Best Time Management Tips

In this post, we’ll a few words on the best time management tips.

Time management is one of the biggest problems of the human being of today. In the very distant past, the day was all about finding food and rituals. In other words, there just wasn’t as much to do as there is today. The man/woman of today soon finds that the pains of adulthood are largely due to the increasingly full day to day schedule. Not being busy enough is now equated to lack of drive/ambition, while having a stuffed to-do list is a motive to brag about. So, we find the person of today in an impasse in which what he/she seeks is what makes them more and more miserable, and the feeling that not seeking what will make them miserable makes them even more miserable. In other words, cluttered schedules make us more miserable and less productive, but the mere thought of having a simple to-do list makes us feel miserable because we equate busyness with productivity.

Best time management tips

What are the best time management tips? Well…to put it simply, anything that allows you to do more in a way that you can prove you’re doing more. This is the subject of point #2 but the quick summary of it is that anyone can convince themselves of how productive they are/have been, what is hard, and should be the main focus of anyone’s work is to actually to make progress on a goal in a way that a human without any abilities of thinking subjectively can clearly see and understand.

#1 Have a clear idea on your big-picture goal and start from there

The first major tip is to have a clear idea of what your main big-picture goal is. The reason for this is that it’s only from there that you can make better decisions about how to better spend your time, and the reasoning behind it is that one can only know if it’s using it’s time correctly if there is a parameter for which to judge the way one is spending its time at the current moment. The simplest way to evaluate the way you spend your time is to ask the question: does this bring me closer/move me away from my big-picture goal?

Most people skip this first step and begin by doing things that if asked about, will not be able to give you any strong reasoning behind their choice of action. What makes this even worse is not that the person will probably be doing the wrong thing, but also that if it does so for long enough, their conclusion for why they failed will likely be based on some theory of how not gifted they are.

#2 Have a clear performance measure

The thing about time is that it’s not open to interpretation. If 2h passed since you’ve started working, there is no way we can interpret it as anything else other than what the clock shows. The human mind can be so creative however, that even when something as precise as the clock tries to tell us how not productive we’ve been we can still find a way to interpret it subjectively. Meaning that the fact that we spent the last two hours browsing the internet can be easily converted from the time wasted interpretation, to research time with the potential to give us a potential 10x return on our investment. This might or might not be true but it’s off the point. The point is that the human mind and the beliefs within it are pretty malleable, and if we want to be productive or use our time well we need objective measures to productivity that happen to be immune to the kind of semantic debates/cases the human mind is capable of building/making.

I’m talking about the kind of progress criteria that forces us to answer in a yes/no black/white kind of manner. One example for writing is the word count. While this might not be the best definition of productivity in writing, since one can just press the same character indefinitely until we reach 10000 words, the truth is that anyone who does that kind of thing is not interested in being productive in the first place. Word count is not perfect but it’s a good measure of your productivity since if you factor in the fact that you’re also interested in good writing, chances are that you can be safe in believing that 1000 words of content are more productive than 200. One great question to ask is: what’s the point of having an ok productivity measure if we can fool it? And the answer might be unsatisfactory, but it’s the truth and it goes as follows: having a decent productivity measure is just better than having no productivity measure regardless of whether we can fool it or not. I know this is a weird example, but it’s like having a map spilled with coffee in which only a part of the information in it is intact. The map is certainly not perfect, but when you factor in the possibility that you don’t really need a perfect map to find places, even the imperfect can be as good as the perfect.

#3 Ignore Nobel activities when they are irrelevant to your big-picture goal

The third tip is to avoid the temptation to do something just because it’s perceived by the world at large as a good thing to do. Among the various examples are: exercising, helping others and spending time with your friends and family. Although these are genuinely good things to be doing, and we all agree that they are, sometimes they are not the best thing to be doing in a given moment. The problem with these larger than life activities is that for most of us they tend to take high priority spaces in our schedules when they do arise, even though it’s not always the case that they should take much of our time.

This is why tip #1 is so important. When you have no clear direction of where you want to go, the winds of these kinds of activities that should, in theory, add lots to our life but whose addition is hard to quantify are more likely to move us around at their will. It’s like eating a dish known to be healthy without asking whether it’s compatible to or genes or not. It might or might not, and just because they are the healthy thing to eat for most people doesn’t mean it will be for us. Just like our genes our schedules and goals can vary widely from person to person.

#4 Focus on the one thing

The book The one thing by Garry Keller is perhaps one of the best books I’ve ever read, and as larger than life as this statement might be, one can only be tempted to imagine that the book contains a wealth of information about life and Business. Maybe even more than any other book ever published, but the truth is the complete opposite. The One thing is so powerful because its sole goal is to drive only one idea home: focus only on what matters and throw away the rest. Don’t try to multitask, or to get to the bottom of a whole list of tasks. Ask yourself what your goal is, and only when you have a clear idea of it’s time to figure out the one action that will bring you the closest to it. I’m sure we’ve all had this idea at the back of our heads at some point or another in life, but the real power is in paying attention to, and give it the credit it deserves.

The question of what is the best time management strategy or tool can be thought of as the incorrect question to ask when you look at it through the lenses of the one thing. The reason for this is that when you know the one thing that will do most if not all of the job you don’t ask how you can better allocate your time, because you only have one thing on your plate. The only one thing that really matters for you to get to where you want to go.

When you fully incorporate the one thing to your life, you  soon find that the stress that comes with having a schedule and a truckload of tasks to be accomplished during the day goes away. Even more important is the fact that when you only have one thing to focus/work on you get to spend more of your time and energy on it. When you have a million little tasks, none of them gets the whole you, and if anyone does, it does so at the expense of some other task on the list. Like a carpenter who works under the “measure once cut twice” principle, here you think about the big picture and the one thing once, and the impact you’ll make in your life will perhaps be even more than twice as much as that of any time management or task list creation app you can find on the app store.

#5 Keep track of progress

The next way to better manage one’s time is to have a clear idea of how close/far one is from the big-picture goal. The reason for this is that when you don’t know how far you are from getting what you want you have no idea of how much more work/energy will be required to get you there. When you don’t know the amount of work required you make poor decisions on what kinds of tasks you should be working on, and from there you can’t accurately pick the true one thing.

Accessing progress is to us what the act of calibration is for a compass. It centers us by making it clear to our eyes how much left it is to be done. When you do this on a regular basis, and for long enough, you soon find out that the answer to the question: “what should I do next?” jumps out at us when we answer the question: “how far are we to get what we want? It’s just what happens with problem-solving. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is not to find the solution, but to clearly understand the problem, and once we do, the solution is often obvious.

Allocate large gaps of time to work

Another way to manage your time is to make better use of it. After you have the one thing pinned down, the next step is to allocate a good chunk of time to work on it. The reason for this is that the more challenging the task, the longer it tends to take to get into the right frame of mind to tackle it. When you allocate little time to do the one thing you prevent your mental and physical juices to get going enough to open the doors to potential breakthroughs in your work.

Still, on the same note, it’s important to address the subject of distractions because they are great destroyers or retarders of the state that goes by the name of “The zone”. The thing about the zone or the state of flow is that it is at the same time a very powerful state to be in and very fragile. Meaning that when in the state, we find ourselves capable of producing major results in our work, of the kind that would probably take 2x if not 3x as much time to achieve. On the other hand, what we have is also a state in which we barely know how to reliably get into, and that at the same time it’s easy to lose. This is why distractions can be so problematic. For those of us who have played any game of any kind, you’re probably familiar with the concept of momentum, in which a series of actions bring you incrementally closer and closer to a major/master state of exceptionally high performance. When it does come the state usually lasts for no longer than a few seconds, but the effects are powerful. The same applies to the state of flow. Distractions act as roadblocks to these increments in momentum, which when added to the frustration of not finding that moment of complete involvement and productivity characterized by the zone, make it even more difficult to even string the small increments that take you where you want/need to go/get to. It’s that same problem of trying to be perfect in a situation, and the first few instances of imperfection put us in a vicious cycle of self-doubt that leads to an even poorer performance until there is nothing we can do but to take some sort of break.

The point is that interruptions in work can be more detrimental than you think, and this is why in addition to blocking out large chunks of time to work, one should also look for ways to ensure that these large blocks are also large blocks of uninterrupted time.

Time Management and Health

When it comes to managing time correctly what we see out there is the just a list of 20  or 30 tips on how to shaving a few extra seconds from each task on your to-do list. While that kind of approach might work, there is one major thing people, in general, fail to acknowledge. That is the impact of your health in the way you use your time. In general the healthier the person the better it will be able to use whatever time is conquered either through technology, or some trick on doing something faster.

As the motivational speaker Tony Robbins said once, the worst place for a person to be at is in between great and rock bottom. What he meant was a place in which one is not happy where they’re at, but the misery is not miserable enough to make the person seek for change. The same thing applies to health. Most of the time we find ourselves in a situation in which our health is neither perfect nor terrible. When this happens we might not be working optimally but because we still feel like ourselves we don’t bother going to the doctor. One thing I learned from the book Headstrong by Dave Aspery, is that the brain is very sensitive to any signs of un-healthiness anywhere in the body, and no matter how little the problem, like a small degree of inflammation, for example, mental performance can be affected in many ways from reduced ability to recall words, to not being able to think clearly enough to make good decisions.

When this happens, it doesn’t really matter how much that last app promised to save you time, you will lose the efficiency you gained to the decreased levels of energy and mental abilities due to non-optimal but not deadly health.

Time Management and Technology

The purpose of technology is to enhance our lives, and what better place to apply it to if not to help us better manage our time? When we think about time management technology the first thing that comes to mind is often some sort of to-do list piece of software. While that’s good and all, most of the apps out there are nothing but the same old thing sprinkled with some extra feature that seems to change the whole game until you come to the conclusion that well…It’s just the same old thing. The best time management technology I’ve seen so far is based on some principle as opposed to just the mere technologization of something as old, and mundane as a paperback to-do list. You already possess one of the most effective pieces of time management techniques/technology, and that is your phone’s Alarm/Timer app.

The reason why this is so is that there is out there very a powerful time/procrastination management process most people are not aware of. For starters, the reason why managing procrastination is such a big deal is that if given a year to work on a project, the productivity on that project will be greatly affected by the time one spends procrastinating. The earlier you start working, be that the initial start or the start after a break, the more you can get done. This is the kind of thing that seems obvious when you think about it, but just like going to the gym, at the moment of the truth this is the kind of truth that rarely comes to mind. But it’s important.

The mechanism I’m talking about goes by the name of the Pomodoro Technique, and it goes as follows: Instead of trying to work for 5 hours in a row, break the work time in 30 min chunks of work followed by 5-10 min breaks. I know this is a direct violation of one of the tips given above, but it shouldn’t be looked at/perceived as such. The reason for this is that the purpose of this post is to be comprehensive as opposed to being preaching a technique. And this is one of the biggest problems with any person giving advice about anything in life. More than just being the master of a given technique the teacher quickly becomes a preacher. Remember that techniques are tools, and when you look at them as such you soon come to realize how nonsensical it can be to preach a tool. It’s like preaching about the power of a regular hammer as opposed to a sledgehammer, and how and why the latter is superior to the former. Each tool has its purpose, and sometimes it is the case that for whatever reason the tool you expect to do the job doesn’t.

Like for example, I’ve been in situations in which working in 30 min chunks was the only way to be productive, while in other occasions working for large chunks of 4-6 hours was optimal. It might be that you always work well with the first, or always with the latter, but it might also be the case that a mix of both is what you need. How do you know which is which? Well… the only way to know is to go ahead and test it by yourself.

The Pomodoro technique works best when for whatever reason you can’t bring yourself to work. The reason why it can so well is because of its power to fool the other side of us that is aversive to work, and who for whatever reason, at the moment has a strong grip on our energy and motivation to work.

This is why if there is some technology that you can tell will be effective is that one that addresses the biggest obstacles in working. The reason why many time management pieces of software fail to manage your time the way you expect is that the problem they are addressing is the kind of problem that poses little to no friction in work.

Cold Turkey

To say that the clock is probably the only time management technology you’ll need is true, but that doesn’t mean that everything out there is useless. There is also this class of applications designed for the sole purpose of keeping us on track.

The world we live in now, and the technology we have pre-dispose of a set of behaviors that might or might not be ideal to the life we want/aspire to live, and one of these behaviors is that tendency to browse through the web mid-work just for the sake of it. The possibility of new entertainment can be so powerful that we slavishly look for it, even at the expense of our work.

Apps like Cold Turkey block take away from us the need to control these modern-day tendencies by preventing us from accessing websites and even apps that sway us away from getting things done when we really need it but for whatever reason don’t have the will for. The reason why this made the list of productivity tools is that again, it’s not a mere improvement on some old technology, but that something addresses of some deep-rooted productivity blocker and the problem apps like cold turkey solve is well…the internet, and it’s herculean distractibility power over us.

Why goal calendars are more powerful than to-do lists

Among the set of all types of software out there, one of the most powerful has to be the Calendar. The reason for this is that it serves a dual purpose:

  1. It requires us to think about the future
  2. It can be used for the “never break the string” technique

The calendar is one of these representatives of what has been and what’s to come. When we look at a date the first instinct is to try to remember what has happened,  or what will happen on that date. When we have that kind of life reminder we might /might not do anything with the memories we get from it, but some emotion will be invoked. This is especially true if we’re going nowhere in life and the pain that comes from flipping page after page of the calendar becomes so unbearable that we have to take action.

As for the “never break the string” technique, commonly known to have been created by the famous comedian Jerry Seinfeld, it’s yet another strategy to inspire action, which will, in turn, lead us to make better use of our time. With this technique, we get to see one of the few things we can’t often see with our own eyes, and that is momentum. We begin by setting a behavior we want to turn into a habit, and each day we do it, we draw a cross on the day you did the behaviour. The never break the string comes from the fact that eventually, a string of crosses will form on the calendar across a period of days, weeks, and then months. Each time we look at the calendar then becomes a representative of our commitment to the new behavior,  and as a result also motivation for the repetition of that same behavior on the next day for two reasons: 1) the increased sense of confidence we get about our ability to stick to things, and 2) the pain of breaking the momentum  urging us to take action again tomorrow.

IFTTT and Automation

Still, on the same breath of using technology to better manage our time, there is also the subject of automation, which when done correctly can have an enormous impact on your productivity, as well as on the time you manage to have left to do other things other than work. This is why subjects such as coding and engineering can be so powerful once you learn them because they give you the power to give the repetitive to that which adores it and that would be machines. As said in the book Coders by Clive Thompson the computer will tirelessly repeat the same task over and over again for you, and when we factor in the fact that it will do so thousands if not millions of times faster than we can, it soon becomes clear how much most people who don’t even try to learn it are leaving on the table. If you are a part of the few who thinks can’t code, I’m here to tell you that today you can learn a variety of languages online through websites such as Udemy.com and even YouTube.

For the ones who just don’t have the time to learn about coding, there is an alternative, and that is platforms such as IFTTT(If this then that), that allow you to string sets of actions triggered by pre-programmed conditions without having to write a single line of code. With IFTTT you can do things such as getting the weather report for the following day, every day at the same time or to even do things as complex as  “Automatically light the way for the pizza delivery guy”. In coding, there is the flow control concept of an “if statement”, in which if a given condition is matched, a certain set of actions/instructions are carried out, and this is what IFTTT is about. You specify the conditions and IFTTT carries out the actions when the conditions are met.

Time Management at Work

When most people look for time management strategies often what they’re seeking is a better way to do more at work with the same 24 hours they have available each day. When it comes to time management at work, the most important thing is perhaps what computer scientists know as throughput. In a system, the throughout is, in essence, the amount of work the system can do in a given amount of time. The more it can do, the more efficient and powerful the system, and this is where thousands and thousands of programmers around the world spend their time each day doing when they are not busy building new systems. If you look at time management at work in the same light soon a new way of better managing time comes to light and that is the idea of doing more in less time. What would you do if I told you that there is a way to do a week’s work in a few hours of extreme productivity?

If you’re anything like me my bet is that your first instinct is that of skepticism, and chances are that you even have a growing urge to close this webpage and go about doing whatever you were doing before you started on the path that led you here. The truth is that there is, and although not a very simple technique you can apply in a few minutes, as you were probably thinking this was, this process is entirely based on real and up to date science.

What I’m talking about is the state of flow also known as “The zone”. According to the book, The rise of superman by Steven Kotler, the state of flow is the state in which we feel our best and perform our best. We find ourselves with an enhanced sense of creativity and problem solving we don’t usually find on an ordinary day to day life, so much so that the few moments in which we get it become powerfully imprinted in our memories for the rest of our lives. I’m pretty sure you have vivid memories of instances in which you were at a moment of peak performance, even if that/those moment/moments were decades ago. Being able to reliably reproduce this state is like owning a button that turns you into the super you. This is what the book is about, which I definitely recommend, and just in case you don’t have the time here is a quick summary of the whole process on how to reach the state of flow:

Summary

Managing time is hard. Even with the array of tools and techniques available to us making sure every last drop of time at our hands is put to good use is work. The kind of work we do not for 8 hours a day or for a few months but for a lifetime. There will always be a waste because we’re humans and humans are error-prone, and one of the many errors is that of not always being able to do the right thing at the right time. My approach to this fact is that of the student who feels like a student even as he/she attains higher and higher levels of mastery. I stop to observe the wasted time and proceed to keep trying to make the best possible use of what’s not.

References:

IFTTT link

Coders by Clive Thompson

The one thing by Gary Keller

Headstrong by Dave Aspery

Cold Turkey app link:

https://getdpd.com/cart/hoplink/20477?referrer=cc5dbwe47w0s4ok4k

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉

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How To Deal With The Worst Case Scenario?

In this post, we’ll have a quick discussion on how to deal with the worst-case scenario whichever it might be.

One of the purposes of a brain is to be able to plan and predict the future. The better one is at either the greater the odds that the mystery that revolves around the word “future” gets closer and closer to the word “certain”, in a similar way that some mathematical functions have this tendency to get closer and closer to the x-axis, but never quite touching it, even as they approach infinity.

With the ability to predict the future or to at least make a rough estimate of how it might look like also comes the ability to predict what we call worst-case scenarios. Which as you know are the kind of scenario in which as the name says the worst you can imagine becomes materialized through reality. When faced with situations of the kind the usual response goes from what scientists call the development of learned helplessness, to an obsessive attempt to solving the problem. Some go for the idea that everything happens for a reason, while others are more about the idea that anything that can and has happened to us is a product of our own behaviour whose effects were and are compounded through the years and decades.

How to deal with the worst-case scenario?

How do you deal with the worst case scenario? Well, assuming your plan is not to lay down and curse the Gods for your lack of luck, the next step can be rather challenging to specify due to the enormous number of variants/shapes this thing we call “the worst case scenario” can take. Below are a few general guidelines that tend to be useful regardless of the nature/size of the problem.

#1 Predict it and make it as impossible as you can

The first thing to do is to take action beforehand. When asked what to do in an exam in which you know close to nothing about, I’m sure your default answer would be to study hard before the exam. If there is the chance that you might face such a scenario in life, then the most important thing to do is to take action to make it as unlikely to occur as you can. I’m not talking about praying or making some sort ritual to increase your luck although it’s still debatable on whether such things can really help you on your endeavours. What I’m talking about is concrete action on the things you know for a fact are likely to reduce the odds of the worst case scenario ever occurring. To many, being fired from their jobs is one example of the worst case scenario in which that would imply a potential loss of a place to live due to their inability to pay their bills.

What do you do in such a scenario? Well… the most intuitive thing to do is to improve your performance, skills and knowledge. The reasoning behind this is also simple, meaning that the greater your abilities, the more valuable you are to the world. This is one thing many people often ignore these days. We forget that as Jim Rohn once said: “Life is not about need, it’s about seed”. Meaning that you’ll get what give to the world even when the world tells you you’re special and how you deserve everything you can think of.

#2 Hope for the best but assume the worst.

This second idea is really tied up to the first and it’s all about exploring your future prediction powers. When we make the effort to think about the worse that could happen and the worst is really bad the instinct is to try to shut the thoughts away with the hopes that doing so will also make the worst-case scenario more unlikely. The truth is that it won’t. As crazy as doomsday preppers might look, they are the embodiment of this point. They hope for the best and that the world doesn’t end, but they take action for in the advent that it does happen the damage is as minimal as it can be. Still, on the same tone, what do you do when the worst-case scenario for you is getting fired from your job?

Well… one very popular piece of financial wisdom is to save enough money for 3-6 months worth of your expenses. Here you take the stand of the person who has accepted what life will bring and who for whatever reason has no reason to believe they can do anything about it in terms of prevention. When this happens the tendency is to fall into a depression, but when you take action to minimize the blow of the worst-case scenario you get a weird form of peace of mind, in which instead of finding yourself worried about something you can’t prevent, and obsessing about how hard the blow will be you are more likely to feel mentally prepared for what’s to come. It’s the idea of burying your money in times of war, just in case the currency is still valid after and you give yourself a good place to start building your life back up from.

Making yourself immune to the blow

There is also the idea of making yourself immune to whatever it is. I don’t mean finding a way to avoid it here, but a way to allow yourself to keep moving forward even though the unthinkable happened. I’m talking about a way to keep going as if nothing happened. Not by pretending, or positive thinking your way out of the stress of the worst case scenario when it does come. I’m talking about a genuine feeling of peace. Like for example, when worried about losing its job one goes out and creates a successful business for itself. Now even if fired, assuming that for whatever reason you’re still working at your old job, the pain is not the same anymore. If anything maybe what was once dolorous now is transformed into relief. Relief of the stress that comes from having too many responsibilities. Now you have more spare time to work on what fulfills you, assuming of course that your newly created business is fulfilling to you.

Afraid about the end of your already problematic relationship? Well…you can make yourself immune to the ironic pain of it by going out and befriending people of the opposite kind. You can make yourself immune to it by getting in shape, and becoming more social thus increasing the odds that great people will die to have a relationship with you. Knowing you can do that is the equivalent to having a weapon in the house when what you fear is being powerless in the face of an armed intruder. In a way you hope you’ll never have to use it, but the thought that you can when the time comes can be all you need to appease your mind.

The problem of hope

Sometimes however, there really is nothing you can do to minimize the blow, but even then there is still one last thing you can do, and that is called acceptance. A part of the stress that comes from being aware of the possibility of some worst case scenario is the idea that there is someone/something that can change everything. A part of the problem is hope.

When you remove any hope from the equation you can more easily get yourself together, just like a building that has already been hit by a bomb, there is no more wonder about whether it will ever be hit, and if it does how large the damage would be. What’s left to do is to craft a plan to rebuild as quickly and robustly as possible. In a breakup in which one side is not happy for the couple to go separate ways, the most intuitive and productive next step could be to as the comedian Bill Burr would say “go to the gym and get your act together “. It could be to become more social and looking for ways to find the next significant one, or as exciting as taking a new and more adventurous career path, as opposed to dreading the inevitable end of an already probably remote resemblance of a relationship.

 Hope allows us to hold on for longer. It allows us to endure when endurance is what’s required. But it also prolongs the inevitable mysery of the certain worst case scenario. We suffer in bits, just like the famous Chinese water turture, or some form of low-grade radiation exposure in which the pain is a little painful in the short term, but over time it not only grows in intensity, but it also becomes more and more deadly. For the first, the death would be in the sanity of one’s mind, while the latter a more literal death of what it means to be a being in an evolutionary sense. The worst case scenario in the third hand a mix of both. Meaning that the day to day suffering would be a representation of a droplet of mental/spiritual death on our way to the potential real death of when the worst you can think of really does happen. So, the real question here is: should you fight to make it impossible, attempt to minimize the blow or begin drafting your comeback?

That’s a hard question on its own merit and the simplest and laziest answer is…well… to look for other people who might have gone through something similar and survived to tell the story. The best ones to look for are the ones who came up victorious. The ones who were able to handle the stress and had enough of mental clarity to craft a winning plan. The more challenging the scenario the harder it will be to find anyone close to that but if enough time is given to you the search is more than necessary. It’s vital.

Guard yourself against the wrong conclusions

In life, most if not all have no idea about what they are doing. Even the ones who seem to have an idea about what the true way is, the truth is that what they have is a rough idea of it at best. When it comes to life, there is no such a thing as true experience since for one to say it has experience at something it has to at least have gone through the whole cycle from start to finish and back, and to had gained the kind of perspective that an apprentice gains of his craft when it finally becomes a master. In other words, only that who knows what it feels to go from a child to an ancient and die like one can be said to have true life experience. As for the rest of us, due to the constraints of the “you only live once”, each day is an opportunity to have a clearer idea of the world. Each day is an opportunity to learn a bit more in the same way that the longer we count the closer we get to infinity and we feel as such but we don’t, at least not really.

If we’re lucky enough the composite of knowledge and wisdom we accumulate over the years and decades is free of falsehoods. We become smarter and wiser as time passes and our lives improve as a result. That’s why concluding the wrong thing in the face of the worst-case scenario can be so damaging. When you don’t have the time to of ever know all there is to know to always make the right decision, any fake knowledge not only slows you down but it also sets you in towards the wrong direction which is a problem when you’re limited by your mortality.

In the face of the worst case scenario the worst thing to do is to conclude the wrong thing. The reason for this is that the effects of the worst are propagated through your own life as opposed to ending where they are supposed to end. Which is when your worst nightmare comes to life.

Wrong conclusions set you up for more conclusions. In a breakup the wounded can easily feel as if he/she will never have a happy and fulfilling relationship again which sets him/her up for either no more relationships because no one is attracted to bitterness, or to more bad breakups because of their bitterness. Now the bitter thinks all men/women are the problem and that Mr/Miss right is just an illusion created by Hollywood.

 The worst thing about being wrong is not the pain that comes from looking naïve, but the sometimes false belief that we’re not wrong in the first place. The mind has this strange ability to make even the incorrect and fake sound and feel true. This is in part why the fake it till you make it solution for the confidence problem is even possible. For the mind it doesn’t matter whether we really are confident and we really are the greatest person in the universe. For the mind it’s enough to repeat the same positive sentences to ourselves every single day in the mirror for these ideas no matter how false to become true.

Look the other way and see the gift

The truth about life is that it will not give you happiness or success just because you want/ask for it. Happiness and success require work and effort, and the sad thing is that even with these, there is always the possibility for misery. If you live long enough and expose yourself enough to the world you will have some misery. You will have some moments of doubt. You will run into at least one of your many worst-case scenarios, and there will be nothing you can do to prevent/minimize the damage. For many when this moment does come they come out of it mentally stained. They come out of it more pessimistic, more negative and at least a bit less confident.

There is another way to look at these moments however, and that is the way often described by the Ex-Navy seal David Goggins. He tells us to go to war with ourselves. To see the hardships of life as an opportunity to callus our minds. To use the fact that you went through the worst-case scenario and lived to tell the story as a mental cookie, of the kind that you’ll take a bite from in the future when another worst-case scenario comes your way and the spiders of doubt begin crawling your mind.

When there is nothing you can do about a bad situation there is one thing you can do, and that is to commit to live to tell the story, and to transform it into a source of future motivation because of it in the same way that war veterans sometimes use hard moment memories in service as a proof of how strong and resilient they can be. When you’re capable of doing this the last question you ask is: If I was able to go through that who is to say I’m not capable of facing whatever life throws at me? And this is probably one of the most ironic gifts of life.

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉

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What I learned in university

In this post, we’ll have a discussion on the most important thing I learned in university.

School is one of these things that just like a politician, depending on the time most people are either for or against. It’s not so much about the tangible effects of it in one’s ability to become successful in life, but more about what kinds of things going to school the common mind thinks will allow you to do/have. In the past going to school was the dream for both the ones who could/couldn’t afford it. Being accepted, let alone being able to pay for it was a representation of the clear line between the now we don’t like so much, and the tomorrow we’re used to dreaming about even when we’re awake. In the past going to university was the closest thing to a sure win in life, in the sense that after the grueling years of assignments and quizzes, one was almost guaranteed to have a well-paying job, for which one would work for the rest of its life until retirement.

Today, the faith in such a path to life has lost more and more credibility, partly because the young adult of today, inspired by its favorite artist now wants retirement before retirement, and figures that school followed by a corporate job is more like taking a turtle to the rabbit race of life.

There is definitely some seed of truth to the idea above, but the problem begins when we not only conclude that our way of seeing life is partially incorrect but that everything that goes along with it is fully incorrect, even what’s not wrong. Today, going to school is one of these discussions that there are people who believe 100% to be the wrong thing to do. The reasoning behind it is that it prepares no one for life, the job after it is not guaranteed, and even if you do manage to get a job that there is still the possibility that you will get laid off. So, in essence, the ones who don’t believe in going to school make the point that going to school is the same as paying lots of money for nothing. Because you learn nothing. This post is about how that’s not true.

What I learned In university

For starters, just like with any kind of learning opportunity you only really learn anything of value if you want/have to learn. If you go in assuming that what the teacher will teach will have no value to your life you’ll be entering a losing battle between the wise you and the you that urges you to not do what you’re supposed to do. Even if you still understand how valuable it could be to watch a lecture, your other you will be managing the attention, energy and motivation resources.

This is a point to the fact that the fact that one person takes something meaningful away from going to school and some other person doesn’t is mostly due to the first disposition and intent with regards to the learning process of the first, than it is to do with school’s uselessness in teaching the student anything of value. It’s true that most of the things we learn in school we can hardly find a use for, but to say that none of it can be useful enough to have an impact on one’s life is just inaccurate.

The biggest lesson/practice I learned from going to university

So, what lesson is that? To put it simply is the ability to think critically about the outer world, and the inner universe of my own thoughts and beliefs. We live in a time in which people are encouraged to have an opinion and stand by it regardless of whether some powerful entity doesn’t like it. So most of us go through life taking their own beliefs as gospel not because they are justified in believing in what they believe in, but because they are the believers of these beliefs and not someone else. It’s that old bias to thinking anything we own in any way is automatically better/the best.

If you’ve lived in this planet for long enough you might have stumbled into the conclusion that regardless of whether you believe in something with your soul, the truth will remain the truth. This is why going to university, to be more specific taking several math courses was so beneficial to my mind in retrospect. When you think about how challenging the subject is, or how many assignments the professor gives, the easy conclusion to come up with is that it’s all useless. You don’t believe in that because everything you’re being forced to learn is useless, but because thinking it gives us a guilt-free ticket to quitting on it. Through these courses, I learned/acquire the difficult practice of only allowing myself to believe in anything if I can prove it. Bringing back memories, the kind of assignments I would get on a weekly basis was of some form of mathematical proof. The professor would assign the class a set of mathematical statements known to be true, and our job was to come up with valid proof for each.

To be honest, at first, I not only hated the assignments but was also convinced they would never be of value to my personal life/career. Over time however it became more and more clear that after dozens upon dozens of exercises of the kind my new adopted way of looking and thinking about life was dramatically changed. Now, I have a different view of the word “certain/certainty”. Now my view is that it’s just plain hard to be certain of anything even when it comes to the things we feel very certain about. The prevalent question is always: if you’re so certain about x where is the proof?

Learning

When you think like this two things will happen: 1) You’re likely to be a bit more insecure about your own bold statements and 2) It will be much harder to be swayed by people who are nothing more than ideas salespeople who have nothing of content to give to the world, and all they can do is to convince people of their ideas no matter how wrong they might be. Their ideas might be wrong/impractical, but they are for whatever reason believable.

This strategy of always asking for concrete proof from someone else’s statement is probably the best way to protect yourself from believing in ideas not worthy of belief. Now ideas are forced to go through an incubation period in which their veracity is put to test, and where often few of the submitted are accepted. Ideas/beliefs worthy of space in your memory are hard to find. There are many false positives disguised as content gold. This new practice forces the mind to take some time before accepting a statement, and over time the concentration of truly good ideas/beliefs is increased in such a way that their combined effect starts to have true impact in your life.

Evaluating criticism

They say that trough criticism we grow. The inability to take negative feedback can and should be thought of as a disability, of the kind that can be cured when one puts its mind to it, and outright dangerous when neglected. The problem with criticism is that often it’s hard to distinguish the difference between true constructive criticism and a malicious attack to one’s work disguised as constructive criticism.

Knowing which is which is difficult, but there is a  way to have a rough idea, and that is to ask the source of the criticism why they think what they think. When the criticism is just to make you feel bad about yourself/insecure with no drop of constructivism, chances are that the answer to this question is not any concrete way you can improve yourself but something like “it’s a gut feeling” kind of answer. True constructive criticism tends to come with a clear suggestion for improvement. The eye of the critic caught something in you that could be improved in some concrete way that perhaps through experience became familiar to them.

Plain old attacks, on the other hand, are weak castles that when looked up close have nothing of value to give. The source of the attack might say it’s all an attempt at honesty, and that any feelings of anger from your part are an example of your ability to take criticism, but at the bottom of their weak point is not necessarily fact, and truly useful advice, but nothing more than some need to make you feel inferior.

There is also the rare cases in which the critic wants you to feel bad about yourself, but the criticism is based on something real. For these cases the best solution is that described in the book The obstacle is the way by Ryan Holiday: see the gold through the negative. In other words, look through the obviously malicious, and be grateful for the opportunity to improve yourself. Remember that if you are all about improving yourself, one of the worst things that can happen is for you to not know where you have to work more one. And when that information should be cherished, even when it comes from the enemy.  

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉

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How to deal with the hardships of life

In this post, you’ll find a few ideas on how to deal with the hardships of life.

Life is a roller-coaster. We’re so used to hearing this kind of comparison that we rarely stop to think about how true this sentence can is. There are many comparisons people make with the day to day and life, like for example when we transpose the happenings of one department of life itself to the whole. Like scientists, we generalize what we learn, and we do it through the extrapolation of what we see on the local to what we see in the global we call LIFE. I’m sure you understand what I mean by “Life is a roller-coaster”, and an even truer truth is that chances are that you just accept it. You hope for the somewhat comfortable ups and pray that the lows which will eventually come are not so low. Chances are that you hope that the lows look more like a flat line, in which the major problem that afflicts you is that of boredom or staleness. But what about the real lows? Like the ones in which you wonder if there will ever be an up? Or when you wonder if there is only going down getting worse and worse, and just like a black hole you disappear into nothingness…

This post is for these moments in which inspiration doesn’t come, and the hopes for a better something vanish. It’s not a motivational post, but more of a “doomsday survival mini-tutorial” for the moments in which you seek for more from within, and within is just dryness, just like a desert abandoned by rain for decades.

How to deal with the hardships of life?

How do you go through hard moments or seasons? Well…the truth is nothing in particular. Life can be great sometimes to the point that we hope we’re immortal, while some other times so cruel that we’re grateful we’re not. There are different degrees of hardship, each coming with its own set of coping strategies that only the experienced, just like in a field of science can give the best advice, but below are a few general tips nonetheless.

#1 Look for people who went through the same as you

The first and most intuitive thing to do is to look for the people who went through what you’re going through and succeeded. It has to be people who succeeded because they are living proof that what you’re going through is not impossible to overcome. If you listen to anybody chances are that you’ll find the ones who failed, and those are the worst advisers not because they failed, but because of the rationalizations, they came up with after they failed. They are likely to have shifted the blame from themselves to some other entity for which you have no power to influence like the government or God.

The ones who succeeded are likely to not only be sure you can too and encourage you but also to give you tips on how to go about it. The fact that they overcame the obstacle could have made them stronger mentally, more positive, and as a result also more motivational.

The first and most intuitive thing to do is to look for the people who went through what you’re going through and succeeded. It has to be people who succeeded because they are living proof that what you’re going through is not impossible to overcome.

#2 Try to predict it in advance

They say the best way to defend yourself is by prediction and preparation. When you predict you can prepare, and as a result, make sure your predictions are wrong. There is this myth of positive thinking your way through life, and were even daring to think that something bad might happen is the source of worry. Because some people believe that the universe will give you positively if you just think positively enough and vice-versa for the negative. If you can see the worst-case scenario you gain two advantages:

  1. If it’s early enough you can take the necessary measures to avoid it completely
  2. If it’s not you can at least prepare yourself mentally, or even take the necessary measures to minimize the blow.

It’s when you just limit yourself to positive thinking that you open yourself to the blows of life, which will come sooner or later. Just think about it. The concept of losing someone you dearly love or even yourself to death makes it look like the ultimate joke from the universe. In the sense that regardless of how positive your life is, there will be at least some pain reserved custom made for you.

So try to predict what might go wrong, because according to Murphey’s law: it will. Unless of course, you take the necessary steps to make it impossible. That’s why the idea of having at least 6 months worth of your monthly expenses in a savings account can be a very powerful idea. It’s not just about the saving of money for rent or groceries, but also about giving yourself the time to recover emotionally and mentally if and when that day comes in which your so beloved or not so bellowed boss has/decides to let you go.

This idea was inspired by the field of computer science, in which the computer scientist is urged to think about the worst-case scenario for a particular computer program, to see how the way he/she built it would perform under these conditions, and to compare it with other ways of building the same piece of software and their reactions to the extreme.

So you prepare for the scenarios you think might be deadly for your goals/dreams/spirit, and try your best to be 100 percent sure they won’t happen. Again I’m not talking about convincing yourself through just belief. I’m talking about taking the necessary steps/actions to make it impossible.

When you predict you can prepare, and as a result, make sure your predictions are wrong.

#3 Become aware of the likely inner negativity

The third tip is really for when you’re actually going through something. Just like a drunk, making decisions when in the lows of life is as Jordan Peterson would say: ”not recommended”. First, because chances are that you have no mental clarity due to the stress clouding your mind, and second because when desperate we are more likely to make decisions for which we will eventually regret when looking in retrospect through the lenses of clearer glasses provided by the stability that will eventually come.

The lows of life are characterized by negativity and the sense that the pain will be eternal. If you’re in it, it might and it has helped me to think in advance about the negative thoughts I would likely have. Because the feelings of depression in these moments come in waves, each ironically enough making us feel like the time of the other wave has ended for good. This is one of the points driven home by the book Can’t hurt me by the ex-navy seal David Goggins. He urges us to predict the one-second impulses to succumb to the hardships of life and quit. He calls them the one-second decisions, in which negative questions such as: “why are you here?” and ”you’re not good enough” come with the single purpose to make us succumb to defeat, whatever succumbing means for you at the particular moment.

This is another variant of the point of predicting the worse in advance. But now you predict the kind of messages you’re likely to tell yourself even if you’re already doing it, and making the effort to replace them with hope and positivity. I know this might sound contradictory to tip #2 but it’s not.

Being blindly positive/optimistic just like a tool it has its place. People tend to miss use them, only using them for the purposes of making themselves feel good, and if there is any place this would be useful is when being positive can be the rope that takes you out of misery.

I learned this from Jordan Peterson, who mentioned the fact that when a person is depressed, the person should take whatever rope life throws at them because we can’t be sure they can afford to miss that opportunity. He was talking about anti-depressants and how he surely recommended it to depressed patients, but this view can definitely be extrapolated to the subject discussed in this post.

#4 Strategize your way out of the problem

The last tip is to strategize. We live in a time of self-imposed helplessness in which instead of looking for ways to improve their lives no matter how unfair life has been people tend to look for someone/something to blame. We can definitely do that, but chances are that the blamed will not take any action to help you just because you blame them. Whether that’s God, the government or even a regular person, if you pay enough attention to history and to your own life, chances are that very few if any were the cases in which complaints and blaming solved anything. At the end of the day, you care about you more than anyone else and thus only you will have enough interest and passion in taking yourself out of the problem you’re currently in.

The reason why I bring up this point is twofold:

  1. When you take action there is at least the chance that your action will have the desired effect
  2. When you have a plan, the lows don’t feel so low anymore because a big part of the misery of the  hardships of life is in helplessness

The second point also I learned from Jordan Peterson when he said In a Youtube video that the depressed should look for some form of structure in their lives even if that structure is nothing but waking up every day at the same time and going to a job they hate. Here the structure is provided by the knowing of and execution of the plan in question. With the plan also comes the hope that it might work, which can be a powerful thing even if down the road we realize that the plan won’t work.

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉

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References:

Can’t hurt me by David Goggins

How To Be Consistent at work

In this post, you’ll find a few ideas on how to be more consistent at work.

We live in a time of constant change. So much so that it’s not uncommon for as little as a few weeks away from the internet and or the news to bring surprises to the mind and awareness of the disconnected. New technologies come to life in less and less time, and as for what goes by the name of “culture”, that changes even quicker, with the aid of new trends that happen to be birth almost overnight, with many of them going to the grave almost as quickly. What lacks today in life is consistency. This doesn’t make today’s time any better and worse than the past. As with everything in life, this lack comes with its own set of good and bad. Since whether we admit it or not we are affected by the environment around us, this fast pace of change and constant innovation spoils the mind instigating a now almost manic crave for novelty.

Like one’s own body, one’s own life is also a complex system in which changes in one small and seemingly inconsequential department can trigger a chain of cause and effects that end up affecting the system as a whole in ways no one ever predicted.

Taking that into consideration, it’s not much of a stretch to think that consistency at work is one of life’s departments affected by our constant crave for novelty and change.

How To Be Consistent At Work?

Begin by timing it

One of the first things I try to do after a break from any kind of work and I want to get back to that state of optimal performance we can only find after a while is time. The question to ask here is how long do you work for before you go for a break? 30 min? 1h?

If you struggle either with consistency in performance or just pure hard work at work chances are that the time you work for before a break is short. I noticed over time that it’s when I work for 3-5 hours without a break that my performance and consistency at work improve. When you condition the mind to work for longer stretches of time you also condition it to deal with the frustrations that come with the task, and just in case you’re not fond of it, time also passes quicker.

If you work in chunks of 30 minutes in an 8-hour shift, time passes slower because you’re often reminded of the passage of time. In the other side of the coin also rests the word “Immersion”, in which the longer you work for, the deeper you get into it regardless of how much you don’t enjoy the task. I noticed that whenever I had to execute a task I didn’t like the way to do it better while making pass time quicker was to well…try to do it the best I could while also trying to complete the task.

You can only do that by working for longer than a little while, and I attribute this effect to immersion. The more immersed you are at work you experience two things:

  1. What the author of the book The rise of superman calls “time dilation” in which time passes faster for you, and
  2. You get your problem solving mental juices flowing more and more as time passes.

The thing about problems is that the more challenging they are the more uninterrupted thinking time is required to solve them, and with the 5s focus of the person of today, solving bigger and more important problems can be increasingly difficult.

So, begin by working for longer.

Set up a routine

The kind of equipment we have between our ears optimizes for repetitive tasks. Meaning that that which is has been done before is more easily done now, more easily even in comparison to that which has never been done at all.

This is why one of the most important things you can do to improve your consistency at work in terms of performance is to set a standard for yourself and to go about enforcing it with everything you’ve got. In day one we all benefit from a burst of motivation and energy due to the novelty of the behavior. On days two and three, as the novelty factor wears off it’s important to keep enforcing your standard since if you do it for long enough the standard becomes less of an aspiration but a part of who you are as a person. It’s the equivalent brushing your teeth or eating breakfast. Most of us have been doing those for so long that we don’t put a thought to the fact that these are behaviors we did not possess when we were born. They were imposed on us by our parents/caretakers, and now they are as natural as breathing.

So, the point here is to make good and hard work a routine. The kind of thing you do without thinking like brushing your teeth in the morning, or breathing even.

According to research habits are formed in about 66 days, which when you think about it is not nearly as much as anyone would have thought. As mentioned above, life is a complex system in which change, no matter how small, no matter the place the change occurs at, can have massive effects throughout the system. 66 days of good work can trigger new and better habits that when compounded over time can be life-changing.

This is what happens for example when people begin exercising regularly. The boost in mood in energy gives rise to creativity and motivation to do better work, come up with new ideas of your own, strengthen the relationships you already have while allowing you to make new ones.

Every new discipline affects the rest.

Jim Rohn

Build your consistency/reliability muscle

Another way to become more consistent at work is by being consistent at something else. When people decide to make a change in their lives they often begin with exercising. Most do it because they hear it from someone else about how exercising is what successful people do, but exercising as mentioned above can have powerful effects well beyond health. The reason for this is that you don’t have to do it for too long for it to become enjoyable and then addictive. This enjoyment is what is more likely to make you become more consistent at it, and thus give your life more discipline and structure. As Jordan Peterson once said, the depressed should try to add some structure to their lives even if that structure and order comes from a job they hate.

The consistency/reliability muscle like any other muscle can be built by doing anything that makes you uncomfortable. What I mean here is not to go skydiving or to fast of 30 days, but to do anything that causes you discomfort in the sense that it forces you to be consistent at something to accomplish/avoid something else.

Learning to be consistent at simple and mundane things can just like compound interest look too insignificant to matter in a moment by moment basis until it’s effects are too powerful to be ignored. This is also the equivalent to bodybuilding in which due to poor conditioning the unfit is forced to lift too light to be proud of weights for a while, while incrementally increasing the resistance to levels they never thought they ever would, but such that the change was too minimal in each increment to be perceived by the distracted mind.

Develop an ideal and chase it

One very underrated idea is that of dreaming out an ideal you’d like to become and making it a priority. I learned this lesson from one of many of Jordan Peterson’s talks and it surprised me how little people talk about this, and how even fewer people make it a priority. This idea of becoming something greater than your present self can when taken seriously turn the reckless into literal disciple machines. Of the kind that overnight simultaneously adhere and stick to a rigid health plan, while waking up early, exercising regularly and starting a business. Here being consistent at work just like brushing your teeth in the morning becomes a given, all due to your new/renewed interest and maybe even obsession in your higher self.

The role of the ideal here is to inspire you to make incremental improvements over time. Which means that meager ideals manufactured for the simple sake of making you feel good about yourself with little to no effort are out of the picture. We began by wondering how we could be more consistent at work in terms of performance and diligence, and perhaps the most powerful of the strategies to go about doing that is by aspiring and striving to become a better version of ourselves.

Summary

At the end of the day, consistency is hard. Just like any other kind of change, this is one of these things you do one step at a time…one day at a time. Each moment being a battle between your lower and higher selves. Each time you hope the higher self comes up victorious, because the more this happens the greater the odds that you’ll get the life you want in the long run.

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉

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How To Be More Skilled

In this post, you’ll find a few tips on how to be more skilled.

The world we live in is one in which in order to thrive we need to be able to as Elon Musk once said: “get things done”. There are many ways we can go about it that range from delegating the task to as many people as we can, to do it all ourselves. Although the first can make life easier for us, it’s not always the case that it is a viable solution. Sometimes for whatever reason we can’t have other people do our work for us, and this is when doing things ourselves, and even more important doing them at the best of our abilities comes into play.

Even this thought to be Noble/inspiring way of thinking can be a source of trouble, since today, most people internalize the idea that it’s enough to do work to the best of our abilities and being content even if our best is not enough. When you take that route, the likely slew of failure after failure that will come your way might, depending on your mentality can get you to come to conclusions that range from the idea that you’re not gifted, and thus you should quit, to the world is out to get you, and thus you should quit. Whatever the conclusion is, the truth is that more than counterproductive this way of thinking is just not true. The real problem is not that of giftedness or about the goodness/evil of the world but that of a lack of skill.

How to be more skilled

The question of how to become more skilled is very broad, and just like many broad questions, the answer can sometimes be difficult to find. Often solutions that apply to everything have little to no effect on the detailed. Luckily for us, it’s possible to think about skill acquisition in a broad way, but still get amazing benefits on the local/specific, and below are a few tips we can think about in a high level while remaining useful in a case by case basis.

Get used to the pains of practice

The first point can easily be confused with the so common advice of practice as a way to getting good at something, but their difference is subtle. It’s definitely true that practice is at the core of any “getting good” enterprise. There is just no way around it. Maybe a few years from now there will be such a powerful technology that allows us to insert skills and knowledge directly into our brains without much effort from us, but at the time of this writing, such technology is not yet available. The only way to be a better chess player or computer programmer is to practice chess and computer programming respectively. This is a given.

The point we’re trying to address here is one level above, after you convince yourself that there is no way around practice and you’re willing to put the effort. The next step is to get used to doing the work to get good at something.

One of the biggest reasons why people fail to master the subjects they are interested in is that for most of them practice is either tedious, painful or both. As we’re all aware, the brain is wired to avoid the unpleasant, while seeking pleasure. This is what makes mastery seem to be the one of the greatest jokes of the universe, because the pain required to endure in order to acquire it can be so much that it makes most feel like the suffering is not worth it, while the pleasure that comes when you finally master the subject can be so much that after you do, the only conclusion you can come to is that the journey was worth it. I remember many times in life like when exercising, where the moment to moment discomfort almost made me quit, but after, the fact that I endured the pain and discomfort became a reward on its own.

The point is that you have to get used to practice. Meaning you have to get used to as the ex-navy seal David Goggins once said: “overcome the one-second impulses to quit”. One of the best ways to train this muscle is through exercising, since it represents a reliable and controllable way to expose yourself to the same level of discomfort that comes with practice, assuming of course that what you’re trying to get good at is not some sort of physical art.

Make practice a habit

The next tip is one that people barely talk about when they talk about any form of skill acquisition. The brain’s wiring and tendencies can both be the best thing or the worst thing for skill acquisition. What we’re talking about here is the brain’s tendency to want to keep doing the same things it has done in the past, and the tendency of this first tendency to become stronger the longer the behavior is repeated for.

Some people label themselves as creatures of habit, which is funny because this is, in essence, the same as one saying that he/she is the kind of person who eats food. Everybody is a creature of habit, even those who can’t stick to exercising or reading books on a regular basis. Their habits are about everything else other than what their ideal selves would like them to be doing. You can’t stick to exercising because you’re used to not exercising. You can’t study regularly because you’re used to doing other things in the same timeframe, like watching TV shows or hanging out with friends. This is why there is more than just some truth on the fact that you are the average of the people you spend most of your time around. They nudge you to some behaviors and not others, and eventually, these behaviors become habits for which the opposite will likely be difficult to adhere to. Like, tell habitual negative to think positive and vice-versa.

The point here is that practice will likely become more enjoyable and even the kind of thing you feel the need to do the more you do it…the closer it becomes to becoming a habit. If you’re wondering how long it takes, research shows that it’s not even that long, it’s just 66 days.

The best place to be at in your skill acquisition efforts is that in which the behavior that makes you more skilled becomes an inherent part of your day-to-day life and who you are as a person. In other words, what you want is to practice regularly for long enough for it to become a habit. After that, you’ll notice that minimal effort will be required to improve your skills, even when the act of improving your skills itself is challenging.

Find shortcuts through skilled mentors

The third point/tip is to look for skilled mentors and ask them for tips tailored specifically to the skill you’re trying to master. The big emphasis here is on the word “skilled”, not just mentors. The reason for this is that it’s easy to fall for the idea that anyone who sounds knowledgeable can become a mentor, and that’s just not true. What you’re looking for is someone who you can somehow prove it has become skilled at what you want to be skilled at. These people have walked the walk you’ll walk, and on the way they more than certainly learned about shortcuts, and the wealth of experience they’ve accumulated through time they definitely have things they wish they knew when they were you, and most of them are dying to tell someone who’s willing to listen to them talk about it.

The mentor is perhaps one of the greatest skill acquisition strategies you can have on your arsenal because more than just speeding up your learning curve by pointing you to the right direction to take, they will also make it more likely that you will actually master/become skilled at the subject. Because when people talk about skill acquisition, they also forget to mention the frustration we all go through when we’re trying to get good at something and the road is both foggy and infested with obstacles that seem insurmountable.

The mentor is a representation of the fact that there is a finish line, and that the obstacles you’re facing at the moment are not insurmountable. Unless of course, you believe that you’re born the way you will be forever.

Summary

Getting good at something takes above all time and patience. There definitely are shortcuts you can take depending on the skill, but the best mindset to have is to assume that there are none. The reason for this is that if you expect the way to be shorter, and it isn’t that will by itself be another source of frustration, in addition to the frustration naturally imposed by the obstacles that come included in the mastery package you chose to pick at the beginning of the journey.

So, expect it to be difficult and harder, and in the few moments in which the short trips in the journey are shorter and/or easier than you expected you’ll enjoy them more.

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉

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Meaning of bias for action

In this post, we’ll have a discussion on the meaning of bias for action, and how to develop it.

We tend to think of robots as emotionless machines that will do whatever they are programmed to do regardless of the consequences, and often we compare them to those humans who seem to display similar type of behavior. Of the kind that follows rules first and thinks second, but the truth is that if that’s the criteria we use to judge the level of “robotness” of a person, then we’re all robots in our own way. What I mean to say is that to some degree we all once in a while give the wheel to the evolution written programs within our brains and cells. We can certainly try to suppress that kind of behavior with the goal of looking more rational, but the truth is that as much as we might be against some of evolution’s decisions, not all of them are bad. In fact, if we leverage what mother nature gave us over the millions of years we’ve been around, we can advance on our lives and careers. It’s the equivalent of using the factory engine as opposed to building a new one and trying to make it fit, and work well with the car. One example of these gifts is what is known as the bias for action.

What is bias for action?

To put it simply, bias for action is the tendency for one to convert the mental, such as ideas and plans into action. We spend most of our time with ourselves, and most of that time is spent thinking, planning, and dreaming about distant and not yet realized futures. When science tells us that 20% of our body’s energy is directed to our brains, it soon makes sense why that would be so.

Just like with any kind of preference you can think of, some people are more inclined towards taking action, while some others more about keeping their thoughts as just thoughts, like a factory that does nothing but stockpiling raw materials with no intent of turning it into something useful. Below you’ll find a few examples when this bias is at play, when it’s good, and when it’s bad.

Bias for action examples

Examples of the bias for action are everywhere, from the driven businessman/woman movies and books make us aspire to be, who as children were known for their tendency to get their hands dirty, to the workaholics of today we all use as an excuse not to work hard who completely destroy their lives because of their almost obsessive need to get things done. On the first, we see an example to follow, while on the second, just like a “don’t drink and drive” ad, a warning about what happens when you let your drive and action take the wheel for too long. Whether there really is such a thing as workaholism or not is a matter for another day, but the point I’m trying to make is that although not necessarily a tool, this tendency should be harnessed as such. Like medicine, taking it only in medicinal doses to attain the desired effect, and to stop just shy of too much.

When is it good?

Being biased towards action is good when it’s the right time. Meaning that letting ideas and plans sit on the mind for long enough for them to become bulletproof is good, but it’s when you take it too far that trains of opportunity are lost, like when you eventually hear that the idea you’ve been working on for years has made someone else millions, or when you find out that the person you’ve been thinking about calling out for a date from the past few months is now engaged. As much as we might like to think we live in a civilized world, the world we live in still holds some of the traits of the long distant past, in which a mere extra and unnecessary blink of an eye could literally mean that you’d lose your meal for some other faster and opportunist primate.

The Minimum Viable Product

In business it’s commonly known that one can’t hold on to a product idea/prototype for too long since chances are that either the product will lose its usability for the public, maybe because a better technology came along, or someone somewhere who thinks just like you will think about, and act on it quicker than you.

One somewhat example of this I was made aware of what that from the book Rejection Proof by Jia Jiang, where the author claimed to have thought about the idea of Rollerbladers before they were introduced to the market but who, due to negative feedback from relatives decided to give up on the idea. This is one of the many examples of idea postponing ending up in deep regrets for the original inventors.

To solve this problem of trying over perfect your idea the author of the book The Lean Startup proposes the idea of the minimum viable product, in which instead of waiting for people to give you positive feedback on the idea, or for the product to be so perfect the public only gives you positive reviews, you build a version of your product with the least number of features that do the job, and to release it to some segment of your target customer base. This one way to artificially create the bias for action in ourselves especially if we are of the perfectionist kind. By artificially I mean using some logic/principle to instigate you to some kind of action to which you’re not naturally inclined to take.

The 3-second rule

Another situation common to all of as is that of taking too long to take action in all or nothing kind of cases. Like for example when deciding to ask a person you’re interested in a date, or when it’s imperative that you approach the one person who has the money/connections to make your dream come true.

For this problem, there is one solution I learned from the book The Game by Neil Strauss, in which you give yourself no more than 3 seconds to take action, with the goal of doing what you have to do before you’re flooded by the array of emotions and hormones that will eventually make you paralyzed enough and over thoughtful enough to chose to do nothing. This is what I would call positive recklessness, where you chose to do something you know might end up great quickly to prevent you from giving in to the increasing negative thoughts that come when we get out of our comfort zone.

The Pomodoro Technique

Another way to look at the lack of the bias for action is procrastination. At the end of the day, procrastination is, in essence, some sort of bias towards inaction, in which regardless of how pressing the matter one can’t help itself but to start working only when the deadline is a few inches away. It’s thought in science that for some reason chronic procrastinators need that adrenaline rush that comes from being about to lose something important to be compelled to act. One way around it is the famous Pomodoro technique, in which instead of working for hours on end, you chose to work on intervals of 25-30 min followed by 5-10 min breaks. It’s believed that this works because it’s a way to trick the brain each time into believing that we won’t be spending lots of time on the task at hand, and that right after that will be fun time 🙂

Decision making

We spend most of our time making decisions, and the impact of each can be so much to change our whole lives. This is the reason why when presented with a decision to make, many freeze and find themselves secluded to inaction. The person wants to make a decision, but the data is not enough to give it 100% of certainty that it is the right one, so they do nothing. There is one now somewhat popular strategy to urge people to an action that although it doesn’t appease the emotions of the person worrying, at least allows them to make the decision and it goes as follows:

When you have 40% of the evidence supporting one out of many possibilities just make the decision. The thing about the world we live in is that often it will be difficult if not impossible to be 100% certain of anything, and sometimes all we can have is small percentage points of certainty between disparate points/positions.

When is it bad?

At the extreme always lies some form of recklessness. We’re in a time in which plunging into our dreams is thought of as brave and something for the ones who do so to be proud of. Like anything in life, when you find yourself siding with the extreme, chances are that you’re wrong.

The person of today is all for the sensational and goes for it without a thought. When you think about it being biased towards action can be as detrimental as it can be good below are a few negative examples:

Leaving your day job

The first example I can think of is that of the newborn entrepreneur who reads a book or watches a speech and in a feat of inspiration chooses to leave its job to start a business forgetting that on average most businesses fail and that from the ones that do succeed, few do so overnight.

They forget that stories of success depict astronomical and quick sounding victories because the time to tell them is short. The book can only have so many pages, and the motivational speech can only have so many minutes. Leaving your job prematurely might make you look and sound like an action person, but that doesn’t make the action right/effective.

Making life-changing commitments

On the other side of decision paralysis is the need to prove how uncommon one is by making spur of the moment life-changing decisions. Leaving your job for a not yet proven and customerless business is certainly one example, but what I’m talking about here is more towards the subject of relationships. Be that romantic, like when you decide to marry a person without thinking it through because you think you found the love of your life forgetting that 1/2 marriages turn into a divorce.

There is also the classic scene on the movie in which strangers, in a binge-drinking night decide to become business partners, forgetting that a business relationship is more than just about two people agreeing on how awesome an idea is, but also about the blend of personalities, weaknesses and strengths that just like with parenting, will/will not provide the adequate environment for the birth and healthy growth of the idea into a profitable business.

The last in line and by no means the last in the long list of examples is that of investing your money on an idea without doing the adequate background work on the idea itself, the qualifications, skills, and personality of the person you’re investing in, just because you’re sure you “feel it”. The crazy thing about investing money is that even those who claim to do it 100% objectively lose money sometimes, which makes it even crazier to base your investment decisions on gut feelings.

Summary

Just like most things in life, this is one of these things that is often looked one way. We emphasize the ability to turn thought into action as this amazing trait to have that we forget that there is also the other and bad side of the coin, such that if not looked at carefully can be the source of much misery. This post is nothing more than a tour on both sides of the street. An appreciation of the pros, while not downplaying and making careful consideration of the cons. Again, at the end of the day, the bias to action can work for good and bad, and it’s only by monitoring the bad that we can fully enjoy the fruits of the good.

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉

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Sources:

  1. https://books.google.com/books?id=ebY2NScPDWAC&pg=PA131&lpg=PA131&dq=bias+for+action+millionaires&source=bl&ots=gt8lcVL8pH&sig=bPYuY9gSeXXp-09dZLmtjzUs9uw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiq_5DLobvJAhVEXD4KHZTqAl8Q6AEIJTAB#v=onepage&q=bias%20for%20action%20millionaires&f=false

2. The Game by Neil Strauss

3. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

When to feel confident and when not to

In this post, you’ll get a few ideas on when to feel confident and when not to.

We live in a time in which the inner workings of any one’s mind has come from irrelevant to almost as if not even more important than one’s health. There is definitely some seed of truth on this concern about one’s mindset since just like with gossip that is unable to survive when only based on lies. Some truth is vital. So kids are raised with more and more attention being paid to the self-esteem, and self-confidence of the ones being raised by the now worried and concerned parents of the latest new future.

Among the biggest concerns of the parents of today, the problem of confidence in their kids is one of the biggest. So much so that more and more parents go overboard to the point of never criticizing their children. Which instead of correcting the problem, it overcorrects. Overcorrections like overdoes of medicine might solve our initial problem, but often bring with them side effects.

The overcorrection here is that instead of new adults not sure of themselves, what we now have are new adults who are overconfident about themselves with no reason whatsoever to back it up. When on the first the problem we have leaders not energetic enough to bring to life new and great ideas resulting in a universe of back to back innovations, on the second the problem we face is that of recklessness which might be driven enough to build, but that can be just as energetically reckless to destroy. If on the near past the silver bullet was to build up a person by beefing them up with positive and confidence promoting compliments, now a more careful approach might be what’s needed. Now the question is: when is it ok to be/feel confident?

When to feel confident

The time we live in is that of new rules. Behave confidently at the wrong time and you risk being called arrogant. Be caught being humble at the wrong time, and people start to put to question your intelligence and skills. Do the above at the right time and don’t be surprised if you build a following over time. The answer to this question is difficult for the simple fact that it’s based on context. Meaning, the context of the moment of confidence demonstration. Below are a few tips that might shed some light on when exactly to demonstrate that sense of confidence we’re all familiar with and want for ourselves, as well as when to put your head down.

When you have attained mastery in a field

The thing about feelings or demonstration confidence is that it’s often difficult to really know when you earned them. Just because a person close to us tells/told us we deserve it doesn’t mean we do; in fact, chances are that they will try to make us feel as if we do especially when we have all the reasons not to feel like we do.

The reason why objective subjects such as science and computer programming can be addictive once you get the hang of it is that there is no subjectivity in results when they do come. You either did write a computer program that works or didn’t. This is one of the many points made clear on the book Coders by Clive Thompson, that I definitely recommend if you’re curious about the mysterious art computer programming.

If certainty is a requirement to be confident, mastery in a subject can be one of the closest things to this sense of certainty you need. When you master a subject there is no ambiguity on whether you should feel confident about the subject. This mastery gives it to you, and even when you still doubt your skills and abilities, the world will give you the permission to feel good about yourself because they can feel the impact of your mastery on their lives.

This is why if you want true confidence on anything the way to go about it is by as taught in the book Relentless by Tim Grover, learning all there is to learn about the subject, and: “knowing without a doubt that all the hours of work have created an unstoppable internal resource that you can draw on in any situation”, and to master every single bit of it regardless of how small. Actually, the book The obstacle by Ryan Holiday talks about how this was one of Steve Job’s principles by the fact that he demanded perfection even in the interior of the product, even though this would rarely be looked at by the customer.

The master is not subject to popular opinion because the evidence is so powerful that the only way to doubt it is to doubt your senses, and for that, you’d also have to doubt your sanity.

When you master a subject you don’t even have to try to make yourself feel confident. There is no need for any morning ritual designed for positive thinking brain surgery. You don’t have to because the world will do that for you.

 After a while, your source of confidence begins to come not from the words you tell yourself to make you feel good, but from the outside world, from people who have no need to make you feel good. They do it because they feel like they need to. They feel as if they are the possessors of some truth(the truth of how good you are), and they have to make this truth available to someone, even if that someone is you, the person they feel awed about.

When your work gets positive reviews

The stranger has no business in making you feel good about yourself. Your parents, friends and family members do, so much so that they’d rather see you looking ridiculous and make you think you don’t than to put you through the pain of letting you know that are not as perfect as you think.

The stranger, especially when protected by the anonymity of an unspellable username, on the other hand, is freed from the constraints imposed on us by social norms/rules. They are free to say what they want and really feel because even if you get angry, the most you can do is spill out some insults back to them. Even here they have the choice of not seeing your response since all they have to do is to not go back to that page where they released all the evil they’ve been carrying and accumulating for which they were not allowed to release in the real world.

So, it follows that when the stranger gives you a compliment it means double. It might be the case that the stranger is one of these good-hearted people who can’t help themselves but uplift anyone who crosses their path, but chances are that they are not that kind of people because if most people were like that the world would certainly be a better place. When positive their opinion carries more weight because there are no social consequences for rudeness when we are anonymous, in the same way, that the negative feedback of a loved one carries more weight because there is only something to lose for making you feel bad about your work.

When the opposite can hinder your results

One time to feel confident even with nothing backing it is when confidence is the one thing that will bring upon you resilience and strength to get over an obstacle. The problem is that people use this form of artificially generated confidence like vitamins instead of painkillers. Vitamins you take every day, while painkillers you take occasionally and only when really necessary.

An occasion to use confidence as a tool is when it matters. When not using it will be detrimental for your results. What I mean is for the extreme life moments in which you need to believe you’re a God to have access to that extra energy that comes from confidence to keep going. Like when you’re running a marathon, and all your body is telling you is how much you’re not fit for what you’re doing, and that you will fail no matter how hard you try. That everybody else is better than you, and that loss is inevitable. Here being realistic is the last of the useful things you can do. It can be in fact counter-productive, to the point that it becomes a source of empiric evidence for why you should quit.

Just like honesty, with this, there are moments in which a lie is the best thing anyone can/has to do because the opposite will result in destruction as opposed to construction. Be overconfident when you’re selling yourself or your business idea to someone and when any drop of doubt will be enough to prevent you from accomplishing your dream. I’m not talking about telling a lie regardless of whether that lie will cause pain to someone, what I’m talking about is telling a lie to yourself because it will make your life and the world better in the future. When the extra bit of confidence is what will allow you to secure that so needed investment for your business, or when it is the one thing that will allow you to get the person of your dreams. It can be tempting to use the confidence tool indiscriminately and mask it as necessary, but the power of it is enhanced when you apply it correctly and at the right time.

When not to?

To put it simply, when you want to feel good about yourself for the sake of feeling good. Sadly, this is the reason why many people use self-inflicted confidence. They use it as a strategy to not feel bad when they fail. They use it as a strategy to feeling good being the way they are, even when the way they are is far from a source of proudness. They use it so they can feel proud of things any average human being can accomplish/do. They use it as a way to lower their standards, and at the same time shut down the cognitive dissonance that occurs when reality tries to tell them how much they need to change.

Summary

At the end of the day true and deserving confidence has to be earned not wished. The act of earning your confidence should be taken as depth and resilience-building experience. Here the depth and the resilience would be with respect to your so claimed sense of confidence, and the resilience would be for the moments in which the nature/source of your confidence comes into question in the minds and hearts of others. When your confidence is based on something concrete, there are no words that can tear it down. Even in moments of low self-esteem/self-worth, there is no need for a motivational speaker or a motivational tape. What brings us back are the memories of our past conquests, and obstacles overcome.

The quickest way to get to that earned sense of confidence is by continuously working on oneself. To continue even if when there is only a 1% improvement a day since even those 1%s with their little impact of theirs eventually string together with other small 1%s compounding their effect overtime for long enough to make a true impact as a whole.

Sources:

1)Coders by Clive Thompson

2)Relentless by Tim Grover

3)The Obstacle is the way by Ryan Holiday

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉

Leave  a comment below

Why mindset is not overrated

In this post, we’ll have a discussion on why mindset is not overrated.

The self-help industry has been around for a while, and during this long run, a set of principles/ideas were so cemented into the global mind that they became a part what self-help is known to be. The ideas I’m talking about are: being positive, believing in yourself and to dream big. These three ideas can, in turn, be boiled down to one, which is that self-help is an act of managing one’s mindset for the purposes of having a better life. By better, I mean anything you consider at the moment to be better. It’s subjective and heavily dependent on who you are and what drives you, but achieving it, whatever “it” is, boils down to mindset. If you pay attention to any self-help book/course out there, chances are high that it can be boiled down into this simple idea/principle. They are all in one way or another about changing the way you think about what’s it’s possible in order to help you accomplish/achieve more in life.

Why Mindset is not overrated

The problem with the self-help industry is the same problem that any kind of group faces. The problem that for outsiders, the group is viewed as nothing more than the average of its members. If on average the members of a group behave in a certain way, the outsider perceives the group as being the way of the average. The problem with averages is that they are easily swayed by outliers. We think they are representative of the truth most of the time, but if some of the time the results are extreme, what we see is the extreme, even if most of the time, the results are… well…average looking. The self-help industry is a victim of the many who just like the fanatic, blindly believe and make claims about something to the point that they start looking for lack of a better word…well… crazy.

What I’m talking about is the positivity problem. The problem of assuming that one can get anything one wants if only one thinks positively about the desired goal/result, positively enough. And on the advent that one doesn’t get what one wishes, then the impulse is to assume that the few moments of negativity and doubt he/she couldn’t control were the culprit and not the fact that they didn’t work hard enough. When the positive thinker finally comes to the conclusion that its way was the wrong way, the impulse then becomes to take the complete opposite approach. I’m talking about cynicism, which is still the wrong way, and the reason why the positive becomes the cynic is not so much because the positive became enlightened, but because of a flaw in reasoning. Meaning that just because the extreme of an approach did not work, doesn’t mean that a milder implementation of it won’t. The best example of this truth is medicine. Take only the effective dosage. Take more than that and chances are that you’ll give birth to new problems on your attempt to put some to bed.

Give enough time to the same cycle of hopeful romantics turned cynics, and soon enough anyone who becomes a hopeful romantic is seen/perceived as naïve/inexperienced. The mere belief of any remotely uplifting future becomes then a sign of immaturity, not because the ones who believe in that really came to realize how immature it was, but because they failed when they took that kind of path as their path and on the first sign of massive failure due to the over-application of a good thing, they incorrectly assumed that being hopeful, is a recipe for an even more disastrous disastrous world.

Jim Rohn and the idea of new principles or new truths/new fundamentals

I always seek to learn something new from someone new, and one of the first few lessons I learned from the motivational speaker Jim Rohn was that there was/is no such a thing as new truths/fundamentals. In essence, the teaching states that Truths and fundamentals will remain as true and fundamental as they’ve always been now, and in the future, regardless of social norms or governing governments. What is really true today will remain tomorrow. If not, then you’ll at least get a glimpse at how delusional you can be. Sometimes you really think you know, but not really you don’t.

The idea that you have to believe to achieve is one of these truths but not due to the reasons you might think. Again, sometimes you really think you know, but not really you don’t.

A part of being enlightened is to give in to the idea that you have no idea of what you’re talking about. It’s about knowing you’re ignorant even when you think you’re enlightened, and instead of unsuccessfully wishing your way into wisdom, to search your way into wisdom.  To REALLY accept you know nothing, not to look humble, but to REALLY be humble even when no one is looking.

When one first buys into the core ideas of the self-help movement one find itself enlightened. Oddly enough the same happens when one fails and falls into cynicism disguised in realism. They are both extremes, and as Aristotle suggested once: the truth is in the golden mean. Extremes rarely tell us the truth and yet we can’t help but fall for extreme ideologies, especially when disguised as “just rationalist views”… free of any agenda on the surface and still possessors of invisible goals.

Why is mindset not overrated? Because it’s not overrated.

I guess the theme of this post could just as well be “Why is mindset not underrated” and the answer would be just the same: Because it’s not underrated.

The one who so deeply believes in the power of the universe will exacerbate the importance of mindset, while the complete skeptic can’t help it by to downplay its value.

The truth is that if we overrate it we fall for the temptation of removing any action behind our intentions, while if we underrate it we fall for the temptation of removing any intention behind our actions.

The idea that the reason why one can fall prey to the belief or idea that mindset is just what readers of the secret talk about when they want to convince you that the universe is what will give you what you want is incorrect.

The thought process is wrong but the action somehow comes correct, in the same way, that one can be a fake doctor and recommend the right medicine even though the rationality behind the recommendation is incorrect.

Mindset is important because the brain can only work at its full potential when it has a good one. A person who doesn’t believe it can solve a problem or accomplish a goal will not have the resolve to plow through when the moment comes that insights fail to come or results fail to materialize. This is the risk you put yourself under when you remove any belief or motivation from your goal accomplishment attempts. You find yourself divorced of the kind of emotional energy you can only get when you have faith in your vision, and when you do fail, you incorrectly assume that it wasn’t meant to be, or you weren’t good enough. Just as there is such a thing as fanatically believing on the power of belief, there is also such a thing as fanatically disbelieving on it. The disease is the same but it is manifested in different sceneries, like how different bodies can respond differently to the same disease. For the extremist, the disease is the extremism of its beliefs, and the body is the belief. The result is the same: death caused by an over-application of a good thing.  

Mindset is vital

Another way to look at this question is through the perspective of one who has read the book The one thing by Gary Keller. This point of view is one in which the thinker chooses to think about only those things that matter enough such that when taken care of will reduce the amount of work to accomplish what one has in mind. In other words, think about what’s vital and ignore the rest.

Thinking along these lines, it becomes easy to see why subjects like health and mindset are important. They are vital to the accomplishment of anything in life. Without health, there is no room in anyone’s head to think about making money or success. Without the right mindset, there is no drive to accomplish anything; since it can be hard for anyone to do hard things if one doesn’t believe on its own ability to overcome obstacles or solve problems.

Just because something is preached by almost everyone you get in contact with doesn’t make the advice less valuable, in the same way, that just because everybody talks about how important it is to eat healthy and exercise doesn’t mean that healthy eating and exercising are not powerful pieces of advice. The same goes for mindset. You’ll find a tone of people out there preaching about it, some who know what they are talking about, and some who just heard it from someone else and are on the quest to looking smart/knowledgeable by re-cooking advice they’ve heard somewhere else from someone else.

Summary

The point in this post is to make you aware that mindset is not so much about what you are, but a tool to get you what you want. It’s by no means the silver bullet some people make us think it is, and neither is it a delusion of any kind, like some people, make us think it is. A mindset is just a tool. To say it is or it isn’t overrated is to make a similar judgment but about a tool of any kind. Overuse it and soon the tool becomes a weapon. Underuse it and soon you’ll be made aware of how much “money” you have been leaving on the table.

How To Inspire Loyalty

In this post, you’ll find a few ideas on how to inspire loyalty.

We live in a time in which being loyal to someone or some cause can easily be perceived as weak. More and more people think more and more about themselves. Everybody wants to make it, and the way most choose to do it is by taking a selfish approach. The few who don’t are the ones who in the long run are able to attract true crowds to their circle. Not of the kind that you see on the social media that pretend to cheer when you post a video on a recent achievement, or pretends to cry when you post a sad image, but of the kind that allows you to make changes in the real world even on the face of a powerful force/entity. So, it follows that the one who is able to inspire true loyalty is the one who can have more influence even when lacking resources.

How To Inspire Loyalty

The problem most of us have is that of us have is that of treating loyalty like love, or the desire for a great relationship: we expect it to fall from the sky. To find love or to have a great relationship one has to be proactive. One has to go after it; to take action. There are some cases in which through luck alone people manage to get what they want, but to bet on that is a losing strategy since luck has this tendency to show up when you don’t really need it, and to conveniently leave you when your life depends on it.

The same can be thought about loyalty. You have to take a more deliberate approach to get it, or chances are that you’ll spend the rest of your life wishing for it. This post is just a discussion on a few ways you can go about getting it.

Give first and ask for it second

The thing about loyalty just like everything else in life, is that it is all about reciprocity. It’s one of those things we all want/wish from others, but that we’re only willing to give when we get it first. So, we all find ourselves facing that chicken and egg kind of problem in which the correct and winning approach is the counter-intuitive approach of being the first to give. It’s the strategy of taking the risk that the other side of the table will betray our confidence, even taking into consideration our own act of loyalty.

The secret here is to be wise on who to demonstrate your first act of loyalty to. There is no point in trying to inspire loyalty on a known cheater or liar, since even if you do manage to get any genuine feelings of loyalty from that kind of person; you’ll live in uncertainty, which defeats the whole purpose of cultivating loyalty because at its core loyalty is all about security and trust.

So, the point here is to choose the kind of people who you can trust to exert your first act of loyalty. The reason why being the first is a good strategy is that as humans we are wired to pay back not only those who hurt us but also those who help us. This is what the reciprocity bias is all about.

Start by being a little loyal

The movies we watch tell us always a similar story when we hit on the subject of loyalty. They tell us the story that just like in the romantic world, only grand gestures are what matter. If we want to prove to someone how loyal we are to them we have to do so in a grandiose manner. And anything less than spectacular is useless. The thing is that the human mind is more complex than that. It is not enough to make a major display of loyalty and expect that display to cement your relationship into an unbreakable bond. As counter-intuitive as it might sound, it can be far more productive to make smaller displays of loyalty to the ones we are loyal to overtime, giving the relationship the time to grow old and deeper like the taste of a brand of wine let age at its own time and pace.

The alternative to that is just tiring and not sustainable. Doing it once in a while is not enough since regardless of the gesture, humans tend to need constant reassurance that their allies of yesterday remain so, and that they didn’t, for whatever reason convert into covert enemies, now plotting their future destruction. So instead of trying to light up fireworks everyday, you should focus on making sure you get the equivalent to a candle lit. This although not as impressive, is much more reliable, and its impressiveness comes from time.

Keep a clean record

The idea of keeping a good reputation/image has lost its influence over the years. Today we live in a time in which any kind of attention regardless of how negative is welcomed for those who are happy to settle for anything when the target goal becomes infeasible.

The problem with that is that it takes some options off the table, and among those options is the default sense of pre-loyalty strangers feel compelled to give to those who cultivate a clean record. What I mean here is the kind of person who is known to have an honest word that can be trusted always. The cleaner the image the lesser the volume of words is required to inspire trust and loyalty in others. Here your record speaks for you, in the same way, that an athlete’s trophy room tells the visitor of the power of the man/woman who owns them.

With the kind of loyalty built from a clean reputation comes word of mouth. The kind of word of mouth a business would pay to have. With it also comes influence, since as the number of people who know you for your track record grows, also does the number and reach of people who would like to develop a relationship with you. This is why dishonesty doesn’t pay in the long run. It’s not an ethical but a numbers thing. Meaning that the greater the number of people you’re dishonest to the greater the odds that your reputation becomes more publicly known.

Be useful

The last thing to talk about is the idea of being useful. We all want people to like and do good things for us. We want it for free, being the way we are without giving the other side of the table anything in return. It’s that new tendency to force people to like us even when we are awful, and when they don’t paint them as evil. We can do that as much as we want but it won’t make us any more likely to build our circle of loyalty.

The effective approach is to make people have something to gain by being loyal to you. It’s true that once in a while you’ll find the kind of person who for whatever reason will give it to you unconditionally, but again to bet on that is a losing strategy. Being useful might be harder than just wishing people are loyal to you for free, but it definitely is a more sure approach to getting loyalty from people. When you can add to the lives of others instead of just taking from, people tend to value your relationship with them more. Eventually, this value is so high that they become more willing to do anything to keep it, and at the top of the most powerful things people do when they want to keep a relationship they hold dear is to show to the other party that they are loyal to them. You don’t ask for or force it to happen, but it comes as a side effect of your ability to enhance other people’s lives.

You can enhance your usefulness by enhancing your ability to solve problems. The better you are at it the better you are at giving good advice, which is one of these scarce things the world is so desperately in need of. As your network grows you can be even more useful by connecting disparate parts of the network that would never meet. Now you’re the middle man or say the bridge that made it all possible, and the person they have a lot to thank for. Still on the same tone is the idea of favors. The more favors you make the more useful you are. This is especially true if you don’t ask for payback or give any hint that you’ll be needing any soon.

Summary

As discussed here loyalty is one of these things you have to earn. Waiting for it won’t take you anywhere, and the ideas above are just a starting point on your way to more loyal relationships.

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉

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