Choose to be All or Choose to be Less

“Every life form seems to strive to its maximum except human beings. How tall will a tree grow? As tall as it possibly can. Human beings, on the other hand, have been given the dignity of choice. You can choose to be all or you can choose to be less. Why not stretch up to the full measure of the challenge and see what all you can do?” ~ Jim Rohn

A grocery store had two jam sampling stations set up. One station had twenty-four varieties. The other had only six. The purpose of this experiment was to observe how the brain handles choice. They monitored two activities.

  1. The number of visitors to each station.
  2. The number of sales at each station.

Professor Sheena Iyengar conducted the experiment. The study found:

  1. The station with twenty-four varieties had the most visitors. (60% vs. 40%)
  2. The station with only six options had the most sales. (30% vs. 3%)

The conclusion. Multiple choices are appealing in theory. They distract in reality.

Cognitive Limit

Your mind is a powerful tool. However, it has its limitations. With choice, the limit is five research says.

Fear sets in when the brain has more than five items to choose from. You’re afraid to make the wrong choice. The result. Either you make no choice at all or keep searching for a perfect choice.

The station with only six choices of jam presented less risk. The testers arrived at the buy/no buy decision quicker.

Twenty-four options were more attractive. However, the potential of making a wrong choice drove the testers to opt out of choosing altogether or spend more time trying to find a perfect palate match.

Lifestyle Impact

Abundance surrounds us. Choice has become a right.

We buy to have a choice more than to satisfy a need. We add people and things to our lives not to have the right things but to revel in the possibilities of what they present.

Variety is the spice of life. However, more choice does not equal better outcomes. Furthermore, what we ‘gain’ through choice we lose in time.

Time

“If you want to make good use of your time, you’ve got to know what’s most important and then give it all you’ve got.” ~ Lee Iacocca

We access time via a fixed daily measure. No one gets more. No one gets less. However,  when you compare the lives of two people born on the exact same day and at the exact same time, you’ll notice that the list of achievements will always vary.  The one who did more learned how to make more time.

Making more time involves discipline. Discipline is not present at birth. You build it. One surefire way to build discipline is to eliminate or minimize choice.

Planning Vs. Doing

In life, you are either doing something or thinking about doing something.

Thinking precedes all action. Effective thinking allows for immediate instead of delayed action. Efficient thinking saves time, focus and energy. The life you desire requires all three in high doses. Choice leads to distraction. You will accomplish more if you learn to limit your distractions.

Take a look at your life. Make a list of the choices you make. Group them into two categories. “Choose to be all choices.” “Choose to be less choices.” Learn to eliminate the “choose to be less choices.”

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How Tim Ferriss Learnt to Tackle His Fears

“Typically, people don’t overcome their fears because the fears are nebulous and undefined.” ~ Tim Ferriss

Your mind is your greatest asset. Tom Ferriss’s mind has gone toe to toe with bipolar depression. Bipolar depression causes extreme shifts in mood, energy, thinking, and behavior. Having been to the center of darkness enough times to threaten his future, he chose to find a way to manage the extreme ups and downs.

For better or for worse. For richer or for poorer. In sickness and in health. Until death do we part, fear will forever be along for the ride. From the uber successful to those just starting out, there is no one, not a single human being, for whom fear has not manifested in one form or another.

Fear has its purpose. A purpose as old as the ages. That purpose is survival. Fear is why we exist today. Without a healthy dose of fear, our ancestors would have adopted all the carnivorous animals as pets and ended up as pet food. They would have eaten the poisonous berries because they were just too pretty to resist and hugged each and every person carrying a deathly contagious disease because to be human is to be socially inclined. Fear is part of our genetic inheritance.

What fear we don’t get from our genetics, we get from conditioning. Conditioning is why two people can have two extremely opposing views of the same experience.

Fear conditioning is a form of classical conditioning, the type of associative learning pioneered by Ivan Pavlov in the 1920s. It involves the repeated pairing of a non-threatening stimulus such as a light, called the conditioned stimulus, with a noxious stimulus such as a mild shock, called the unconditioned stimulus, until the animal shows a fear response not just to the shock but to the light alone, called a conditioned response.

Fear itself is not the enemy says, Seth Godin. Paralysis is. It is the paralytic effect of fear and the conditioned response to stressful events in one’s life that Tim Ferriss’s approach seeks to conquer.

Ferriss’s journey led him to Stoicism where the teachings of Seneca caught his attention. It started with the quote “We suffer more in imagination than in reality.” The quote led him to Seneca’s letters where he learned of the practice of “premeditatio malorum.” The premeditation of evils. The exercise involved detailed visualization of worst-case scenarios with the aim of taking action to overcome fear-induced paralysis.

Fear-setting, a simple yet powerful three-paged exercise was born of this journey.

Fear-Setting

Page 1 — What if I …?

The first page of the fear-setting exercise is titled What if I …? and is divided into three columns. Define, Prevent, Repair.

Define — List whatever you fear, whatever is causing you anxiety/tension, whatever you’re putting off/resisting.

Prevent — List what you could do to prevent or decrease the likelihood each of the fears you defined from happening.

Repair — List what you can do or who you can ask for assistance should the fears you defined actually come to life.

When working on this page, Ferriss reminds us to keep an important fact in mind. Our fears are not unique. Someone somewhere has experienced them and figured out how to prevent them and or repair them. If they can, so can you. Should you get stuck, seek them out for inspiration.

Page 2 — The Benefits of an Attempt or a Partial Success

The second page of the fear-setting exercise channels the power of positive thinking by reframing the fear.

I have written before on the brain’s bias for negativity which makes us more comfortable talking about all the bad things that could go wrong as a result of our actions. Fear-setting looks at the other side of the coin. The benefits of trying and of achieving a partial success.

Page 3 — The Cost of Inaction

The third and last page of the fear-setting exercise looks at the cost of doing nothing. Of maintaining the status quo.

On this page, you will list what all the ways, emotionally, financially, physically, mentally, spiritually, in a span of six months, 12 months, three years, what the price of staying as is would cost you.

When it comes to overcoming fear, exposure works better than avoidance. You can’t, however, expose yourself with any degree of success to something which you cannot clearly define. Fear-setting is an exercise in defining fear at its true source. The mind. Of identifying and breaking the invisible barriers of fears that are more yelp than bark or bite.

“You actually do live a fuller life when you face your fear,” says Dr. Srini Pillay, a Harvard psychiatrist. Ferriss says “I can trace all of my biggest wins and all of my biggest disasters averted back to doing fear-setting at least once a quarter.”

Become the person you’ve always dreamed about in your bold and wild mind. Use Ferriss’s fear-setting exercise to train your mind to act more courageously in everyday life. Not to eliminate fear in the hopes of becoming fearless but with the goal of fearing less and boldly acting when you should act.

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Don’t Use a lot Where a Little Will Do

Of all the constraints we face, the constraint of time and a finite lifetime are ones we cannot escape. With these constraints in mind, the focus then should be on increased productivity where we get the best with the least amount of opportunity cost.

Opportunity cost is the sacrifice being made. What you have to give up to get something.

The Law of Diminishing Returns

If one is busy, they are often viewed as doing productive work. We can all call to mind several instances where this is not always the case.

All action runs up against the law of diminishing returns. The law of diminishing returns states that in all productive processes, adding one additional factor of production, while holding all others constant, will at some point yield lower incremental per-unit returns.

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The Law of Diminishing Returns

The goal as illustrated above is to stay in the green.

The Minimum Effective Dose

Arthur Jones was the founder of Nautilus, Inc. and MedX, Inc. and the inventor of the Nautilus exercise machines.

His ideas focused on moving the public’s notion of bodybuilding and strength-training exercise away from the Arnold Schwarzenegger school of training, which involved hours in the gym using free weights, to high-intensity training. 

This led to the concept of  The Minimum Effective Dose (MED) that has been popularized by Tim Ferris in his book The 4 Hour Body.

The Minimum Effective Dose (MED) is defined as the smallest dose that will produce the desired outcome.

A popular example used to illustrate the MED concept is that of boiling water. Ferris illustrates is as follows:

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“To boil water, the minimum effective dose is 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100 degrees Celsius) at standard air pressure. Boiled is boiled. Higher temperatures will not make it “more boiled.” Higher temperatures just consume more resources that could be used for something else more productive.”

The logic is clear. If boiled is boiled, why spend value time and energy trying to make it more so?

There is a lot to be done and time is not allocated in corresponding equal measure. Jones and Ferris have focused on health but all aspects of life can be viewed and optimized through the lens of the minimum effective dose.

Beware of the pursuit of excellence where excellence has no reward. One should always give their best, but mindfully so. Sometimes, less is more.

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51 Easier said Than done Things that must be Done

The easy thing is rarely the right thing. I need a reminder and maybe you do too.

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1. Have a compelling response for: Why the hell am I doing this again?

2. Adopt a grateful attitude.

3. Don’t be nice, be kind.

4. Teach somebody something that you know.

5. Leave a legacy, create something.

6. Yes someone is to blame, but you are 100% responsible for your actions and reactions. For your attitude and your apathy.

7. Either do something about it or if you can’t, shut up about it.

8. Reflect, learn and move on. Camping out is for suckers.

9. Children can do what most adults fail to do. Emulate them.

10. Eat better food that is as close to its natural state as possible.

11. Move. Then move some more and keep moving. Make it a thing.

12. Every day, find 20 seconds of insane courage and use it to get you one step closer to your dreams.

13. Don’t try to be somebody as somebody is already taken. Be fiercely and unapologetically fabulously you.

14. Use what makes you different to make it matter that you were different. Don’t waste your uniqueness.

15. Embrace fear and embrace failure. When it gets to be too much, REST. Do not quit.

16. Treat truth as the authority and not authority as the truth.

17. Don’t underestimate the power of what you passively consume, and how it effects your actions, perceptions and desires. You must read this.

18. Set a goal then create a system. Then focus on the system and not the goal.

19. You know nothing, keep learning. Socrates said that so take it up with him

20. Don’t wait to be asked, take action

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21. Figure out who you are and what you want.

22. If it’s not love, don’t bother. Life’s too short and you know the rest…

23. A no-effort relationship is not a great relationship.

24. Don’t date potential. Dating potential is like dating a goal. How many of those have you failed to achieve?

25. Lack of self-worth from either partner will screw up your relationship. See #21 for reinforcement.

26. If you’re putting up with BS, your addicted. Treat the addiction.

27. You can love someone even if you don’t love yourself but it will SUCK loads, so don’t.

28. Yes, people can make you happy but if you outsource 100% of your happiness to them then get ready for the worst roller coaster ride of your life.

29. Manage your feelings, not the relationship.

30. Stop bad mouthing your ex. We know, they sucked. But you’ve got to move on. You deserve better and here’s your chance to go and get it. See #8 for reinforcement.

31. You know nothing, keep learning. Socrates said that so take it up with him.

32. Don’t wait to be picked, take action.

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33. Work is going to suck sometimes. Be prepared.

34. Treat your manager as a coach, not as a judge.

35. Money is important but don’t make it the most important thing.

36. The value of credentials is going down while the cost is going up. Become a Padawan learner – A Padawan, Padawan learner, Jedi Apprentice in Basic, or Jedi in Training, referred to a Force-sensitive adolescent who had begun one-on-one instruction with a Jedi Knight or Master outside of the Jedi academy.

37. Other great stuff here.

38. You know nothing, keep learning. Socrates said that so take it up with him

39. Never stop learning. Your skills and how you’ve used will define your career, not your title.  

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40. Treat your time like currency.

41. Stop working overtime and increase your productivity instead.

42. Don’t say “yes” too often.

43. Don’t say “no” too often.

44. Stop doing everything yourself and start outsourcing.

45. Divorce perfection and get in bed with excellence.

46. You cannot be on 247, 365. Make time for recovery.

47. Single-task. Focus on one thing that matters today. Master that. Then move to the next thing.

48. Get a powerful and inspiring morning routine because the way you start your day powerfully shapes how productively you live it.

49. Find your circle of genius. Find your tribe. Find those who have been there, done that and have the ‘scars’ to confirm their sacrifice.

50. Make change stick. Don’t focus on getting rid of bad habits. Replace a bad habit with a good habit that brings the same reward.

51. Eat the damn frog. It’s not going anywhere so you might as well deal with it sooner rather than later.

Do you have any to add to this list?

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You Don’t Need to be A Morning Person to Make The Most of Your Mornings

Morning has broken. You, like me, are not made to chase the sunrise. Winning the morning has less to do with getting up early and more to do with using those waking minutes or hours productively.

1. Prepare for a Better Morning the Night Before

The challenge most people face in the morning is linked to time. Preparing the night before means you can spend less time doing the ‘chicken with your head cut off’ routine and spend more time acclimating to and enjoying the morning’s offerings. So make your lunch, set up your breakfast, choose tomorrow’s outfit or anything else that tends to gobble up precious morning minutes.

2. Don’t use an Alarm Clock on Your Phone or Tablet to Wake You Up

Checking your email or social media before your feet get the chance to reconnect with the floor is an unproductive way to start your day not to mention it eats up precious morning minutes. Make e-mail and social media wait. They should not be the boss of you. To avoid this temptation, use an actual alarm clock to wake you up. This also means that phones or tablets should not be kept within stretching distance either.

3. Wake up to Music

The first and last time anybody was meant to be jarred awake was on the day of their birth. If you’re not violently opposed to music, choose to wake up to music. Something soothingly inspirational that will gently nudge at your slumber and caress your eyes open.

I wake up to Brave by Sara Bareilles. I love the intro and the first line reminds me of what I am.

| You can be amazing |

If music is not your thing, you can opt for a soothing voice instead.

4. Have a Morning Question

What’s the first thought that goes through your head when you hear the alarm go off in the morning?  “Crap, what time is it? Urgh, not again!” Yup. Not very powerful or motivating right. Questions are powerful cues for your mind to keep taking action. They provide clarity of purpose and put you in a positive state of mind.

In the commencement address Steve Jobs gave at Stanford back in 2005, he revealed the motivational tactic that he used to start each and every day.

For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

4. Make Your bed

The psychological win of putting your bed in order at the start of the day and seeing this  accomplishment as you prepare for your day is very powerful.

5. Start Your Day with Protein instead of Dairy

Food is your body’s fuel, and protein might be a better choice than dairy which, is rich in tryptophan. A snooze-inducing substance. Protein is difficult to digest so keeps you fuller longer and your mind sharper and clearer.

Mornings can be rough, especially if you aren’t an ‘a.m.’ person. But no matter if you’re a night owl or an early bird, the way you start your morning has a huge impact on the rest of your day.

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The Two Kinds of “Busy”

“Workaholics aren’t heroes. They don’t save the day, they just use it up. The real hero is already home because she figured out a faster way to get things done.” – Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson, Rework

Is your doing busy or productive?
Is your doing purpose-driven or a begrudged response to an external stimulus?
Are you impacting the day or just using it up?
Is your doing in pursuit of a false hustle where you’re expending your energy on tasks that don’t ultimately help you reach your goals?

There are two kinds of “busy.” Which one are you?

Busy people talk. Productive people show.
Busy people are aways regaling those within earshot of how busy they are and what they are going to do. Productive people don’t say much. If something needs to be said, they let their achievements do the talking.

Busy people says yes to everything. Productive people say yes strategically.
Productive people know that when you say yes to everything, you’re letting other people determine what the priorities of your life should be.

Busy people use time to determine activity. Productive people use their values to determine activity
Productive people have clearly established values and their decisions are dictated by those values. If health is a value then time will always be made to work out. If family is a value then time will always be made to spend quality time with the

Busy people multitask. Productive people single task.
Productive people know that multitasking wastes valuable energy. They focus on single tasking that makes them more productive by allowing them to be fully immersed in the task at hand. Their motto is “If it’s worth doing, Do it well, Do it once.”

Busy people measure time. Productive people measure output.
Productive people are mission oriented. They know that results matter more than the time spent to achieve them. So they measure the output of their effort and adjust accordingly when it’s not as desired.

Busy people manage time. Productive people manage themselves.
Productive people know that “The best way to predict your future is to create it.” so they seek to manage themselves to ensure that what needs to be done in pursuit of their goals gets done. They are working for themselves and not to please others.

Busy people work hard. Productive people work smart.
“There is nothing quite so useless, as doing with great efficiency, something that should not be done at all.” ~ Peter Drucker

Busy people ignore rest. Productive people embrace rest and recuperation and recognize it as a key element of excellence.
Busy people view exhaustion as a badge of honor, ignoring the unsustainability of a life without rest. Productive people know that optimal performance cannot be maintained without rest so they regularly schedule breaks.

Busy people addresses the urgent. Productive people focus on the important.
Busy people lack focus so they view all tasks as urgent. Urgent tasks are falsely perceived as important, but when analyzed, add nothing towards the pursuit of one’s goals. Productive people only focus on important tasks that will get them closer to their goals.

People like the idea of busyness because it feels better than boredom but a busy life does not a hero make. True heroes are not busy. True heroes are productive. To live a heroic productive life you need to have a clear view of what the goal of your work is. Productivity, well executed, will leave you feeling fulfilled, energized, healthy and happy.

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How To Stop Working and Still Get Paid

The saddest affliction = working for a living.

There are twice as many “actively disengaged” workers in the world as there are “engaged” workers who love their jobs.

Taking a cue from the ‘lovers’, stop working and start doing this instead.

Start thinking, innovating, serving, and creating.

Start coaching, leading, molding, guiding and inspiring.

Start informing, advising, healing, and helping.

Start listening, learning, solving, and building.

Start making it less about what you do and more about who you do it for.

Start delivering value, effecting change, redeeming honesty, and promoting transparency.

Work has nothing to do with your title and everything to do with your impact.

Stop working and do so much more.

 

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