The Motivational Myth: By Jeff Haden

This book argues the structure and functioning of ‘motivation’ is simply a basic unit of a process which is repeated over and over again. So it is futile to look for external stimuli to provide that dopamine boost. The central theme of Motivation Myth, which Jeff defines throughout his book expands on the notion of motivation, success, and the benefit of sticking to a process. In the progressive pages of this book, Jeff highlights step by step processes for some of the insights I’ll discuss within this summary. I shall distil and summarise influential points and draw out the lessons I’ve found highly beneficial.

Please note:

  1. This summarisation is bias and based on my perception.
  2. I hope that readers reach out and acquire the book themselves to draw upon their learning. Please assume all other substantive ideas are from the book.

Author: Jeff Haden – if you wish to find out more about him, check out his site.

Motivation, Success and Result

Motivation is not the Spark. Motivation is a Result.

To become successful is by setting a goal and then focus all your attention on the process to achieve that goal. The incremental success of a process, however small is a motivational tool that allows you to get closer to your goals. And, when repeated over time with the right habits and strategy can provide you with the desired results.

I once read action cures fear and as a byproduct motivation is a result.

Accept your weaknesses and work to improve them, and as you become stronger, your motivation provides comfort against those weaknesses. Initially, I hated parallel parking because I would find it difficult in pressured situations. Over time, I improved with copious amount of practice and now it’s my default parking manoeuvre.

Confidence comes from preparation and practiceThe anxiety you feel—the lack of confidence you feel—comes from feeling unprepared.

Stop sharing

This was something I was unfamiliar with and when I read this insight I knew I’d to share it:

Say you have a huge goal you want to accomplish: a massive, audacious, incredibly challenging, and ultimately worthwhile goal. You think about that goal, dream about that goal, obsess about that goal and talk about it with your friends and family. That last part can sometimes be a big mistake.

By sharing your goals, you’re less likely to achieve it. When people take notice of an individual’s identity-related behavioural intention – the individual adopts a premature sense of possessing the aspired identity.

The issue lies in our sense of identity. Each of us wants to be certain things, and we naturally declare those intentions, even if we have not yet become those things. Declaring what we want to be and how we will get there causes us to feel we are further along the path of becoming who we want to be—even though we have in reality done nothing but talk.

How to set a goal?

To achieve your goal, the focus should be on the process or routine that are used to build a system. And such a system is not driven by hope or wishing to achieve your goal. It’s driven by incremental steps of small progress that are consistent towards your goal. Through the use of the acronym “SMART”, every goal should be specific, meaningful, attainable, realistic, and time-bound.

  1. Specific – A breakdown of your goal that provides direction to specific detail. How will you know you’ve arrived if you never knew where you were going? And how will you follow the right process to get there?
  2. Meaningful – The more you work to find or contrive or manufacture some sense of meaning, the less likely you are to achieve the goal. Most of the time the meaning of a goal is immersing yourself in a routine.
  3. Attainable – If it’s attainable its a target, not a goal.
  4. Realistic – if you’re able to break down a goal into targets, tasks and objectives – you visualise the realistic value of that goal.
  5. Time-bound – setting an end date for completing is important, but it no way to help you focus.

How to create a successful process?

A successful process is a self-initiator to satisfy your itch for getting started.

  1. Set your goal – choosing a process and setting your mind towards that process which matches your comfort level.
  2. Be specific – breaking down areas of focus which requires attention within the scope of your day. By adding time and location to your objectives, you start to specify details for instance, reading at 6 AM in the study or going for a run at 7:15 AM around the park for 40 minutes.
  3. Rework your schedule – refine your daily routine to incorporate your newly established process.
  4. Map out your daily plan – Each day requires a commitment to your desired goal. The process should complement the progression of the goal by creating a daily plan.
  5. Work the process – a contributing factor to your process is build on the difficulty. So if initial miles feel difficult, start with something simple and build on your difficulty as you become comfortable.
  6. Fix your schedule problems – By adapting accordingly, fixing underlining issues that may have arisen within your process, for example, waking up 5 AM to read may not have always worked. It is best to evaluate your results before altering your process.

Don’t underestimate ‘I don’t’

Here’s something I want to share from the book:

Participants were told to set a personal long-term health and wellness goal. When their initial motivation flagged—as initial motivation inevitably does—one group was told to say, “I can’t miss my workout.” Another group was told to say, “I don’t miss my workouts.” (The control group was not given a temptation-avoidance strategy.) Ten days later the researchers found: Three out of ten control group members stuck to their goal. One out of ten “I can’t” group members stuck to their goal. Eight out of ten “I don’t” group members stuck to their goal. Not only was “I can’t” less effective than “I don’t”; “I can’t” was less effective than using no strategy at all. “The refusal frame ‘I don’t’ is more persuasive than the refusal frame ‘I can’t’ because the former connotes conviction to a higher degree.

How to become a serial achiever?

A serial achiever is someone who achieves this, and then that, and then that again all while working in an advancing career. The ability to expand your identity provides a realm of separation from others; it broadens your market value because you have a broader skillset.

If you’re thirty years old, that means you have eight to ten five- to seven-year periods ahead of you assuming you’ll live up to the age of 80.

This provides an opportunity for ten different phases of your life where you can accomplish concrete goals. And, over time achieving more than one goal, you become more than just one identity.

How to Avoid Interruptions?

Interruptions are the curse to productivity. Having contingency in motion is an optimum way to avoid being disturbed, especially when working on high calibre tasks that require your optimum attention.

  1. Let everyone know you won’t be available – this is achieved by putting a sign outside your study or having an email alert that highlights your availability.
  2. Decide how long you will work – stick to a timeframe that you can obey and commit.
  3. Commit to how long you decided to work – in the scope of that timeframe retract from any peculiar distractions, build contingency to avoid using your phone, or going onto social media. Use this timeframe of 60-90 minutes as your daily highlight; a means to achieve your deep work.
  4. Start your EPD at an unusual time – this steps expands on the fact we should utilise the advantage of (5-7 AM), use this to our advantage to work on ourselves and devote this time for personal growth. 
  5. Delay and space out your rewards – Your treats are like your productivity ammunition, a supplement used to boost your productivity as you begin to plateau. Recently, I have been experimenting with mushroom coffee, which I found to love when doing deep work. I’ll leave a link here for you guys to check it out.
  6. Refuel before you think you need to refuel – A productive body in motion helps the mind stay productive. This draws upon the need to keep your body engaging in exercise and the benefits it presents to your productivity.
  7. Take productive breaks, not relaxation breaks.
  8. Take your breaks at a counterintuitive moment.
  9. Don’t stop until you’re done—even if finishing takes longer than expected.

How to have the most productive mindset?

  1. Stop making excuses for doing less – I recently came across a well-practised productivity trick and this has been an absolute game-changer in how I manage my tasks based on its importance and urgency. Consider using the Eisenhower Matrix.
  2. Stop letting disapproval, or even scorn, stand in your way – Aristotle who once lived 384BC told us exactly how to avoid criticism is by saying nothing, doing nothing and being nothing. So as long as you doing anything worthwhile in life – you’ll be criticised, so take pleasure from it. Use it in a positive connotation, instead of viewing it as a criticism.
  3. Stop letting fear hold you back – and to overcome such fear is through action, however incrementally small it may be.
  4. Stop waiting for inspiration -creativity is the result of effort: creating, editing, drafting and experimenting. The work itself results in inspiration. Don’t wait for ideas.
  5. Stop turning down the help you need – Asking for help is a sign of strength and is the key to achieving a lot more. In asking help, you’re positioning yourself to learn. You’re allowing yourself to grow like levelling up to the next level.

How to strengthen your willpower?

Tips you can use to accomplish your goals, without needing to possess incredible willpower.

  1. Eliminate as many choices as possible – This is something that was also highlighted by Derek Sivers in his new book called Your music and people. By implementing restriction is a means of establishing a parameter used to limit juggling between options.
  2. Make decisions tonight so you won’t need to make them tomorrow – create a default activity by deciding on what you intend to wear, what will you have for breakfast the next morning, for lunch and dinner. The end goal is to sleep the night before making those decisions and avoid excess mental energy being utilised for non-essential activities the next day.
  3. Do the hardest things you need to do first – this draws on the idea of waking up early in the morning, utilising your 5-7 AM to carry out tasks that require the greatest amount of mental energy. If you wish to explore this – I’m currently reading the 5 AM club by Robin Sharma, check it out here.
  4. Refuel often – turns out glucose is one of the foundations of willpower. Although your brain does not stop working when glucose is low, it does start doing some things and stop doing others: It responds more strongly to immediate rewards and pays less attention to long-term outcomes.
  5. Create reminders of your long-term goals – I found this step to be energising because I’ve never positioned myself to create reminders of my long-term goals. Having a visual representation of the goals that you wish you achieve through a reminder provides a sense of closeness. Hence, I’ve decided to invest in a vision board
  6. Remove temptation altogether.

Fewer the goals; greater the resolve

The more goals you try to achieve at one time, the more questions and decision you are pushed to make. The result of such outcome tends to leave you with decision fatigue. And, then you utilise your willpower to overcome the decision fatigue.  Willpower is a finite resource; the fewer decisions you make, the less willpower is required.

The 1% advantage

I’ll share this example from the book:

In 2009 Sir Dave Brailsford, a former director of British Cycling, was seeking funding for the program. He told the British government he could build its first-ever Tour de France winner in four years by using a strategy he termed “aggregate marginal gains.” His plan was to break down each individual component that goes into making a world-class cyclist and cycling team and improve each of those elements by 1 per cent. Not 5 per cent or 10 per cent or 20 per cent, but just 1 per cent. Three years later Bradley Wiggins of Team Sky won the Tour de France and an Olympic gold medal. And for three of the next four years, Chris Froome of Team Sky won the Tour de France.

We overestimate the value of one defining moment and underestimate the value of small incremental improvements. The “1 per cent advantage” works well for one reason: Small improvements add up to a major overall improvement. The compounding effect of making small incremental changes plays a big role in improving drastically.

In the book Atomic Habit by James Clear also highlighted improving 1% isn’t measurable at the moment but built over time can be astounding.

Let’s provide some math for clarity:

  1. If you improve in a given subject every day for one year, you’ll end up improving by 37x.
  2. If you don’t make any improvement in a given subject for the same amount of time, you’ll decline below zero.

I would love to get your feedback or thoughts about this summary, so please consider leaving a comment below 🙂

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Crack your productivity slump with Eisenhower Matrix

The development of Eisenhower of matrix came into motion by Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th President of the United States. His accomplishments stretched before and after he became the President. He achieved endeavours include:

  1. Instating programmes such as DARPA and NASA
  2. Instating the development of the Highway system in the US
  3. Served as the President of Columbia University
  4. Become the first supreme commander of NATO
  5. Supreme Commander of the Allied forces in Europe
  6. Chief of Staff of the US Army

His productivity system referred to as the Eisenhower matrix highlights his ability to sustain his productive endeavours for a long period. In this method of Eisenhower matrix, the simplistic nature of this decision-making tool is used to highlight what’s important and urgent on your agenda.

So, let’s break this down:

It consists of four different quadrants and for each quadrant, there’s an actionable outcome on how to separate each task or objective in your to-do list.

  1. Urgent and important – these are tasks that should be completed now. 
  2. Important, but not urgent – can be scheduled at a later time or date.
  3. Urgent, but not important – tasks that can be delegated to others.
  4. Neither urgent nor important – task that can be eliminated or deleted.

There’s a feedback thought pattern behind this matrix because it makes the user’s question the ‘importance’ of the task. For tasks involving that are urgent and important, they should complete now like writing this post so I can publish it tonight. Tasks that are important, but not urgent should be scheduled like exercising, doing grocery shopping or calling family or friends. Differently, to urgent but not important tasks should be delegated to others like hiring a virtual assistant to carry out administrative work like answer emails or booking flights. And, finally, tasks that are neither urgent nor important like watching TV or spending hours on social media should not be entertained.

I found this matrix to be helpful because as a framework I can visualise the importance of each task. It allows me to make a conscious decision on what to focus on. Concerning with long term goals, this matrix provides an advantage of creating an overview and narrowing down on areas of procrastination.

Let me know your thoughts on this in the comments below 🙂

Hell Yeah or No: By Derek Sivers

‘Hell yeah or No’, the title hasn’t caught me by surprise because I initially came across it in Derek’s first book called Anything you want.

I picked up this book because it echoed my interest in making decisions instead of dwelling on them. This book has expanded upon various ideas and stories that were presented in a manner that looked familiar through my personal experience. But, the unfamiliarity of others seemed intriguing to learn about.

Please note:

  1. This is my summary and interpretation.
  2. My bias perceptive is a means to reflect the message I acquired from this book and will be paraphrased. Please assume all other substantive ideas are from the book.
  3. I hope this summary encourages readers to reach out and read the book for themselves.

HELL YEAH OR NO: WHAT’S WORTH DOING

The abstract concepts that are highlighted within this book give light to what we could do versus what’s worth doing. The difficulty in optionality it makes us open to choices. Within the norm of deciding which option to proceed with we become confused or suffer from decision fatigue. However, there are advantages in practising optionality; it provides insights that opens our mind to new information. We brainstorm information and begin to understand the pros and cons of our options to avoid sunk cost bias.

ADVICE IS LIKE AN ECHOLOCATION

Derek raises an intriguing notion – advice given from a perceptive of one-directional thinking can never be assumed correct or incorrect. The advice provided from one’s point of view is based on what has been experienced by that individual alone. Such advice is just another option. To broaden the spectrum of advice we should listen, talk and attract ourselves with people of all walks of life and jump into action that brings us the most joy. Advice should be like echolocation. Bounce ideas off of all of your surroundings, and listen to all the echoes to get the whole picture.

FOCUS YOUR ENERGY

Focus all of your energy onto one thing. I have divided my energy into various activities. Targeting my week to create a YouTube video, managing ideas to write about a blog post and assembling my thoughts for the next issue for my weekly newsletter. And, recently, I become part of a network marketing company. Derek highlights the solution is to think long term. Do just one thing for a few years, then another for a few years, then another because most people overestimate what they can do in one year, and underestimate what they can do in ten years. Think long term. Use the future. Don’t be short-sighted. I realise my energy is divided within the scope of writing and creating, the solution to managing my focus is to be able to manage my time more effectively. 

LEARN WITH A BEGINNER’S MINDSET

This approach draws on Feynman technique learning with a mindset of a beginner. Learn as you are doing it for the first time. There is benefit in such transition:

  1. You ask a lot of questions.
  2. You stop assuming people are stupid or smarter than you.
  3. You make it your mission to assume what you know isn’t enough so, you drive to learn more. Your focus is directional, it’s based on improving continuously and not be held up with past accomplishments.
  4. You cherish the fact that you love being wrong, which highlights you have more to learn. And, that’s where true learning takes place when you come across new information.

Derek advocated a go-to rule in his life, which I’ll highlight below as a quote. It’s important to consider this rule in every facet of our lives. 

Life is an ongoing process of choosing between safety (out of fear and need for defense) and risk (for the sake of progress and growth). Make the growth choice a dozen times a day.

Is EVERYTHING MY FAULT?

A predictable pattern is witnessed whenever we suffer from an atrocity. We question ourselves:

  1. Why did this happen to me? 
  2. What was my fault?

Our instinct to adopt victimhood when we suffer from people lying, cheating, misguiding us. Derek highlights the way to avoid victimhood is to accept that it’s our fault. We accept victimhood by forgiving those who have wronged us. By accepting it’s our fault, we wouldn’t need to adopt victimhood. Ultimately, we gain back that power and wouldn’t need to apologise anymore. This chapter was a revelation to me because it provided clarity on two factors: a. that I have control over on how I choose to work against my atrocities and b. blaming is easy; accountability is hard.

Some examples to consider:

  1. My broker cheated me on my investment. I should have taken control by doing rigorous research on the broker.
  2. My relationship plateaued with an ex-girlfriend. I should have taken control by investing more time into her. 
  3. Rogue teenagers vandalised my garage. I should have taken control by placing a gate and security cameras to protect my asset. 

HAPPY SMART AND USEFUL

There are three things to consider when making life-size decisions:

  • What makes you happy
  • What is smart—meaning working for long-term
  • What is useful to others

Derek highlights that we tend to forget one of these. For example: just happy from the parable of the Mexican fisherman. You might want to check out this post if you haven’t come across the story before. I originally came across this in the the 4-hour workweek by Tim Ferriss.

What’s smart is highlighted by Aesop’s fable of “The Ant and the Grasshopper,” you’ll be full of regret if you think of nothing but today and don’t prepare for tough times.

Here’s the story:

The Ants & the Grasshopper 

One bright day in late autumn a family of Ants were bustling about in the warm sunshine, drying out the grain they had stored up during the summer, when a starving Grasshopper, his fiddle under his arm, came up and humbly begged for a bite to eat.

“What!” cried the Ants in surprise, “haven’t you stored anything away for the winter? What in the world were you doing all last summer?”

“I didn’t have time to store up any food,” whined the Grasshopper; “I was so busy making music that before I knew it the summer was gone.”

The Ants shrugged their shoulders in disgust. “Making music, were you?” they cried. “Very well; now dance!” And they turned their backs on the Grasshopper and went on with their work. 

There’s a time for work and a time for play.

What is useful to others can be highlighted in service of those who need your help. It could be anything from helping through volunteering to helping a friend get a job. Taking time to serve others is a rewarding activity because you are providing a service that can elevate the troubles of someone.

OVERCOMPENSATE TO COMPENSATE

You have something you want to change: a thought process or habit you want to fix.

Let’s use the metaphor of a bunch of bricks on a seesawRight now all the bricks are stacked on one side. This is the way you have been. To make a change, most people don’t do enough.

And to correct such thought process one must consider the behaviour model of change. It is based on four elements: cue, craving, response and reward.

  1. Cue – the idea of making a habit obvious.
  2. Crave – the motivation to complete that habit.
  3. Response – to perform a habit through action or thought.
  4. Reward – if a habit is attractive, it is worth remembering and hence it acts as a feedback loop.

If you do something small and sensible, it’s like moving one brick to the other side. You’re still unbalanced. You think you made the change, but it’s not accounting for.

When considering to refine your habits or to shift your bricks to the other side, consider the following questions:

  1. How can I make it obvious?
  2. How can I make it attractive?
  3. How can I make it easy to follow?
  4. How can I make it satisfying

To make a change, you have to be extreme; you must crave it. It will feel like overcompensating, but you have to stack a huge pile of bricks on the other side.

I would love to get your feedback or any thoughts on this summary. So, please leave a comment below 🙂

The Magic of Thinking Big: By David J. Schwartz

Introduction

The magic of thinking offers plenty of intakes on how we should shape our thoughts to trigger empowering beliefs. Presented by David J. Schwartz, the magic of thinking is a best-selling book; it offers many useful strategies and tools to equip the reader in overcoming fear and becoming confident.

In this article, I’ll summarise the main ideas and help spread the message that is expressed within this book.  I read this book earlier this year, so it was nice to come back and distil some of the influential ideas from this book. I’m going to paraphrase to a certain extent and include my own experiences. Please assume all other substantive ideas are acquired from the book. 

Please note:

  1. This summarisation is biased and is based on my perception.
  2. Any errors or omissions are my own.

Building Confidence

The cure to building confidence is overcoming your fear. Take time to write down what are you afraid. It helps provide clarity in visualising your fear. Take action against that fear; building confidence is a means of becoming comfortable around that fear.

For example, “if you’re afraid of public speaking”.

Write down why you’re afraid of it, what opportunities you should practice becoming comfortable with that fear. Possible solutions – leading a presentation, speaking in workshops, volunteer as a student ambassador to lead a group.

Isolate your fear. Pin it down and enjoy your newfound confidence.

Five confidence building exercises

Be a front seater – don’t isolate yourself or hideout at the back of a classroom. Expose yourself

Practice making eye contact – It’s easier to achieve this while you’re listening. Focus making eye contact on just one eye. I have always found it helpful when I’m practising this on people who are taller than me or who exude a greater degree of confidence than myself. If you get interrupted with statements like “What are you looking at?”. Use your charm – ‘Smile’ and possible suggest ‘my bad, I thought you were an old acquaintance of mine’.

Walk 25% faster – Avoid slovenly posture and sluggish walking, which can be seen as an unpleasant attitude towards oneself, work and people around you.

Practice speaking up – I see speaking up like a muscle, that needs constant practise to become stronger. Consider the following practices to heighten your “speaking up muscle” like leading presentations, being a chaperon during college tours or becoming a member of a book club. 

Smile Big – it’s empowering when you look at something that’s challenging and your first response is to ‘Smile’ and have that mindset – ‘I got you’.

Building Morning Motivation

I recently came across this statement – you make it or break it between 5-7am. Consider a 10 minutes practice before commencing your day and ask yourself the following:

  1. How can I do a better job today?
  2. What can I do today to encourage my employees?
  3. What special favor can I do for my customers?
  4. How can I increase my personal efficiency?
  5. My work is important because…
  6. I am a first class performer

Think enthusiastically. Build in yourself an optimistic, progressive glow, a feeling that “this is great and I’m 100 percent for it“. Be the broadcaster of good news because good news makes you feel good. And, more importantly others begin to emulate the same energy.

Joys of Imitation

Carry with yourself the belief and the attitude of positive reinforcement – spread it like a contagious bacteria. By exercising showing positive attitudes toward your job or an endeavour that you devote your energy and time towards allows your subordinates to “pick up” right thinking.

The goal for such practice is to become a preset marker to carry each day and ask yourself – “Am I worthy in every respect of being imitated? Are all my habits such that I would be glad to see them in my subordinates?

Success building program

  1. Circulate in new groups. Restricting your social environment to the same small group produces boredom, dullness, dissatisfaction; equally important, remember that your success-building program requires that you become an expert in understanding people. Trying to learn all there is to know about people by studying one small group is like trying to master mathematics by reading one short book.
  2. Make new friends, join new organizations, enlarge your social orbit. Then too, variety in people, like variety in anything else, adds spice to life and gives it a broader dimension. It’s good mind food.
  3. Do select friends who have views different from your own. In this modern age, the narrow individual hasn’t much future. Responsibility and positions of importance gravitate to the person who is able to see both sides.
  4. Be environment-conscious. Just as body diet makes the body, mind diet makes the mind. Experiment and adapt to a diet that heightens your energy levels and brain performance. 
  5. Here’s a list of things to test out in your diet. 1. Avacado 2. Walnuts 3. Blueberries 4. Olive oil 5. Kale or spinach 6. Eggs 7. Dark Chocolate 8. Salmon 9. Broccoli Stems 10.Turmeric
  6. Get a clear fix on where you want to go. Create an image of yourself ten years from now. Write out your ten-year plan. Your life is too important to be left to chance. Put down on paper what you want to accomplish in your work, your home, and your social departments.
  7. Let your major goal be your automatic pilot. When you let your goal absorb you, you’ll find yourself making the right decisions to reach your goal.
  8. Achieve your goal one step at a time. Regard each task you perform, regardless of how small it may seem, as a step toward your goal. 
  9. Don’t strive to follow the default route – take detours in your stride. A detour simply means another route. It should never mean surrendering the goal, it simply a means of creating your own path to success. 
  10. Invest in yourself through the power of education and group learning. Invest in quality learning to yield a high return on investment (ROI). 

Becoming an Effective Leader

  1. Take the initiative of making friends – because leaders always do. Join communities, engage in forums. Make it a daily mission to meet three new people every day.
  2. Next time you find yourself in a large gathering observe for the following: which person in the conversation does the most talking and which person is more successful. I often practice this when I’m part of a group meeting – at times I’ve noticed the individual who is more successful, sits quietly and absorbs information to make a decision at the end of the meeting. 
  3. Trade minds with the people you want to influence. It’s easy to get others to do what you want them to do if you’ll see things through their eyes. Ask yourself this question before you act: “What would I think of this if I exchanged places with the other person?”
  4. Apply the “Be-Human” rule in your dealings with others. Ask, “What is the human way to handle this?” In everything you do, show that you put other people first. Just give other people the kind of treatment you like to receive. 
  5. Think progress, believe in progress, push for progress. Think improvement in everything you do. Think about high standards in everything you do. Over a period of time subordinates tend to become carbon copies of their chief. Be sure the master copy is worth duplicating. 
  6. Take time out to confer with yourself and tap your supreme thinking power. Managed solitude pays off. Use it to release your creative power. Use it to find solutions to personal and business problems. So spend some time alone every day just for thinking. Use the thinking technique all great leaders use: confer with yourself.

Action to cure fear

  1. The how-to-do-it always comes to the person who believes he can do it. Belief triggers the power to do.
  2. When the mind disbelieves or doubts, the mind attracts “reasons” to support the disbelief.
  3. It is well to respect the leader. Learn from him. Observe him. Study him. But don’t worship him. Believe you can surpass.
  4. person is a product of his own thoughts. Believe Big. Adjust your thermostat forward. Launch your success offensive with an honest, sincere belief that you can succeed. Believe big and grow big.
  5. Believe in yourself, believe you can succeed. Thinking success conditions your mind to create plans that produce success.
  6. Remind yourself regularly that you are better than you think you are. Successful people are not supermen. Success does not require a super-intellect. Nor is there anything mystical about success. And success isn’t based on luck. Successful people are just ordinary folks who have developed a belief in themselves and what they do.
  7. Believe Big. The size of your success is determined by the size of your beliefThink little goals and expect little achievements. Think big goals and win big successRemember this, too! Big ideas and big plans are often easier—certainly no more difficult—than small ideas and small plans.
  8.  Break up fixed routines. Expose yourself to new restaurants, new books, new theatres, new friends; take a different route to work someday, take a different vacation this year, do something new and different this weekend.
  9. Action feeds and strengthens confidence; inaction in all forms feeds fear. To fight fear, act. To increase fear—wait, put off, postpone. Do this today: Pick the one thing you like to do least. Then, without letting yourself deliberate on or dread the task, do it. Make the initial effort to bring about in yourself to act on your fear through small baby steps. 

A wise man will be master of his mind, a fool will be its slave.

By Publilius Syrus

Your music and people: A non-musician’s perspective

Your music and People by Derek Sivers

When the book was initially released, I wasn’t quite sure what value this book could provide to someone like myself because I’d no connection to music or playing music.

The book is designed to be referenced towards individual who are pursuing or are in contention of pursuing a career in music. Derek enlightens readers with his knowledge of business and psychology, which I found to be an advantage even to a non-musician like myself.

His mini-chapters as I like to call it breaks down the rhythm of the book and the insights are ever so different from the previous or next chapter.

Note:

  1. This is my summary and interpretation of the book, in the hopes that people are encouraged to reach out and read this book for themselves.
  2. My bias perception will be different to others.
  3. I’ll be highlighting some of the influential points from this book. Any errors or omissions are my own.

Restrictions are subjective

Restriction – the connotation associated with this word is seen as:

i. a means to limit something from happening.

or

ii. a parameter set in place to narrow down our choices in avoiding decision fatigue.

We are defaulted into thinking the basis of restriction limits us from accomplishing our goals. But, that’s where Derek suggested implementing restriction is a means of establishing a parameter that is used to assist us in limiting juggling between options.

Creative freedom can be achieved by setting restrictions. For instance, if an artist is to create a painting from a selection of paints, he’s confounded by the thought which primary colour to use. However, by placing restrictions in his path with a single colour let’s say, the colour blue is to be used as a primary colour. The artist can avoid decision fatigue and begin his process of creativity.

The ladder of success

Success is a process. The book expresses multiple ideas that I view as a recipe to climb the ladder of success.

  1. Giving gifts to those that are under-appreciated – the ability to make a small gesture has tremendous value, this brings about appreciation and gratitude one notices and will be remembered for the longest time.
  2. Being patient and persistent – being persistent in chasing a goal but having patience in the process to accomplishing that goal highlights value. The value can be seen as expanding your network, making mistakes and acquire a reflective understanding of what’s next after achieving that goal.
  3. Make your own success, before you ask for help – achieving success at your own merit highlights independence. It signifies you’re able to achieve your goal and build on your momentum. Initially, I found to disagree with this because asking for helping from someone who’s already achieved that goal is a means to accelerate the process. But, I realised that the dependence of someone’s help shields you from the enjoyable mistakes that are part of the process. 
  4. The importance of feedback is a core component for making improvements. Allowing others to provide their inputs can be viewed as a progressive growth – with any feedback you become aware of your strengths and weaknesses. And, there’s power in such practice, here’s what I recently experienced.
  5. Rejection at its core hurts. And why shouldn’t it? We raise ourself to this ‘imaginary hope of wanting something’ – this could be a promotion or an increase in salary increment. Constant exposure to rejection is a means to overcoming fear, a practice that doesn’t raise your false hope. I’ve been practicing this whenever I get a cup of coffee – asking the cashier for a 10% discount on my coffee, only to see his awkward face and a blunt response for a ‘NO’. The point being rejection allows us to create unusual situations where we are either asking difficult questions or having difficult conversations.
  6. Heed the advice of everyone around you, but only act on those that are spontaneous enough to make you want to pursue. Ignore advice that is masked with confusion, fear and manipulation. As Derek mentions ‘Nothing is worth losing your enthusiasm‘.

Why is it important not to wait for help?

Being creative, determined and working with an unwavering desire to learn something new is a direct result of asking for help, but not waiting for it. In taking responsibility for one’s learning, it makes us accountable.

We can approach this in two ways:

  1. Write down what we know
  2. Research what we don’t know

Let’s provide an example to demonstrate this – Learning to code

  1. What I know? – I want to become better at JavaScript – with a mediocre foundation. I know I have resources like DataCamp, codecademy or Udemy at my disposal to improve.
  2. What I don’t know? – how could I use what I’ve learnt as a means to monetise – can I create an app, a website or should I freelance with my new skill. What path would provide me with the exposure to new challenges?

A third point to highlight – where you can apply restrictions to pursue one single path. Because learning a new skill expands a world of opportunity – rather than placing our foot in each door. The focus on opening one door completely is a means to experience the depth of that skill.

Waiting for help is a means to ‘walking in blindly’. Assume no one is going to help you by focusing what’s in your control and not completely relying on outside circumstances. By working with what’s in your control – you’re able to highlight a ‘go-get’ attitude, like building the momentum of your flywheel. It enables you to work outside your comfort zone and acquire new skillset.

I love to know your thoughts on this – please leave a reply 🙂

Anything you want: By Derek Sivers

Derek Sivers author of Anything you want

As, his first published book, it was only right I began with his initial work. In this book, Derek expands on his journey as he cultured and grew CD Baby, which he eventually sold for 22 million. And, through his experience, he’s able to share tremendous value and insight in this book.

His other literature work can be found here.

Necessity is a great teacher

I took away a valuable lesson out of this statement. Much recently, I invested in a Canon M50 mirrorless camera to upscale my production value of creating Youtube videos

The necessity to make this change was due to pixelated quality that I’d observed whilst using my Nikon D3100 DSLR camera during the initial stages of starting Youtube. With 20 published videos and few feedbacks, I diverted away from using my DSLR and found myself using my phone to shoot videos. The necessity to acquire Canon M50 not only added value to my creative endeavour but also enhanced my video quality. Something I wasn’t able to achieve with my DSLR.

Ideas are worth nothing unless they are executed. They are just a multiplier. Execution is worth millions.

And, it is true – initially as I started out blogging, I had a bucket full of good and bad ideas that I wanted to express. I tested out my ideas by executing them onto an online platform for others to review and provide feedback. With each post I published, I was able to determine how to execute effectively. Understand the importance of typography, post imagery etc. Having pursued this writing endeavour, I’ve also started to understand the niche of ideas I want to pursue writing about with the ambition to add value to others and also enjoy the process of writing. 

Imitation VS innovation 

Derek shares:

Most people don’t know why they’re doing what they’re doing. They imitate others, go with the flow, and follow paths without making their own. They spend decades in pursuit of something that someone convinced them they should want, without realizing that it won’t make them happy.

As I read the first sentence, I reflected whether what I’m pursuing through my writing and content creation is a pre-designed path that I’ve unconsciously adopted.

Am I just imitating the rest?

How do I differentiate myself?

And, Derek had an answer to these questions too – in a podcast interview Derek talked about the idea of “imitation VS innovation“. You can find out more on this in my weekly newsletter.

He stated:

creating a table provides a different kind of joy, then buying one from IKEA.

In other words, whatever path I choose in my writing and content creation – I know some of my ideas will be recycled, but some would be inspired from real experiences and in those unique moments, I would find inspiration to create new ideas and execute to provide value. Here’s one I feel excited to share with you all.

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The parable of the Mexican Fisherman and the American Businessman

Written by Timothy Ferriss, the four-hour workweek never fails to leave thoughtful references that provide an impact worth remembering for a lifetime. In this instance, I like to share what I found on page 252 of the updated and extended edition.

Tim shares:

An American businessman was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied, “only a little while.”

The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish?

The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs.

The American then asked, “but what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, Maria, and stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life.”

The American scoffed. “I have an MBA from Harvard, and can help you,” he said. “You should spend more time fishing, and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, and eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middle-man, you could sell directly to the processor, eventually opening up your own cannery. You could control the product, processing, and distribution,” he said. “Of course, you would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then Los Angeles, and eventually to New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”

To which the American replied, “Oh, 15 to 20 years or so.”

“But what then?” asked the Mexican.

The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time was right, you would announce an IPO, and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions!”

“Millions – then what?”

The American said, “Then you could retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you could sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, and stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play guitar with your amigos.”

The takeaways from this one-page story alone have provided much clarity:

  1. Live a simple life.
  2. Don’t wait till retirement to enjoy your time with your family and friends.
  3. Proceed in a way – where you find enjoyment in spending your time doing what you love.
  4. Find balance between the two entities ‘enjoy the perks that the fisherman experiences’ with ‘the mindset to invest my time and energy of what I enjoy doing’.

I hope you find value in this post and for that reason do let me know what you took away from this story in the comments below.

Zettelkasten Method: Taking smart notes

In the 1960s, the origin of the Zettelkasten method was established by a German sociologist Niklas Luhmann. He took the initiative of implementing his ideas and notes in an analogue-based system that relied on index cards. Stored within a physical slip-box called (Zettel translates to slip and Kasten to box). Through this, Luhmann compounded his knowledge for various interdisciplinary categories such as religion, law and economics. And, as a result, he was able to write 70 books and 500 academic papers.

Zettlekasten method – How Luhmann made it work?

  1. Wrote down each idea on an index card.
  2. Linked each card one after another through his taxonomy.
  3. Sorted individual cards based on reference or permanent slip box.

The slip box aided him to retrieve relevant knowledge to build ideas and arguments.

The practice of such a process in the current day of age while reviewing ideas from sources like kindle highlights, articles or Youtube videos can become simpler through bi-directional linking and tags. Using RoamResearch, I actively connect dots and create connections between different ideas. Something, Luhmann would have appreciated who built a Zettelkasten comprised of 90,000 handwritten index notes.

Something to consider: a book on how to take smart notes by Sonke Ahrens. A video by Shu omi.

How to apply the Zettlekasten method?

The break down of this method is based on three elements:

  1. Fleeting Notes
  2. Literature Notes
  3. Permanent Notes

Fleeting Notes

Ahren suggests:

Fleeting notes are just mere reminders of what is in your head. They should not cause any distraction. Put them into one place, which you define as your inbox.

Fleeting notes are trinket of information and ideas, which have a similar resemble to the concept of capture habit. In a podcast interview, Tiago Forte expands on the concept of Capture Habit. He suggests that capturing ideas should be based on intuition and something that deeply resonates with your interests. The initial philosophy behind this idea was recycled from a book called Getting things done by David Allen.

I have broken down my resources of capturing Fleeting notes:

  1. Drafts – I use this app while exercising my Default activity during lunchtime. This is free on App store.
  2. Walling.app and mymind – These are two different google chrome extension I’ve recently come across that allows you to create and save information on the internet.
  3. Voice Memos – while working out in the gym, the immediate access to this app allows me to dictate my ideas.

Literature Notes

In my previously written blog post on ‘My process of reading a book‘ – I highlighted my kindle highlights are synced into Goodreads, which requires the manual input of copy-paste export onto Notion. 

Notion doesn’t have bi-directional links that allow similar ideas from various pieces of literature to be linked together.

Therefore, I have decided to break down my Literature Notes into two components:

As a primary Notion user – I have been compounding knowledge in my Scavenger’s list. I consider this as my Bulk storage which doesn’t consist of a tag system that can link different resources with similar ideas.

And, that’s where RoamResearch comes in as my value storage – the reason why I considered it as my value storage because I can be selective of the information that I wish to import and use my thought process to elaborate and reflect on the ideas that I’ve highlighted. I tend to keep this short and selective. These ideas will go on to become a permanent note with bi-directional links.

For clarity purposes, let’s provide a demonstration using RoamResearch.

I recently finished reading Make time – How to focus on what matters every day by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky. I’ll be filtering down my bulk storage and input few of the key insights from the book into my value storage.

Every (resonating idea) from a book, article or video becomes part of my literature note. Every literature note has the following:

  1. tag stating #literature note
  2. Type of resource (book, article, images or video)
  3. As a user preference, each literature note is highlighted.

The highlighted fields are either summarised in my own words or directly acquired from the resource. The example above highlights literature notes for four different points that will become permanent notes.

Permanent Notes

Ahren suggest:

The idea is not to collect, but to develop ideas, arguments and discussions. Does the new information contradict, correct, support or add to what you already have.

Permanent notes are a means to make you think about how each ‘literature notes’ can be relevant to your ideas, interests and own research. The emphasis is to make you better at combining ideas to generate newer ideas. This, in fact, raises many questions within the realm of understanding the idea. And, ultimately when piecing together an idea on a single note, write as if you’re writing for someone else. Write in full sentences, using the sources from your literature notes as a reference.

Ahren emphasises that only Permanent notes go into the slip-boxFleeting notes get discarded and Literature notes get their own reference box.

Here’s how my permanent note looks:

Following a repetition process of creating various Permanent Notes, you can begin to file additional (resources/ notes/questions) behind one another by supplementing your permanent notes through researching and strengthen your arguments, filling out missing information and answer difficult questions. Through the addition of bi-directional links wherever relevant, you can keep tabs on your ideas. And, such relevance is often complimented by “tags or keywords” that are a direct result on your interests.

Benefits of reading fiction

Reading is a well-practised norm that is entertained by the millions. As a one-directional reader, my focus for many years has been non-fictional reading on subject matters like productivity and self-improvement. The disadvantage of such approach, I neglected fictional reading which engenders the following:

  1. Simulation of vivid content through descriptive language.
  2. Entice readers with characters and places and transport them in imaginary places.
  3. Mental simulation of emotions.

My last experience of reading fiction was Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince. As a 10th grader, I was captivated by the story plot and, the obvious thought of putting the book seemed unnatural. Overtime, I became disengaged from reading fiction because of the idea that reading fiction didn’t provide any useful output. It was just a simple activity to waste time.

So to change the outlook of my thinking, I began to investigate the benefits of reading fiction and here’s what I have found.

Benefits of reading FICTION

Reading fiction has known to improve social cognitive skills in individuals. In this study, researchers identified exercising the default subnetwork involved in theory of mind. The default network – is a network which is known to support our capacity to simulate hypothetical sciences, spaces and mental states.

When participant read literacy passage, it was revealed certain distinction in the subnetwork of the default network. There were two in particular to draw attention:

  1. Medial temporal lobe subnetwork responded to vivid passages
  2. Dorsomedial prefrontal cortex responded to passages with social and abstract content.

This proposed dynamic relationship between neural function and experience is supported by neuroplasticity literature, which has demonstrated that repeated engagement in cognitive processes can lead to positive changes in the neural networks supporting those cognitive processes (Draganski and May, 2008Klingberg, 2010Anguera et al., 2013Lovden et al., 2013Merzenich et al., 2014). Thus, here, repeated engagement in social simulation vis-à-vis fiction reading may lead to beneficial changes in the default network, which may carry concomitant benefits for social ability. 

And, this was further supplemented by (Mar 20042011) who suggested fiction reading engenders simulations of vivid and social content, also recruits the default network. The overlap between reading fiction and simulation is viewed as a point to invoke vivid descriptive language to transport readers to imaginary places and engage readers with characters, actions and mental cues.

Also, in this article, the author highlights that there are two strands of psychological and neurophysiological impact when readers practice fiction reading. This gives rise to different kinds of effect.

Firstly, the persuasive power of fiction (PPOF) – changes the beliefs and cultural encyclopaedia of readers. PPOF is the degree of transportation – to what extent the readers become immersed in the text that they are oblivious to their immediate environment and enter the fictional world. In other words, it reinforces readers to question the facts and causes of events.

Reading stories can work as a powerful means of modifying readers mental encyclopaedia and changing their attitudes; it can even influence their personality traits.

And, secondly, the potential of fictional stories to improve the reader’s cognitive abilities. The improvement in social cognition to understand other human beings, their emotions, intentions and thoughts and actions.

Overall, reading fiction provides a social cognitive advantage that I need to start developing to a greater extent. And, reignite the desire to immerse into the vividly imaginative work of great authors such as J.K. Rowling, Ernest Hemingway, and Kazuo Ishiguro are just a few, to begin with.

Also, check out my weekly newsletter called Monday Madness. Sign up! to get your weekly dose of madness 🙂

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The Hoffman Process

Entertaining the idea of default activity during my lunch break at work, I immersed myself in my routine of listening to my go-to podcast: The Tim Ferris Show. During his interview with Blake Mycoskie, who enticed the listeners with the concept of the Hoffman Process. A triggering point and more, importantly, an indication for my curiosity to cascade down into a rabbit hole of research. Here’s, what I’ve found.

What is the Hoffman Process?

In 1967, Bob Hoffman created the Hoffman Process. The basic idea of this process is to realise the transition point to what life was and what life could be like after the Hoffman Process. 

The theory behind the Hoffman Process

Our upbringing is impacted by our parents and caregivers from the day we are born. Bob Hoffman recognised children unconsciously emulate the negative behaviours, attitudes, moods, and insecurities of their parents or caregivers to be loved or do the exact opposite to grab their attention. This gave rise to Negative love syndrome.

The foundation of the Hoffman Process is described by four pillars of self also referred to as ‘Quadrinity’. This includes:

1. The intellect 

2. The Emotions 

3. The Body

4. The Spirit. 

And, true healing begins when all four pillars are engaged in one harmony, which gives rise to the structure of awareness, expression, forgiveness, and New behaviour.

What is Negative love syndrome?

It’s considered as an inter-generational pain that is passed down from generation to generation. It is part of our childhood programming that entails negative moods, attitudes, and behaviours that we practice over and over again. And ultimately, the practice of such emotions, behaviours, and attitude impact our social surroundings on an everyday basis.

Here’s a short snippet video to help you understand the Negative love syndrome: CLICK ME.

The science behind the Hoffman Process

In this study, it was indicated after one week of the Hoffman Process, the participants experienced a decline in the negatively affected symptoms like depression and an increase in positive outcomes like empathy, emotional intelligence, forgiveness, and well-being.

Furthermore, a long term study carried as part of a dissertation on the effectiveness of the Hoffman Quadrinity process by Christiane Windhausen in 1997.

She found that:

The ratings on the Frankfurt Self-Concept Scale showed that the Quadrinity graduates, in all cases, had not only made a rapid improvement but had also remained stable throughout subsequent tests and studies. The study produced highly significant data regarding the corresponding improvements on handling general problems-management scale (FSAP), confidence in behaviour when facing decision-making (FSVE), and in general self-worth ratings (FSSW). The data also proved that the Quadrinity Process produced significantly greater changes in its graduates than a controlled group undergoing a comparable three-month group therapy at the Fliednerkrankenhaus Hospital.

Her study also highlighted effective long term improvements in ‘social resonance’ – meaning people that underwent the Quadrinity process were more open towards other people. They expressed themselves greatly and had intense experiences.

Additional resources

As a point of resource to consider while reading about the Hoffman Process, I recommend checking out the ‘No One is to Blame‘ written by Bob Hoffman in 1988. Alternatively, the tools and strategies provided in ‘You can change your life‘ by Tim Laurence also provides an outlook on the Hoffman process. It’s currently part of my reading list.

Also, check out my weekly newsletter called Monday Madness or alternatively sign up to get your weekly dose of madness.

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