Looking up

One way to feel insignificant is to look up at the stars.

To realise how much is out there and how little you are in comparison to the rest of the universe.

What you do today likely has zero influence on the billions of galaxies out there.

That’s the grim version.

Now flip it.

You’re made of the same atoms as the most distant stars.

Once a great big ball of heat which exploded and spread its energy.

Then somehow little pieces of this and that started to come together.

All of a sudden you appeared. Out of all of the possible combinations. You.

The you who can look back at the stars and reflect on being part of it. Part of it all.

You’re not lost. You’re here.

Now that’s significant.

Look up.



30-minutes is all it takes

I watched a great short video tonight by Asad on Twitter.

You can go and watch it, otherwise I’ll summarise it here.

The main point was concentration.

Being able to focus on 1 thing for a minimum of 30-minutes puts you in front of a lot of other people.

Technology has damaged the attention spans of many.

Not everyone of course but the results are obvious. When was the last time you walked down the street or sat at a restaurant and didn’t see anyone with their head buried in their phone?

Being able to concentrate is always going to be a valuable skill.

What can you do?

Start with 30-minutes. Set a timer. Work on something hard. Work on something boring. Keep your phone in another room.

As you get better, increase the timer.

These tricks all help me work on my concentration. I’m still working on it.

Technology is supposed to enable life, not control it.

How to be right by following what's wrong

There’s someone you know. Someone you don’t enjoy spending time with or wouldn’t want to spend time with.

Maybe it’s your boss.

Maybe it’s an old friend stuck in the past.

Maybe it’s someone you see on the news (I hope not since you avoid the news at all cost).

Too often some get held up trying to figure out what’s right.

You can get around this by avoiding what’s wrong instead.

Take the traits of the people who you don’t see as good people and do the opposite.

The same could be done for creating.

For working on a business.

Instead of waiting for the right idea (it hardly ever shows up), don’t do the wrong ones.

How to be a leader: Rap & Rock Climbing edition

You see there’s leaders.

And there’s followers.

But I’d rather be a dick than a swallower.

Those are the lyrics to Kanye West’s song New Slaves.

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In other words, Kanye would rather be seen as a dick to some people and speak his truth, than have to bite his tongue and not say what’s on his mind.

Does this suit everybody?

No. It’s implied in the lyrics anyway.

Being a leader isn’t about pleasing everybody.

Being a leader takes courage. The courage to do things not everyone will agree with.

Not everyone agrees with Kanye West.

He’s loud.

He speaks his mind.

He has no filter.

But you can’t argue with his ability to perform. To do things others can’t.

Can you lead without being loud?

How about from the inside of a van?

I’m talking living 24/7 in a van, eating nothing but beans and vegetables. With chalk everywhere. On the carpet, on the bed, on the chairs.

Chalk?

Rock climbers use chalk to absorb the sweat on their hands and increase the friction on their holds. When you’re holding onto a ledge a couple of millimetres wide, sweaty hands are no good.

If you’ve ever used chalk, you know how easily it spreads everywhere.

Alex Honnold is a rock climber. His style is free solo. Free solo means without a rope or any assistance. None. Roll up to the base of the mountain and start climbing.

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I needed chalk whilst I was watching Free Solo, the documentary detailing his journey to free soloing El Capitan.

The first time he tried, he pulled out 400ft in. There was a whole camera crew from National Geographic there and everything. Yet he made the call.

“I’m not feeling it.”

The majority of his free solos he’s done without telling anyone. He prefers it that way.

“What’s more important to me is making to the top, I don’t care if it’s filmed or not.”

I’m not going to ruin the rest of the documentary for you because I think you should watch it.

Alex is a leader.

But Kanye and Alex couldn’t be more different.

One climbs mountains without a rope and lives in a van. The other owns a fashion brand, a record label and writes songs.

Do you need to climb a mountain without a rope to be a leader?

No.

Do you need to be multi-millionaire multi-award winning artist to excel in leadership?

No.

The thing they both have in common is they do things others can’t.

They take on challenges others would say, I can’t believe he’s doing that.

Does it always work?

No.

Leaders know this.

Then they show up and say, let’s find a way anyway.

Source: https://qr.ae/TW7TpM

Be honest and adapt

No one starts out passionate about something. 

 ”I’m just not passionate about it.”

Have you tried it? 

If not. How do you know?

Passion comes before work in the dictionary but it’s the opposite in life. 

When I finished high school, the adults would say follow your passion and you’ll never work a day in your life. 

My passion at 17 was playing Xbox.

Anything but that. They’d say.

When I started playing Xbox I was bad. Real bad. Then I kept playing and got better. Our team was good, number 1 in Australia good. As I got better, I enjoyed it more. The passion developed.

Starting something new is hard. You’ll suck at it. And with the internet, it can seem like everyone else has already done really well. How come I’m not that good yet?

This is where honesty comes in. Being honest with yourself about what you’re going to do. Honest with yourself about what you want to do. Being honest with yourself about being bad at something.

When I tried something other than Xbox I wanted to keep it a secret. What if people figure out I’m not good at it?

I didn’t tell anyone I was failing university. I wasn’t good at it. Two years and my marks sucked. 

Why?

I could write plenty of reasons but none of them are good. 

I wasn’t being honest with myself. Honest with myself about what I wanted to do.  But sometimes it takes being bad at something for a while to realise it’s not for you.

Onto the next thing. Something I was into. And I got better. My marks improved. Another passion started to be born.

Honesty comes after adaptation in the dictionary but it’s the opposite in real life. 

The more honest you are with yourself, the more you’ll adapt.

The most precious thing you can give someone

She was screaming.

You don’t know what’s happening Gregory!

You just wait Greg, I know what you’re up to!

More screaming.

There isn’t anything I don’t know Gregory!

I walked across the street. What was happening? Why didn’t Greg know? What did she know about Greg? There wasn’t anything she didn’t know. Was she an oracle?

I should’ve talked to her. I could’ve asked her about life. She could’ve help me figure it all out.

I pretended like I did.

Can I ask you something?

There isn’t anything I don’t know Daniel!

What’s the most precious thing you can give to someone else?

Give them a feeling!

What?

Something that penetrates their soul! Get deep! Really deep! Make it bubble up!

Make what bubble up?

You want it to be there in a year! In 5-years! When they’re in a cafe reading a newspaper and they look up and get nauseous thinking of the feeling! You want it to be so good it comes back! It always comes back!

I get it but why are you screaming?

Why do you think! Do you not listen! You’re just like Gregory! You don’t know what’s happening!

Imagining is almost as good as the real thing. Sometimes it’s better. Sometimes worse. Far worse.

She made me feel something. Unintentional or intentional? Who knows. She was talking to Gregory. Gregory didn’t know what was happening.

Her purple top left her stomach uncovered. And the pants she had on were dirty. Maybe she was crazy. Maybe I was crazy for taking lessons imaginary lessons from a screaming lady on the street. Gregory wasn’t. Gregory didn’t know what was happening.

Financial freedom has two extremes. One where you can buy whatever you want. The other where you don’t care about anything. She was financially free. Rich. Rich with the most valuable currency there is. Rich with effect. Effect on others. Effect on me. She had an audience. Everyone crossing the street was in awe. What was Greg up to?

Effect is precious. It can last an instant but be remembered for a lifetime. It can happen once and then again 1000 more times.

You could be sitting in a cafe in 5-years reading the newspaper. Look up for a second. Your stomach does a backflip. And it comes back, the feeling all over again.

How she smiled at you.

Or how she screamed from across the street.

Once you give a feeling to someone, it’s there. Always there.

Source: https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-most-pre...

Milk or water?

There are two cups. One of milk, one of water. Drink the milk and you get wealth beyond your dreams. Drink the water and you get knowledge.

Which do you choose?

I’d choose the milk.

‘Look Dad, a bird!’

‘Do you know which one it is?’

‘No…’

‘That’s a lark.’

‘There’s lots of them!’

‘Do you want to know what a group of larks is called?’

‘What?’

‘An ascension.’

‘What does asksenchen mean?’

‘Asension means to go up higher.’

‘Dad! Look how high the bird is!’

Acquiring wealth is fun but it’s nothing compared to the pleasure of finding things out.

Source: https://qr.ae/TUy4cd

How to use your body to manage your mind

There was 3-hours until my flight. Austin to Cleaveland. I did a lap up and down the terminal looking for a nice cafe to write. I found one.

The seat I was on was high. My feet couldn’t touch the ground. They were dangling there. The table didn’t match. It was too low for the chair. My thighs rubbed up against the bottom of the table.

I starting thinking.

The world needs more well-designed chairs.

I had a good view of the planes and the rest of the walkway. People going places. Two guys at a table in front of me starting leaning into one another. As if one had a secret to tell the other. Then the one leaning in pointed across the cafe. I looked where he pointed.

There was another man. He was talking. I could see sounds coming from his mouth but not enough to know what he was saying.

The voice was familiar. He kept talking.

He was leaning over the rail with his elbows on one of the high tables. Sunglasses on, hat on.

I start thinking.

That’s Matthew McConaughey.

I looked away.

He started speaking.

This time I recognised the voice. I’d heard it the night before watching Tropic Thunder highlights.

It was Matthew McConaughey.

I was alone, 8000 miles from home and 10 feet from Matthew McConaughey.

I started thinking again.

I’ve got to go and say ‘Hi’ to him. He probably gets it all the time. But now’s my only chance. I’ll just go and say hello. No photos. Just hello.

My heart was racing.

More thoughts.

Why’s this happening? He’s just a man. A man like me.

He got up with his wife. They were leaving. I’d blown my chance.

Then they stopped. She went into the bathroom and he stood in the hallway.

I’m going. I could feel my heart in my chest. You know it’s a good time when it starts.

I went over.

‘Hi, I’m Daniel, I’m a big fan of your work.’

He stuck his hand out and grabbed mine.

‘McConaughey.’

‘I was watching Tropic Thunder last night.’

He smiled.

‘Where are you off to?’

‘New York.’

‘How come?’

‘Got some work.’

‘Have a nice trip.’

He smiled again.

I went back to my seat. My feet dangled.

I opened my journal and started writing.

Met Matthew McConaughey today. He introduced himself with one word. I said about 30.

I sat there for another 2-hours before my flight came.

Want to manage your mind?

You can do it by listening to your body.

If the body changes, your mind will come along.

It’s natural for your heart rate to go up in uncertain situations. Most people would write this off as fear. But the thing is, fear is caused by the same hormones as being excited.

Same energy but a different form.

Knowing this, the next time you get nervous and your heart rate goes up, you can remind yourself.

‘I know this feeling. I’ve felt it before. Instead of letting it hold me back, I’m going to use it to push me forward.’

The best thing?

It works in reverse too.

Raise your heart rate and you can change your mind.

Humans work best when they’re running away from something or chasing something. Either way, you better get moving.

Source: https://qr.ae/TUrkgl

Compounding Longevity

A question that’s not asked often enough is ‘What’s going to stay the same?’

It’s tempting to focus on the new. The internet makes it easy to be a neophiliac (someone obsessed with the new).

Information retrieval has been turned into a one click or one tap process. Want to know what’s happening right now? Simple, tap one on of the colourful squares on your phone.

These kind of information sources have a place. But they shouldn’t take up the whole market share of your mind.

Ask yourself, ‘is what I’m reading going to be relevant in a month?’

How about a year?

How about 10-years?

Your guess is as good as mine. But sometimes it’s easier to think about what’s not going to change than what’s going to be different.

History repeats but not perfectly. It’s closer to a rhyme.

Reading about history is helpful to understand the things that will likely stay the same.

Humans will always have a need to communicate.

Humans will always need to take care of their health.

Humans will always need to have a challenge. Challenges gives meaning.

This list isn’t exhaustive. And it’s biased towards my interests. If you think of more, let me know.

But now you know these things, what can you?

You can spend time learning about them. You can improve your communication skills. You can study how to maintain your health. And you can find a challenge to work towards.

What happens next?

As the world changes, you’ll have a set of skills that will always be required. You can use them to adapt.

And the more you learn to adapt, the more valuable your foundational skills become. They compound over the long term.

The next time you go to learn something or retrieve information from the internet, ask yourself, ‘What’s going to stay the same?’

There’s already enough new.

The amateur

In French, amateur means love.

A person who loves what they're working on.

But you know it means elsewhere. The rookie. The beginner. The one who doesn't know much.

It's easy to be afraid to share your work because you think it fits this form of the word.

It's easy to forget an expert doesn't start out as an expert. They had to begin somewhere. And it's dangerous if an expert ever forgets how to be an amateur. Forgets how to see the world through the eyes of a beginner.

While the expert is busy trying to do things how they've always been done, the amateur is figuring out how not to do things. Soon enough, they'll realise the way it's always been done eventually becomes wrong too.

As always, the value is in the crossover. Being an expert and an amateur at the same time. Having a foundation of knowledge of the world but still looking at everything through the eyes of love.

It's okay if you're not an expert yet. In the meantime, you can strive to be comfortable being an amateur (the French version) forever.

The circle of control

  • Your decisions
  • Your aims
  • Your desires
  • Your dislikes

Or together, your own thoughts and actions. These are the things you control.

They’re within your circle.

Trying to control anything outside of the circle will only lead to stress and unwanted feelings.

Trying to make a person behave a certain way.

Remaining healthy and not falling ill.

Not having a machine you rely on break down.

All of these and more will some how manifest themselves throughout life.

And two approaches you can take.

1. Accept them for what they are and act accordingly

2. Pretend they are the source for your unhappiness

If you want an easy decision, remember what’s inside the circle.

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No retakes

The phone rang. And rang. And rang a few more times. No answer.

The voicemail sounded. 'Leave a message after the beep.'

Beep.

I left a message.

Then hung up. After I hung up I went to go back and listen to my message. I couldn't. It was on the other person's voicemail already.

'What if I didn't say something right?' I thought.

'What if it sounded weird?'

Too late. There are no retakes on voicemail. It's there.

There are plenty of times you'll walk away from something and think, 'I should've said that!'

Or worse, 'I wish I didn't say that...'.

Better more of the first than the second. But either way, all the worry in the world won't change it. It's done. Leave it (or fix it if you need to), learn from it, move on.