Mental Preparation: How Everything Can Go as Planned

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I remember reading a few years back War and Peace, there was a scene, where the battle didn’t go probably go as anticipated. Yet the Russian army officer in charge looked at the result and said “everything gone as planned.”

Life is full of uncertainty. Ability to build the mental preparation and flexibility to be ready for whatever happens and think of everything that happens going as planned is a quality which I admire and strive to.

One of my favorite phrases in the recent times is that the hurry is just lack of preparation. We need to be preparing the right things at all times. What kind of preparation this is then that allows us to have the peace of mind under pressure?

In Buddhist terms this could be called “right action” and “right knowledge.” Right knowledge, knowing that you’ve thought of all the possible scenarios, sought help and a different perspective and right action because you know you’ve done everything in power to prevent this outcome. You have done everything, so therefore everything is as it should be.

In the game of Go, the side that has more liberties usually ends up winning. Same in life, where liberties mean more plans. More freedom to execute these plans and choose the best from all the possible options.

Mental preparation is anticipation for future scenarios. Do not attach too much to a plan or a result. Let your mind seek more opportunities with less attachment. Be mindful and present. Only thing we can really lose is the present. The future nor the past cannot be taken away from us, only present can.

Everything you need is in the moment, you do not need more. Let everything that appears in your present to be part of your plan and everything goes to your plan 😉

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?

Super Productivity of a Team

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We do not achieve anything worthwhile just by ourselves. Life is a team work, and human being is a social being.

Recently I have been pondering what is the determining factor on how well we work with each other?

We are unique human beings with different strengths and qualities. Yet if we are given X and Y, why is the end result sometime 0,8, sometimes 1 and sometime more than one i.e. 1,2? I am talking about super productivity and what is behind that.

If our neutral state is one, what could be our enthusiastic, open, kind and cooperative state? I would say that would be 1,2. Then again when we are a reluctant, tired and selfish we our input in a group regresses to 0,8.

What factors of our own input are in our own control?

  • We cannot choose our feelings, we can choose how to respond to them. By choosing how to respond to emotions we can set our emotional state which is far more than just the whims of single emotions
  • We cannot choose our circumstances, however we can choose our attitude
  • We may not always decide who we are with, yet we can decide to be present and mindful

Great results are always the result of your best input: you can choose if your attunement , i.e. do you bring something to the table or take something from it.

Formula for Creative Output

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 “It’s not the hours you put in your work that counts, it’s the work you put in the hours.”  – Sam Ewing

Results do matter. Then there are people who say “quantity first” or “quality first.” They are both right. Especially when it comes to business or creativity (art) quantity does come first and with that comes the quality.

 “Picasso’s oeuvre includes more than 1,800 paintings, 1,200 sculptures, 2,800 ceramics, and 12,000 drawings, not to mention prints, rugs, and tapestries— only a fraction of which have garnered acclaim.” – Adam Grant, Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World

Well Picasso is an example here, yet you could pick almost any famous artist. Because those who succeed with little output and some masterpieces are the exception rather than the rule. The conclusion is if we look at the probabilities that the highest originality correlates with the volume of the output.

Both quantity and quality matter. Yet if you want the probabilities to be with you, you do it through the quantity. Probabilities in this life is like the force in the Star Wars. You would like the probabilities to be with you.

At first the quantity is worthy of worship. It’s only when we’ve learned some rudimental basics and notice that we are banging our heads to the walls that we can start to think a bit about in terms of quality. First we must become an object to learn anything. Later on then we can start to switch between applying what we have learned and the learning itself.

We should keep on doing a lot precisely because of learning and renewal. Learning is the core of creativity. And the learning happens through the function of quantity.

We Become What We Do, We Do What We Think

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If we become what we do and we do what we think, then if we ought to become something we ought to think more along the lines what we ought to become.

To put it more simply: if we want to acquire a quality, we should also improve the quality of our thoughts.

Better outcomes rarely come by coincidence, therefore studying others who have already achieved what you want to achieve is a good place to start. More specifically it could be useful not only study those who have achieved what we want, but also to study their ways of thinking, their thought processes to understand what exactly they are thinking with actions they are taking.

Deeper understanding opens up the ways of thinking, and therefore the ways of becoming.

Quality of Thoughts

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I guess is fair to say that most of our thoughts are not that high quality. However, it’s not to say that there isn’t some good quality thoughts mixed in.

However, how one can recognize a quality thought from the stream of many? Most of the people cannot, and the state of the things reflect that.

To know a quality thought, we must learn to recognize some. Usually success (results) in an area of life or another is good indicator that they must have some thoughts that actually work. Also books for example often have at least some quality thoughts. With the effort of writing a book this tends to be the case, but is not any sort of guarantee.

Thanks to the sheer quantity of thoughts, most of our conscious stream is not quality. In fact probably the best bet is indeed to look for quality thoughts outside: books, people who read book and people who have practiced thinking.

Then also one alternative is to start practicing thinking, which can take a while. And while at it, it might be good idea to write some thoughts down so at least you’ll recognize a good one from the bad one eventually.

Path to Greatness

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Path to greatness is built on repetition. Repetition of the basic things. Masters worship the basics every day. Until your dedication to the basics resembles worship: keep on learning.

It’s not even that much that we need to learn in the end, we just need to learn it more often. Quality of few ideas does go over quantity. Reading the dozen few great books a couple of dozen times is actually better than reading fifty different ones with.

A book read once, deserves to be read again. And the truly great books deserve to be read great many times.

Great speakers deserve to be heard a dozen times. Their successes and flaws are each time different, however it’s not really what they do, but what does your mind start to process during and in between the talks.

Whatever it is a book we are reading, or a talk we are listening we should learn to take notes. Not only that we may return to them, but so that we can direct our attention to the learning. This is a thing I’ve been amazed at – CONSTANTLY, even among so called professionals only write what they already see on the flip chart. What the fuck seriously?  You should primarily be listening and be recording the keywords, phrases rather than that which is going on the flipchart.  The contents of the flipchart come as secondary, you can easily record that too. What I am trying to say is that when attentively focusing and listening, you should prioritize listening and recording that which has not been obviously recorded (on the flipchart). In between spaces and breaks you can also copy and what is on the flipchart, however that is not your priority because it is there, it’s not going to run away.

Learning to learn is the path to greatness. And to learn to learn we need to repeat the basic things until we worship them.

 

Life is Fun When We Are Learning

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Attending business school created momentarily illusion for me that I knew something about something, grades did support this illusion for a moment. However, I was glad enough to enter a place where I could learn how business really works and I quickly realized how much I have to learn.

After completing my studies I understood that although I knew some theories and I had put them into some practice, the real learning would start now.

What I’ve been amazed is how little effort people put to their learning after universities to their professional development. Their employees even might be investing to their training and they do the minimum required. This might serve all of the parties involved in the short run, however it is not going to be enough in the longer run.

Learning is constantly refining our understanding of the world, applying that understanding, reflecting upon it and applying it again. I found PACT learning cycle from Skills You Need which does represent this very well:

  • Procure. New knowledge (theory) or ability (skill) is acquired.
  • Apply. The new knowledge or skill is then practiced in some way.
  • Consider. The results of the practice are evaluated and/or assessed.
  • Transform. The original knowledge or ability is modified accordingly

At best learning is this ongoing process. Yet people do not put much effort to first procure quality knowledge or skills, they settle with what has been given to them. Failure in the first steps leads to the lack of practice in later steps: people who take inferior ideas into practice, also do not have the ingredients for high quality synthesis in the transformation step.

In a sense, you need higher quality ideas in the first steps and then to keep on practicing all four steps in order to have high quality original working ideas.

Most of our ideas come from people are close to us. However, if no-one in the social circle procures any relevant knowledge outside the social sphere then the atmosphere becomes quickly stagnated.

Life is fun with great ideas, because it is through ideas that we can satisfy our needs of safety, change, uniqueness, belonging, fulfillment and sharing.

Reading more or more often?

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There is tremendous value of repeat reading the things you’ve read past year or even few months.

Having read three to four books a month, I’ve started to put increasing amount of value of returning to the same book. On my kindle, I get the highlight notes, which is about 10% of the total book. Those I revisit rather frequently which is awesome and they serve as incredibly assistance in my writing as well.

While highlights are great, they are still only part of the book. We forget most of it like the forgetting curve shows.

When it comes to great books, they should be read more often (especially nonfiction).

As example, I read Road Less Travelled about a year ago. I thought it was a great book. Now that I read it for the second time, I noticed how little I had understood of it. Certainly I had taken key points from there and even applied much of the lessons there, but the second time only deepened my understanding, gave me totally new perspective and again several points to work on.

I feel like this is a book worth of studying several times, if not for a lifetime.

When it comes to books like this, it’s not the quantity of how many we’ve read, but how well we’ve internalized the message and the lessons there.

Life is Long Enough to Discover and Give Your Gift to the World

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On Wednesday I wrote Purpose of Life which is to fulfill the needs of others at higher levels. In the end once we start to fulfill the needs of others at higher levels, we will also in the end get what we need the most.

In there I mentioned the shortness of life, which I today want to overturn.

My thinking before has based on accepting the shortness of life, today I decided to look a bit deeper in what does it actually mean. Therefore I decided to study some texts of Lucius Annaeus Seneca, one of the Stoics. Unlike settling for the plain quotes, I read his Shortness of Life. Here the famous quote about the shortness of life continues with another equally important sentence: “it’s not that we’ve a short time to live, but that we waste much of it. Life is long enough, and it’s been given to us in generous measure for accomplishing the greatest things, if the whole of it is well invested.”

Combined with the second sentence, there is an abundant world view and gratitude in place. Length of life is enough, we’ve been given plenty it’s just the matter of how we use it.

Brilliant! So we have plenty of time, the question is then for what?

Here I would like to bring another Stoic called Marcus Aurelius to reply to this one. I listened his audiobook and one thought in particular has stuck with me: it is to work according to ones’ nature.

Nature here means your tendencies, strengths and inclinations. Literally it is about around which activity are you willing to persist and master in order to benefit others? These abilities, activities can be rather creative and used through times in combination with other qualities and abilities often resulting in unforeseen consequences.

Diversity exists; whole evolution is based on advantages and strengths. For example in the nature there are for example 20 000 bee species alone, each with certain specializations. Human mind is also capable of such diversity, so therefore we have huge diversity of personalities, strengths and tendencies.

Effort to discover and develop that nature is what matters. With such effort you will fulfill your purpose manifold.

In this time – purpose continuum, our conscious ability do direct our attention (focus) is the one thing that determines, if our time is abundant or short.