What is excellence? What does it mean to you? Excellence is not about being perfect. It is a value: a state of ownership in your work and a mark of your craft. Unfortunately, in today’s busy world, excellence is sacrificed for speedy work and quick profits. Quantity over quality. I’d argue that excellence is no longer a priority. But why not? Do we perceive it as something too idealistic? Are we afraid to fail or to fall short? Perhaps it’s simply because we don’t really know what excellence is and how we can achieve it. Consider the following poem by Marge Piercy: Read more!
The work culture was great. It was empowering. We had the power to do what needed to be done if we could justify it. We had commitments at the beginning of every week and accountability at the end. Of course, we couldn’t always deliver on our commitments. Whether we committed to reasonable goals was another story. Sometimes I wanted more, sometimes I was pushed for more. But that’s not what the advice was exactly about. Read more!
Modernity tries to convince you that having children is not good for the world. Intellectuals have unending arguments about why you shouldn’t have kids. They say: “It’s bad for the environment, humans are destroying the world,” or “We don’t need more poverty in the world,” or “Who wants to deal with a crying baby?” etc. They might be right, but they’re also wrong. Intellectuals always think they know better. Conflating the macro and the micro is not the same thing: whether or not you believe resources are scarce has nothing to do with the parenting experience. No amount of reasoning can help escape the wonders of what parenting brings. Read more!
Often times we feel like we’re stuck. We want to move forward but, you know, it’s just hard. Sometimes I wonder: could moving forward be easier than it seems? Perhaps we overthink matters, or maybe we just complicate the way we approach different situations. Certainly, we might benefit from carefully strategizing a plan of action to solve certain problems. But this insight is not about that. This insight is a quick and easy guide to keep moving forward when every day obstacles keep us stuck and unable to make progress. Read more!
There is no doubt that understanding what being and doing is, their differences, and how they relate to each other, can have a lasting impact on the quality of your life. We live in an informational era where we are almost exclusively concerned with How-To’s, like how to fix your leaking sink or how to grill salmon. This makes sense because for the first time in history, we have so much access to information, that we can learn most anything and apply a lot of it for our benefit. The fact is that articles that are not How-To just don’t get enough traction. But what about a guideline or a How-To for a fulfilling life? There isn’t one because there’s no step by step on how to live life. Life is too broad, and being tends to be vague and hard to measure.
“Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.” – Archimedes
If you could change something in your life, what would it be, and how would you do it? It’s romantic to think that we can power through situations, but reality shows that’s not very effective. Often times we just want to work very hard, but that’s neither sustainable nor enjoyable. In some circumstances, will power is just exhausting and easily depleted. However, leveraging your life is not about trying hard, it’s about realizing you could do more and do better with levers. Think of levers as tools you can utilize to have a greater impact with less effort. If you set yourself to find and use these leverage points, you will amplify the quantity and quality of whatever you do. Read more!
How to accelerate your success.
There’s way too much focus on failure. A not so old saying claims you need to fail X amount of times before you can succeed. Success and failure doesn’t have to be so binary. Furthermore, what’s intriguing about unexploited strengths and opportunities is how you can miss them. If you’re too focused on improving your weaknesses, you forget you have unique strengths. How can you find opportunities only by focusing on your weaknesses? With big projects, when do you exactly fail? Why wait until the final failure? Opportunities are vehicles to accelerate your success if you’re able to find them. Let’s explore 3 simple ways to find opportunity. Read more!
Quotes are inspiring because they have so much wisdom packed into a phrase. They’re like small reminders from free mentors of all walks of life for you to take. They can lift you up, guide you, and motivate you. A good quote can give you the worth of a lifetime! Here are 19 insightful quotes from people that one way or another have influenced and shaped our world:
How to take difficult action and keep at it.
Thunderstorms are highly unpredictable, fascinating, and intense. As the warm, tropical, humid air moves upward, it collides with polar cold fronts. It then quickly condenses into droplets that fall down, growing and crashing into each other to begin what could turn into a thunderstorm. The high-altitude clouds make the sky turn into such interesting colors. Sometimes a deep orange or yellow, and other times purple with a bit of a pink hue. With a bit of luck, you can see lightning from afar as the storm approaches. The nuances between doing vs taking action are subtle yet powerful, like an air mass that doesn’t collide with a cold front vs a focused thunderstorm.
How personal missions get you closer to achieve your dreams.
Imagine living several thousand years ago. There would be so many places to discover and things to learn. The maps would have blank spaces, because they were a work-in-progress. How big could the Earth be? What things would be over the horizon? The world was an undiscovered place, and the Europeans sailed out to find out. They went on missions.
16th century evangelists were going on missions. Explorers were going on missions. Conquerors, scientists, and friars set sail. All were serious about their missions. But it’s puzzling how they sailed so confidently into the unknown world. How could they know what resources they would need and how much to take? Where would they land? Did explorers have any systemic way to go about their missions? Read more!
Lessons from the Grand Canyon.
On a summer visit to Grand Canyon National Park, a park ranger told me: “You know, it’s about perspective. The Copper Canyon in Mexico is deeper and longer than the Grand Canyon, but it’s covered with vegetation. Here, the rock layers show perfectly, which makes it look much more massive. We also have the marketing going for us—the Grand Canyon.” Perspective, like the lack of vegetation in the Grand Canyon, can make a world of difference in how you perceive what you see. In other words, how to gain perspective is how to gain depth in your thinking, creativity, and problem solving skills. Let’s explore 3 ways to gain perspective.
Adopt a brewer’s mind.
It’s no surprise that computers are substituting a lot of human work and doing it with more precision and efficiency. And yet, we Sapiens want to become more productive and efficient. What exactly does it mean to be productive? Could my productivity be automated by a machine? For the first time in humanity, we’re facing this dilemma. While there’s much work to be done, and productivity is still of utmost importance, having a brewer’s mind offers some valuable insight and an alternative to blind optimization. Read more!
How math can propel action and make you a better thinker.
Math is underrated. Because of its analytical nature, we tend to perceive math as a nuisance. As a student, you might have demanded math to be more practical. Some students feel there’s little real-world applications of the math they’ve learned. On the other hand, teachers explain that math helps you become a better problem solver. But math goes beyond problem solving. Read more!
How you can take more action without getting burned.
The summer season is radiant! After much anticipation, the temperature begins to rise steadily. Slowly, we get more light and more heat. In some regions of North America it gets very dry. In others, dark clouds turn into massive storms. Sometimes it’s both. But the sun doesn’t stop. Every day the sun rises relentlessly, and it showers rays of life that appear to expand everything they touch. Everything grows vigorously. Leaves and needles are in a growth spurt. Nature can’t seem to get enough of summer! Summer makes us feel alive. We feel alive because of what happens during this season: we get stretched. There are many lessons from the summer season to be learned! Read more!
Spring season is breathtaking: Clouds gather in clusters of gray. The rain drops begin to drum on the soil. But suddenly the sun bursts. And just as fast, it’s gone. Dark clouds intensify in the distant background as the sunlight filters through like a thin film bringing vivid images. The wind gusts unexpectedly, bending trees and scattering seeds. And again, the sun bursts through the clouds. It’s hard to understand what spring is all about. Let’s explore what lessons from the spring season you can learn. Read more!
An Approach to Compassion
It’s winter, and for a few months now the branches have lain bare. Some mammals are hibernating and other species have migrated south for warmer weather. However, humans stick around, turn on the heater, cover up, and wait impatiently for spring. It seems as though winter is something to be endured—but it’s not. Winter has something special to reminds us: life is not just fast-paced doing. Life is also about periods of stillness, compassion, and responsibility. As we’ll see, there are many lessons from the winter season. There is wisdom and power behind it. Read more!
It’s fall season! The leaves are changing colors. Daylight is getting shorter, and the nights are getting colder. The leaves linger on the branches as they change, and soon they will let go. They will eventually fall and dance their way to the ground. The streets will be blanketed with tones of warmth. It’s winter squash time in all its splendor. Pumpkin patches are now open and pumpkin carving is happening. And while the leaves keep falling throughout this season—the spectacle of autumn invites us to look inward. Autumn is such an special season. Let’s look how lessons from the autumn season abound. Read more!
Do you remember how you felt the last time you saw a big animal in the wild? Did you experience that liberating feeling of being out in the wild? At Rocky Mountain National Park, I came very close to a massive bull elk while hiking. Not too far from the trail, the bull was roaming free about the woodland. Sensing me, the elk slowly raised his neck and held his head high revealing his huge antlers with strands of peeling velvet. We paused. Then the bull continued roaming and eventually moved on—brushing away freely into the forest. Could this elk help unlock the secret? How can you reconnect with your true self? Read more!
In my last U-pick adventure, I came across some Triple Crown blackberries. I instantly noticed the abundance of huge red and black fruit hanging from the bushes. If you were holding one between your thumb and index finger, you would notice the little round obsidian seeds, that look much like grapes in a grapevine. When ripe, they are deeply sweet and juicy with a tart kick—which is typical of a blackberry. However, Triple Crowns have an even bolder, more intense flavor packed into their fruit. Read more!
A Lesson from the Athabasca Glacier.
Glaciers are breathtaking. These giants shape the environment through rock abrasion. The Athabasca Glacier carves itself among the Canadian Rockies in an area known as the Columbia Icefield and measures up to 300 meters (980 feet) thick! When I stood there, it was hard for me to grasp that I was standing over such a thick layer of ice. It made me wonder how glaciers came to be and what we could learn from them. How exactly does a glacier become such a magnificent, ice-blue wonder? Read more!
What to do when you’re stuck.
A simple way to see what moves you is to revise your biggest accomplishments. Why were they so great? I’m sure that whatever you did, it was great because it mattered. Work that matters and moves you has two secret ingredients: you enjoy doing it, and it contributes to the world. Sometimes though, it’s hard to visualize your contribution. This is especially true in the corporate world—behind the cubicle with a bunch of papers often filled with meaningless metrics. Your computer desktop flooded with unused files. To uncover how to be more productive find out what moves you. Read more!