourself in any of this? Have you ever felt that your current life situation is preventing you from taking full advantage of your greatest personal strength? Is your career the best fit for your personal superpower? Or does it repeatedly expose you to kryptonite? Can you think of a different career that would allow you to work directly from your strength? One of the advantages of working from your strength is that it produces a high ROI. You get disproportionately high results for the time and energy you invest. Once you have a general sense of your personal strength (and if not, take your best guess anyway), brainstorm a list of 10-20 new careers that would take advantage of it. See what new possibilities you can imagine for your future. What’s your yellow sun?
    Jul 14, 2011 903
  • 14 Jul 2011
    Last Thursday I turned the subject of the article “The Medium vs. the Message” into a 20-minute speech, which I delivered to one of my Toastmasters clubs. At the beginning of the speech, I had everyone in the audience create a fake business card with their name and their current career listed on it. Then at the end of the speech, I had them do it again, and of course the results were different because people were thinking differently about their careers. It’s easy to fall into the trap of seeing our jobs as a container within which we work. Maybe you think to yourself, “I’m an employee of company X.” But seeing your job as something contained within you is far more empowering. So instead you think, “Company X is one of my outlets for self-expression.” Instead of you holding a position with a company, you see that company as holding a position within you. It’s as if you’ve hired the company as you would a contractor to perform a service for you, and the service they provide is one of helping you express your value to others. Why is it that top professional speakers get paid over $10,000 for a 45-minute keynote (and this doesn’t even include product sales)? How is it these speakers are able to charge so much? Partly the reason is that those top speakers understand the value they provide. Their value lies in their ability to change the way people think in a very short period of time, sometimes permanently. I’ve attended many presentations where the speaker was able to permanently change my thinking in less than an hour. Just one idea presented in the right way can provide enough value to make the whole cost of a seminar worthwhile. There’s far more demand for speakers who can effect this kind of change than there is supply, so the pay rates remain high. A speaker’s value is ultimately about what gets transferred to the audience. What is the actual impact? Similarly, your value (in terms of your career) is based on what you have to give to others that will benefit them in some way. It doesn’t matter what degrees you have or what your job title is. Your value is all about what you can give. What is the actual impact of what you do? When you become consciously aware of the value you provide through your work, you can focus yourself more deliberately on increasing that value. For example, a professional speaker can increase his/her value by developing the ability to impact more people, more profoundly, more lastingly, and in less time. A computer programmer can increase his/her value by developing the ability to devise faster, better, and cheaper solutions to challenging technical problems. A professional blogger can increase his/her value by developing the ability to provide more impactful content, more frequently, in less time, and for larger audiences. This is really just common sense, but so often people lose sight of their value and get caught up managing minutia. At the end of the line, your value must be received by a human being, or you haven’t provided any value at all. Which human beings benefit most from the value you provide through your work, and how can you increase your service to them?
    948 Posted by UniqueThis
  • Last Thursday I turned the subject of the article “The Medium vs. the Message” into a 20-minute speech, which I delivered to one of my Toastmasters clubs. At the beginning of the speech, I had everyone in the audience create a fake business card with their name and their current career listed on it. Then at the end of the speech, I had them do it again, and of course the results were different because people were thinking differently about their careers. It’s easy to fall into the trap of seeing our jobs as a container within which we work. Maybe you think to yourself, “I’m an employee of company X.” But seeing your job as something contained within you is far more empowering. So instead you think, “Company X is one of my outlets for self-expression.” Instead of you holding a position with a company, you see that company as holding a position within you. It’s as if you’ve hired the company as you would a contractor to perform a service for you, and the service they provide is one of helping you express your value to others. Why is it that top professional speakers get paid over $10,000 for a 45-minute keynote (and this doesn’t even include product sales)? How is it these speakers are able to charge so much? Partly the reason is that those top speakers understand the value they provide. Their value lies in their ability to change the way people think in a very short period of time, sometimes permanently. I’ve attended many presentations where the speaker was able to permanently change my thinking in less than an hour. Just one idea presented in the right way can provide enough value to make the whole cost of a seminar worthwhile. There’s far more demand for speakers who can effect this kind of change than there is supply, so the pay rates remain high. A speaker’s value is ultimately about what gets transferred to the audience. What is the actual impact? Similarly, your value (in terms of your career) is based on what you have to give to others that will benefit them in some way. It doesn’t matter what degrees you have or what your job title is. Your value is all about what you can give. What is the actual impact of what you do? When you become consciously aware of the value you provide through your work, you can focus yourself more deliberately on increasing that value. For example, a professional speaker can increase his/her value by developing the ability to impact more people, more profoundly, more lastingly, and in less time. A computer programmer can increase his/her value by developing the ability to devise faster, better, and cheaper solutions to challenging technical problems. A professional blogger can increase his/her value by developing the ability to provide more impactful content, more frequently, in less time, and for larger audiences. This is really just common sense, but so often people lose sight of their value and get caught up managing minutia. At the end of the line, your value must be received by a human being, or you haven’t provided any value at all. Which human beings benefit most from the value you provide through your work, and how can you increase your service to them?
    Jul 14, 2011 948
  • 14 Jul 2011
    If you do any creative work, I’m sure you’ve experienced this dilemma: Should you ever work when you aren’t inspired, or should you wait for inspiration? I’ve had to face this situation many times, whether it involved designing a new computer game or writing an original blog entry. Sometimes inspiration strikes me at the most inopportune times, like at 3am while lying in bed, but if I’m smart enough to take advantage of it, I can crank out volumes of productive work in a short period of time. Those experiences often feel timeless and transcendent, as if I’ve been tapped on the shoulder by some higher creative power. But other times as I sit at my computer, I feel empty, distracted, or uninspired, and if I tried to push through it, I’m still be able to get some work done, but I won’t produce solutions and ideas that are nearly as elegant or brilliant as the inspired work. Sound familiar? I place a premium on the value of inspired work. Although I have degrees in computer science and math and have been trained in many left-brain problem solving techniques, I’m also left-handed and approach technical subjects from a right-brained perspective. I rarely use methodical, left-brained, step-by-step processes to solve problems. In high school I would often try to solve math or physics problems without using any of the formulas that were taught in class that week. I’d dismiss the left-brained solution I was expected to regurgitate and tried to approach problems creatively, especially the most challenging and complex ones. I’d take an advanced calculus problem and attempt to solve it using other tools like algebra or geometry or the laws of physics. And the interesting thing is that my solutions were often shorter and far more elegant than what the textbooks had intended. I believed there would be little value in learning to solve problems the same way everyone else did; such people would be a dime a dozen. But there would always be a treasured place in the world for the person who could solve problems creatively. On the other hand, I also value hard work and discipline. I certainly have the option of barreling through and working even when I’m not inspired. But I greatly dislike using self-discipline for creative work. Discipline is fine for repetitive or highly uncreative work though, but it rarely creates elegant solutions. My left brain may be satisfied with a disciplined approach, but it’s anathema to my right brain. I’m also impatient, so I don’t like waiting for inspiration to strike, especially when it seems to be taking an extended vacation. One day I became curious and questioned why sometimes I felt inspired and other times I didn’t. Why would inspiration seem to abandon me for weeks and then pay me a visit when I was five miles into a 10-mile run? Was there some kind of pattern? And most of all, could inspiration be created? Did I have to wait for it to arrive, or was there anything I could do to invite it? I studied creative problem solving techniques, but none of them seemed to work consistently, and sometimes they would take a long time to generate results. Eventually I figured out that inspiration can definitely be created. I’ve been using this technique for many years, and it’s one reason I never run out of ideas to write and speak about. I feel as if I have an infinite supply. It’s very simple too. Clarifying Intent Whenever I want to feel inspired to do creative work, I stop and take a moment to clarify my intent. I get really clear about what it is I want to do, and then I verbalize that intent. Then I let go and wait, usually a few minutes at most. An example intent would be the one I used for this blog entry. At first I sat down to write at 4:30am and felt wholly uninspired. I had a list of ideas to write about, but none of them seemed too inspiring to me. So I formed the (very simple) intent, “I intend to write a creative new blog entry that will benefit many readers.” Then I released the intent and waited. Within about 30 seconds, I had the idea to write on this topic, and the words flowed with effortless ease. Here’s my current theory on how this works. My intent acts like a thought wave that projects out into the universe, and after a short period of time, that wave reflects back to me in the form of creative ideas. It’s like a dolphin using sonar to echo-locate objects, except that I use it to echo-locate creative ideas. I feel as if I’m putting out a specific form of sonar into some imaginary world of pure thought. When my intent collides with an idea that resonates with it, it creates a reflection wave back to the source, which I perceive as an idea or impulse. The first ideas that pop into my head are the ones I go with. Intents don’t work the same way as goals. If you constrain your intent too heavily, then you won’t receive any reflection back because nothing will resonate with it perfectly. So try to keep your intentions open-ended and high-level unless the specific details are truly important to you. If you create intents that are too rigid, you may eliminate the possibility of a holistic solution. For example, if you focus on the intent to solve a low-level problem, and your creativity still feels blocked, it could be that you aren’t supposed to solve that problem at all – you need to rework something at a higher level to eliminate the problem entirely. I find this approach works incredibly well. Whenever it seems like it isn’t working, then I know it’s because my own thoughts are creating an interference pattern and canceling each other out. I’m putting out conflicting intents – understand that every thought is an intent. That’s when I need to back up and form a higher-level, more general intent that can escape the low-level noise. If you toss a pebble into a calm lake, you’ll see waves rippling out from the source. But if you toss a pebble into rough waters, the ripples will be gobbled up with the existing waves. So in that case you need to go to a place where the waters are more calm, rising above your own conflicting thoughts, especially those involving fear, worry, or stress. For example, if I came up with a blank after putting out an intent for creative writing ideas, I’d step back and form a new intent, like, “I intend to use the next hour in service to the greatest good of all.” That’s a more general intent, and it can help bypass any blocks. Perhaps I’m feeling blocked because I don’t feel I should be writing at all right now. Maybe there’s something more important I need to do. Intents work holistically, so it’s important to allow for plenty of flexibility. So begin with a specific intent, and if you don’t like the reflections you’re receiving, keep backing up and forming new intents until the reflections suit you. Once you master this process, you should never have to push through creative work when you aren’t feeling creative. While you can still produce some output during those times, you probably know that the work will seem lifeless and uninspired when you look back on it later. Clarifying and focusing your intent only takes a few seconds most of the time, and you’ll begin to see that your intentions always manifest when you’re completely clear about what you want. So don’t wait for inspiration. Use this simple technique to actively invite inspiration and unleash the flow of creative ideas.
    1062 Posted by UniqueThis
  • If you do any creative work, I’m sure you’ve experienced this dilemma: Should you ever work when you aren’t inspired, or should you wait for inspiration? I’ve had to face this situation many times, whether it involved designing a new computer game or writing an original blog entry. Sometimes inspiration strikes me at the most inopportune times, like at 3am while lying in bed, but if I’m smart enough to take advantage of it, I can crank out volumes of productive work in a short period of time. Those experiences often feel timeless and transcendent, as if I’ve been tapped on the shoulder by some higher creative power. But other times as I sit at my computer, I feel empty, distracted, or uninspired, and if I tried to push through it, I’m still be able to get some work done, but I won’t produce solutions and ideas that are nearly as elegant or brilliant as the inspired work. Sound familiar? I place a premium on the value of inspired work. Although I have degrees in computer science and math and have been trained in many left-brain problem solving techniques, I’m also left-handed and approach technical subjects from a right-brained perspective. I rarely use methodical, left-brained, step-by-step processes to solve problems. In high school I would often try to solve math or physics problems without using any of the formulas that were taught in class that week. I’d dismiss the left-brained solution I was expected to regurgitate and tried to approach problems creatively, especially the most challenging and complex ones. I’d take an advanced calculus problem and attempt to solve it using other tools like algebra or geometry or the laws of physics. And the interesting thing is that my solutions were often shorter and far more elegant than what the textbooks had intended. I believed there would be little value in learning to solve problems the same way everyone else did; such people would be a dime a dozen. But there would always be a treasured place in the world for the person who could solve problems creatively. On the other hand, I also value hard work and discipline. I certainly have the option of barreling through and working even when I’m not inspired. But I greatly dislike using self-discipline for creative work. Discipline is fine for repetitive or highly uncreative work though, but it rarely creates elegant solutions. My left brain may be satisfied with a disciplined approach, but it’s anathema to my right brain. I’m also impatient, so I don’t like waiting for inspiration to strike, especially when it seems to be taking an extended vacation. One day I became curious and questioned why sometimes I felt inspired and other times I didn’t. Why would inspiration seem to abandon me for weeks and then pay me a visit when I was five miles into a 10-mile run? Was there some kind of pattern? And most of all, could inspiration be created? Did I have to wait for it to arrive, or was there anything I could do to invite it? I studied creative problem solving techniques, but none of them seemed to work consistently, and sometimes they would take a long time to generate results. Eventually I figured out that inspiration can definitely be created. I’ve been using this technique for many years, and it’s one reason I never run out of ideas to write and speak about. I feel as if I have an infinite supply. It’s very simple too. Clarifying Intent Whenever I want to feel inspired to do creative work, I stop and take a moment to clarify my intent. I get really clear about what it is I want to do, and then I verbalize that intent. Then I let go and wait, usually a few minutes at most. An example intent would be the one I used for this blog entry. At first I sat down to write at 4:30am and felt wholly uninspired. I had a list of ideas to write about, but none of them seemed too inspiring to me. So I formed the (very simple) intent, “I intend to write a creative new blog entry that will benefit many readers.” Then I released the intent and waited. Within about 30 seconds, I had the idea to write on this topic, and the words flowed with effortless ease. Here’s my current theory on how this works. My intent acts like a thought wave that projects out into the universe, and after a short period of time, that wave reflects back to me in the form of creative ideas. It’s like a dolphin using sonar to echo-locate objects, except that I use it to echo-locate creative ideas. I feel as if I’m putting out a specific form of sonar into some imaginary world of pure thought. When my intent collides with an idea that resonates with it, it creates a reflection wave back to the source, which I perceive as an idea or impulse. The first ideas that pop into my head are the ones I go with. Intents don’t work the same way as goals. If you constrain your intent too heavily, then you won’t receive any reflection back because nothing will resonate with it perfectly. So try to keep your intentions open-ended and high-level unless the specific details are truly important to you. If you create intents that are too rigid, you may eliminate the possibility of a holistic solution. For example, if you focus on the intent to solve a low-level problem, and your creativity still feels blocked, it could be that you aren’t supposed to solve that problem at all – you need to rework something at a higher level to eliminate the problem entirely. I find this approach works incredibly well. Whenever it seems like it isn’t working, then I know it’s because my own thoughts are creating an interference pattern and canceling each other out. I’m putting out conflicting intents – understand that every thought is an intent. That’s when I need to back up and form a higher-level, more general intent that can escape the low-level noise. If you toss a pebble into a calm lake, you’ll see waves rippling out from the source. But if you toss a pebble into rough waters, the ripples will be gobbled up with the existing waves. So in that case you need to go to a place where the waters are more calm, rising above your own conflicting thoughts, especially those involving fear, worry, or stress. For example, if I came up with a blank after putting out an intent for creative writing ideas, I’d step back and form a new intent, like, “I intend to use the next hour in service to the greatest good of all.” That’s a more general intent, and it can help bypass any blocks. Perhaps I’m feeling blocked because I don’t feel I should be writing at all right now. Maybe there’s something more important I need to do. Intents work holistically, so it’s important to allow for plenty of flexibility. So begin with a specific intent, and if you don’t like the reflections you’re receiving, keep backing up and forming new intents until the reflections suit you. Once you master this process, you should never have to push through creative work when you aren’t feeling creative. While you can still produce some output during those times, you probably know that the work will seem lifeless and uninspired when you look back on it later. Clarifying and focusing your intent only takes a few seconds most of the time, and you’ll begin to see that your intentions always manifest when you’re completely clear about what you want. So don’t wait for inspiration. Use this simple technique to actively invite inspiration and unleash the flow of creative ideas.
    Jul 14, 2011 1062
  • 14 Jul 2011
    Is Your Genius at Work? by Dick Richards is a fantastic book about discovering your genius and your purpose and identifying a career that fits well with both.  This book was recently provided to me by the publisher, and it’s one of the few unsolicited books I received that I can enthusiastically recommend to others.  Why do I say this?  Because I personally derived a valuable result from reading this book — the identification of my own core genius. There’s already a great review of this book written by Dave Pollard, so if you want to know what the book is all about, simply read Dave’s review. Since I can’t add any value by writing the same type of review as Dave, I’m going to take a different approach and explain what specific benefit I personally received from reading this book and working through its exercises. Genius makes the bold statement that every person has one and only one core genius, and that genius is unique.  Think of your genius as your greatest strength.  Long before reading this book I had developed a strong awareness of my key strengths and weaknesses, but I hadn’t given serious consideration to the idea that I might have only one “genius” from which all my key strengths could be derived. As I went through the exercises in the book, I easily identified many of my own strengths.  I’m able to learn very quickly.  I’m good at understanding complicated concepts.  I can communicate well with both humans and computers.  I’ve developed great synergy between my logic and intuition.  And so on.  But when I listed them all out, I didn’t see any single root genius from which all these strengths could be derived.  It was as if they were all relatively prime, with no single common denominator. But Genius pushes us to think outside the box when looking for our core genius.  For example, what’s the lowest common denominator between the numbers 9, 15, 21, and 30?  It’s 3, right?  How about 15, 25, 65, and 90?  The LCD there is 5.  Now what about 2, 10, 13, 29, and 300?  The book says it’s the letter t, since all these numbers begin with a t.  Very sneaky.  It’s exercises like these that cause you to keep looking at the question of genius from different angles until you eventually find an angle where the common denominator becomes clear. I spent about an hour working with the book’s exercises and eventually succeeded in identifying my core genius, from which all my other strengths could be derived.  As stated in the book’s suggested terms, my genius is “Optimizing Results.”  That’s something I’m uniquely good at.  From that core genius I can derive my interest in personal development, productivity, self-discipline, technology, entrepreneurship, reading, writing, blogging, speaking, podcasting, exercising, exploring belief systems, generating passive income, conducting wacky growth experiments, polyphasic sleep, veganism, living consciously, etc.  I often see life itself as an optimization challenge. This is one reason I enjoy the ready-fire-aim approach to goal achievement.  I like to just dive in and experiment, since my first attempts (often failures) provide me with a base from which I can begin optimizing.  It doesn’t matter what my starting position is — I will always find a way to improve from there.  For example, every month I review the stats and feedback from this web site, tweaking things behind the scenes to make the next month even better — more impact, more traffic, more revenue.  That’s one reason I was able to raise the monthly income generated by this site by a factor of more than 90x from February to November.  This kind of increase isn’t unusual for me.  If you give me a stream, I will eventually turn it into a mighty river.  I can’t really help it — it’s just my nature. This idea of optimizing results also gives me a new perspective on my previous career choices.  I was an employee for only six months before I concluded it was suboptimal.  Then I worked as an independent contractor, which was an improvement on being an employee but still suboptimal.  Then I started my games business… another positive step, but I lost money at first.  Then I optimized the business model to make it profitable and to generate mostly passive income.  Then I came to see that working in the gaming industry was suboptimal for me because it didn’t capitalize on my greatest personal strengths, so I launched this personal development business.  And since then I’ve continued the process of optimizing this new business as I teach other people ideas for optimizing their own lives.  And no doubt that five years from now, I’ll have found an even more optimal method of expressing my key strengths for the highest good of all.  My life tends to get better and better year after year. Once I discovered this core genius of optimizing results, the whole long-term pattern fell into place.  No matter where I find myself, I express an insatiable drive to improve results.  I’m constantly giving people ideas to improve their results. Genius has given me a wonderful boost in clarity, and for that I’m grateful.  I like the idea of thinking of my work in terms of optimizing results.  That succinctly explains what I do, and it also helps clarify why I write on so many different topics — optimizing belief systems, optimizing relationships, optimizing time management, optimizing emotions, optimizing sleep, optimizing health habits, and so on.  All of these factors are important in optimizing one’s results in life. Although this book doesn’t explicitly address it, I also thought that perhaps all my key weaknesses can be derived from a single core anti-genius.  For me this would be anything that interferes with the optimization process.  This includes complacency, apathy, negativity, close-mindedness, laziness, inefficiency, tardiness, messiness, stupidity, and incompetence.  (My children may have a rough time surviving their teenage years.)  Those are the qualities I find most repulsive.  “Encouraging chaos” or “increasing entropy” might be reasonable descriptions of my anti-genius, since optimization is a process of increasing order.  Somewhat ironically though, I tend to be a disruptive influence on others, since optimization is inherently disruptive.  Initially I often increase chaos as I break old systems before pushing things to a new level of order. Genius also addresses the concept of purpose, although not with as much clarity and depth as genius itself.  I honestly didn’t get much out of this part of the book because I’ve already been working with a clear sense of purpose for quite a while.  You might, however, find the book’s exercises here valuable if your purpose isn’t yet clear to you.  The book will help you choose a career that fits both your genius and your purpose. The only thing that disappointed me about Genius is that I feel it stopped a bit short in its model of human behavior.  While your genius and your purpose are two key factors in choosing your career, there are a couple of others that are equally important:  passion and need.  Your passion is what you most love to do.  It isn’t necessarily the same thing as your genius, since passion is usually about the how while genius is about the what.  Genius covers the topic of passion indirectly but doesn’t separate it out like it does with purpose.  Need is what you must do, including earning enough money to pay your bills.  You can work from your genius and know your purpose and be financially destitute if you don’t find a way to meet your needs.  I think Genius would have been even better if it separately covered all four elements instead of just two:  needs (body), talents/genius (mind), passion (heart), and purpose (spirit). I’ve previously written about these four elements in a blog entry called Living Congruently.  Stephen Covey presents a similar four–part model in his books. I can’t really fault Genius for using a two-part behavioral model instead of a four-part one, since the book certainly accomplished its purpose in my case, which was to help identify my core genius.  I’m fortunate that I already have a career that wonderfully balances my needs, talents, passion, and purpose, so I knew this book wouldn’t induce a major career overhaul.  However, I am deeply appreciative of the new level of clarity this book has given me.  That alone made it worth reading.  It has assisted me in my own self-optimization process. If you don’t already enjoy a career centered around your genius and your purpose, then working through this book will probably be more challenging for you than it was for me.  Many personal development books contain miserably pointless exercises, but this book is the exception to the rule.  Its exercises are intelligent, well-designed, and insightful.  There are no pointless quizzes that force you to rate yourself on some arbitrary scale.  I also liked that all the exercises are put into a separate section of the book, so first you can read through all the content, and then you can work through the exercises. As I’ve previously mentioned, I’m very picky about which books I’ll recommend in this blog, especially those I receive unsolicited.  But this book is one that I can wholeheartedly recommend.  If you actually work through all the exercises (and none are very difficult), I think you’ll achieve a greater level of clarity.  I think this book would be especially great for people in their 20s who are still uncertain about the right career for them. Two thumbs up!        
    1412 Posted by UniqueThis
  • Is Your Genius at Work? by Dick Richards is a fantastic book about discovering your genius and your purpose and identifying a career that fits well with both.  This book was recently provided to me by the publisher, and it’s one of the few unsolicited books I received that I can enthusiastically recommend to others.  Why do I say this?  Because I personally derived a valuable result from reading this book — the identification of my own core genius. There’s already a great review of this book written by Dave Pollard, so if you want to know what the book is all about, simply read Dave’s review. Since I can’t add any value by writing the same type of review as Dave, I’m going to take a different approach and explain what specific benefit I personally received from reading this book and working through its exercises. Genius makes the bold statement that every person has one and only one core genius, and that genius is unique.  Think of your genius as your greatest strength.  Long before reading this book I had developed a strong awareness of my key strengths and weaknesses, but I hadn’t given serious consideration to the idea that I might have only one “genius” from which all my key strengths could be derived. As I went through the exercises in the book, I easily identified many of my own strengths.  I’m able to learn very quickly.  I’m good at understanding complicated concepts.  I can communicate well with both humans and computers.  I’ve developed great synergy between my logic and intuition.  And so on.  But when I listed them all out, I didn’t see any single root genius from which all these strengths could be derived.  It was as if they were all relatively prime, with no single common denominator. But Genius pushes us to think outside the box when looking for our core genius.  For example, what’s the lowest common denominator between the numbers 9, 15, 21, and 30?  It’s 3, right?  How about 15, 25, 65, and 90?  The LCD there is 5.  Now what about 2, 10, 13, 29, and 300?  The book says it’s the letter t, since all these numbers begin with a t.  Very sneaky.  It’s exercises like these that cause you to keep looking at the question of genius from different angles until you eventually find an angle where the common denominator becomes clear. I spent about an hour working with the book’s exercises and eventually succeeded in identifying my core genius, from which all my other strengths could be derived.  As stated in the book’s suggested terms, my genius is “Optimizing Results.”  That’s something I’m uniquely good at.  From that core genius I can derive my interest in personal development, productivity, self-discipline, technology, entrepreneurship, reading, writing, blogging, speaking, podcasting, exercising, exploring belief systems, generating passive income, conducting wacky growth experiments, polyphasic sleep, veganism, living consciously, etc.  I often see life itself as an optimization challenge. This is one reason I enjoy the ready-fire-aim approach to goal achievement.  I like to just dive in and experiment, since my first attempts (often failures) provide me with a base from which I can begin optimizing.  It doesn’t matter what my starting position is — I will always find a way to improve from there.  For example, every month I review the stats and feedback from this web site, tweaking things behind the scenes to make the next month even better — more impact, more traffic, more revenue.  That’s one reason I was able to raise the monthly income generated by this site by a factor of more than 90x from February to November.  This kind of increase isn’t unusual for me.  If you give me a stream, I will eventually turn it into a mighty river.  I can’t really help it — it’s just my nature. This idea of optimizing results also gives me a new perspective on my previous career choices.  I was an employee for only six months before I concluded it was suboptimal.  Then I worked as an independent contractor, which was an improvement on being an employee but still suboptimal.  Then I started my games business… another positive step, but I lost money at first.  Then I optimized the business model to make it profitable and to generate mostly passive income.  Then I came to see that working in the gaming industry was suboptimal for me because it didn’t capitalize on my greatest personal strengths, so I launched this personal development business.  And since then I’ve continued the process of optimizing this new business as I teach other people ideas for optimizing their own lives.  And no doubt that five years from now, I’ll have found an even more optimal method of expressing my key strengths for the highest good of all.  My life tends to get better and better year after year. Once I discovered this core genius of optimizing results, the whole long-term pattern fell into place.  No matter where I find myself, I express an insatiable drive to improve results.  I’m constantly giving people ideas to improve their results. Genius has given me a wonderful boost in clarity, and for that I’m grateful.  I like the idea of thinking of my work in terms of optimizing results.  That succinctly explains what I do, and it also helps clarify why I write on so many different topics — optimizing belief systems, optimizing relationships, optimizing time management, optimizing emotions, optimizing sleep, optimizing health habits, and so on.  All of these factors are important in optimizing one’s results in life. Although this book doesn’t explicitly address it, I also thought that perhaps all my key weaknesses can be derived from a single core anti-genius.  For me this would be anything that interferes with the optimization process.  This includes complacency, apathy, negativity, close-mindedness, laziness, inefficiency, tardiness, messiness, stupidity, and incompetence.  (My children may have a rough time surviving their teenage years.)  Those are the qualities I find most repulsive.  “Encouraging chaos” or “increasing entropy” might be reasonable descriptions of my anti-genius, since optimization is a process of increasing order.  Somewhat ironically though, I tend to be a disruptive influence on others, since optimization is inherently disruptive.  Initially I often increase chaos as I break old systems before pushing things to a new level of order. Genius also addresses the concept of purpose, although not with as much clarity and depth as genius itself.  I honestly didn’t get much out of this part of the book because I’ve already been working with a clear sense of purpose for quite a while.  You might, however, find the book’s exercises here valuable if your purpose isn’t yet clear to you.  The book will help you choose a career that fits both your genius and your purpose. The only thing that disappointed me about Genius is that I feel it stopped a bit short in its model of human behavior.  While your genius and your purpose are two key factors in choosing your career, there are a couple of others that are equally important:  passion and need.  Your passion is what you most love to do.  It isn’t necessarily the same thing as your genius, since passion is usually about the how while genius is about the what.  Genius covers the topic of passion indirectly but doesn’t separate it out like it does with purpose.  Need is what you must do, including earning enough money to pay your bills.  You can work from your genius and know your purpose and be financially destitute if you don’t find a way to meet your needs.  I think Genius would have been even better if it separately covered all four elements instead of just two:  needs (body), talents/genius (mind), passion (heart), and purpose (spirit). I’ve previously written about these four elements in a blog entry called Living Congruently.  Stephen Covey presents a similar four–part model in his books. I can’t really fault Genius for using a two-part behavioral model instead of a four-part one, since the book certainly accomplished its purpose in my case, which was to help identify my core genius.  I’m fortunate that I already have a career that wonderfully balances my needs, talents, passion, and purpose, so I knew this book wouldn’t induce a major career overhaul.  However, I am deeply appreciative of the new level of clarity this book has given me.  That alone made it worth reading.  It has assisted me in my own self-optimization process. If you don’t already enjoy a career centered around your genius and your purpose, then working through this book will probably be more challenging for you than it was for me.  Many personal development books contain miserably pointless exercises, but this book is the exception to the rule.  Its exercises are intelligent, well-designed, and insightful.  There are no pointless quizzes that force you to rate yourself on some arbitrary scale.  I also liked that all the exercises are put into a separate section of the book, so first you can read through all the content, and then you can work through the exercises. As I’ve previously mentioned, I’m very picky about which books I’ll recommend in this blog, especially those I receive unsolicited.  But this book is one that I can wholeheartedly recommend.  If you actually work through all the exercises (and none are very difficult), I think you’ll achieve a greater level of clarity.  I think this book would be especially great for people in their 20s who are still uncertain about the right career for them. Two thumbs up!        
    Jul 14, 2011 1412
  • 14 Jul 2011
    Deciding what to do with your life isn’t remotely easy.  Most people never make this decision at all.  But since we all end up doing something, if we don’t make this decision consciously, then a decision will still be made, but it will be an unconscious one. If you don’t decide how you’re going to live, then someone or something else will decide for you.  Most likely you’ll yield your life to a combination of unconscious influences, including your genetic predispositions, your upbringing, your social conditioning, your environment, the other people in your life, and perhaps pure chance. This might be a good way for pets to live, but not for human beings.  We can do better. Allowing your fate to be decided by external influences will, historically speaking, produce absolutely pathetic results compared to what you could achieve with your life by consciously deciding what you’re going to do with it and why.  You might get lucky if you let fate handle the details, but it’s more likely you’ll end up spending your precious time here serving other forces whose plans you probably wouldn’t agree with. As you grow in awareness and become more fully conscious, at some point you’ll come face to face with the question, “What the heck am I going to do with my life?” Obviously there’s a lot riding on your answer.  It’s not even just about your own life but also the lives of everyone else you might affect during your lifetime.  You could choose to be insignificant, but you might also be able to play a hugely significant role in the future direction of this planet.  Conscious choice gives you that option.  And yielding this option to others doesn’t relieve you of any responsibility whatsoever. Once your awareness has reached a certain level, it becomes clear that it’s better to answer this question consciously than to allow someone else to answer it for you. However, as you begin tackling this question, there’s a good chance you’ll find it such a daunting task that you soon yield to the temptation of returning to unconscious living.  Please don’t do that.  Although answering this question is indeed one of the major challenges you’ll face as a human being, it’s a problem you’re capable of solving — and well worth the effort. Let me share with you some ideas on how to approach this question that might make it easier for you to answer intelligently. Strive to understand reality as accurately as possible. A key component of deciding how to live is developing an understanding of how this universe you find yourself in actually works.  You need to know the rules of play before you can devise a basic strategy.  So the search for purpose begins with the search for truth. Ideally once you develop an understanding of how the universe works, enough that it makes sense to you intellectually, emotionally, and intuitively, then you can begin figuring out what role you’ll play within this universe. If you don’t have an accurate enough model of reality, you can’t intelligently decide how to live.  You can still make such a decision, but most likely it will be a poor one.  Imagine that you’re playing a game of checkers and decide how you’re going to play.  But what happens if it turns out you’re really playing chess?  Your strategy simply isn’t going to work.  It’s the same with deciding what to do with your life.  If your model of reality is too inaccurate, then all your decisions will be bug-ridden, and most likely you’ll crash a lot.  In practical terms this means you’ll have a hard time making progress towards your goals.  Weak results will become the norm for you. I’ve written previously about how I perceive reality, and I’ll certainly write more about it in the years ahead.  By experimenting with different belief systems over the past 15 years, I’ve seen radical changes in my results.  Last year was my best year ever by far, and I attribute this to developing a model of reality that appears to be in sync with the way reality actually seems to work.  My model certainly isn’t perfect, but it’s accurate enough that I’m starting to achieve my goals more and more easily.  I’m working with the rules of the game instead of fighting and resisting them. As I mentioned in a previous post, three key qualities to develop in your pursuit of personal growth are self-trust, awareness, and fearlessness.  Together these three components make up my definition of intelligence. While there are many ways to understand reality, my approach is basically that of Jnana Yoga.  This means that I try to comprehend reality through the mind.  I try to use my intellect to figure it out.  Ultimately this boils down to running a lot of personal experiments and noting the results.  But there are other valid paths to an understanding of reality too.  If you’re a more heart-focused person, like my wife, then intuition may be a more powerful guide for you than the mind. If you encounter difficulties in choosing a life purpose, the problem may be further upstream.  Dive deeper into your understanding of reality.  Question your beliefs, especially the ones you were taught never to question.  What if you’re wrong?  My current beliefs about reality bear little resemblance to those I was raised to adopt.  Through interaction with the real world, I found my initial beliefs to be inaccurate.  And that led to more than a decade of searching for truth, one that still continues to this day but which has gotten a lot easier. When you understand reality accurately enough, your purpose will practically jump out at you.  Ultimately when you understand reality, you understand yourself.  Your role in the world then becomes clear. For example, based on my understanding of reality, it’s clear to me what I should do with my life.  I’m here to grow and to help others grow. Does your purpose make sense in the short term? In this very moment, are you happy?  I’m not referring to mere contentment.  A potted plant is content.  I mean… are you passionate about your life?  Do you get more excited about going on vacation than you do about doing your real work?  Are you in love with your existence?  Are you delighted to be here on earth at this particular time? I was on vacation about 10 days ago, and honestly I was just as excited to return to work as I was to leave for the trip in the first place.  My work is so pleasurable to me that I’m overjoyed to have the privilege of sitting here at my desk, turning thoughts into words that will be seen by thousands of people around the world before this day is up.  Does that sound like suffering to you? If you’re the type of person who goes around saying that passion just isn’t your thing, then you’ve sacrificed too much.  If you’re living on purpose, an intense inner excitement will be your normal modus operandi.  Don’t be afraid — this passion won’t suddenly transform you into an emotional moron that bounces around like a fairy on drugs.  Passion is emotional fuel.  It will push you to live at full capacity.  Without passion you’ll frequently stop short and let opportunities pass you by again and again for lack of will.  Mere intellect can only get you so far.  There’s a difference between deciding to achieve a goal and actually achieving it.  Your intellect can handle the former, but it’s pathetic at achieving the latter.  Wouldn’t it be nice to achieve some goals instead of just setting them again and again?  Paper goals are nice to look at, but wouldn’t you rather have the real thing?  Passion will help you get there, sometimes at a pace that will make people’s heads spin. In order to do your best, you must learn to harness the fuel of passion.  If you were an android, you wouldn’t need passion.  Use your powerful intellect to recognize that you do have emotions whether you want them or not, and accept that a Vulcan lifestyle is suboptimal for human beings.  As you develop emotional intelligence, you can learn to utilize the powerful fuel of passion without running afoul of your intellect.  You want to be passionate and smart, not passionate and confused.  Passion + intelligence is a powerful combination. If your decision about what to do with your life doesn’t take advantage of the daily fuel of passion, then you’ve made the wrong decision.  Go back and try again. When you experience passion, it means that at least in this present moment, your decision about how to live makes sense.  It’s congruent with reality.  Your body will begin burning the fuel of passion because it believes you’re heading in the right direction.  It’s worth the effort to light that fuse and to keep it burning instead of conserving energy by turning you into a couch potato.  But if your decision looks too dumb, your body will hold back.  It won’t expend the energy — it’s saying, “Nope, not worth it.” If you find the passion is gone from parts of your life, see the message behind its absence.  Listen to the, “Nope, not worth it” signal you’re getting.  Maybe it’s a dead-end job, a dead-end relationship, or a dead-end exercise program.  Whatever it is, if your body hasn’t kicked into high gear with the fuel of passion, you’ve made the wrong choice.  It’s time to make a different decision. Passion is a force multiplier.  With passion you become much stronger than without it.  It’s truly amazing what a single passionate individual with a clear purpose can achieve.  If you were to subtract perhaps the top 100 such people from history (out of billions of humans), we’d probably still be living in caves.  And I’d be chipping away with my stone tools an article on how to organize your rock collection. Does your purpose make sense in the long term? Many decisions seem fairly intelligent in the moment, but when you imagine how they’ll play out over the next 10, 20, or 50 years, their weaknesses become apparent.  When choosing a life purpose, it should not only fuel you with passion in the present moment — it should look even better across a variety of time frames. Consider your job, for example.  Where will it lead you in the long run?  Think about where it will take you between now and the end of your life.  Imagine you’ve reached your final day on earth, and you look back upon your career.  How do you feel about it? If you’ve made the correct decision about what to do with your life, then you should feel that overall, this was the best possible choice you could have made without the benefit of specific hindsight.  You will see some mistakes you made along the way, but you’ll also see that given what you knew at the time, they were largely unavoidable.  When you look back over your life, your dominant thought will be, “I did my best.  I may not have lived a perfect life, but I did the best I could.  And for that reason, I have no major regrets.  If my life must now end, then so be it.” If, on the other hand, this scenario scares the bejesus out of you, then you’ve got some work to do.  It means your current direction isn’t sound.  It will not pass the test of time, and at some point you’ll have to face reality.  It’s better to do it now than to wait, since the longer you put it off, the more catastrophic the results will be. Yesterday I watched a documentary called The Smartest Guys in the Room, which is the story of Enron.  Enron was the 7th largest corporation in the U.S., employing tens of thousands of people.  Instead of focusing on value creation, its leaders put making themselves rich as their highest goal.  The company lost money year after year, yet it kept reporting substantial profits.  Its stock price went higher and higher with no value to back it up.  Obviously this was a house of cards that was doomed to eventually collapse, and over a period of just 24 days, the company spiraled down into bankruptcy.  The trial of Enron CEO Ken Lay is just beginning. Is your life an Enron?  What do you see when you project your current momentum years, even decades, into the future?  Are you building a house of cards that will eventually collapse?  Are you hiding from the truth? It can be very hard to face the truth today when the consequences may be years away.  But eventually you will have to face that truth at some point.  In fact, it’s with you right now.  When you clog your consciousness with the burden of falsehood, you lower your awareness.  By refusing to face what you perceive to be the unfaceable, you begin living a lie, just like Enron.  And then instead of living honestly, your energies are consumed by the perpetuation of that lie. Perhaps your sins aren’t as great as those of Enron’s leaders.  It doesn’t matter.  If you don’t feel you can be honest with the rest of the world just yet, at least begin by being honest with yourself.  You needn’t experience a crash if you can learn to raise your consciousness instead of lowering it.  This is the gentlest path out of falsehood and towards truth. If your relationship is dead, at least admit that truth to yourself even if you can’t admit it to anyone else.  Journal about it privately and explore your honest feelings.  If your career is unfulfilling and you work just to pay the bills, admit that to yourself, and also admit that you want something better.  It’s OK to be weak and helpless.  It’s not OK to lie to yourself.  Being weak will not lower your consciousness, but being false will. Your decision about how to live needs to make sense from ALL time perspectives, including now, yesterday, today, tomorrow, next year, 10 years from now, and at your death.  It also has to make sense from the perspective of different scenarios, including:  you die tomorrow, you die a year from now, you die in 50 years, you live forever, you become disabled, you get married, you stay single, you have children, you remain childless, your country’s government collapses, all your possessions are destroyed in a fire, etc. While there will be implementation issues that depend on the specifics of your current situation, your high-level decision about what to do with your life shouldn’t be based on elements outside your control.  It should be flexible enough that you can adapt it to changing circumstances, even when the changes are massive or brutal. My choice of living to grow and to help others grow has a terrific outlook across all time perspectives and scenarios.  In order for me to be unable to continue pursuing it, either all of us would have to achieve perfection, or my consciousness would have to become frozen or damaged in some way such that further growth would be impossible.  And in those situations, any other decision would be corrupted as well.  So I genuinely feel this is the best I can do. It was only in 2004 that I really began embracing this purpose consciously.  And when I look back over the time that has passed since making this decision, I have no major regrets.  I made plenty of mistakes along the way, but I still feel I did my best. This feeling also leaves me at peace with the possibility that I could die unexpectedly at any time.  I don’t know when my time here on earth will come to an end, but I’m OK with that because my decision about how to live isn’t time-bound.  It works for me in the present moment while also helping me devise a long-term plan for what to do over the next 50 years, should I live that long. I often ask myself, “How would I feel about my life if it were to end this very minute?”  If I don’t like my answer, I know it’s time to make some changes.  But lately I’ve been feeling really good about my answers.  I just hope that if it does happen this minute, my wife can finish this article for me and post it, since I’ve spent a lot of time on it and would hate for it to go to waste.  Does your purpose make sense at different levels of consciousness? Long-term inconsistency used to be a serious problem for me as I explored different belief systems.  Every time I changed my beliefs, parts of my life would rupture because they were dependent on the old belief system.  That paralyzed me to some degree.  I had to chose between pursuing my own growth (and experiencing great upheaval in my actions and results), or I could try to hold my beliefs fixed (thereby suspending my growth) in order to complete certain projects.  Ultimately I chose to pursue growth and just deal with the upheaval, figuring that eventually I would stabilize at a higher level, and that approach seems to have worked out nicely, although it certainly wasn’t easy adapting to so much change. Suppose you work for a company that develops software.  When you first begin working there, you may be focused on the idea of landing a good job, doing interesting work, and beginning a career with strong long-term potential.  Or perhaps you’re just a geek who loves coding.  At first you may be happy, even fulfilled in this situation.  But as you mature and your values change, you may begin searching for more meaning in your life, and this could lead you to raise your standards about the type of work you’re willing to do.  The same old projects no longer seem as interesting as they once were, so you look for more challenging and interesting assignments.  As you continue along this path, you may begin looking more critically at the overall contribution you’re making, both to your company and to the world.  Suppose you know that your company’s real motivation is simply to make a profit and that the software it develops isn’t really needed.  Perhaps it generates income largely from market inefficiencies and buyer ignorance rather than by providing genuine unique value.  Now you have a tough decision to make.  Do you stay with the company and try to justify your decision (thereby lowering your awareness), do you leave (thereby keeping your awareness high), or do you attempt to transform the company from within (thereby using your awareness to raise the awareness of others)? This isn’t an easy decision to make, but the key to living in a way that works in the long run is that you need to keep yourself from becoming stuck at a fixed level of consciousness.  If you pursue the development and expansion of your consciousness, you will experience some upheaval in your life.  But that doesn’t mean your purpose is poorly chosen — it just means you need to go through a process of shedding that which is incongruent with your purpose.  And if you’re like most people, that’s going to mean a lot of shedding.  It will probably take years.  But you’ll come out the other side much stronger and a lot happier.  The tunnel is hard, but it doesn’t last forever, and it leads to a wonderful place that you’ll never want to leave once you experience it. In truth we go through multiple tunnels as we raise our awareness.  These tunnels are what has been referred to as the “dark night of the soul.”  This is what happens when your awareness elevates to the point where you’re now out of sync with your current life situation, but you don’t see any viable alternatives just yet.  The alternatives will eventually present themselves if you continue to focus on raising your awareness and allowing the incongruence to exist for a while. A well-formed life purpose should be able to survive your passage through these tunnels of awareness.  Each tunnel should only clarify and strengthen your purpose, not force you to throw it out.  If you feel your purpose will not survive the growth of your consciousness, you’re probably right. A life purpose that is tied to a particular level of awareness is no purpose at all.  It will only keep you trapped at that level of awareness.  For example, if your purpose is tied to making money, then what will happen if your awareness reaches the point that money holds a completely different meaning to you?  Perhaps it will become meaningless.  Try to imagine how you might continue to grow, and choose a purpose that is flexible enough to grow with you.  For example, if your purpose is to create abundance for yourself and others, then that is much more likely to survive the growth of your consciousness than a purpose based solely on making money. What I really love about my purpose is that it adapts well to changes in my core beliefs, including my spiritual beliefs.  It’s hard for me to imagine a belief system in which it’s impossible for me to grow or to help others to grow.  If I can experience something, I can grow from that experience, and if I can communicate with others, I can share some of that growth as well. What will become of your purpose after you die? Ideally your purpose should be deep enough that it even has the possibility of surviving your own death.  Let’s consider the perspective of what happens to you after death and what happens to the rest of the world after you’re gone. First, consider what happens to you.  There are after-death scenarios where decisions you make today won’t matter and other scenarios where they will matter.  But the first case is irrelevant because if you go to oblivion after you die or enter some immovable state of consciousness independent of your earthly life, then any decisions you make here and now won’t make a difference beyond your own death.  So unless you can be 100% certain of the first type of scenario, you must at least consider the second case when deciding how to live.  When you imagine what it might be like to continue to exist in some form after your physical body dies, does your purpose still make sense?  Can you continue your purpose even after you die? If this subject interests you, you may enjoy reading the article “Life After Death,” which goes into these various scenarios in more detail. Since my purpose is to grow and to help others grow, then if I still have some form of consciousness and there are other conscious beings around, I should still be able to continue my purpose in some form.  “Personal Development for Smart People” will become “Personal Development for Dead People.”  And instead of turning bears into eagles, I’ll work on turning demons into angels.  Sounds like a fun job to me.  So if I’m already dead when you’re reading this, look me up when you get there, and I’ll continue torturing you for all eternity.  Next, what will happen to the rest of the world after you die?  Can your purpose continue on after your death?  Can you plant enough of a seed that it can continue to grow even after you’re gone?  Part of the reason many motivational speakers build their own corporations is so that they can institutionalize their work in a way that will allow it to survive their own death.  Their purpose then becomes almost immortal.  I remember hearing Tony Robbins say that institutionalizing his work was very important to him — I think he said it on one of the bonus CDs included with his Personal Power II program.  It’s the whole idea of leaving a legacy. I’d like to leave behind enough of a legacy that even after my death, my work can still continue.  One thing I love about my writing is that it can actually outlive me.  That’s a conceit, but it’s a healthy one.  (Yes, that’s a line from Star Trek: TNG, and 1000 points to anyone who knows which episode.)  (Plus another 1000 points to anyone who knows the source of the 1000 points reference.) Every year that passes, I want to leave behind a stronger legacy.  This even gives meaning to my very survival.  The longer I live, the greater the legacy I can leave behind.  I’m only 16 months along this path, but I already like what I see.  I’ve created some small ripples already, it will be nice to see where they lead.  I’ve also helped my wife get started on this path, so if she outlives me, there’s already someone to keep the work going for a while.  But ultimately I’d also like to institutionalize the work I’m doing in order to give it more of a life of its own.  And I’m certainly not the only one doing this sort of thing, but from what I can see, I’m one of the youngest. What kind of legacy would you like to leave behind?  If you were to die today, how will your contribution to the world be remembered?  Will it be remembered at all, or will you simply be replaced like a burned out light bulb and soon forgotten?  What ripples are you creating today that have the potential to continue oscillating after you’re gone? Your own death is something your decision about how to live needs to address.  You cannot decide how to live without also deciding how to die.  I’m not talking about whether you’re going to die of cancer or be gutted by an axe murderer.  I mean that you need to live in such a way that death will not rob your life of its meaning.  Your purpose must be so strong that even death cannot stop it. Don’t give up! I know it’s not easy to discover your life purpose.  It may take years for you to figure it out.  But no one who has discovered their purpose will tell you it wasn’t worth the effort.  It’s a long journey, sometimes over difficult terrain, but the rewards you will experience along the way are without equal. If you don’t yet know what your purpose is, then your purpose for right now is to figure it out. At some point you’ll hit one of those big obstacles that makes you want to give up and slink back down into low awareness living.  You’ll catch yourself thinking that maybe you should just model your life after the fictional characters you see on the TV, or perhaps you’ll long to just be “normal” and fit in like everyone else.  But that kind of life isn’t for you, and you know it.  If you’ve read this much without turning away, then your awareness is already too high for you to be happy living like the sleeping masses.  It’s time to wake up.  The bright light will hurt your eyes at first, even make your eyes water, but you’ll get used to it.  And then you’ll receive your own high-powered awareness flashlight.  And I have to tell you that it’s oodles of fun shining that thing in people’s eyes when they least suspect it… for kicks and giggles, you know.  Of course it’s great for helping people raise their awareness too. 
    1149 Posted by UniqueThis
  • Deciding what to do with your life isn’t remotely easy.  Most people never make this decision at all.  But since we all end up doing something, if we don’t make this decision consciously, then a decision will still be made, but it will be an unconscious one. If you don’t decide how you’re going to live, then someone or something else will decide for you.  Most likely you’ll yield your life to a combination of unconscious influences, including your genetic predispositions, your upbringing, your social conditioning, your environment, the other people in your life, and perhaps pure chance. This might be a good way for pets to live, but not for human beings.  We can do better. Allowing your fate to be decided by external influences will, historically speaking, produce absolutely pathetic results compared to what you could achieve with your life by consciously deciding what you’re going to do with it and why.  You might get lucky if you let fate handle the details, but it’s more likely you’ll end up spending your precious time here serving other forces whose plans you probably wouldn’t agree with. As you grow in awareness and become more fully conscious, at some point you’ll come face to face with the question, “What the heck am I going to do with my life?” Obviously there’s a lot riding on your answer.  It’s not even just about your own life but also the lives of everyone else you might affect during your lifetime.  You could choose to be insignificant, but you might also be able to play a hugely significant role in the future direction of this planet.  Conscious choice gives you that option.  And yielding this option to others doesn’t relieve you of any responsibility whatsoever. Once your awareness has reached a certain level, it becomes clear that it’s better to answer this question consciously than to allow someone else to answer it for you. However, as you begin tackling this question, there’s a good chance you’ll find it such a daunting task that you soon yield to the temptation of returning to unconscious living.  Please don’t do that.  Although answering this question is indeed one of the major challenges you’ll face as a human being, it’s a problem you’re capable of solving — and well worth the effort. Let me share with you some ideas on how to approach this question that might make it easier for you to answer intelligently. Strive to understand reality as accurately as possible. A key component of deciding how to live is developing an understanding of how this universe you find yourself in actually works.  You need to know the rules of play before you can devise a basic strategy.  So the search for purpose begins with the search for truth. Ideally once you develop an understanding of how the universe works, enough that it makes sense to you intellectually, emotionally, and intuitively, then you can begin figuring out what role you’ll play within this universe. If you don’t have an accurate enough model of reality, you can’t intelligently decide how to live.  You can still make such a decision, but most likely it will be a poor one.  Imagine that you’re playing a game of checkers and decide how you’re going to play.  But what happens if it turns out you’re really playing chess?  Your strategy simply isn’t going to work.  It’s the same with deciding what to do with your life.  If your model of reality is too inaccurate, then all your decisions will be bug-ridden, and most likely you’ll crash a lot.  In practical terms this means you’ll have a hard time making progress towards your goals.  Weak results will become the norm for you. I’ve written previously about how I perceive reality, and I’ll certainly write more about it in the years ahead.  By experimenting with different belief systems over the past 15 years, I’ve seen radical changes in my results.  Last year was my best year ever by far, and I attribute this to developing a model of reality that appears to be in sync with the way reality actually seems to work.  My model certainly isn’t perfect, but it’s accurate enough that I’m starting to achieve my goals more and more easily.  I’m working with the rules of the game instead of fighting and resisting them. As I mentioned in a previous post, three key qualities to develop in your pursuit of personal growth are self-trust, awareness, and fearlessness.  Together these three components make up my definition of intelligence. While there are many ways to understand reality, my approach is basically that of Jnana Yoga.  This means that I try to comprehend reality through the mind.  I try to use my intellect to figure it out.  Ultimately this boils down to running a lot of personal experiments and noting the results.  But there are other valid paths to an understanding of reality too.  If you’re a more heart-focused person, like my wife, then intuition may be a more powerful guide for you than the mind. If you encounter difficulties in choosing a life purpose, the problem may be further upstream.  Dive deeper into your understanding of reality.  Question your beliefs, especially the ones you were taught never to question.  What if you’re wrong?  My current beliefs about reality bear little resemblance to those I was raised to adopt.  Through interaction with the real world, I found my initial beliefs to be inaccurate.  And that led to more than a decade of searching for truth, one that still continues to this day but which has gotten a lot easier. When you understand reality accurately enough, your purpose will practically jump out at you.  Ultimately when you understand reality, you understand yourself.  Your role in the world then becomes clear. For example, based on my understanding of reality, it’s clear to me what I should do with my life.  I’m here to grow and to help others grow. Does your purpose make sense in the short term? In this very moment, are you happy?  I’m not referring to mere contentment.  A potted plant is content.  I mean… are you passionate about your life?  Do you get more excited about going on vacation than you do about doing your real work?  Are you in love with your existence?  Are you delighted to be here on earth at this particular time? I was on vacation about 10 days ago, and honestly I was just as excited to return to work as I was to leave for the trip in the first place.  My work is so pleasurable to me that I’m overjoyed to have the privilege of sitting here at my desk, turning thoughts into words that will be seen by thousands of people around the world before this day is up.  Does that sound like suffering to you? If you’re the type of person who goes around saying that passion just isn’t your thing, then you’ve sacrificed too much.  If you’re living on purpose, an intense inner excitement will be your normal modus operandi.  Don’t be afraid — this passion won’t suddenly transform you into an emotional moron that bounces around like a fairy on drugs.  Passion is emotional fuel.  It will push you to live at full capacity.  Without passion you’ll frequently stop short and let opportunities pass you by again and again for lack of will.  Mere intellect can only get you so far.  There’s a difference between deciding to achieve a goal and actually achieving it.  Your intellect can handle the former, but it’s pathetic at achieving the latter.  Wouldn’t it be nice to achieve some goals instead of just setting them again and again?  Paper goals are nice to look at, but wouldn’t you rather have the real thing?  Passion will help you get there, sometimes at a pace that will make people’s heads spin. In order to do your best, you must learn to harness the fuel of passion.  If you were an android, you wouldn’t need passion.  Use your powerful intellect to recognize that you do have emotions whether you want them or not, and accept that a Vulcan lifestyle is suboptimal for human beings.  As you develop emotional intelligence, you can learn to utilize the powerful fuel of passion without running afoul of your intellect.  You want to be passionate and smart, not passionate and confused.  Passion + intelligence is a powerful combination. If your decision about what to do with your life doesn’t take advantage of the daily fuel of passion, then you’ve made the wrong decision.  Go back and try again. When you experience passion, it means that at least in this present moment, your decision about how to live makes sense.  It’s congruent with reality.  Your body will begin burning the fuel of passion because it believes you’re heading in the right direction.  It’s worth the effort to light that fuse and to keep it burning instead of conserving energy by turning you into a couch potato.  But if your decision looks too dumb, your body will hold back.  It won’t expend the energy — it’s saying, “Nope, not worth it.” If you find the passion is gone from parts of your life, see the message behind its absence.  Listen to the, “Nope, not worth it” signal you’re getting.  Maybe it’s a dead-end job, a dead-end relationship, or a dead-end exercise program.  Whatever it is, if your body hasn’t kicked into high gear with the fuel of passion, you’ve made the wrong choice.  It’s time to make a different decision. Passion is a force multiplier.  With passion you become much stronger than without it.  It’s truly amazing what a single passionate individual with a clear purpose can achieve.  If you were to subtract perhaps the top 100 such people from history (out of billions of humans), we’d probably still be living in caves.  And I’d be chipping away with my stone tools an article on how to organize your rock collection. Does your purpose make sense in the long term? Many decisions seem fairly intelligent in the moment, but when you imagine how they’ll play out over the next 10, 20, or 50 years, their weaknesses become apparent.  When choosing a life purpose, it should not only fuel you with passion in the present moment — it should look even better across a variety of time frames. Consider your job, for example.  Where will it lead you in the long run?  Think about where it will take you between now and the end of your life.  Imagine you’ve reached your final day on earth, and you look back upon your career.  How do you feel about it? If you’ve made the correct decision about what to do with your life, then you should feel that overall, this was the best possible choice you could have made without the benefit of specific hindsight.  You will see some mistakes you made along the way, but you’ll also see that given what you knew at the time, they were largely unavoidable.  When you look back over your life, your dominant thought will be, “I did my best.  I may not have lived a perfect life, but I did the best I could.  And for that reason, I have no major regrets.  If my life must now end, then so be it.” If, on the other hand, this scenario scares the bejesus out of you, then you’ve got some work to do.  It means your current direction isn’t sound.  It will not pass the test of time, and at some point you’ll have to face reality.  It’s better to do it now than to wait, since the longer you put it off, the more catastrophic the results will be. Yesterday I watched a documentary called The Smartest Guys in the Room, which is the story of Enron.  Enron was the 7th largest corporation in the U.S., employing tens of thousands of people.  Instead of focusing on value creation, its leaders put making themselves rich as their highest goal.  The company lost money year after year, yet it kept reporting substantial profits.  Its stock price went higher and higher with no value to back it up.  Obviously this was a house of cards that was doomed to eventually collapse, and over a period of just 24 days, the company spiraled down into bankruptcy.  The trial of Enron CEO Ken Lay is just beginning. Is your life an Enron?  What do you see when you project your current momentum years, even decades, into the future?  Are you building a house of cards that will eventually collapse?  Are you hiding from the truth? It can be very hard to face the truth today when the consequences may be years away.  But eventually you will have to face that truth at some point.  In fact, it’s with you right now.  When you clog your consciousness with the burden of falsehood, you lower your awareness.  By refusing to face what you perceive to be the unfaceable, you begin living a lie, just like Enron.  And then instead of living honestly, your energies are consumed by the perpetuation of that lie. Perhaps your sins aren’t as great as those of Enron’s leaders.  It doesn’t matter.  If you don’t feel you can be honest with the rest of the world just yet, at least begin by being honest with yourself.  You needn’t experience a crash if you can learn to raise your consciousness instead of lowering it.  This is the gentlest path out of falsehood and towards truth. If your relationship is dead, at least admit that truth to yourself even if you can’t admit it to anyone else.  Journal about it privately and explore your honest feelings.  If your career is unfulfilling and you work just to pay the bills, admit that to yourself, and also admit that you want something better.  It’s OK to be weak and helpless.  It’s not OK to lie to yourself.  Being weak will not lower your consciousness, but being false will. Your decision about how to live needs to make sense from ALL time perspectives, including now, yesterday, today, tomorrow, next year, 10 years from now, and at your death.  It also has to make sense from the perspective of different scenarios, including:  you die tomorrow, you die a year from now, you die in 50 years, you live forever, you become disabled, you get married, you stay single, you have children, you remain childless, your country’s government collapses, all your possessions are destroyed in a fire, etc. While there will be implementation issues that depend on the specifics of your current situation, your high-level decision about what to do with your life shouldn’t be based on elements outside your control.  It should be flexible enough that you can adapt it to changing circumstances, even when the changes are massive or brutal. My choice of living to grow and to help others grow has a terrific outlook across all time perspectives and scenarios.  In order for me to be unable to continue pursuing it, either all of us would have to achieve perfection, or my consciousness would have to become frozen or damaged in some way such that further growth would be impossible.  And in those situations, any other decision would be corrupted as well.  So I genuinely feel this is the best I can do. It was only in 2004 that I really began embracing this purpose consciously.  And when I look back over the time that has passed since making this decision, I have no major regrets.  I made plenty of mistakes along the way, but I still feel I did my best. This feeling also leaves me at peace with the possibility that I could die unexpectedly at any time.  I don’t know when my time here on earth will come to an end, but I’m OK with that because my decision about how to live isn’t time-bound.  It works for me in the present moment while also helping me devise a long-term plan for what to do over the next 50 years, should I live that long. I often ask myself, “How would I feel about my life if it were to end this very minute?”  If I don’t like my answer, I know it’s time to make some changes.  But lately I’ve been feeling really good about my answers.  I just hope that if it does happen this minute, my wife can finish this article for me and post it, since I’ve spent a lot of time on it and would hate for it to go to waste.  Does your purpose make sense at different levels of consciousness? Long-term inconsistency used to be a serious problem for me as I explored different belief systems.  Every time I changed my beliefs, parts of my life would rupture because they were dependent on the old belief system.  That paralyzed me to some degree.  I had to chose between pursuing my own growth (and experiencing great upheaval in my actions and results), or I could try to hold my beliefs fixed (thereby suspending my growth) in order to complete certain projects.  Ultimately I chose to pursue growth and just deal with the upheaval, figuring that eventually I would stabilize at a higher level, and that approach seems to have worked out nicely, although it certainly wasn’t easy adapting to so much change. Suppose you work for a company that develops software.  When you first begin working there, you may be focused on the idea of landing a good job, doing interesting work, and beginning a career with strong long-term potential.  Or perhaps you’re just a geek who loves coding.  At first you may be happy, even fulfilled in this situation.  But as you mature and your values change, you may begin searching for more meaning in your life, and this could lead you to raise your standards about the type of work you’re willing to do.  The same old projects no longer seem as interesting as they once were, so you look for more challenging and interesting assignments.  As you continue along this path, you may begin looking more critically at the overall contribution you’re making, both to your company and to the world.  Suppose you know that your company’s real motivation is simply to make a profit and that the software it develops isn’t really needed.  Perhaps it generates income largely from market inefficiencies and buyer ignorance rather than by providing genuine unique value.  Now you have a tough decision to make.  Do you stay with the company and try to justify your decision (thereby lowering your awareness), do you leave (thereby keeping your awareness high), or do you attempt to transform the company from within (thereby using your awareness to raise the awareness of others)? This isn’t an easy decision to make, but the key to living in a way that works in the long run is that you need to keep yourself from becoming stuck at a fixed level of consciousness.  If you pursue the development and expansion of your consciousness, you will experience some upheaval in your life.  But that doesn’t mean your purpose is poorly chosen — it just means you need to go through a process of shedding that which is incongruent with your purpose.  And if you’re like most people, that’s going to mean a lot of shedding.  It will probably take years.  But you’ll come out the other side much stronger and a lot happier.  The tunnel is hard, but it doesn’t last forever, and it leads to a wonderful place that you’ll never want to leave once you experience it. In truth we go through multiple tunnels as we raise our awareness.  These tunnels are what has been referred to as the “dark night of the soul.”  This is what happens when your awareness elevates to the point where you’re now out of sync with your current life situation, but you don’t see any viable alternatives just yet.  The alternatives will eventually present themselves if you continue to focus on raising your awareness and allowing the incongruence to exist for a while. A well-formed life purpose should be able to survive your passage through these tunnels of awareness.  Each tunnel should only clarify and strengthen your purpose, not force you to throw it out.  If you feel your purpose will not survive the growth of your consciousness, you’re probably right. A life purpose that is tied to a particular level of awareness is no purpose at all.  It will only keep you trapped at that level of awareness.  For example, if your purpose is tied to making money, then what will happen if your awareness reaches the point that money holds a completely different meaning to you?  Perhaps it will become meaningless.  Try to imagine how you might continue to grow, and choose a purpose that is flexible enough to grow with you.  For example, if your purpose is to create abundance for yourself and others, then that is much more likely to survive the growth of your consciousness than a purpose based solely on making money. What I really love about my purpose is that it adapts well to changes in my core beliefs, including my spiritual beliefs.  It’s hard for me to imagine a belief system in which it’s impossible for me to grow or to help others to grow.  If I can experience something, I can grow from that experience, and if I can communicate with others, I can share some of that growth as well. What will become of your purpose after you die? Ideally your purpose should be deep enough that it even has the possibility of surviving your own death.  Let’s consider the perspective of what happens to you after death and what happens to the rest of the world after you’re gone. First, consider what happens to you.  There are after-death scenarios where decisions you make today won’t matter and other scenarios where they will matter.  But the first case is irrelevant because if you go to oblivion after you die or enter some immovable state of consciousness independent of your earthly life, then any decisions you make here and now won’t make a difference beyond your own death.  So unless you can be 100% certain of the first type of scenario, you must at least consider the second case when deciding how to live.  When you imagine what it might be like to continue to exist in some form after your physical body dies, does your purpose still make sense?  Can you continue your purpose even after you die? If this subject interests you, you may enjoy reading the article “Life After Death,” which goes into these various scenarios in more detail. Since my purpose is to grow and to help others grow, then if I still have some form of consciousness and there are other conscious beings around, I should still be able to continue my purpose in some form.  “Personal Development for Smart People” will become “Personal Development for Dead People.”  And instead of turning bears into eagles, I’ll work on turning demons into angels.  Sounds like a fun job to me.  So if I’m already dead when you’re reading this, look me up when you get there, and I’ll continue torturing you for all eternity.  Next, what will happen to the rest of the world after you die?  Can your purpose continue on after your death?  Can you plant enough of a seed that it can continue to grow even after you’re gone?  Part of the reason many motivational speakers build their own corporations is so that they can institutionalize their work in a way that will allow it to survive their own death.  Their purpose then becomes almost immortal.  I remember hearing Tony Robbins say that institutionalizing his work was very important to him — I think he said it on one of the bonus CDs included with his Personal Power II program.  It’s the whole idea of leaving a legacy. I’d like to leave behind enough of a legacy that even after my death, my work can still continue.  One thing I love about my writing is that it can actually outlive me.  That’s a conceit, but it’s a healthy one.  (Yes, that’s a line from Star Trek: TNG, and 1000 points to anyone who knows which episode.)  (Plus another 1000 points to anyone who knows the source of the 1000 points reference.) Every year that passes, I want to leave behind a stronger legacy.  This even gives meaning to my very survival.  The longer I live, the greater the legacy I can leave behind.  I’m only 16 months along this path, but I already like what I see.  I’ve created some small ripples already, it will be nice to see where they lead.  I’ve also helped my wife get started on this path, so if she outlives me, there’s already someone to keep the work going for a while.  But ultimately I’d also like to institutionalize the work I’m doing in order to give it more of a life of its own.  And I’m certainly not the only one doing this sort of thing, but from what I can see, I’m one of the youngest. What kind of legacy would you like to leave behind?  If you were to die today, how will your contribution to the world be remembered?  Will it be remembered at all, or will you simply be replaced like a burned out light bulb and soon forgotten?  What ripples are you creating today that have the potential to continue oscillating after you’re gone? Your own death is something your decision about how to live needs to address.  You cannot decide how to live without also deciding how to die.  I’m not talking about whether you’re going to die of cancer or be gutted by an axe murderer.  I mean that you need to live in such a way that death will not rob your life of its meaning.  Your purpose must be so strong that even death cannot stop it. Don’t give up! I know it’s not easy to discover your life purpose.  It may take years for you to figure it out.  But no one who has discovered their purpose will tell you it wasn’t worth the effort.  It’s a long journey, sometimes over difficult terrain, but the rewards you will experience along the way are without equal. If you don’t yet know what your purpose is, then your purpose for right now is to figure it out. At some point you’ll hit one of those big obstacles that makes you want to give up and slink back down into low awareness living.  You’ll catch yourself thinking that maybe you should just model your life after the fictional characters you see on the TV, or perhaps you’ll long to just be “normal” and fit in like everyone else.  But that kind of life isn’t for you, and you know it.  If you’ve read this much without turning away, then your awareness is already too high for you to be happy living like the sleeping masses.  It’s time to wake up.  The bright light will hurt your eyes at first, even make your eyes water, but you’ll get used to it.  And then you’ll receive your own high-powered awareness flashlight.  And I have to tell you that it’s oodles of fun shining that thing in people’s eyes when they least suspect it… for kicks and giggles, you know.  Of course it’s great for helping people raise their awareness too. 
    Jul 14, 2011 1149
  • 14 Jul 2011
    It’s been said that the best way to predict the future is to create it.  While obviously there’s a great deal that’s out of your control with respect to events that haven’t occurred yet, you should at least have some control over how you spend your time today and tomorrow.  And one of the best ways to ensure you use that time intelligently is to imagine in advance how your next day will turn out. This is more than just writing down a to do list.  This is a form of mental programming.  Here’s a specific technique you can use (certainly not the only one).  Either before you go to bed or after you awaken each morning (I recommend the former), take 5-10 minutes to visualize your upcoming day.  Picture it like a movie unfolding before your eyes, and allow the whole day to play on fast forward, such that you compress your 16 waking hours or so (22 if you’re a polyphasic mutant) into just a few minutes. Now this advice isn’t all that original, so I’m going to take it a step further.  As you play through your day in advance, simultaneously notice what your gut feeling tells you about each part of it.  This takes some practice, and the way it works for me is that I imagine sitting in a movie theater watching the movie of my day on the big screen.  The movie plays on autopilot (controlled by my subconscious) and I use my conscious mind to observe, react to, and notice my reactions to what appears on the screen.  It’s a lot like being in a real movie theater, where you might feel some emotion during an emotional scene, and then you have this meta-observation that you’re noticing yourself feeling emotional while watching a movie.  If this sounds too complicated to do all at once (again, it takes some practice), then just play the movie normally, and when it’s over, try to recall how certain parts made you feel. Now you have your visualization of your next day as well as the feelings that you attach to various parts of it.  Those feelings are your feedback, so use this feedback to improve your movie.  Did you feel stress, worry, or anxiety at times?  If so, go back and modify the script.  Mentally modify those parts of the movie to remove the negative emotional triggers.  Add soft music to reduce stress.  Eat healthier food.  Squeeze in a nice long walk.  Do a complete rewrite if you have to — remember, your day hasn’t even started yet, so fix the bugs now before they go into the production build. Secondly, notice which parts of your movie produced a positive emotional response, and see if you can make those even better.  Use what you learn from observing your positive emotional reactions to improve the weaker parts of your film.  Keep working on your original B-movie until you have an Oscar winner on your hands. Finally, be sure to end your film with an appropriate version of ”riding off into the sunset.”  Make your day end well, and picture yourself feeling good about it.  Clarify the feeling you want to have at the end of your day — accomplishment, peace, victory, etc., and create a final closing scene that captures it.  It could be something as simple as picturing yourself going to bed with a smile on your face. When you have a movie you really love, say to yourself, “save program.”  You’re done. Take note of how your upcoming day unfolds.  If you’re like me, it will never turn out as perfect as your movie.  But it will turn out a lot better than your typical experience when you don’t do this visualization. Early this morning I did this exercise and imagined how today would turn out.  I piled it with activity and wanted to push myself to get a lot of important tasks finished.  But my first take showed that it was going to be pretty boring.  Yesterday I filed the paperwork to create a new limited liability company (LLC), so my plan for today was to finalize the operating agreement and several other formal docs related to launching a new company.  Basically I’m upgrading this sole proprietor business (aka this web site) into a more structured legal entity.  But paperwork doesn’t make for a very exciting day.  So I corrected the imaginary movie by splicing the paperwork between more interesting tasks, such as writing this blog entry.  And this evening I have a two-hour improv comedy workshop, so that’s a great way to polish off the workday.  Eventually I felt my movie was good enough, so I mentally saved it and kicked off my day with breakfast.  Even though the work supposedly wasn’t going to be very exciting, I was feeling very motivated and enthusiastic when I sat down at my desk. However, the actual day (which is a bit more than half over now) is turning out differently than I pictured in my movie.  I found the paperwork less tedious than expected, so I opted to stick with it instead of task-switching between documents, and I actually completed all of it before noon.  Now I’m spending the second half of the day doing all the interesting stuff. I can’t say this visualization technique “creates the future” with any meaningful degree of accuracy.  In terms of accuracy, it’s probably no better than writing out a to-do list.  But this method does significantly increase my motivation and focus.  I find myself much less vulnerable to distractions, and I concentrate better.  So the day never turns out quite as I visualized, but it does turn out better than it would have otherwise.  It’s as if the actual images don’t survive the editing process, but the raw emotions and energy do make the final cut.  Sometimes it feels like I’m sending energy into the future, like passing a temporal football to be received by my future self who carries it in for a touchdown. Give the positive form of this visualization a try and see what happens.  A great time to do it is right after you lie down to go to bed but before you’ve fallen asleep. On the flip side, there’s a good chance you’re already using this technique without even realizing it.  If you worry about the coming day (or simply anticipate boredom or lack of enthusiasm), you’re using negative visualization.  And in that case you can generally expect the opposite results.  Your day probably won’t turn out as badly as you imagined (which may even give you a temporary sense of relief), but it will likely be lousy compared to what you’d have gotten with intentional positive visualization. When it comes to visualization, there’s no neutral.  Your energy is either + or -.  So make sure it’s +. How do you know if you’re + or – right now?  If the answer isn’t blatantly obvious to you, you’re -.  If you were +, you’d have no doubt whatsoever.  It’s just like asking, “Is this a dream?”  If you have to seriously ask the question, you’re definitely asleep and dreaming.  In fact, that’s a good way to become lucid. 
    956 Posted by UniqueThis
  • It’s been said that the best way to predict the future is to create it.  While obviously there’s a great deal that’s out of your control with respect to events that haven’t occurred yet, you should at least have some control over how you spend your time today and tomorrow.  And one of the best ways to ensure you use that time intelligently is to imagine in advance how your next day will turn out. This is more than just writing down a to do list.  This is a form of mental programming.  Here’s a specific technique you can use (certainly not the only one).  Either before you go to bed or after you awaken each morning (I recommend the former), take 5-10 minutes to visualize your upcoming day.  Picture it like a movie unfolding before your eyes, and allow the whole day to play on fast forward, such that you compress your 16 waking hours or so (22 if you’re a polyphasic mutant) into just a few minutes. Now this advice isn’t all that original, so I’m going to take it a step further.  As you play through your day in advance, simultaneously notice what your gut feeling tells you about each part of it.  This takes some practice, and the way it works for me is that I imagine sitting in a movie theater watching the movie of my day on the big screen.  The movie plays on autopilot (controlled by my subconscious) and I use my conscious mind to observe, react to, and notice my reactions to what appears on the screen.  It’s a lot like being in a real movie theater, where you might feel some emotion during an emotional scene, and then you have this meta-observation that you’re noticing yourself feeling emotional while watching a movie.  If this sounds too complicated to do all at once (again, it takes some practice), then just play the movie normally, and when it’s over, try to recall how certain parts made you feel. Now you have your visualization of your next day as well as the feelings that you attach to various parts of it.  Those feelings are your feedback, so use this feedback to improve your movie.  Did you feel stress, worry, or anxiety at times?  If so, go back and modify the script.  Mentally modify those parts of the movie to remove the negative emotional triggers.  Add soft music to reduce stress.  Eat healthier food.  Squeeze in a nice long walk.  Do a complete rewrite if you have to — remember, your day hasn’t even started yet, so fix the bugs now before they go into the production build. Secondly, notice which parts of your movie produced a positive emotional response, and see if you can make those even better.  Use what you learn from observing your positive emotional reactions to improve the weaker parts of your film.  Keep working on your original B-movie until you have an Oscar winner on your hands. Finally, be sure to end your film with an appropriate version of ”riding off into the sunset.”  Make your day end well, and picture yourself feeling good about it.  Clarify the feeling you want to have at the end of your day — accomplishment, peace, victory, etc., and create a final closing scene that captures it.  It could be something as simple as picturing yourself going to bed with a smile on your face. When you have a movie you really love, say to yourself, “save program.”  You’re done. Take note of how your upcoming day unfolds.  If you’re like me, it will never turn out as perfect as your movie.  But it will turn out a lot better than your typical experience when you don’t do this visualization. Early this morning I did this exercise and imagined how today would turn out.  I piled it with activity and wanted to push myself to get a lot of important tasks finished.  But my first take showed that it was going to be pretty boring.  Yesterday I filed the paperwork to create a new limited liability company (LLC), so my plan for today was to finalize the operating agreement and several other formal docs related to launching a new company.  Basically I’m upgrading this sole proprietor business (aka this web site) into a more structured legal entity.  But paperwork doesn’t make for a very exciting day.  So I corrected the imaginary movie by splicing the paperwork between more interesting tasks, such as writing this blog entry.  And this evening I have a two-hour improv comedy workshop, so that’s a great way to polish off the workday.  Eventually I felt my movie was good enough, so I mentally saved it and kicked off my day with breakfast.  Even though the work supposedly wasn’t going to be very exciting, I was feeling very motivated and enthusiastic when I sat down at my desk. However, the actual day (which is a bit more than half over now) is turning out differently than I pictured in my movie.  I found the paperwork less tedious than expected, so I opted to stick with it instead of task-switching between documents, and I actually completed all of it before noon.  Now I’m spending the second half of the day doing all the interesting stuff. I can’t say this visualization technique “creates the future” with any meaningful degree of accuracy.  In terms of accuracy, it’s probably no better than writing out a to-do list.  But this method does significantly increase my motivation and focus.  I find myself much less vulnerable to distractions, and I concentrate better.  So the day never turns out quite as I visualized, but it does turn out better than it would have otherwise.  It’s as if the actual images don’t survive the editing process, but the raw emotions and energy do make the final cut.  Sometimes it feels like I’m sending energy into the future, like passing a temporal football to be received by my future self who carries it in for a touchdown. Give the positive form of this visualization a try and see what happens.  A great time to do it is right after you lie down to go to bed but before you’ve fallen asleep. On the flip side, there’s a good chance you’re already using this technique without even realizing it.  If you worry about the coming day (or simply anticipate boredom or lack of enthusiasm), you’re using negative visualization.  And in that case you can generally expect the opposite results.  Your day probably won’t turn out as badly as you imagined (which may even give you a temporary sense of relief), but it will likely be lousy compared to what you’d have gotten with intentional positive visualization. When it comes to visualization, there’s no neutral.  Your energy is either + or -.  So make sure it’s +. How do you know if you’re + or – right now?  If the answer isn’t blatantly obvious to you, you’re -.  If you were +, you’d have no doubt whatsoever.  It’s just like asking, “Is this a dream?”  If you have to seriously ask the question, you’re definitely asleep and dreaming.  In fact, that’s a good way to become lucid. 
    Jul 14, 2011 956
  • 14 Jul 2011
    After a stock market rally, many investors will sell some of their stock to “lock in their gains.”  They cash out and take the rewards they’ve accumulated.  Partly this is to ensure that the rewards of their efforts are actually received because in a short period of time the market could very well erase them.  The money from the stock sales can be used to pay taxes, to upgrade the person’s standard of living, or to reinvest elsewhere. This strategy of locking in your gains applies to personal development as well.  But instead of converting securities to cash, what we want to do is to convert knowledge into habits.  It’s one thing to have valuable how-to knowledge stored in your cranium, but that knowledge does nothing for you by itself, just as stock doesn’t actually do anything for you until you trade it.  Sure it’s possible your knowledge or your stocks will go up in value over time, but you can’t access that value until you “cash out” and lock in your gains. Imagine, for example, that you know how to play poker extremely well.  That’s a piece of knowledge that’s gone up in value over the past decade.  Today’s top poker pros can earn a lot more money than they ever could before.  Living in Las Vegas, I’ve seen this rapid expansion first-hand, as casinos that never had poker rooms have been adding them like mad, old poker rooms have doubled in size, and wait times at popular spots can be more than an hour.  Every day there are tournaments where you could win six figure sums (and higher) in a matter of hours.  While the old pros now have more competition, their existing knowledge and skills are still worth a lot of money. But merely possessing knowledge doesn’t produce the real value.  The value is created when you go out and apply what you know.  For the poker pro, this means s/he must actually sit down and play in tournaments or cash games.  And for most people, this can’t just be a one-time event (unless you happen to be capable of winning the World Series of Poker on the first try, which could earn you enough to retire in one week).  In order to realize the gains, you have to convert this knowledge into some kind of action, and that action must be repeated over and over again.  In other words you must make applying your knowledge a habit. The field of personal development is vast.  That’s one thing I love about it.  There’s always more to learn.  I never become bored with it because there’s always an interesting new subfield to explore:  motivation, emotion, values, goal achievement, business, money, health, interpersonal skills, problem solving, spirituality, education, etc.  But it’s very easy to get caught up in surfing the vastness of this field and never ride a wave all the way to the shore.  Knowledge is not enough.  If you want to realize any real gains from personal development, then at some point you have to lock them in. So how do you do this? Basically it comes down to pure repetition.  If you apply a piece of knowledge over and over again, you’ll eventually condition it into a habit.  At first it takes a lot of energy and conscious effort to repeat the pattern, but after enough repetition, your subconscious will take over for you, and you’ll no longer need to think about it.  You’ll find yourself doing it automatically. It’s said that it takes 21 days of daily repetition to form a habit.  I prefer to use 30 days because I want to do more than just the minimum, and 30 days has a more natural rhythm for me because I tend to make plans in 30- and 90-day chunks.  It’s also roughly the length of one month, so it’s easy to figure out what date you’ll be done.  I especially like to start on the first of the month and go til the end of the month.  Then I just think of that particular month as being devoted to installing a particular habit. If you want to learn how to apply this strategy on a practical level, read 30 Days to Success.  That article explains the process of using daily conditioning to turn an intention into a habit. I’ve found this process to be extremely versatile.  One thing I love about the 30-day trial is that I can use it experimentally.  So even if I’m not sure if I want to install a particular habit for life, I can try it for just 30 days to see what happens.  It’s “try before you buy,” something I learned from developing and selling shareware games.  I highly recommend you use this approach as well.  After all, 30 days out of your entire life isn’t much to ask.  If the new habit is a dud, it’s no big whoop.  But what if it leads to a major breakthrough?  Then you’ve already locked in the gains for the long term. For example, I’m a vegan, which means I eat plant foods only.  I’ve been a vegan for over 9 years now, and so has my wife.  But in January 1997, I wasn’t remotely sure if I wanted to be a vegan for life.  I researched the subject in earnest and concluded it would be a major dietary and ethical improvement for me.  There were a lot of compelling reasons to go vegan.  But I didn’t want to commit to never eating any animal products again.  The whole notion seemed too extreme.  Yet I was curious.  Non-vegans thought the diet was too extreme, but long-term vegans certainly didn’t have a problem with it — to them it was just normal.  This is a common human pattern — things often appear extreme from the outside looking in but normal from the inside.  I didn’t want to never know what it was like.  So I used the 30-day trial to experience veganism first-hand while simultaneously conditioning the habit.  If I really hated the experience, it wouldn’t have been hard to go back to eating the old way.  And of course, I ended up loving the experience, especially after losing seven pounds in the first seven days.  I felt better, I had more energy, and I felt far more clear-headed and mentally focused.  I’m technically still on that 30 day trial, which has now been running for over 3300 days.  So in a way, I just never got around to quitting.  The pattern has been conditioned. Now the habit of being vegan is so ingrained in me that I can scarcely stomach the thought of putting animal products into my mouth.  A piece of steak is less appetizing to me than a bowl of sawdust.  Seriously.  I get a sick feeling in my stomach just thinking about it.  It’s very hard for me to eat at a steakhouse, even if I just order vegetables, because the smell of the rotting flesh makes me nauseous.  To me the thought of eating animals creates the same emotional reaction you might have towards slaying and eating one of your own family members.  Total disgust.  What fascinates me is that this negative emotional reaction to eating animals isn’t something I ever consciously conditioned.  I only focused on changing my actions, but as a side effect, my thoughts changed as well. A change in your actions will induce a change in your thoughts too.  That’s a powerful concept, and keep this in mind when you begin a new 30-day trial.  For example, if you never exercise, you may think that exercise is hard and not worth the effort.  But when you’ve been exercising for a long time, your thoughts about exercise will be very different.  You’ll probably think that it feels good, it’s invigorating, and it’s easy and fun.  Many people look at others who are getting great results in some area and assume they must be stressing themselves out to get those results.  But that’s rarely true.  It certainly isn’t true for me.  I’m one of the most relaxed people you’ll meet.  So don’t assume that the thoughts you have now will be the same ones you have once the habit is conditioned.  Starting a new habit is often hard, but maintaining a habit is much easier.  Do you think walking is hard?  Hopefully not.  But there was a time in your life where it was very difficult for you, and you may have found the experience very frustrating.  Today it’s just a habit that you don’t even think about. By taking your existing knowledge and turning it into 30-day trials, you will lock in the gains.  This is how to translate “knowing how” into “actual doing.”  I don’t just know about the vegan diet.  I eat a vegan diet every day.  I don’t just know how to write.  I write thousands of words every week.  I don’t just know how to speak.  I get up and give speeches on a regular basis. And of course it’s that action part that generates real results.  Your results will show you if your actions are effective or not.  I can see that my diet is effective because I have a lot of energy.  I credit my diet as one of the reasons I feel so good and have an easy time managing my emotions.  If I were to eat a meal like most Americans do, I’d probably feel lousy, and my health would suffer for it.  But if I enjoy a simple meal such as five delicious tangerines (as I’m doing right now… and getting juice all over my keyboard), I feel terrific and energetic for hours afterwards.  And what could be simpler than peeling a tangerine?  There’s no cooking, no utensils, and no dishes.  I don’t even need to take a break from writing to eat them.  And tangerines are filled with thousands of beneficial substances that no pill or powder on earth can replicate.  Best of all, eating a really good tangerine is pleasurable.  That’s probably why I buy them by the sack.  By comparison the way most people eat is way too complicated.  I prefer to let nature do most of the work. If a habit is effective, you should see it produce measurable results.  If you aren’t getting effective results, then you know your actions aren’t working, and you need to return to the knowledge stage to improve your model of reality.  For example, parenting a 5-year old (actually 6-year old now, since today is her birthday) and a 2-year old is an area of my life where I don’t seem to be getting the results I want.  My current habits appear ineffective.  So this means it’s back to the drawing board to acquire more knowledge, make some adjustments, and try again.  Eventually I’ll figure it out, hopefully before the kids become teenagers.  Nobody’s perfect.  We all have weak areas, and sometimes we don’t even know how to correct them yet.  But there are plenty of situations where we know how to make an improvement, and we just aren’t doing it.  For example, it’s possible that you or someone you know is overweight, but you already know how to lose weight.  Reading another diet book isn’t what you need.  I can save you time there, because knowing how to lose weight is easy.  Just eat more super-healthy foods (fresh fruits and vegetables, especially green vegetables), eat fewer unhealthy foods (animal products, sweets, high-fat foods), and exercise regularly.  If you simply do those three things and take them far enough, you’ll lose weight.  Guaranteed.  And if you turn those actions into long-term habits, you’ll keep the weight off for life and feel great.  A simple and effective solution, but one that requires action, not merely knowledge.  A few words is all the knowledge you need:  eat plants and exercise.  I’ve read more health and diet books than I can remember, and all of that knowledge is worth very little compared to the simple habit of eating plants and exercising.  Even a child can do that. One of the best things about locking in personal development gains is that you don’t lose the knowledge after you condition the habit.  When you cash out your stock investments, you must surrender ownership of your stock.  But with personal development, you add the habit on top of the knowledge.  How can you possibly lose?  Imagine what it would be like if you could cash out your stock and still keep the stock too, so then you could sell it again to someone else.  With stocks this is illegal, but with personal development you’re free to do this.  If you know how to communicate well, for instance, you can condition good communication habits with your romantic partner, your co-workers, your family members, your friends, total strangers, and so on.  And after each bit of conditioning, you still retain the knowledge, ready to be applied again whenever you see the need.  But if you don’t apply it, that knowledge is worthless. Application is hard work.  Reading a book or listening to an audio program is easy.  Doing nothing with that knowledge is even easier.  Doing nothing is the default.  Again, it’s like owning stock.  Sitting on a stock you own is what happens by default.  Selling your stock requires action.  And the downside of personal development knowledge is that while some of it will increase in value over time, much of it will depreciate.  Human memory isn’t as reliable as a stock trading account (assuming you have an honest broker).  You’ll soon forget what you’ve learned.  And domain-specific knowledge, like anything technology-related, can quickly become obsolete.  So if you don’t apply your personal development knowledge now, not as a one-shot event but as an ongoing habit, the value of your portfolio may very well decline. I’ve lost count of the number of habits I’ve consciously conditioned.  They run on autopilot, so I don’t even have to think about them.  If I were to list them all out, it would make my life look very complicated.  But in practice it’s very simple because my subconscious runs the whole show.  Once a habit has been conditioned, I can forget about it.  For example, I don’t normally think about being vegan.  I just eat what’s in my kitchen.  When my wife and I go grocery shopping, we don’t even notice the non-vegan foods in the store.  It’s like they’re invisible to us.  If I look at a restaurant menu, my eyes just glaze over all the non-vegan items and look for the veggies I can order.  I don’t even have to think about it.  So the cognitive load of eating this way is no greater than it was when I used to eat a much less healthy diet.  My subconscious simply directs me to what it now considers food, and anything else gets classified as non-edible, so my brain automatically dismisses it as irrelevant background noise, just like you’d tune out other conversations in a crowded room. What do you know that you aren’t yet applying?  Think of something simple.  You probably even have a lot of common sense knowledge that you aren’t applying.  Is your home a mess?  Do you know how to clean it up?  Is your body a mess?  Would you like to clean it up too?  What about your goals?  Do you have them in writing where you can see them each day? Reading sexy new personal development books is all well and good, but how about using what you already know?  You might be able to realize massive gains just by taking action on the most basic common sense knowledge.  Organize your stuff.  Throw out junk you don’t need.  Write down your goals.  Eat healthy food.  Go for a jog every morning.  Join a club to make new friends.  Give your mate a hug, and tell him/her what you love most about him/her.  Simple things.  But when turned into lifelong habits, simple is huge. What I want you to do now is to pick one piece of knowledge you have in your head that you haven’t been applying, and commit to applying it daily for just 30 days.  Keep it simple, but choose something that would really make a difference over the next five years if you were to make it a daily habit.  Don’t try to resculpt your whole life at once.  Just pick one simple habit in an area that’s been holding you back.  For example, if you’re wasting too much time checking email each day, consider the habit of not checking your email until the last hour of your workday.  Nothing too complicated.  Start small, and pick something where your odds of success are high. Read 30 Days to Success, and then get started as soon as you can.  If it’s appropriate to do so, tell other people what you’re doing — even ask them to join you.  This is a great thing to do with your co-workers, especially if you work on a lively, competitive environment.  Write your first line of code within 10 minutes of sitting down at your desk.  Make your first sales call before you say more than 10 words to anyone else.  Write that first paragraph before breakfast each morning.  Remember that it’s only 30 days.  If you don’t like the results, you can always quit at the end, but not before.  But if you like the results, you’ll have locked in the pattern, and it will be much easier to continue.  Go for it!
    1319 Posted by UniqueThis
  • After a stock market rally, many investors will sell some of their stock to “lock in their gains.”  They cash out and take the rewards they’ve accumulated.  Partly this is to ensure that the rewards of their efforts are actually received because in a short period of time the market could very well erase them.  The money from the stock sales can be used to pay taxes, to upgrade the person’s standard of living, or to reinvest elsewhere. This strategy of locking in your gains applies to personal development as well.  But instead of converting securities to cash, what we want to do is to convert knowledge into habits.  It’s one thing to have valuable how-to knowledge stored in your cranium, but that knowledge does nothing for you by itself, just as stock doesn’t actually do anything for you until you trade it.  Sure it’s possible your knowledge or your stocks will go up in value over time, but you can’t access that value until you “cash out” and lock in your gains. Imagine, for example, that you know how to play poker extremely well.  That’s a piece of knowledge that’s gone up in value over the past decade.  Today’s top poker pros can earn a lot more money than they ever could before.  Living in Las Vegas, I’ve seen this rapid expansion first-hand, as casinos that never had poker rooms have been adding them like mad, old poker rooms have doubled in size, and wait times at popular spots can be more than an hour.  Every day there are tournaments where you could win six figure sums (and higher) in a matter of hours.  While the old pros now have more competition, their existing knowledge and skills are still worth a lot of money. But merely possessing knowledge doesn’t produce the real value.  The value is created when you go out and apply what you know.  For the poker pro, this means s/he must actually sit down and play in tournaments or cash games.  And for most people, this can’t just be a one-time event (unless you happen to be capable of winning the World Series of Poker on the first try, which could earn you enough to retire in one week).  In order to realize the gains, you have to convert this knowledge into some kind of action, and that action must be repeated over and over again.  In other words you must make applying your knowledge a habit. The field of personal development is vast.  That’s one thing I love about it.  There’s always more to learn.  I never become bored with it because there’s always an interesting new subfield to explore:  motivation, emotion, values, goal achievement, business, money, health, interpersonal skills, problem solving, spirituality, education, etc.  But it’s very easy to get caught up in surfing the vastness of this field and never ride a wave all the way to the shore.  Knowledge is not enough.  If you want to realize any real gains from personal development, then at some point you have to lock them in. So how do you do this? Basically it comes down to pure repetition.  If you apply a piece of knowledge over and over again, you’ll eventually condition it into a habit.  At first it takes a lot of energy and conscious effort to repeat the pattern, but after enough repetition, your subconscious will take over for you, and you’ll no longer need to think about it.  You’ll find yourself doing it automatically. It’s said that it takes 21 days of daily repetition to form a habit.  I prefer to use 30 days because I want to do more than just the minimum, and 30 days has a more natural rhythm for me because I tend to make plans in 30- and 90-day chunks.  It’s also roughly the length of one month, so it’s easy to figure out what date you’ll be done.  I especially like to start on the first of the month and go til the end of the month.  Then I just think of that particular month as being devoted to installing a particular habit. If you want to learn how to apply this strategy on a practical level, read 30 Days to Success.  That article explains the process of using daily conditioning to turn an intention into a habit. I’ve found this process to be extremely versatile.  One thing I love about the 30-day trial is that I can use it experimentally.  So even if I’m not sure if I want to install a particular habit for life, I can try it for just 30 days to see what happens.  It’s “try before you buy,” something I learned from developing and selling shareware games.  I highly recommend you use this approach as well.  After all, 30 days out of your entire life isn’t much to ask.  If the new habit is a dud, it’s no big whoop.  But what if it leads to a major breakthrough?  Then you’ve already locked in the gains for the long term. For example, I’m a vegan, which means I eat plant foods only.  I’ve been a vegan for over 9 years now, and so has my wife.  But in January 1997, I wasn’t remotely sure if I wanted to be a vegan for life.  I researched the subject in earnest and concluded it would be a major dietary and ethical improvement for me.  There were a lot of compelling reasons to go vegan.  But I didn’t want to commit to never eating any animal products again.  The whole notion seemed too extreme.  Yet I was curious.  Non-vegans thought the diet was too extreme, but long-term vegans certainly didn’t have a problem with it — to them it was just normal.  This is a common human pattern — things often appear extreme from the outside looking in but normal from the inside.  I didn’t want to never know what it was like.  So I used the 30-day trial to experience veganism first-hand while simultaneously conditioning the habit.  If I really hated the experience, it wouldn’t have been hard to go back to eating the old way.  And of course, I ended up loving the experience, especially after losing seven pounds in the first seven days.  I felt better, I had more energy, and I felt far more clear-headed and mentally focused.  I’m technically still on that 30 day trial, which has now been running for over 3300 days.  So in a way, I just never got around to quitting.  The pattern has been conditioned. Now the habit of being vegan is so ingrained in me that I can scarcely stomach the thought of putting animal products into my mouth.  A piece of steak is less appetizing to me than a bowl of sawdust.  Seriously.  I get a sick feeling in my stomach just thinking about it.  It’s very hard for me to eat at a steakhouse, even if I just order vegetables, because the smell of the rotting flesh makes me nauseous.  To me the thought of eating animals creates the same emotional reaction you might have towards slaying and eating one of your own family members.  Total disgust.  What fascinates me is that this negative emotional reaction to eating animals isn’t something I ever consciously conditioned.  I only focused on changing my actions, but as a side effect, my thoughts changed as well. A change in your actions will induce a change in your thoughts too.  That’s a powerful concept, and keep this in mind when you begin a new 30-day trial.  For example, if you never exercise, you may think that exercise is hard and not worth the effort.  But when you’ve been exercising for a long time, your thoughts about exercise will be very different.  You’ll probably think that it feels good, it’s invigorating, and it’s easy and fun.  Many people look at others who are getting great results in some area and assume they must be stressing themselves out to get those results.  But that’s rarely true.  It certainly isn’t true for me.  I’m one of the most relaxed people you’ll meet.  So don’t assume that the thoughts you have now will be the same ones you have once the habit is conditioned.  Starting a new habit is often hard, but maintaining a habit is much easier.  Do you think walking is hard?  Hopefully not.  But there was a time in your life where it was very difficult for you, and you may have found the experience very frustrating.  Today it’s just a habit that you don’t even think about. By taking your existing knowledge and turning it into 30-day trials, you will lock in the gains.  This is how to translate “knowing how” into “actual doing.”  I don’t just know about the vegan diet.  I eat a vegan diet every day.  I don’t just know how to write.  I write thousands of words every week.  I don’t just know how to speak.  I get up and give speeches on a regular basis. And of course it’s that action part that generates real results.  Your results will show you if your actions are effective or not.  I can see that my diet is effective because I have a lot of energy.  I credit my diet as one of the reasons I feel so good and have an easy time managing my emotions.  If I were to eat a meal like most Americans do, I’d probably feel lousy, and my health would suffer for it.  But if I enjoy a simple meal such as five delicious tangerines (as I’m doing right now… and getting juice all over my keyboard), I feel terrific and energetic for hours afterwards.  And what could be simpler than peeling a tangerine?  There’s no cooking, no utensils, and no dishes.  I don’t even need to take a break from writing to eat them.  And tangerines are filled with thousands of beneficial substances that no pill or powder on earth can replicate.  Best of all, eating a really good tangerine is pleasurable.  That’s probably why I buy them by the sack.  By comparison the way most people eat is way too complicated.  I prefer to let nature do most of the work. If a habit is effective, you should see it produce measurable results.  If you aren’t getting effective results, then you know your actions aren’t working, and you need to return to the knowledge stage to improve your model of reality.  For example, parenting a 5-year old (actually 6-year old now, since today is her birthday) and a 2-year old is an area of my life where I don’t seem to be getting the results I want.  My current habits appear ineffective.  So this means it’s back to the drawing board to acquire more knowledge, make some adjustments, and try again.  Eventually I’ll figure it out, hopefully before the kids become teenagers.  Nobody’s perfect.  We all have weak areas, and sometimes we don’t even know how to correct them yet.  But there are plenty of situations where we know how to make an improvement, and we just aren’t doing it.  For example, it’s possible that you or someone you know is overweight, but you already know how to lose weight.  Reading another diet book isn’t what you need.  I can save you time there, because knowing how to lose weight is easy.  Just eat more super-healthy foods (fresh fruits and vegetables, especially green vegetables), eat fewer unhealthy foods (animal products, sweets, high-fat foods), and exercise regularly.  If you simply do those three things and take them far enough, you’ll lose weight.  Guaranteed.  And if you turn those actions into long-term habits, you’ll keep the weight off for life and feel great.  A simple and effective solution, but one that requires action, not merely knowledge.  A few words is all the knowledge you need:  eat plants and exercise.  I’ve read more health and diet books than I can remember, and all of that knowledge is worth very little compared to the simple habit of eating plants and exercising.  Even a child can do that. One of the best things about locking in personal development gains is that you don’t lose the knowledge after you condition the habit.  When you cash out your stock investments, you must surrender ownership of your stock.  But with personal development, you add the habit on top of the knowledge.  How can you possibly lose?  Imagine what it would be like if you could cash out your stock and still keep the stock too, so then you could sell it again to someone else.  With stocks this is illegal, but with personal development you’re free to do this.  If you know how to communicate well, for instance, you can condition good communication habits with your romantic partner, your co-workers, your family members, your friends, total strangers, and so on.  And after each bit of conditioning, you still retain the knowledge, ready to be applied again whenever you see the need.  But if you don’t apply it, that knowledge is worthless. Application is hard work.  Reading a book or listening to an audio program is easy.  Doing nothing with that knowledge is even easier.  Doing nothing is the default.  Again, it’s like owning stock.  Sitting on a stock you own is what happens by default.  Selling your stock requires action.  And the downside of personal development knowledge is that while some of it will increase in value over time, much of it will depreciate.  Human memory isn’t as reliable as a stock trading account (assuming you have an honest broker).  You’ll soon forget what you’ve learned.  And domain-specific knowledge, like anything technology-related, can quickly become obsolete.  So if you don’t apply your personal development knowledge now, not as a one-shot event but as an ongoing habit, the value of your portfolio may very well decline. I’ve lost count of the number of habits I’ve consciously conditioned.  They run on autopilot, so I don’t even have to think about them.  If I were to list them all out, it would make my life look very complicated.  But in practice it’s very simple because my subconscious runs the whole show.  Once a habit has been conditioned, I can forget about it.  For example, I don’t normally think about being vegan.  I just eat what’s in my kitchen.  When my wife and I go grocery shopping, we don’t even notice the non-vegan foods in the store.  It’s like they’re invisible to us.  If I look at a restaurant menu, my eyes just glaze over all the non-vegan items and look for the veggies I can order.  I don’t even have to think about it.  So the cognitive load of eating this way is no greater than it was when I used to eat a much less healthy diet.  My subconscious simply directs me to what it now considers food, and anything else gets classified as non-edible, so my brain automatically dismisses it as irrelevant background noise, just like you’d tune out other conversations in a crowded room. What do you know that you aren’t yet applying?  Think of something simple.  You probably even have a lot of common sense knowledge that you aren’t applying.  Is your home a mess?  Do you know how to clean it up?  Is your body a mess?  Would you like to clean it up too?  What about your goals?  Do you have them in writing where you can see them each day? Reading sexy new personal development books is all well and good, but how about using what you already know?  You might be able to realize massive gains just by taking action on the most basic common sense knowledge.  Organize your stuff.  Throw out junk you don’t need.  Write down your goals.  Eat healthy food.  Go for a jog every morning.  Join a club to make new friends.  Give your mate a hug, and tell him/her what you love most about him/her.  Simple things.  But when turned into lifelong habits, simple is huge. What I want you to do now is to pick one piece of knowledge you have in your head that you haven’t been applying, and commit to applying it daily for just 30 days.  Keep it simple, but choose something that would really make a difference over the next five years if you were to make it a daily habit.  Don’t try to resculpt your whole life at once.  Just pick one simple habit in an area that’s been holding you back.  For example, if you’re wasting too much time checking email each day, consider the habit of not checking your email until the last hour of your workday.  Nothing too complicated.  Start small, and pick something where your odds of success are high. Read 30 Days to Success, and then get started as soon as you can.  If it’s appropriate to do so, tell other people what you’re doing — even ask them to join you.  This is a great thing to do with your co-workers, especially if you work on a lively, competitive environment.  Write your first line of code within 10 minutes of sitting down at your desk.  Make your first sales call before you say more than 10 words to anyone else.  Write that first paragraph before breakfast each morning.  Remember that it’s only 30 days.  If you don’t like the results, you can always quit at the end, but not before.  But if you like the results, you’ll have locked in the pattern, and it will be much easier to continue.  Go for it!
    Jul 14, 2011 1319
  • 14 Jul 2011
    Social drag is what happens when you undergo a significant personal shift, yet everyone around you still treats you the same.  Suppose you’ve decided to switch careers.  Even though you’re still working in your old career, mentally you’ve already made the leap to the new one, and it’s only a matter of time before your external reality reflects that.  But the people around you haven’t yet internalized your shift.  It isn’t real to them yet, so they keep interacting with you as if you haven’t made the shift at all.  Has this ever happened to you? Every significant shift I’ve experienced has had a corresponding level of social drag.  Whenever a person makes a significant change in their lives, it can take the rest of the world a few years to catch up.  This is especially true with family and friends that you don’t see often.  Their mental model of who you are is likely to drift behind the real you. Whenever I experience a major personal shift, it always takes my extended family and friends a while to “get it.”  After college when I started Dexterity Software, my parents still behaved as if I was looking for a job (like many college students would be expected to do after graduation).  They mailed me job applications and sent me employment leads, but I just junked ‘em.  It took a couple years for them to internalize the idea that I was running my own business, even though I’d already made that commitment from day one and had no interest in working for someone else.  I think it was around the time I received a check for $50,000 from a publisher that they finally got it.  More recently when I told them I performed in an improv comedy show, they reacted with surprise.  For Steve 2004, this behavior would be a little surprising, but doing improv is pretty consistent with Steve 2006′s behavior.  My local friends weren’t really surprised.  I’ve been giving humorous speeches for a year and a half. Another cause of social drag is when there are artifacts of your old self left behind, giving people a glimpse of who you once were but not of who you are today.  For example, while I was actively building Dexterity Software, I wrote a number of articles on game development and marketing, most of them between 1999 and 2002.  Those articles became very popular, and I decided to keep them online in the hopes that people might still find some value in them.  The copyright dates are listed at the bottom of each article.  Unfortunately, people who read these old articles today often react as if I just wrote them yesterday, and people who knew me two years ago seem to assume that I’d offer the same advice today as I did several years ago.  Heck no.  The indie game scene has changed a lot since then.  If I were active in the industry today, I’d do things very differently.  My old articles serve as advice on how to run an indie games business five years ago, not how to run one today.  Many of the high-level ideas still hold true, but the more specific details are largely obsolete.  The shareware distribution model has changed markedly since I wrote those articles.  Today’s independent developer should skate where the puck is going, not where it’s been. Thanks to social drag, there’s this ghost version of Steve Pavlina that still lingers in the indie games industry long after I retired.  People periodically debate his old ideas as if they’re modern ones.  Some of the stuff people attribute to him is amusing in a sad sort of way.  As time goes on, he drifts further and further away, performing whatever role social drag assigns.  Social drag keeps him alive.  Some people praise him for helping them.  Others scorn him for giving them bad advice.  Yet he exists only in their minds.  The real human being from which this ghost spawned has long since moved on. Social drag is mainly a nuisance, but it can be more serious if the drag threatens to slow you down or to erase your progress.   You can choose to accept and then ignore it, which often works well when you’re dealing with acquaintances, like co-workers you’re about to leave behind anyway.  But if you’re dealing with friends or family members who will be around for a while, I recommend doing something to interrupt their old pattern of relating to you, so you create space for them to get to know the new you.  What’s the best way to interrupt someone’s outdated method of relating to you?  The most obvious approach is to verbally correct the person and remind him/her of your shift.  This works well with some people, but I often find that it doesn’t stick — it lacks the power to break people’s old patterns.  I find humor to be more effective.  A little shock value can help too if used appropriately.  It isn’t necessary to burn your old self in effigy, but feel free to poke fun at the person’s old way of relating to you until they finally “get it.”  One of my favorite approaches is to do a reversal.  You let the other person know their model is outdated by relating to them in a humorously outdated way as well, so you’re reflecting their error back to them and exaggerating it.  For example, you might treat a divorced friend as if s/he is still married.  This will get the other person’s attention and encourage him/her to update the mental model of who you are now.  A bit of teasing works well on people with a healthy sense of humor, such as your typical ornery game developer.  But a straightforward, heartfelt explanation tends to work better with people who are more sensitive to the emotions of others.  I don’t recall ever meeting a game developer like that though. 
    1130 Posted by UniqueThis
  • Social drag is what happens when you undergo a significant personal shift, yet everyone around you still treats you the same.  Suppose you’ve decided to switch careers.  Even though you’re still working in your old career, mentally you’ve already made the leap to the new one, and it’s only a matter of time before your external reality reflects that.  But the people around you haven’t yet internalized your shift.  It isn’t real to them yet, so they keep interacting with you as if you haven’t made the shift at all.  Has this ever happened to you? Every significant shift I’ve experienced has had a corresponding level of social drag.  Whenever a person makes a significant change in their lives, it can take the rest of the world a few years to catch up.  This is especially true with family and friends that you don’t see often.  Their mental model of who you are is likely to drift behind the real you. Whenever I experience a major personal shift, it always takes my extended family and friends a while to “get it.”  After college when I started Dexterity Software, my parents still behaved as if I was looking for a job (like many college students would be expected to do after graduation).  They mailed me job applications and sent me employment leads, but I just junked ‘em.  It took a couple years for them to internalize the idea that I was running my own business, even though I’d already made that commitment from day one and had no interest in working for someone else.  I think it was around the time I received a check for $50,000 from a publisher that they finally got it.  More recently when I told them I performed in an improv comedy show, they reacted with surprise.  For Steve 2004, this behavior would be a little surprising, but doing improv is pretty consistent with Steve 2006′s behavior.  My local friends weren’t really surprised.  I’ve been giving humorous speeches for a year and a half. Another cause of social drag is when there are artifacts of your old self left behind, giving people a glimpse of who you once were but not of who you are today.  For example, while I was actively building Dexterity Software, I wrote a number of articles on game development and marketing, most of them between 1999 and 2002.  Those articles became very popular, and I decided to keep them online in the hopes that people might still find some value in them.  The copyright dates are listed at the bottom of each article.  Unfortunately, people who read these old articles today often react as if I just wrote them yesterday, and people who knew me two years ago seem to assume that I’d offer the same advice today as I did several years ago.  Heck no.  The indie game scene has changed a lot since then.  If I were active in the industry today, I’d do things very differently.  My old articles serve as advice on how to run an indie games business five years ago, not how to run one today.  Many of the high-level ideas still hold true, but the more specific details are largely obsolete.  The shareware distribution model has changed markedly since I wrote those articles.  Today’s independent developer should skate where the puck is going, not where it’s been. Thanks to social drag, there’s this ghost version of Steve Pavlina that still lingers in the indie games industry long after I retired.  People periodically debate his old ideas as if they’re modern ones.  Some of the stuff people attribute to him is amusing in a sad sort of way.  As time goes on, he drifts further and further away, performing whatever role social drag assigns.  Social drag keeps him alive.  Some people praise him for helping them.  Others scorn him for giving them bad advice.  Yet he exists only in their minds.  The real human being from which this ghost spawned has long since moved on. Social drag is mainly a nuisance, but it can be more serious if the drag threatens to slow you down or to erase your progress.   You can choose to accept and then ignore it, which often works well when you’re dealing with acquaintances, like co-workers you’re about to leave behind anyway.  But if you’re dealing with friends or family members who will be around for a while, I recommend doing something to interrupt their old pattern of relating to you, so you create space for them to get to know the new you.  What’s the best way to interrupt someone’s outdated method of relating to you?  The most obvious approach is to verbally correct the person and remind him/her of your shift.  This works well with some people, but I often find that it doesn’t stick — it lacks the power to break people’s old patterns.  I find humor to be more effective.  A little shock value can help too if used appropriately.  It isn’t necessary to burn your old self in effigy, but feel free to poke fun at the person’s old way of relating to you until they finally “get it.”  One of my favorite approaches is to do a reversal.  You let the other person know their model is outdated by relating to them in a humorously outdated way as well, so you’re reflecting their error back to them and exaggerating it.  For example, you might treat a divorced friend as if s/he is still married.  This will get the other person’s attention and encourage him/her to update the mental model of who you are now.  A bit of teasing works well on people with a healthy sense of humor, such as your typical ornery game developer.  But a straightforward, heartfelt explanation tends to work better with people who are more sensitive to the emotions of others.  I don’t recall ever meeting a game developer like that though. 
    Jul 14, 2011 1130
  • 14 Jul 2011
    A great idea I learned from weight training is the concept of progressive training.  Progressive training means that you keep gradually increasing the weights you lift (over a period of weeks, months, and years), so you always experience a high degree of challenge in your training.  In broader terms progressive training means changing various aspects of your training to increase the challenge, including distance, speed, duration, etc.  If you keep lifting the same weights week after week, you aren’t going to get much stronger.  Progressive training helps ensure that you remain in the sweet spot of challenge, so you grow stronger in less time than you would otherwise. Of course progressive training can be applied to other areas beyond your physical body.  I find it especially valuable as a skill-building tool. Here’s an example of how I’ve been using progressive training since the summer of 2004 to build my speaking and communication skills. Deciding to Train First, I made the conscious decision to train up in this area.  I knew I eventually wanted to do professional speaking, and it wasn’t hard for me to recognize that I lacked the basic knowledge and skills required to succeed.  I also had very little experience doing public speaking.  I figured it would take me at least a few years and many hundreds of hours to reach the level of skill I desired.  But instead of being intimidated by all that work ahead of me, I just accepted it.  Those years were going to pass anyway, so I might as well emerge on the other side a better speaker. Basic Training In May 2004 I decided to kick things off my training by joining Toastmasters International.  I attended local club meetings as a guest to find a club I liked, and then I joined one.  A few weeks later I gave my first 7-minute “icebreaker” speech.  Over the following months, I gave more 7-minute speeches.  I experimented with humorous speeches, storytelling, and various delivery styles.  I was less concerned about giving great speeches at this time than I was with simply gaining experience. In the fall of 2004, I entered Toastmasters’ humorous speech contest and made it pretty far for a first-timer (2nd place at Division level).  Shortly after that I was invited to attend a couple advanced Toastmaster clubs and began visiting their meetings as a guest in addition to my regular club.  Six months later I competed in the Spring 2005 International speech contest and again did fairly well for my experience level (3rd place at Division). Advanced Training After 10 months in Toastmasters, I had earned my CTM award (“Competent Toastmaster”).  This qualified me to join the most advanced club in Las Vegas, and I joined as soon as I could.  In that club the challenge was much greater.  Many of the members were pro speakers, some with decades of experience.  I began giving longer speeches, gradually building to the 20-40 minute range.  I received a lot of great feedback and coaching.  After six months in the advanced club, I dropped my original club because it was no longer challenging me enough.  A few months later I presented a 90-minute workshop to a group of about 60 people, soon followed by a 90-minute Q&A session.  I was well-prepared and received very positive feedback. Stretching the Boundaries To push myself even further, I began attending weekly improv comedy workshops to develop my improvisational skills.  I performed in a live show earlier this month.  I’ve found improv very challenging, but it helps me think fast on my feet.  Plus it’s stretched me in ways that Toastmasters meetings never would.  I get to experiment with unusual characters, do physical comedy, act out scenes with other players, and basically make a complete fool of myself in front of an audience.  But the benefit is that after doing this for a while, everything else seems much easier by comparison. Throughout this time I worked on my content, speech writing, organization, delivery skills, gestures, vocal variety, facial expressions, eye contact, blocking (i.e. movement around the stage), humor, storytelling, manner, take-home value, etc.  I attended workshops and seminars and read books on speaking skills and professional speaking. This was a lot of work over an almost two-year period, probably amounting to almost 1000 hours of my time.  That’s about 6 months of 40-hour weeks.  And I didn’t get paid for any of it.  In fact, I had to pay for it, although the money wasn’t much. And the Training Continues… So am I done training yet?  Not remotely.  My next step is to join the National Speakers Association.  I’m not qualfied to join the national organization yet, but I can join the Las Vegas chapter, which just formed last year.  I plan to attend my first local NSA meeting in about three weeks.  Once again this will increase the challenge, introduce me to better coaches, and compel me to grow stronger and more competent. In fact, the training will never really end.  Even as I start doing professional speaking, I’ll continue the private training to keep improving. Why Progressive Training? The major benefit to progressive training is that as you increase the challenge, what once seemed heavy to you will begin to feel much lighter.  Maybe that 20-lb dumbbell feels heavy now, but once you’ve progressed to 40-lb dumbbells, that 20-pounder feels light.  It still weighs the same it always did, but your capacity has grown, such that seems lighter by comparison.  You can’t always change the weight of the tasks ahead of you, but you can increase your strength to the point that those same tasks feel lighter. When I delivered my first 7-minute Toastmasters speech in June 2004, it was a reasonable challenge for me.  But the speech I gave was very dull with no stories or humor.  And my delivery (using notes, standing behind a lectern, monotone vocalization, lame gestures) was unexciting.  But it was the best I could do at the time.  I was at the point of unconscious incompetence — I didn’t even know what I didn’t know. Fast forward almost two years, and doing a 7-minute speech like my first one seems like a ridiculously light weight.  Today I could give a better impromptu speech with no preparation, and I’d feel more confident than I did back then with plenty of preparation and notes.  The weights I’m training with today are so much heavier that a 7-minute speech is feather-light by comparison.  But it sure didn’t feel that way when I first started. Progressive training is the key to growing stronger.  If I’d stuck with my basic Toastmasters club and kept doing vanilla 7-minute speeches over and over, I’d still have improved over time.  But I accelerated my growth significantly by progressing to longer speeches, workshops, humor, storytelling, bigger audiences, speech contests, improv comedy, etc. After doing improv workshops, when I went back to doing impromptu speaking in Toastmasters, it seemed almost trivially easy, even though impromptu speaking used to challenge me greatly.  I thought to myself, “All I have to do is speak for a minute off the top of my head?  I don’t have to sing it… with a foreign accent… while making it rhyme… while pretending to be a funny character… while trying to make it funny to the audience?  Oh, this is going to be easy!” Private Training Improves Public Performance Whether your real-world performance involves public speaking, selling, or programming, you can accelerate your growth with progressive training.  Keep raising the bar for yourself, taking on challenges that are just beyond the edge of your comfort zone.  These should be weights that you can still lift, but they’re going to require close to 100% effort.  A lazy 50% effort just won’t cut it.  50% effort won’t help you grow.  100% effort will. The more we sweat in training, the less we bleed in war.  – U.S. Navy SEALs That pretty much says it all, doesn’t it? Live Performance Is NOT Training When you train, hard is good.  When you perform, easy is good.  A live show is not acting school.  Making a sales call is not sales training.  Competing in a game is not practice. The main difference between real-world performance and actual training is coverage.  In real-world performance situations, you’ll lack sufficient coverage of those elements that occur infrequently in the real world but which can still be critical to your long-term success.  In the real world, situations will arise for which you are unprepared, and private training can prepare you for them, regardless of how often they occur outside of training.  It’s often these infrequent situations that throw amateurs for a loop but which the pros handle competently. For example, suppose you want to master the game of blackjack.  Grabbing a deck of cards and playing sample hands is a very poor way to learn.  Some situations occur very infrequently, but they can still make a significant difference in your results if you screw them up.  One of those situations is knowing when to split pairs and when to double down after splitting.  You can place an initial $100 bet, but with repeated pair-splitting and doubling down after splitting, you can suddenly have $500 or more riding on that same hand.  (Example:  The dealer has a 5 showing.  You split a pair of 7s and get another 7, so you split again.  On the first 7 you get a 3 and double down with your 10.  On the second 7 you get a 4 and double down with your 11.  On the third 7 you get a 10 and stand at 17.  Your original $100 bet is now $500.  And this is indeed the correct strategy.)  If you play it incorrectly, the swing of that one hand can make or break your entire session, even though the probability of it happening is remote.  Most beginners would play this hand too conservatively and never split the first pair of 7s, standing at 14 against the dealers 5.  They miss the opportunity for a big win when the odds are in their favor because they didn’t prepare for this situation in advance.  It’s an improbable situation to be sure, but if you play long enough, it’s only a matter of time before it happens. Live performance also gives you excessive training where you least need it.  Even inexperienced blackjack players know they should always stay when they’re dealt a 20 (the most common hand in the game), and there’s no point in continuing to practice the play of these hands.  Private training should be used to strengthen your weak areas, especially when your live performance isn’t giving you enough coverage of them. Training Pays! One of the reasons top professional speakers get paid thousands of dollars for an hour of their time is because of all the training and experience they’ve endured to reach that point.  A great speaker can use that hour to permanently change the way people think and behave, and that skill will always be in high demand. You can apply progressive training to build skill in any area of your life:  physical, mental, social, spiritual, etc.  I’ve found it especially useful in building my modern day survival skills.  Through lots of reading and experimentation, I learned how to create systems that generate income for me (like this web site).  I have no hourly rate because I don’t trade my time for money.  Consequently, I enjoy an almost ridiculous level of freedom.  On this Saturday morning, I’m choosing to write this article, but I could just as easily blow off the next few months and do nothing.  Years of private training, which mainly involved conditioning the right mindset, made it possible for me to make plenty of money without needing a job.  Traditional employment won’t teach you such skills.  It’s the kind of thing that must be learned via private practice. Be Your Own Coach You’re the coach as well as the trainee.  You decide which areas of your life you want to train.  Just don’t reinvent the wheel.  You don’t have to develop your own custom program from scratch.  In many cases you can get a pre-made program from someone else.  For example, Toastmasters has a basic manual and more than a dozen advanced manuals, and they cost only a few dollars each.  Take full advantage of books, audio programs, web sites, classes, and so on.  Learn from others who’ve already done the hard work of creating these resources for you. No Excuses Don’t bother making up feeble excuses to justify why you don’t have time for training.  If you have time to watch TV, you have time for training.  If you have time to go out to lunch, you have time for training.  If you have a CD or cassette player in your car, you have time for training. Kick It Off With a 30-Day Trial I recommend kicking off a new training program with the 30 Days to Success approach.  Give yourself a strong push with 30 days of conscious effort, and then just allow momentum to carry you forward.  For example, it took some effort for me to reach the point of attending that first Toastmasters meeting.  But it was a no brainer to show up for the fifth meeting after I’d already attended the first four.  Showing up the first time is the hardest step.  Showing up the fifth time is easy.  After 100 times it’s harder NOT to show up. So Let’s Get Training! Now for your homework…  Pick one area of your life that you’d like to see become a lot easier for you.  Remember that the whole point of progressive training is to make yourself stronger, so the weights in your life feel lighter and lighter.  The net effect is that your life will begin to feel easier. Would you like to have an easier time performing your job?  Would you like to be physically stronger?  Do you want to have an easier time earning money?  Would you like to have an easier time communicating with people, including members of the opposite sex?  Do you want it to be easier for you to behave ethically and morally?  Do you want it to be easier for you to write? Once you’ve selected an area for growth, make the conscious decision to train that area over the next several weeks, months, or years.  Remember that the time is going to pass anyway.  Brainstorm some ideas for what you can do to begin training, and then immediately pick one and get started.  Find a local club like Toastmasters, and add the next meeting date to your calendar.  Buy a new book or audio program.  Sign up for a class.  Pick up the phone or fire off an email to request advice from someone who’s already ahead of you in this area.  Take some kind of physical action to get the ball rolling.  And once it’s in motion, keep it moving forward. Once the ball has some momentum behind it, then and only then should you think about where you’d like to direct it.  It’s OK if it’s moving in the wrong direction, as long as it’s moving.  The worst thing you can do is to get stuck in analysis paralysis, thinking and planning but not actually doing anything.  The time to intelligently sculpt your training program is after you’re in motion, not before – after you’ve read a book or two, gotten advice from people, and attended a few classes or meetings.  The reason is that in the beginning you’re still at the point of unconscious incompetence.  You don’t even know what you don’t know.  So first you have to reach the point of conscious incompetence, where you at least come to know what you don’t know.  Then you can begin formalizing and structuring your skill building program.  Once the fog clears up a bit, you can use progressive training to work gradually towards conscious competence, and eventually… to unconscious competence, where your talent actually becomes a subconscious habit. Now get started!
    1053 Posted by UniqueThis
  • A great idea I learned from weight training is the concept of progressive training.  Progressive training means that you keep gradually increasing the weights you lift (over a period of weeks, months, and years), so you always experience a high degree of challenge in your training.  In broader terms progressive training means changing various aspects of your training to increase the challenge, including distance, speed, duration, etc.  If you keep lifting the same weights week after week, you aren’t going to get much stronger.  Progressive training helps ensure that you remain in the sweet spot of challenge, so you grow stronger in less time than you would otherwise. Of course progressive training can be applied to other areas beyond your physical body.  I find it especially valuable as a skill-building tool. Here’s an example of how I’ve been using progressive training since the summer of 2004 to build my speaking and communication skills. Deciding to Train First, I made the conscious decision to train up in this area.  I knew I eventually wanted to do professional speaking, and it wasn’t hard for me to recognize that I lacked the basic knowledge and skills required to succeed.  I also had very little experience doing public speaking.  I figured it would take me at least a few years and many hundreds of hours to reach the level of skill I desired.  But instead of being intimidated by all that work ahead of me, I just accepted it.  Those years were going to pass anyway, so I might as well emerge on the other side a better speaker. Basic Training In May 2004 I decided to kick things off my training by joining Toastmasters International.  I attended local club meetings as a guest to find a club I liked, and then I joined one.  A few weeks later I gave my first 7-minute “icebreaker” speech.  Over the following months, I gave more 7-minute speeches.  I experimented with humorous speeches, storytelling, and various delivery styles.  I was less concerned about giving great speeches at this time than I was with simply gaining experience. In the fall of 2004, I entered Toastmasters’ humorous speech contest and made it pretty far for a first-timer (2nd place at Division level).  Shortly after that I was invited to attend a couple advanced Toastmaster clubs and began visiting their meetings as a guest in addition to my regular club.  Six months later I competed in the Spring 2005 International speech contest and again did fairly well for my experience level (3rd place at Division). Advanced Training After 10 months in Toastmasters, I had earned my CTM award (“Competent Toastmaster”).  This qualified me to join the most advanced club in Las Vegas, and I joined as soon as I could.  In that club the challenge was much greater.  Many of the members were pro speakers, some with decades of experience.  I began giving longer speeches, gradually building to the 20-40 minute range.  I received a lot of great feedback and coaching.  After six months in the advanced club, I dropped my original club because it was no longer challenging me enough.  A few months later I presented a 90-minute workshop to a group of about 60 people, soon followed by a 90-minute Q&A session.  I was well-prepared and received very positive feedback. Stretching the Boundaries To push myself even further, I began attending weekly improv comedy workshops to develop my improvisational skills.  I performed in a live show earlier this month.  I’ve found improv very challenging, but it helps me think fast on my feet.  Plus it’s stretched me in ways that Toastmasters meetings never would.  I get to experiment with unusual characters, do physical comedy, act out scenes with other players, and basically make a complete fool of myself in front of an audience.  But the benefit is that after doing this for a while, everything else seems much easier by comparison. Throughout this time I worked on my content, speech writing, organization, delivery skills, gestures, vocal variety, facial expressions, eye contact, blocking (i.e. movement around the stage), humor, storytelling, manner, take-home value, etc.  I attended workshops and seminars and read books on speaking skills and professional speaking. This was a lot of work over an almost two-year period, probably amounting to almost 1000 hours of my time.  That’s about 6 months of 40-hour weeks.  And I didn’t get paid for any of it.  In fact, I had to pay for it, although the money wasn’t much. And the Training Continues… So am I done training yet?  Not remotely.  My next step is to join the National Speakers Association.  I’m not qualfied to join the national organization yet, but I can join the Las Vegas chapter, which just formed last year.  I plan to attend my first local NSA meeting in about three weeks.  Once again this will increase the challenge, introduce me to better coaches, and compel me to grow stronger and more competent. In fact, the training will never really end.  Even as I start doing professional speaking, I’ll continue the private training to keep improving. Why Progressive Training? The major benefit to progressive training is that as you increase the challenge, what once seemed heavy to you will begin to feel much lighter.  Maybe that 20-lb dumbbell feels heavy now, but once you’ve progressed to 40-lb dumbbells, that 20-pounder feels light.  It still weighs the same it always did, but your capacity has grown, such that seems lighter by comparison.  You can’t always change the weight of the tasks ahead of you, but you can increase your strength to the point that those same tasks feel lighter. When I delivered my first 7-minute Toastmasters speech in June 2004, it was a reasonable challenge for me.  But the speech I gave was very dull with no stories or humor.  And my delivery (using notes, standing behind a lectern, monotone vocalization, lame gestures) was unexciting.  But it was the best I could do at the time.  I was at the point of unconscious incompetence — I didn’t even know what I didn’t know. Fast forward almost two years, and doing a 7-minute speech like my first one seems like a ridiculously light weight.  Today I could give a better impromptu speech with no preparation, and I’d feel more confident than I did back then with plenty of preparation and notes.  The weights I’m training with today are so much heavier that a 7-minute speech is feather-light by comparison.  But it sure didn’t feel that way when I first started. Progressive training is the key to growing stronger.  If I’d stuck with my basic Toastmasters club and kept doing vanilla 7-minute speeches over and over, I’d still have improved over time.  But I accelerated my growth significantly by progressing to longer speeches, workshops, humor, storytelling, bigger audiences, speech contests, improv comedy, etc. After doing improv workshops, when I went back to doing impromptu speaking in Toastmasters, it seemed almost trivially easy, even though impromptu speaking used to challenge me greatly.  I thought to myself, “All I have to do is speak for a minute off the top of my head?  I don’t have to sing it… with a foreign accent… while making it rhyme… while pretending to be a funny character… while trying to make it funny to the audience?  Oh, this is going to be easy!” Private Training Improves Public Performance Whether your real-world performance involves public speaking, selling, or programming, you can accelerate your growth with progressive training.  Keep raising the bar for yourself, taking on challenges that are just beyond the edge of your comfort zone.  These should be weights that you can still lift, but they’re going to require close to 100% effort.  A lazy 50% effort just won’t cut it.  50% effort won’t help you grow.  100% effort will. The more we sweat in training, the less we bleed in war.  – U.S. Navy SEALs That pretty much says it all, doesn’t it? Live Performance Is NOT Training When you train, hard is good.  When you perform, easy is good.  A live show is not acting school.  Making a sales call is not sales training.  Competing in a game is not practice. The main difference between real-world performance and actual training is coverage.  In real-world performance situations, you’ll lack sufficient coverage of those elements that occur infrequently in the real world but which can still be critical to your long-term success.  In the real world, situations will arise for which you are unprepared, and private training can prepare you for them, regardless of how often they occur outside of training.  It’s often these infrequent situations that throw amateurs for a loop but which the pros handle competently. For example, suppose you want to master the game of blackjack.  Grabbing a deck of cards and playing sample hands is a very poor way to learn.  Some situations occur very infrequently, but they can still make a significant difference in your results if you screw them up.  One of those situations is knowing when to split pairs and when to double down after splitting.  You can place an initial $100 bet, but with repeated pair-splitting and doubling down after splitting, you can suddenly have $500 or more riding on that same hand.  (Example:  The dealer has a 5 showing.  You split a pair of 7s and get another 7, so you split again.  On the first 7 you get a 3 and double down with your 10.  On the second 7 you get a 4 and double down with your 11.  On the third 7 you get a 10 and stand at 17.  Your original $100 bet is now $500.  And this is indeed the correct strategy.)  If you play it incorrectly, the swing of that one hand can make or break your entire session, even though the probability of it happening is remote.  Most beginners would play this hand too conservatively and never split the first pair of 7s, standing at 14 against the dealers 5.  They miss the opportunity for a big win when the odds are in their favor because they didn’t prepare for this situation in advance.  It’s an improbable situation to be sure, but if you play long enough, it’s only a matter of time before it happens. Live performance also gives you excessive training where you least need it.  Even inexperienced blackjack players know they should always stay when they’re dealt a 20 (the most common hand in the game), and there’s no point in continuing to practice the play of these hands.  Private training should be used to strengthen your weak areas, especially when your live performance isn’t giving you enough coverage of them. Training Pays! One of the reasons top professional speakers get paid thousands of dollars for an hour of their time is because of all the training and experience they’ve endured to reach that point.  A great speaker can use that hour to permanently change the way people think and behave, and that skill will always be in high demand. You can apply progressive training to build skill in any area of your life:  physical, mental, social, spiritual, etc.  I’ve found it especially useful in building my modern day survival skills.  Through lots of reading and experimentation, I learned how to create systems that generate income for me (like this web site).  I have no hourly rate because I don’t trade my time for money.  Consequently, I enjoy an almost ridiculous level of freedom.  On this Saturday morning, I’m choosing to write this article, but I could just as easily blow off the next few months and do nothing.  Years of private training, which mainly involved conditioning the right mindset, made it possible for me to make plenty of money without needing a job.  Traditional employment won’t teach you such skills.  It’s the kind of thing that must be learned via private practice. Be Your Own Coach You’re the coach as well as the trainee.  You decide which areas of your life you want to train.  Just don’t reinvent the wheel.  You don’t have to develop your own custom program from scratch.  In many cases you can get a pre-made program from someone else.  For example, Toastmasters has a basic manual and more than a dozen advanced manuals, and they cost only a few dollars each.  Take full advantage of books, audio programs, web sites, classes, and so on.  Learn from others who’ve already done the hard work of creating these resources for you. No Excuses Don’t bother making up feeble excuses to justify why you don’t have time for training.  If you have time to watch TV, you have time for training.  If you have time to go out to lunch, you have time for training.  If you have a CD or cassette player in your car, you have time for training. Kick It Off With a 30-Day Trial I recommend kicking off a new training program with the 30 Days to Success approach.  Give yourself a strong push with 30 days of conscious effort, and then just allow momentum to carry you forward.  For example, it took some effort for me to reach the point of attending that first Toastmasters meeting.  But it was a no brainer to show up for the fifth meeting after I’d already attended the first four.  Showing up the first time is the hardest step.  Showing up the fifth time is easy.  After 100 times it’s harder NOT to show up. So Let’s Get Training! Now for your homework…  Pick one area of your life that you’d like to see become a lot easier for you.  Remember that the whole point of progressive training is to make yourself stronger, so the weights in your life feel lighter and lighter.  The net effect is that your life will begin to feel easier. Would you like to have an easier time performing your job?  Would you like to be physically stronger?  Do you want to have an easier time earning money?  Would you like to have an easier time communicating with people, including members of the opposite sex?  Do you want it to be easier for you to behave ethically and morally?  Do you want it to be easier for you to write? Once you’ve selected an area for growth, make the conscious decision to train that area over the next several weeks, months, or years.  Remember that the time is going to pass anyway.  Brainstorm some ideas for what you can do to begin training, and then immediately pick one and get started.  Find a local club like Toastmasters, and add the next meeting date to your calendar.  Buy a new book or audio program.  Sign up for a class.  Pick up the phone or fire off an email to request advice from someone who’s already ahead of you in this area.  Take some kind of physical action to get the ball rolling.  And once it’s in motion, keep it moving forward. Once the ball has some momentum behind it, then and only then should you think about where you’d like to direct it.  It’s OK if it’s moving in the wrong direction, as long as it’s moving.  The worst thing you can do is to get stuck in analysis paralysis, thinking and planning but not actually doing anything.  The time to intelligently sculpt your training program is after you’re in motion, not before – after you’ve read a book or two, gotten advice from people, and attended a few classes or meetings.  The reason is that in the beginning you’re still at the point of unconscious incompetence.  You don’t even know what you don’t know.  So first you have to reach the point of conscious incompetence, where you at least come to know what you don’t know.  Then you can begin formalizing and structuring your skill building program.  Once the fog clears up a bit, you can use progressive training to work gradually towards conscious competence, and eventually… to unconscious competence, where your talent actually becomes a subconscious habit. Now get started!
    Jul 14, 2011 1053
  • 14 Jul 2011
    Do you ever feel there’s a greater being inside of you just bursting to get out?  You can feel its presence sometimes, can’t you?  It’s the voice that encourages you to really make something of your life.  When you act congruently with that voice, it’s like you’re a whole new person.  You feel like a god in a human body.  You’re bold and courageous.  You’re strong.  You’re unstoppable. But then reality sets in, and soon those moments are history.  Where did that powerful voice go?  Were you merely suffering from delusions of grandeur? It isn’t hard to temporarily put yourself into an emotional state of power.  Just go to any Tony Robbins’ concert seminar, and he’ll have you dancing in the aisles feeling totally motivated.  Put on your favorite fast-tempo music, stand tall, breathe strong, chest out, shoulders back.  Strut around like a superhero.  Shout, “Yes!”  Pound your chest a few times for good measure.  You’ll look like a dolt, but this does actually work. But then you go home, and the emotional motivation fades away.  Your great ideas now seem impractical.  How many times have you been temporarily inspired with an idea like, “I want to start my own business,” and then a week later it’s forgotten?  You come up with inspiring ideas when you’re motivated, but you fail to maintain that level of motivation through the action phase. So how do you reach the point of high motivation and stay there? Emotional motivation Tony Robbins says the key to motivation is state management.  This means conditioning yourself to feel a certain way via techniques like anchoring (connecting an emotion to a physical trigger).  When Tony pounds his chest while speaking, he’s firing off anchors he previously conditioned.  The downside is that you need to keep firing off these anchors as well as periodically reconditioning them to keep your motivation up.  That means lots and lots of chest pounding. As another motivational method, Tony suggests writing down the pleasure you associate to a task as well as the pain of not doing it.  Again the idea here is to stir up your emotions, so you’ll be motivated to take action.  This type of motivation is usually short-lived, even when the emotions involved are very intense. I studied and practiced these kinds of emotional motivation techniques extensively during my 20s.  In the long run, I didn’t find them particularly effective.  My intellect saw right through all the chest pounding.  The logical part of my mind was ultimately dissatisfied with attempts to induce motivation through emotional manipulation. Have you ever seen one of those rah-rah motivational speakers?  If the speaker is good, s/he will have an emotional effect on you and get you to feel motivated.  But within a day or two, that emotional boost fades away, and you’re back to normal.  You can listen to hundreds of motivational speakers and experience an emotional yo-yo effect, but it doesn’t last.  I think this is especially common with technically minded people.  We’re accustomed to thinking with our heads.  We’re still emotional creatures on some level, but our emotional B.S. detectors periodically scrub our minds free of anything that doesn’t satisfy our logic. Intellectual motivation I used to get frustrated when my emotional conditioning fizzled out after a while.  Eventually I realized that being guided by intellect, not emotion, wasn’t such a bad thing after all.  I just had to learn to use my mind as an effective motivational tool.  I stopped using emotional motivation techniques and decided to see if I could motivate myself intellectually.  I figured that if I wasn’t feeling motivated to go after a particular goal, maybe there was a logical reason for it.  Perhaps I just wasn’t taking my logic far enough to see it. I noted that when I had strong intellectual reasons for doing something, I usually didn’t have trouble taking action.  I’m motivated to exercise regularly because doing so is intelligent and reasonable.  I don’t need to emotionally pump myself up to go to the gym.  I just go. But when my mind thinks a goal is wrong on some level, I usually feel blocked.  I eventually realized that this was my mind’s way of telling me the goal was a mistake to begin with. Sometimes a goal seems to make sense on one level, but when you look further upstream, it becomes clear the goal is ill advised.  Suppose you work in sales, and you set a goal to increase your income by 20% by becoming a more effective salesperson.  That seems like a reasonable and intelligent goal.  But maybe you’re surprised to find yourself encountering all sorts of internal blocks when you try to pursue it.  You should feel motivated, but you just don’t.  The problem may be that on a deeper level, your mind knows you don’t want to be working in sales at all.  You really want to be a musician.  So no matter how hard you push yourself in your sales career, it will always be a motivational dead end.  You’ll never convince your mind to give up on your more important dream of being a musician. When you set goals that are too small and too timid, you suffer a perpetual lack of motivation.  Try all the emotional conditioning techniques you want, but you’re wasting your time.  Deep down you already know the truth.  You just need to summon the courage to acknowledge your true desires.  Then you’ll have to deal with the self-doubt and fear that’s been making you think too small.  There’s no getting around that if you want to experience lasting motivation.  Ironically, the real key to motivation is to set goals that scare you. I recommend working through these kinds of blocks in your journal.  Type a question like, “Why am I feeling unmotivated to achieve this goal?”  Then type whatever answer comes to mind.  You’ll often find that the source of your block is that you’re thinking too small.  You’re letting fears, excuses, and limiting beliefs hold you back.  Your subconscious mind knows you’re settling, so it won’t provide any motivational fuel until you step up, face your fears, and acknowledge your heart’s desire.  Once you finally decide to face your fears and drop the excuses, then you’ll find your motivation turning on full blast. When I use this process myself, I uncover new goals that seem unreasonably big.  I admit that I want them, but I feel incapable of achieving them.  However, when I finally step up and set goals that lie outside my comfort zone, somehow I end up feeling very motivated, and I summon all sorts of unexpected resources to help me. Was it unreasonable to set a web traffic goal of reaching a million monthly visitors without spending any money on marketing?  I originally thought so, but I privately set that goal before I ever launched this site because it inspired me.  More reasonable traffic goals had no motivational effect on me.  Now that I’ve achieved that goal, my next traffic goal is to reach 10 million visitors a month.  Is that unreasonable?  Probably.  But somehow it’s very motivating to me. It seems counter-intuitive that motivation may be highest when setting goals that lie outside your comfort zone, but I’ve seen this pattern too many times to discount it.   Perhaps we have to set big, hairy, audacious goals in order to feel truly motivated.  Maybe little goals just aren’t enough to trigger the release of motivational energy.  If we think a goal is too easy, we won’t commit all our internal resources.  It’s only when we set unreasonable goals that all our internal resources come online, including motivation and drive. When I set a goal that’s big enough and challenging enough, I never need to pump myself up with emotional rah-rah.  I feel motivated to pursue the goal because my intellect is fully behind it.  I just find myself doing what needs to be done.  No chest pounding required.
    1011 Posted by UniqueThis
  • Do you ever feel there’s a greater being inside of you just bursting to get out?  You can feel its presence sometimes, can’t you?  It’s the voice that encourages you to really make something of your life.  When you act congruently with that voice, it’s like you’re a whole new person.  You feel like a god in a human body.  You’re bold and courageous.  You’re strong.  You’re unstoppable. But then reality sets in, and soon those moments are history.  Where did that powerful voice go?  Were you merely suffering from delusions of grandeur? It isn’t hard to temporarily put yourself into an emotional state of power.  Just go to any Tony Robbins’ concert seminar, and he’ll have you dancing in the aisles feeling totally motivated.  Put on your favorite fast-tempo music, stand tall, breathe strong, chest out, shoulders back.  Strut around like a superhero.  Shout, “Yes!”  Pound your chest a few times for good measure.  You’ll look like a dolt, but this does actually work. But then you go home, and the emotional motivation fades away.  Your great ideas now seem impractical.  How many times have you been temporarily inspired with an idea like, “I want to start my own business,” and then a week later it’s forgotten?  You come up with inspiring ideas when you’re motivated, but you fail to maintain that level of motivation through the action phase. So how do you reach the point of high motivation and stay there? Emotional motivation Tony Robbins says the key to motivation is state management.  This means conditioning yourself to feel a certain way via techniques like anchoring (connecting an emotion to a physical trigger).  When Tony pounds his chest while speaking, he’s firing off anchors he previously conditioned.  The downside is that you need to keep firing off these anchors as well as periodically reconditioning them to keep your motivation up.  That means lots and lots of chest pounding. As another motivational method, Tony suggests writing down the pleasure you associate to a task as well as the pain of not doing it.  Again the idea here is to stir up your emotions, so you’ll be motivated to take action.  This type of motivation is usually short-lived, even when the emotions involved are very intense. I studied and practiced these kinds of emotional motivation techniques extensively during my 20s.  In the long run, I didn’t find them particularly effective.  My intellect saw right through all the chest pounding.  The logical part of my mind was ultimately dissatisfied with attempts to induce motivation through emotional manipulation. Have you ever seen one of those rah-rah motivational speakers?  If the speaker is good, s/he will have an emotional effect on you and get you to feel motivated.  But within a day or two, that emotional boost fades away, and you’re back to normal.  You can listen to hundreds of motivational speakers and experience an emotional yo-yo effect, but it doesn’t last.  I think this is especially common with technically minded people.  We’re accustomed to thinking with our heads.  We’re still emotional creatures on some level, but our emotional B.S. detectors periodically scrub our minds free of anything that doesn’t satisfy our logic. Intellectual motivation I used to get frustrated when my emotional conditioning fizzled out after a while.  Eventually I realized that being guided by intellect, not emotion, wasn’t such a bad thing after all.  I just had to learn to use my mind as an effective motivational tool.  I stopped using emotional motivation techniques and decided to see if I could motivate myself intellectually.  I figured that if I wasn’t feeling motivated to go after a particular goal, maybe there was a logical reason for it.  Perhaps I just wasn’t taking my logic far enough to see it. I noted that when I had strong intellectual reasons for doing something, I usually didn’t have trouble taking action.  I’m motivated to exercise regularly because doing so is intelligent and reasonable.  I don’t need to emotionally pump myself up to go to the gym.  I just go. But when my mind thinks a goal is wrong on some level, I usually feel blocked.  I eventually realized that this was my mind’s way of telling me the goal was a mistake to begin with. Sometimes a goal seems to make sense on one level, but when you look further upstream, it becomes clear the goal is ill advised.  Suppose you work in sales, and you set a goal to increase your income by 20% by becoming a more effective salesperson.  That seems like a reasonable and intelligent goal.  But maybe you’re surprised to find yourself encountering all sorts of internal blocks when you try to pursue it.  You should feel motivated, but you just don’t.  The problem may be that on a deeper level, your mind knows you don’t want to be working in sales at all.  You really want to be a musician.  So no matter how hard you push yourself in your sales career, it will always be a motivational dead end.  You’ll never convince your mind to give up on your more important dream of being a musician. When you set goals that are too small and too timid, you suffer a perpetual lack of motivation.  Try all the emotional conditioning techniques you want, but you’re wasting your time.  Deep down you already know the truth.  You just need to summon the courage to acknowledge your true desires.  Then you’ll have to deal with the self-doubt and fear that’s been making you think too small.  There’s no getting around that if you want to experience lasting motivation.  Ironically, the real key to motivation is to set goals that scare you. I recommend working through these kinds of blocks in your journal.  Type a question like, “Why am I feeling unmotivated to achieve this goal?”  Then type whatever answer comes to mind.  You’ll often find that the source of your block is that you’re thinking too small.  You’re letting fears, excuses, and limiting beliefs hold you back.  Your subconscious mind knows you’re settling, so it won’t provide any motivational fuel until you step up, face your fears, and acknowledge your heart’s desire.  Once you finally decide to face your fears and drop the excuses, then you’ll find your motivation turning on full blast. When I use this process myself, I uncover new goals that seem unreasonably big.  I admit that I want them, but I feel incapable of achieving them.  However, when I finally step up and set goals that lie outside my comfort zone, somehow I end up feeling very motivated, and I summon all sorts of unexpected resources to help me. Was it unreasonable to set a web traffic goal of reaching a million monthly visitors without spending any money on marketing?  I originally thought so, but I privately set that goal before I ever launched this site because it inspired me.  More reasonable traffic goals had no motivational effect on me.  Now that I’ve achieved that goal, my next traffic goal is to reach 10 million visitors a month.  Is that unreasonable?  Probably.  But somehow it’s very motivating to me. It seems counter-intuitive that motivation may be highest when setting goals that lie outside your comfort zone, but I’ve seen this pattern too many times to discount it.   Perhaps we have to set big, hairy, audacious goals in order to feel truly motivated.  Maybe little goals just aren’t enough to trigger the release of motivational energy.  If we think a goal is too easy, we won’t commit all our internal resources.  It’s only when we set unreasonable goals that all our internal resources come online, including motivation and drive. When I set a goal that’s big enough and challenging enough, I never need to pump myself up with emotional rah-rah.  I feel motivated to pursue the goal because my intellect is fully behind it.  I just find myself doing what needs to be done.  No chest pounding required.
    Jul 14, 2011 1011
  • 14 Jul 2011
    A major obstacle that prevents people from enjoyably achieving their goals is that they set their goals incorrectly to begin with.  This problem occurs because people don’t understand the nature of time well enough.  When people consider a particular goal, they often worry about the time commitment:  If I start my own business now, it could take years to make it profitable.  I’m so overweight it could take years for me to get in shape.  If I break off this unfulfilling relationship, it could take years to get back on my feet again.  Such thoughts are clearly demotivating, but more importantly they reveal a total misunderstanding of the nature of time. We value our time, so we have a natural tendency to be expedient.  And we also want to enjoy the present moment.  Consequently, we’re disinclined to set goals that will take a very long time to achieve.  Who wants to toil for years in order to reach a potentially better someday?  Most of us simply don’t have the discipline to do that, even if there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  Discipline is not the real issue, however.  The issue is a misunderstanding of time. We tend to think of time as a resource that we spend, just like we spend money.  To complete a one-hour task is to spend an hour on it.  How are you spending your day?  Where do you want to spend your next vacation?  How will you spend the rest of the year?  Time is money, a disposable resource. This is a silly and inaccurate way to think about time, however.  Time is not a resource.  You cannot spend time.  Time spends itself.  You have no choice in the matter.  No matter what you do, the time is going to pass anyway.  It doesn’t matter if you do one thing or another for the next five years.  Those five years will pass no matter what you do. In reality you are never in the past or future.  You exist only in the present moment.  Even when you remember the past or envision the future, you’re still thinking those thoughts in the present.  All you really have is right now.  And that’s all you ever will have.  You can’t control the passage of time, but you can control your present moment focus.  That’s all.  No past.  No future.  Just right now. So if the only thing that exists is the present moment, then what sense does it make to talk about long-term goals?  How do you actually achieve anything? First, understand that you can only achieve anything in the present moment, and you can only enjoy those achievements in the present moment.  You can’t achieve anything or enjoy anything in the past or future because you’re never there.  That’s obvious, isn’t it?  But too often people act incongruently with this fact.  It’s very difficult to achieve a goal that’s based on an inaccurate model of reality — such a goal will surely be an uphill struggle. The purpose of goal-setting isn’t to control the future.  That would be senseless because the future only exists in your imagination.  The only value in goal-setting is that it improves the quality of your present moment reality.  Setting goals can give you greater clarity and focus right now.  Whenever you set a goal, always ask yourself, “How does setting this goal improve my present reality?”  If a goal does not improve your present reality, then the goal is pointless, and you may as well dump it.  But if the goal brings greater clarity, focus, and motivation to your life whenever you think about it, it’s a keeper. Many people set goals and then assume the path to reach the goal will require suffering and sacrifice – a recipe for failure.  A better idea is to set a goal and pay attention to the effect it has on your present reality.  Set goals that yield a positive effect on your life whenever you think about them, long before the final outcome is actually achieved.  Treat goal-setting as a way to enhance your present reality, not as a way to control the future. Suppose you set a goal to start your own business.  You imagine some future point where you’re enjoying being your own boss, doing what you love, and making a great income.  Nothing wrong with that.  Then you think about how much work it will be, the risks you’ll face, and other discouraging thoughts.  You’ve left the present and are dwelling in the future, which is only an illusion.  Bring yourself back to the present and realize that none of those things have happened.  You’re just making them up.  How silly it is to make up things you don’t even want!  And your imagination isn’t accurate anyway. Now try this:  Think about starting your own business and imagine how great it will be when everything is running smoothly.  Now stay in the present and consider how this goal can improve the quality of your life right now.  Not a year from now.  Not five years from now.  Not even tomorrow.  Right now this very minute.  What does the goal of starting your own business do for you here and now?  Does it give you hope?  Does it inspire you?  Does it promise solutions to some current problems?  Allow those thoughts to churn through your consciousness for a while.  Consider how the goal of starting your own business improves your life right now.  And of course if you can see no improvement, then drop the goal and consider a different one. Think about some goals you might have set if not for the imaginary obstacles you focused on.  Do you want to lose a certain amount of weight?  To enjoy a new relationship?  To enjoy a more fulfilling career?  Stop imagining doom and gloom on the path to get there, and simply focus on how each goal can improve your present reality.  What does the thought of physical fitness do for you right now?  What does the thought of finding your soulmate do for you?  What does the thought of a fulfilling career do for you? As you think about how your goals improve your present reality, eventually you’ll feel motivated to take action.  At the same time, you’ll begin attracting resources into your life that will help you achieve your goals.  There’s no need to force yourself — you’ll find yourself naturally drawn to take action as you keep bringing your focus back to the present.  When you think about a goal in a way that motivates you right now, it’s only natural that you’ll begin taking action congruent with the goal. When you set goals that increase the quality of your present reality, then what does it matter how long it takes to achieve the final outcome?  Whether it takes one week or five years is irrelevant.  The whole path is fun and enjoyable.  More importantly, you feel happy and fulfilled this very moment.  This drives you to take enjoyable action, so you’re productive too. Whatever goal you set, you have the option of envisioning a path of sacrifice and suffering by focusing on the illusion of the future, or you can allow the goal to inject your present reality with new hope, enthusiasm, and motivation.  Even though it seems like you’re setting goals for the future, you’re really setting goals for the present.  The better you understand this, the more easily and enjoyably you’ll achieve your goals. If you adopt this goal-setting mindset, you’ll find yourself setting different kinds of goals.  The size and scope of the goal will cease to matter.  The most important factor will be what effect the goal has on your present moment when you think about it.  When you really grasp this concept, you’ll begin to adopt a lifelong mission instead of just a collection of disjointed goals and preferences.  It doesn’t even matter if your mission can be achieved in your lifetime.  What matters is the effect it has on your present reality.  So you can feel free to adopt a really enormous mission, even one which may be unachievable in your lifetime, as long as that mission inspires and motivates you.  If the mission is so big that it disempowers you, dump it.  But if it really inspires you, go for it. I recommend you abandon the concept of SMART goals.  SMART = specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, time-bound (there are many variations on this too).  This model sounds intelligent, but it’s based on an inaccurate understanding of time.  Instead of thinking of your goals as time-bound projects, consider each goal in light of its effect on your present reality. I know this is a very different way of thinking about goals, so it’s only natural that you may have some resistance to it if you’re deeply ingrained in a time-bound model of goal-setting.  So ask yourself this:  How well is your current goal-setting model working for you?  On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your performance at setting and achieving meaningful goals?  I’d be surprised if you’re higher than a 5.  Pushing yourself to get better isn’t the solution.  The whole paradigm is broken to begin with.  It’s like trying to push a cart with square wheels.  You don’t need to push harder — you need a cart with round wheels.  The square-wheeled cart looks really slick, and from a certain perspective, it seems like it should work OK.  But reality itself is the ultimate judge.
    960 Posted by UniqueThis
  • A major obstacle that prevents people from enjoyably achieving their goals is that they set their goals incorrectly to begin with.  This problem occurs because people don’t understand the nature of time well enough.  When people consider a particular goal, they often worry about the time commitment:  If I start my own business now, it could take years to make it profitable.  I’m so overweight it could take years for me to get in shape.  If I break off this unfulfilling relationship, it could take years to get back on my feet again.  Such thoughts are clearly demotivating, but more importantly they reveal a total misunderstanding of the nature of time. We value our time, so we have a natural tendency to be expedient.  And we also want to enjoy the present moment.  Consequently, we’re disinclined to set goals that will take a very long time to achieve.  Who wants to toil for years in order to reach a potentially better someday?  Most of us simply don’t have the discipline to do that, even if there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  Discipline is not the real issue, however.  The issue is a misunderstanding of time. We tend to think of time as a resource that we spend, just like we spend money.  To complete a one-hour task is to spend an hour on it.  How are you spending your day?  Where do you want to spend your next vacation?  How will you spend the rest of the year?  Time is money, a disposable resource. This is a silly and inaccurate way to think about time, however.  Time is not a resource.  You cannot spend time.  Time spends itself.  You have no choice in the matter.  No matter what you do, the time is going to pass anyway.  It doesn’t matter if you do one thing or another for the next five years.  Those five years will pass no matter what you do. In reality you are never in the past or future.  You exist only in the present moment.  Even when you remember the past or envision the future, you’re still thinking those thoughts in the present.  All you really have is right now.  And that’s all you ever will have.  You can’t control the passage of time, but you can control your present moment focus.  That’s all.  No past.  No future.  Just right now. So if the only thing that exists is the present moment, then what sense does it make to talk about long-term goals?  How do you actually achieve anything? First, understand that you can only achieve anything in the present moment, and you can only enjoy those achievements in the present moment.  You can’t achieve anything or enjoy anything in the past or future because you’re never there.  That’s obvious, isn’t it?  But too often people act incongruently with this fact.  It’s very difficult to achieve a goal that’s based on an inaccurate model of reality — such a goal will surely be an uphill struggle. The purpose of goal-setting isn’t to control the future.  That would be senseless because the future only exists in your imagination.  The only value in goal-setting is that it improves the quality of your present moment reality.  Setting goals can give you greater clarity and focus right now.  Whenever you set a goal, always ask yourself, “How does setting this goal improve my present reality?”  If a goal does not improve your present reality, then the goal is pointless, and you may as well dump it.  But if the goal brings greater clarity, focus, and motivation to your life whenever you think about it, it’s a keeper. Many people set goals and then assume the path to reach the goal will require suffering and sacrifice – a recipe for failure.  A better idea is to set a goal and pay attention to the effect it has on your present reality.  Set goals that yield a positive effect on your life whenever you think about them, long before the final outcome is actually achieved.  Treat goal-setting as a way to enhance your present reality, not as a way to control the future. Suppose you set a goal to start your own business.  You imagine some future point where you’re enjoying being your own boss, doing what you love, and making a great income.  Nothing wrong with that.  Then you think about how much work it will be, the risks you’ll face, and other discouraging thoughts.  You’ve left the present and are dwelling in the future, which is only an illusion.  Bring yourself back to the present and realize that none of those things have happened.  You’re just making them up.  How silly it is to make up things you don’t even want!  And your imagination isn’t accurate anyway. Now try this:  Think about starting your own business and imagine how great it will be when everything is running smoothly.  Now stay in the present and consider how this goal can improve the quality of your life right now.  Not a year from now.  Not five years from now.  Not even tomorrow.  Right now this very minute.  What does the goal of starting your own business do for you here and now?  Does it give you hope?  Does it inspire you?  Does it promise solutions to some current problems?  Allow those thoughts to churn through your consciousness for a while.  Consider how the goal of starting your own business improves your life right now.  And of course if you can see no improvement, then drop the goal and consider a different one. Think about some goals you might have set if not for the imaginary obstacles you focused on.  Do you want to lose a certain amount of weight?  To enjoy a new relationship?  To enjoy a more fulfilling career?  Stop imagining doom and gloom on the path to get there, and simply focus on how each goal can improve your present reality.  What does the thought of physical fitness do for you right now?  What does the thought of finding your soulmate do for you?  What does the thought of a fulfilling career do for you? As you think about how your goals improve your present reality, eventually you’ll feel motivated to take action.  At the same time, you’ll begin attracting resources into your life that will help you achieve your goals.  There’s no need to force yourself — you’ll find yourself naturally drawn to take action as you keep bringing your focus back to the present.  When you think about a goal in a way that motivates you right now, it’s only natural that you’ll begin taking action congruent with the goal. When you set goals that increase the quality of your present reality, then what does it matter how long it takes to achieve the final outcome?  Whether it takes one week or five years is irrelevant.  The whole path is fun and enjoyable.  More importantly, you feel happy and fulfilled this very moment.  This drives you to take enjoyable action, so you’re productive too. Whatever goal you set, you have the option of envisioning a path of sacrifice and suffering by focusing on the illusion of the future, or you can allow the goal to inject your present reality with new hope, enthusiasm, and motivation.  Even though it seems like you’re setting goals for the future, you’re really setting goals for the present.  The better you understand this, the more easily and enjoyably you’ll achieve your goals. If you adopt this goal-setting mindset, you’ll find yourself setting different kinds of goals.  The size and scope of the goal will cease to matter.  The most important factor will be what effect the goal has on your present moment when you think about it.  When you really grasp this concept, you’ll begin to adopt a lifelong mission instead of just a collection of disjointed goals and preferences.  It doesn’t even matter if your mission can be achieved in your lifetime.  What matters is the effect it has on your present reality.  So you can feel free to adopt a really enormous mission, even one which may be unachievable in your lifetime, as long as that mission inspires and motivates you.  If the mission is so big that it disempowers you, dump it.  But if it really inspires you, go for it. I recommend you abandon the concept of SMART goals.  SMART = specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, time-bound (there are many variations on this too).  This model sounds intelligent, but it’s based on an inaccurate understanding of time.  Instead of thinking of your goals as time-bound projects, consider each goal in light of its effect on your present reality. I know this is a very different way of thinking about goals, so it’s only natural that you may have some resistance to it if you’re deeply ingrained in a time-bound model of goal-setting.  So ask yourself this:  How well is your current goal-setting model working for you?  On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your performance at setting and achieving meaningful goals?  I’d be surprised if you’re higher than a 5.  Pushing yourself to get better isn’t the solution.  The whole paradigm is broken to begin with.  It’s like trying to push a cart with square wheels.  You don’t need to push harder — you need a cart with round wheels.  The square-wheeled cart looks really slick, and from a certain perspective, it seems like it should work OK.  But reality itself is the ultimate judge.
    Jul 14, 2011 960
  • 14 Jul 2011
    For the past several days, you may have seen some new ads on this site and even in the RSS feed.  Those ads are for the PhotoReading system, which is a way to dramatically increase your reading speed. I evaluate a lot of personal development courses, and to be honest most aren’t very helpful — that’s why I rarely recommend anything on this site other than books.  However, PhotoReading gets my strong personal recommendation because it had such a positive impact on me.  Tripling your reading speed for life is a pretty major benefit, wouldn’t you say? Learning to PhotoRead I went through the PhotoReading system this summer.  As soon as the package arrived, I was immediately impressed:  a full color binder, 8 CDs, a bonus Paraliminal CD, a bonus “Activator” CD, a work book, 2 additional books (which you’ll PhotoRead in the course), a pocket dictionary (you’ll PhotoRead that too), and 3 DVDs.  If the content was half as good as the packaging, I knew I’d be in for a treat. It took me about a week to go through the program, investing about 60-90 minutes per day.  The CDs are interactive and guide you through the other materials as part of your training, so there’s a very structured progression through the system. The recording quality is top notch, and Paul Scheele’s voice is easy to understand and reasonably paced.  I know this is important to non-native English speakers, who’ve occasionally told me I speak too rapidly on my podcasts — you definitely won’t have that problem with this program. This is a dive-in-and-do-it program, so you won’t have to wade through lots of dull build-up and theory.  At the end of the first CD you get the opportunity to jump right in and experience PhotoReading.  I liked that because it gave me an immediate understanding of the new skill set I’d be building throughout the rest of the course. I must say that the content was even better than the slick packaging.  Paul Scheele is an expert on accelerated learning, so this program incorporates many techniques to help you learn the material quickly and accurately.  This program engages your eyes, ears, and hands through visual, auditory, and kinesthetic elements. I should warn you in advance that this isn’t a passive program you can listen to while driving.  You can get through part of the first CD that way, but the rest of the program is highly interactive.  It really has to be that way, since the goal of this program is skills transfer, not rah-rah motivation. I’ve gone through some interactive learning courses where the exercises seemed uninspired and tedious.  PhotoReading doesn’t suffer from that at all — the exercises are quick (often a couple minutes or less), meaningful, and educational.  In many cases you’ll keep the CD playing as you do the exercises in real time. From a book a week to a book an hour As many of you know, I’ve been reading a book a week for more than a decade.  After learning PhotoReading, I can tell you without exaggeration that I can now read 5-6 books in the same amount of time – and with better comprehension too. As you can probably imagine, learning to PhotoRead has been a huge milestone on my lifetime path of personal growth.  For the past 12 months, my reading queue has grown faster than I could keep up with it.  Authors and publishers send me new personal development books every month, and when my queue passed 30 books, it meant a waiting list of more than 6 months.  But now for the first time in a year, I’m actually getting ahead, and the queue is finally shrinking.  I’m also picking up a lot of great new ideas from those books. Yesterday Erin and I had an appointment where I knew there’d be some waiting time.  I grabbed a new 280-page business book from my queue before we left, and I finished the book in about an hour while waiting.  What about comprehension?  I felt I understood the material better than if I’d spread the reading over the course of a week.  When you read a book in one sitting, you pick up deeper themes you’d otherwise miss, such as the interconnectedness between chapter 12 and chapter 2.  It’s been said that the faster you read a book, the more you retain, and I’ve seen good evidence that this is true. Ironically, now that I can read a book so quickly, I’m actually devoting less time to reading.  I’ve fallen into a pattern of reading 2-3 books a week, but in about half the time it used to take me to read one book.  I’m devoting the extra time savings to finally planning some trips.  Last month Erin and I had a glorious time in Sedona, and this week I’m planning a family trip to Utah. I’ve only been using PhotoReading for about a month now, and every week I keep discovering new ways to apply it.  It’s been opening up some wonderful possibilities for me. Great for students PhotoReading is an outstanding skill to learn while you’re a student.  I can’t find the exact URL, but while researching this system, I stumbled across a web site that tested PhotoReading with students, and it reported that students who used PhotoReading saw their grades improve. After learning PhotoReading I realized I unconsciously used some of its techniques when I was in college, even though I wasn’t using them in a systematized matter.  I suspect that contributed to my being a fast learner, since PhotoReading is essentially an accelerated learning system. Finally read those books you’ve been procrastinating on My favorite benefit of PhotoReading is that it allows me to get through those tediously boring books on my shelf — books that contain knowledge I really want to learn but which put me to sleep after a few minutes.  Most of them are written by doctors, lawyers, and accountants.  I remember it took me weeks to plod through a book on the pros and cons of various business structures (corporations, LLCs, etc).  The information was important to me, but the book was incredibly dull — and as you might guess, written by a lawyer.  I would often read it before bed, and it kept putting me to sleep.  I eventually got through the book and was glad to be done with it, but if I’d known PhotoReading, I could have gone through the whole book in about 60 minutes, and I likely would have enjoyed reading it. What makes reading boring is that your mind gets distracted because it’s not fully engaged.  If you read at a typical adult rate of 250-300 words per minute, your mind will wander because you’re nowhere near your natural thinking rate.  The faster pace of PhotoReading keeps your mind fully engaged, so you can easily summon the motivation to plow through dull material.  You’re more stimulated and alert while reading, even with material that would otherwise bore you to tears. A major discount for StevePavlina.com readers Since I gained so much from the PhotoReading system, recommending it to you was a no-brainer.  I was itching to announce PhotoReading last month, but I’ve gone a step further on your behalf.  The company behind the PhotoReading system is Learning Strategies Corporation, an established leader in accelerated learning – Learning Strategies has been in business since 1981.  After many phone conversations, they agreed to a special arrangement whereby StevePavlina.com visitors can get the PhotoReading system at a deep discount — a whopping 59% off the normal price.  Plus the PhotoReading system comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, which you can extend to 6 months upon request. For all the juicy details and to get the code to use for the StevePavlina.com discount, visit the PhotoReading page.  You can also download a free 12-page PDF booklet to learn more about PhotoReading and how it works. I should mention that the PhotoReading system includes free phone coaching and support.  I never took advantage of it myself because I found everything in the program perfectly straightforward.  But I was genuinely impressed that Learning Strategies decided to offer this. Incidentally, I learned that PhotoReading is also recommended by Tony Robbins, Jack Canfield, Harvey Mackay, and Ken Blanchard, so apparently I’m not alone in my enthusiasm for it. Since learning is such a pleasure for me, I’m really excited to have accelerated the pace at which I can soak up new ideas.  I hope you benefit from this program as much as I have.
    1289 Posted by UniqueThis
  • For the past several days, you may have seen some new ads on this site and even in the RSS feed.  Those ads are for the PhotoReading system, which is a way to dramatically increase your reading speed. I evaluate a lot of personal development courses, and to be honest most aren’t very helpful — that’s why I rarely recommend anything on this site other than books.  However, PhotoReading gets my strong personal recommendation because it had such a positive impact on me.  Tripling your reading speed for life is a pretty major benefit, wouldn’t you say? Learning to PhotoRead I went through the PhotoReading system this summer.  As soon as the package arrived, I was immediately impressed:  a full color binder, 8 CDs, a bonus Paraliminal CD, a bonus “Activator” CD, a work book, 2 additional books (which you’ll PhotoRead in the course), a pocket dictionary (you’ll PhotoRead that too), and 3 DVDs.  If the content was half as good as the packaging, I knew I’d be in for a treat. It took me about a week to go through the program, investing about 60-90 minutes per day.  The CDs are interactive and guide you through the other materials as part of your training, so there’s a very structured progression through the system. The recording quality is top notch, and Paul Scheele’s voice is easy to understand and reasonably paced.  I know this is important to non-native English speakers, who’ve occasionally told me I speak too rapidly on my podcasts — you definitely won’t have that problem with this program. This is a dive-in-and-do-it program, so you won’t have to wade through lots of dull build-up and theory.  At the end of the first CD you get the opportunity to jump right in and experience PhotoReading.  I liked that because it gave me an immediate understanding of the new skill set I’d be building throughout the rest of the course. I must say that the content was even better than the slick packaging.  Paul Scheele is an expert on accelerated learning, so this program incorporates many techniques to help you learn the material quickly and accurately.  This program engages your eyes, ears, and hands through visual, auditory, and kinesthetic elements. I should warn you in advance that this isn’t a passive program you can listen to while driving.  You can get through part of the first CD that way, but the rest of the program is highly interactive.  It really has to be that way, since the goal of this program is skills transfer, not rah-rah motivation. I’ve gone through some interactive learning courses where the exercises seemed uninspired and tedious.  PhotoReading doesn’t suffer from that at all — the exercises are quick (often a couple minutes or less), meaningful, and educational.  In many cases you’ll keep the CD playing as you do the exercises in real time. From a book a week to a book an hour As many of you know, I’ve been reading a book a week for more than a decade.  After learning PhotoReading, I can tell you without exaggeration that I can now read 5-6 books in the same amount of time – and with better comprehension too. As you can probably imagine, learning to PhotoRead has been a huge milestone on my lifetime path of personal growth.  For the past 12 months, my reading queue has grown faster than I could keep up with it.  Authors and publishers send me new personal development books every month, and when my queue passed 30 books, it meant a waiting list of more than 6 months.  But now for the first time in a year, I’m actually getting ahead, and the queue is finally shrinking.  I’m also picking up a lot of great new ideas from those books. Yesterday Erin and I had an appointment where I knew there’d be some waiting time.  I grabbed a new 280-page business book from my queue before we left, and I finished the book in about an hour while waiting.  What about comprehension?  I felt I understood the material better than if I’d spread the reading over the course of a week.  When you read a book in one sitting, you pick up deeper themes you’d otherwise miss, such as the interconnectedness between chapter 12 and chapter 2.  It’s been said that the faster you read a book, the more you retain, and I’ve seen good evidence that this is true. Ironically, now that I can read a book so quickly, I’m actually devoting less time to reading.  I’ve fallen into a pattern of reading 2-3 books a week, but in about half the time it used to take me to read one book.  I’m devoting the extra time savings to finally planning some trips.  Last month Erin and I had a glorious time in Sedona, and this week I’m planning a family trip to Utah. I’ve only been using PhotoReading for about a month now, and every week I keep discovering new ways to apply it.  It’s been opening up some wonderful possibilities for me. Great for students PhotoReading is an outstanding skill to learn while you’re a student.  I can’t find the exact URL, but while researching this system, I stumbled across a web site that tested PhotoReading with students, and it reported that students who used PhotoReading saw their grades improve. After learning PhotoReading I realized I unconsciously used some of its techniques when I was in college, even though I wasn’t using them in a systematized matter.  I suspect that contributed to my being a fast learner, since PhotoReading is essentially an accelerated learning system. Finally read those books you’ve been procrastinating on My favorite benefit of PhotoReading is that it allows me to get through those tediously boring books on my shelf — books that contain knowledge I really want to learn but which put me to sleep after a few minutes.  Most of them are written by doctors, lawyers, and accountants.  I remember it took me weeks to plod through a book on the pros and cons of various business structures (corporations, LLCs, etc).  The information was important to me, but the book was incredibly dull — and as you might guess, written by a lawyer.  I would often read it before bed, and it kept putting me to sleep.  I eventually got through the book and was glad to be done with it, but if I’d known PhotoReading, I could have gone through the whole book in about 60 minutes, and I likely would have enjoyed reading it. What makes reading boring is that your mind gets distracted because it’s not fully engaged.  If you read at a typical adult rate of 250-300 words per minute, your mind will wander because you’re nowhere near your natural thinking rate.  The faster pace of PhotoReading keeps your mind fully engaged, so you can easily summon the motivation to plow through dull material.  You’re more stimulated and alert while reading, even with material that would otherwise bore you to tears. A major discount for StevePavlina.com readers Since I gained so much from the PhotoReading system, recommending it to you was a no-brainer.  I was itching to announce PhotoReading last month, but I’ve gone a step further on your behalf.  The company behind the PhotoReading system is Learning Strategies Corporation, an established leader in accelerated learning – Learning Strategies has been in business since 1981.  After many phone conversations, they agreed to a special arrangement whereby StevePavlina.com visitors can get the PhotoReading system at a deep discount — a whopping 59% off the normal price.  Plus the PhotoReading system comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, which you can extend to 6 months upon request. For all the juicy details and to get the code to use for the StevePavlina.com discount, visit the PhotoReading page.  You can also download a free 12-page PDF booklet to learn more about PhotoReading and how it works. I should mention that the PhotoReading system includes free phone coaching and support.  I never took advantage of it myself because I found everything in the program perfectly straightforward.  But I was genuinely impressed that Learning Strategies decided to offer this. Incidentally, I learned that PhotoReading is also recommended by Tony Robbins, Jack Canfield, Harvey Mackay, and Ken Blanchard, so apparently I’m not alone in my enthusiasm for it. Since learning is such a pleasure for me, I’m really excited to have accelerated the pace at which I can soak up new ideas.  I hope you benefit from this program as much as I have.
    Jul 14, 2011 1289
  • 14 Jul 2011
    If you’re a growth-oriented person like me (OK, growth addict would be more accurate), you probably consume lots of information products, including books, ebooks, audio programs, self-study courses, classes, workshops, seminars, and more.  Once you get started on this path, it’s easy to become a lifetime growth junkie because the payoff from such products can be enormous.  One good idea can induce a permanent mindset shift that transforms your life forever. The downside is that info products can be very hit-and-miss.  It often takes a great deal of perspiration to find the inspiration that leads to genuine change.  But those inspired ideas are out there, and it’s well worth the effort to find them. Info products also hit you with a double-whammy.  First, despite the abundance of free content on the Internet, the best info products often cost money… sometimes a lot of money.  Secondly, it can take a serious time commitment to digest the information.  I once bought an audio program that consisted of 96 cassette tapes, and it took about 18 months to finally listen to them all.  Fortunately this program was well worth the investment, but I’ve certainly suffered through plenty of duds. In this article I’ll share some insights to help you make better info product purchases, so you can achieve a better bang for your buck and your time. 1. Allocate a percentage of your income for info products In his book Time Power, Brian Tracy recommends investing 3% of your income in personal growth products and activities.  Here’s a direct quote from the book: “Here’s my promise to you:  If you invest 3 percent of your income back into yourself, within a few years, you will not have enough time in the year to spend the amount of money that 3 percent represents.  Three percent does not seem like a lot, but the impact of investing this small amount will have on your life and career will be so extraordinary it will amaze you.” Setting a budget for personal growth makes it easier to spend wisely.  If you really want to attend an expensive seminar or buy a pricey self-study course, you can budget for it and enjoy the purchase guilt-free.  And depending on the nature of your work, some of your purchases may be tax deductible as an educational expense. Even though my work causes people to send me free info products nearly every week, I still spend money to buy the ones I find most attractive.  I’m not super-precise about budgeting an exact percentage like Brian Tracy recommends, but I do find it helpful to think of personal growth expenditures as an investment with an expected return, just as if I were investing money for retirement. 2. Maintain an info products wish list For years I’ve maintained an info products wish list, and I highly recommend you do the same.  It will help you avoid making too many impulse purchases.  When I think of a book I may want to buy, I add it to my wish list.  When I compare it to the items already on my list, sometimes it doesn’t seem like such a great purchase.  Then when I’m ready for something new, I can scan the list for the most appropriate item based on my current circumstances. Depending on how receptive your social circle is to the idea, you may be able to drop a few hints to your friends and family that certain info products would make good birthday and holiday gifts for you.  Many years ago my younger brother, David, started emailing family members his wish lists a few weeks before his birthday, including prices arranged into tiers and locations to buy the items.  At first we all reacted negatively, poking fun at him for being so shallow and materialistic.  When it came time to buy him a gift though, what do you think happened?  Of course we all bought him items from his list because he made it so easy!  We even coordinated between us to avoid duplicate purchases.  And we couldn’t help by notice that David got exactly what he asked for, while the rest of us tried to enjoy our mystery gifts.  It didn’t take long before we all started passing around wish lists, and the tradition has continued for over a decade now.  Your initial reaction to the idea might be as negative as mine was, but in practice it’s a real benefit to people like me who are shopping challenged. If you know someone is going to buy you a gift, consider setting aside your embarrassment and sending them your info products wish list.  The gifts may not be much of a surprise, but you’ll get over that quickly enough.  People are always free to buy you something off list, but you’re doing them a favor by making it easy to shop for you. Also see if you can convince your employer to buy you some items from your wish list.  An intelligent employer should be willing to spend some money on info products and training, especially if your work has any connection with sales.  If you have a good relationship with your boss, give him/her your info products wish list, and suggest that if the company is open to investing in your professional development, you’d consider the items on your list a worthwhile investment.  Also ask your boss to recommend potential additions to your list.  If your boss reacts negatively to the idea, then unfortunately you’re working for a cave troll.  A lack of investment in your professional development is a sign your employer sees you as a replaceable cog.  You deserve better. 3. Spend within your means Last week when I announced the PhotoReading program with a special discount for StevePavlina.com visitors, several people asked me if I thought it was worth the price.  These questions came mostly from students for whom a $100-200 info product represents a major purchase.  My answer is that it depends on your financial situation.  Relative to my income, $200 isn’t a big expense, so I don’t have to think too hard about it.  But for a student on a tight budget, $200 can be lot of money. If the cost of an info product causes you serious concern, don’t buy it.  I wouldn’t expect starving students to purchase a $200 info product — it’s too expensive for them.  Spend within your means.  If your growth budget is minimal, stick with inexpensive books and ebooks.  And if you have no income at all, take full advantage of your local library as well as free articles, ebooks, and podcasts online. Don’t de-stabilize your finances in the pursuit of personal growth.  Apply the strategy of intelligent asset allocation by keeping your growth investments reasonable relative to your income.  As your income increases, you’ll be able to afford better info products, but there’s still plenty of value to be gotten for free. 4. Spend the money you’ve allocated for growth Once you’ve set a budget for info products, spend the money.  While overspending is foolish, so is under-spending.  I think Brian Tracy’s quote is a bit exaggerated, but I do agree that investing in personal growth pays off handsomely in the long run. Given the ubiquity of free material on the Internet, why would you ever want to spend your cash on info products?  I’ll give you four solid reasons. 1) Better quality.  First, commercial products are often of higher quality than their free counterparts.  The profit motive can allow authors to justify putting more effort into their products, including professional editing, formatting, fact checking, and indexing. 2) Less risk.  Commercial products that have been selling for a while already have the approval of the marketplace, especially if they enjoy considerable word-of-mouth sales.  You assume less risk of wasting your time when buying a best-seller vs. downloading an obscure ebook. 3) Convenience.  Commercial products are usually easy to find, whereas you can waste a lot of time trying to track down an equivalent freebie.  The time savings can easily compensate for the financial cost. 4) Access.  Money can grant you privileged access to the latest and greatest ideas that haven’t yet reached the free markets.  New and exclusive ideas aren’t always better, but sometimes they are.  Some valuable ideas are almost exclusively expressed in proprietary works and rarely circulate in free forms.  This is especially true of hands-on experiential training where it would be cost-prohibitive to duplicate the experience for free.  For example, try learning to pilot a plane without spending any money; the fuel cost alone can be considerable.  What about music lessons?  Martial arts training?  A college degree?  Free can only get you so far.  As Earl Nightingale said, “Nothing can take the place of money in the area in which money works.” Seminars in particular can provide amazing learning experiences if you can afford them.  In a single weekend you can gain knowledge that might otherwise take years to acquire.  Learn from experts who’ve mastered their respective fields. When you pay good money for information, you’ve also made a stronger commitment to learning the material.  If I pay a lot of money for information, I often give it more weight than something I’ve obtained for free.  I think it’s human nature that we need to extract enough value to justify our purchases. 5. Look for strong money-back guarantees The nice thing about buying a book from a bookstore is that if the book is lousy, you can return it for a full refund (at least at most bookstores I frequent).  Shipped products are a little less convenient to return, but if the money is significant, it’s nice to have that protection. Many years ago I spent $1000 to buy some Jay Abraham seminar recordings.  That was a significant amount of money to me at the time, but Jay offered a strong guarantee that minimized my risk.  I fully intended that if I didn’t get at least $1000 of value from those tapes, I’d return them for a refund.  Jay’s guarantee said that by applying his ideas, I’d earn at least $10,000 extra within the first 60 days.  I thought that was just marketing hype, but to my delight I actually got that result.  Since then I’ve probably made back 100x my original investment by continuing to apply Jay’s ideas.  Even though I could have found Jay’s ideas online for free, the value was in adopting his mindset; it took some immersion to fully internalize the concepts to the point where I could comfortably apply them. A guarantee is only as strong as the person or company behind it.  Usually you won’t have problems with reputable companies that have been around for many years; unknown ebook authors are more of a risk.  I’ve bought a number of info products I felt were so weak that a return was justified, and with reputable companies and individuals the refund policy has always been honored.  Just be careful not to go overboard and abuse this policy, or companies may decline future orders from you. A liberal return policy is a form of risk-reversal.  It takes the risk of loss off your back and places it on the shoulders of the seller.  Take advantage of risk-free offers liberally, and let those product prove their worth.  If you don’t get the value you expected, then by all means return the product before the guarantee expires.  But also be open to the possibility that you’ll find the product worth keeping, if only because you feel the author deserves to be paid. If an info product doesn’t include a money-back guarantee, I generally regard that as a bad sign, and I’d advise you to do the same. 6. Filter intelligently Before making a purchase, consider the reputation, background, and experience of the product’s author.  I also suggest you favor practical real-world experience over academic knowledge, assuming your goal is to make real-world improvements. Perhaps the most reliable filter is to seek out personal recommendations, especially from people you know.  You’ll still have some misses due to differences of opinion, but you’ll safely avoid the obvious duds.  I’ve bought literally hundreds of books based on recommendations from others.  For example, I bought Power vs. Force because Dr. Wayne Dyer gave it a glowing endorsement during one of his speeches, and I wasn’t disappointed. When they’re available I give a lot of weight to customer reviews.  I know fake reviews sometimes get posted, but usually I can get a good feel for a product if there are at least 10 reviews total.  And of course this works for a lot more than just info products.  I recently bought a Casio G-Shock atomic, solar-powered wristwatch from Amazon based on the strength of the reviews (4.5 stars average), and I’ve been very happy with it.  I also upgraded to an 8GB iPod Nano to replace my 1GB model, again due to the strength of the reviews (4.5 stars).  If these products had gotten only 3 stars, I wouldn’t have bought them.  When buying info products from Amazon, I rarely buy anything with less than 4 stars. Unfortunately there are a lot of information products that don’t have reviews, but with a simple Google search you can usually find some information on them.  In the end you must still make up your own mind, but a quick background check can make your decision easier. 7. Filter efficiently Some people are so paranoid about making a bad purchase that they’ll spend 5 hours researching a $20 purchase that would only take them 4 hours to digest.  If you’re potential purchase represents a significant expense, then by all means do your homework.  But don’t waste time over-researching a product if the cost is inconsequential. I recommend using timeboxing for product research.  Timeboxing means you allocate a certain amount of time for research, and by the end of that time you must make a final decision.  For example, you might spend 10 minutes researching a product, and when the time is up, decide. 8. Ignore marketing fluff What I dislike most about info products is that so many of them utilize fluff-ridden, highly exaggerated marketing.  Watch nearly any infomercial, and you’ll see what I mean.  The worst ones are those having to do with wealth building.  As Seth Godin says, All Marketers Are Liars.  Everything is fast and easy, and results are supposedly instantaneous.  Reading sales copy for such programs is the one thing on this planet that makes me suicidal. The truth is that no single info product is going to solve all your problems overnight.  But even products with overblown marketing can still provide genuine value, so refusing to buy them isn’t the best filter.  I’ve gotten meaningful ideas and insights from products with hideous sales copy, and I’ve gotten poor results from products with very humble copy. My recommendation is to do your best to look past the marketing silliness.  Don’t give it any weight whatsoever.  Often the sales copy is written by someone other than the original author, someone who may not truly understand what they’re selling and who genuinely believes that flagrant exaggeration is good for sales.  With practice you can learn to tune out the fluff and get a reasonable sense of the actual product features. Sometimes you’ll encounter sales copy that’s 100% fluff.  It promises vague benefits and tries to arouse your emotions, but the actual features are never listed, so you never get a clear idea of the product’s true identity.  As a general rule, I suggest you avoid anything marketed like this.  More often than not the product will be junk.  Don’t throw money away just because you’re curious. 9. Accept that you’ll buy some duds No matter how intelligently you filter your purchases, sometimes you’re going to miss.  You may even miss most of the time.  This usually doesn’t mean the products were intentional rip-offs — they may have just been unsuitable for you. Unfortunately your hit ratio may not improve much as you gain experience.  Although you’ll get better at picking quality products, the downside is that it will be harder to find original ideas you haven’t already seen.  Because I’ve digested so many personal growth products, I often run into the same ideas again and again.  The ideas may be excellent, and reinforcement can be helpful, but I don’t gain much additional value from hearing the same concepts 100 times over. It’s perfectly OK to miss.  But when you do miss, cut your losses and get out.  If you can tell a product is a loser from the first chapter or the first CD, stop reading or listening.  If there’s a money-back guarantee, return it.  In my experience it’s extremely rare that a product that makes a bad first impression will turn itself around by the end.  If the first 10% is weak, it will probably just get worse as you go along. 10. Enjoy something unusual once in a while. Some of my most rewarding growth experiences came from investing in unusual products I wouldn’t have normally purchased.  When browsing through a bookstore, I’ll occasionally force myself to visit a section that feels alien to me.  Other times I’ll accept recommendations I’d ordinarily resist. For example, I normally don’t read much fiction (I’m at least 90% nonfiction), but Erin is an avid fiction reader.  She frequently recommends fiction books to me, sometimes practically begging me to read them, but I almost always turn her down because I feel non-fiction is a better use of my time.  But when I finally do succumb to one of her suggestions, I often enjoy a lateral growth experience I’d have otherwise missed.  At the very least, I enjoy sharing the experience with Erin. My opinion is that the very best place you can invest your hard-earned cash is in your personal growth.  Your money may come and go, but when you invest in yourself, you lock in your gains by converting cash into practical knowledge and skills.  Investing money in personal development is like spending golden eggs to buy the goose that lays them.  Pretty soon you’ll have a nice collection of golden geese at your disposal.  Consider the long-term value of being more skillful, more disciplined, more courageous, more productive, more focused, and so on.  The more you invest in your own growth, the more secure you’ll feel because your greatest assets will be internal.  But the most priceless reward of personal growth is that it increases your ability to help others.  Gaining knowledge for yourself is all well and good, but your true potential can only be realized through sharing and contribution.
    1607 Posted by UniqueThis
  • If you’re a growth-oriented person like me (OK, growth addict would be more accurate), you probably consume lots of information products, including books, ebooks, audio programs, self-study courses, classes, workshops, seminars, and more.  Once you get started on this path, it’s easy to become a lifetime growth junkie because the payoff from such products can be enormous.  One good idea can induce a permanent mindset shift that transforms your life forever. The downside is that info products can be very hit-and-miss.  It often takes a great deal of perspiration to find the inspiration that leads to genuine change.  But those inspired ideas are out there, and it’s well worth the effort to find them. Info products also hit you with a double-whammy.  First, despite the abundance of free content on the Internet, the best info products often cost money… sometimes a lot of money.  Secondly, it can take a serious time commitment to digest the information.  I once bought an audio program that consisted of 96 cassette tapes, and it took about 18 months to finally listen to them all.  Fortunately this program was well worth the investment, but I’ve certainly suffered through plenty of duds. In this article I’ll share some insights to help you make better info product purchases, so you can achieve a better bang for your buck and your time. 1. Allocate a percentage of your income for info products In his book Time Power, Brian Tracy recommends investing 3% of your income in personal growth products and activities.  Here’s a direct quote from the book: “Here’s my promise to you:  If you invest 3 percent of your income back into yourself, within a few years, you will not have enough time in the year to spend the amount of money that 3 percent represents.  Three percent does not seem like a lot, but the impact of investing this small amount will have on your life and career will be so extraordinary it will amaze you.” Setting a budget for personal growth makes it easier to spend wisely.  If you really want to attend an expensive seminar or buy a pricey self-study course, you can budget for it and enjoy the purchase guilt-free.  And depending on the nature of your work, some of your purchases may be tax deductible as an educational expense. Even though my work causes people to send me free info products nearly every week, I still spend money to buy the ones I find most attractive.  I’m not super-precise about budgeting an exact percentage like Brian Tracy recommends, but I do find it helpful to think of personal growth expenditures as an investment with an expected return, just as if I were investing money for retirement. 2. Maintain an info products wish list For years I’ve maintained an info products wish list, and I highly recommend you do the same.  It will help you avoid making too many impulse purchases.  When I think of a book I may want to buy, I add it to my wish list.  When I compare it to the items already on my list, sometimes it doesn’t seem like such a great purchase.  Then when I’m ready for something new, I can scan the list for the most appropriate item based on my current circumstances. Depending on how receptive your social circle is to the idea, you may be able to drop a few hints to your friends and family that certain info products would make good birthday and holiday gifts for you.  Many years ago my younger brother, David, started emailing family members his wish lists a few weeks before his birthday, including prices arranged into tiers and locations to buy the items.  At first we all reacted negatively, poking fun at him for being so shallow and materialistic.  When it came time to buy him a gift though, what do you think happened?  Of course we all bought him items from his list because he made it so easy!  We even coordinated between us to avoid duplicate purchases.  And we couldn’t help by notice that David got exactly what he asked for, while the rest of us tried to enjoy our mystery gifts.  It didn’t take long before we all started passing around wish lists, and the tradition has continued for over a decade now.  Your initial reaction to the idea might be as negative as mine was, but in practice it’s a real benefit to people like me who are shopping challenged. If you know someone is going to buy you a gift, consider setting aside your embarrassment and sending them your info products wish list.  The gifts may not be much of a surprise, but you’ll get over that quickly enough.  People are always free to buy you something off list, but you’re doing them a favor by making it easy to shop for you. Also see if you can convince your employer to buy you some items from your wish list.  An intelligent employer should be willing to spend some money on info products and training, especially if your work has any connection with sales.  If you have a good relationship with your boss, give him/her your info products wish list, and suggest that if the company is open to investing in your professional development, you’d consider the items on your list a worthwhile investment.  Also ask your boss to recommend potential additions to your list.  If your boss reacts negatively to the idea, then unfortunately you’re working for a cave troll.  A lack of investment in your professional development is a sign your employer sees you as a replaceable cog.  You deserve better. 3. Spend within your means Last week when I announced the PhotoReading program with a special discount for StevePavlina.com visitors, several people asked me if I thought it was worth the price.  These questions came mostly from students for whom a $100-200 info product represents a major purchase.  My answer is that it depends on your financial situation.  Relative to my income, $200 isn’t a big expense, so I don’t have to think too hard about it.  But for a student on a tight budget, $200 can be lot of money. If the cost of an info product causes you serious concern, don’t buy it.  I wouldn’t expect starving students to purchase a $200 info product — it’s too expensive for them.  Spend within your means.  If your growth budget is minimal, stick with inexpensive books and ebooks.  And if you have no income at all, take full advantage of your local library as well as free articles, ebooks, and podcasts online. Don’t de-stabilize your finances in the pursuit of personal growth.  Apply the strategy of intelligent asset allocation by keeping your growth investments reasonable relative to your income.  As your income increases, you’ll be able to afford better info products, but there’s still plenty of value to be gotten for free. 4. Spend the money you’ve allocated for growth Once you’ve set a budget for info products, spend the money.  While overspending is foolish, so is under-spending.  I think Brian Tracy’s quote is a bit exaggerated, but I do agree that investing in personal growth pays off handsomely in the long run. Given the ubiquity of free material on the Internet, why would you ever want to spend your cash on info products?  I’ll give you four solid reasons. 1) Better quality.  First, commercial products are often of higher quality than their free counterparts.  The profit motive can allow authors to justify putting more effort into their products, including professional editing, formatting, fact checking, and indexing. 2) Less risk.  Commercial products that have been selling for a while already have the approval of the marketplace, especially if they enjoy considerable word-of-mouth sales.  You assume less risk of wasting your time when buying a best-seller vs. downloading an obscure ebook. 3) Convenience.  Commercial products are usually easy to find, whereas you can waste a lot of time trying to track down an equivalent freebie.  The time savings can easily compensate for the financial cost. 4) Access.  Money can grant you privileged access to the latest and greatest ideas that haven’t yet reached the free markets.  New and exclusive ideas aren’t always better, but sometimes they are.  Some valuable ideas are almost exclusively expressed in proprietary works and rarely circulate in free forms.  This is especially true of hands-on experiential training where it would be cost-prohibitive to duplicate the experience for free.  For example, try learning to pilot a plane without spending any money; the fuel cost alone can be considerable.  What about music lessons?  Martial arts training?  A college degree?  Free can only get you so far.  As Earl Nightingale said, “Nothing can take the place of money in the area in which money works.” Seminars in particular can provide amazing learning experiences if you can afford them.  In a single weekend you can gain knowledge that might otherwise take years to acquire.  Learn from experts who’ve mastered their respective fields. When you pay good money for information, you’ve also made a stronger commitment to learning the material.  If I pay a lot of money for information, I often give it more weight than something I’ve obtained for free.  I think it’s human nature that we need to extract enough value to justify our purchases. 5. Look for strong money-back guarantees The nice thing about buying a book from a bookstore is that if the book is lousy, you can return it for a full refund (at least at most bookstores I frequent).  Shipped products are a little less convenient to return, but if the money is significant, it’s nice to have that protection. Many years ago I spent $1000 to buy some Jay Abraham seminar recordings.  That was a significant amount of money to me at the time, but Jay offered a strong guarantee that minimized my risk.  I fully intended that if I didn’t get at least $1000 of value from those tapes, I’d return them for a refund.  Jay’s guarantee said that by applying his ideas, I’d earn at least $10,000 extra within the first 60 days.  I thought that was just marketing hype, but to my delight I actually got that result.  Since then I’ve probably made back 100x my original investment by continuing to apply Jay’s ideas.  Even though I could have found Jay’s ideas online for free, the value was in adopting his mindset; it took some immersion to fully internalize the concepts to the point where I could comfortably apply them. A guarantee is only as strong as the person or company behind it.  Usually you won’t have problems with reputable companies that have been around for many years; unknown ebook authors are more of a risk.  I’ve bought a number of info products I felt were so weak that a return was justified, and with reputable companies and individuals the refund policy has always been honored.  Just be careful not to go overboard and abuse this policy, or companies may decline future orders from you. A liberal return policy is a form of risk-reversal.  It takes the risk of loss off your back and places it on the shoulders of the seller.  Take advantage of risk-free offers liberally, and let those product prove their worth.  If you don’t get the value you expected, then by all means return the product before the guarantee expires.  But also be open to the possibility that you’ll find the product worth keeping, if only because you feel the author deserves to be paid. If an info product doesn’t include a money-back guarantee, I generally regard that as a bad sign, and I’d advise you to do the same. 6. Filter intelligently Before making a purchase, consider the reputation, background, and experience of the product’s author.  I also suggest you favor practical real-world experience over academic knowledge, assuming your goal is to make real-world improvements. Perhaps the most reliable filter is to seek out personal recommendations, especially from people you know.  You’ll still have some misses due to differences of opinion, but you’ll safely avoid the obvious duds.  I’ve bought literally hundreds of books based on recommendations from others.  For example, I bought Power vs. Force because Dr. Wayne Dyer gave it a glowing endorsement during one of his speeches, and I wasn’t disappointed. When they’re available I give a lot of weight to customer reviews.  I know fake reviews sometimes get posted, but usually I can get a good feel for a product if there are at least 10 reviews total.  And of course this works for a lot more than just info products.  I recently bought a Casio G-Shock atomic, solar-powered wristwatch from Amazon based on the strength of the reviews (4.5 stars average), and I’ve been very happy with it.  I also upgraded to an 8GB iPod Nano to replace my 1GB model, again due to the strength of the reviews (4.5 stars).  If these products had gotten only 3 stars, I wouldn’t have bought them.  When buying info products from Amazon, I rarely buy anything with less than 4 stars. Unfortunately there are a lot of information products that don’t have reviews, but with a simple Google search you can usually find some information on them.  In the end you must still make up your own mind, but a quick background check can make your decision easier. 7. Filter efficiently Some people are so paranoid about making a bad purchase that they’ll spend 5 hours researching a $20 purchase that would only take them 4 hours to digest.  If you’re potential purchase represents a significant expense, then by all means do your homework.  But don’t waste time over-researching a product if the cost is inconsequential. I recommend using timeboxing for product research.  Timeboxing means you allocate a certain amount of time for research, and by the end of that time you must make a final decision.  For example, you might spend 10 minutes researching a product, and when the time is up, decide. 8. Ignore marketing fluff What I dislike most about info products is that so many of them utilize fluff-ridden, highly exaggerated marketing.  Watch nearly any infomercial, and you’ll see what I mean.  The worst ones are those having to do with wealth building.  As Seth Godin says, All Marketers Are Liars.  Everything is fast and easy, and results are supposedly instantaneous.  Reading sales copy for such programs is the one thing on this planet that makes me suicidal. The truth is that no single info product is going to solve all your problems overnight.  But even products with overblown marketing can still provide genuine value, so refusing to buy them isn’t the best filter.  I’ve gotten meaningful ideas and insights from products with hideous sales copy, and I’ve gotten poor results from products with very humble copy. My recommendation is to do your best to look past the marketing silliness.  Don’t give it any weight whatsoever.  Often the sales copy is written by someone other than the original author, someone who may not truly understand what they’re selling and who genuinely believes that flagrant exaggeration is good for sales.  With practice you can learn to tune out the fluff and get a reasonable sense of the actual product features. Sometimes you’ll encounter sales copy that’s 100% fluff.  It promises vague benefits and tries to arouse your emotions, but the actual features are never listed, so you never get a clear idea of the product’s true identity.  As a general rule, I suggest you avoid anything marketed like this.  More often than not the product will be junk.  Don’t throw money away just because you’re curious. 9. Accept that you’ll buy some duds No matter how intelligently you filter your purchases, sometimes you’re going to miss.  You may even miss most of the time.  This usually doesn’t mean the products were intentional rip-offs — they may have just been unsuitable for you. Unfortunately your hit ratio may not improve much as you gain experience.  Although you’ll get better at picking quality products, the downside is that it will be harder to find original ideas you haven’t already seen.  Because I’ve digested so many personal growth products, I often run into the same ideas again and again.  The ideas may be excellent, and reinforcement can be helpful, but I don’t gain much additional value from hearing the same concepts 100 times over. It’s perfectly OK to miss.  But when you do miss, cut your losses and get out.  If you can tell a product is a loser from the first chapter or the first CD, stop reading or listening.  If there’s a money-back guarantee, return it.  In my experience it’s extremely rare that a product that makes a bad first impression will turn itself around by the end.  If the first 10% is weak, it will probably just get worse as you go along. 10. Enjoy something unusual once in a while. Some of my most rewarding growth experiences came from investing in unusual products I wouldn’t have normally purchased.  When browsing through a bookstore, I’ll occasionally force myself to visit a section that feels alien to me.  Other times I’ll accept recommendations I’d ordinarily resist. For example, I normally don’t read much fiction (I’m at least 90% nonfiction), but Erin is an avid fiction reader.  She frequently recommends fiction books to me, sometimes practically begging me to read them, but I almost always turn her down because I feel non-fiction is a better use of my time.  But when I finally do succumb to one of her suggestions, I often enjoy a lateral growth experience I’d have otherwise missed.  At the very least, I enjoy sharing the experience with Erin. My opinion is that the very best place you can invest your hard-earned cash is in your personal growth.  Your money may come and go, but when you invest in yourself, you lock in your gains by converting cash into practical knowledge and skills.  Investing money in personal development is like spending golden eggs to buy the goose that lays them.  Pretty soon you’ll have a nice collection of golden geese at your disposal.  Consider the long-term value of being more skillful, more disciplined, more courageous, more productive, more focused, and so on.  The more you invest in your own growth, the more secure you’ll feel because your greatest assets will be internal.  But the most priceless reward of personal growth is that it increases your ability to help others.  Gaining knowledge for yourself is all well and good, but your true potential can only be realized through sharing and contribution.
    Jul 14, 2011 1607
  • 14 Jul 2011
    Some people suggest it isn’t practical for too many of us to become purpose-centered.  Imagine what would happen if everyone on earth awakened to a noble purpose.  While we’re all busy changing the world, who will clean our floors and dig our ditches?  Will we all starve because no one will be willing to do the menial tasks?  Won’t society crumble around us, leaving our good intentions without the necessary support structure? Really when people ask these questions, they’re looking for an excuse to avoid facing the fact that they aren’t yet living a purpose-centered life.  But this is still a serious question.  What can we realistically expect will happen when enough of us awaken to a higher level of consciousness? The purpose-centered ditch digger Surely there are some people who enjoy doing tasks you’d consider menial.  Maybe if everyone does what they love, plenty of people will choose to be ditch diggers, saving us from the ungodly prospect of a worldwide ditch shortage. This is a popular answer to this conundrum, but personally I think it’s unrealistic to expect lots of people will consciously select janitorial services for their life purpose.  While I do know a few people who willingly do tasks most would consider menial, I’m pretty sure they all have OCD.  After awakening to my own purpose, I certainly had much less desire to do cleaning, laundry, cooking, etc.  I’d rather spend my time writing or speaking, and I don’t think it’s intelligent for me to spend my time doing tasks I don’t enjoy and which don’t contribute much to others. When I really want to, I can put myself into a Zen-like state, fully centered in the present moment, and enjoy cleaning my house.  But I find it far more productive to spend my time doing more purpose-centered work in a dirty house.  Erin is the same way.  Periodically we hire a cleaning service, which cleans our house in about 3 hours… doing a far better job than we can and in much less time.  How can I justify cleaning my house, when I might spend that same time writing an article that will be just what someone needed to make a major, positive life-changing decision?  In terms of overall impact, there’s no comparison.  By any stretch of the imagination, I’m far better off writing than cleaning. While some people find meaning in small acts of service, I think the concept of the purpose-centered ditch digger is largely a myth, so I don’t see it as a serious answer.  I think it’s more likely that if everyone awakens to their purpose, most people won’t want to do menial tasks.  But when you think about it, this is no different from where we are right now. The carrot and the stick How many of us are passionate about doing our taxes?  Not many I assure you.  But we do them anyway because there’s a behavioral solution in place.  Behavioral conditioning gets people to fill roles they don’t really want to do.  Some of this conditioning is environmental, like the threat of starvation, and some is social, like salaries and penalties. Our worst attempt at using behavioral conditioning to do our dirty work was slavery.  Today it’s wage slavery.  Even well-paid white collar workers are falling into this trap.  Many people work in jobs they hate because they’ve become attached to their salaries and don’t want to start over in a more inspiring field.  That’s just fear talking though.  To a highly conscious person, trading one’s purpose for a salary is a silly compromise because money brings no joy without purpose, so that high salary is just the modern form of a slave’s shackles.  Truthfully when you get yourself on a purpose-centered path that provides real value to others, it shouldn’t be hard to make a great living from it. You see… we already live in a world where most people don’t want to do menial or tedious tasks, and carrot-stick incentives are currently used to get those jobs done.  It’s basically a form of force, although the carrot is seen as being more gentle than the stick.  But meanwhile you’re programmed by social conditioning to value that carrot tremendously, even though it’s not particularly valuable by itself (aka consumerism). As more people awaken, what will change is that the carrot and stick will become less effective motivators.  As you become more conscious and aware, your fear fades, so external incentives that don’t already align with your purpose have much less power over you.  You’ll do what needs to be done to avoid starving, but you won’t be manipulated into doing work you hate just because it pays a high salary. So if everyone woke up to a noble purpose tomorrow, we’d still be able to feed ourselves.  A purpose-centered person will still do what needs to be done.  But menial tasks that weren’t really necessary would be cut.  For example, people wouldn’t work in wage slave jobs making non-essential knick-knacks that no one really cares about.  People wouldn’t waste time and energy making dumb movies, TV shows, toys, and games that don’t enhance our lives.  A number of corporations would see no one show up for work because it would be obvious that the corporation only existed to make a profit, not a positive social contribution.  For example, it’s hard to imagine that anyone who’s conscious and aware could willingly go to work for a tobacco company. It’s unrealistic to expect an overnight mass awakening, however, so rest assured your cigarettes, alcohol, and junk food are safe for now.  But at the same time, there’s no need to fear that a mass awakening will cause mass starvation.  I’ll plant some veggies myself if I have to. Automation In the long run, I think automation is the most realistic solution for offloading menial tasks.  Many of our menial tasks have already been delegated to machines, and I expect this trend will continue as computing power becomes ever faster and cheaper and new breakthroughs are made.  There are lots of opportunities for major purpose-centered contributions in the technology sector today.  I almost went that direction myself. In college I specialized in artificial intelligence for my computer science major, and only at the last minute did I decide not to go for a Ph.D.  I had excellent grades, glowing letters of recommendation, and the grad school applications mostly filled out, but after a lot of soul searching, I realized I needed to go a different route and learn to succeed in business.  I still try to keep up from the sidelines though.  One of my favorite authors in the field is Ray Kurzweil, a somewhat controversial figure who’s written several fascinating books like The Singularity is Near and The Age of Spiritual Machines.  What I love about his books is that he brings together new developments from a variety of different fields, and he explains in detail how they might come together to dramatically change the world. While it’s true that maintaining and supporting technology does add new forms of tedious work — someone has to grease the gears – I think we still see an overall net gain.  Automating maintenance is gradually coming around as well.  For example, many software programs automatically update themselves via the Internet, requiring little or no human intervention. Automation will surely eliminate some jobs, and those jobs aren’t coming back.  Once a task has been intelligently automated, it’s obsolete.  If you lose your job due to automation, train up to do something more valuable.  If you’re betting on the status quo continuing forever, you might as well come to Las Vegas and pump your money into a slot machine.  Incidentally, did you know that most Vegas slot machines no longer pay your wins by spitting out coins?  Many don’t even have coin slots anymore, so you can’t even insert a quarter.  Your wins and loses are electronic now, and when you cash out, the machine will print you a bar-coded ticket to take to a cashier.  In the future they’ll probably eliminate the printed tickets as well.  Maybe someday you’ll be able to walk past a scanner at the buffet and be told how much money you lost that day.  Automating awakening… or awakening automation Interestingly it looks like the process of automation and the process of human awakening may be keeping pace with each other.  The more we automate our menial tasks, the more time we have to make a larger contribution.  Automation also gives us time for introspection, meditation, journaling, deep conversation, and lots of other awareness-raising pursuits. As we begin to enjoy the intrinsic rewards of purpose-centered living, we look for ways to free up more time to do what we love most.  We therefore attach more value to automation.  This demand eventually leads to financial incentives (i.e. carrots) for automating tasks, so investors and entrepreneurs will be financially motivated to satisfy that demand.  But more than that, the potential for meaningful contribution attracts purpose-centered people to the field.  If you can invent something that saves people a lot of time or trouble on a large scale, you’ve made a pretty massive contribution. Furthermore, as we become more purpose-centered, we lose interest in idle distractions and destructive addictions.  We cut the fluff from our lives.  This reduces demand for products and services of low social value, increasing the chance that some of those resources will be reinvested in worthwhile automation. So we have this symbiotic relationship between automation and awakening.  As we awaken we create more demand for automation.  And as we automate, we create more opportunities for awakening. What’s your best contribution? What’s important is that we each make the best contribution we can.  If you’re working in a job you hate just to pay the bills, you’re robbing this wonderful planet of the real contribution you could be making.  I’m sure you have plenty of reasons why you must play it safe, but deep down you know they’re just fear-based excuses.  Would your excuses still seem rational if you felt no fear?  The world doesn’t need any more Einsteins working as patent clerks, no matter how worried they are about paying their bills. Ask yourself this:  Are you currently making the best contribution you’re capable of making?  If the answer is clearly no, then there’s no point in continuing on your current path, is there?  Common sense suggests that if you know you’re on the wrong path, you should stop walking.  The longer you stay on the wrong path, the worse things are for all of us.  Maybe it will take a few days to find the right path.  Maybe it will take several years.  But it’s still better to be lost for several years than to be lost for a lifetime. Once you do discover your purpose, the next step is to summon the courage to act on it.  For some people this is an easy transition, but for others it’s the most difficult step of all.  Don’t let the challenge discourage you.  If you have a big purpose, then your task is to grow into it.  If it takes years, it takes years.  We aren’t leaving without you. 
    960 Posted by UniqueThis
  • Some people suggest it isn’t practical for too many of us to become purpose-centered.  Imagine what would happen if everyone on earth awakened to a noble purpose.  While we’re all busy changing the world, who will clean our floors and dig our ditches?  Will we all starve because no one will be willing to do the menial tasks?  Won’t society crumble around us, leaving our good intentions without the necessary support structure? Really when people ask these questions, they’re looking for an excuse to avoid facing the fact that they aren’t yet living a purpose-centered life.  But this is still a serious question.  What can we realistically expect will happen when enough of us awaken to a higher level of consciousness? The purpose-centered ditch digger Surely there are some people who enjoy doing tasks you’d consider menial.  Maybe if everyone does what they love, plenty of people will choose to be ditch diggers, saving us from the ungodly prospect of a worldwide ditch shortage. This is a popular answer to this conundrum, but personally I think it’s unrealistic to expect lots of people will consciously select janitorial services for their life purpose.  While I do know a few people who willingly do tasks most would consider menial, I’m pretty sure they all have OCD.  After awakening to my own purpose, I certainly had much less desire to do cleaning, laundry, cooking, etc.  I’d rather spend my time writing or speaking, and I don’t think it’s intelligent for me to spend my time doing tasks I don’t enjoy and which don’t contribute much to others. When I really want to, I can put myself into a Zen-like state, fully centered in the present moment, and enjoy cleaning my house.  But I find it far more productive to spend my time doing more purpose-centered work in a dirty house.  Erin is the same way.  Periodically we hire a cleaning service, which cleans our house in about 3 hours… doing a far better job than we can and in much less time.  How can I justify cleaning my house, when I might spend that same time writing an article that will be just what someone needed to make a major, positive life-changing decision?  In terms of overall impact, there’s no comparison.  By any stretch of the imagination, I’m far better off writing than cleaning. While some people find meaning in small acts of service, I think the concept of the purpose-centered ditch digger is largely a myth, so I don’t see it as a serious answer.  I think it’s more likely that if everyone awakens to their purpose, most people won’t want to do menial tasks.  But when you think about it, this is no different from where we are right now. The carrot and the stick How many of us are passionate about doing our taxes?  Not many I assure you.  But we do them anyway because there’s a behavioral solution in place.  Behavioral conditioning gets people to fill roles they don’t really want to do.  Some of this conditioning is environmental, like the threat of starvation, and some is social, like salaries and penalties. Our worst attempt at using behavioral conditioning to do our dirty work was slavery.  Today it’s wage slavery.  Even well-paid white collar workers are falling into this trap.  Many people work in jobs they hate because they’ve become attached to their salaries and don’t want to start over in a more inspiring field.  That’s just fear talking though.  To a highly conscious person, trading one’s purpose for a salary is a silly compromise because money brings no joy without purpose, so that high salary is just the modern form of a slave’s shackles.  Truthfully when you get yourself on a purpose-centered path that provides real value to others, it shouldn’t be hard to make a great living from it. You see… we already live in a world where most people don’t want to do menial or tedious tasks, and carrot-stick incentives are currently used to get those jobs done.  It’s basically a form of force, although the carrot is seen as being more gentle than the stick.  But meanwhile you’re programmed by social conditioning to value that carrot tremendously, even though it’s not particularly valuable by itself (aka consumerism). As more people awaken, what will change is that the carrot and stick will become less effective motivators.  As you become more conscious and aware, your fear fades, so external incentives that don’t already align with your purpose have much less power over you.  You’ll do what needs to be done to avoid starving, but you won’t be manipulated into doing work you hate just because it pays a high salary. So if everyone woke up to a noble purpose tomorrow, we’d still be able to feed ourselves.  A purpose-centered person will still do what needs to be done.  But menial tasks that weren’t really necessary would be cut.  For example, people wouldn’t work in wage slave jobs making non-essential knick-knacks that no one really cares about.  People wouldn’t waste time and energy making dumb movies, TV shows, toys, and games that don’t enhance our lives.  A number of corporations would see no one show up for work because it would be obvious that the corporation only existed to make a profit, not a positive social contribution.  For example, it’s hard to imagine that anyone who’s conscious and aware could willingly go to work for a tobacco company. It’s unrealistic to expect an overnight mass awakening, however, so rest assured your cigarettes, alcohol, and junk food are safe for now.  But at the same time, there’s no need to fear that a mass awakening will cause mass starvation.  I’ll plant some veggies myself if I have to. Automation In the long run, I think automation is the most realistic solution for offloading menial tasks.  Many of our menial tasks have already been delegated to machines, and I expect this trend will continue as computing power becomes ever faster and cheaper and new breakthroughs are made.  There are lots of opportunities for major purpose-centered contributions in the technology sector today.  I almost went that direction myself. In college I specialized in artificial intelligence for my computer science major, and only at the last minute did I decide not to go for a Ph.D.  I had excellent grades, glowing letters of recommendation, and the grad school applications mostly filled out, but after a lot of soul searching, I realized I needed to go a different route and learn to succeed in business.  I still try to keep up from the sidelines though.  One of my favorite authors in the field is Ray Kurzweil, a somewhat controversial figure who’s written several fascinating books like The Singularity is Near and The Age of Spiritual Machines.  What I love about his books is that he brings together new developments from a variety of different fields, and he explains in detail how they might come together to dramatically change the world. While it’s true that maintaining and supporting technology does add new forms of tedious work — someone has to grease the gears – I think we still see an overall net gain.  Automating maintenance is gradually coming around as well.  For example, many software programs automatically update themselves via the Internet, requiring little or no human intervention. Automation will surely eliminate some jobs, and those jobs aren’t coming back.  Once a task has been intelligently automated, it’s obsolete.  If you lose your job due to automation, train up to do something more valuable.  If you’re betting on the status quo continuing forever, you might as well come to Las Vegas and pump your money into a slot machine.  Incidentally, did you know that most Vegas slot machines no longer pay your wins by spitting out coins?  Many don’t even have coin slots anymore, so you can’t even insert a quarter.  Your wins and loses are electronic now, and when you cash out, the machine will print you a bar-coded ticket to take to a cashier.  In the future they’ll probably eliminate the printed tickets as well.  Maybe someday you’ll be able to walk past a scanner at the buffet and be told how much money you lost that day.  Automating awakening… or awakening automation Interestingly it looks like the process of automation and the process of human awakening may be keeping pace with each other.  The more we automate our menial tasks, the more time we have to make a larger contribution.  Automation also gives us time for introspection, meditation, journaling, deep conversation, and lots of other awareness-raising pursuits. As we begin to enjoy the intrinsic rewards of purpose-centered living, we look for ways to free up more time to do what we love most.  We therefore attach more value to automation.  This demand eventually leads to financial incentives (i.e. carrots) for automating tasks, so investors and entrepreneurs will be financially motivated to satisfy that demand.  But more than that, the potential for meaningful contribution attracts purpose-centered people to the field.  If you can invent something that saves people a lot of time or trouble on a large scale, you’ve made a pretty massive contribution. Furthermore, as we become more purpose-centered, we lose interest in idle distractions and destructive addictions.  We cut the fluff from our lives.  This reduces demand for products and services of low social value, increasing the chance that some of those resources will be reinvested in worthwhile automation. So we have this symbiotic relationship between automation and awakening.  As we awaken we create more demand for automation.  And as we automate, we create more opportunities for awakening. What’s your best contribution? What’s important is that we each make the best contribution we can.  If you’re working in a job you hate just to pay the bills, you’re robbing this wonderful planet of the real contribution you could be making.  I’m sure you have plenty of reasons why you must play it safe, but deep down you know they’re just fear-based excuses.  Would your excuses still seem rational if you felt no fear?  The world doesn’t need any more Einsteins working as patent clerks, no matter how worried they are about paying their bills. Ask yourself this:  Are you currently making the best contribution you’re capable of making?  If the answer is clearly no, then there’s no point in continuing on your current path, is there?  Common sense suggests that if you know you’re on the wrong path, you should stop walking.  The longer you stay on the wrong path, the worse things are for all of us.  Maybe it will take a few days to find the right path.  Maybe it will take several years.  But it’s still better to be lost for several years than to be lost for a lifetime. Once you do discover your purpose, the next step is to summon the courage to act on it.  For some people this is an easy transition, but for others it’s the most difficult step of all.  Don’t let the challenge discourage you.  If you have a big purpose, then your task is to grow into it.  If it takes years, it takes years.  We aren’t leaving without you. 
    Jul 14, 2011 960
  • 14 Jul 2011
    When designing a game, a good game designer will present the player with a solid collection of compelling choices.  As long as the choices remain compelling, the game has a chance of being fun.  But if the choices are boring, confusing, pointless, or broken, it’s unlikely a fun game will emerge… although you could still end up with a Zune.  Consider classic games like poker, chess, and go.  Compelling choices abound.  Now consider tic tac toe.  When you’re a child, the choices may seem compelling, and the game can even be fun.  But as you mature, the choices become boring and obvious, and the game quickly loses its appeal. Even skill-based games like golf or Quake involve compelling choices.  There are tactical choices as well as training choices.  What skills will you seek to develop and when?  How much time are you willing to invest?  How will you leverage your strengths and compensate for your weaknesses? In a game you may also have resources, a currency you can spend.  Maybe it’s gold, mana, or energy.  Resources add new choices:  How will you generate income?  How much will you generate?  How will you spend your income?  How will you balance your time between production vs. production capacity (i.e. generating income vs. increasing your earnings potential)? Having been a game designer myself, I found it easy to start seeing life as a game filled with compelling choices.  For starters, real life includes all the properties previously mentioned.  We’re presented with a wide variety of choices for skill building, resource acquisition, relationships, and more.  As we age our decisions tend to become more complex, since childhood priorities no longer hold the same appeal. What’s the purpose of a game?  The purpose of a game is to enjoy the experience – to have fun.  Another reason for playing games is to grow, since games can be wonderful teachers.  Having fun and growing sounds like a nice way to spend real life, doesn’t it? What makes for a good game player?  To answer this question, you’ll probably imagine someone who’s a good sport, who makes an effort to play his/her best while respecting that all players need an opportunity to enjoy the experience, including would-be competitors.  A good player takes time to develop his/her skills.  S/he takes the play of the game seriously, but not so seriously as to become overly attached to outcomes.  A person who’s overly attached to outcomes is what we call a sore loser or sore winner. If life is a game, how good a player are you? Do you play full-out for the enjoyment of the experience?  Do you care about your performance and take time to hone your skills?  Are you a good sport?  Do you embrace the whole game, or resist some part of it? Isn’t it silly that so many of us get caught up in the subgames of life and totally lose sight of the larger game?  Have you ever built a level 50 character in some fictional world, overflowing with wealth and radiant superpowers, while your real life character wallows around level 5, apathetic, out of shape, and barely able to pay the bills?  Lots of us have fallen into this trap at one time or another. What other subgames have you mistaken for the complete game of life?  The education game?  The career game?  The financial security game?  The family game?  The physical fitness game?  The spirituality game?  There are endless subgames that can divert our attention from making progress in the far more expansive game of life itself.  These subgames are interesting and valuable in their own right, but they’re only pieces of the larger puzzle. What do you think of a world-class actor who turns to drugs and alcohol?  What about a world leader whose own spouse despises her?  How about a massage therapist who never learns to manage his/her finances? No virtual reality can compete with the compelling decisions that real life offers every single day.  The choices before us are infinite, and the consequences are interesting enough to motivate us to choose carefully.  The game of life has a very strong design. Despite being presented with the most wonderful game imaginable, most of us decline to play.  We sit on the sidelines, worrying about the complexities of the world instead of embracing them.  We only dabble in parts of the game.  Very few ever consciously commit to mastering the whole game. Why? Your current level of engagement with life depends on how you evaluate yourself relative to the game of life.  Are you bigger than the game, or is the game bigger than you? When you play a game that’s bigger than you, you feel overwhelmed.  It’s too much to handle, and you soon give up.  I remember when I tried to play chess when I was only 7 years old.  I got frustrated because I couldn’t understand it.  The game seemed bigger than me.  So I never wanted to play.  Chess was someone else’s game.  If you think life is bigger than you, you probably don’t want to play either.  The game becomes one giant inconvenience. On the other hand, when you play a game that’s smaller than you, you remain in control.  If the game is too much smaller, however, it becomes boring, like tic tac toe.  Games that are too small have little appeal because the challenge isn’t there.  There just aren’t enough compelling choices.  Some people have fallen into this pattern, mastering the game’s novice setting and never realized there are other difficulty levels to experience, including intermediate, advanced, and master. The sweet spot is when the game is nearly equal to you.  It’s the perfect match for who you are.  You learn the rules, you take time to understand the gameplay, but you know that mastery will be a lifetime process.  Online role-playing games try to maintain this sweet spot, so their players will keep renewing month after month.  They have to make the game easy enough for beginners while continuing to challenge the expert players.  Social attachments play a key role as well. When you feel that you and real life are equally matched, you’ll experience the sweet spot of human life.  This is where the game is the most fun and rewarding.  You become fully engaged, and life events are valued for the juice of the experience.  You might describe this state as being in flow, the zone, wonder, or fascination. What happens in a game when you experience a setback?  If you’re a good sport, you’ll see it as added challenge.  Good players don’t whine when the chips are down.  When the game gets tough, good players rise to the challenge. I perform at my best when I maintain the perspective that life is the ultimate game, filled with compelling choices and interesting consequences.  Instead of resisting seemingly negative events, I treat them as an added challenges.  For example, if I experience a financial setback, it’s not a big deal because money is nothing but a game world resource.  It’s just game gold, something that can always be replenished with hard work and creativity.  And figuring out how to earn more gold is a fun challenge, full of compelling choices. Good players don’t rest on their laurels when everything goes their way either.  What happens when the game becomes too easy, when the choices start to seem dull and uninteresting?  Then it’s time to ramp up the challenge again by venturing into new territory.  For example, financially things have gotten pretty easy for me, and I’m earning far more gold than I need for my family.  Sure it’s nice to have some reserves, but spending the rest of my life stockpiling gold would be boring beyond belief, not to mention a waste of an interesting resource that could be put to good use.  The fun thing about having gold is that you can buy upgrades and thereby take on bigger challenges.  And that’s exactly what Erin and I are planning to do — use our resources to build a larger team and take on bigger challenges.  Find ways to provide even more value.  Take the game to the next level. It’s unfortunate that people so easily forget that life is supposed to be interesting, challenging, and fun.  If your life is filled with compelling choices, consider yourself blessed.  Make some decisions, experience the consequences, and grow from there.  It’s all good. The only way to lose the game of life is not to play.  When you actively play the game, you gain skill and experience (and hopefully gold as well).  Keep playing, and you’ll eventually build yourself a level 10, level 20, level 30 character.  Just make sure that when you hit level 30, you aren’t still fighting level 10 monsters. What would an experienced player say to a character who sits on the sidelines, complaining incessantly about how hard it is to earn gold, how evil the monsters are, how unfairly experience points are doled out, how nobody is a good teammate, etc?  I imagine the response would be something like, “Nooooooooooobbbbb!  Quit whining and go play!” If you find yourself in a human body, you came here to play the game of human life.  Don’t sit on the sidelines whining like a noob.  The truth is that if you lose all your gold, if your teammates dump you, or if your character gets infected by the plague, it’s all part of the game.  Every setback initiates another round of compelling choices.  The game isn’t supposed to be fair — it’s supposed to be fun and interesting.  Whether or not you have a fun and interesting experience largely depends on what kind of player you are. Did you think you were supposed to succeed in every attempt to battle monsters, secure gold, or find good teammates?  Of course not.  That isn’t how the game works.  On plenty of occasions, you’ll charge onto the battlefield filled with motivation and positive intentions, and you’ll get slammed.  That’s supposed to happen.  It’s part of the game.  The game is supposed to be challenging. How boring life would be if all of your attempts succeeded the first time… and instantly!  A game that includes setbacks, delays, and randomness is a lot more fun.  It keeps you playing longer and with greater motivation.  Thank goodness our desires don’t manifest immediately, or we’d be bored to tears.  It’s the effort and uncertainty that makes life so rewarding because the ultimate reward is the experience of playing, not the gold we collect. The game of human life may eventually end when you die, but in the meantime enjoy yourself while you’re here.  Life is supposed to be fun.  Get out there and go play!  Tackle some of those compelling choices you’ve been avoiding, accept the consequences, and grow from there.
    1002 Posted by UniqueThis
  • When designing a game, a good game designer will present the player with a solid collection of compelling choices.  As long as the choices remain compelling, the game has a chance of being fun.  But if the choices are boring, confusing, pointless, or broken, it’s unlikely a fun game will emerge… although you could still end up with a Zune.  Consider classic games like poker, chess, and go.  Compelling choices abound.  Now consider tic tac toe.  When you’re a child, the choices may seem compelling, and the game can even be fun.  But as you mature, the choices become boring and obvious, and the game quickly loses its appeal. Even skill-based games like golf or Quake involve compelling choices.  There are tactical choices as well as training choices.  What skills will you seek to develop and when?  How much time are you willing to invest?  How will you leverage your strengths and compensate for your weaknesses? In a game you may also have resources, a currency you can spend.  Maybe it’s gold, mana, or energy.  Resources add new choices:  How will you generate income?  How much will you generate?  How will you spend your income?  How will you balance your time between production vs. production capacity (i.e. generating income vs. increasing your earnings potential)? Having been a game designer myself, I found it easy to start seeing life as a game filled with compelling choices.  For starters, real life includes all the properties previously mentioned.  We’re presented with a wide variety of choices for skill building, resource acquisition, relationships, and more.  As we age our decisions tend to become more complex, since childhood priorities no longer hold the same appeal. What’s the purpose of a game?  The purpose of a game is to enjoy the experience – to have fun.  Another reason for playing games is to grow, since games can be wonderful teachers.  Having fun and growing sounds like a nice way to spend real life, doesn’t it? What makes for a good game player?  To answer this question, you’ll probably imagine someone who’s a good sport, who makes an effort to play his/her best while respecting that all players need an opportunity to enjoy the experience, including would-be competitors.  A good player takes time to develop his/her skills.  S/he takes the play of the game seriously, but not so seriously as to become overly attached to outcomes.  A person who’s overly attached to outcomes is what we call a sore loser or sore winner. If life is a game, how good a player are you? Do you play full-out for the enjoyment of the experience?  Do you care about your performance and take time to hone your skills?  Are you a good sport?  Do you embrace the whole game, or resist some part of it? Isn’t it silly that so many of us get caught up in the subgames of life and totally lose sight of the larger game?  Have you ever built a level 50 character in some fictional world, overflowing with wealth and radiant superpowers, while your real life character wallows around level 5, apathetic, out of shape, and barely able to pay the bills?  Lots of us have fallen into this trap at one time or another. What other subgames have you mistaken for the complete game of life?  The education game?  The career game?  The financial security game?  The family game?  The physical fitness game?  The spirituality game?  There are endless subgames that can divert our attention from making progress in the far more expansive game of life itself.  These subgames are interesting and valuable in their own right, but they’re only pieces of the larger puzzle. What do you think of a world-class actor who turns to drugs and alcohol?  What about a world leader whose own spouse despises her?  How about a massage therapist who never learns to manage his/her finances? No virtual reality can compete with the compelling decisions that real life offers every single day.  The choices before us are infinite, and the consequences are interesting enough to motivate us to choose carefully.  The game of life has a very strong design. Despite being presented with the most wonderful game imaginable, most of us decline to play.  We sit on the sidelines, worrying about the complexities of the world instead of embracing them.  We only dabble in parts of the game.  Very few ever consciously commit to mastering the whole game. Why? Your current level of engagement with life depends on how you evaluate yourself relative to the game of life.  Are you bigger than the game, or is the game bigger than you? When you play a game that’s bigger than you, you feel overwhelmed.  It’s too much to handle, and you soon give up.  I remember when I tried to play chess when I was only 7 years old.  I got frustrated because I couldn’t understand it.  The game seemed bigger than me.  So I never wanted to play.  Chess was someone else’s game.  If you think life is bigger than you, you probably don’t want to play either.  The game becomes one giant inconvenience. On the other hand, when you play a game that’s smaller than you, you remain in control.  If the game is too much smaller, however, it becomes boring, like tic tac toe.  Games that are too small have little appeal because the challenge isn’t there.  There just aren’t enough compelling choices.  Some people have fallen into this pattern, mastering the game’s novice setting and never realized there are other difficulty levels to experience, including intermediate, advanced, and master. The sweet spot is when the game is nearly equal to you.  It’s the perfect match for who you are.  You learn the rules, you take time to understand the gameplay, but you know that mastery will be a lifetime process.  Online role-playing games try to maintain this sweet spot, so their players will keep renewing month after month.  They have to make the game easy enough for beginners while continuing to challenge the expert players.  Social attachments play a key role as well. When you feel that you and real life are equally matched, you’ll experience the sweet spot of human life.  This is where the game is the most fun and rewarding.  You become fully engaged, and life events are valued for the juice of the experience.  You might describe this state as being in flow, the zone, wonder, or fascination. What happens in a game when you experience a setback?  If you’re a good sport, you’ll see it as added challenge.  Good players don’t whine when the chips are down.  When the game gets tough, good players rise to the challenge. I perform at my best when I maintain the perspective that life is the ultimate game, filled with compelling choices and interesting consequences.  Instead of resisting seemingly negative events, I treat them as an added challenges.  For example, if I experience a financial setback, it’s not a big deal because money is nothing but a game world resource.  It’s just game gold, something that can always be replenished with hard work and creativity.  And figuring out how to earn more gold is a fun challenge, full of compelling choices. Good players don’t rest on their laurels when everything goes their way either.  What happens when the game becomes too easy, when the choices start to seem dull and uninteresting?  Then it’s time to ramp up the challenge again by venturing into new territory.  For example, financially things have gotten pretty easy for me, and I’m earning far more gold than I need for my family.  Sure it’s nice to have some reserves, but spending the rest of my life stockpiling gold would be boring beyond belief, not to mention a waste of an interesting resource that could be put to good use.  The fun thing about having gold is that you can buy upgrades and thereby take on bigger challenges.  And that’s exactly what Erin and I are planning to do — use our resources to build a larger team and take on bigger challenges.  Find ways to provide even more value.  Take the game to the next level. It’s unfortunate that people so easily forget that life is supposed to be interesting, challenging, and fun.  If your life is filled with compelling choices, consider yourself blessed.  Make some decisions, experience the consequences, and grow from there.  It’s all good. The only way to lose the game of life is not to play.  When you actively play the game, you gain skill and experience (and hopefully gold as well).  Keep playing, and you’ll eventually build yourself a level 10, level 20, level 30 character.  Just make sure that when you hit level 30, you aren’t still fighting level 10 monsters. What would an experienced player say to a character who sits on the sidelines, complaining incessantly about how hard it is to earn gold, how evil the monsters are, how unfairly experience points are doled out, how nobody is a good teammate, etc?  I imagine the response would be something like, “Nooooooooooobbbbb!  Quit whining and go play!” If you find yourself in a human body, you came here to play the game of human life.  Don’t sit on the sidelines whining like a noob.  The truth is that if you lose all your gold, if your teammates dump you, or if your character gets infected by the plague, it’s all part of the game.  Every setback initiates another round of compelling choices.  The game isn’t supposed to be fair — it’s supposed to be fun and interesting.  Whether or not you have a fun and interesting experience largely depends on what kind of player you are. Did you think you were supposed to succeed in every attempt to battle monsters, secure gold, or find good teammates?  Of course not.  That isn’t how the game works.  On plenty of occasions, you’ll charge onto the battlefield filled with motivation and positive intentions, and you’ll get slammed.  That’s supposed to happen.  It’s part of the game.  The game is supposed to be challenging. How boring life would be if all of your attempts succeeded the first time… and instantly!  A game that includes setbacks, delays, and randomness is a lot more fun.  It keeps you playing longer and with greater motivation.  Thank goodness our desires don’t manifest immediately, or we’d be bored to tears.  It’s the effort and uncertainty that makes life so rewarding because the ultimate reward is the experience of playing, not the gold we collect. The game of human life may eventually end when you die, but in the meantime enjoy yourself while you’re here.  Life is supposed to be fun.  Get out there and go play!  Tackle some of those compelling choices you’ve been avoiding, accept the consequences, and grow from there.
    Jul 14, 2011 1002
  • 14 Jul 2011
    I’m sure you’ve heard the Woody Allen quote that 80% of success is showing up.  While merely showing up — to work, to an audition, to a date, etc. — won’t guarantee success, it’s certainly a prerequisite. A few months ago I began training in kempo, a martial arts style that could be described as a cross between karate and kung fu, plus some weapons training.  I’m currently an orange belt, still very much a beginner but far enough along to grasp the basics.  By showing up to the studio again and again, I learn self-defense techniques, get an interesting workout, and have a lot of fun.  If I simply continue this pattern, I’ll gradually learn kempo and advance in belt ranks. Is this easy?  No.  I don’t always feel motivated to go to class, and sometimes I wrestle with the time commitment.  Is this on autopilot?  Yes.  Attending kempo classes is a habit, so it would actually take some effort to quit.  All I need to do is keep showing up, and the rest is on autopilot.  If I show up to class, I know I’ll put in the effort when I get there and feel good about it afterwards.  Showing up is always the limiting step.  Showing up doesn’t guarantee I’ll become a black belt, but it will get me about 80% of the way there if I stick with it. Situations where showing up gets you 80% of the way to your goal are golden.  In addition to martial arts training, here are some other examples: Show up to class — get an education and/or earn a degree Show up to work – earn income and build a career Show up to the gym — get a workout and build fitness Show up to Toastmasters meetings — overcome fear of public speaking and develop communication skills Show up to the grocery store with a healthy shopping list — buy healthy foods and improve your diet You can also stretch this concept to apply to other areas: Show up to your relationship — set aside time for your partner, go on dates, etc. Show up to your spiritual practice — meditate, read, attend services, etc. Show up to success – make decisions, set goals, commit Show up to give — volunteer, share, help others, etc. Show up to opportunities — write a book, start a business, create a web site, etc. Show up to growth — read, journal, take time for introspection If you allow abstract concepts like health or love to remain abstract, you won’t move forward in these areas.  Abstractions are wonderful tools for thought, but eventually you need to turn them into concrete physical actions.  Your abstraction must eventually become a process of showing up. For example, the abstract concept of fitness can be turned into the physical process of going to the gym, going running, or attending martial arts classes.  The abstract concept of expanding your consciousness can become the practices of daily meditation and journaling.  The abstract concept of continuing education can become the habit of reading for an hour a day. Turning an abstraction into a process of showing up requires an initial effort of time and energy.  You have to sign up for the class, join the gym, or do something else to get the ball rolling.  Once the system is in place, you’re on autopilot.  Keep showing up, and the results will take care of themselves.  My favorite process for making this transition is the 30-day trial plus the method of overwhelming force.  By making a 30-day commitment instead of a lifetime commitment, it’s easier to get moving, and by the end of the 30 days, it’s hard to stop. It’s amazing what the simple practice of showing up can achieve over time.  You don’t need to be fancy or clever or brilliant if you can be consistent.  A simple daily workout with a simple diet can produce a high level of fitness.  Simple relationship habits like staring your partner in the eyes and saying “I love you” every day help build a bond of closeness.  And simple awareness-raising practices like meditation and journaling can develop a deep sense of inner peace.  But these results only accumulate if you keep showing up.  A single workout, a single “I love you,” or a single meditation won’t do much for you — it’s the long-term habit that makes the difference. Choose an area of your life where you’d like to make real improvements, and brainstorm ways to turn it into a process of showing up.  You can find a list of areas to consider here.
    1007 Posted by UniqueThis
  • I’m sure you’ve heard the Woody Allen quote that 80% of success is showing up.  While merely showing up — to work, to an audition, to a date, etc. — won’t guarantee success, it’s certainly a prerequisite. A few months ago I began training in kempo, a martial arts style that could be described as a cross between karate and kung fu, plus some weapons training.  I’m currently an orange belt, still very much a beginner but far enough along to grasp the basics.  By showing up to the studio again and again, I learn self-defense techniques, get an interesting workout, and have a lot of fun.  If I simply continue this pattern, I’ll gradually learn kempo and advance in belt ranks. Is this easy?  No.  I don’t always feel motivated to go to class, and sometimes I wrestle with the time commitment.  Is this on autopilot?  Yes.  Attending kempo classes is a habit, so it would actually take some effort to quit.  All I need to do is keep showing up, and the rest is on autopilot.  If I show up to class, I know I’ll put in the effort when I get there and feel good about it afterwards.  Showing up is always the limiting step.  Showing up doesn’t guarantee I’ll become a black belt, but it will get me about 80% of the way there if I stick with it. Situations where showing up gets you 80% of the way to your goal are golden.  In addition to martial arts training, here are some other examples: Show up to class — get an education and/or earn a degree Show up to work – earn income and build a career Show up to the gym — get a workout and build fitness Show up to Toastmasters meetings — overcome fear of public speaking and develop communication skills Show up to the grocery store with a healthy shopping list — buy healthy foods and improve your diet You can also stretch this concept to apply to other areas: Show up to your relationship — set aside time for your partner, go on dates, etc. Show up to your spiritual practice — meditate, read, attend services, etc. Show up to success – make decisions, set goals, commit Show up to give — volunteer, share, help others, etc. Show up to opportunities — write a book, start a business, create a web site, etc. Show up to growth — read, journal, take time for introspection If you allow abstract concepts like health or love to remain abstract, you won’t move forward in these areas.  Abstractions are wonderful tools for thought, but eventually you need to turn them into concrete physical actions.  Your abstraction must eventually become a process of showing up. For example, the abstract concept of fitness can be turned into the physical process of going to the gym, going running, or attending martial arts classes.  The abstract concept of expanding your consciousness can become the practices of daily meditation and journaling.  The abstract concept of continuing education can become the habit of reading for an hour a day. Turning an abstraction into a process of showing up requires an initial effort of time and energy.  You have to sign up for the class, join the gym, or do something else to get the ball rolling.  Once the system is in place, you’re on autopilot.  Keep showing up, and the results will take care of themselves.  My favorite process for making this transition is the 30-day trial plus the method of overwhelming force.  By making a 30-day commitment instead of a lifetime commitment, it’s easier to get moving, and by the end of the 30 days, it’s hard to stop. It’s amazing what the simple practice of showing up can achieve over time.  You don’t need to be fancy or clever or brilliant if you can be consistent.  A simple daily workout with a simple diet can produce a high level of fitness.  Simple relationship habits like staring your partner in the eyes and saying “I love you” every day help build a bond of closeness.  And simple awareness-raising practices like meditation and journaling can develop a deep sense of inner peace.  But these results only accumulate if you keep showing up.  A single workout, a single “I love you,” or a single meditation won’t do much for you — it’s the long-term habit that makes the difference. Choose an area of your life where you’d like to make real improvements, and brainstorm ways to turn it into a process of showing up.  You can find a list of areas to consider here.
    Jul 14, 2011 1007
  • 14 Jul 2011
    After my last article on experiencing creativity, there was a question in the resulting forum discussion about how to enter this highly creative flow state, the state where you lose all sense of time, your ego vanishes, and you become one with the task in front of you.  Is this peak creative state a rare chance event, or can it be achieved consistently? For me the creative flow state is a common occurrence.  I usually enter this state several times a week, staying with it for hours at a time.  I’m able to routinely enjoy the flow state as long as I ensure the right conditions, which I’ll share with you in a moment. My first memories of habitually entering this flow state date back to the early 80s when I was learning BASIC programming.  After school I’d rush through my homework in order to spend hours in front of my Atari 800 writing, testing, and tweaking programs just to see what the machine could do.  Sometime around 8pm I’d notice my hunger, realize that the family had already eaten dinner, and ask my mom, “Why didn’t you call me when dinner was ready?  I’m starving!”  She’d invariably claim to have called me 3-4 times, usually with me verbally acknowledging, “I’ll be there in a minute.”  Either I had no recollection of this happening, or it was like trying to recall a fuzzy dream memory.  Did she really call me, or did I imagine it?  I was so engrossed in my creative hobby that I became oblivious to what was going on around me.  If I did acknowledge my mom, it must have been an unconscious reaction. For the past 25 years, I’ve relied heavily on these tune-out-the world creative periods for a variety of tasks encompassing many disciplines:  computer programming, game design, arts and crafts, web development, articles, speeches, Photoshop work, sound effects recording, school papers, and lots more.  Today these periods are essential for my blogging work. For most of my life I took these creative spurts for granted.  As a teenager I attributed it to being left-handed.  But I later realized I’d developed a process for initiating and sustaining these creative periods.  I can’t guarantee these rules will be as effective for you as it is for me, but I suspect that with a little practice you’ll find them quite effective. Here are my 7 rules for optimizing the highly creative flow state: 1. Define a clear purpose. To enter the flow state, you need a goal.  Decide what you want to create and why.  Vague intentions don’t trigger the flow state. If I sit down with the thought of cranking out a new article or doing some generic website work, I rarely enter the flow state.  I need a more focused intention like, “I’m going to write an article about my rules for creativity.”  Children do this automatically.  A simple, straightforward purpose like, “Let’s build a castle with these blocks” is all you need. If you’re working on a large multi-session project like a book, state your purpose for this single creative session.  What do you want to accomplish right now?  Create an outline?  Design a character?  Write a scene? Don’t overqualify your purpose.  You need enough clarity to give yourself a direction but not so much as to put yourself in a box.  You purpose should be an arrow, not a container.  Adding too many constraints can stunt your creativity by limiting your options. 2. Identify a compelling motive. In addition to a goal for your creative session, you need a reason to be creative.  Why does this task matter to you personally?  What difference will it make if you can be creative?  Why do you care? If I don’t care about a task or project, I can’t summon the flow state.  In school I could trigger the flow state easily when doing assignments I liked, but if I thought an assignment was pointless or stupid, I’d only go through the motions without crafting anything particularly original. It’s much easier to be creative doing what you want to do vs. doing what you have to do.  One thing that often happens when people quit their jobs and go to work for themselves is that their creative output soars.  Even among those strange job-holding folk, being able to select your next project from a few options is often used as a reward, especially in technical fields. The more compelling the motive, the more likely you are to summon high levels of creativity.  Imagine that your inner creative resources are lazy, and they need a damned good reason to roll out of bed and go to work for you. My best creative output occurs when I’m working on something that will simultaneously benefit myself and others.  Being at the extremes of either selfishness or selflessness isn’t effective.  I write my best articles when I’m passionate about the topic and expect my writing will genuinely help people.  The anticipated impact needn’t be huge — writing a humorous piece to make people laugh is a perfectly effective motive. 3. Architect a worthy challenge. To awaken your full creative potential, the difficulty of your creative endeavor must fall within a certain challenge spectrum.  On a scale of 1-10, where 1 is trivially easy and 10 is impossible, I’d say the optimal creative range is 5-9 with a 7-8 being ideal. If a task is too easy, you don’t need to be particularly creative, so your creative self will simply say, “You can manage this one without me.  Come back when you have something worthy of my attention.” If you consider a task too hard or too complicated, your beliefs will get in the way of your creativity, and you’ll end up with a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure.  Even if you manage to hit the creative zone, it will be unsustainable because you won’t recognize the validity of the ideas that come through.  When you feel a task is nearly impossible, it’s usually because the solution, if it exists, is way outside your comfort zone.  These are the kinds of problems where your creative self will come up with solutions like “quit your job” or “end your marriage.”  The solutions may be perfectly valid, perhaps even brilliantly correct under the circumstances, but you’ll be very resistant to accepting them. What if you want to do creative work that doesn’t fall within the optimal challenge spectrum?  Fortunately there are many ways you can modify a task to adjust the challenge level.  If a task is too easy, you can add more constraints, just as you’d add weight plates to a barbell.  If a task is too hard, you can break it down into smaller chunks, like tackling a page or a chapter instead of a whole book. Sometimes when I work on an easy task, I’ll boost the difficulty to push myself into the optimal creative range.  If I’m writing an article that seems too easy for me, I can increase the challenge by injecting humor, writing in an unusual style, or adding some other twist.  A while back I wrote a popular article on the Meaning of Life, which was a personal account of what I consider to be the most difficult period of my life (getting arrested for grand theft and being expelled from school).  Writing the article didn’t require much creativity because recalling those experiences was a straightforward, linear task.  To introduce more creativity into the piece, I decided to use Depeche Mode song and album titles for all the subheadings.  The challenge was to make them fit the text without seeming too odd.  This extra constraint made composing that 6400-word article a lot more fun.  Whenever you read an article of mine where the style seems a bit unusual, it’s a safe bet I’m boosting the challenge to be more creative. You might assume a very easy task is a good thing, but being in the sweet spot of challenge is better.  Tackling something that’s too easy is like strength training with weights that are too light.  It’s mind-numbingly boring and won’t produce results.  Being properly challenged is more fun, helps you grow, and yields a meaningful sense of accomplishment. 4. Provide a conducive environment.    You’ll find that certain environmental conditions make it easy for you to enter the flow state, while other conditions make it nearly impossible.  The optimal environment varies from person to person, so you’ll need to experiment to find what works best for you. Some people seem to work best in stimulating, active environments.  Author Malcolm Gladwell (The Tipping Point, Blink) claims to have written at least one of his books entirely in public places like coffee shops. I work best in a private, quiet environment.  I do virtually all my creative work alone in my home office with the door closed.  I’ve previously written an article on Creating a Productive Workspace, so I won’t reproduce that advice here.  But the basic idea is that different workspace layouts can have a noticeable effect on your creative output.  I’ve found certain feng shui principles helpful, such as positioning my desk to be in the “commanding position” with my back to the wall and where I can see the door. When I’m doing challenging creative work, I usually don’t listen to background music at all, although sometimes I’ll play non-vocal new age or classical music.  However, I’ll listen to trance music (with or without vocals) when plowing through routine tasks.  I suggest experimenting with different types of music to see what effect it has on your ability to reach and maintain the flow state. 5. Allocate a committed block of time. Imagine your mind is like a computer.  The more you can take advantage of the computer’s resources, the more creativity you harness.  To free up the most resources for your creative task, you first need to unload all nonessential processes.  This means closing programs like Ego 1.0, Physical Sensations 1.3, and Distracting Thoughts 2.0.  If you want to maximize your creativity, you need to hog as much of the CPU as you can get. It normally takes me about 15 minutes to begin to enter the flow state, and I’m solidly entranced after about 45-60 minutes.  By the end of the first hour, I’m just getting into the task.  My real creative output happens in hours 2, 3, 4, and beyond. It isn’t until after the first hour that the creative task is fully loaded into my mental RAM, and my CPU is finally dedicating its full capacity to the task at hand.  This is the state of deep concentration.  In this state distracting thoughts that would otherwise knock me out of state no longer arise.  I’m completely locked on, and I’ll keep plowing through my creative work until stopped by a force like fatigue or hunger. When I begin an article, I don’t know how many words it will be or how long it will take to finish.  Sometimes I’m done after 90 minutes; other times I’m still going after 5 hours.  When I’ve written articles to target lengths (like 1000 words) or to target times (like 2 hours), I usually churn out the kind of vapid drivel you’ll find in fluffy print magazines.  With a tight deadline I can still finish something, but it won’t be anywhere near what I create with an open-ended schedule. I recommend a minimum continuous block of 3 hours for a serious creative task, preferably closer to 6 hours.  That may sound like a lot, but once you’re cranking away in that glorious flow state, you’ll barely even notice the passage of time.  It’s better to allocate too much time than too little.  It’s a real downer to finally hit the flow state and have to stop after 30 minutes because you must attend to another commitment.  Feel free to schedule your routine tasks into 30-60 minute blocks, but give yourself as much time as possible for highly creative work.  6. Prevent interruptions and distractions. If you can’t keep yourself from being disturbed by urgent phone calls, emails, or drop-in visitors, you won’t consistently achieve and maintain the flow state.  You must do whatever it takes to prevent unnecessary interruptions during your creative periods.  Make arrangements to ensure you won’t be disturbed except in an absolute emergency. Once I’m in the flow state, I can handle a minor interruption like a bathroom break or grabbing a snack without falling out of state.  My mind will still be churning on the original task, and I can easily pick up where I left off.  But if I do something that requires a context change such as making a phone call or checking my email, I’ll begin losing my flow state. When I begin a creative task, I tell Erin I’m “going to my cave,” so she knows not to interrupt me.  I clear my desk of unnecessary items, ignore the phone, disable my instant messenger, and close all programs except those required for the task at hand.  I do what I can to prevent interruptions, but even when they occur I usually just ignore them. If you work for someone who expects you to produce creative work but makes it impossible for you to tune out interruptions, fire your boss.  If you can’t maximize your creative output, you’ve lost your greatest leverage for producing value.  That will cripple your earnings potential, since your income is a function of your ability to produce value. Respect the value of your creative periods, and don’t permit yourself to be interrupted. 7. Master your tools. Creating a tangible piece of creative work requires tools such as a computer, guitar, or pencil.  Even though it may take years, you must achieve basic competency with the tools of your trade before you can consistently enter the flow state. Put in the time to take those piano lessons, attend those programming classes, or devour those Photoshop tutorials.  Of course there are degrees of mastery, but the more you develop subconscious competence with your tools, the easier it is to enter and maintain the flow state.  When you’re in the flow state, you won’t be worrying about where your fingers need to be, what buttons you need to click, or what words you need to type.  Your subconscious will handle those details for you while you remain focused on the high level composition. The reason I can maintain the flow state when writing articles is that I’ve taken the time to develop my writing skills and to master the software I use to turn my ideas into published works.  I don’t pretend to be a literary genius, but I’m competent at turning my thoughts into words, sentences, and paragraphs without much difficulty.  On my first high school essay, I did the best I could and received a C+.  I didn’t understand the basic concepts of composition like unity and coherence.  But I had a fantastic English teacher in my freshman and sophomore years.  He was challenging and even a bit sadistic, but I put in the effort to learn grammar and composition and earn an A in his classes.  By the time I graduated high school, I could write articles, essays, and reports with relative ease. On the other hand, when I’m not competent enough with my tools, I can’t enter the flow state.  Despite using Adobe Photoshop for many years, I never invested the time to master its complex interface because I only used it intermittently.  Consequently, I seldom achieve the flow state when using Photoshop because I spend too much time consciously thinking about the low-level action steps.  This stunts my creativity because I remain stuck in my left brain instead of shifting into my right brain. After your creative flow state churns out your first draft, you’re always free to go back and edit it later.  Get the creative, right-brain part done first.  Then go back and do a logical, left-brain pass to make refinements and correct any problems.  For my articles that includes spell checking, tightening up the wording, making cuts, etc. Entering and maintaining the highly creative flow state is a skill, not a blessing, an accident, or a fluke.  By habitualizing the rules above and adapting them to your situation, you can experience the flow state as a regular, perhaps even daily, occurrence.  And once you learn to harness the power of flow, your creative output will soar.
    1059 Posted by UniqueThis
  • After my last article on experiencing creativity, there was a question in the resulting forum discussion about how to enter this highly creative flow state, the state where you lose all sense of time, your ego vanishes, and you become one with the task in front of you.  Is this peak creative state a rare chance event, or can it be achieved consistently? For me the creative flow state is a common occurrence.  I usually enter this state several times a week, staying with it for hours at a time.  I’m able to routinely enjoy the flow state as long as I ensure the right conditions, which I’ll share with you in a moment. My first memories of habitually entering this flow state date back to the early 80s when I was learning BASIC programming.  After school I’d rush through my homework in order to spend hours in front of my Atari 800 writing, testing, and tweaking programs just to see what the machine could do.  Sometime around 8pm I’d notice my hunger, realize that the family had already eaten dinner, and ask my mom, “Why didn’t you call me when dinner was ready?  I’m starving!”  She’d invariably claim to have called me 3-4 times, usually with me verbally acknowledging, “I’ll be there in a minute.”  Either I had no recollection of this happening, or it was like trying to recall a fuzzy dream memory.  Did she really call me, or did I imagine it?  I was so engrossed in my creative hobby that I became oblivious to what was going on around me.  If I did acknowledge my mom, it must have been an unconscious reaction. For the past 25 years, I’ve relied heavily on these tune-out-the world creative periods for a variety of tasks encompassing many disciplines:  computer programming, game design, arts and crafts, web development, articles, speeches, Photoshop work, sound effects recording, school papers, and lots more.  Today these periods are essential for my blogging work. For most of my life I took these creative spurts for granted.  As a teenager I attributed it to being left-handed.  But I later realized I’d developed a process for initiating and sustaining these creative periods.  I can’t guarantee these rules will be as effective for you as it is for me, but I suspect that with a little practice you’ll find them quite effective. Here are my 7 rules for optimizing the highly creative flow state: 1. Define a clear purpose. To enter the flow state, you need a goal.  Decide what you want to create and why.  Vague intentions don’t trigger the flow state. If I sit down with the thought of cranking out a new article or doing some generic website work, I rarely enter the flow state.  I need a more focused intention like, “I’m going to write an article about my rules for creativity.”  Children do this automatically.  A simple, straightforward purpose like, “Let’s build a castle with these blocks” is all you need. If you’re working on a large multi-session project like a book, state your purpose for this single creative session.  What do you want to accomplish right now?  Create an outline?  Design a character?  Write a scene? Don’t overqualify your purpose.  You need enough clarity to give yourself a direction but not so much as to put yourself in a box.  You purpose should be an arrow, not a container.  Adding too many constraints can stunt your creativity by limiting your options. 2. Identify a compelling motive. In addition to a goal for your creative session, you need a reason to be creative.  Why does this task matter to you personally?  What difference will it make if you can be creative?  Why do you care? If I don’t care about a task or project, I can’t summon the flow state.  In school I could trigger the flow state easily when doing assignments I liked, but if I thought an assignment was pointless or stupid, I’d only go through the motions without crafting anything particularly original. It’s much easier to be creative doing what you want to do vs. doing what you have to do.  One thing that often happens when people quit their jobs and go to work for themselves is that their creative output soars.  Even among those strange job-holding folk, being able to select your next project from a few options is often used as a reward, especially in technical fields. The more compelling the motive, the more likely you are to summon high levels of creativity.  Imagine that your inner creative resources are lazy, and they need a damned good reason to roll out of bed and go to work for you. My best creative output occurs when I’m working on something that will simultaneously benefit myself and others.  Being at the extremes of either selfishness or selflessness isn’t effective.  I write my best articles when I’m passionate about the topic and expect my writing will genuinely help people.  The anticipated impact needn’t be huge — writing a humorous piece to make people laugh is a perfectly effective motive. 3. Architect a worthy challenge. To awaken your full creative potential, the difficulty of your creative endeavor must fall within a certain challenge spectrum.  On a scale of 1-10, where 1 is trivially easy and 10 is impossible, I’d say the optimal creative range is 5-9 with a 7-8 being ideal. If a task is too easy, you don’t need to be particularly creative, so your creative self will simply say, “You can manage this one without me.  Come back when you have something worthy of my attention.” If you consider a task too hard or too complicated, your beliefs will get in the way of your creativity, and you’ll end up with a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure.  Even if you manage to hit the creative zone, it will be unsustainable because you won’t recognize the validity of the ideas that come through.  When you feel a task is nearly impossible, it’s usually because the solution, if it exists, is way outside your comfort zone.  These are the kinds of problems where your creative self will come up with solutions like “quit your job” or “end your marriage.”  The solutions may be perfectly valid, perhaps even brilliantly correct under the circumstances, but you’ll be very resistant to accepting them. What if you want to do creative work that doesn’t fall within the optimal challenge spectrum?  Fortunately there are many ways you can modify a task to adjust the challenge level.  If a task is too easy, you can add more constraints, just as you’d add weight plates to a barbell.  If a task is too hard, you can break it down into smaller chunks, like tackling a page or a chapter instead of a whole book. Sometimes when I work on an easy task, I’ll boost the difficulty to push myself into the optimal creative range.  If I’m writing an article that seems too easy for me, I can increase the challenge by injecting humor, writing in an unusual style, or adding some other twist.  A while back I wrote a popular article on the Meaning of Life, which was a personal account of what I consider to be the most difficult period of my life (getting arrested for grand theft and being expelled from school).  Writing the article didn’t require much creativity because recalling those experiences was a straightforward, linear task.  To introduce more creativity into the piece, I decided to use Depeche Mode song and album titles for all the subheadings.  The challenge was to make them fit the text without seeming too odd.  This extra constraint made composing that 6400-word article a lot more fun.  Whenever you read an article of mine where the style seems a bit unusual, it’s a safe bet I’m boosting the challenge to be more creative. You might assume a very easy task is a good thing, but being in the sweet spot of challenge is better.  Tackling something that’s too easy is like strength training with weights that are too light.  It’s mind-numbingly boring and won’t produce results.  Being properly challenged is more fun, helps you grow, and yields a meaningful sense of accomplishment. 4. Provide a conducive environment.    You’ll find that certain environmental conditions make it easy for you to enter the flow state, while other conditions make it nearly impossible.  The optimal environment varies from person to person, so you’ll need to experiment to find what works best for you. Some people seem to work best in stimulating, active environments.  Author Malcolm Gladwell (The Tipping Point, Blink) claims to have written at least one of his books entirely in public places like coffee shops. I work best in a private, quiet environment.  I do virtually all my creative work alone in my home office with the door closed.  I’ve previously written an article on Creating a Productive Workspace, so I won’t reproduce that advice here.  But the basic idea is that different workspace layouts can have a noticeable effect on your creative output.  I’ve found certain feng shui principles helpful, such as positioning my desk to be in the “commanding position” with my back to the wall and where I can see the door. When I’m doing challenging creative work, I usually don’t listen to background music at all, although sometimes I’ll play non-vocal new age or classical music.  However, I’ll listen to trance music (with or without vocals) when plowing through routine tasks.  I suggest experimenting with different types of music to see what effect it has on your ability to reach and maintain the flow state. 5. Allocate a committed block of time. Imagine your mind is like a computer.  The more you can take advantage of the computer’s resources, the more creativity you harness.  To free up the most resources for your creative task, you first need to unload all nonessential processes.  This means closing programs like Ego 1.0, Physical Sensations 1.3, and Distracting Thoughts 2.0.  If you want to maximize your creativity, you need to hog as much of the CPU as you can get. It normally takes me about 15 minutes to begin to enter the flow state, and I’m solidly entranced after about 45-60 minutes.  By the end of the first hour, I’m just getting into the task.  My real creative output happens in hours 2, 3, 4, and beyond. It isn’t until after the first hour that the creative task is fully loaded into my mental RAM, and my CPU is finally dedicating its full capacity to the task at hand.  This is the state of deep concentration.  In this state distracting thoughts that would otherwise knock me out of state no longer arise.  I’m completely locked on, and I’ll keep plowing through my creative work until stopped by a force like fatigue or hunger. When I begin an article, I don’t know how many words it will be or how long it will take to finish.  Sometimes I’m done after 90 minutes; other times I’m still going after 5 hours.  When I’ve written articles to target lengths (like 1000 words) or to target times (like 2 hours), I usually churn out the kind of vapid drivel you’ll find in fluffy print magazines.  With a tight deadline I can still finish something, but it won’t be anywhere near what I create with an open-ended schedule. I recommend a minimum continuous block of 3 hours for a serious creative task, preferably closer to 6 hours.  That may sound like a lot, but once you’re cranking away in that glorious flow state, you’ll barely even notice the passage of time.  It’s better to allocate too much time than too little.  It’s a real downer to finally hit the flow state and have to stop after 30 minutes because you must attend to another commitment.  Feel free to schedule your routine tasks into 30-60 minute blocks, but give yourself as much time as possible for highly creative work.  6. Prevent interruptions and distractions. If you can’t keep yourself from being disturbed by urgent phone calls, emails, or drop-in visitors, you won’t consistently achieve and maintain the flow state.  You must do whatever it takes to prevent unnecessary interruptions during your creative periods.  Make arrangements to ensure you won’t be disturbed except in an absolute emergency. Once I’m in the flow state, I can handle a minor interruption like a bathroom break or grabbing a snack without falling out of state.  My mind will still be churning on the original task, and I can easily pick up where I left off.  But if I do something that requires a context change such as making a phone call or checking my email, I’ll begin losing my flow state. When I begin a creative task, I tell Erin I’m “going to my cave,” so she knows not to interrupt me.  I clear my desk of unnecessary items, ignore the phone, disable my instant messenger, and close all programs except those required for the task at hand.  I do what I can to prevent interruptions, but even when they occur I usually just ignore them. If you work for someone who expects you to produce creative work but makes it impossible for you to tune out interruptions, fire your boss.  If you can’t maximize your creative output, you’ve lost your greatest leverage for producing value.  That will cripple your earnings potential, since your income is a function of your ability to produce value. Respect the value of your creative periods, and don’t permit yourself to be interrupted. 7. Master your tools. Creating a tangible piece of creative work requires tools such as a computer, guitar, or pencil.  Even though it may take years, you must achieve basic competency with the tools of your trade before you can consistently enter the flow state. Put in the time to take those piano lessons, attend those programming classes, or devour those Photoshop tutorials.  Of course there are degrees of mastery, but the more you develop subconscious competence with your tools, the easier it is to enter and maintain the flow state.  When you’re in the flow state, you won’t be worrying about where your fingers need to be, what buttons you need to click, or what words you need to type.  Your subconscious will handle those details for you while you remain focused on the high level composition. The reason I can maintain the flow state when writing articles is that I’ve taken the time to develop my writing skills and to master the software I use to turn my ideas into published works.  I don’t pretend to be a literary genius, but I’m competent at turning my thoughts into words, sentences, and paragraphs without much difficulty.  On my first high school essay, I did the best I could and received a C+.  I didn’t understand the basic concepts of composition like unity and coherence.  But I had a fantastic English teacher in my freshman and sophomore years.  He was challenging and even a bit sadistic, but I put in the effort to learn grammar and composition and earn an A in his classes.  By the time I graduated high school, I could write articles, essays, and reports with relative ease. On the other hand, when I’m not competent enough with my tools, I can’t enter the flow state.  Despite using Adobe Photoshop for many years, I never invested the time to master its complex interface because I only used it intermittently.  Consequently, I seldom achieve the flow state when using Photoshop because I spend too much time consciously thinking about the low-level action steps.  This stunts my creativity because I remain stuck in my left brain instead of shifting into my right brain. After your creative flow state churns out your first draft, you’re always free to go back and edit it later.  Get the creative, right-brain part done first.  Then go back and do a logical, left-brain pass to make refinements and correct any problems.  For my articles that includes spell checking, tightening up the wording, making cuts, etc. Entering and maintaining the highly creative flow state is a skill, not a blessing, an accident, or a fluke.  By habitualizing the rules above and adapting them to your situation, you can experience the flow state as a regular, perhaps even daily, occurrence.  And once you learn to harness the power of flow, your creative output will soar.
    Jul 14, 2011 1059
  • 14 Jul 2011
    I’m delighted to present this exclusive interview with James Ray, President and CEO of the multi-million dollar corporation James Ray International and cast member of the increasingly popular movie The Secret. Last week James shared his insights on the Law of Attraction on The Oprah Winfrey Show, and previously he appeared on Larry King Live with other cast members of The Secret.  Most remarkable is that he credits these appearances to the Law of Attraction itself, the manifestation of intentions he set in motion six years ago. James has devoted over two decades to studying the thoughts, actions, and habits of those who possess true wealth in all areas of their lives. He has studied and been exposed to a wide diversity of teachings and teachers — from traditional college and the schools of the corporate world, to the ancient cultures of Peru and Egypt, and the jungles of the Amazon. As a coach and mentor, James has taught thousands of individuals and organizations to create harmonic wealth in all areas of their businesses and lives. Because of his comprehensive and integrated background, James considers himself a “practical mystic,” and he seeks to share this unique way of living with individuals around the world. In this exclusive interview, James shares his insights into the Law of Attraction; the relationship between wealth and spirituality; and the power that comes from creating alignment between our thoughts, feelings, and actions. 1. Why do you consider yourself a “practical mystic”? When you think of a “mystic,” you probably envision someone who has completely given up the joys and pleasures of earth. In many (if not most) cases, our society has faulty logic regarding what it means to be “spiritual.” We often think it means you have to wear white robes, burn lots of sage, and eat legumes. While this may be one form of spirituality, it’s certainly not the only form. If you want to wear white robes and chant, that’s fine, but you can just as well wear Armani and listen to U2 if you prefer (and it’s much more fashionable in Western society). I contend that the time has come to develop what I call “integrated spiritual masters.” These are individuals that have a full-on experience of all levels of life spiritually, intellectually, emotionally, and yes… physically. In other words they can soar into the realms of the mystic and yet still keep their feet in the sand. All great spiritual traditions, as well as quantum physics, tell us that every single thing comes from the same source. As you think about that, if it’s all the same stuff… where is God, Spirit, Energy not? True mastery is the ability to experience the source of everything in business as much as in the temple. 2. What is the relationship between wealth and spirituality?  Are they inherently in conflict, or can they coexist harmoniously? Absolutely they coexist harmoniously; and this ties in to what we’ve just discussed. First we need to understand what “wealth” really means. If you trace the root of the word, it comes from the same root as “well-being.” Most people think wealth is just about money. Understanding that real wealth is really well-being, you begin to realize that while you may go after the money and get rich… it doesn’t guarantee you’ll be wealthy. Money is certainly a part of wealth, but it’s only a part — not the whole. The dance is to consistently harmonize what we do in the tangible realm of cause and effect with who we are and how we create in the spiritual dimension. The results you have in the third dimension are a reflection of who you are in the spiritual realm. Read that again because it’s critical. Bringing power, energy, and consciousness to both is what creates the end results (and the sense of well-being) we seek. The truth is we’re operating on both levels simultaneously all the time, whether we’re aware of it or not. Most people torpedo themselves unconsciously: They work hard, doing all the things they’re “supposed” to do to create success, but in the spiritual realm, they’re carrying doubts, fears, anger, unworthiness that stunt their practical results. 3. What are some key differences in word, thought, and deed between those who are achieving their dreams (professional, financial, and personal), and those who are not? The question is pretty much the answer… their words, thoughts, and deeds (actions) are consistently different. To this equation I would add, “So are their feelings.” The Law of Attraction is one of the seven laws of the universe; and it’s consistently attracting to you the results that are in harmony with your energy. It always works… no matter what. What this means is that everything in your life is your creation — the good, bad and ugly. For attraction to work in your favor you must use it consciously versus unconsciously; and that’s where your thoughts, feelings, and actions come into play — I call this going “three for three.” I’ve interviewed literally thousands of “dream achievers” versus “dreamers” (big difference), and without exception you’ll find that anyone not creating what they desire is missing at least one of the three. For instance, there’s been a lot of teaching about visualizing in the last decade, so a lot of people have gotten pretty good at it. I can’t tell you how many people see me in The Secret and tell me “I’m sitting in my living room visualizing my new life every day.” Let me let you in on another secret… you sit around and visualize and they’ll come take your furniture away! While this person may be able to think and feel their visualization in spades they’re not taking any action. It’s not going to happen. Then there’s the person who’s constantly thinking about losing weight. And let’s assume they’re taking action — this diet, that diet. But the weight’s not coming off — you know the drill. Consistently you’ll find that while they may be talking thinking and acting a new body… inside they feel overweight, out of shape, and most likely unworthy or incapable of truly achieving their goal. Once again… it’s not going to happen. Likewise, there’s the person who wants to “get out of debt.” While this at first blush may seem like a noble goal, it’s inherently flawed. The very nature of the goal itself is a focus of attention upon what you don’t want. You can’t even think about this goal without giving energy to the problem. So let’s say we change that to “financial freedom.” Now you’re heading in the right direction, but you have to keep yourself in check because every single time you state, “I can’t afford that,” you’re thinking and feeling in the wrong direction again. How about, “I can afford anything I want, but I choose right now to not acquire or invest in that.” Big difference. Energy flows where attention goes. If you desire to create what you deserve you must consistently go “three for three.” When you go three for three — your thoughts, feelings, and actions consistently in alignment — you can create anything you want. 4. What role has the Law of Attraction played in your life?  How are you applying it today? It guides and creates every single result I produce… just like it does for you. In my book The Science of Success, I cover in great detail The Law of Attraction as well as the other six laws of the universe; and how they interact and support each other in every area of life. How I’m using the laws in my life right now is mostly service related. I have a compelling vision to touch every single country on the planet with these teachings. There are 192 total countries on the planet, and we’ve touched 68 so far. This is extremely exciting and inspiring at the same time because while being grateful and honored to have touched many lives, it still gives me a lot to shoot for. Six years ago I set the intention to be on both the Larry King and Oprah shows, and I’ve accomplished both of those in the last 4 months. No one can tell me these principles don’t work. 5. What is the role of action with respect to the Law of Attraction?  If I want to manifest a million dollars, can I just sit on my couch all day wishing for it to appear, or do I need to take some kind of effortful action? I addressed this earlier, but it can’t be over emphasized. Remember you must go “three for three.” Your thoughts, feelings, and actions must all be firing simultaneously for you to create and attract the results you deserve. Let me use a personal example: When I set the intention to be on Larry King and Oprah six years ago, I created a clear intention (thought). I then begin to visualize it… not only in the recesses of my mind, but I would also watch their shows. As Larry and Oprah asked their guests questions, I would pretend they were speaking to me, and I would feel the excitement of being there and sharing my insights (feelings). Now this is a key point. I remember when I told this story to the producer of LKL she asked me, “Why didn’t you call and pursue us?” Because I knew if I did they wouldn’t answer — both shows are inundated with those who want to be guests. The action I took was to work on me — prepare myself — study — provide more value to the universe and guess what? When I was ready both shows called me. Taking action is about moving in the direction of your intention and preparing yourself to receive what you know is on its way. Three for Three is the keys to the kingdom, and no one can rattle my certainty on this. 6. When we set goals or form intentions, how do we create alignment?  What does it mean to be in resonance? I may sound like a broken record… but once again the answer is “three for three.” Let me break it down: Science proves that everything in our universe is energy — your body, your house, car, money — all energy. Likewise your thoughts, your feelings and actions… all energy as well. To be in resonance simply put is to be in harmony. You must put yourself in a harmonic vibration (resonance) with the thing you desire. The other side of the coin is that you can be in harmony with what you do not desire. Anything you fear or love will begin to rush rapidly into your life. For example you may desire a new home. Can you feel the emotion of owning this home? Can you feel the happiness, the pride, the joy, the sense of accomplishment? Can you see yourself living in the home, cutting the grass, entertaining guests? Can you take action to get an agent and start looking for it? If you can, you’re creating a vibration inside yourself that’s in harmony or resonance with the new home. If on the other hand, you can’t really see and experience yourself in this light… and you’re skeptical that your desire will be attained, you’re in a vibrational resonance that actually blocks you reaching this desire. The concept of the Law of Vibration has been known and talked about for centuries. However, it has only been in the latter part of this century that an explanation for it has evolved. The explanation comes in the form of a science called Quantum Physics. Since the Universe is comprised of energy, every single thing in the Universe is comprised of this energy. Every material thing, every natural thing, empty space, even your thoughts and emotions — all energy. Your thoughts and emotions, being energy, are able to impact other universal energy. Your thoughts are directional and your emotions are magnetic. When your thoughts and emotions are aligned with the energy of something that you desire, you’re already attracting it into your physical world. 7. What advice would you give someone who’s desperate to break the cycle of thinking negative thoughts, succumbing to negative emotions, feeling totally unmotivated, and remaining stuck in negative circumstances? Desperation is a self-fulfilling cycle of doom guaranteed to create more of the same. The first thing you must do is become grateful for what you currently have — there’s always good and God in each and every situation. If all your energy and attention is invested each morning in how overweight, depressed and broke you are you’re magnetically calling forth more of this vibration from the universe. Always remember that emotions are magnetic calling forth corresponding vibrations. Conversely if you begin each day with gratitude for the health you currently have, and all the good and God that currently exists in your life, like magic the universe brings more good to you. If you think this is crazy or Pollyanna… think again. Gratitude is the most powerful creative vibration in the universe. 8. Do you perceive events and circumstances as being either good or bad?  When a seemingly tragic or negative event occurs in your life, how do you respond to it? You have to see it for more than what it is. For instance, I was hit head on by a car in the late ’80s, and it totally changed my life. It caused me to step back and realize that the physical body could be taken out in an instant. I started looking at things a lot differently. It was a real significant emotional event for me. What I realized is that no matter where you are in life, challenges are a part of life, and to think otherwise is illusion. It really is. Don’t wish for an easier life… that’s illusion. Wish for greater capacity and capability to ease elegantly through life. We always have challenges in life; and the bigger the game you play, the bigger the challenges. 9. What are the most important new distinctions you’ve made since The Secret was filmed? This is not a new distinction per se, but definitely an affirmation of what I know to be a tremendous positive shift on the planet. This is a time that all great spiritual traditions have predicted to bring a massive shift in the consciousness of mankind. The Secret‘s mass appeal is a reflection of this shift. The fact that I’ve been on Larry King Live, Oprah, The Alan Colmes show, interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, StevePavlina.com, and many other media sources is a reflection of this shift. Who would have predicted this even a few years ago? We live in a very exciting time; it’s a time in which science and spirituality are realizing they’re sister studies — no longer in opposition. Quantum physics is the mysticism of the 21st century. Very exciting… and I’m extremely optimistic about where we as a people are headed and who we’re becoming. 10. What other ideas, projects, and/or activities would you like to share with StevePavlina.com’s readers? Traveling around the globe and dealing with multiple thousands of individuals, I know what every single person wants, whether they’re consciously aware of it or not, is a state of achievement I’ve coined as Harmonic Wealth®. As we’ve previously discussed, wealth and well-being have the same meaning. Harmonic Wealth therefore is a harmonic state of well-being in the five key areas of your life: financial, relational, intellectual, physical, and spiritual. When these 5 pillars are in harmony then you’re truly wealthy. And this is what every single individual really wants. That being said, one of the most passionate projects I’m involved in is my Harmonic Wealth Weekend — two full days in which you immerse yourself in all the techniques, philosophies, skills and strategies, to create Harmonic Wealth in the five key areas of life. You’ll learn everything you need to make your life easy and elegant. I would love nothing more than to meet you in person and share these secrets with you.
    890 Posted by UniqueThis
  • I’m delighted to present this exclusive interview with James Ray, President and CEO of the multi-million dollar corporation James Ray International and cast member of the increasingly popular movie The Secret. Last week James shared his insights on the Law of Attraction on The Oprah Winfrey Show, and previously he appeared on Larry King Live with other cast members of The Secret.  Most remarkable is that he credits these appearances to the Law of Attraction itself, the manifestation of intentions he set in motion six years ago. James has devoted over two decades to studying the thoughts, actions, and habits of those who possess true wealth in all areas of their lives. He has studied and been exposed to a wide diversity of teachings and teachers — from traditional college and the schools of the corporate world, to the ancient cultures of Peru and Egypt, and the jungles of the Amazon. As a coach and mentor, James has taught thousands of individuals and organizations to create harmonic wealth in all areas of their businesses and lives. Because of his comprehensive and integrated background, James considers himself a “practical mystic,” and he seeks to share this unique way of living with individuals around the world. In this exclusive interview, James shares his insights into the Law of Attraction; the relationship between wealth and spirituality; and the power that comes from creating alignment between our thoughts, feelings, and actions. 1. Why do you consider yourself a “practical mystic”? When you think of a “mystic,” you probably envision someone who has completely given up the joys and pleasures of earth. In many (if not most) cases, our society has faulty logic regarding what it means to be “spiritual.” We often think it means you have to wear white robes, burn lots of sage, and eat legumes. While this may be one form of spirituality, it’s certainly not the only form. If you want to wear white robes and chant, that’s fine, but you can just as well wear Armani and listen to U2 if you prefer (and it’s much more fashionable in Western society). I contend that the time has come to develop what I call “integrated spiritual masters.” These are individuals that have a full-on experience of all levels of life spiritually, intellectually, emotionally, and yes… physically. In other words they can soar into the realms of the mystic and yet still keep their feet in the sand. All great spiritual traditions, as well as quantum physics, tell us that every single thing comes from the same source. As you think about that, if it’s all the same stuff… where is God, Spirit, Energy not? True mastery is the ability to experience the source of everything in business as much as in the temple. 2. What is the relationship between wealth and spirituality?  Are they inherently in conflict, or can they coexist harmoniously? Absolutely they coexist harmoniously; and this ties in to what we’ve just discussed. First we need to understand what “wealth” really means. If you trace the root of the word, it comes from the same root as “well-being.” Most people think wealth is just about money. Understanding that real wealth is really well-being, you begin to realize that while you may go after the money and get rich… it doesn’t guarantee you’ll be wealthy. Money is certainly a part of wealth, but it’s only a part — not the whole. The dance is to consistently harmonize what we do in the tangible realm of cause and effect with who we are and how we create in the spiritual dimension. The results you have in the third dimension are a reflection of who you are in the spiritual realm. Read that again because it’s critical. Bringing power, energy, and consciousness to both is what creates the end results (and the sense of well-being) we seek. The truth is we’re operating on both levels simultaneously all the time, whether we’re aware of it or not. Most people torpedo themselves unconsciously: They work hard, doing all the things they’re “supposed” to do to create success, but in the spiritual realm, they’re carrying doubts, fears, anger, unworthiness that stunt their practical results. 3. What are some key differences in word, thought, and deed between those who are achieving their dreams (professional, financial, and personal), and those who are not? The question is pretty much the answer… their words, thoughts, and deeds (actions) are consistently different. To this equation I would add, “So are their feelings.” The Law of Attraction is one of the seven laws of the universe; and it’s consistently attracting to you the results that are in harmony with your energy. It always works… no matter what. What this means is that everything in your life is your creation — the good, bad and ugly. For attraction to work in your favor you must use it consciously versus unconsciously; and that’s where your thoughts, feelings, and actions come into play — I call this going “three for three.” I’ve interviewed literally thousands of “dream achievers” versus “dreamers” (big difference), and without exception you’ll find that anyone not creating what they desire is missing at least one of the three. For instance, there’s been a lot of teaching about visualizing in the last decade, so a lot of people have gotten pretty good at it. I can’t tell you how many people see me in The Secret and tell me “I’m sitting in my living room visualizing my new life every day.” Let me let you in on another secret… you sit around and visualize and they’ll come take your furniture away! While this person may be able to think and feel their visualization in spades they’re not taking any action. It’s not going to happen. Then there’s the person who’s constantly thinking about losing weight. And let’s assume they’re taking action — this diet, that diet. But the weight’s not coming off — you know the drill. Consistently you’ll find that while they may be talking thinking and acting a new body… inside they feel overweight, out of shape, and most likely unworthy or incapable of truly achieving their goal. Once again… it’s not going to happen. Likewise, there’s the person who wants to “get out of debt.” While this at first blush may seem like a noble goal, it’s inherently flawed. The very nature of the goal itself is a focus of attention upon what you don’t want. You can’t even think about this goal without giving energy to the problem. So let’s say we change that to “financial freedom.” Now you’re heading in the right direction, but you have to keep yourself in check because every single time you state, “I can’t afford that,” you’re thinking and feeling in the wrong direction again. How about, “I can afford anything I want, but I choose right now to not acquire or invest in that.” Big difference. Energy flows where attention goes. If you desire to create what you deserve you must consistently go “three for three.” When you go three for three — your thoughts, feelings, and actions consistently in alignment — you can create anything you want. 4. What role has the Law of Attraction played in your life?  How are you applying it today? It guides and creates every single result I produce… just like it does for you. In my book The Science of Success, I cover in great detail The Law of Attraction as well as the other six laws of the universe; and how they interact and support each other in every area of life. How I’m using the laws in my life right now is mostly service related. I have a compelling vision to touch every single country on the planet with these teachings. There are 192 total countries on the planet, and we’ve touched 68 so far. This is extremely exciting and inspiring at the same time because while being grateful and honored to have touched many lives, it still gives me a lot to shoot for. Six years ago I set the intention to be on both the Larry King and Oprah shows, and I’ve accomplished both of those in the last 4 months. No one can tell me these principles don’t work. 5. What is the role of action with respect to the Law of Attraction?  If I want to manifest a million dollars, can I just sit on my couch all day wishing for it to appear, or do I need to take some kind of effortful action? I addressed this earlier, but it can’t be over emphasized. Remember you must go “three for three.” Your thoughts, feelings, and actions must all be firing simultaneously for you to create and attract the results you deserve. Let me use a personal example: When I set the intention to be on Larry King and Oprah six years ago, I created a clear intention (thought). I then begin to visualize it… not only in the recesses of my mind, but I would also watch their shows. As Larry and Oprah asked their guests questions, I would pretend they were speaking to me, and I would feel the excitement of being there and sharing my insights (feelings). Now this is a key point. I remember when I told this story to the producer of LKL she asked me, “Why didn’t you call and pursue us?” Because I knew if I did they wouldn’t answer — both shows are inundated with those who want to be guests. The action I took was to work on me — prepare myself — study — provide more value to the universe and guess what? When I was ready both shows called me. Taking action is about moving in the direction of your intention and preparing yourself to receive what you know is on its way. Three for Three is the keys to the kingdom, and no one can rattle my certainty on this. 6. When we set goals or form intentions, how do we create alignment?  What does it mean to be in resonance? I may sound like a broken record… but once again the answer is “three for three.” Let me break it down: Science proves that everything in our universe is energy — your body, your house, car, money — all energy. Likewise your thoughts, your feelings and actions… all energy as well. To be in resonance simply put is to be in harmony. You must put yourself in a harmonic vibration (resonance) with the thing you desire. The other side of the coin is that you can be in harmony with what you do not desire. Anything you fear or love will begin to rush rapidly into your life. For example you may desire a new home. Can you feel the emotion of owning this home? Can you feel the happiness, the pride, the joy, the sense of accomplishment? Can you see yourself living in the home, cutting the grass, entertaining guests? Can you take action to get an agent and start looking for it? If you can, you’re creating a vibration inside yourself that’s in harmony or resonance with the new home. If on the other hand, you can’t really see and experience yourself in this light… and you’re skeptical that your desire will be attained, you’re in a vibrational resonance that actually blocks you reaching this desire. The concept of the Law of Vibration has been known and talked about for centuries. However, it has only been in the latter part of this century that an explanation for it has evolved. The explanation comes in the form of a science called Quantum Physics. Since the Universe is comprised of energy, every single thing in the Universe is comprised of this energy. Every material thing, every natural thing, empty space, even your thoughts and emotions — all energy. Your thoughts and emotions, being energy, are able to impact other universal energy. Your thoughts are directional and your emotions are magnetic. When your thoughts and emotions are aligned with the energy of something that you desire, you’re already attracting it into your physical world. 7. What advice would you give someone who’s desperate to break the cycle of thinking negative thoughts, succumbing to negative emotions, feeling totally unmotivated, and remaining stuck in negative circumstances? Desperation is a self-fulfilling cycle of doom guaranteed to create more of the same. The first thing you must do is become grateful for what you currently have — there’s always good and God in each and every situation. If all your energy and attention is invested each morning in how overweight, depressed and broke you are you’re magnetically calling forth more of this vibration from the universe. Always remember that emotions are magnetic calling forth corresponding vibrations. Conversely if you begin each day with gratitude for the health you currently have, and all the good and God that currently exists in your life, like magic the universe brings more good to you. If you think this is crazy or Pollyanna… think again. Gratitude is the most powerful creative vibration in the universe. 8. Do you perceive events and circumstances as being either good or bad?  When a seemingly tragic or negative event occurs in your life, how do you respond to it? You have to see it for more than what it is. For instance, I was hit head on by a car in the late ’80s, and it totally changed my life. It caused me to step back and realize that the physical body could be taken out in an instant. I started looking at things a lot differently. It was a real significant emotional event for me. What I realized is that no matter where you are in life, challenges are a part of life, and to think otherwise is illusion. It really is. Don’t wish for an easier life… that’s illusion. Wish for greater capacity and capability to ease elegantly through life. We always have challenges in life; and the bigger the game you play, the bigger the challenges. 9. What are the most important new distinctions you’ve made since The Secret was filmed? This is not a new distinction per se, but definitely an affirmation of what I know to be a tremendous positive shift on the planet. This is a time that all great spiritual traditions have predicted to bring a massive shift in the consciousness of mankind. The Secret‘s mass appeal is a reflection of this shift. The fact that I’ve been on Larry King Live, Oprah, The Alan Colmes show, interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, StevePavlina.com, and many other media sources is a reflection of this shift. Who would have predicted this even a few years ago? We live in a very exciting time; it’s a time in which science and spirituality are realizing they’re sister studies — no longer in opposition. Quantum physics is the mysticism of the 21st century. Very exciting… and I’m extremely optimistic about where we as a people are headed and who we’re becoming. 10. What other ideas, projects, and/or activities would you like to share with StevePavlina.com’s readers? Traveling around the globe and dealing with multiple thousands of individuals, I know what every single person wants, whether they’re consciously aware of it or not, is a state of achievement I’ve coined as Harmonic Wealth®. As we’ve previously discussed, wealth and well-being have the same meaning. Harmonic Wealth therefore is a harmonic state of well-being in the five key areas of your life: financial, relational, intellectual, physical, and spiritual. When these 5 pillars are in harmony then you’re truly wealthy. And this is what every single individual really wants. That being said, one of the most passionate projects I’m involved in is my Harmonic Wealth Weekend — two full days in which you immerse yourself in all the techniques, philosophies, skills and strategies, to create Harmonic Wealth in the five key areas of life. You’ll learn everything you need to make your life easy and elegant. I would love nothing more than to meet you in person and share these secrets with you.
    Jul 14, 2011 890
  • 14 Jul 2011
    Heuristics are rules intended to help you solve problems.  When a problem is large or complex, and the optimal solution is unclear, applying a heuristic allows you to begin making progress towards a solution even though you can’t visualize the entire path from your starting point. Suppose your goal is to climb to the peak of a mountain, but there’s no trail to follow.  An example of a heuristic would be:  Head directly towards the peak until you reach an obstacle you can’t cross.  Whenever you reach such an obstacle, follow it around to the right until you’re able to head towards the peak once again.  This isn’t the most intelligent or comprehensive heuristic, but in many cases it will work just fine, and you’ll eventually reach the peak. Heuristics don’t guarantee you’ll find the optimal solution, nor do they generally guarantee a solution at all.  But they do a good enough job of solving certain types of problems to be useful.  Their strength is that they break the deadlock of indecision and get you into action.  As you take action you begin to explore the solution space, which deepens your understanding of the problem.  As you gain knowledge about the problem, you can make course corrections along the way, gradually improving your chances of finding a solution.  If you try to solve a problem you don’t initially know how to solve, you’ll often figure out a solution as you go, one you never could have imagined until you started moving.  This is especially true with creative work such as software development.  Often you don’t even know exactly what you’re trying to build until you start building it. Heuristics have many practical applications, and one of my favorite areas of application is personal productivity.  Productivity heuristics are behavioral rules (some general, some situation-specific) that can help us get things done more efficiently.  Here are some of my favorites: Nuke it!  The most efficient way to get through a task is to delete it.  If it doesn’t need to be done, get it off your to do list. Daily goals.  Without a clear focus, it’s too easy to succumb to distractions.  Set targets for each day in advance.  Decide what you’ll do; then do it. Worst first.  To defeat procrastination learn to tackle your most unpleasant task first thing in the morning instead of delaying it until later in the day.  This small victory will set the tone for a very productive day. Peak times.  Identify your peak cycles of productivity, and schedule your most important tasks for those times.  Work on minor tasks during your non-peak times. No-comm zones.  Allocate uninterruptible blocks of time for solo work where you must concentrate.  Schedule light, interruptible tasks for your open-comm periods and more challenging projects for your no-comm periods. Mini-milestones.  When you begin a task, identify the target you must reach before you can stop working.  For example, when working on a book, you could decide not to get up until you’ve written at least 1000 words.  Hit your target no matter what. Timeboxing.  Give yourself a fixed time period, like 30 minutes, to make a dent in a task.  Don’t worry about how far you get.  Just put in the time.  See Timeboxing for more. Batching.  Batch similar tasks like phone calls or errands into a single chunk, and knock them off in a single session. Early bird.  Get up early in the morning, like at 5am, and go straight to work on your most important task.  You can often get more done before 8am than most people do in a day. Cone of silence.  Take a laptop with no network or WiFi access, and go to a place where you can work flat out without distractions, such as a library, park, coffee house, or your own backyard.  Leave your comm gadgets behind. Tempo.  Deliberately pick up the pace, and try to move a little faster than usual.  Speak faster.  Walk faster.  Type faster.  Read faster.  Go home sooner. Relaxify.  Reduce stress by cultivating a relaxing, clutter-free workspace.  See 10 Ways to Relaxify Your Workspace. Agendas.  Provide clear written agendas to meeting participants in advance.  This greatly improves meeting focus and efficiency.  You can use it for phone calls too. Pareto.  The Pareto principle is the 80-20 rule, which states that 80% of the value of a task comes from 20% of the effort.  Focus your energy on that critical 20%, and don’t overengineer the non-critical 80%. Ready-fire-aim.  Bust procrastination by taking action immediately after setting a goal, even if the action isn’t perfectly planned.  You can always adjust course along the way. Minuteman.  Once you have the information you need to make a decision, start a timer and give yourself just 60 seconds to make the actual decision.  Take a whole minute to vacillate and second-guess yourself all you want, but come out the other end with a clear choice.  Once your decision is made, take some kind of action to set it in motion. Deadline.  Set a deadline for task completion, and use it as a focal point to stay on track. Promise.  Tell others of your commitments, since they’ll help hold you accountable. Punctuality.  Whatever it takes, show up on time.  Arrive early. Gap reading.  Use reading to fill in those odd periods like waiting for an appointment, standing in line, or while the coffee is brewing.  If you’re a male, you can even read an article while shaving (preferably with an electric razor).  That’s 365 articles a year. Resonance.  Visualize your goal as already accomplished.  Put yourself into a state of actually being there.  Make it real in your mind, and you’ll soon see it in your reality. Glittering prizes.  Give yourself frequent rewards for achievement.  See a movie, book a professional massage, or spend a day at an amusement park. Quad 2.  Separate the truly important tasks from the merely urgent.  Allocate blocks of time to work on the critical Quadrant 2 tasks, those which are important but rarely urgent, such as physical exercise, writing a book, and finding a relationship partner. Continuum.  At the end of your workday, identify the first task you’ll work on the next day, and set out the materials in advance.  The next day begin working on that task immediately. Slice and dice.  Break complex projects into smaller, well-defined tasks.  Focus on completing just one of those tasks. Single-handling.  Once you begin a task, stick with it until it’s 100% complete.  Don’t switch tasks in the middle.  When distractions come up, jot them down to be dealt with later. Randomize.  Pick a totally random piece of a larger project, and complete it.  Pay one random bill.  Make one phone call.  Write page 42 of your book. Insanely bad.  Defeat perfectionism by completing your task in an intentionally terrible fashion, knowing you need never share the results with anyone.  Write a blog post about the taste of salt, design a hideously dysfunctional web site, or create a business plan that guarantees a first-year bankruptcy.  With a truly horrendous first draft, there’s nowhere to go but up. 30 days.  Identify a new habit you’d like to form, and commit to sticking with it for just 30 days.  A temporary commitment is much easier to keep than a permanent one.  See 30 Days to Success for details. Delegate.  Convince someone else to do it for you. Cross-pollination.  Sign up for martial arts, start a blog, or join an improv group.  You’ll often encounter ideas in one field that can boost your performance in another. Intuition.  Go with your gut instinct.  It’s probably right. Optimization.  Identify the processes you use most often, and write them down step-by-step.  Refactor them on paper for greater efficiency.  Then implement and test your improved processes.  Sometimes we just can’t see what’s right in front of us until we examine it under a microscope. Read the next two parts of this series here:  Volume 2 and Volume 3
    865 Posted by UniqueThis
  • Heuristics are rules intended to help you solve problems.  When a problem is large or complex, and the optimal solution is unclear, applying a heuristic allows you to begin making progress towards a solution even though you can’t visualize the entire path from your starting point. Suppose your goal is to climb to the peak of a mountain, but there’s no trail to follow.  An example of a heuristic would be:  Head directly towards the peak until you reach an obstacle you can’t cross.  Whenever you reach such an obstacle, follow it around to the right until you’re able to head towards the peak once again.  This isn’t the most intelligent or comprehensive heuristic, but in many cases it will work just fine, and you’ll eventually reach the peak. Heuristics don’t guarantee you’ll find the optimal solution, nor do they generally guarantee a solution at all.  But they do a good enough job of solving certain types of problems to be useful.  Their strength is that they break the deadlock of indecision and get you into action.  As you take action you begin to explore the solution space, which deepens your understanding of the problem.  As you gain knowledge about the problem, you can make course corrections along the way, gradually improving your chances of finding a solution.  If you try to solve a problem you don’t initially know how to solve, you’ll often figure out a solution as you go, one you never could have imagined until you started moving.  This is especially true with creative work such as software development.  Often you don’t even know exactly what you’re trying to build until you start building it. Heuristics have many practical applications, and one of my favorite areas of application is personal productivity.  Productivity heuristics are behavioral rules (some general, some situation-specific) that can help us get things done more efficiently.  Here are some of my favorites: Nuke it!  The most efficient way to get through a task is to delete it.  If it doesn’t need to be done, get it off your to do list. Daily goals.  Without a clear focus, it’s too easy to succumb to distractions.  Set targets for each day in advance.  Decide what you’ll do; then do it. Worst first.  To defeat procrastination learn to tackle your most unpleasant task first thing in the morning instead of delaying it until later in the day.  This small victory will set the tone for a very productive day. Peak times.  Identify your peak cycles of productivity, and schedule your most important tasks for those times.  Work on minor tasks during your non-peak times. No-comm zones.  Allocate uninterruptible blocks of time for solo work where you must concentrate.  Schedule light, interruptible tasks for your open-comm periods and more challenging projects for your no-comm periods. Mini-milestones.  When you begin a task, identify the target you must reach before you can stop working.  For example, when working on a book, you could decide not to get up until you’ve written at least 1000 words.  Hit your target no matter what. Timeboxing.  Give yourself a fixed time period, like 30 minutes, to make a dent in a task.  Don’t worry about how far you get.  Just put in the time.  See Timeboxing for more. Batching.  Batch similar tasks like phone calls or errands into a single chunk, and knock them off in a single session. Early bird.  Get up early in the morning, like at 5am, and go straight to work on your most important task.  You can often get more done before 8am than most people do in a day. Cone of silence.  Take a laptop with no network or WiFi access, and go to a place where you can work flat out without distractions, such as a library, park, coffee house, or your own backyard.  Leave your comm gadgets behind. Tempo.  Deliberately pick up the pace, and try to move a little faster than usual.  Speak faster.  Walk faster.  Type faster.  Read faster.  Go home sooner. Relaxify.  Reduce stress by cultivating a relaxing, clutter-free workspace.  See 10 Ways to Relaxify Your Workspace. Agendas.  Provide clear written agendas to meeting participants in advance.  This greatly improves meeting focus and efficiency.  You can use it for phone calls too. Pareto.  The Pareto principle is the 80-20 rule, which states that 80% of the value of a task comes from 20% of the effort.  Focus your energy on that critical 20%, and don’t overengineer the non-critical 80%. Ready-fire-aim.  Bust procrastination by taking action immediately after setting a goal, even if the action isn’t perfectly planned.  You can always adjust course along the way. Minuteman.  Once you have the information you need to make a decision, start a timer and give yourself just 60 seconds to make the actual decision.  Take a whole minute to vacillate and second-guess yourself all you want, but come out the other end with a clear choice.  Once your decision is made, take some kind of action to set it in motion. Deadline.  Set a deadline for task completion, and use it as a focal point to stay on track. Promise.  Tell others of your commitments, since they’ll help hold you accountable. Punctuality.  Whatever it takes, show up on time.  Arrive early. Gap reading.  Use reading to fill in those odd periods like waiting for an appointment, standing in line, or while the coffee is brewing.  If you’re a male, you can even read an article while shaving (preferably with an electric razor).  That’s 365 articles a year. Resonance.  Visualize your goal as already accomplished.  Put yourself into a state of actually being there.  Make it real in your mind, and you’ll soon see it in your reality. Glittering prizes.  Give yourself frequent rewards for achievement.  See a movie, book a professional massage, or spend a day at an amusement park. Quad 2.  Separate the truly important tasks from the merely urgent.  Allocate blocks of time to work on the critical Quadrant 2 tasks, those which are important but rarely urgent, such as physical exercise, writing a book, and finding a relationship partner. Continuum.  At the end of your workday, identify the first task you’ll work on the next day, and set out the materials in advance.  The next day begin working on that task immediately. Slice and dice.  Break complex projects into smaller, well-defined tasks.  Focus on completing just one of those tasks. Single-handling.  Once you begin a task, stick with it until it’s 100% complete.  Don’t switch tasks in the middle.  When distractions come up, jot them down to be dealt with later. Randomize.  Pick a totally random piece of a larger project, and complete it.  Pay one random bill.  Make one phone call.  Write page 42 of your book. Insanely bad.  Defeat perfectionism by completing your task in an intentionally terrible fashion, knowing you need never share the results with anyone.  Write a blog post about the taste of salt, design a hideously dysfunctional web site, or create a business plan that guarantees a first-year bankruptcy.  With a truly horrendous first draft, there’s nowhere to go but up. 30 days.  Identify a new habit you’d like to form, and commit to sticking with it for just 30 days.  A temporary commitment is much easier to keep than a permanent one.  See 30 Days to Success for details. Delegate.  Convince someone else to do it for you. Cross-pollination.  Sign up for martial arts, start a blog, or join an improv group.  You’ll often encounter ideas in one field that can boost your performance in another. Intuition.  Go with your gut instinct.  It’s probably right. Optimization.  Identify the processes you use most often, and write them down step-by-step.  Refactor them on paper for greater efficiency.  Then implement and test your improved processes.  Sometimes we just can’t see what’s right in front of us until we examine it under a microscope. Read the next two parts of this series here:  Volume 2 and Volume 3
    Jul 14, 2011 865
  • 14 Jul 2011
    My last article on 33 Rules to Boost Your Productivity got a positive reception, so I decided to come up with 33 more. A few of these are similar to the ones already posted, but most are new.  Sometimes looking at the same idea from different angles can be beneficial. So here are 33 more rules to boost your productivity: Super Slow.  Commit yourself to working on a particularly hideous project for just one session a week, 15-30 minutes total.  Declutter one small shelf.  Purge 10 clothing items you don’t need.  Write a few paragraphs.  Then stop. Dailies.  Schedule a specific time each day for working on a particular task or habit.  One hour a day could leave you with a finished book, or a profitable Internet business a year later. Add-ons.  Tack a task you want to habitualize onto one of your existing habits.  Water the plants after you eat lunch.  Send thank-you notes after you check email. Plug-ins.  Inject one task into the middle of another.  Read while eating lunch.  Return phone calls while commuting.  Listen to podcasts while grocery shopping. Gratitude.  When someone does you a good turn, send a thank-you card.  That’s a real card, not an e-card.  This is rare and memorable, and the people you thank will be eager to bring you more opportunities. Training.  Train up your skill in various productivity habits.  Get your typing speed to at least 60wpm, if not 90.  Learn to speed-read or PhotoRead.  Develop your communication skills. Software.  Take advantage of productivity software to boost your effectiveness.  Lifehacker recommends new items every week. Zone out.  Enter the zone of peak creativity, and watch your output soar.  See 7 Rules for Maximizing Your Creative Output. Denial.  Just say no to non-critical requests for your time. Recapture.  Reclaim other people’s poor time usage for yourself.  Visualize your goals during dull speeches.  Write out your grocery list during pointless meetings. Mastermind.  Run your problem past someone else, preferably a group of people.  Invite all the advice, feedback, and constructive criticism you can handle. Twenty.  Take a piece of paper, number 1-20, and don’t stop until you’ve listed 20 creative ideas for improving your productivity.  See 20 Ways to Improve. Challenger.  Deliberately make the task harder.  Challenging tasks are more engaging than boring ones.  Compose an original poem for your next blog post.  Create a Power Point presentation that doesn’t use words. Asylum.  Complete an otherwise tedious task in an unusual or crazy manner to keep it interesting.  Make phone calls using pretend foreign accents.  Fill out government paperwork in crayon. Music.  Experiment to discover how music may boost your productivity.  Try fast-paced music for email, classical or new age for project work, and total silence for high-concentration creative work. Scotty.  Estimate how long a task will take to complete.  Then start a timer, and push yourself to complete it in half that time. Pay it forward.  When an undesirable task is delegated to you, re-delegate it to someone else. Bouncer.  When a seemingly pointless task is delegated to you, bounce it back to the person who assigned it to you, and challenge them to justify its operational necessity. Opt-out.  Quit clubs, projects, and subscriptions that consume more of your time than they’re worth. Decaffeinate.  Say no to drugs, suffer through the withdrawal period, and let your natural creative self re-emerge.  See How to Give Up Coffee. Triage.  Save the lives of your important projects by killing those that are going to die anyway. Conscious procrastination.  Delay non-critical tasks as long as you possibly can.  Many of them will die on you and won’t need to be done at all. TV-free.  Turn off the TV, especially the news, and recapture many usable hours. Timer.  Time all your tasks for an entire day, preferably a week.  Even the act of measuring itself can boost your productivity, not to mention what you learn about your real time usage.  See Triple Your Personal Productivity. Valor.  Pick the one item on your task list that scares you the most.  Muster all the courage you can, and tackle it immediately. Nonconformist.  Run errands at unpopular times to avoid crowds.  Shop just before stores close or shortly after they open.  Take advantage of 24-hour outlets if you’re a vampire. Agoraphobia.  Shop online whenever possible.  Get the best selection, consult reviews, and purchase items within minutes. Reminder.  Add birthday and holiday reminders to your calendar a month or two ahead of their actual dates.  Buy gifts then instead of at the last minute. Do it now!  Recite this phrase over and over until you’re so sick of it that you cave in and get to work. Inspiration.  Read inspiring books and articles, listen to audio programs, and attend seminars to keep absorbing inspiring new ideas (as well as to refresh yourself on the old ones). Gym rat.  Exercise daily.  Boost your metabolism, concentration, and mental clarity in 30 minutes a day. Lovey dovey.  Romantic love will spur you on to greater heights, if for no other reason than to persuade your partner you aren’t such a loser after all. Troll hunt.  Banish the negative trolls from your life, and associate only with positive, happy, and successful people.  Mindsets are contagious.  Show loyalty to your potential, not to your pity posse. Read the other two parts of this series here:  Volume 1 and Volume 3
    918 Posted by UniqueThis
  • My last article on 33 Rules to Boost Your Productivity got a positive reception, so I decided to come up with 33 more. A few of these are similar to the ones already posted, but most are new.  Sometimes looking at the same idea from different angles can be beneficial. So here are 33 more rules to boost your productivity: Super Slow.  Commit yourself to working on a particularly hideous project for just one session a week, 15-30 minutes total.  Declutter one small shelf.  Purge 10 clothing items you don’t need.  Write a few paragraphs.  Then stop. Dailies.  Schedule a specific time each day for working on a particular task or habit.  One hour a day could leave you with a finished book, or a profitable Internet business a year later. Add-ons.  Tack a task you want to habitualize onto one of your existing habits.  Water the plants after you eat lunch.  Send thank-you notes after you check email. Plug-ins.  Inject one task into the middle of another.  Read while eating lunch.  Return phone calls while commuting.  Listen to podcasts while grocery shopping. Gratitude.  When someone does you a good turn, send a thank-you card.  That’s a real card, not an e-card.  This is rare and memorable, and the people you thank will be eager to bring you more opportunities. Training.  Train up your skill in various productivity habits.  Get your typing speed to at least 60wpm, if not 90.  Learn to speed-read or PhotoRead.  Develop your communication skills. Software.  Take advantage of productivity software to boost your effectiveness.  Lifehacker recommends new items every week. Zone out.  Enter the zone of peak creativity, and watch your output soar.  See 7 Rules for Maximizing Your Creative Output. Denial.  Just say no to non-critical requests for your time. Recapture.  Reclaim other people’s poor time usage for yourself.  Visualize your goals during dull speeches.  Write out your grocery list during pointless meetings. Mastermind.  Run your problem past someone else, preferably a group of people.  Invite all the advice, feedback, and constructive criticism you can handle. Twenty.  Take a piece of paper, number 1-20, and don’t stop until you’ve listed 20 creative ideas for improving your productivity.  See 20 Ways to Improve. Challenger.  Deliberately make the task harder.  Challenging tasks are more engaging than boring ones.  Compose an original poem for your next blog post.  Create a Power Point presentation that doesn’t use words. Asylum.  Complete an otherwise tedious task in an unusual or crazy manner to keep it interesting.  Make phone calls using pretend foreign accents.  Fill out government paperwork in crayon. Music.  Experiment to discover how music may boost your productivity.  Try fast-paced music for email, classical or new age for project work, and total silence for high-concentration creative work. Scotty.  Estimate how long a task will take to complete.  Then start a timer, and push yourself to complete it in half that time. Pay it forward.  When an undesirable task is delegated to you, re-delegate it to someone else. Bouncer.  When a seemingly pointless task is delegated to you, bounce it back to the person who assigned it to you, and challenge them to justify its operational necessity. Opt-out.  Quit clubs, projects, and subscriptions that consume more of your time than they’re worth. Decaffeinate.  Say no to drugs, suffer through the withdrawal period, and let your natural creative self re-emerge.  See How to Give Up Coffee. Triage.  Save the lives of your important projects by killing those that are going to die anyway. Conscious procrastination.  Delay non-critical tasks as long as you possibly can.  Many of them will die on you and won’t need to be done at all. TV-free.  Turn off the TV, especially the news, and recapture many usable hours. Timer.  Time all your tasks for an entire day, preferably a week.  Even the act of measuring itself can boost your productivity, not to mention what you learn about your real time usage.  See Triple Your Personal Productivity. Valor.  Pick the one item on your task list that scares you the most.  Muster all the courage you can, and tackle it immediately. Nonconformist.  Run errands at unpopular times to avoid crowds.  Shop just before stores close or shortly after they open.  Take advantage of 24-hour outlets if you’re a vampire. Agoraphobia.  Shop online whenever possible.  Get the best selection, consult reviews, and purchase items within minutes. Reminder.  Add birthday and holiday reminders to your calendar a month or two ahead of their actual dates.  Buy gifts then instead of at the last minute. Do it now!  Recite this phrase over and over until you’re so sick of it that you cave in and get to work. Inspiration.  Read inspiring books and articles, listen to audio programs, and attend seminars to keep absorbing inspiring new ideas (as well as to refresh yourself on the old ones). Gym rat.  Exercise daily.  Boost your metabolism, concentration, and mental clarity in 30 minutes a day. Lovey dovey.  Romantic love will spur you on to greater heights, if for no other reason than to persuade your partner you aren’t such a loser after all. Troll hunt.  Banish the negative trolls from your life, and associate only with positive, happy, and successful people.  Mindsets are contagious.  Show loyalty to your potential, not to your pity posse. Read the other two parts of this series here:  Volume 1 and Volume 3
    Jul 14, 2011 918
  • 14 Jul 2011
    Here’s the third installment of 33 Rules to Boost Your Productivity (see Volume 1 and Volume 2). These are a bit sillier and less politically correct than the first two volumes — I had to stretch to come up with more ideas – but many are still valid in certain situations.  Just be sure to take them with a grain of salt.  I assume no liability for anyone who actually tries to apply these. Here are 33 more rules to boost your productivity: Halliburton.  Cut corners to save time and money when the outcome is mainly for show anyway.  If it looks good, it is good.  It’s easier to manufacture excuses than results. Nuke.XML.  Split your RSS feeds into two lists:  those that help boost your productivity vs. those that taketh it away.  Force yourself to unsubscribe from all the feeds in the second list.  You won’t miss them.  Just be sure this blog makes the first list. Evil eye.  Practice your best evil eye in a mirror, and use it liberally on anyone who enters your space to interrupt you. Vulcan logic.  Ask for a part-time assistant by explaining to your boss that you’re being paid $25/hour to do $10/hour tasks, which is costing your employer a lot of money. Voodoo.  Display voodoo replicas of your boss and co-workers on your desk, labeled with their names.  Whenever you overhear someone complaining of health problems (headache, upset stomach, runny nose, etc), stick a pin into the corresponding part of their doll.  Then call them over to your workspace for some unrelated reason. Scooby snacks.  Grab a bowl of your favorite snacks, such as grapes, tamari almonds, or Trader Joe’s Oriental Rice Crackers.  Eat one piece for each microbial piece of work you complete.  One bite per sentence.  One bite per line of code.  One bite per email.  Ranks, Raggy. Iraqi Freedom.  When you’re bleeding time and money on a project that’s spiraling out of control, when morale is in the toilet, and when you can’t even get yourself to believe your own lies anymore, that’s the best time to go on vacation. WoW.die.die.die.  Give online gaming a rest, and re-invest that energy into your real life, which is probably suffocating beneath a pile of dead, smelly orcs. Politician.  Throw money at your problems until they succumb.  Either this will work, or you’ll put your successor in such a crippled position that they can’t do any better. Upgrade.  Modernize your tools – a faster computer, a better PDA, a hotter girlfriend. Coach.  Hire a personal coach to keep yourself motivated, focused, and accountable.  After several months of pep talks, you’ll be qualified to start your own coaching practice. Proactive.  Just do it, and deal with the consequences later.  It’s easier to request forgiveness than permission. Polyphasic.  Six naps a day keeps your laziness at bay.  You can catch up on sleep when you’re dead.  See Polyphasic Sleep for details. Captain Kirk.  If you boldly and brazenly act like you know what you’re doing, people will assume it’s true.  Use this strategy to get promoted to the point where you can delegate all your work to those who really know what they’re doing.  Orion slave girls are standing by. Hyundai.  Lower your standards, and just get it done anyway you can. Saturn.  Dictate the terms you want as totally non-negotiable, and make them sound as generous as you can.  But at the first sign of resistance, cave in immediately and agree to re-negotiate everything. Blockade.  Slide a heavy piece of furniture in front of your office door.  When drop-in visitors complain they can’t get in, tell them you’re refactoring your office for greater productivity. Eye for an eye.  Punish those who add tasks to your plate by filling their plates with even more. Bait.  Put candy dishes on everyone’s desk but your own. Quagmire.  Fill out and mail a generous assortment of business reply cards in your boss’ name, checking the “bill me later” boxes.  A few dozen magazine subscriptions and some Franklin Mint collections ought to slow him down a bit.  A new Civil War chess piece every month means he’ll be playing chess in under 3 years. End run.  Suggest to your boss’ boss that your boss is overworked and needs more help.  If you implement the previous tip, this will likely be true. Fasting.  Digest information, not food. Toddler.  Throw a tantrum until someone finally solves the problem for you. Armageddon.  Use Overwhelming Force to totally dominate your problem.  Treat your molehill like a mountain.  Use a bazooka to kill a cockroach.  Send a real human being to serve in Congress. Model.  Find people who are already getting the results you want, interview them, and model their attitudes, beliefs, and behavior.  Then you’ll have someone to blame when things go wrong. The Secret.  Use the Law of Attraction to manifest the done-ness of your project. Illuminati.  Form a secret society to ensure that things always go your way.  Eventually take over the planet to guarantee you’ll never have to work again. PMS.  Accept the fact that you can still get your work done even when you’re pissed at everything. Anakin.  Would your problems be easier to solve if you turned evil?  The dark side beckons… Spammer.  Sign up for a free email account, and subscribe to every e-zine, e-newsletter, and mailing list you can find.  The shadier the better.  Once you’ve completed all the double opt-in processes, set that account to forward to your boss’ email. Steve Jobs.  On the rare occasions you actually do manage to get something done, talk it up like a madman.  Say “This is huge!” to everyone you meet.  People will assume you’re 10x as productive as you are. Guru.  Instead of doing your actual work, spend most of your time reading productivity blogs.  Within a few months, you’ll have acquired enough knowledge to start your own.  Eventually you’ll realize that 50% of the web consists of productivity tips written by chronic procrastinators.  The other 50% is porn. Uber-Guru.  Stick with the first 50%. Read the first two parts of this series here:  Volume 1 and Volume 2
    1034 Posted by UniqueThis
  • Here’s the third installment of 33 Rules to Boost Your Productivity (see Volume 1 and Volume 2). These are a bit sillier and less politically correct than the first two volumes — I had to stretch to come up with more ideas – but many are still valid in certain situations.  Just be sure to take them with a grain of salt.  I assume no liability for anyone who actually tries to apply these. Here are 33 more rules to boost your productivity: Halliburton.  Cut corners to save time and money when the outcome is mainly for show anyway.  If it looks good, it is good.  It’s easier to manufacture excuses than results. Nuke.XML.  Split your RSS feeds into two lists:  those that help boost your productivity vs. those that taketh it away.  Force yourself to unsubscribe from all the feeds in the second list.  You won’t miss them.  Just be sure this blog makes the first list. Evil eye.  Practice your best evil eye in a mirror, and use it liberally on anyone who enters your space to interrupt you. Vulcan logic.  Ask for a part-time assistant by explaining to your boss that you’re being paid $25/hour to do $10/hour tasks, which is costing your employer a lot of money. Voodoo.  Display voodoo replicas of your boss and co-workers on your desk, labeled with their names.  Whenever you overhear someone complaining of health problems (headache, upset stomach, runny nose, etc), stick a pin into the corresponding part of their doll.  Then call them over to your workspace for some unrelated reason. Scooby snacks.  Grab a bowl of your favorite snacks, such as grapes, tamari almonds, or Trader Joe’s Oriental Rice Crackers.  Eat one piece for each microbial piece of work you complete.  One bite per sentence.  One bite per line of code.  One bite per email.  Ranks, Raggy. Iraqi Freedom.  When you’re bleeding time and money on a project that’s spiraling out of control, when morale is in the toilet, and when you can’t even get yourself to believe your own lies anymore, that’s the best time to go on vacation. WoW.die.die.die.  Give online gaming a rest, and re-invest that energy into your real life, which is probably suffocating beneath a pile of dead, smelly orcs. Politician.  Throw money at your problems until they succumb.  Either this will work, or you’ll put your successor in such a crippled position that they can’t do any better. Upgrade.  Modernize your tools – a faster computer, a better PDA, a hotter girlfriend. Coach.  Hire a personal coach to keep yourself motivated, focused, and accountable.  After several months of pep talks, you’ll be qualified to start your own coaching practice. Proactive.  Just do it, and deal with the consequences later.  It’s easier to request forgiveness than permission. Polyphasic.  Six naps a day keeps your laziness at bay.  You can catch up on sleep when you’re dead.  See Polyphasic Sleep for details. Captain Kirk.  If you boldly and brazenly act like you know what you’re doing, people will assume it’s true.  Use this strategy to get promoted to the point where you can delegate all your work to those who really know what they’re doing.  Orion slave girls are standing by. Hyundai.  Lower your standards, and just get it done anyway you can. Saturn.  Dictate the terms you want as totally non-negotiable, and make them sound as generous as you can.  But at the first sign of resistance, cave in immediately and agree to re-negotiate everything. Blockade.  Slide a heavy piece of furniture in front of your office door.  When drop-in visitors complain they can’t get in, tell them you’re refactoring your office for greater productivity. Eye for an eye.  Punish those who add tasks to your plate by filling their plates with even more. Bait.  Put candy dishes on everyone’s desk but your own. Quagmire.  Fill out and mail a generous assortment of business reply cards in your boss’ name, checking the “bill me later” boxes.  A few dozen magazine subscriptions and some Franklin Mint collections ought to slow him down a bit.  A new Civil War chess piece every month means he’ll be playing chess in under 3 years. End run.  Suggest to your boss’ boss that your boss is overworked and needs more help.  If you implement the previous tip, this will likely be true. Fasting.  Digest information, not food. Toddler.  Throw a tantrum until someone finally solves the problem for you. Armageddon.  Use Overwhelming Force to totally dominate your problem.  Treat your molehill like a mountain.  Use a bazooka to kill a cockroach.  Send a real human being to serve in Congress. Model.  Find people who are already getting the results you want, interview them, and model their attitudes, beliefs, and behavior.  Then you’ll have someone to blame when things go wrong. The Secret.  Use the Law of Attraction to manifest the done-ness of your project. Illuminati.  Form a secret society to ensure that things always go your way.  Eventually take over the planet to guarantee you’ll never have to work again. PMS.  Accept the fact that you can still get your work done even when you’re pissed at everything. Anakin.  Would your problems be easier to solve if you turned evil?  The dark side beckons… Spammer.  Sign up for a free email account, and subscribe to every e-zine, e-newsletter, and mailing list you can find.  The shadier the better.  Once you’ve completed all the double opt-in processes, set that account to forward to your boss’ email. Steve Jobs.  On the rare occasions you actually do manage to get something done, talk it up like a madman.  Say “This is huge!” to everyone you meet.  People will assume you’re 10x as productive as you are. Guru.  Instead of doing your actual work, spend most of your time reading productivity blogs.  Within a few months, you’ll have acquired enough knowledge to start your own.  Eventually you’ll realize that 50% of the web consists of productivity tips written by chronic procrastinators.  The other 50% is porn. Uber-Guru.  Stick with the first 50%. Read the first two parts of this series here:  Volume 1 and Volume 2
    Jul 14, 2011 1034
  • 14 Jul 2011
    One of the themes that repeatedly came up at the last Conscious Growth Workshop was the problem of giving your power away. Instead of focusing on your true desires, you erect false structures in front of your desires and then feed your power to those structures as a delay tactic. Here are some typical scenarios of how people give away their power in different areas of their lives: Relationships Let’s say that your true desire is to be in love. You want a relationship with someone special. You want someone that you can smooch, cuddle, play with, and make love to. You want to be with someone who totally loves you just the way you are. But instead of focusing your power on creating that, here’s what you do instead. You decide that before you can attract a new relationship, you need to get into better physical condition first. You have to “fix” your diet and hit the gym for a while. You need to lose some weight. Or maybe you decide that in order to be more attractive, you need to get your career on track first. Maybe upgrade your finances a bit. Or maybe you hold yourself stuck in a relationship that isn’t what you want, one that will never become what you truly, deeply desire. That relationship serves as a convenient block to keep your true desires out of reach. The basic pattern is that you decide something else has to happen first before you can attract the relationship you truly desire. However, those extra steps you add to the process are not absolute prerequisites for your desire. You’re using them as excuses, creating unnecessary roadblocks to delay yourself from receiving what you want in the present moment. You push your goal into an imaginary future instead of allowing it to come to you right now. Career Suppose your true desire is to do work that fulfills and inspires you. And you want to do it in a way that’s practical, grounded, and financially sustainable. You want to make a positive difference in the world. You want to contribute and to feel good about it. You want to feel passionate and motivated while working. You want to express your creativity and enjoy positive, worthy challenges. But instead of using your power to create that, you stick with unfulfilling work to make ends meet. You feed your power to your bills, as if those small pieces of paper somehow control your destiny for the near future (which includes ALL of your present reality). You use your bills as artificial barriers to delay you from experiencing what you actually desire. Do you realize how stupid that is? Alternatively, you might feed your power to a vision of building a new business that you believe can make you a lot of money. Once you achieve a certain degree of financial abundance, you tell yourself, then you can use your wealth to finally have some breathing room to figure out your purpose, do what you love, and make a real contribution. Step 1: Become a worthy millionaire. Step 2: Do something more rewarding and fulfilling. Dork! I often see very bright young people obsessing over grand plans for a career path they believe will make them rich. When they tell me their plans, I usually get nauseous. Most of the time their plans are heartless. Stupid MLM crap is common, not to mention lots of ideas for me-too Internet businesses that don’t really need to exist. The whole scheme is centered around trying to make as much money as possible, so they can eventually cash out and later do what they love and make a difference. They feed their power to these false plans as a delay tactic, so they can avoid summoning the courage to start making a difference right now. It’s a cowardly ploy, a classic case of giving one’s power away. Social Life Suppose your true desire is to be surrounded by friends and family that uplift, encourage, and support you. You want to be around like-minded people who are smart, fun, and happy. You want to hang out with people who empower you. But instead using your power to create that, you feed it into your existing disempowering relationships. You obsess over what others think about you, people who really don’t encourage you to be your best self anyway. You worry about what your Mom thinks about you. By clinging to disempowering relationships of any kind, including blood relationships, you block yourself from receiving what you truly desire. Seriously… who the hell cares what your Mom thinks anyway? Let her live her own life. You go live yours. Alternatively, you may feed your power into relationships with your TV or your computer instead of real face-to-face connections with human beings. Again, the pattern is giving your power away to something you don’t even want as opposed to channeling all of your power into what you desire. When you feed your desires, you simultaneously starve your non-desires. If your Mom keeps sending you critical emails that bring you down, simply flag her email address as a spammer and be done with her. Then go out and recruit fresh social connections with people who are willing to support and encourage you along the paths you wish to explore. Be loyal to those who are supportive of your desires, not to those who do the opposite. Stop Creating False Prerequisites The idea of feeding your power to your desires is incredibly simple. All you need to do is decide what you want and then focus your thoughts, feelings, and actions on those desires. Identify your desires and then run straight at them. Be totally shameless about it. Intellectually this is not a difficult concept to understand, is it? Please take note that moving directly towards your desires is not remotely the same as erecting all sorts of silly prerequisites in the way of your desires. Sure some goals involve multiple steps, but let’s get real for a moment. Are your plans clogged with steps that are not absolute prerequisites for getting what you ultimately desire? Losing weight and getting in shape are not prerequisites for attracting a deeply loving relationship with someone you’re incredibly attracted to. This is not even close to being true. If you need proof, simply go outside and look around for a bit. This line of thinking is nothing but a silly limiting belief. If you want to attract a wonderful relationship, you can begin feeding your power to that right now in this very moment. There is no need to block it. Nothing else needs to happen first. Making millions of dollars is not a prerequisite for doing what you love and fulfilling your life purpose. Nor is having all your bills paid. Nor is being debt-free. You can start doing what you love today. Nothing else needs to happen first. Imagine if Gandhi or Mother Teresa or Jesus said, “I really need to find a way to make millions of dollars. If I only had enough money, I’m sure I could get something going here.” Maybe you should follow their lead and stop trying to use money as a substitute for real power and courage. Improving all your broken, disempowering relationships is not a prerequisite for attracting an amazing social life. Your social skills don’t need to be upgraded either. You can simply let go of the dysfunctional relationships and immediately begin feeding your power to create the social life you desire. Nothing else needs to happen first. I repeat: Nothing else needs to happen first! Why You Give Your Power Away Fear. That’s the main reason. We fear the consequences of our power. Sometimes we fear the responsibility that comes with power. You may not feel ready to wield so much power. When you realize that you can manifest your desires quickly and definitively when you go after them directly, it’s a bit of a head trip. It takes a while to get used to a reality in which your desires manifest so quickly and so strongly. Consequently, it’s very tempting to redirect your power into creating false delays and phony obstacles in the form of prerequisites, so you can satisfy yourself with the illusion of progress, even though you’re just spinning your wheels and going in circles. I’ve been guilty of this too of course. I make the same stupid mistakes in this area that everyone else does. For a long time I wanted to do public workshops. But it always seemed like something else had to happen first. I need to build a product line first, so I can have something to sell in the back of the room. I need to build a staff first. I need to lose a bit more weight first. By feeding my power to those phony prerequisites, I was able to delay doing workshops indefinitely. There was always something else to occupy my time and attention — and to drain my power away. Consequently, when I used my power this way, the workshops never happened. Eventually I realized what I was doing, saw through the phony prerequisites, and acknowledged that I could make a workshop a reality if I fed my power to that desire directly. So I did that. At that point the fake prerequisites dropped away, and I began working through the real steps to make this desire happen, like booking a venue, selling tickets, and designing the workshop content. Notice the difference between real action steps and phony delay tactics. In the first case, you’re feeding your power to your true desires. In the second case, you’re feeding your power to something other than your true desires — some kind of false idol like the perfect body or more money. The question you have to answer is whether or not you feel ready to channel your power directly into your desires and thereby attract, experience, and enjoy those desires in short order. If you aren’t ready to take your life to that level, that’s okay, but it’s better to acknowledge that you don’t feel ready yet and to maintain a conscious holding pattern as opposed to pretending you’re ready and then creating false subgoals that drain your power and waste your energy. Resistance Is Futile When you get used to feeding your power to your desires, resistance takes on a very different role. Instead of feeling disempowered by that which seems to block you from your goals, you’ll find that any resistance simply serves to strengthen you. Resistance becomes resistance training. Resistance only becomes a block when you feed your power to the resistance instead of your desires. It takes a bit of practice to keep redirecting your power towards your desires instead of automatically feeding it into resistance and thereby creating artificial blocks. But it’s a worthy practice to be sure. For example, when I announced at the start of this year that I intended to explore domination and submission, some people were resistant to it. No surprise there. I could have fed my power to that resistance and let it slow me down, but instead I used that resistance as a form of personal training. If people took issue with what I was getting into, I often played back at them. I would tease them about it… see if I could uncover a few more buttons they needed to have pushed. This helped me release any lingering internal resistance to the idea and to become increasingly congruent with it. The more people resisted what I was doing, the more it gave me a chance to practice dominance with them (such as by teasing them and pushing their buttons), and the more power I channeled into my actual desires. This might sound a bit strange, but it’s incredibly effective. I basically took the energy other people sent my way and re-channeled it in the direction of my desires. By feeding my power to my desires and by using resistance as training (instead of as disempowering criticism), my desires have been manifesting so quickly in this area it’s been making me ridiculously happy. I won’t get into all the details, but suffice it to say that she’s absolutely yummy. Now what sense does it make to fuss over losing a few more pounds, paying down your debts, or worrying about what other people might think *before* you give yourself full permission to feed your power to your desires? Perhaps if you’d spent more time focusing on and creating what you truly desire instead of feeding your power to false prerequisites, you wouldn’t be stuck with so many disempowering burdens right now. Where did those extra pounds come from anyway? Were you trying to use food as an emotional substitute for what you really want??? Where did that debt come from? Were you trying to buy your way to happiness maybe??? Or possibly overspending on an unnecessary college degree as a false prerequisite for doing what you love??? Where did all those disempowering relationships come from? Were you trying to substitute shallow and/or negative connections for true intimacy and love??? Does it sting a bit to realize that you’re the one — the only one in fact — who’s been piling all the crap onto your own plate. You’re the one who created the extra weight and the debt. You’re the one who keeps choosing to maintain the disempowering relationships in your life. You’re the one who keeps showing up to do unfulfilling, uninspiring work. Making the Shift There are no prerequisites for using your power to create what you desire. Stop blocking yourself. Stop feeding energy into what you don’t want. I had a major, major shift in my thinking when I was $150,000 in debt, roughly 11 years ago. I’d spent years feeding my power to that debt, making it into something big and real. One day it finally dawned on me just how insane it was to keep feeding my energy into something that made me feel weak and helpless. I’d been giving that debt the power to take over and run my whole life. In that moment I decided I would no longer give that debt my power. So I actually started ignoring it. I re-channeled my power into my creative output, and I wrote a cool new computer game during that time. I changed my phone number, so I wouldn’t have to deal with the 10+ daily phone calls from creditors. Several months later I declared bankruptcy. I couldn’t afford a lawyer, so I did all the paperwork myself. I actually found that to be an empowering process because I channeled my power into the vision of being debt-free and financially stable. The bankruptcy eliminated the debt and gave me the fresh start I needed. Eventually this allowed me to figure out how to run a financially successful business (and then another one after that), which enabled me to pump significantly more value back into the economy than the original debt withdrew. And the turnaround began with learning to channel my power and energy directly into my desires, regardless of external circumstances. It’s perfectly fine to have lots of different goals and desires, but don’t create false structures whereby you make one goal an unnecessary prerequisite for another. Allow the whole bundle of your desires to manifest simultaneously. That’s a lot more fun — and much more fulfilling and creative — than artificially linearizing the process to slow yourself down. I’m often amused at life’s little quirks when it comes to how desires manifest. For example, when I dropped the idea that I had to lose a few pounds before I could attract a new relationship, a very yummy partner showed up. And the funny thing is that by spending so much time with her, I dropped a few more pounds last month without even trying. Sometimes I was just too busy enjoying our connection to have time to eat. And there was no point in eating for emotional reasons because she’s a lot more emotionally stimulating than any food I can imagine, despite the fact that she makes the most delicious raw vegan delights. Where are you giving your power away? What false prerequisites have you put in place to block you? What path would you take if you had unlimited courage? What’s stopping you from welcoming your desires into your life right now, regardless of circumstances? Courage or Cowardice When you feed your power *directly* into your desires, progress can be very rapid. But when you shrink from your desires, you substitute cowardice for courage. Courage manifest results. Cowardice manifests non-results. How much longer are you going to settle for non-results? How much longer will you keep applying the cowardly approach of feeding your power to something other than what you truly, deeply desire? Do you really need the perfect body right now? Do you really need more money? Or are your true desires elsewhere? What kinds of life experiences have you been putting off? What sorts of goals always seem to get shoved to the bottom of your to-do list, drowning in false prerequisites? What would you finally do if you already had the perfect body and unlimited financial abundance? Start feeding your power to those desires right now. If you want to travel, then feed your power into travel. Start planning and scheduling your first trip today. Buy a ticket. Make a reservation. Set a date for a road trip. Ask around till you find a free couch you can sleep on. You don’t need to get rich first. Just go do it, and stop piling unnecessary crap in front of that desire. If you want a new relationship partner, then tell the whole world what you’re looking for. Don’t keep it a secret. Don’t feed your power to some people’s adverse reactions. Boldly and unashamedly proclaim what you want. If anyone has an issue with it, tease them about it. Own your desires. How else will your potential partner know you’re looking for someone just like him/her? If you want someone yummy to cuddle at night, then feed your power directly into that. Ultimately the advice in this article is very simple and very straightforward. However, it’s sadly uncommon in its proper application. Rest assured that I will continue to beat you over the head with these ideas until you start applying them. Moreover, as long as you continue feeding your power to what you don’t actually want while seeking validation for time served on the wrong path, I shall do my best to continue serving as an obnoxiously irritating personal example of how to apply the principle of power to attract what I actually desire. And I shall continue to enjoy her yumminess.
    1010 Posted by UniqueThis
  • One of the themes that repeatedly came up at the last Conscious Growth Workshop was the problem of giving your power away. Instead of focusing on your true desires, you erect false structures in front of your desires and then feed your power to those structures as a delay tactic. Here are some typical scenarios of how people give away their power in different areas of their lives: Relationships Let’s say that your true desire is to be in love. You want a relationship with someone special. You want someone that you can smooch, cuddle, play with, and make love to. You want to be with someone who totally loves you just the way you are. But instead of focusing your power on creating that, here’s what you do instead. You decide that before you can attract a new relationship, you need to get into better physical condition first. You have to “fix” your diet and hit the gym for a while. You need to lose some weight. Or maybe you decide that in order to be more attractive, you need to get your career on track first. Maybe upgrade your finances a bit. Or maybe you hold yourself stuck in a relationship that isn’t what you want, one that will never become what you truly, deeply desire. That relationship serves as a convenient block to keep your true desires out of reach. The basic pattern is that you decide something else has to happen first before you can attract the relationship you truly desire. However, those extra steps you add to the process are not absolute prerequisites for your desire. You’re using them as excuses, creating unnecessary roadblocks to delay yourself from receiving what you want in the present moment. You push your goal into an imaginary future instead of allowing it to come to you right now. Career Suppose your true desire is to do work that fulfills and inspires you. And you want to do it in a way that’s practical, grounded, and financially sustainable. You want to make a positive difference in the world. You want to contribute and to feel good about it. You want to feel passionate and motivated while working. You want to express your creativity and enjoy positive, worthy challenges. But instead of using your power to create that, you stick with unfulfilling work to make ends meet. You feed your power to your bills, as if those small pieces of paper somehow control your destiny for the near future (which includes ALL of your present reality). You use your bills as artificial barriers to delay you from experiencing what you actually desire. Do you realize how stupid that is? Alternatively, you might feed your power to a vision of building a new business that you believe can make you a lot of money. Once you achieve a certain degree of financial abundance, you tell yourself, then you can use your wealth to finally have some breathing room to figure out your purpose, do what you love, and make a real contribution. Step 1: Become a worthy millionaire. Step 2: Do something more rewarding and fulfilling. Dork! I often see very bright young people obsessing over grand plans for a career path they believe will make them rich. When they tell me their plans, I usually get nauseous. Most of the time their plans are heartless. Stupid MLM crap is common, not to mention lots of ideas for me-too Internet businesses that don’t really need to exist. The whole scheme is centered around trying to make as much money as possible, so they can eventually cash out and later do what they love and make a difference. They feed their power to these false plans as a delay tactic, so they can avoid summoning the courage to start making a difference right now. It’s a cowardly ploy, a classic case of giving one’s power away. Social Life Suppose your true desire is to be surrounded by friends and family that uplift, encourage, and support you. You want to be around like-minded people who are smart, fun, and happy. You want to hang out with people who empower you. But instead using your power to create that, you feed it into your existing disempowering relationships. You obsess over what others think about you, people who really don’t encourage you to be your best self anyway. You worry about what your Mom thinks about you. By clinging to disempowering relationships of any kind, including blood relationships, you block yourself from receiving what you truly desire. Seriously… who the hell cares what your Mom thinks anyway? Let her live her own life. You go live yours. Alternatively, you may feed your power into relationships with your TV or your computer instead of real face-to-face connections with human beings. Again, the pattern is giving your power away to something you don’t even want as opposed to channeling all of your power into what you desire. When you feed your desires, you simultaneously starve your non-desires. If your Mom keeps sending you critical emails that bring you down, simply flag her email address as a spammer and be done with her. Then go out and recruit fresh social connections with people who are willing to support and encourage you along the paths you wish to explore. Be loyal to those who are supportive of your desires, not to those who do the opposite. Stop Creating False Prerequisites The idea of feeding your power to your desires is incredibly simple. All you need to do is decide what you want and then focus your thoughts, feelings, and actions on those desires. Identify your desires and then run straight at them. Be totally shameless about it. Intellectually this is not a difficult concept to understand, is it? Please take note that moving directly towards your desires is not remotely the same as erecting all sorts of silly prerequisites in the way of your desires. Sure some goals involve multiple steps, but let’s get real for a moment. Are your plans clogged with steps that are not absolute prerequisites for getting what you ultimately desire? Losing weight and getting in shape are not prerequisites for attracting a deeply loving relationship with someone you’re incredibly attracted to. This is not even close to being true. If you need proof, simply go outside and look around for a bit. This line of thinking is nothing but a silly limiting belief. If you want to attract a wonderful relationship, you can begin feeding your power to that right now in this very moment. There is no need to block it. Nothing else needs to happen first. Making millions of dollars is not a prerequisite for doing what you love and fulfilling your life purpose. Nor is having all your bills paid. Nor is being debt-free. You can start doing what you love today. Nothing else needs to happen first. Imagine if Gandhi or Mother Teresa or Jesus said, “I really need to find a way to make millions of dollars. If I only had enough money, I’m sure I could get something going here.” Maybe you should follow their lead and stop trying to use money as a substitute for real power and courage. Improving all your broken, disempowering relationships is not a prerequisite for attracting an amazing social life. Your social skills don’t need to be upgraded either. You can simply let go of the dysfunctional relationships and immediately begin feeding your power to create the social life you desire. Nothing else needs to happen first. I repeat: Nothing else needs to happen first! Why You Give Your Power Away Fear. That’s the main reason. We fear the consequences of our power. Sometimes we fear the responsibility that comes with power. You may not feel ready to wield so much power. When you realize that you can manifest your desires quickly and definitively when you go after them directly, it’s a bit of a head trip. It takes a while to get used to a reality in which your desires manifest so quickly and so strongly. Consequently, it’s very tempting to redirect your power into creating false delays and phony obstacles in the form of prerequisites, so you can satisfy yourself with the illusion of progress, even though you’re just spinning your wheels and going in circles. I’ve been guilty of this too of course. I make the same stupid mistakes in this area that everyone else does. For a long time I wanted to do public workshops. But it always seemed like something else had to happen first. I need to build a product line first, so I can have something to sell in the back of the room. I need to build a staff first. I need to lose a bit more weight first. By feeding my power to those phony prerequisites, I was able to delay doing workshops indefinitely. There was always something else to occupy my time and attention — and to drain my power away. Consequently, when I used my power this way, the workshops never happened. Eventually I realized what I was doing, saw through the phony prerequisites, and acknowledged that I could make a workshop a reality if I fed my power to that desire directly. So I did that. At that point the fake prerequisites dropped away, and I began working through the real steps to make this desire happen, like booking a venue, selling tickets, and designing the workshop content. Notice the difference between real action steps and phony delay tactics. In the first case, you’re feeding your power to your true desires. In the second case, you’re feeding your power to something other than your true desires — some kind of false idol like the perfect body or more money. The question you have to answer is whether or not you feel ready to channel your power directly into your desires and thereby attract, experience, and enjoy those desires in short order. If you aren’t ready to take your life to that level, that’s okay, but it’s better to acknowledge that you don’t feel ready yet and to maintain a conscious holding pattern as opposed to pretending you’re ready and then creating false subgoals that drain your power and waste your energy. Resistance Is Futile When you get used to feeding your power to your desires, resistance takes on a very different role. Instead of feeling disempowered by that which seems to block you from your goals, you’ll find that any resistance simply serves to strengthen you. Resistance becomes resistance training. Resistance only becomes a block when you feed your power to the resistance instead of your desires. It takes a bit of practice to keep redirecting your power towards your desires instead of automatically feeding it into resistance and thereby creating artificial blocks. But it’s a worthy practice to be sure. For example, when I announced at the start of this year that I intended to explore domination and submission, some people were resistant to it. No surprise there. I could have fed my power to that resistance and let it slow me down, but instead I used that resistance as a form of personal training. If people took issue with what I was getting into, I often played back at them. I would tease them about it… see if I could uncover a few more buttons they needed to have pushed. This helped me release any lingering internal resistance to the idea and to become increasingly congruent with it. The more people resisted what I was doing, the more it gave me a chance to practice dominance with them (such as by teasing them and pushing their buttons), and the more power I channeled into my actual desires. This might sound a bit strange, but it’s incredibly effective. I basically took the energy other people sent my way and re-channeled it in the direction of my desires. By feeding my power to my desires and by using resistance as training (instead of as disempowering criticism), my desires have been manifesting so quickly in this area it’s been making me ridiculously happy. I won’t get into all the details, but suffice it to say that she’s absolutely yummy. Now what sense does it make to fuss over losing a few more pounds, paying down your debts, or worrying about what other people might think *before* you give yourself full permission to feed your power to your desires? Perhaps if you’d spent more time focusing on and creating what you truly desire instead of feeding your power to false prerequisites, you wouldn’t be stuck with so many disempowering burdens right now. Where did those extra pounds come from anyway? Were you trying to use food as an emotional substitute for what you really want??? Where did that debt come from? Were you trying to buy your way to happiness maybe??? Or possibly overspending on an unnecessary college degree as a false prerequisite for doing what you love??? Where did all those disempowering relationships come from? Were you trying to substitute shallow and/or negative connections for true intimacy and love??? Does it sting a bit to realize that you’re the one — the only one in fact — who’s been piling all the crap onto your own plate. You’re the one who created the extra weight and the debt. You’re the one who keeps choosing to maintain the disempowering relationships in your life. You’re the one who keeps showing up to do unfulfilling, uninspiring work. Making the Shift There are no prerequisites for using your power to create what you desire. Stop blocking yourself. Stop feeding energy into what you don’t want. I had a major, major shift in my thinking when I was $150,000 in debt, roughly 11 years ago. I’d spent years feeding my power to that debt, making it into something big and real. One day it finally dawned on me just how insane it was to keep feeding my energy into something that made me feel weak and helpless. I’d been giving that debt the power to take over and run my whole life. In that moment I decided I would no longer give that debt my power. So I actually started ignoring it. I re-channeled my power into my creative output, and I wrote a cool new computer game during that time. I changed my phone number, so I wouldn’t have to deal with the 10+ daily phone calls from creditors. Several months later I declared bankruptcy. I couldn’t afford a lawyer, so I did all the paperwork myself. I actually found that to be an empowering process because I channeled my power into the vision of being debt-free and financially stable. The bankruptcy eliminated the debt and gave me the fresh start I needed. Eventually this allowed me to figure out how to run a financially successful business (and then another one after that), which enabled me to pump significantly more value back into the economy than the original debt withdrew. And the turnaround began with learning to channel my power and energy directly into my desires, regardless of external circumstances. It’s perfectly fine to have lots of different goals and desires, but don’t create false structures whereby you make one goal an unnecessary prerequisite for another. Allow the whole bundle of your desires to manifest simultaneously. That’s a lot more fun — and much more fulfilling and creative — than artificially linearizing the process to slow yourself down. I’m often amused at life’s little quirks when it comes to how desires manifest. For example, when I dropped the idea that I had to lose a few pounds before I could attract a new relationship, a very yummy partner showed up. And the funny thing is that by spending so much time with her, I dropped a few more pounds last month without even trying. Sometimes I was just too busy enjoying our connection to have time to eat. And there was no point in eating for emotional reasons because she’s a lot more emotionally stimulating than any food I can imagine, despite the fact that she makes the most delicious raw vegan delights. Where are you giving your power away? What false prerequisites have you put in place to block you? What path would you take if you had unlimited courage? What’s stopping you from welcoming your desires into your life right now, regardless of circumstances? Courage or Cowardice When you feed your power *directly* into your desires, progress can be very rapid. But when you shrink from your desires, you substitute cowardice for courage. Courage manifest results. Cowardice manifests non-results. How much longer are you going to settle for non-results? How much longer will you keep applying the cowardly approach of feeding your power to something other than what you truly, deeply desire? Do you really need the perfect body right now? Do you really need more money? Or are your true desires elsewhere? What kinds of life experiences have you been putting off? What sorts of goals always seem to get shoved to the bottom of your to-do list, drowning in false prerequisites? What would you finally do if you already had the perfect body and unlimited financial abundance? Start feeding your power to those desires right now. If you want to travel, then feed your power into travel. Start planning and scheduling your first trip today. Buy a ticket. Make a reservation. Set a date for a road trip. Ask around till you find a free couch you can sleep on. You don’t need to get rich first. Just go do it, and stop piling unnecessary crap in front of that desire. If you want a new relationship partner, then tell the whole world what you’re looking for. Don’t keep it a secret. Don’t feed your power to some people’s adverse reactions. Boldly and unashamedly proclaim what you want. If anyone has an issue with it, tease them about it. Own your desires. How else will your potential partner know you’re looking for someone just like him/her? If you want someone yummy to cuddle at night, then feed your power directly into that. Ultimately the advice in this article is very simple and very straightforward. However, it’s sadly uncommon in its proper application. Rest assured that I will continue to beat you over the head with these ideas until you start applying them. Moreover, as long as you continue feeding your power to what you don’t actually want while seeking validation for time served on the wrong path, I shall do my best to continue serving as an obnoxiously irritating personal example of how to apply the principle of power to attract what I actually desire. And I shall continue to enjoy her yumminess.
    Jul 14, 2011 1010
  • 14 Jul 2011
    The past does not equal the future is a favorite saying of Tony Robbins. Unfortunately he’s dead wrong. I can understand Tony’s intent in making such a statement. Sure it’s part of his overall sales pitch, but essentially he’s telling people that they have the power to break from the past and use their power to create a new future. In general that’s a positive message to convey. Unfortunately it seems to do more harm than good. Quite often it makes people all gung ho about changes that never quite materialize. The underlying idea that we can escape the past actually wastes a lot of people’s time. I know it feels good to think about the idea that we can somehow break with the past and create a whole new future for ourselves, but how often do people actually pull that off when they attempt it? How often have you pulled it off? So what’s the truth? The truth is that past performance is in fact the best predictor of future performance, not just with individual human beings but with teams, companies, technology, political bodies, and other time-bound entities. Even when it comes to personal growth and conscious living, for all intents and purposes, the past DOES equal the future. Looking to the Past If you want to know where your current path is taking you, look to your past. That’s the best way to predict where you’re headed. Looking to your past is more reliable than looking at your goals and intentions. If I want to know where someone is headed, I’ll take a look at their past, especially their recent past, and make a prediction based on that. I don’t need to hear about their goals and intentions — that information isn’t relevant. (I’ll explain why I say this a bit later in this article.) Just let me see what they’ve been up to for the past few months, and that will give me a pretty good idea of where they’ll be in a year or so. Obviously there’s some randomness in life. There are chaotic events we can’t very well predict. Sometimes the unexpected happens, and it spins our lives in completely new directions. But most of the time, our lives succumb to predictable patterns, especially in the long run. We may not be able to predict what will happen tomorrow or next week with much accuracy, but barring an unusually consequential chaotic change, our lives tend to be a lot more predictable over longer stretches of time than we usually care to admit. Eat a little bit more than you burn in an average day, and you’ll be heavier a year from now. The result is fairly predictable, given the patterns observed in the past. Is your expected future really so difficult to predict, at least in a general way? If you go to college and major in a subject with little or no market demand in terms of jobs, isn’t it largely predictable that you may struggle to find paying work after graduating… and if you do find work, that it will likely be outside the field of your major? If you linger in a relationship that you wouldn’t rate as a 9 or 10 on a scale of 1-10, isn’t it predictable that dissatisfaction or resentment or apathy will develop over time, as opposed to love and gratitude? If you eat unhealthy foods and experience high stress levels, can you not make certain predictions about what kind of lifestyle problems you may experience down the road? Looking to Others Consider some of the people in your life — people you know pretty well. Can you reasonably predict where they’ll be a year from now? Can you make a decent guess at where they’ll be in terms of their career, finances, relationships, health, daily habits, spiritual practices, etc? I’m not asking you to predict with any sort of exactitude here. I’m simply asking you to paint a general picture of what you expect each person’s life will look like in a year or so. Pick one specific person for starters, someone you know well but not someone you’re in a romantic relationship with. (Pick someone where you don’t have too much of a vested interest in where they’re headed.) What kind of career or job situation will this person be engaged in a year from now? Blue collar or white collar work? A job to pay the bills or a dedicated career path? What is this person’s attitude towards their work? How hard do they work? What kind of hours do they put in each week? Where will they be in a year? What kind of income does this person earn? Make a ballpark guess. Are they making $50K a year? $500K? Millions? How much money does this person have? What assets does s/he own? What kind of relationships does this person have? Is s/he married? Is there a significant other? Living together? Solo? Looking for someone? If this person is in and out of relationships all the time, don’t worry about predicting the exact relationship position at the end of a year since that could be a coin toss. Just predict what general relationship patterns you’ll expect to see play out over the course of that year. How many new partners will this person have during that year, and what will those partners be like? How will this person do health-wise over the next year? What kinds of foods will they eat? What kinds of exercise, if any, will they do? Will they gain weight, lose weight, or stay the same weight this year? Will they diet or yo-yo at all? What kinds of daily habits will this person have? When will they get up? When will they go to bed? Are they lazy? Super productive? Highly or minimally effective at getting things done? What spiritual practices will this person have a year from now? Will they go to church regularly? Will they shun all spiritual practices? Will they meditate often? Will they put candles around their bathtub and label it spirituality? See if you can get an overall picture of where each of a few people in your life will be a year from now. Where Predictions Come From Notice how you made your predictions. If you’re like most people, you based your predictions on how each person has behaved in the past, particularly the recent past. To predict the future, you simply projected the past into the future. You looked at the momentum of where this person is headed. You also looked at where they’re stagnant. For example, if you know that someone got a 10% raise last year, you might predict another 10% raise this year. You might also predict that this person will still be in the same job. If someone has been in a relationship for 10+ years, you might predict they’ll be in that same relationship next year. If someone’s company has been downsizing like crazy, you might predict they’ll be out of work within a year and either unemployed or working at a similar job in a year. If someone is late on their mortgage payments and is getting foreclosure notices, you might predict they’ll be out of that house within a year and maybe living in a smaller house, an apartment, or a condo somewhere. Now you might say that we need to include the present as well as the past in making decisions, but since the present is just an instantaneous moment, that isn’t necessary. The past includes everything from the last microsecond back to the beginning of time, so that’s as much data as you really need. If you think you need to include something that really is happening in the present, wait one more second. Now it’s in the past. If you can claim to know anything about a person, it’s from the past. Recording Your Predictions I suggest you write down some of your predictions about the people in your life. Record them in your journal. Then put a note on your calendar a year from now that says something like, “Review journal entry on predictions from a year ago.” If you use an online calendar, this takes only seconds. Then when your reminder pops up a year from now, review your predictions. How did they turn out? If you were basically right about certain things, how did you know? Why was your prediction so accurate? If you were wrong about anything, why did you miss? Did something unpredictable happen that you couldn’t have anticipated? Did you not have enough information to make an accurate prediction? Did you over-emphasize or under-emphasize the importance of certain factors? What can you learn about this exercise to make better predictions? You’re More Predictable Than You Realize Sometimes it’s easier to make predictions about other people instead of ourselves. When we look at other people’s lives, our egos don’t get in the way as much. It can be pretty tough to look at ourselves so objectively, especially when we don’t like what we see. No one wants to predict that a year from now, they’ll have lost their home due to foreclosure, gained 20 pounds of fat, and endured a string of bad relationships. If you’re fortunate to have some intelligent friends who are willing to make honest predictions about where you’re headed and share them with you, you’ll find it very eye-opening to have a candid discussion with them on this subject. However, this will require turning off your ego as much as possible and really listening, which isn’t easy for most people to do. Try this: Make some predictions about where you’ll be in a year, but base your predictions only on hard factual evidence from the past 30 days of your life. Take note of how you ate, slept, exercised, worked, communicated, related, created, etc. only during the past 30 days. Assume those same patterns in every area will continue for another 12 months. If you feel the past 30 days were very atypical for you, such as if you were on vacation or traveling during that time, then use the past 90 days instead. Use this time frame to predict where you’ll be in a year. Project those same patterns forward in time. Where will they lead if you largely repeated the patterns of the past 30-90 days for a full 12 months? Aligning With Truth A huge part of aligning yourself with Truth is being able to make honest, objective predictions about where you’re headed. How will different aspects of your life evolve over the coming year — or longer? In order to make accurate predictions, you cannot look to your goals or intentions. For all intents and purposes, you can consider goals and intentions irrelevant. Imagine that you’re in a court of law that’s trying to make a ruling based on the facts of the case. Goals and intentions for the future are inadmissible as evidence because they aren’t hard facts. They’re merely opinions or speculation about what may be. In order to make accurate predictions of where you’re headed, you must look to your past and only your past. This may be something you didn’t want to hear, but I’m playing it straight with you. If you start getting emotional about your predictions (either positive or negative emotions), stop and take a break. This is an exercise that requires logical, left-brained thought. This isn’t the time or place for emotional or illogical thinking. Pretend you’re a Vulcan or an android, and have at it. Review the questions I asked you earlier about your friend (under the subhead “Looking to Others”). Now ask those same questions of yourself. Look only to your recent past to predict the future, i.e. the past 30-90 days. Pretend for a moment that you’re Mr. Spock or Mr. Data, and make your best determination as to where the person whose body you inhabit will be a year from now — in terms of your career, finances, relationships, health, daily habits, spiritual practices, etc. Whichever parts of your life you consider important to you, make some predictions for those areas. Then do the same thing with recording your predictions in your journal, and mark your calendar a year from now to review that entry. And don’t give me that pathetic eye-roll. So what if it takes a year to complete this exercise? The time is going to pass anyway, and a year from now you’ll find this data very valuable. Would you rather be feeling intrigued when you see that message on your calendar a year from now, and open up that tremendous gift of growth, or would you rather have another “normal” day instead? The Gung Ho Dufus When you study and learn from your past, you’ll notice certain patterns that come up repeatedly in your life. Many of these patterns are ineffective for you. Based on your own history, the results are predictably bad. But how easily we forget and repeat those same mistakes… One of those bunk patterns I’ve seen in my own past — and you may recognize this in your past as well — is what I call the Gung Ho Dufus approach to personal growth. This is when someone gets all amped up about a change they’re going to make. They feel a surge of something — adrenaline maybe… sometimes caffeine — and decide that finally things will be different. They usually believe it too. They make some new decisions and start taking some actions, but their actions are inconsistent and chaotic. Most of their actions are one-offs, meaning that they never get integrated as permanent habits. For example, they’ll tell a bunch of people about their desire to change, and maybe they’ll ask for advice to get started, but that’s often as far as it goes. Eventually the excitement over the new direction fizzles, and the person gets sucked back into their usual behavior patterns from the past. No real lasting change occurs. If you look to your past, especially if you’ve been journaling, you may have seen yourself cycle through this pattern, along with some other patterns that you can see have never worked for you. Armed with that knowledge, you can intelligently reject such strategies. You can see evidence that they don’t create lasting change in your future. Those approaches haven’t worked in the past, so there’s no reason to suspect they’ll suddenly start working in the future. If you repeat them, you’ll get a result that looks strikingly similar to what you’ve seen in the past. Journaling is a great way to become aware of some of those patterns and avoid repeating them; otherwise it’s too easy to forget and remain stuck in dufus-land. What other patterns do you observe in your past that haven’t worked? What patterns actually have worked? When you experienced your biggest breakthroughs, how did they happen? Can you reverse-engineer and re-apply those same general strategies today? Change the Past, Change the Prediction My next suggestion may sound a bit odd, but I think it will give you a fresh perspective on how to create lasting change. Instead of trying to change your present or your future, focus on changing your past. In other words, if you want to improve some part of your life, your must inject evidence of change into your past. Obviously you can only do that by taking action in the present, but not just any action. If you take haphazard action, such as was mentioned in the Gung Ho Dufus approach, then what are you injecting into your past? Not success. We could say you’re injecting failure and even stupidity into your past because you’re simply repeating a strategy that’s a known failure. And that leads to a perpetuation of the past in your future. Instead what you need to do is inject some form of consistency into your past. You need to establish a new pattern of behavior. That new recent past, if it looks consistent enough, will alter your predictions about the future. Like I said, this may seem an odd way of looking at things, but it can get you thinking in new directions, and that’s what we want. What kinds of actions will you need to take that will inject a fresh chain of consistency into your past, thereby giving you enough certainty to alter your predictions about the future? As you might guess, the best kinds of actions — in terms of their predictive value — are those that are done regularly and that can be sustained for at least a year or more. Those are the kinds of actions that we base our predictions on when we make predictions about other people. What kinds of meals have we seen this person eat? What sorts of partners does this person hang out with regularly? Where does this person go to work each weekday? What kind of paychecks does this person bring home each month? How does this person spend their Sunday mornings? These sorts of actions have a name of course. They’re called habits. Evidence, Not Wishful Thinking You’ll cross the threshold of being able to predict success instead of failure once you establish certain habits. But until that happens, the perpetuation of the status quo (i.e. failure to change) will remain the dominant prediction. If you don’t establish new habits, your goals and intentions are toast. They will not come to pass. Those habits could be new ways of thinking, but even if they’re thought-based, they’re going to surface in the form of new behaviors too. No new behaviors means no new predictions. If you want change, you must create evidence of change. Evidence of change equals new habits. No new habits equals no change in prediction. Predictable Change vs. Changing Predictions Now it’s possible that your existing habits are serving you well. Maybe your predictions for the future are very positive already, and you expect them to remain good for a while. This is a great place to be. I enjoy this situation in many parts of my life. It’s nice to observe that if I just keep doing what I’ve been doing, some parts of my life will probably keep getting better and better. That’s predictable change — the good kind. That’s an easy situation to manage because if you simply maintain the status quo in terms of your habits, you’re golden. The focus of this article, however, is on the situation where you dislike some or all of your predictions. You don’t feel good about what you see coming up. Maybe your predictions are negative or neutral. Or maybe they just aren’t positive enough for you. In that case you want to change the predictions. You can’t just fudge your numbers because that means falling out of alignment with Truth, which is a great way to bring your personal growth to a halt. Don’t lie to yourself or exaggerate where your current habits are taking you. Remember — this is for posterity, so be honest! Again, forget about your intentions, and focus on making predictions from reliable past data. Don’t predict that you’ll double your income this year if last year you saw less than a 10% increase — unless some reliable indicators have shifted to make that prediction likely from an objective standpoint, and you can name other people who’d agree with your predictions. If you can’t fudge your numbers, the only way you can change your predictions without losing accuracy is to change the past. Ironically, that will take time, but it can be done. You can change the past by installing a new habit or breaking an existing habit. Really these are the same thing, since you can’t break an old habit without installing a new one to replace it. So this is where to focus your efforts of personal growth. Focus on changing the consistent patterns in your life, and begin injecting new consistent patterns into your past by performing them in the present (which instantly becomes the past). If you can’t do that, your honest predictions won’t change. You’ll just continue to head in the same direction as before. Breaking the Past Look at the elements from your past that are contributing to your predictions. Which habits are causing you to make negative predictions about your future? Do you feel miffed about your patterns of eating or sleeping? Are your dating habits letting you down? What results are you getting from your work routine and productivity habits? Where are your current spiritual practices leading you? Are your spending habits leading you astray? Habit change can be tough, but a great place to start is to use the 30-day trial method. There’s also a whole chapter on habits in my book, so I recommend that you review that as well. This will get you off to a good start with tools that have worked well for large numbers of people. If you really want to create some serious changes, another perspective I can share is that you want to think about breaking your past. Shatter those past patterns, so they absolutely cannot continue in their current form. Deliberately create a disconnect with your past which — at the very least — makes your previous predictions impossible… even if it means trading the comfort of certainty for the discomfort of unpredictability. For example, break off a disempowering relationship that contributes to too many negative predictions. Drop the lazy friends from your life, and start befriending the most productive and organized people you know. Move to a new city where you can expect more career and financial opportunities. Drop the most health-destroying foods from your life, and offer $100 cash to anyone who catches you eating them within the next year. Make it impossible to continue the same past patterns for another 30 days. If you can’t break the past by injecting a discontinuity into it, then the past will essentially be your future. To Change the Future, Change the Past Consider two scenarios. Bill and Ted both want to have written a book within the next year. Neither has written a book before. Bill has no habit of daily writing. But he has a clear written goal/intention for his book. He knows what kind of book he wants to write. When people ask him what he’s working on, he tells them he’s writing a book. In the past 30 days, he has spent a lot of time thinking about his book. He’s even jotted down some ideas for it, but mostly at random intervals. Ted has no written goals, intentions, or plans for his book. He hasn’t told anyone he’s writing it. He’s not even sure what the chapters will be. But for the past 30 days, he’s gotten out of bed every morning at 5am, and he’s worked on his book till 7am before having breakfast. He has averaged about 2 pages of potentially usable content per day. He’s been working only on his book during that time and nothing else. He’s done this every day without fail. Nothing has come up in his life during that time that would disrupt this habit or indicate that it’s likely to be disrupted. If I told you that only one of these two gentlemen finished their book within that year, which one would you bet on? Which approach do you believe is more likely to lead to a completed book within a year? Which approach are you betting on in your life right now? How’s that approach working for you? Is your success predictable? Is your lack of success predictable? Goals and Predictions Now don’t get me wrong. Goals and intentions are awesome. Having clarity about what you’re going to do next is certainly important. But deciding what you want is only the first step. And if that’s all you do, then I predict some occasional spotty successes for you against a far more consistent backdrop of long-term mediocrity. I’ve seen that pattern play out enough times across enough people’s lives that I consider such results fairly predictable. Eventually you must inject your goals and intentions into your past to create the evidence that will alter your predictions about where you’re headed. This is how you change course. Setting a new goal is like punching in a new course at the helm of the Enterprise. Creating a new habit is the act of saying, “Engage!” The ship doesn’t move until you say that word. Wesley Crusher will just give you a blank stare, and no one wants that. Sorry, Tony. … and Wesley.
    1019 Posted by UniqueThis
  • The past does not equal the future is a favorite saying of Tony Robbins. Unfortunately he’s dead wrong. I can understand Tony’s intent in making such a statement. Sure it’s part of his overall sales pitch, but essentially he’s telling people that they have the power to break from the past and use their power to create a new future. In general that’s a positive message to convey. Unfortunately it seems to do more harm than good. Quite often it makes people all gung ho about changes that never quite materialize. The underlying idea that we can escape the past actually wastes a lot of people’s time. I know it feels good to think about the idea that we can somehow break with the past and create a whole new future for ourselves, but how often do people actually pull that off when they attempt it? How often have you pulled it off? So what’s the truth? The truth is that past performance is in fact the best predictor of future performance, not just with individual human beings but with teams, companies, technology, political bodies, and other time-bound entities. Even when it comes to personal growth and conscious living, for all intents and purposes, the past DOES equal the future. Looking to the Past If you want to know where your current path is taking you, look to your past. That’s the best way to predict where you’re headed. Looking to your past is more reliable than looking at your goals and intentions. If I want to know where someone is headed, I’ll take a look at their past, especially their recent past, and make a prediction based on that. I don’t need to hear about their goals and intentions — that information isn’t relevant. (I’ll explain why I say this a bit later in this article.) Just let me see what they’ve been up to for the past few months, and that will give me a pretty good idea of where they’ll be in a year or so. Obviously there’s some randomness in life. There are chaotic events we can’t very well predict. Sometimes the unexpected happens, and it spins our lives in completely new directions. But most of the time, our lives succumb to predictable patterns, especially in the long run. We may not be able to predict what will happen tomorrow or next week with much accuracy, but barring an unusually consequential chaotic change, our lives tend to be a lot more predictable over longer stretches of time than we usually care to admit. Eat a little bit more than you burn in an average day, and you’ll be heavier a year from now. The result is fairly predictable, given the patterns observed in the past. Is your expected future really so difficult to predict, at least in a general way? If you go to college and major in a subject with little or no market demand in terms of jobs, isn’t it largely predictable that you may struggle to find paying work after graduating… and if you do find work, that it will likely be outside the field of your major? If you linger in a relationship that you wouldn’t rate as a 9 or 10 on a scale of 1-10, isn’t it predictable that dissatisfaction or resentment or apathy will develop over time, as opposed to love and gratitude? If you eat unhealthy foods and experience high stress levels, can you not make certain predictions about what kind of lifestyle problems you may experience down the road? Looking to Others Consider some of the people in your life — people you know pretty well. Can you reasonably predict where they’ll be a year from now? Can you make a decent guess at where they’ll be in terms of their career, finances, relationships, health, daily habits, spiritual practices, etc? I’m not asking you to predict with any sort of exactitude here. I’m simply asking you to paint a general picture of what you expect each person’s life will look like in a year or so. Pick one specific person for starters, someone you know well but not someone you’re in a romantic relationship with. (Pick someone where you don’t have too much of a vested interest in where they’re headed.) What kind of career or job situation will this person be engaged in a year from now? Blue collar or white collar work? A job to pay the bills or a dedicated career path? What is this person’s attitude towards their work? How hard do they work? What kind of hours do they put in each week? Where will they be in a year? What kind of income does this person earn? Make a ballpark guess. Are they making $50K a year? $500K? Millions? How much money does this person have? What assets does s/he own? What kind of relationships does this person have? Is s/he married? Is there a significant other? Living together? Solo? Looking for someone? If this person is in and out of relationships all the time, don’t worry about predicting the exact relationship position at the end of a year since that could be a coin toss. Just predict what general relationship patterns you’ll expect to see play out over the course of that year. How many new partners will this person have during that year, and what will those partners be like? How will this person do health-wise over the next year? What kinds of foods will they eat? What kinds of exercise, if any, will they do? Will they gain weight, lose weight, or stay the same weight this year? Will they diet or yo-yo at all? What kinds of daily habits will this person have? When will they get up? When will they go to bed? Are they lazy? Super productive? Highly or minimally effective at getting things done? What spiritual practices will this person have a year from now? Will they go to church regularly? Will they shun all spiritual practices? Will they meditate often? Will they put candles around their bathtub and label it spirituality? See if you can get an overall picture of where each of a few people in your life will be a year from now. Where Predictions Come From Notice how you made your predictions. If you’re like most people, you based your predictions on how each person has behaved in the past, particularly the recent past. To predict the future, you simply projected the past into the future. You looked at the momentum of where this person is headed. You also looked at where they’re stagnant. For example, if you know that someone got a 10% raise last year, you might predict another 10% raise this year. You might also predict that this person will still be in the same job. If someone has been in a relationship for 10+ years, you might predict they’ll be in that same relationship next year. If someone’s company has been downsizing like crazy, you might predict they’ll be out of work within a year and either unemployed or working at a similar job in a year. If someone is late on their mortgage payments and is getting foreclosure notices, you might predict they’ll be out of that house within a year and maybe living in a smaller house, an apartment, or a condo somewhere. Now you might say that we need to include the present as well as the past in making decisions, but since the present is just an instantaneous moment, that isn’t necessary. The past includes everything from the last microsecond back to the beginning of time, so that’s as much data as you really need. If you think you need to include something that really is happening in the present, wait one more second. Now it’s in the past. If you can claim to know anything about a person, it’s from the past. Recording Your Predictions I suggest you write down some of your predictions about the people in your life. Record them in your journal. Then put a note on your calendar a year from now that says something like, “Review journal entry on predictions from a year ago.” If you use an online calendar, this takes only seconds. Then when your reminder pops up a year from now, review your predictions. How did they turn out? If you were basically right about certain things, how did you know? Why was your prediction so accurate? If you were wrong about anything, why did you miss? Did something unpredictable happen that you couldn’t have anticipated? Did you not have enough information to make an accurate prediction? Did you over-emphasize or under-emphasize the importance of certain factors? What can you learn about this exercise to make better predictions? You’re More Predictable Than You Realize Sometimes it’s easier to make predictions about other people instead of ourselves. When we look at other people’s lives, our egos don’t get in the way as much. It can be pretty tough to look at ourselves so objectively, especially when we don’t like what we see. No one wants to predict that a year from now, they’ll have lost their home due to foreclosure, gained 20 pounds of fat, and endured a string of bad relationships. If you’re fortunate to have some intelligent friends who are willing to make honest predictions about where you’re headed and share them with you, you’ll find it very eye-opening to have a candid discussion with them on this subject. However, this will require turning off your ego as much as possible and really listening, which isn’t easy for most people to do. Try this: Make some predictions about where you’ll be in a year, but base your predictions only on hard factual evidence from the past 30 days of your life. Take note of how you ate, slept, exercised, worked, communicated, related, created, etc. only during the past 30 days. Assume those same patterns in every area will continue for another 12 months. If you feel the past 30 days were very atypical for you, such as if you were on vacation or traveling during that time, then use the past 90 days instead. Use this time frame to predict where you’ll be in a year. Project those same patterns forward in time. Where will they lead if you largely repeated the patterns of the past 30-90 days for a full 12 months? Aligning With Truth A huge part of aligning yourself with Truth is being able to make honest, objective predictions about where you’re headed. How will different aspects of your life evolve over the coming year — or longer? In order to make accurate predictions, you cannot look to your goals or intentions. For all intents and purposes, you can consider goals and intentions irrelevant. Imagine that you’re in a court of law that’s trying to make a ruling based on the facts of the case. Goals and intentions for the future are inadmissible as evidence because they aren’t hard facts. They’re merely opinions or speculation about what may be. In order to make accurate predictions of where you’re headed, you must look to your past and only your past. This may be something you didn’t want to hear, but I’m playing it straight with you. If you start getting emotional about your predictions (either positive or negative emotions), stop and take a break. This is an exercise that requires logical, left-brained thought. This isn’t the time or place for emotional or illogical thinking. Pretend you’re a Vulcan or an android, and have at it. Review the questions I asked you earlier about your friend (under the subhead “Looking to Others”). Now ask those same questions of yourself. Look only to your recent past to predict the future, i.e. the past 30-90 days. Pretend for a moment that you’re Mr. Spock or Mr. Data, and make your best determination as to where the person whose body you inhabit will be a year from now — in terms of your career, finances, relationships, health, daily habits, spiritual practices, etc. Whichever parts of your life you consider important to you, make some predictions for those areas. Then do the same thing with recording your predictions in your journal, and mark your calendar a year from now to review that entry. And don’t give me that pathetic eye-roll. So what if it takes a year to complete this exercise? The time is going to pass anyway, and a year from now you’ll find this data very valuable. Would you rather be feeling intrigued when you see that message on your calendar a year from now, and open up that tremendous gift of growth, or would you rather have another “normal” day instead? The Gung Ho Dufus When you study and learn from your past, you’ll notice certain patterns that come up repeatedly in your life. Many of these patterns are ineffective for you. Based on your own history, the results are predictably bad. But how easily we forget and repeat those same mistakes… One of those bunk patterns I’ve seen in my own past — and you may recognize this in your past as well — is what I call the Gung Ho Dufus approach to personal growth. This is when someone gets all amped up about a change they’re going to make. They feel a surge of something — adrenaline maybe… sometimes caffeine — and decide that finally things will be different. They usually believe it too. They make some new decisions and start taking some actions, but their actions are inconsistent and chaotic. Most of their actions are one-offs, meaning that they never get integrated as permanent habits. For example, they’ll tell a bunch of people about their desire to change, and maybe they’ll ask for advice to get started, but that’s often as far as it goes. Eventually the excitement over the new direction fizzles, and the person gets sucked back into their usual behavior patterns from the past. No real lasting change occurs. If you look to your past, especially if you’ve been journaling, you may have seen yourself cycle through this pattern, along with some other patterns that you can see have never worked for you. Armed with that knowledge, you can intelligently reject such strategies. You can see evidence that they don’t create lasting change in your future. Those approaches haven’t worked in the past, so there’s no reason to suspect they’ll suddenly start working in the future. If you repeat them, you’ll get a result that looks strikingly similar to what you’ve seen in the past. Journaling is a great way to become aware of some of those patterns and avoid repeating them; otherwise it’s too easy to forget and remain stuck in dufus-land. What other patterns do you observe in your past that haven’t worked? What patterns actually have worked? When you experienced your biggest breakthroughs, how did they happen? Can you reverse-engineer and re-apply those same general strategies today? Change the Past, Change the Prediction My next suggestion may sound a bit odd, but I think it will give you a fresh perspective on how to create lasting change. Instead of trying to change your present or your future, focus on changing your past. In other words, if you want to improve some part of your life, your must inject evidence of change into your past. Obviously you can only do that by taking action in the present, but not just any action. If you take haphazard action, such as was mentioned in the Gung Ho Dufus approach, then what are you injecting into your past? Not success. We could say you’re injecting failure and even stupidity into your past because you’re simply repeating a strategy that’s a known failure. And that leads to a perpetuation of the past in your future. Instead what you need to do is inject some form of consistency into your past. You need to establish a new pattern of behavior. That new recent past, if it looks consistent enough, will alter your predictions about the future. Like I said, this may seem an odd way of looking at things, but it can get you thinking in new directions, and that’s what we want. What kinds of actions will you need to take that will inject a fresh chain of consistency into your past, thereby giving you enough certainty to alter your predictions about the future? As you might guess, the best kinds of actions — in terms of their predictive value — are those that are done regularly and that can be sustained for at least a year or more. Those are the kinds of actions that we base our predictions on when we make predictions about other people. What kinds of meals have we seen this person eat? What sorts of partners does this person hang out with regularly? Where does this person go to work each weekday? What kind of paychecks does this person bring home each month? How does this person spend their Sunday mornings? These sorts of actions have a name of course. They’re called habits. Evidence, Not Wishful Thinking You’ll cross the threshold of being able to predict success instead of failure once you establish certain habits. But until that happens, the perpetuation of the status quo (i.e. failure to change) will remain the dominant prediction. If you don’t establish new habits, your goals and intentions are toast. They will not come to pass. Those habits could be new ways of thinking, but even if they’re thought-based, they’re going to surface in the form of new behaviors too. No new behaviors means no new predictions. If you want change, you must create evidence of change. Evidence of change equals new habits. No new habits equals no change in prediction. Predictable Change vs. Changing Predictions Now it’s possible that your existing habits are serving you well. Maybe your predictions for the future are very positive already, and you expect them to remain good for a while. This is a great place to be. I enjoy this situation in many parts of my life. It’s nice to observe that if I just keep doing what I’ve been doing, some parts of my life will probably keep getting better and better. That’s predictable change — the good kind. That’s an easy situation to manage because if you simply maintain the status quo in terms of your habits, you’re golden. The focus of this article, however, is on the situation where you dislike some or all of your predictions. You don’t feel good about what you see coming up. Maybe your predictions are negative or neutral. Or maybe they just aren’t positive enough for you. In that case you want to change the predictions. You can’t just fudge your numbers because that means falling out of alignment with Truth, which is a great way to bring your personal growth to a halt. Don’t lie to yourself or exaggerate where your current habits are taking you. Remember — this is for posterity, so be honest! Again, forget about your intentions, and focus on making predictions from reliable past data. Don’t predict that you’ll double your income this year if last year you saw less than a 10% increase — unless some reliable indicators have shifted to make that prediction likely from an objective standpoint, and you can name other people who’d agree with your predictions. If you can’t fudge your numbers, the only way you can change your predictions without losing accuracy is to change the past. Ironically, that will take time, but it can be done. You can change the past by installing a new habit or breaking an existing habit. Really these are the same thing, since you can’t break an old habit without installing a new one to replace it. So this is where to focus your efforts of personal growth. Focus on changing the consistent patterns in your life, and begin injecting new consistent patterns into your past by performing them in the present (which instantly becomes the past). If you can’t do that, your honest predictions won’t change. You’ll just continue to head in the same direction as before. Breaking the Past Look at the elements from your past that are contributing to your predictions. Which habits are causing you to make negative predictions about your future? Do you feel miffed about your patterns of eating or sleeping? Are your dating habits letting you down? What results are you getting from your work routine and productivity habits? Where are your current spiritual practices leading you? Are your spending habits leading you astray? Habit change can be tough, but a great place to start is to use the 30-day trial method. There’s also a whole chapter on habits in my book, so I recommend that you review that as well. This will get you off to a good start with tools that have worked well for large numbers of people. If you really want to create some serious changes, another perspective I can share is that you want to think about breaking your past. Shatter those past patterns, so they absolutely cannot continue in their current form. Deliberately create a disconnect with your past which — at the very least — makes your previous predictions impossible… even if it means trading the comfort of certainty for the discomfort of unpredictability. For example, break off a disempowering relationship that contributes to too many negative predictions. Drop the lazy friends from your life, and start befriending the most productive and organized people you know. Move to a new city where you can expect more career and financial opportunities. Drop the most health-destroying foods from your life, and offer $100 cash to anyone who catches you eating them within the next year. Make it impossible to continue the same past patterns for another 30 days. If you can’t break the past by injecting a discontinuity into it, then the past will essentially be your future. To Change the Future, Change the Past Consider two scenarios. Bill and Ted both want to have written a book within the next year. Neither has written a book before. Bill has no habit of daily writing. But he has a clear written goal/intention for his book. He knows what kind of book he wants to write. When people ask him what he’s working on, he tells them he’s writing a book. In the past 30 days, he has spent a lot of time thinking about his book. He’s even jotted down some ideas for it, but mostly at random intervals. Ted has no written goals, intentions, or plans for his book. He hasn’t told anyone he’s writing it. He’s not even sure what the chapters will be. But for the past 30 days, he’s gotten out of bed every morning at 5am, and he’s worked on his book till 7am before having breakfast. He has averaged about 2 pages of potentially usable content per day. He’s been working only on his book during that time and nothing else. He’s done this every day without fail. Nothing has come up in his life during that time that would disrupt this habit or indicate that it’s likely to be disrupted. If I told you that only one of these two gentlemen finished their book within that year, which one would you bet on? Which approach do you believe is more likely to lead to a completed book within a year? Which approach are you betting on in your life right now? How’s that approach working for you? Is your success predictable? Is your lack of success predictable? Goals and Predictions Now don’t get me wrong. Goals and intentions are awesome. Having clarity about what you’re going to do next is certainly important. But deciding what you want is only the first step. And if that’s all you do, then I predict some occasional spotty successes for you against a far more consistent backdrop of long-term mediocrity. I’ve seen that pattern play out enough times across enough people’s lives that I consider such results fairly predictable. Eventually you must inject your goals and intentions into your past to create the evidence that will alter your predictions about where you’re headed. This is how you change course. Setting a new goal is like punching in a new course at the helm of the Enterprise. Creating a new habit is the act of saying, “Engage!” The ship doesn’t move until you say that word. Wesley Crusher will just give you a blank stare, and no one wants that. Sorry, Tony. … and Wesley.
    Jul 14, 2011 1019
  • 14 Jul 2011
    As my 30-day subjective reality experiment concluded last month, I shifted to a different mode of living. I finally got used to seeing the world through a dream lens. It was seriously challenging to hold that perspective at first, but after a few weeks, my subconscious took over, and I no longer had to consciously remind myself that this is a dream. Eventually the dream perspective became my default way of thinking. Freeing Mental RAM Up until that point, holding that perspective was a major cognitive burden. My mind often felt fried at the end of the day. The experiment required a serious conscious effort, a lot of dedication, and perhaps a twist of fanaticism. Holding the subjective perspective required a significant amount of mental RAM. Multiple times per hour, I had to keep refreshing that perspective. Otherwise I’d fall back into an objective mindset by default. This was difficult to be sure. I don’t think I could have succeeded in making this shift if I hadn’t dedicated myself to 30 days of total immersion. While it can be a fun experience to try