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Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit

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Natalie Babbit has written an eventual classic, which to me stand for something.  Often nowadays, people will label something as an instant classic, which I am afraid is used too loosely and to broad.  In fact, I think that instant classic, in itself is an oxymoron.  To be a classic, the thing pointed to must stand the test of time.

The wonderful and relatively short-story (although it isn’t labelled a formal short story) there are so many things that Natalie Babbit does to get a foot into the door of your mind.  Winifred, Milo, Jesse and the Tuck’s along with the man in the yellow suit pose not just an engaging story of discovery and fantasy, but moreso of ideals as far as ethics, virtues and abilities. 

Questions like:

Should anybody live in this life forever?

When is it okay to push the limits of parental control?

When do we trust others?

Are there times when the “law of the land” doesn’t impose fairness and what can you do about it?

In Tuck Everlasting, tens and hundreds of questions are posed in the minds of the ready to determine where the footing of the reader is.  Where do you stand when considering the right and wrong of the given situation.

Clearly, the the story of Winifred, it isn’t difficult to understand where she views and does what she does, dispite the gray area she may drift into in making good moral decisions.  This book, though simple and great for young readers as well as adults, should penetrate deeper into the considerations of the mind. 

The crowning lesson for me personally is that life is intended to be temporary and because of that, life can be rich and valued – even in the good or bad times.  Life does end (this life) and your legacy can enrich those who will be bequithed your influence.

Watch the movie too – a bit different in the exact following of the book’s reading, but the story is told from end to end.

4-Hour Work Week

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Tim Ferriss

Tim Ferriss has done so well promoting his philosophy and after reading his book The Four Hour Work Week, belief that you could actually have a 4 hour work week had more definition.  Read my initial thoughts here.

Tim has extended his book or revised it with new information, however today’s comments only address the four hours discussed in the book.  Four hours to make a living seem somewhat improbable.  Really, can you support yourself, let alone a family by putting in four hours, mostly spent outsourcing to others?

Certainly the feasibility is a rare opportunity, however there is an unstated principle that Tim talks about and it glaring to the reader who is paying attention.  The four hours of work, is the time you must spend working, doing thing that you must do and probably don’t want to.  It is the paper pushing, the phone calls, the organization, the number crunching,

Four Hour Work Week Expanded and Updated

whatever it is that you don’t really like to do.  This is the work that you must put in, even if you aren’t enjoying it.

The remainder of the time you spend creating the necessary income is not really work.  Most professional athletes will comment on how lucky they really are to “play” for money.  They are grateful for their opportunities and recognize that they are the uncommon.  This does not mean that they don’t spend time and significant effort doing what makes them money.  They may spend four hours a week working at the parts of their job they prefer not to do, but he remainder of the time that makes money is doing what they love and thoroughly enjoy.

That is the answers – the four hour work week is not a week where you spend four hours working and could sit on the couch the rest of the time doing nothing!  No.  The four hours are the hours you must spend doing and outsourcing the stuff you don’t like.  The rest of your time is spent doing the stuff your really do like!

Find what you love to spend your time doing, making money in the process of doing that or those things, and the effort become enjoyable.  You no longer work 40 or 50 hours a week doing stuff you could really care less doing.  You spend 4 hours of that stuff and the other time is spend enjoying your time doing what you like.

Put that in you smoke and pipe it!

Written by ebookwisdom

May 11, 2010 at 4:51 pm

Rituals | Source of Energy Renewal

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During the 2010 Winter Olympics, I was glued to watching athletes compete each night.  To me, these events aren’t ever as exciting as the Summer Olympics, although, the more events I watched this year, the more I enjoyed the historical significance of the Olympic games.

Book: The Power of Full Engagement

At one specific point during the an event there was a delay to the actual competition and in interviewing a top competitor for this specific event the athlete said that he was just trying to remain calm and focused while waiting.  After training for the past four years for these games, he was hoping to time his performance so that he would peak at the right moment.

Peaking has everything to do with energy and focus and mastering your energy and focus is an additional topic I would like to hit on regarding The Power of Full Engagement.  (see previous article here)  Loehr and Shwartz build their book up to one of several points, all of which point at our use and recovery of energy.

Life, in all phases that I can think of, deals with some sort of energy exertion.  If we recognize this principle, it does a lot for recognizing our moments of being exhausted or simply out of energy.  Loehr and Shwartz attempt to educate us on how to maximize our energy by frequently recovering it during our exerting it.

Positive rituals become a means of accomplishing this.  After careful observation, Loehr and Schwartz identify how top performing athletes in the professional sports leagues complete so effectively by have very short recovery periods, frequently.  In some cases, the recovery was a ten to fifteen second period, where a positive ritual was observed and thus the energy tanks were capped off again.

The downtime that positive rituals gives is the first stage for energy recovery, however it does not touch the surface of what is needed in order to recover.  Seconds doe not do what a good nights sleep can do, however, but following a routine of positive influence on your body and mind enables the significant recovery.

Positive Rituals

Just as when a top free-throw shooter maintains a routine for recovery so she can focus on her shot, the energy required to focus intensely come just before the shot.  Everyone has seen this and understand the concept.  Bouncing the ball three times, visualizing the ball falling through the net and hitting the net, taking a couple deep detoxifying breathes, bending the knees, and flowing through the shot.  This may be your routine and it may have been the highest free-throw percentage shooter in the NBA’s routine.  Regardless, any and all routines will be unique to the person.

To work effectively in a job that makes you sit in front of a computer all day may be completely draining after a couple hours of work and the performance begins to drop off.  Effective energy recovery becomes the solution.  Holding positive energy renewals like walking to the drinking fountain and back, listening to a rejuvenating song,  closing your eyes and taking ten deep breaths.  There are several ways to create a repeatable, positive, ritual that can become a routine for rejuvenation.

The refilling of your energy tank will lead to not just peaking once or a couple times each day, but will enable a cycle of continual peaking throughout the day.

Consider the benefits of excelling throughout the day.  What would you accomplish?  What would you become?

Start your ritual today.

Emotions and Logic

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Jonah Lehrer’s,  How We Decide, is an intriguing look into way the brain and mind work to utilize all the known experience they have to come to an answers.  When I say “they”, what I really mean is “us”.  How we work seems to have an never ending pull on our want for self discovery.

How We Decide

The historical view of our decisions builds off of what is rational and what is instinctive.  What is logic and can be constrained, directed and organized in order to build a “right” answer, then there is the emotional mind that is quick and powerful but without controls and potentially runs amiss without any forcible leverage.  These parts, as Lehrer introduces, where processes of thought from Plato to the twenty-first century.  Ideals and beliefs that have lasted an incredible amount of time and therefore must have truth and validity to them.

Well, maybe to a degree.

When considering any split second decision or a choice that must be made under a short time period, what do we pull from in order to make the best decision?  We have this great desire to know that we have made the best decision, however there are times when we are building off of a feeling, an emotion.  As Lehrer reviewed cases where these type of situations took place, he identifies that “feeling” that the person has or at least can recall.

Jonah Lehrer

The common thread is not the feeling though.  The common thread is that it is unexplainable to the person, why they did what they did.  They cannot readily explain their thought process they had or the cause for the choice.  They can only explain the feeling, good or bad, depending on the situation.  That emotional response that the brain pointed the mind to lead to the choice.

Responding this way does not excuse the choice to emotions alone, but to the cause for choosing what they chose.  The emotional response instigated or pushed the logic part of the brain to try and use that information as best they could.  Those that often used the emotional prod, found that right or best decision.

Why would this be so?  How could emotions possibly know better than logic and be utilized in a constrained environment to produce a result that is accurate?

In How We Decide, Lehrer argues the point that the emotional brain is not to be controlled by logic at all, but rather how do we use emotions in improve our logical response to questions, situation, etc?

Very interesting read.  Although the cover was almost a deterrent for me, I found the content extremely interesting.  For those that enjoy psychology and the human nature of choice and how to learn from that to improve how you work and response, this book  is worth the time.

Written by ebookwisdom

April 19, 2010 at 5:54 pm

Being Fully Engaged Through Periodic Replenishing

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Roller coaster riding through life takes as much out of you as the amusement rides at a park. Whatever it may be that causes energy to do, we have ups – moments of purity, and we have downs – times when we are just down, lost, whatever.

Significance

Book: The Power of Full Engagement

The rides up and down, have to and will happen but the thing about them is that they don’t have to be as dramatic. The ups can be as high as we would like, but the falls don’t have to be as low as they currently are.

James Loehr and Tony Schwartz author an explanation of the energy fluctuations that everybody experiences and why we cannot sustain a steady flow of high performance.

The answers begin with concept that every period of extreme or continuous high performance resides is only as good as the time spent in recovery. This doesn’t mean that both are equitable, but that they are both necessary.  Just as a physical work out requiring unusually high exertion of effort will rip the smallest muscle fibers, the recovery of 1 to 2 days will not only rebuild the muscle, but make it stronger in the body’s anticipation of having to sustain that sort of effort again.

James Loerh

Getting back more than what was put in, is always a smart investment. In the same breath, too much recovery time will atrophy the muscle, weakening it so it will not be able to sustain the previous performance.

This is applicable to all types of energy efforts. Whether you are a mom or dad trying to balance the household duties of kids and laundry and dinner and whatever, or whether you are a professional athlete needing to excel on a regular basis in order to maintain the huge contract you just signed. If creating through mental concentration is what is needed

Tony Schwartz

continually, a recovery is just and valuable as the genius idea.

How to? Well, there is a science to that, so check the next posting for it.

Reaching For Salvation

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Reaching For Salvation

Jim Collin’s fantastic book, “How The Mighty Fall”, teaches that the third stage for a company that is falling or failing is “Reaching For Salvation”.

This imparts a sense severe desperation on behave of the company and big decision makers. As the once success of the company seems to be under the examination by a higher power, beyond the control of the company, who is slow separating, cutting, pulling and breaking parts of what the company was once so solid in.

In an attempt to halting this operation, those with the most beneficial interest in stopping the fall and the torture are those able to make the significant decision that will “save” the company.

The situation has put everyone who really cares (those not sharpening and sending out resume’s as a fail safe) in a need, hope and fear position.  Hardly what is healthy for correcting wrongs, identifying corrective actions and pursuing initiatives with passion.  Struggling to come up with an answer when you have tried cause you to reach for salvation, not because you want to, but because you feel like you need to.

The action typically involves some sort of “savior” solution.  A person or product or structure where all the eggs are put into.  It is like being in Vegas, not having enough money to get home because weekend had started off well, but quick dissolved and with you last dollar you put it into the slot machine, literally praying for some divine intervention that can save you bacon.

There isn’t a calculated solution or a proven process, just a final change in an attempt to succeed.  At first there is a positive reaction.  Not because of the reach but because all others have a renewed hope and work effectively and with passion toward effective, high performance.  It is short-term.

Eventually, the reality comes to fruition and all realize that it is on them, not something or someone else.  They collapse under the realization and expectation.

This is not to say that all situations play out the same way.  Not all outcomes are demise and failure.  Few learn that it is in their innate ability that they rose to greatness, and it requires the same characteristics to re-rise or rise again.  But that is for another posting.

Salvation is spiritual (an physical, in my opinion), however it is not business and there are is not a divine interest in building your company (just a divine interest in building you, in my opinion).

Reference:

“How The Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give In”; Jim Collins; 2009

I Hate Arrogance!

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Hubris – Noun – arrogance, excessive pride, excessive self-confidence.

Exessive Arrogance

The Hubris Leader - Leading To Stage 1 Of Their Fall

As a quick sub-post to How The Mighty Fall, stage one of the fall, as Jim Collins puts it, is the evolution of hubris. The characterization of becoming overconfident in ones abilities, creating and “everything I touch turns to gold” type of approach to maintaining (although the hubris is not conducive to maintaining, so this is somewhat said tongue in cheek) or growing a business.

Can the hubris nature be at a lower level in the company? Typically not. In fact, it is usually quite the opposite. As with most structural situations where hubris exists, leading a company to an unhealthy confidence is usually an false emotion distilled by the top of the company.

The lower levels; those crunching the numbers, doing the market research or responding to the customers are those who first become unweary at the sight of such confidence, asking, “Do they really not see what could happen?” They are those presenting caution in their findings, but often falling on deaf ears of because those ears a this hubris filter that only allows findings and research that reinforces that great achievements of the company.

The leader is so confident that they are forward facing, that they mistake their vision for a mirror, presenting them only with historicals and blocking the actual view. Just as if they were driving their care with the hood up, the leader things that they drive well enough that they can still respond to any potential dangers, when in fact, their vary actions of allowing this to take place are a danger. It isn’t that they aren’t aware of the possible danger, they are actually promoting it.

As the story goes of the drive who is able to drive the vehicle over the mountain pass with treacherous terrains and at one point requires tremendous skill to take the vehicle through a narrow pass, where a mountain side is on one side and a stark cliff falls off immediately on the other. The owner of the product that needs to make it over the pass interviews drivers with most expressing how close they can come to the edge without falling off, while one drive expresses that he will do everything to stay as far away from the edge as possible. Of course the interviewer goes with the “safest” solution.

Many hubris situation have a “pushing the envelop” sort of approach” (not result), which is what poses the danger. This arrogance has a precondition of success, regardless of the field and often leads to a lack of preparation or a reckless disregard of the facts and cautions.

Often these hubris leaders throw the lower level employee, expressing caution and restraint, under the bus and in some cases label them as not being a team player or not fit for the company.

Good for the employee, they have the chance to find the right leadership and avoid the painful fall into stage one and likely onto stage two of Jim Collin’s description.

More opinions to come.

Written by ebookwisdom

April 2, 2010 at 6:18 pm