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. Continue Reading!
Awhile ago, in 9 Chess Principles You Can Apply to Your Life, we explored how chess principles mimic life and how they offer valuable insights to our lives. A few years later, I realized a very important principle was missing: break the rules.
Chess is a beautiful game and will continue to be one of the most intriguing games, sports, and forms of art. So let’s consider the 10th chess principle for a more strategic lifestyle: Continue Reading!
Queen Elizabeth II: “It doesn’t feel right, as Head of State, to do nothing.”
Queen Mary: “It is exactly right.”
Queen Elizabeth II: “Is it? But surely doing nothing is no job at all?”
Queen Mary: “To do nothing is the hardest job of all. And it will take every ounce of energy that you have.”
-Dialogue is from The Crown TV Series Season 1, Episode 4, 53m:59s Continue Reading!
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.
My Top 10 Books.
King Ecbert: “I want to talk to you about books, Alfred.”
Alfred: “Books, Grandfather?”
King Ecbert: “Yes. If you are going to be King one day, you need to understand that books are just as important as swords or plowshares. These are some works by great writers that I read and translated from Latin as a young man. And this, this is a work by Gregory the Great. Now, he asks questions such as, “What kind of man he is or ought to be, who is to rule?” And um… “Can the occupation of power distract the mind of the ruler?””
Alfred: [stares quietly]
King Ecbert: “Yes, well, I can see that you’re bored already.”
Alfred: “No, Grandfather.”
King Ecbert: “No? Oh, well, that’s good. A king should know how to be bored and not show it. Good boy.” Continue Reading!
How to optimize results and avoid waste.
Imagine walking into a grocery store and noticing how neatly different sections are organized. Stores are compartmentalizing gurus. Of course, stores scrutinize where to place each aisle in order to make the most profit. They focus on ease of navigation and flow. For instance, you’re more likely to buy beverages if you first walk through the produce section. Costco will offer their rotisserie chicken for a bargain, but they have it placed all the way at the back of the warehouse. They know how to maximize results, and in this insight we’ll explore how you can benefit from this strategy too. Continue Reading!
What do you get when you package the collective wisdom of people into a phrase? A proverb. The following proverbs are a collection of proverbs from most regions in the world. As you read them, see if any given proverb inspires you to change something, to widen your perspective, or simply to enjoy the wisdom civilizations have passed down to us! Here are the 26 proverbs to ignite wisdom in your life: Continue Reading!
How life metrics can benefit you.
What metrics does society really care about? To this day, most of our work goes to achieving more or less the same old American dream. You know, the house, the car, and a big backyard. Most people generally will ask you what you do or where you live. This makes sense, because it gives an idea of where you currently are in the American dream. What doesn’t make sense however, is if you go about your own American dream differently and people disapprove. There’s a dissonance between societal metrics and alternative roads to success. So how should you go about monitoring your life? Continue Reading!
Did you know that coconuts can travel several thousand miles, float up to 110 days, land on an island, and still be able to germinate? Palm trees have withstood the test of time, going back to the Eocene period. What’s even more fascinating about palm trees? They can endure strong hurricanes! Can we learn from palm trees and tap into this strength? Definitely. We usually like figuring out complicated answers, but it only takes looking outside at Mother Nature to see how she deals with adversity. You’ll learn how to apply 4 simple strategies to build your mental strength. Continue Reading!
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 leverage symbolism.
Anywhere you look you’ll see many symbols: political, religious, social, and commercial symbols. However, today they’re used almost exclusively by marketing. Companies understand the economic value of having recognized brands and the relationship we have with them. When you think of a brand, you have an image, a perception of its quality, and its service (among other things). Here’s a thought: Symbols are necessary. Nations have all sorts of symbols like national anthems, holidays, and their coat of arms. Even States have symbols such as the State’s bird, rock, fruit, motto, etc. Could we be ignoring the power behind symbols? What happens to people without symbols? We’ll see why we need to tap into the upside of symbolism. Continue Reading!
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. Continue Reading!
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. Continue Reading!
You have probably heard of the growth mindset. It’s the mindset that helps us embrace the inevitable hurdles we face. But the reality is that sometimes we don’t—it’s elusive when we’re struggling. Can we really have a growth mindset especially when we most need to? How do we enable this growth mindset? There is an excess of advice to be joyful, but we must also face the struggles that come with difficult learning, creative challenges, or starting something new. There’s also financial, relationships or health issues on top of it all. To develop the skills that you want, you know it will require a lot of practice. Building new skills is challenging. Furthermore, can we expect to be joyful without a struggle? Of course you shouldn’t want to do something that you dislike overall, but setbacks are part of what makes life interesting and worthwhile. Continue Reading!
We go through many years of school solving all sorts of things. Math, for example, is about becoming better at problem solving. Granted, we do depend heavily on our ability to solve problems. But could it be possible to find problems as well? Nobody wants more problems, yet everyone wants opportunities. Could they go hand in hand? How do some entrepreneurs, parents, or teachers manage to find problems and benefit from them? Perhaps work is not exclusively about solving problems but finding them too. And by no means is problem finding about inviting unnecessary conflict. It’s about the creativity of discovering unaddressed problems we’re not consciously aware we have. An unaddressed problem means there’s an unaddressed opportunity, and the potential to generate value.
The building blocks of work.
Building blocks don’t constitute much on their own. But put together they can create great structures. Building blocks are often used to explain the most basic unit something is built from. For example, the building blocks of DNA are the nitrogenous bases. The building blocks of a protein? Amino acids. The building blocks of physics? Atoms. Of course, scoping matters. Consider that the building blocks of sentences are words, but the building blocks of words are letters. You’ve probably heard about these analogies at school, but what’s more important is how they can be applied to improve your life. Have you ever thought about your hard work in terms of building blocks? Even more importantly: could you be building anything of substance with them? Let’s examine how to compound your effort.
They say, “Don’t live in the past, or you’ll be depressed,” and “Don’t live in the future, or you’ll be anxious.” Some people say, “Live at peace in the present.” They say, “Live in the moment.” And “The present is a gift”. My question to you is: what do you think about that? Discarding the past or the future (as much as the present) is delusional. First, we must understand that each time frame has costs and benefits. No one is better than the other. Having said that: how can we embrace the benefits of the past, present, and future? And how can we better manage the challenges in each time frame to live a better life? Continue Reading!
Like in football, we want to tackle our challenges head on. We want to find solutions and be proud of how we resolve to meet our challenges at each stage of our lives. You care about the meaning of what you do. But we’re often too much in our heads. To tackle your challenges you must go beyond (or below) this mindset. How to get out of your own way is all about integrating the rest of the body. As much as it’s beneficial to approach your challenges analytically, it can also interfere with simple truths. It’s easy to get too caught up either trying to figure everything out or become too busy—that is, occupied but getting nowhere.
Struggling has a bad reputation. It makes us feel uncomfortable, and we just want to avoid it. But it doesn’t have to be this way. When we struggle, what we focus on makes a difference: are we focusing on the painful feelings? Or are we focusing on conscious growth? Often times, it’s the moments when we struggle that push us to stand up, to be our best, and to solve difficult problems. We have all heard the saying: “to step outside your comfort zone.” This reasoning implies that we move away from a place of comfort to a place of struggle. I find this phrase a bit misleading, and I’ll tell you why. However, moving into the learning zone seems to me a sound proposition. Let’s see how redefining struggle with meaning can make a significant difference. Continue Reading!
Can you imagine what your life would feel like with more self-discipline? What would you do? When you take action on something that matters to you regardless of your immediate impulses—you practice self-discipline. It’s choosing to move forward to act on what you most care about despite hardship, and it feels really good. In fact, we could all use more of it. Every time that we practice self-discipline, we choose to reclaim our life. We pursue our dreams, act on them, and stay motivated when we don’t feel like it. We engage in self-discipline by exercising our willpower and focused attention to choose action over distraction. Continue Reading!
“Imperfect is a chance for contribution, connection and improvisation. It’s a chance to see the humanity behind the moment you were spending so much energy creating.” – Seth Godin
In 10 Empowering Principles to Live by, we explored that a set of beliefs is what we use to make sense of our world. We feel or think about something, and then our brain compares it to our cognitive map to understand the situation or generate meaning out of it. With time, we adjust those inner rules so that we can navigate our lives more effectively and with more clarity. But what does this have to do with seeking an imperfect life? Continue Reading!
Have you ever wondered what effort is really about? Do you think about having to try hard, spend a lot of energy, and feel frustrated as a result? Well, effort is not just about trying really hard. Effort is about how we apply energy to get what we really want. The three degrees of effort is an approach to understand how to apply more strategic effort to act on difficult learning and challenging setbacks. Continue Reading!
Engaging your goals asking the right questions.
Do you ever think about how you think? Imagine if we were to portray your thinking process, what would it look like? Daydreaming? A constant chatter? We can’t engage our goals effectively that way. We need to improve our thinking to improve our actions. How we think matters because it affects how we feel and consequently, what we do. In the last insight we explored how to set and achieve goals, and the importance of making them exciting. Now we’ll explore how to engage your goals to make significant progress. Continue Reading!
Find how to set and achieve your goals.
Have you tried to open a coconut with your bare hands? When I was ten years old this is exactly what I wanted to do. It was humid and it was hot at the beach, so I started early. I went searching for a coconut that looked like it had just fallen. I found one, brought it back, and started to work on it! My cousin and I each had one, and we began tearing every little fiber we could get to. After about six hours, I had managed to tear off about half of the coconut’s husk. I was exhausted and my fingertips were numb, but we were determined! We continued the next day. Once we removed most of the husk, we got to the hard shell. Continue Reading!
First, you must be grounded with your roots anchored deep in what matters to you personally. Perhaps you’ve even identified your ingredients of strength and passion. Now what? Being dynamic is your next step. You’ll learn how to be a more dynamic person, so that you can navigate confidently to pursue what you want. What would you do if there was nothing you couldn’t handle? This is at the core of being dynamic—feeling capable to move powerfully and trusting in your capacity to adapt, no matter the challenge. Continue Reading!
There’s always something we want to change. But do we? What happens between that gap: the moment when we desire to change and the moment when we begin the change? That’s the magic gap. There’s so many reasons why we often hesitate to start. It’s exhausting. It could be uncertain. Or we could be too busy. Whatever the case, we must closely look at this magic gap. How does change happen? What is that driving force that creates decisive action to change? Continue Reading!
Reframe your challenges with empowering language.
Let’s go back to High School, particularly to that Physics class. You might remember two important concepts we learned: potential energy (stored energy) and kinetic energy (energy in motion). A glass of water on a kitchen counter top has potential energy because it took energy to move it up. If it were to fall, that energy would (re)turn into kinetic energy and make it shatter. Language is no different, words display these properties. Words store potential energy at their core and they trigger emotions as kinetic energy. You can choose either disabling language or empowering language. Continue Reading!