Today, I sat in a class in which we broke the professor’s spirit.

As class started, we received a study guide for a midterm on Thursday. Ill-prepared and nervous, the class begged our professor to change the midterm. Make it a take-home, cut it, change the date, write a research paper on one of the questions… ANYTHING that would prevent us from taking this test. I don’t know which exact moment it was, but it happened. Her spirit broke. Utterly disappointed, she spoke about how she had failed us as a professor. The class had taken advantage of her. She taught in a format that inspired creativity and imagination, but she did not realize that her class had stopped learning the fundamental facts necessary to support her thriving discussions. And who’s fault was that?

It certainly wasn’t hers. We succumbed to the system that dominates modern education today. A system that preaches the bare minimum and pointless memorization. It dulls curiosity and real learning. As long as good grades show up on the transcript, who cares about anything else?

But education is so much more than that. The first quarter of our lives is dedicated to learning; we learn about the world, the past, our friends, ourselves. Yet, we take this for granted. Rarely are we so inspired about a topic we’ve just learned in class to spend our own time learning more about it. We live in an age where an unprecedented amount of information is available at our fingertips, but we do not use it.

Maybe it’s society’s fault. Maybe society should not have constructed a system like the one British philosopher Alan Watts describes. (http://www.neticons.net/music_life/) But really, it’s our fault. We do not take advantage of what is available to us. We have lost our curiosity, our natural childish inquisitive nature, our vigor for life. We are not yet professionals, yet we work for the weekends. “I can’t wait until TNC” or “I’m gonna get shitfaced this weekend” are all statements we’ve heard ourselves say. Alcohol, parties, drugs, etc. have become our escape.

Now this professor is one of the greatest teachers I have ever met. Creativity and imagination are the only ways that we can evolve into man’s next glorious era. Critical thinking and lively discussions are not only the way to stimulate our minds, but the only way we will be able to solve the increasingly complex problems that our generation will face. The monotony of our education has us stuck in neutral. Sure, we can get good grades, work the system and end up with some six figure salary at an investment bank or consulting firm. (And if that’s your boat, then great) But we are not creating any value. If we want to be leaders in the making, we must do more. We must create some substance within ourselves that will catapult us to the next level.

In a recent Esquire article, the following was quoted: “Michael Lewis is spot-on when he describes the ruinous effects on America’s economy that occurred when investment banks devolved from their original role — providing real businesses with access to capital — into giant casinos that added no value and bet on propositions in which they had no stake.” We are so focused on the bottom line, the finished product, the end result that we too have devolved from our original roles. We are no longer enthusiastic and curious students, but robots determined to memorize enough facts to ace that next exam only to forget them the very next day.

So I’m sorry Professor. I am sorry that we have degenerated to this. You certainly have not failed us, as you have opened our eyes to what we should expect of ourselves. We have failed you, and we will try to do better.

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Crush a bit, little bit, roll it up, take a hit
Feelin’ lit feelin’ light, 2 am summer night.
I don’t care, hand on the wheel, drivin drunk, I’m doin’ my thang
Rollin the Mid side and out livin’ my life getting’ out dreams
People told me slow my roll I’m screaming out fuck that
Imma do just what I want lookin’ ahead no turnin’ back
if I fall if I die know I lived it to the fullest
if I fall if I die know I lived and missed some bullets

I’m on the pursuit of happiness and I know everything that shine ain’t always gonna be gold
I’ll be fine once I get it, I’ll be good

Tell me what you know about dreamin’ dreamin’
you don’t really know about nothin’ nothin’
tell me what you know about them night terrors every night
5 am, cold sweats wakin’ up to the skies
tell me what you know about dreams, dreams
tell me what you know about night terrors, nothin’
you don’t really care about the trials of tomorrow
rather lay awake in a bed full of sorrow

booo south korea lost today 😦 we’ll have to wait utnil 2014

from scottyoung.com

In high school, I rarely studied. Despite that, I graduated second in my class. In university, I generally studied less than an hour or two before major exams. However, over four years, my GPA always sat between an A and an A+.
Recently I had to write a law exam worth 100% of my final grade. Unfortunately, I was out of the country and didn’t get back by plane until late Sunday night. I had to write the test at 9 am Monday morning. I got an A after just one hour of review on the plane.
Right now, I’m guessing most of you think I’m just an arrogant jerk. And, if the story ended there, you would probably be right.
Why do Some People Learn Quickly?
The fact is most of my feats are relatively mundane. I’ve had a chance to meet polyglots who speak 8 languages, people who have mastered triple course loads and students who went from C or B averages to straight A+ grades while studying less than before.
The story isn’t about how great I am (I’m certainly not) or even about the fantastic accomplishments of other learners. The story is about an insight: that smart people don’t just learn better, they also learn differently.
It’s this different strategy, not just blind luck and arrogance, that separates rapid learners from those who struggle.
Most sources say that the difference in IQ scores across a group is roughly half genes and half environment. I definitely won’t discount that. Some people got a larger sip of the genetic cocktail. Some people’s parents read their kids Chaucer and tutored them in quantum mechanics.
However, despite those gifts, if rapid learners had a different strategy for learning than ordinary students, wouldn’t you want to know what it was?

The Strategy that Separates Rapid Learners
The best way to understand the strategy of rapid learners is to look at its opposite, the approach most people take: rote memorization.
Rote memorization is based on the theory that if you look at information enough times it will magically be stored inside your head.
This wouldn’t be a terrible theory if your brain were like a computer. Computers just need one attempt to store information perfectly. However, in practice rote memorization means reading information over and over again. If you had to save a file 10 times in a computer to ensure it was stored, you’d probably throw it in the garbage.
The strategy of rapid learners is different. Instead of memorizing by rote, rapid learners store information by linking ideas together. Instead of repetition, they find connections. These connections create a web of knowledge that can succeed even when you forget one part.
When you think about it, the idea that successful learners create a web has intuitive appeal. The brain isn’t a computer hard drive, with millions of bits and bytes in a linear sequence. It is an interwoven network of trillions of neurons.
Why not adopt the strategy that makes sense with the way your brain actually works?
Not a New Idea, But an Incredibly Underused Idea
This isn’t a new idea, and I certainly didn’t invent it.
Polymath, cognitive scientist and AI researcher Marvin Minsky once said:
“If you understand something in only one way, then you don’t really understand it at all. The secret of what anything means to us depends on how we’ve connected it to all other things we know. Well-connected representations let you turn ideas around in your mind, to envision things from many perspectives until you find one that works for you. And that’s what we mean by thinking!” [emphasis mine]
Benny Lewis, polyglot and speaker of 8 languages, recently took up the task of learning Thai in two months. One of his first jobs was to memorize a phonetic script (Thai has a different alphabet than English). How did he do it?
“I saw [a Thai symbol] and needed to associate it with ‘t’, I thought of a number of common words starting with t. None of the first few looked anything like it, but then I got to toe! The symbol looks pretty much like your big toe, with the circle representing the nail of the second toe (if looking at your left foot). It’s very easy to remember and very hard to forget! Now I think of t instantly when I see that symbol.
It took time, but I’ve come up with such an association for all [75] symbols. Some are funny, or nerdy, or related to sex, or something childish. Some require a ridiculous stretch of the imagination to make it work. Whatever did the job best to help me remember.”
The famous British savant Daniel Tammet has the ability to multiply 5 digit numbers in his head. He explains that he can do this because each number, to him, has a color and texture, he doesn’t just do the straight calculation, he feels it.
All of these people believe in the power of connecting ideas. Connecting ideas together, as Minsky describes. Linking ideas with familiar pictures, like Lewis. Or even blending familiar shapes and sensations with the abstract to make it more tangible as Tammet can do.
How Can You Become a Rapid Learner?
So all this sounds great, but how do you actually do it?
I’m not going to suggest you can become a Tammet, Lewis or Minsky overnight. They have spent years working on their method. And no doubt, some of their success is owed to their genetic or environmental quirks early in life.
However, after writing about these ideas for a couple years I have seen people make drastic improvements in their learning method. It takes practice, but students have contacted me letting me know they are now getting better grades with less stress, one person even credited the method for allowing him to get an exam exemption for a major test.
Some Techniques for Learning by Connections
Here are the some of the most popular tactics I’ve experimented with and suggested to other students:
1. Metaphors and Analogy
Create your own metaphors for different ideas. Differential calculus doesn’t need to just be an equation, but the odometer and speedometer on a car. Functions in computer programming can be like pencil sharpeners. The balance sheet for a corporation can be like the circulatory system.
Shakespeare used metaphor prolifically to create vivid imagery for his audience. Your professor might not be the bard, but you can step in and try them yourself.
2. Visceralization
Visceralization is a portmanteau between visceral and visualization. The goal here is to envision an abstract idea as something more tangible. Not just by imagining a picture, but by integrating sounds, textures and feelings (like Tammet does).
When learning how to find the determinant of a matrix, I visualized my hands scooping through one axis of the matrix and dropping through the other, to represent the addition and subtraction of the elements.
Realize you already do this, just maybe not to the same degree. Whenever you see a graph or pie chart for an idea, you are taking something abstract and making it more tangible. Just be creative in pushing that a step further.
3. The 5-Year Old Method
Imagine you had to explain your toughest subject to a 5-year old. Now practice that.
It may be impossible to explain thermodynamics to a first grader, but the process of explanation forces you to link ideas. How would you explain the broader concepts in simpler terms a child would understand?
4. Diagramming
Mind-mapping is becoming increasingly popular as a way of retaining information. That’s the process of starting with a central idea and brainstorming adjacent connections. But mindmapping is just the skin of the onion.
Creating diagrams or pictures can allow you to connect ideas together on paper. Instead of having linear notes, organized in a hierarchy, what if you had notes that showed the relationships between all the ideas you were learning?
5. Storytelling to Remember Numbers and Facts
Pegging is a method people have been using for years to memorize large amounts of numbers or facts. What makes it unique isn’t just that it allows people to perform amazing mental feats (although it can), but the way it allows people to remember information–by connecting the numbers to a story.
Pegging is a bit outside the scope of this article, but the basic idea is that each digit is represented by the sound of a consonant (for example: 0=c, 3=t, 4=d…). This allows you to convert any number into a string of consonants (4304 = d-t-c-d).
The system allows you to add any number of vowels in between the consonants to make nouns (d-t-c-d = dot code). You can then turn this list of nouns into a story (The dot was a code that the snake used…). Then all you need to do is remember the order of the story to get the nouns, consonants and back to the numbers.
The Way We Were Taught to Learn is Broken
Children are imaginative, creative and, in many ways, the epitome of this rapid learning strategy. Maybe it’s the current school system, or maybe it’s just a consequence of growing up, but most people eventually suppress this instinct.
The sad truth is that the formal style of learning, makes learning less enjoyable. Chemistry, mathematics, computer science or classic literature should spawn new ideas, connections in the mind, exciting possibilities. Not only the right answers for a standardized test.
The irony is that maybe if that childlike, informal way of learning came back, even just in part, perhaps more people would succeed on those very tests. Or at least enjoyed the process of learning.

Discover your purpose. Our physical life started when we were born. Our real life starts when we discover our purpose.
Follow your passion. To do what you love is truly the only way to live.
Set your goals. If you can have whatever you want, what would you like?
Create a life handbook. A life handbook is a concept I created where you have a book to write your life purpose, goals, dreams etc
Have the right mindset. The quality of your life is determined by the quality of your thoughts.
Create your bucket list. A bucket list is a list of things to do before you die.
Get mentors. You have dreams and big visions, and there are people who have likely been there and done that. Get them to mentor you.
Stop worrying so much.
Get closer with your parents.
Let go of negative friendships.
Surround yourself with positive people.
Release your limits. What are you limiting yourself from doing?
Believe in yourself.
Wake up early.
Eat a healthy diet.
Exercise regularly.
Plan your days.
Nurture those whom you love.
Try something new. Routines stagnate us. New experiences help us grow.
Stop watching TV.
Stop obsessing over the news. A lot of news today resonates with fear, guilt, shame and hate.
Don’t be trapped by dogma. Don’t feel compelled to follow others all the time.
Be compassionate. Show love and kindness to all the people around you.
Smile more.
Criticize less, appreciate more.
Keep a journal to self-reflect.
Forgive those who hurt you.
Enrich your mind great books. Books contain concentrated volumes of wisdom.
Coach someone. There’s no better way to learn than to teach others.
Meet new people. Get out there and meet new people.
(original)
Add a comment posted 2010-06-02 08:07:28 via #marcandangel

How to Really Begin Adding Value

Make sure you know what you can do. What are your skills?
Do what you love. When you do the things you love, adding value comes naturally.
If you’re not adding value, get out! If you’re in a job where you don’t feel you’re systematically adding something, either you need to change the way you’re doing things, or it’s time to quit. You can do better.
Adding value will guide you to the right job or enterprise. If you have a choice of two or more paths choose the one that allows you to add the most value.
Keep on learning new things and expanding your comfort zone. This is how you learn more skills which will enable you to add more value.
Don’t be scared to fail.
Encourage other people. Try to get the best out of people – encourage them to be the best they can be.
(original)
Add a comment posted 2010-06-02 08:01:26 via #dumblittleman

3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Ask For Advice

Are You Looking For Advice or Validation? Often when we go looking for advice we are really just looking for people to pat us on the back and say, “yes, what you are doing is correct, keep doing it.” Don’t bother asking for advice if all you are looking for is approval.
Are You Ready For the Truth? Seeking advice without an open mind is like mining for gold while blindfolded: even if you came across a “golden nugget,” you would never even realize it? If you’re not ready to face the truth, don’t bother seeking the advice.
Are You Ignoring Advice Out of Emotion or Logic? Are you ignoring the advice because you have thought it through fully and decided that in your particular situation it doesn’t make sense? Or are you ignoring it because it makes you uncomfortable? The former is a perfectly valid reason; the latter is going to get you in trouble.
(original)
Add a comment posted 2010-06-02 07:54:25 via #pickthebrain

12 Useful Ways To Get Out Of Ruts

Work on the small tasks. When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up.
Take a break from your work desk. Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk.
Upgrade yourself. Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials etc
Talk to a friend. Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.
Forget about trying to be perfect. Let yourself make mistakes.
Paint a vision to work towards. What is the end vision in mind? Make it as vivid as possible.
Read a book (or blog). The things we read are like food to our brain.
Have a quick nap. If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes.
Remember why you are doing this. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.
Find some competition. Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward.
Go exercise. As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too.
Take a good break. Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.
(original)
Add a comment posted 2010-06-02 07:47:02 via #lifehack

7 Steps to Being a Better You in 7 Days

Wake up before sunrise. Take advantage of being ahead of everyone else and enjoy the coming of the day.
Ask someone if there is anything you can help them with. Try to ask others if there is anything that you can do to make their day better.
Get outside and be active. Take this opportunity to walk through your town or city and greet all of those you pass.
Write down your goals for the next week. Enjoy everything that you want to accomplish this week.
Do one thing you love. Love reading? Love relaxing? Whatever it is that you love, try doing that for some period of your day.
Make another person’s day. You would be surprised how much positive impact a small act can have on the person you are kind to.
Learn something new. Have you always wanted to say a few words of Mandarin? Well, learn that one new thing today.

This is what’s selling today on shirt.woot

SOMETIMES THE PERFECT IS THE ENEMY OF THE FINISHED

3rd place in Derby #151: Shirt You’d Wear to a Job Interview , with 689 votes!

You give your all at work. It’s you who keeps the place running. You’ve got years of accumulated institutional wisdom. No one else really understands what you do, or how essential it is.

You worry all the time about how the company would fare should something happen to you. Who would oversee your projects? Who would take the calls from your clients?

Lucky for the company, you’ve had the foresight to document everything. You’ve got all your procedures and protocols written out in a bunch of three-ring binders so if they ever have to figure it out without you (Odin forbid), they’ll have extensive reference volumes to guide them.

How could that be enough, though? With all the intricate ins and outs of your job, it’s impossible your binders cover everything, no matter how many there are. You wish you’d been grooming a successor. That process could have taken years. After all, how long did it take you to accumulate all this expertise? Honestly, what’s going to happen to this place once you’re gone?

We’ll tell you what’s going to happen: They’re going to cart all your binders down to the Dumpsters and some temp will take over wherever you left off, and it’ll be about as disruptive as having to switch to a new pen when the one you’re writing with runs out of ink.

Wear this shirt: while hard at work on your most important projects, which aren’t even marginally important to anyone but you.

Don’t wear this shirt: after you’ve been dead more than a couple decades. It’ll get rank.

This shirt tells the world: “I’m going to get this right if it kills me.”

We call this color: Worked Into An Early Grave-y Navy

Angel Echoes (Jon Hopkins remix) by Four Tet

Do it to it people! a great movie that takes you through a nostalgic roller coaster of emotions

from bridgemaker
  1. If the map doesn’t agree with the ground, the map is wrong. We are given mental maps as children. Our parents and other adults tell us what is right and what is wrong – sometimes they don’t always get it, well, right. Now as adults, when we find the maps we have relied on for so long can get us lost, we need to recalibrate and create more reliable guides based on what we now know to be true and where we want to go.
  2. We are what we do. We are not what we think, or what we feel, or what we say, we are what we do. Actions do indeed speak louder than words. If you are unhappy with a particular part of your life, take a strong look at what you are doing to be happier.
  3. It is difficult to remove by logic an idea not placed there by logic in the first place. By nature, we are emotional creatures. Often we live and react based on feelings, not logic. Feelings are wonderful, but when we become tied to a particular thought or belief we tend to ignore the fact that change might be necessary. If a negative behavior is driven by an emotion, then we must find a way to still satisfy the emotional need while putting an end to the destructive behavior.
  4. The statute of limitations has expired on most of our childhood traumas. For some, childhood was pleasant, almost idyllic. But for others, when there has been serious physical, sexual or emotional abuse it is important to recognize this and process this with a trained professional. No matter your past, change is the essence of life. In order to move forward in life we need to learn to live in the present.
  5. Any relationship is under the control of the person who cares the least. When relationships end it is typically because of unmet expectations or one person is not feeling love or cherished by the other. For relationships to grow and last both members have to be equal with the love they give; and both should do it, not because they think they have to do it, but because they want to do it.
  6. Feelings follow behavior. No matter how hard we try, we don’t control what we think or what we feel. But, we do know which actions bring us happiness, pleasure and confidence. So, we do the actions that make us feel good. It is the action, the behavior that comes first. Take the next few days to notice how you feel after doing a particular behavior. If you like the feeling, do more of it. If not, change the behavior.
  7. Be bold, and mighty forces will come to your aid. When we step out and claim what we want from the world a wonderful thing happens – the Universe responds.
  8. The perfect is the enemy of the good. While it’s important to have control over our lives, it can be counterproductive to attempt to control our lives. The energy spent trying to be perfect can keep us from enjoying and appreciating all the good things that exist right before us.
  9. Life’s two most important questions are “Why?” and “Why not?” The trick is knowing which one to ask. Understanding why we do certain things is the first step to change. Until we understand what motivates us, what we get from doing a particular behavior, there is no momentum to begin the change process. Likewise, by asking “Why not?” we begin assessing the risk versus reward aspect which can lead to bringing about productive change in our lives.
  10. Our greatest strengths are our greatest weaknesses. One of my biggest strengths as a person is I’m caring, sensitive and emotional – it is also my greatest weakness. While this strength helps me to build and maintain healthy relationships, it can also make me too reactive and less effective when dealing with conflict. This can create a confusing paradox for me from time-to-time, but having the awareness of the thin line between the two better prepares me to either use my strength or be mindful of my weakness.
  11. The most secure prisons are those we construct for ourselves. What is your fear of change costing you? Too often what keeps us stuck is the belief we can’t move forward. Our head-trash tells us we are not worthy to have our heart’s desire. This fear; this incarceration, prevents us from breaking free and having the life we desire. Remember this: Before you can do anything, you must be able to imagine it. Imagining who and what you want to be, and then taking action, is the key to begin freeing yourself of what is holding you back.
  12. The problems of the elderly are frequently serious but seldom interesting. The thought of our own mortality and demise can be a frightening one. Therefore, our attitude towards the aging can be callous because they are unwanted reminders of what’s ahead for us. However, the elderly can hold great value and wisdom for us. We must remember to show respect and gratitude for those near the end so the cycle can be repeated when it is our turn.
  13. Happiness is the ultimate risk. No matter how painful, sometimes what we know is more comfortable than what we don’t know, even if we are depressed and miserable. Our misery can feel safe because it has been a part of us for so long. To seek happiness, to do things to break free of the depression, is a risk because we don’t know what it looks like or feels like to be happy. The antidote for this is hope and faith.
  14. True love is the apple of Eden. “When I look back, the Garden is a dream to me. It was beautiful, surpassingly beautiful, enchantingly beautiful; and now it is lost, and I shall never see it any more. The Garden is lost, but I have found him and am content. – from Mark Twain in Eve’s Diary. True love is fair compensation for the obstacles and burdens of being human.
  15. Only bad things happen quickly. When we think about the things that can change our lives in an instant we usually think of the negative ones first: accidents, our employer going out of business, or the news of a loved one becoming seriously ill. There is plenty of room; however, for good things to happen too, we just have to be more patient. Losing weight, improving a relationship, or creating a rewarding career all take effort, but the life-long satisfaction these bring can help to fill our souls when they are emptied-out by the bad.
  16. Not all who wander are lost. When we were children we were told what to do. In our jobs, we are assigned tasks and projects. Our culture even has expectations of what we should do. It’s OK to step outside of the lines in order to follow what your inner wisdom is suggesting you do with your life. It’s not that you are lost when you wander, it’s just the opposite: You know what you want and you are only attempting to find the best path to your destination.
  17. Unrequited love is painful but not romantic. Love is meant to be shared. When you give your heart to someone who is uninterested, it will only result in loneliness and disappointment. Instead find someone who will share love with you. When you do, you will feel the real power of love.
  18. There is nothing more pointless, or common, than doing the same things and expecting different results. This truth also provides a very good definition for insanity. When things are not working in your life, try different things. The rub comes when we become so comfortable with the familiar we refuse to try something new. To grow we must also embrace change. The question then becomes what level of fear you are willing to walk through in order to change, grow and create the life you want.
  19. We flee from the truth in vain. Somewhere along the way there are truths about ourselves we never allow to see the light of day. Shame, guilt or embarrassment keeps these truths hidden and locked away. But remember, we cannot change or heal what we do not acknowledge.
  20. It’s a poor idea to lie to oneself. We may say the words, the words of a lie, but inside we know better; we know the truth. The most damaging lie we can tell ourselves involves making a promise. While good intentions are important, living the truth has far greater value in our life. Do what you say you are going to do, not just to improve the quality of your life, but to be able to live your life with confidence and self-respect
  21. We are all prone to the myth of the perfect stranger. Unless you are being victimized by your partner, chances are very good there are plenty of reasons to love your partner or spouse. It takes maturity, patience and trust to look across the fence and know your grass is greener.
  22. Love is never lost, not even in death. To lose what means the most to us is the ultimate test of helplessness and survival. I have been very fortunate to not yet experience the death of a close relative. That day, however, will come. When it does, my hope is I can transfer all of the love I have for that person to others still with me. In that way, the love for the person lost will always be alive.
  23. Nobody likes to be told what to do. As a parent it’s easy for me to sometimes tell one of my children what to do instead of just listen and offer advice, if requested. My need to control can trump their need to be heard and grow on their own. When this happens, communication is strained and trust can be eroded. Rather than telling my children what to do, my job as a parent is to give them hope that they can be successful in a very uncertain world. This can be achieved by limiting my lectures and by giving them the time and space to “figure it out,” while I’m standing by with a safety net.
  24. The major advantage of illness is that it provides relief from responsibility. In an ironic twist, the days we feel under the weather can be some of the healthiest for us. We push, we rush and we often don’t take time to take care of ourselves. But when we are feeling ill, we are forced to to slow down, perhaps call in sick at work, and take it easy.
  25. We are afraid of the wrong things. For the first 18 years of my marriage I feared the wrong things. I feared not earning enough money or not advancing quickly enough in my career. I should have feared losing my wife and family instead, because I almost did. Now, I try to live in the present moment and appreciate all I have. When I do this, I stay centered with hope and not distracted by fear.
  26. Parents have a limited ability to shape children’s behavior, except for the worse. My wife and I often hope our greatest legacy to our children is to be able to break the cycle of pain and doubt we experienced as children. Our hope is our children will have the self-love and confidence needed to live a rich and full life. With that said, we are far from being perfect parents. But our focus is to help them be as happy as possible in a world that takes and demands so much of them.
  27. The only real paradises are those we have lost. Too often we may view the past with a special fondness, perhaps reverence, too. But the past for most of us may be no different than the present, it just feels that way. To be honest, we may not always see the past for what it actually was. This view can be dangerous and it can keep us from living fully in the present, in the here and now.
  28. Of all the forms of courage, the ability to laugh is the most profoundly therapeutic. Yes, things can go wrong in life. Yes, there are issues and problems to solve. But we have a choice. We can choose to become pessimistic and not see the value in what we experience, or we can choose to laugh as an admission to the fact we are not perfect and life can get the best of us at times. What a relief to know that no matter how bad things may look, a smile or a rift of laughter can begin to make the circumstances feel better.
  29. Mental health requires freedom of choice. No matter how bleak or desperate a situation may appear to look, we always have choices. Even with the absence of answers or direction, we do have the power to choose what our next action is. We can choose to ask for help; we can choose to pray; we can choose to get up in the morning, get dressed and forge ahead. The ability to choose gives us power. We can use that power to begin removing the obstacles that confront us
  30. Forgiveness is a form of letting go, but they are not the same thing. To be clear, the purpose of forgiveness is not to let the person who harmed you off the hook, the purpose of forgiveness is to end the grief it has cost you. Don’t just let go, forgive and truly surrender the feelings of anger and pain. This may seem difficult, almost impossible, until you attempt to do it.

from manvsdebt

  1. Being a parent is harder than you think. Before I had kids, I used to get annoyed by kids whining on airplanes.  I used to think “Gosh, get control of your kid” in a lot of situations.  How hard can it be? And now… I know.  Even with only one (who, by the way, is an angel 95% of the time) I get it.  I can’t believe how easily I become frustrated sometimes.  I can’t imagine those of you with 3, 4, or 5 rugrats.
  2. Being a husband is harder than you think. Of course, this was the main topic behind my original 3 marriage lessons post.  Everyone told me marriage takes dedicated and consistent effort.  I acknowledged the words, but detached myself because I assumed we were an exception.  Doh.
  3. There will always be haters. No matter what you do or how much you give, there will always be haters.  I’m making a pledge to rid my life (and my online world) of any consistently negative, non-constructive forces.  If you want to hate… go get your reaction someplace else.
  4. Be willing to give away the glory. One of the best ways I’ve found to have someone accept an idea/concept is to make them feel like they came up with it themselves. Many of the people I respect most are amazing at sharing and giving away the limelight when it comes.  They are constantly taking a back seat to build up others.
  5. You can do anything you want.  No seriously… you can literally do anything. As kids, we are always told this, but most of us dismiss it as foo-foo.  It’s not.  In the last year, I’ve really come to terms with this.  I can literally do whatever I want.  Some of that is confidence and some of it comes from just having my eyes opened recently.  The largest thing between you and what you want is whatever glob of excuses you can pile up.
  6. Very few decisions in life require intense research. 90% of research/data-gathering is a waste of time.  I’ve found this true in my personal life and I’ve certainly found it true in my business.  Nearly without exception, I over analyze every decision I make.  Stop talking… stop thinking… stop planning… start doing.
  7. Intensely research any decision that limits a large amount of your freedom. :-) As a rule, the more freedom that is at stake in a decision, the more I’ll research it.  The real reason is that I’m o.k. if research leads to indecision in cases where freedom is at risk.  Take buying a home, deciding to have kids, or taking a new 80 hour/week job, for example.  It’s not really a bad thing to second guess yourself there.  Things to stop analyzing?  The perfect weekend to go camping, a new product/service you want to launch, or whether or not to let your kids paint their room neon pink.  Do it.
  8. The majority of people think they are above average. I constantly remind myself of this fact.  By nature, we tend to over estimate our own skills and/or contributions.  Not only that, but we are much less aware of what other people contribute. I do it and you do it, too.  So recognize it.  Go out of your way to thank people for the things you do notice.
  9. The best feedback you’ll ever get is when you try to sell something to someone. So this is a purely entrepreneurial one I’ve learned.  It goes back to #7.  The most valuable data/feedback you’ll ever have is after you launch a product, service, or idea.  Seth Godin refers to this a “shipping it”.
  10. People automatically devalue anything they get for free. While we are on the topic, be careful about what you give away for free.  This can be applied beyond business, too.  Family, friends, clients, colleagues…  We automatically place more value on things we have to pay (money, time, effort, energy) for.  Give someone something for free consistently and they quickly begin to expect it.
  11. Instead of teaching kids to study concepts, we should be teaching them to solve problems. I won’t dive too much into what I know is an insanely deep and polarizing concept.  Courtney is much more equipped to discuss education system intelligently.  However, I’m not sure teaching kids to “study” a concept (many times something that’s in a weakness) is an empowering approach.  Instead, I’d love to see us playing more to kids strengths (whatever those may be individually) and focusing on obtaining solutions to problems.
  12. Choosing the correct mentors is the #1 most important factor in success of any kind.Modeling a mentor is the fastest way to success.  It doesn’t matter if you are climbing the corporate ladder, starting a web-based business, playing professional basketball, or studying religion.  You’ve gotta find your Branson, your Jobs, your Jordan, your Jesus, or your Buddha.
  13. Surround yourself with people who inspire you. Mentors are essential, however you’ve got to also find a relate to inspiring people on a daily/tangible level.  My wife and daughter inspire me.  I want them to be involved in everything I do, including my business and my passions.  Many of my fellow bloggers inspire me.  A couple blogger who are in similar spots, yet continually inspire me are Glen AllsopCorbett BarrEverett Bogue, and Grant Peele.
  14. You don’t need nearly as much money as you think you do. Another revelation that has come into my life in the past year or so.  You really *need* far, far less that what you think.  There are single people who travel and live on $5,000 a year.  There are families of 5 that eat on $100/month.  As a culture, we absolutely squander.  I know Courtney and I do.  It’s that straightforward.
  15. Money doesn’t buy happiness, but it buys everything else! :-) This is my fun way of saying that I like money.  I want a lot of money.  While true, don’t let #14 fool you.  I want my family to live a remarkable, yet secure life.  I rarely worry about money now, but I want to all but eliminate it as a concern altogether.  I want to be able to focus my life on giving in the coming years, while still being able to have an income.  But even with money, I want to ensure we embrace…
  16. Experiences almost always trump possessions. I don’t mind spending money (you shouldn’t either), but the key is to do so consciously.  For me, conscious spending is concentrated on 90-95% experience and 5-10% actual “stuff”.  Up until the last few years, I had it backwards.  I liked to talk about how I loved “experiences”, but I spent my money on stuff.  I want to keep our focus on experiences whether we are making $20k per year or $200k per year.  *Note:  Unless we are talking about an iPhone.  Seriously, have you seen this thing?* :-)
  17. Focus the bulk of your energy on leveraging your strengths, not on improving weaknesses. I touched on this in #11, but it doesn’t just apply to our approach to education.  When we think about ourselves, many of us tend to try to work on our weaknesses.  In doing so, we limit the time we spend leveraging our strengths.  I’m not suggesting to ignore areas in which you need improvement, but every time I focus the bulk of my energy on my strengths (without totally ignoring other areas), I achieve much better results even within my weaknesses.  It’s a matter or positive perspective and sustaining motivation.  It really works.
  18. Be the change you want to see in the world. Yeah, I know…  a little foo-foo.  But this one is a good one.  If you are trying to convert people by knocking on doors and handing out pamphlets, you are doing it wrong.  It’ll always be an uphill battle.  Try modeling for people.  Try impressing… try inspiring.  Use your actions to show me not only the how, by the why.
  19. The answer will always be no if you don’t ask. Seriously, if you want something you have to ask.  Don’t be a blunt prick.  Ask genuinely and ask politely.  If you just ask…  you’ll be surprised more often than not.
  20. The worse I eat, the less productive I am.  The less productive I am, the worse I eat. Also, I’ve realized that feeling like crap on a regular basis is not enough motivation to eat healthier.  Sad, but true.  And I don’t think I’m alone on that one.  Most of us know that it’s the cause of so many problems, yet we don’t change.  You don’t get out of debt because “you should”.  You don’t eat healthy and exercise because “it’s good for you”.  Find your motivation (I’m talking to myself here).
  21. Empowering other people is what really matters in life. I want to empower.  I want to empower Courtney to be the most amazing and fulfilled person she can be.  I want to empower Milligan to do whatever passions are currently bringing her joy (right now she really likes playing with her purple ball, playgrounds, and taking naps).  I want to empower complete strangers to see opportunities in their own lives that they’ve buried under mounds of stuff, debt, and excuses.  :-)
  22. Saying “no” politely is far better than saying a half-assed “yes”. Learning to respectfully and politely say “no” is one of the skills I desire most. Especially in the online world, I tend to want to say yes to everything.  There are so many amazing people, opportunities, projects, and feedback.  It’s all right here, right now.  But, I’ve been saying “yes” and then completely letting people down way too much recently.  It’s not a matter of being “busy” or “important”.  Everyone is busy and important.  It’s a matter of really being to knock the socks of the projects I can do.  I want to either give 110% or 0%.  I want to learn to say “no” in a way people enjoy.
  23. There are very few unique personal problems. Chances are millions of people have gone through whatever issue you may have.  Chances are at least one of those people is much closer than you think.  Problem is we think any issues we may have are unique and we assume those close to us wouldn’t understand.  Wrong.
  24. It’s o.k. to be a fan. I used to reject the concept of being a fan.  I didn’t want to be seen on a “bandwagon”.  I didn’t want someone to call me a “fanboy”.  I wanted to think for myself.  Now, I’ve come to terms that being a fan is fun.  I like cheering for the Packers.  I love my man crush I have on Chris Guillebeau’s work.  I love how much passion Eddie Vedder brings to every song.  I love watching Wine Library TV even though I’ve never tasted a wine in my life that I enjoyed.  I love the fact that Big Mike was saved by the judges last week on American Idol…  (too far?).  :-)
  25. The more I act like my daughter.  The happier I am. The more I play, mimic, tease, and chase my daughter in any given day… the happier I am when I go to bed at night.  The simple act of being silly is one I lost over the last 6-7 years.  It’s taken a toddler to slowly infuse this back into me.  I want to embrace it even more.
  26. As a child, I never once worried about food, water, shelter, or love.  I was never once abused or neglected.  I got everything I needed and most of what I wanted.  Both my parents were (and still are) hard-working, supportive, and have great values.  The older I get, the more I realize how insanely fortunate this makes me.