Random Thoughts: Humility and Potential Paradox  

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I need to remind myself to stay humble. The work I do is yet fairly insignificant what it could be.

Do you see your potential? Even as a collective human species we barely manage to make a dent in the universe. Space is vast and unknown.

This morning, I was listening a podcast where the theme was The Big Leap Book by Gay Hendricks. There are four levels of achievement: the zone of incompetence, zone of competence, zone of excellence and zone of genius. Where would you put yourself?

I mean that is pretty eye opening, because we often settle for competence or even excellence, where the genius would be where we would thrive. Surrendering to the genius is a wonderful idea, yet our egos are terrified by that very same idea.

Humility and the potential, what a paradox.

Now is the Time to Be What You Can Be

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In short I’ve fallen for stoicism. During the January I’ve re-read two books on stoicism: Meditations by Marcus Aurelius and Obstacle is the way by Ryan Holiday. Also currently I am reading Ego is the Enemy and I will read the Daily Stoic.

Stoicism is a practical and applied philosophy of a virtuous life. If you cannot practice the thought or virtue, it’s not stoicism. Being a stoic means having inner dialogue, finding what you are in control of and then living the best life you can from there with no complaints about the circumstances or about results. Stoicism is about action, not about attaching to the rewards.

Living the best you can in the present, because stoic recognizes life is only in the present. Nobody can change the past, however with the action in the present we create future. Nor does stoic gets attached to the future – everything goes to the plan because we are creating the plan every moment as we go. Stoic cannot be thus harmed by ill will, because stoic turns any obstacle into opportunity or dies trying.

Literally stoic recognizes the shortness of life: memento mori – remember you are mortal.

It’s only now time to be what you can be. It’s now when you should start not only being, but start the doing. Be the doing you can be!

I decided to modify the words of Gandhi: Do the change you want to see in the world. Doing is being, do not just talk, start doing something about what you want! In the end we never cannot be still to long, we are never complete, perfection is just a day dream. Excellence is what we should pursue. Excellence means the best we are capable of with the given time and resources. We do not need to commit overly too much resources, that would be foolish, yet we need just enough to create excellence, the best possible solution.

Excellence requires letting go and yet finding ways to fulfill the need completely. Excellence is the practice of virtues. Every day we become what we can be if we practice excellence. The time to practice excellence is now!

Let Go of Perfection, Strive of Excellence Instead

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It has been over ten years ago, when I started to learn to let go from the perfection. Quickly I found another worthy idea to pursue: excellence. My encounter during a cross borders project with a professor on 2013 reinforced my liking the concept of excellence. He asked “who here is striving for excellence” and without hesitation I raised my hand, because although I didn’t know how to explain the concept I felt it resonated very deeply within me.

At a definition level, I think we all must first let go of perfectionism, because it’s unlikely. Excellence is much more achievable and now I think I’ve discovered the words to explain why.

Google gives us definition “the quality of being outstanding or extremely good.” However, good in measure against what?

I stumbled upon this phrase which puts my thinking into words very well: “Excellence is not about being the best; it’s about doing your best.” – Anonymous

Measure is yourself. Are you striving for excellence, and are you doing your today’s best?

The Happiness Equation: book highlights

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Out of 34 books I’ve read this year and out of 36 that I read last year, there are few gems in there. Among all the books, one that makes almost any day better for me is the Happiness Equation: Want Nothing + Do Anything = Have Everything by Neil Pasricha.

Yesterday I reviewed my notes thoroughly and they made me so deep impact that I ought to share the main points with you today.

“True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future”

Life is happening now, we must learn to be present is the present for a reason. To be more present, mindfulness is a good practice it makes us happy and success follows happiness. Be happy first.

Distractions in life are major obstacles for happiness. Like we are in the present, we shouldn’t focus to external goals, but to internal drivers. Internal motivation is a driver of excellence. Happy people do things, because they are happy and interested about doing things.

While external motivations can get ourselves distracted, it is only our own judgements and criticism that often makes us discouraged and sad.

Buddha says, “You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”

Be happy first, and start with yourself. You are worthy of attention, love and affection. We cannot control most of what happens in life, however we can control how we react to it.

So now we have the groundwork covered. Next is the difficult part: the purpose, the work and social life. To put it shortly, we are social animals and we need social context. We should work in something where we can increase our collective happiness. As it is pointed out: giving is the simply best way to increase your own happiness. Doing good for others.

We need to stay active with the giving and kindness as well, here we get to the purpose or what is described in the book as ikigai. Never retire, what you do not use you lose: this applies to happiness, your brain and your health as well.

Like Gandhi said: “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”

I ought to read the whole book again soon and I recommend it to you too.

At the Top Differences Are Slight

Anyone who has strived to become great at anything knows that the differences at the top are just ever so slight. At times a person has combinations of qualities that secure slightly more advantage that seemingly cause the person to seem dominant. As seen here:

(Image credits: PhotoBobil – originally posted to Flickr as Bolt. Usain Bolt winning the 100 m final 2008 Olympics)

Seemingly slight differences make huge differences in the end result.

This is both physical, mental, emotional or spiritual qualities. Small things add up!

Those who strive to be the best version of themselves, get to be just that by trying to do it by doing the small things well. In the end we are all imperfect, however doing those small things just so right bring us as close to the perfection as we can.

Any closer we cannot come or go, we did our best.

With doing the best and doing the small things right, my point is that journey and effort that matter. When we challenge ourselves to do our best and then something, we are in fact learning. We might be succeeding sure, however at very least we are increasing our own and hopefully the knowledge of all humanity.

Records are created to be broken, and challenged.

[Book Review] Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence

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Focus continues to be most interesting topic to me, because as I observe the world around me everyone seems to be buying more and more into distraction. I and probably you as well know intuitively that with focus we will get more work done. The reason I am interested in the books is because I am trying to find also more rational and scientifically based arguments for focus and that was my motivation to pick up this book by Daniel Goleman.

The book starts from individual point of focus and towards the end contemplates about the focus of organizations and systems. All of this is indeed linked, however it is enough to say that the book took a turn or two into unexpected territories.

My most valuable learning could be summarized: “the more our focus gets disrupted, the more poorly we do and the shallower our reflections are.”

As a book it does provide value and contemplate the topic of Focus as a hidden driver of excellence, yet I felt that it could’ve been more focused. 3/5 stars.

Book Review: The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks

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The Big Leap is a book of action and calls for decisions about becoming genius that you are capable of. Gay Hendricks knows through his personal and professional experience, that even people who are already successful in many aspects of life, have limiting beliefs and behaviors that prevent them from feeling and enjoying all the positive experiences they could.

I was looking for a book about excellence and I got recommended book about genius. I enjoyed this book tremendously and started to apply the lessons right away.

Here are some concepts that I am working on now based on this book:

  • Awareness about upper limit problems. Reflecting, journaling and finally dissolving them.
  • Creating more capacity for positive feelings and experiences by focusing to enjoy more to them.
  • Quitting limiting believes and behaviors.
  • Becoming the master of my own time; I understand now that I am my only source of time.

Right after finishing the book, I revisited my notes and highlights and I am convinced that this book will become a book of study: 5/5 stars.

13 Tips on How to Make More Out of Your Time

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We all have the same amount of the time in the day, hour and minute.  Our life is fluid, ever changing moment of present moments. Our priorities do change.

How many of the priority hurdles we can clear? Well as many as we can do at once. And no I am not talking about multitasking, I am all in monotasking.

By clearing multiple priorities I mean finding actions that can serve multiple priorities at once and building in more habits that serve all those priorities though a day. The more of our priorities we can serve during the day, the happier we are, well because priorities serve our purpose.

Often there are invisible barriers that blocks us from doing something that would be really beneficial for us: i.e. we cannot stand up at our office desk because we do not have the standing table, or believing something is impossible even though it might be everyday just around the corner.

We all are forgiven our ignorance, lack of courage and laziness.

To get more done and thus make more out of your time you need to see and look opportunities to get many tasks done with the same time, without losing your focus to the pitfall of multitasking.

As example, think of assignment to turn in to the school. What if the same assignment would be the requirement for several classes? You could focus all your effort to do the one assignment well and get the same excellent return on all your grades.

Well in the practical life it is like that as well. You just have to think about your priorities in life in order. Write down a list and then rank them by the order. Then divide the list into roughly three equal parts: there you have your CRITICAL, BIG and SMALL priorities. Organize your life first to complete the critical ones, then proceed with big ones and lastly small ones if you have any time and energy.

When you know exactly your priorities you can start actually looking at your habits. If there is health in your critical part as it should be, then you probably are looking to do something with your eating, moving and sleeping. These categories are the basics building blocks of our lives, we need to have smooth processes for eating, moving and sleeping.

Action points:

  1. Walk more the stairs. Stand up when you talk to the phone. Walk to your colleague, friend, instead of sending email or IM.
  2. Walk faster, you’ll develop identity of fast walker and you get more done as well as you’ll be a bit more active.
  3. In general walk more. Our bodies are made to move, every second you spend moving is better than being passive, thus contributing to your good health which will pay itself back with the interest.
  4. Eat fresher and more colorful food. In the long run this will save a lot of time and effort.
  5. Find a great place to eat and stick with that. I prefer places where I’ve a bit influence what I eat so I can construct my meal every time, yet I do the same way. I love eating salads, steamed vegetables. My meals are rather consistent so I do not have to waste time on what to eat.
  6. Set up your working times as total focus time, 45 minutes at the time.
  7. Drink less coffee, tea and other than water. It saves a lots of money and time.
  8. Talk more to people. Even better walk to talk to them. Seriously most of our cravings of sugar, coffee, etc. come just from social needs that have just develop to the rapid needs of sugar rush.
  9. Always take notes. Seriously if you have your priorities in your mind, you should always be ready to take down the thoughts related to them.
  10. Read anywhere, when you commute, wait in the line etc.
  11. Listen audiobooks anywhere.
  12. Replace TV, Social media and news with books. At least turn the time consumption around most of the time to the books and less time to the news and social media.
  13. Master your routines: the necessities must be dealt with masterful ways. Most importantly master the clock: if you know how long it does you to do the things, you’ll become the master of the moment, because each moment you know your capabilities and the realities.

Attitude of Personal Excellence

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“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
― Viktor E. FranklMan’s Search for Meaning

Feeling of control in life makes life feel alright. Attitude towards the present circumstances we can choose it’s in our total control.

When under pressure, we can collapse under other peoples’ expectations or focus and fulfill our personal best. In the end our personal best is the very best we are capable of, so why to even ask for more?

In the end the personal best is what matters and doing that for the sake of doing, and not being distracted by the external.

“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster, and treat those two imposters just the same…” — RUDYARD KIPLING

That is the path to our personal excellence, that excellence which matters and gives us meaning. Track to self-actualization means we are able perform close to which is our personal best, which will no doubt benefit others more than anything else as well.

Working for the dreams

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Today I would like to expand on day before yesterday topic about from problems to positive problems.

Continuing still the insights from the book: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson is definitely the “just do something” –principle. Better start doing something and thus start chipping away the big goal.

It’s because procrastinating is comfortable and the suffering of work towards dreams is not so.

What is your dream?

My dream is to see more fulfilled human potential on earth. I believe that through giving we all in the end get more. I do this mainly by clarifying my thoughts into writing first and then also discussing about them.

I write every day and on most days I do other things as well as towards this dream.

What do you do towards your dream? Today? Tomorrow?

While reading Manny’s book, I realized while reading that there are many others actions too that I could be doing and should be doing. It’s easy the comfort in habits and especially after we have already have accomplished the minimum.

However, if we want to reach for a dream it would be good to do a bit of extra. Even small deeds each moment can compound or grow in years into something great.

What are you willing to sacrifice for your dreams?

What are you willing to do or “suffer” for your dreams?

In my personal life I’ve chosen many things over others. As a most recent change which I am quite proud of is the fact that I am reading more instead of watching TV shows or playing games. I believe that the published works are one of the most qualified forms of content out there.

As I am trying to communicate ideas that change behavior, I feel like it’s very important to get quality ideas in.

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(Picture 1. Input-Output).

As in the picture 1, it’s critical therefore to select the quality ideas at the left side, then remember to keep doing things on the right side. I guess this could be called the pareto principle of creative process: absorb highest quality ideas that one can find and then create a lots of output out of that. I believe through this process one will learn and things will get done.

Life is constantly imperfect and perfection cannot be achieved. Yet I would say comfort requires challenger and a question everyone can ask: is this the best I can do?

We can only do our best, yet many of us fail to even try. Everyone does at times, however therefore there is the concept of effort and conscious struggle against that which is easy, versus that which is hard.

At the present we are crafting the future. We can make impact even to the present, by being present and doing our very best. This is mindfulness, this is peacefulness. We are on our way to the mastery through which we and others will realize our dreams, not because they are possible, but because our work has made them possible.