3 ways of the Tao

“Knowing others is to be clever. Knowing yourself is to be enlightened. Overcoming others requires force. Overcoming yourself requires strength.”

“Heal injury with goodness. Handle the difficult while it is still easy. Cultivate the great while it is still small.”

“Empty out and be full; wear out and be renewed.”

3 ifs you’d rather think of

  1. If someone or something else is responsible for your losses, who’s accountable for your wins?
  2. If you have time for hating others, how much time do you have left for loving yourself?
  3. If not trying makes you a genius, what doesn’t?

3 things worth your time

  1. Loving. Perhaps there’s no such thing as loving too much. Perhaps there is only loving too little. Even if it sometimes feels like we gave too much to the wrong people, maybe we didn’t. Maybe it’s just that we didn’t give enough to the right ones.
  2. Learning. As long as you are learning, you are growing. As long as you are growing, you are living. As long as you are living, well, you feel alive. That makes the difference.
  3. Letting go. Drop what doesn’t matter, so you can pick up what does. Stop fighting useless battles, so you can start fighting the fight of your life.

3 reasons you keep getting what you’re getting: Where your blueprints live and how to re-design them

We call them blueprints. Those that are hidden beneath the obvious. They drive our decisions. They drive us to our destinations. Where do we find them? How do we deliberately design them? Here are three places where our blueprints linger.

  1. Circles. We unfailingly emulate the people around us. They think someone is brilliant, we begin to think so too. They say something is evil, we start to say so too. They do something over and over, and we find ourselves enabling them, harmonizing with their every move. Surround yourself with people you want to be more of.
  2. Cycles. Unless something changes in the input, we get the same output. So a positive blueprint begets positive results, negative begets negative. Consciously create habits that get you the results you want.
  3. Choices. The moment we know what’s going on, we have the chance to alter our blueprints. Blueprints can be personal and professional. It can be social, financial, mental, spiritual. In different areas, there’s a default that we can configure for our benefit.

3 beautiful thoughts to inspire your weekend

Here are three beautiful thoughts today, for pondering in the next few days.

“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.” Mandela

“Always go too far, because that’s where you’ll find the truth.” Camus

“It is easy to denounce the evildoer. It is difficult to understand him.” Dotoevsky

3 responses for negative fans, if any

Folks who talk about you negatively are still fans. They intensely admire you, although, in their own way. They also promote you when they talk about you with others. Here are three responses you can give them, to make them even more dedicated.

  1. Smile. A smile can do many things. It can make you feel better immediately. It can throw someone off their game. It can create a positive connection. Imagine how it feels if you jabbed someone and they smile right back at you.
  2. Silence. Cut out the negative conversations. Whether its gossip or hating, end it with you. Instead, channel your voice into hustling, talk that is conducive to achieving your goals.
  3. Success. Succeed, no matter what. This is the best response.  Give this to yourself, the doubters, the believers. Eventually, the unenthusiastic folks become diehard fans and end up emulating you. Sometimes, they are simply removed from your path. But either way, you succeed.

3 practical techniques to optimize your day

Set yourself up to succeed. Here are three straightforward techniques to do so.

  1. Pareto’s principle, also known as the 80/20 rule.  Spend your time on the vital few. Around his time, economist Vilfredo Pareto conducted a study showing that 20% of the Italian population controlled 80% of the land. Over the years, business and natural phenomena were observed to follow this pattern. 20% of the output comes from 80% of the input while 80% of the output springs from 20% of the input. For example, 80% of the sales are generated by 20% of the salespeople.
  2. Pomodoro technique. Try it for 25 minutes, even if you don’t feel like it (yet). This technique hails from the use of a timer that looks like a tomato. Hence the name pomodoro, the Italian word for tomato. The intervals chunk the task into productive work sprints, instead of dragged marathons.
  3. Three things today. Accomplish three objectives in one day and you move three steps closer towards your goal. That’s over a thousand steps closer in a year.

3 reasons for doing deep work

Here are three perspectives that promote the idea of focused work.

  1. Neuroscientific perspective tells us that our brains physically transform with more concentration. Opt for intense concentration and choose targets with care. Some reading below.
    • Carstensen, L. (2005) ‘At the Intersection of Emotion and Cognition: Aging and the Positivity Effect’, Current Directions in Psychological Science, 14.3: 117-121.
    • Csikzentmihalyi, M. (1990), Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, New York: Harper & Row Publishers, pp.71.
    • Fredrickson, B. (2009), Positivity: Groundbreaking Research Reveals How to Embrace the Hidden Strength of Positive Emotions, Overcome Negativity, and Thrive, New York: Crown Archetype.
    • Gallagher, W. (2009), Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life, New York: Penguin, pp.3.
  2. Psychological studies show us the benefits of focused, uninterrupted concentration. These areas have been identified to have the best moments and where jobs are more enjoyable. Some light reading below.
    • Csikzentmihalyi, M. (1983), ‘The Experience Sampling Method’, New Directions for Methodology of Social & Behavioral Science.
    • Csikzentmihalyi, M., Flow, pp.3, 162, 157.
  3. A philosophical perspective explains that depth in work and other areas of life makes for a more meaningful life. Some more light reading below.
    • Dreyfus, H. and Kelly, S.D. (2011) All Things Shining: Reading the Western Classics to Find Meaning in a Secular Age, New York: Free Press, pp.xi.

P.S. Deep Work author Cal Newport is a professor of computer science. He writes about deep work, digital minimalism, and attention capital theory. On top of his professorial duties.

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3 subtle effects of simple successes

  1. Success seeps into other areas of your life. Success begets success because of the person you become. The high-performance habits from one area are carried over to other areas.
  2. Your circles start to reflect your success. Doubters believe. Critics become diehard fans. You surround yourself with the people who help you grow towards your goals, and people you also help towards theirs.
  3. You begin to see the bigger picture. You realize what really matters. And who and why.

3 definitions of grit: what is grit and why it matters

The belief in the esoteric egoistic genius is out. Grit is in.

  1. Talent + Effort = Skill. Skill + Effort = Achievement. This is the grit formula. Without effort, talent does not equal skill. Without effort, skill does not equal achievement. It’s not enough to count on talent or skill, put in the effort. Don’t worry about whatever label others cast on you as you actually try. The ones who do something are the ones who get something done.
  2. Grit is persistent effort towards a goal that we hold in our mind. Goal here refers to a long-term passion or an overarching philosophy that gives meaning to life. It’s not just any goal but it’s a goal that is worth pursuing, over and over, for a long time.
  3. Hold a searing goal in your mind and work on it with enthusiasm and passion everyday until you accomplish it. It’s not one swooping act of success that defines a person. It’s the consistent work behind the success. If superficial success falls on your lap, it’s not success at all, it’s a hand-out. If you work on something with determination and perseverance, even if you superficially fail, it’s not a loss. Grit lies in the process and the process will not fail you.

P.S. Angela Duckworth, a McArthur grant winner, is known for her research on grit. Her book Grit: The Power of Perseverance and Passion is a good starting point for exploring grit. The examples are relatable. The stories give you context. She also read the audiobook herself.

3 advantages of failing

Yes, it is good to fail. Fast and forward. Here are three advantages of failing.

  1. Failure is a learning opportunity.
  2. Failure is a reset. Failure is not final, it is only a starting point.
  3. Failure is a meaningful source of energy.

3 characteristics of flow: you want to be in this zone

Flow means being in the zone. It’s a powerful state. You know you’re in it when these three things happen.

  1. You are one with the task. You are intensely focused on what you are doing. Everything you think and intend to do lives in the present moment.
  2. Required skill is just above the available skill. You are challenged but not frustrated. You find things straightforward but not too easy that you’re bored.
  3. Time distortion. You lose track of time. You are so absorbed in what you’re doing that time flies by without you noticing it.

P.S. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s research about flow gives us insight into how creatives work. Creatives include anyone and everyone who uses creativity in their professional lives, it is not limited to art or music. You can be a programmer and be nerve-racking creative. We can apply creativity, and have flow, in anything we do.  Here are a few of Csikszentmihalyi ‘s work about flow.

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3 thoughts to disempower destructive criticism

When you set out to do something different, you might experience some discouragement from other people. Here are three things today to help you focus on the positive.

  1. The critics are not after you. The criticisms are an expression of what they truly are. Perhaps the criticism is coming from a deep-seated conditioning, even they are not aware of.
  2. There is goodness inside people. Thinking this way gives them the benefit of the doubt and lifts the burden off you.
  3. This is a learning experience. How can you grow from it? Maybe it means improving a process, gaining a new perspective, detaching from negative influences.

3 hard-hitting questions from high performance habits

What is your deathbed question? When time runs out, what answer does it take to make you peaceful.  Here are three example questions.

  1. Did I live?
  2. Did I love?
  3. Did I matter?

P.S. High Performance Habits by Brendan Buchard walks you through aspects of high performance and practical techniques to maximize performance in each area. Worth a read, a listen, and a try. If you prefer online reading, you can also grab the e-book version.

3 kinds of friends you love to be around

The friends you have mirror the kind of person you are, and the person you want to be. Here are three things that you find in the best of them.

  1. The kind of person you choose to become. Each friend exemplifies a trait. You gravitate towards those who personify what you deeply respect, aspire to, and require in life.
  2. Someone you can grow with in different ways. It is a privilege to witness someone’s growth, help and root for them. Friends bring new wisdom into your life, and so do you in theirs.
  3. A friend who exudes positive energy. It’s a breath of fresh air to have friends who think and live positively. It rubs off on you.

3 distinguishing traits of the growth mindset

There are two kinds of mindsets. One is fixed and the other one is focused on growth. Here are three things today that distinguish the growth mindset from the other.

  1. Talent, intellect, and failures are NOT set. It is possible to keep growing, at all ages from any background. True talent and intellect involve thousands of hours of finetuning.
  2. Focus on effort, strategies, tactics. Praising smarts is a failing scheme. It is the initiative and sense of responsibility that counts.
  3. Excuses are ego-talk. A person with a growth mindset owns the outcome of whatever they set out to do. First or last prize, win or lose.

P.S. Mindset by Carol Dweck is a mind-opening book. It’s enjoyable to both read and listen to, a few times over. If you prefer online reading, you can also grab the e-book.