Monday, December 18, 2017

Seduced by Technology

We humans are overly seduced by technology.

We love shiny new objects. To a fault.

We focus on new things because they are neat or "cool."

But, they are really just a convenient distraction.

The most important technology, in the world, exists between your two ears.

Your head contains the technology you should be focused on.

The new iPhone will not bring you lasting happiness. It will not fill the void.

Humans are wired for progress. Meaning, progressing from Point A to Point B.

Whether your goal is entrepreneurship, or whatever it is, you need to be clear about your mission.

What is your Point B?

Technology is usually a distraction. A dream. Wishful thinking.

The tool needs to serve the mission.

The mission ALWAYS comes first.

Ask yourself, what are you really trying to do?

Who do you want to be?

What do you want to be remembered for?

A lot of people do not have a clear mission. So, they default to technology for distraction (under the guise of entertainment.) Which ultimately leads to a lot of regret.

Do not let technology get the best of you.

I only say this because I have made this mistake myself.

Many times.

It led me to Nowheresburg.



Monday, December 11, 2017

Go For It !

Last week I talked about the great movie La La Land. And, it got me to thinking about the importance of going for it.

In La La Land, the characters chase their dreams. Which caused me to think about an excellent book titled Whoever Makes the Most Mistakes Wins.

The book was written by Richard Farson and Ralph Keyes. And, in the book, you will find a section, titled "No Regrets," which I thought I would pass along to you.

Here are the words of Farson and Keyes:

When doing something we're passionate about, failure becomes a nonissue. Even our worst blunders don't feel like mistakes when they're a result of taking chances we wanted to take. The biggest regrets in life are for risks we didn't take, not ones we took and lost.

Pursuit of a dream rarely leads to regret––win, lose, or draw. Not pursuing one routinely does. A study of forty-eight women, ages twenty-five to sixty-seven, found that the happiest ones were fulfilling a childhood ambition. Those who weren't doing what they had dreamed of doing, no matter how successful they were in careers and marriage, invariably wished they had chased their dreams instead. According to psychologist Patricia Weenolsen, who conducted this study, "Decisions of the head rather than the heart are the ones we most deeply regret."

Too many of those with unrealized aspirations have set them aside due to fear of failure. The bigger the dream, the greater the fear. Doing less than our best allays this fear. I could have done better if I'd really tried, we assure ourselves. Among the least appreciated reasons for doing superficial, second-rate work of any kind is the comfort of knowing it's not our best that's on the line. By not trying too hard, we avoid learning what our true potential is, and having to fulfill it. Doing our best can be deeply threatening. It forces us to consider what we're actually capable of accomplishing. Once we learn that lesson, we can't unlearn it. Our true potential becomes both a shining light we can follow and an oppressive burden of expectation that might, or might not, be met.

A fear of doing our best, of being our best, is one to which everyone is prey. In its clutches we may not succeed, but at least we don't fail. How could we? We didn't even try. Far more is at stake when we do what we really want to do rather than something less. We may never fully appreciate the role that not pursuing a dream plays in limiting people to disappointing careers and regret-filled lives.

Consider a retired secretary we'll call Emily. Emily led a supremely cautious life. Her reflex response to any suggestion for change was "No." Emily never married, didn't go to college, and lived in her parents' Chicago home. Her entire career was spent working in the same hospital. Emily had few actions to regret, because she initiated few acts. Her life was devoted to avoiding failure. As a result––in her own mind, anyway––Emily's life overall was one big failure. She entered the home stretch of that life filled with anguish about not having been bolder. In her late seventies, Emily observed that if she ever wrote a book, it would be titled The Risks I Never Took. We could all contribute a chapter to Emily's book.

Not taking more chances is a major source of regret. That may not become apparent until late in our lives as we review the many roads not taken. "I used to be so gutsy," is a common refrain. "What happened?" Such a realization doesn't necessarily lead to bolder living. Anticipating the pain of failure, at every stage of life we're all susceptible to avoiding activities that might fail. But failure's pain subsides faster than the ache of regret. Thoughts persist about what-ifs and what-might-have-beens had we been more daring. In the long run, avoiding activity that might hurt causes more agony than acting, failing, and dealing with the pain.

Failed risks at least leave us with the pride of having dared, and the knowledge that we gave all we had. A Philadelphia papergoods salesman recalled wistfully the four years he spent in Los Angeles trying unsuccessfully to become a stand-up comedian. Did he regret the way things worked out? "Not a bit," said the salesman. "I gave it my best shot. Knowing that, I'm not unhappy with my life now. I'd only be unhappy if I hadn't tried to do stand-up first."

Risk takers ranging from entertainers through rock climbers to business founders seldom regret their daring ventures, even ones that go belly up. They know that few things are more satisfying than jumping high, even when they land on their backsides. Bold acts are rarely regretted, regardless of the outcome. On the other hand, obsessive brooding is often the result of throwing one's hand in too soon. Regrets bordering on mourning are felt about risks not taken: job offers spurned, loves abandoned, fights backed away from, pictures not painted, start-ups not started. Remorse is far more likely about being too cautious than about being too reckless. "I think I don't regret a single 'excess' of my responsive youth," said Henry James, "...I only regret, in my chilled age, certain occasions and possibilities I didn't embrace."

Monday, December 4, 2017

The Fools Who Dream

Over the weekend, I finally got around to watching the movie La La Land.

What a mistake!

Meaning, I cannot believe it has taken me so long to see the film.

It was fantastic!

I am not usually a fan of musicals. But, this movie was simply delightful.

If you have not seen it, do yourself a favor, and go check it out.


Monday, November 27, 2017

The Paradox of Work

I know people are not overly interested in paradoxes. How do I know? Because my posts, with that word in the title, do not get a whole lotta views.

Thus, I am left with a choice. On the one hand, I could write on topics that will get views. This would be along the lines of the clickbait phenomenon.

On the other hand, I could write about what is truly important. And, this is a real challenge. Meaning, the decision between quality and quantity is far from easy. In this way I am stuck in something of a paradox of my own (actually, conundrum might be a more accurate word.)

Having said all that, I will post one last time about paradoxes. Because, if you want to truly understand life, I think you need to understand the paradox. Life is fundamentally paradoxical. I know that sound nerdy as hell, but it needs to be said.

Today's paradox, as the title indicates, is the paradox of work. This comes straight from my favorite book Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

From the book, "Even when they feel good, people generally say that they would prefer not to be working, that their motivation on the job is low. The converse is also true: when supposedly enjoying their hard-earned leisure, people generally report surprisingly low moods; yet they keep on wishing for more leisure."

This is one of the central themes of the book. The idea is that leisure does not really make us happy. Csikszentmihalyi draws a distinction between pleasure and enjoyment. Leisure can be pleasurable but it is not enjoyable.

Unfortunately, most of us tend to choose pleasure over enjoyment. And, it is such a pity. We choose things that are not in our best interest. A whopper of a paradox. In a related vein, I wrote this post a few years ago.

Also, because it is closely related, let me leave you with one other example. I recently read the book The Upside of Stress by Kelly McGonigal. And, I quite enjoyed the book. I believe understanding the upside of stress is a wise perspective to obtain.

McGonigal writes, "Research also shows that a less stressful life doesn't make people nearly as happy as they think it will. Although most people predict they would be happier if they were less busy, the opposite turns out to be true. People are happier when they are busier, even when forced to take on more than they would choose."

So, again, it is not always wise to trust our instincts. And, to bring this post full circle, my instincts tell me to go for the clicks. Isn't that what 'everyone' says we need? As for now, I think I will shoot for something more important. I think paradoxes are important. We shall see what happens.

Have a great week.

Monday, November 20, 2017

The Paradox of Time

Time is a very curious thing.  Few of us truly understand it. Let me give you an example. If you were driving your car, at the speed of light, and you turned on your headlights, would anything happen?

That question relates to Einstein's Theory of Relativity. If you do not know the answer, do not worry. None of us do! Even modern day physicists do not truly understand the Theory of Relativity.

But, I am not looking to talk about some heady physics topic. It is simply too difficult. My point was only to illustrate the illusive nature of time.

Instead of Einstein, let me mention another scientist. A scientist whose work is much more accessible. The scientist's name is Philip Zimbardo. And, he is a professor of psychology at Stanford.

About a decade ago, Zimbardo wrote a book titled The Time Paradox.  And, I found the book to be quite interesting. In Zimbardo's words, time is a paradox because it is, "Something that influences every decision you make (yet) you are totally unaware of."

That quote can be rather intimidating, but let me give you an example. I have heard quite a number of people propose the following thought experiment with regards to career selection. They say, "What would you do if today were the last day of your life? Do that!"

The question is completely ridiculous. So much so that any person giving such advice is immediately discredited, in my mind. That question is about hedonism, not planning.

Let me summarize Zimbardo's recommendation. The most important thing is, when you think about the past, you want to focus on the positive not the negative.

Next most important (meaning, the thing which deserves second priority) is to look to the future. And, third, in the present, it is wise to be hedonic, rather than fatalistic.

Hedonism does have its place. But, it is definitely not the most important thing.

Monday, November 13, 2017

The Banker's Paradox

If you were not raised with a silver spoon in your mouth, you will likely need to solve the Banker's Paradox.

Last week got me to thinking about paradoxes. Because, in many ways, Thug Rose Namajunas is a paradox. If you have not read last week's post, click here.

Today's paradox has roots in the Bible. Namely, Ecclesiastes 6. I can paraphrase the Banker's Paradox as follows: Banks will give all the money in the world to people who do not need it. While they refuse to give money to those that need it the most.

Stated in more obvious terms: If you are good with money, and have a good credit score, banks want to lend you money. However, if your financial history is lacking, banks do not want to give you money.

Have you heard this paradox before? It is, indeed, pervasive and important.

On the one hand, I might offer my opinion on resolving the banker's paradox. However, I feel I would be doing you a better service by asking you a question. My question is this, how do you think people can best solve the banker's paradox?

Now, listen, I realize that last question is pretty simple to answer. Especially when you consider how I stated the banker's paradox in "more obvious terms." But, don't get it twisted. The banker's paradox is all around us. And, it is definitely not just about money.

For example, yesterday, I was listening to Joe Rogan's podcast. And, Joe was talking about how often low-level people hit him up. What I hope you realize is how getting in, with successful and established people, is a version of the banker's paradox. Ya dig?

Monday, November 6, 2017

A Star (Good Person) is Born

On Saturday night, in Madison Square Garden, an aspiring good person stepped out into the light. It was in New York City where Rose Namajunas shocked the fighting world with her first round knockout of champion Joanna Jędrzejczyk.

Even if you do not like the fight game, stick with me, because you need to know about Ms. Namajunas. I have been a fan of mixed martial arts for 20 years. And, while I understand how some can say the sport is too violent, I believe the most fascinating part is the psychology.

In fact, I enjoy watching behind-the-scenes more than the actual fights. This is where Saturday's fight was so special. Entering the fight, the Polish Jędrzejczyk (pronounced young-jay-check) was widely considered the pound-for-pound best female fighter on the planet.

With an undefeated record of 14-0, it appeared as if Joanna was unbeatable. In addition to her stellar skills, Jędrzejczyk is also a master at talking trash. Mental warfare, as we might call it, was recently taken to new levels by Conor McGregor. But, make no mistake, Joanna is also excellent at messing with her opponents heads.

On Saturday, Jędrzejczyk was a 6-to-1 favorite to win the fight.

Now, I have been watching Namajunas (pronounced naw-maw-you-ness) for quite a while. But, even still, Rose is only 25 years old. Which seems too young to thoroughly dismantle the best fighter in the world. Rose is a women of fascinating complexity and contradictions.

You see, Namajunas has never hidden the fact that she has a family history of mental illness. Her father was not really a part of her life because he suffered from schizophrenia. A fact Jędrzejczyk seemed to be attacking when she called Namajunas "mentally unstable."

Perhaps to the contrary, Saturday seemed to prove Rose's remarkable stability. My words will not do her justice. I would rather you hear from Namajunas herself. So, I will provide you with the links to a couple of short videos. But, let me mention one more interesting tidbit.

Rose's nickname is "Thug." And, she can definitely sound pretty gangsta when she talks. That said, you would never guess the song she selected for her walk to the ring. She chose Sweet Freedom by Michael McDonald! (Though the PA messed up and played something else. Just another adversity Namajunas was able to overcome.)

After the fight, when asked about one key to her success, Rose said, "Always controlling my breathing. Not paying attention to feelings, as much. Feelings are just feelings. They should guide you, but they shouldn't control you. You can chose whatever thoughts you want."

Brava Rose, brava!

You have got to hear Rose speak. Click here to watch her interview from inside the cage. And, click here to listen-in as Namajunas speaks with the commentators at Fox.

Watch those two videos, especially the second one, and listen to the wisdom pour out of this young woman. A lot of athletes are full of clichés. This young lady pours forth with interesting insight.

Make no mistake, I am a fan of Conor McGregor. But, I stand, and applaud, Miss Namajunas for being her authentic, best self.