15 Thought Provoking Quotes and Book Recommendations

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Line taken from its original context may be surprisingly curiosity arousing, thought provoking or even misleading. Fifteen lines from some of my favorite books:

  1. Sugar is cancer” – Tom Rath, Eat Move Sleep: How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes
  2. Everybody is in sales.” – Daniel Pink, To Sell Is Human
  3. Everybody works on straight commission.” – Brian Tracy, The Science of Money: How to Increase Your Income and Become Wealthy
  4. There are leaders and there are those who lead.” – Simon Sinek, Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action
  5. Ask no more or less of anyone than you would of your own child.” – Bob Chapman,  Everybody Matters: The Extraordinary Power of Caring for Your People Like Family
  6. What if optimism is a learned skill, one that can be permanently acquired?” – Martin Seligman, Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life
  7. Spend your free time the way you like , not the way you think you’re supposed to .” – Susan Cain Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
  8. There’s a common belief that creativity flourishes when criticism is withheld, but this turns out to be false.” – Adam Grant, Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World
  9. You can’t extinguish a bad habit , you can only change it.” Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do, and How to Change
  10. Once a person stops searching for information and self-knowledge, ignorance sets in” –  Robert Kiyosaki, Rich Dad Poor Dad: What The Rich Teach Their Kids About Money – That The Poor And Middle Class Do Not!
  11. We give too many fucks when our coworkers don’t bother asking us about our awesome weekend.” – Mark Manson, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
  12. Your relationship with yourself is the most important relationship in your life.” – Neil Pasricha, The Happiness Equation: Want Nothing + Do Anything = Have Everything
  13. One word, one action, or one thought can reduce another person’s suffering and bring him joy.” – Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life
  14. People often experience big breakthroughs… and then find a way to avoid relishing their achievement.” – Gay Hendricks, The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level
  15. Stop asking what’s in it for you and start giving gifts that change people.” – Seth Godin, Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? How to drive your career and create a remarkable future

Habit Combinations

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Living the last week of 2017 has again draws the mind to the contemplate how did this year go and what  to focus on upcoming years.

This year I’ve become more aware than ever so far about the power of habits. On my own eight and half year conscious growth journey majority of the time I’ve spent unlearning habits and then a bit by bit finding more healthy behaviors. With the exception last two years I’ve dedicated more conscious effort into two habits that seem to reinforce each other very well: reading and writing.

As I pondered a bit about this, I understood that most habits do work in combination. I.e. it’s not only reading nonfiction that turns into writing. It’s the whole process of study, application, dialogue and experience that makes it meaningful.

Best habits work in combination with each other.

What is difficult about habits is thought rarely we can really know if a habit is suited for us and how it is suited for us with too short time span. In the beginning of my personal development journey I read about 30 day trials on Steve Pavlina’s blog. Idea seems to be fine, however now equipped with the experience and understanding I have now, I don’t think the 30 days is nearly enough to test drive any significant habit.

On the other hand I’ve come another interesting way to look at the habits. The advice was originally from some dating scene,  however I think the application is very same with the habits as it is with the partners: we should see through a year first before making any significant advances and commitments in the relationships. Just as with the habits: see the full year first, then decide to move ahead or not.

One year is interesting time, because as humans our moods are also a lot different depending on the time of the year. One year will give the full experience of the year and certainly the timeframe to really know if this habit is for us.

As I mentioned this is for any significant habit, any significant life choice that you would like to make.

Within year the habit starts to solidify as part of your identity. Then what you can do after a year of doing having the habit, is to start experimenting with habit combinations.

I think and talk a lot about writing. At times I feel like writing is the only thing I’ve wanted to do and often times I am craving to write. Yet at times, I wonder, if this is really the thing that I am most enthusiastic about?

However, I’ve noticed writing is a great way for me to express myself and my various ideas. So it’s probably so that writing by itself is more like a medium of communication for me rather than my thing in itself. Despite being a mean of communication, it still is important way to process and think as well, so definitely a habit that I keep experimenting with and finding a way to keep in my routine in combination of all the new and exciting habits to come.

Happiness, Wealth, Success and Love is in Our Minds

 

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Our minds create meaning. Consciously we can choose what kind of meaning we give to what happens in life.

With the same principle our happiness is in our minds.

Our wealth is created by our mind, creativity, imagination, habits and actions.

Our success is the result of our actions.

Love? Actual love is doing rather than a feeling. Feeling is a mess in brain chemistry, real love is actions. If you do good, you will find eventually that it resonates back to you from people.

We become what we put into our minds. This includes the environment we are in as well as where do we spent our focus: i.e. is it in watching entertainment, pursuit of knowledge, building relationships or doing good deeds.

Making a Difference

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 Do you want to matter? I bet you do, many of would like to. Only few of us are willing to challenge ourselves to do it.

Our energy saving programming drives us to do this.

Yet our conscious desire and ambition should every day do something to challenge this status quo of energy saving. We should push ourselves consciously, in order to make sure we are getting most of our lives and that we are making the life better for generations to come.

Yesterday I was under the tutelage of Jari Sarasvuo again in the form of coaching session. Well a good teacher makes all the topics worthwhile going through again. He asked me why do we need to grow?

Spontaneously I answered something, yet missed the core and that’s okay. What was wonderful is that my mind continues to work with that thought “why do we need to grow.” Actually I’ve written about it in February (Why to Grow?) last time. Yet the mark of the master is everyday start to ask the same questions and furthermore drill deeper in to the nature of things.

So this is as always, a kind of continuation to the last thing, every time getting slightly deeper.

Jari said that growth is what separates us from animals, we are the conscious animal and I agree on that.

Yet at the same time, I gotta same time remind that we are an animal. We may have 40 bits per second of conscious bandwidth, but most of us are not using much of it all during day. Adults are mostly operating by our routines and habits.

Here comes the important point: CHALLENGE YOURSELF.

I’ve written about this too. Last time during summer when I was traveling: Challenge Yourself and Survive. Without the challenge, pattern and routine breakers we gravitate to the center of our comfort zones.

Actually the ability to break patterns is at the moment in my mind the most important skill in leadership, no matter are you leading yourself or others. Even in basic things such as conversations, the ability to break the common patterns is the sign of leadership.

With pattern breakers, the common becomes uncommon, it becomes meaningful and that makes all the difference.

Also real difference and progress is made only when we grow. When we grow to handle our emotional responses; made peace and traveled through the vastness of space. Then have made a difference.

Janne

P.s. Because life is so limited, we also should ask regularly what does matter? Are these results meaningful? In the core of the triple loop learning is not only asking are we doing the things right, or are we doing the right things, but to contemplate on what is right as well. Staying humble and asking questions, because humility unlocks the next level (Model for Long Lasting Happiness).

Why Do We Compare Ourselves with Others?

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Good thing about suffering is that is that it’s mostly subjective experience. This morning I noticed that I am again in the present state suffering quite a lot, because of unskillful habit of comparison.

So I decided to take a moment and reflect upon this question. Quickly I decided to take Google with me and I asked the question there. So then I found Quora reply by Awdhesh Singh to this same question.

I am not surprised that I found answers online, however the particular answer put me to work some more. What I love about world and net, is that our understanding is not perfect yet. We can construct upon it, and even challenge the knowledge we have and this is exactly what I did.

I think this kind of positive constructive dialogue is way ahead. So instead of accepting wholly the original reply, I began to break it down, reflect and comment upon it.

Awdhesh begins by writing that “We have a natural desire” and contradicts this in the next sentence with “We are not born with the desire of comparison.”

In life often many things can be true at the same time. I considered here the possibility as well. However, after reading through it several times and reflecting these statements to all my previous knowledge, I would argue that the first statement is wrong. We do not have natural desire to compare, instead we have a habitual desire like he mentions in the second paragraph. Mostly my argument would be founded to I’ve learned in the Charles Duhigg’s Power of Habits and Gretchen Ruben’s books.

In third paragraph he mentions a brilliant keyword “believing.”

“However, slowly we were told that we must be better than others. This starts happening since a child goes to the school. You are constantly told to get the top rank in the class or stand among the top. If you play a game, you must play to win and be the best player. If you get a lower rank, you are shamed and even humiliated. Gradually, we start believing that in order to be happy and make others happy, we must be better than others. You must work harder to be better than others by any means.”

This was a breakthrough for me personally, because I am fascinated by habit and belief formation. As I mentioned earlier the Power of Habits book, that habits have three elements: cue, routine and reward.

When I began to reflect this question “Why do we compare ourselves with others?” in the habit context, I see that these three elements are in place:

  • Cue, for example work place results or in games the scoreboard. In life we have all kinds of scoreboards as well such as status symbols, clothes etc. All of these are triggers for the habit routine.
  • Routine, “how well others are doing vs. I am…”. Personally I noticed that the routine itself is deeply rooted in our identity and memory, what we have done, who we are now, who we are striving to be…
  • Reward: at simplest forms it is the feeling of momentarily gratification of being better. However when I started to probe deeper I noticed that for me it is linked with a belief of being worthy as well. Being good, means being loved, means attention is the currency of love. Belief that the better we are, the more we are loved.

From here we get to the belief levels: beliefs what we focus the most are the strongest. I.e. this belief that the better we the more love we deserve is not necessarily the best belief to hold. In the end, we want to be loved, we want attention. Surely at the top we get attention, however what kind of attention it is we so much desire?

Also aren’t we worthy of the kind of attention already as we are? I think we are. Our own beliefs just might contradict each other and if we end up thinking that we are worthy only when we are better than everyone else, we might not end up so well.

Be careful on which kinds of beliefs you decide to focus on. The reason why we compare ourselves to each other is a result of a belief and habit. Habits cannot be simply discarded as Awdhesh mentioned, yet like Charles Duhigg points out in Power of Habit, habits can be transformed. Awdhesh suggests some positive practices such as Count Your Blessings, Learn from Others, Respect Good Qualities which are actions in the right directions.

However, personally I do not feel like these are merely enough. I notice that the process needs to begin much earlier by being mindful of cue-routine-reward situations and the beliefs we operate on. Then we need to start working towards transforming the unwanted patterns into more healthy and helpful ones.

Power of Full Focus

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Yesterday I was lagging three books behind my reading goal for this year and now I am lagging two books behind. I am really proud that I was able to read and study both of the books in such focused manner.

Both of the books had to do with personal development, one book was by Lauri Järvilehto, a Finnish philosopher and his book Tee itsestäsi mestariajattelija (“Make yourself a master thinker”) and the second one was Sisäinen sankari (Inner hero) by Jari Sarasvuo.

Some topics can feel rather intimidating as the Lauri’s book did for me. I had browsed and glanced through it several times, however never quite got there to read it deeper. Not until on Friday I happened to see what the book description promised “a stress free life.” On conscious level I didn’t particularly feel like I am stressed however, that promise seemed so good that I decided I’ve to read the book. So on the Saturday I decided what’s important: my reading goal and to read the book.

I am amazed what this kind of decision to focus does: I made quite a bit progress and by lunch time I had finished 60% of the book. Next I took fresh air and ate lunch outside. After lunch had a rather long nap, after which I was able to continue reading and finished the book in timely manner.

From the book I actually also learned about human mind and focus as well. Unlike my earlier understanding that came from Mihaly Chikzenmihalyi it appears human consciousness appears to be more limited than I’ve thought. Instead of 110 bits of conscious capacity, according to Ap Dijksterhuis and Loran Nordgren have estimated our conscious capacity varies between 10 – 60 bits per second. If one unit of information is about 8 bits it would be about 1 – 7 units depending on how tired, hungry and what else we are.

We are more unconscious than we know. This is interesting topic that I’ve been pondering a lot. Most of our seemingly conscious actions become so automatic that they are being done unconsciously. In fact if you look at drunk and tired people, they may be unconscious and not register much what is going on at all, yet they somehow find their ways to operate in the world.

Key take away here is that the conscious is more limited than we know. We should use the limited consciousness to harness the capabilities of habits, which is essentially outsourcing the important things to our unconscious which is far more powerful than we could hope our conscious to be.

We can learn all the important skills and habits, most important decision is what to prioritize and finish right now?

Synthesis from Science of Money and Some Other Books

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So I just finished Science of Money by Brian Tracy and I was thinking to write summary. However, just writing a summary isn’t right, because there are so many interesting things from other sources as well which I thought to throw in the mix.

Science of Money gets a big recommendation from me, if you are interested about money. On the measure of how much Kindle highlights I’ve made, this was a great book with a lots of learning as I exceeded the 10% with over five percentage points. The fact that I cannot even highlight and remember everything, is a very good sign that if you are interested, get the book.

Book starts by verbalizing what I have been thinking and experiencing a in my professional life: “Money remains one of the most thought – provoking , emotional , and polarizing subjects in the world.”

Whenever we start to talk about money with people we do not know well, it is a topic that does easily cause strong emotions and polarizes. Conversations can end or light up quickly.

What is money? Money is medium of exchange, the medium to exchange value. Things themselves do not have any value, only when there is someone to pay.

As Yuval Noah Harari put in Sapiens “money is the most universal and most efficient system of mutual trust ever devised.” Money is medium of exchange, and it’s based on trust and belief that you can exchange it tomorrow too.

More important than money, is however the value. And because we all exchange our services for something, we better be always looking to create more value. Because of this, Brian Tracy puts it well that everybody works on straight commission. To me this was a breakthrough thought that instantly connected with another thought from Daniel Pink’s book to Sell is Human: “selling is moving people”, therefore we are all in sales.  I think this thought by Brian Tracy is really interestingly combined with this thought and creates even greater thought:  we are all in sales with straight commission.

When we begin to internalize this, we start to think more about the value we create in the hours, days and weeks. Brian puts it well that wealthy people work for six days a week. They also keep on investing on themselves to keep on learning new valuable skills.

Earning ability, the skills is important. Even more important is the habit of saving money from what you earn, after that you can scale up.

Parkinson’s Law and How to Use It

More importantly Brian goes through most relevant laws that govern money and earning. They all important, yet in here I would like to focus on Parkinson’s law that says expenses rise to meet the income. Or “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”

On contemplating this, I’ve successfully understood why Elon Musk for example divides his time into five minute chunks to get more done. Even bigger chunks such as 30 min or 45 minute will work. Setting a time limit for a task will make sure that it will get done.

Identity and limiting beliefs

Brian goes to length talk about limiting beliefs, self-doubt in particular that as he shares in one story, is the tool of the devil as the metaphor.

As a medicine for self-doubt he recommends the inverse paranoia (believing that world is conspiring to make you succeed) that was practiced for example by W . Clement Stone who was worth 800 million $ at the time he died.

Many of us live with kind of (socially programmed) level of self-worth in money and social as well. This is mostly unconscious, we inherit from our childhood and youth environment and strive for it. If we are below the level of our programmed level of living standard, we are willing to work harder. If we are above, we will find ways to spend and get rid of the money.

Changing your identity about money happens as with any habit: slowly and surely. As with getting anywhere, visualizing the success and using the imagination to be actually already there is the first step to achievement. This is the way for example soccer hero’s are born: young boys watching their childhood heroes on the field. Or for any pop star as well, it all starts with a dream – a visualization and then a long journey with many tiny steps towards that dream.

Money is not the end goal, as said, money is just a metric on how much value you are creating. However, be patient, learn, learn and learn. You will be surprised: this is a more probably road than winning a lottery.

“The most important principle of personal or business success is simply this; you become what you think about most of the time.” – Brian Tracy

Since all money just measures how much value is being created, the value creation is critical. All value is created from nothing. This makes life a wonderful adventure, because it means we there is no limit to the value we can create if we are imaginative.

If your work is profitable then it’s worth of your time and effort, a nature’s way of guiding us.

 

Work and Humility

“When you go to work, work. Put your head down and work.” – Brian Tracy

Brian gives about working and understanding that working is exchanging value and then value should be maximized. With the acknowledgement that we are all humans, I like this kind of thinking. When we work, the focus should be working and creating value for the customers. To create value for customers we need to be finding new ways to serve these people in customer organizations.

Then I might add a different point of view as well, that our focus as human beings is rather limited. There are no such things as 12 hour productive streaks. We need to stay focused and productive during our day, however in between there should be smart breaks, a bit of exercise, and why not some laughter as well.

Overall I really like the idea of recognizing when you should be focusing and working and when you should be having fun is a big difference and I like the humility here as an approach.

Cause and Effect

 “All wealth, all happiness, all prosperity, all success are the direct and indirect effects or results of specific causes or actions” – Brian Tracy

To conclude so much content, I would say that value creation, through work and imagination are the basis. One important thing is what is called secondary consequences. This thought really hit me, that I actually see think about this stuff! Most people think only about what happens next, primary consequence if you do this or that. However, there are also the secondary consequences which will happen eventually from other perspectives.

Whatever you want to achieve in life you can either achieve it by chance or doing something differently. Study the cause and effect, and think of the secondary consequences too.

How to Make Your Decision Come True

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Some years back when I was still in college I was rather fascinated about decision-making, I read and browsed quite a few books around the topic and learned even some decision making tools which I even now use sometimes.

Yet the question “how to make better decisions?” is still with me.

There are of course some decisions that have smaller impacts, and then there are the life long decisions that really matter. I am focusing more to the latter category, of making big decisions.

Information is the game changer in decision making. To counteract the lack of information we need to do something called “research”, research until we are satisfied and can make a decision. This is called the saturation point in academics.

When we have enough information we can trust, decision making becomes easy. Decide something and stick with it. Make your new choice a habit.

I’ve successfully applied this with quite few habits over the past year for example: quitting tea, starting salsa, going vegetarian. Merely making the decision and then sticking with it. No re-negations.

Remember, decide and stick with it so you will be there.

Dare More, Break the Routine

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Repeating the same thing with the familiar expectations and results is boring.

Repeating the same thing with increased expectations and progressive results will results in much more fun things to come.

Seriously dare to break the routine. Even if you are taking the long road to learn something, break the routine. Only those who are willing to ditch the routine, trust the moment and their knowledge will be able to level up.

Dare to set higher goals. Build on the positive momentum and see how far it can carry you!

Break the pattern, do the unexpected. Dare to do more in smarter ways!

Make Your Desired Goals Inevitable

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We cannot achieve everything we desire. Most of the desires in fact are rather harmful and unnecessary.

In this life we have little energy to achieve desires. Therefore running after many desires is rather devastating and unsatisfying, as in this way it is unlikely that we will be able to satisfy many desires at once.

Satisfying needs is more important than satisfying desires. Yet life completely without desire would be a rather dull existence. Instead of going moment by moment after a desire, how about select one long term desire, a dream to fulfill and focus your energy to that.

Once you know what you want, break it down into action. Make the action habit, do something for it everyday. Continue tweaking your lifestyle accordingly, so that all your habits and focusing will be bringing you closer to the achievement of your desire.

You will inevitably reach your desire if you get to live long enough. It is due to the fact that we do not when our mortality comes in question, so it is best not to focus too much on the end result either. Rather, because of the possibility we should make most of the days meaningful as possible by exactly working through small steps towards the grand goal which may or may not be one day achieved. At you have done each day everything that is in your power for the goal of desire.