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Stephen Covey, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – 117

Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

1 – Be Proactive

You choose your life
Take responsibility in your life
Circle of Influence and Circle of Concern
proactive vs. reactive
Own it, then you can change it. No excuses allowed!
Between the stimulus and the response is your greatest power–you have the freedom to choose your response
Viktor Frankl

2 – Begin with the End in Mind

all things are created twice. There is a mental (first) creation, and a physical (second) creation
Envision what you want
Fast progress doesn’t help if it’s in the wrong direction
Understand how people make decisions
act based on principles
Are you who you want to be?
How do you want to be remembered?
develop a Personal Mission Statement

3 – Put First Things First

Prioritize and triage

1) Important and Urgent
2) Important and not-urgent
3) Not Important and Urgent
4) Not important and Not urgent

Pareto Principle 80 / 20 rule

The next three habits talk about Interdependence and working with others

4 – Think Win-Win

Zero sum gain
Abundance Mentality/Mindset vs. Scarcity
Desired Result: What is to be done and by when
Guidelines: What can and can’t be done
Resources: Who and what can help
Accountability: How will we measure success and how often

5 – Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood

We usually respond to someone in 4 autobiographical responses:
1. Evaluate: agree or disagree with what is said
2. Probe: ask questions from our own frame of reference
3. Advise: give counsel based on our own experience
4. Interpret: try to figure out the person’s motives and behavior based on our own
Use empathetic listening
build rapport
Gain understanding of their circumstances

The Habit 5 is greatly embraced in the Greek philosophy represented by 3 words:
1) Ethos – your personal credibility. It’s the trust that you inspire, your Emotional Bank Account.
2) Pathos is the empathic side — it’s the alignment with the emotional trust of another person communication.
3) Logos is the logic — the reasoning part of the presentation.

paradigm, paradigm shift

6 – Synergize

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts

7 – Sharpen the Saw – Continuous Improvements

“Upward Spiral”
self care
four intelligences – physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual

Physical: Beneficial eating, exercising, and resting
Social/Emotional: Making social and meaningful connections with others
Mental: Learning, reading, writing, and teaching
Spiritual: Spending time in nature, expanding spiritual self through meditation, music, art, prayer, or service

The 8th Habit[edit]

8 – Find your voice and inspire others to find theirs.
Which inspired me to think about:
Send the elevator back down
We need more mentoring for people of all ages, esp. young and at risk
Pay it forward

Stephen Covey, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – 117 2017-11-15T03:58:40+00:00

The Happiness of Pursuit – 116

The Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest That Will Bring Purpose to Your Life by Chris Guillebeau
The book is not about happiness or how to become so.
It’s about the ambition of the pursuit and the desire to do whatever it took to keep going.

Some quests take years or even decades to complete.
“Deciding to improve one’s life, however meaningful it might be on a personal level, is not a quest. Quit smoking, lose weight, get out of debt, are not quests.

A quest:
Has a clear goal and a specific end point.
Presents a clear challenge.
Requires sacrifice of some kind.
Is often driven by a calling or sense of mission.
Requires a series of small steps and incremental progress towards the goal.

Reasons to quest:
Self-discovery (find yourself).
Reclaiming (re-discover heritage or new cultures).
Response to external events (Getting laid off).
Desire for ownership and empowerment (Being told you can’t do that).
Taking a stand for something (Activism).

Why start a Quest:
Do you like lists?
Enjoy setting goals?
Motivated by making progress?
Enjoy planning?
Misunderstood hobby or passion?
Daydream about a different life?
Obsessed with a hobby or passion?

John Francis walked across america. Activist against folssil fuel based transportation.

struggling with the “what next” which can feel quite a bit like postpartum depression

Estimate the cost of the quest. Quests can cost time, money, opportunity.
Don’t let risks stop you. Mitigate risks.
Risk and cost make the quest challenging.

Pursuing a quest can make you happy and/or fulfilled. Don’t confuse the two.

You will figure things out along the way. Walk across america

Live with urgency. Make your life count.

Some discussion about how people on their deathbed let go of BS. They get very real and honest. I read something else recently that had a similar theme. This struck a chord with me.

Recall the author saying a quest “Presents a clear challenge” and “requires sacrifice of some kind”. Something to think about, people who commit to a quest must have the resources and circumstances to do so. People with young children or pets will find it very challenging to commit to a quest. Especially the types of quests that require peoples time in great amounts. The girl who sailed around the world, the man who walked across the country. These people can’t have commitments like a job, pets, or kids. There are other quests that one can fit into their life with some sacrifice, such as the cooking a meal from each country or taking pictures of birds. I can imagine that the time required for a quest would significantly eat into watching their kids’ soccer practice or taking them to the mall/birthday parties. It is a simple observation to me that for your activity to meet the authors definition of a quest, is not feasible to the average soccer mom or dad.

Does this mean a quest is reserved only for the rich or care-free childless or empty nest household? I would say no. You can use the inspiration of the quest to drive you forward to a quest-like mission. In the book, the author discusses how working to lose weight, get out of debt, or read more are not “quests”, they can still be pursued like a quest. Don’t give up on a noble activity because it’s not a quest. The problem with modern society is that we are flooded with news of peoples larger than life accomplishments. They seem to take away from our accomplishments. You ran 5 miles today? I ran 20. etc. I feel your accomplishments are yours to celebrate. Running 5 miles is more than running 1 mile. And if you are running 1 mile a day, up from zero, then that’s an accomplishment!

Avoid the “go big or go home” syndrome. A win is a win, take a win when you can. Don’t let your social media friend demotivate you because they ran farther, lifted more weight at the gym, or bought a nicer car. Measure your progress against yourself, not others. Also it’s possible to engage in a quest someday in the future when you have more time and resources. But do what you can today – don’t wait to live your life. There is always some kind of mini-quest you can do, today.

It’s funny because I didn’t think this book would be about quests. I read the title and thought it would be about the fact that it’s more important to be satisfied because you are doing things in life vs. trying to be “happy”. I have read elsewhere that the pursuit of happiness is really chasing after a dopamine rush. This is a fake happiness. The chemical reaction causes addiction. People start chasing the dopamine rush by doing things not beneficial in their lives like using substances, spending money, partying, etc. It is better to pursue something like a quest. Have a purpose and a mission. Doing things has rewards, and those rewards also give a dopamine rush. Except this time it’s not an empty addiction. It’s sustainable and has rewards outside just feelings.

Business/Development books usually fall into 3 categories:
Convey experiences
Provide actionable intelligence


The Happiness of Pursuit – 116 2017-10-24T00:07:44+00:00

Learn To Predict The Future – 115

I have been obsessed with predicting the behavior of other drivers on the road. Call it a hobby when I am bored driving. It’s actually a lot of fun and I have become fairly good with determining what other drivers will do next based on their current behavior and past behavior of other drivers.
These tips will help you predict the future. It’s based in science and human psychology. You won’t see a 100% increase in accuracy, but even if you can squeeze out a 10% increase over your competition you will outperform them over time. Because many small wins add up to a big win in the long run.
Factors that will decrease your accuracy in predictions:
Cognitive biasness
Lack of knowledge in the field
Using your “GUT” when you lack experience
Jumping to conclusions
Making assumptions
Thinking in absolutes (binary thinking)
Factors that improve accuracy:
Using your “GUT: when you have good experience
Deliberate practice, Masterful coaching, and 10,000 hours
Awareness of your own biases
A healthy sense of humility
Thinking in percentages of probability
Common problems:
Using past behavior to predict future performance in the stock market
Thinking something is “in the bag” like the 2016 Presidential election
Thinking you know more than you do or better than you are
Thinking I’ve seen this a thousand times so it will happen again
Confusing correlation with causation
Superstition – something happens once or twice and you associate it with the cause
Superforecasting: How to Upgrade Your Company’s Judgment
by Paul J. H. Schoemaker and Philip E. Tetlock
The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail-but Some Don’t
by Nate Silver
Superbowl Stock Market Indicator:
Learn To Predict The Future – 115 2017-10-11T03:18:09+00:00

You Are A Badass! – 114

Jen Sincero writes in her book You are a Badass about tips on how to be successful in life.
Comparing this book to Subtle art of Not Giving a F*ck, I would say that Badass has less actionable advice for the advanced personal developer. However Badass is still a great book for the beginner, and written by a woman it may have the ability to connect with other women looking to be inspired as Jen is a great role model. I also read Grant Cardone’s book The 10x Rule and found little actionable advice in it. Grant’s book seems to me to be more motivational – it reminded me of the drill sergeant that yells at the top of his lungs 1 inch from your face.
Our subconscious minds have been programmed from birth in an unfiltered way and this programming drives our daily lives including decision making and how we feel about ourselves. The author believes that we are oblivious to these subconscious beliefs and we let them run our lives. If we decide to engage our conscious mind, it must deal with all this prior programming. I particularly like this point, it’s one of the best in the book.
The author states that it’s important to be present in the moment. I totally agree.
The author spends a lot of time talking about “Source Energy” and “Frequency”, high frequency is good and low frequency is bad. I was disappointed with this part of the book. It reminds me a lot of The Secret. I don’t believe in the supernatural and I classify “Frequency” and “Energy” as a New-Age hippy dippy thing that doesn’t have any science backing it up.
What I disliked about The Secret is how you wish into the universe and the universe can hear you like some sentient being, and responds to fulfill your wishes. This to me is like a religion and is not founded in evidence-based scientific principals. However I believe that part of The Secret does have validity – If one believes strongly in something and take action towards that goal, the belief can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The person putting their idea out into the universe assumes an identity. It has been proven that assuming an identity helps to bring to fruition a goal. Also being mindful about a goal sets into motion the thought processes requires to manifest the plan into a reality. This is part of the required strategy. The other part is utilizing techniques that execute the goals and keep them consistent, (which is content for another podcast).
The author told a story of traveling to India and taking a bus ride between cities. A ride that should have taken a couple hours ended up taking 3 times longer because of diversions to religious temples and talk of weddings – apparently the author inadvertently picked the peak wedding season to travel. What I got out of this story is to be open minded and flexible/adaptable. In your journey you may encounter unexpected things, and those things may be beneficial. I appreciated the point because I am a planner and get anxiety when unexpected things happen.
The author invents a lot of her own terminology, I will try to use the common definitions I have seen other authors use.
Ego, Big Snooze, shadow self, false self – fear based, external locus of control, self-sabotaging, relies on limiting beliefs, scarcity mindset
True/Higher self, “Superhero” – proactive, internal locus of control, operates with abundance mindset, “loved-based”
The author uses “have faith” a lot. However there isn’t a lot of technique backing this claim. Maybe she means exercise GRIT and persevere through THE DIP.
The author states many times in the book to “love yourself”. At one point she lists some techniques in doing so:
Appreciate how special you are
Drown yourself in affirmations
Do things you love
Ditch self-deprecating humour
Let the love in
Don’t compare yourself to others
Forgive yourself
These things can be easier said than done. A bad relationship with a parent can set one down a path of failing to achieve many of these items. Each of these can be its own book. That’s OK, sometimes a book acts as a road sign to which book needs to be read next.
Don’t care what others think.
Just do it (like Michael Jordan)
Then there’s super valuable advice like listen to your intuition, follow your fantasies, and (again) love yourself.
Meditate, it helps.
“Your brain is your bitch” positive thinking, know the what and figure out the how later. The what vs. how thing got me thinking about Simon Sinek’s know your Why.
Our thoughts are the most powerful tools we have.
Positive karma, do good and you will get good.
Gratitude – I’ve covered this often on the podcast.
Forgive others and set yourself free. You forgive for you.
Your experience shapes your perceived reality. This sounds a lot like NLP’s the map is not the territory.
Ditch negative self doubt. Don’t procrastinate, it’s self sabotage. Stop making excuses.
Stop feeling fear.
We attract people who we think are like us, and these people are mirrors. Sounds a lot like you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.
Make the decision and commit.
Money is your friend. The author spends a lot of time talking about the guilt of becoming rich. And that you should spend money to get money. I can see this if you need to use your personal savings to buy capital needed for making a product, etc. However the author used the example of buying a very expensive Audi SUV in order to feel important, and set her mind towards being someone worthy of spending money and therefore making money. I don’t agree with this. That’s a risky way to self-motivate and I can think of many other methods that don’t put yourself into debt just when you can least afford it. Maybe the author was implying a “burning the bridges” strategy where if you incur debt then you force yourself to find a way to earn the money to pay the bills?
The author talks about Surrender vs. Resistance and how faith in the universe must be stronger than fear of not getting what you want. This is more new age anti-science in my opinion. She wants us to “allow the universe to deliver” the solution to us rather than us “trying to change the situation”. Wow. I must disagree here. I would much rather use the rip current analogy here. If you are fighting against a force you can’t overcome, swim perpendicular to the rip current. Use strategies that are like Judo, leveraging the situation in your favor. This often requires a pivot to your current strategy. But the whole time you are in control of your actions and you rely on sound scientific methods to execute a successful plan.
Finish what you start. The author encourages the reader to get in the habit of following through on commitments. If not, then it sets a bad precedence, like how most people don’t finish a course or seminar that they sign up for – like dropping out of college.
You Are A Badass! – 114 2017-09-22T01:23:50+00:00

10 Quick Storm Prep Tips – 113

Last minute pro tips:
1. 5 gallon buckets (available at Lowes and Home Depot for example) are great for use in storing water, food, or used as a latrine. A potty seat is available at camping stores that fit on top of the bucket. Lids are available that make the buckets pretty much waterproof. You can also store non-food items that are at risk of water damage.

2. A decent flashlight is a must. LED and at least 100 lumen or greater. Waterproof is a huge plus. Most high end flashlights are about 300+ Lumens and are waterproof. Avoid batteries that are AAA, C, D, 9V. AA and 18650 Lithium rechargeables work great. CR123A are ok and common for high end flashlights. The batteries are not as easily found as AA but they are available at Lowes, Home Depot, and any store carrying camping goods. CR123A rechargeables are not advised as they tend to shut off when running low, giving little to no warning when they are nearing end of charge. 18650’s do the same but I have found they last longer and give more warnings, like dimming lights or causing the flashlight to switch to a lower lumen mode.
Smallest brightest-
Olight S1R Turbo S rechargeable 900 Lumens CREE XP-L LED Flashlight
Great tactical light-
Fenix Flashlights FX-PD35TAC Flashlight, 1000 Lumen

3. Cell phones are likely to have coverage loss during disasters, but they are still recommended since they may still offer signal and a way to call for help, receive information, and entertain one while they wait for the all clear. Use waterproof pouches like Dandy Case, they are reusable and water tight. A zip loc bag works in a pinch. Squeeze out as much air as possible. Double bag for extra protection. Bring a power bank for recharging. Old cell phones that no longer have active service (working SIM) are great for emergencies. Charge them fully, shut off, and place in a waterproof bag. They work like a tablet and can be used to call 911.

4. Food. Count on the loss of power, so all refrigerated food will be lost. Obviously eat that first. Don’t count on utilities like natural gas or running water. A propane grill or camping stove is a great way to cook during power loss. Have canned goods, freeze dried food, dry goods like crackers, beans, and rice on-hand for long term. You can go 30 days without food, but you can only survive a few days without water. If you run out of stored water, a water filter is a great backup plan. Katadyne and other manufacturers offer pumps, water bottles with built in filters, and real time filtration like the Life Straw. Always have a filter as a backup to bottled water.

5. Remember survival fundamentals: avoid injury, regulate core temperature, stay dry, hydrate, and maintain food rations.

6. Self defense may become necessary. Firearms work well if the operator has training. Non-lethal options like pepper spray are a good backup. I advise against stun guns, they don’t work when they get wet and you run the risk of shocking yourself, and they must be used at close range. I also advise against bladed weapons unless you are an expert in hand to hand combat. The best solution is avoidance. De-escalate when possible. Situational awareness is 80% of the battle.

7. Transportation. Last minute evacuation or escape (from imminent threat) may be necessary. Keeping a kayak or inflatable boat is recommended if possible. Inflatable mattresses work in a pinch but are not stable and hard to navigate (i.e. you fall off when sitting on the edge – required to paddle). Cars aren’t always practical – flooded roads, traffic jams, fallen trees, eroded roads, and other obstacles are likely. A motorcycle is the best solution for long distance travel on less than favorable terrain. Bicycles are excellent as they don’t require gas but range is obviously limited. Evaluate what you have and what you are capable of using. I.e. small children rule out some options.

8. Communication and plan. Have a plan and communicate it with friends and family. One of the biggest problems with war and natural disasters is the lack of communications. Communication is essential to avoid unnecessary casualties. i.e. relative goes looking for you when you are safe, and is injured or killed unnecessarily. Evacuation plan. Meetup points/times. Don’t count on the cell phone. 2-way radios when close enough. Have a paper map or waterproof GPS device for navigation.

9. Tools. Have a knife on you at all times. Fixed blades are most useful for survival but quality folders work well and are more practical in certain situations. Multi-tools work well for various purposes but are poor knives (clumsy). In emergencies a tool may be required to fix or build something that can provide transportation, shelter, etc. It’s hard to tell what will be needed ahead of time. Large tool sets work well when bugging in. Go lightweight when bugging out. There are some most frequently used tools that can be carried – Leatherman with bit set. Fire starter is handy but I recommend the small Bic lighters. Get a handful for a buck each and they last a long time. Carry several.
Benchmade – Griptilian 551 Knife, Drop-Point, plain edge with satin finish
Swiss army knife
Leatherman – Wave Multitool, Stainless Steel
Leatherman 931014 Black 21 Piece Bit Kit
Fixed blade knife with kydex sheath – Boker Magnum Urban King Knife Fixed Blade

10. Secure property. Put up shutters, tie down things, bring stuff inside.

bug in vs. bug out
Bug out bag
Rules of survival
avoid injury
regulate core temp
clean water
stay dry
powerbank for cell
dry bag
case for phone
spare shoes
water filter
power failure
empty fridge


10 Quick Storm Prep Tips – 113 2017-09-06T03:28:51+00:00

Optimize Reading Retention – 112

Skim the material beforehand

If you are familiar with the subject, or have prior knowledge that can be associated with the new knowledge, the new material will be retained more effectively.

immerse yourself in the material. Don’t read with the TV on. Read with deliberate practice.

Take notes

repeat the material to remember better

teach it to others, or prepare to teach it

Those in multi-sensory environments always do better than those in uni-sensory environments. They have more recall with better resolution that lasts longer.

I find that auditory lends itself better to storytelling and less so to lists. Visual is the master for techniques with details or diagrams with much detail or interrelation. Pictures are better than words alone, and videos are better than pictures. Example of a list style book is The Millionaire Next Door. Storytelling book example are any by Malcolm Gladwell.

When I teach salsa, the students that do best are those who show up every week. Those who practice outside class are much better than those who only dance in class.

Optimize Reading Retention – 112 2017-08-29T03:39:54+00:00

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck – 111

The title of the book sounds like the author, Mark Manson, will teach you not to care. In fact the book is all about learning how to care in the right way. The author wants you to care about things that serve you, that are truly important in life. we sweat the small stuff and that drains us from giving proper energy to the best stuff. Like Gary Keller’s The One Thing, care about what is most important to you, and care less (or not at all) about everything else.

The more you pursue something the more it reminds you of the fact that you don’t have what you pursue. Pursuing positive things is a negative experience and pursuing pain and suffering is a positive experience.

Happiness is in the solving of problems. We will always have problems.

Emotions are signals to take action. Negative emotions are a call to action while positive ones are a reward for success.

the author talked about how in Russia they are candid and tell it like it is

Take responsibility for your circumstance, regardless if it was your initial fault or not.

I recommend of Viktor Frankl. He says you make meaning of what happens to you. The author has similar sentiments.

We can’t always control what happens to us, but we can control how we interpret and respond.

The happiness of pursuit (book recommendation).

We are always chasing the next high. Don’t do things that make you feel good, do things that give you purpose. It’s good if some things make you feel good – but you won’t always feel that way (sometimes working out sucks) so using ‘feeling good” as a barometer of whether or not to do something is a very bad idea. It is better to Commit to activities that are fulfilling, better to be satisfied than happy.

Back in the day we were in competition for survival, today we are in competition for “status”. Status is an illusion. Modern “success” seems to be measured in your house/car/girlfriend/FB status.

Author discusses diminishing returns and after a certain amount of money you really don’t get happier.

Focus on the process, not the end result. Pursuing a process is a rewarding experience.
People need adversity in their lives. It’s true that rough seas make the best sailors.
When we try to eliminate hardship, we shortcut the process. We learn from mistakes. Working towards a goal makes it more enjoyable once the goal is achieved. I equate good vs. bad experiences like tasting sweets vs. salty. If you have all of one and not enough of the other, you get numb to the overall experience. Don’t try to be “a happy person” all the time. Be realistic.

Practice gratitude when possible.
People who try to be happy all the time are delusional.
“You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.” -Albert Camus

Push through the adversity and pain by not giving a F about the bad.

We are all going to die someday. Once you release your fear of death, you increase your ability to live, uninhibited. The author spent a lot of time on the death concept.

The human mind has a tendency to invent problems when you don’t have any in order to fill the void.

Suffering is inevitable. What you resist persists. Push through it.

Being concerned with what others think doesn’t serve you. The author feels it’s due to what values you hold. This makes sense and I will add that you should not have an external locus of control. You need to refocus to having an internal locus of control, so that your feelings and the decisions you make are based on your core values.

Rather than focus on the way you think things should be, its better to focus on what is. Got dealt a raw deal? Accept the situation, stop feeling sorry for yourself, and move on. Take action and fix it. Own it.

The author talks about how unreliable memory is. False memory of molestation.

One of the most insidious foes we face is entitlement. When we feel entitled to a reward, we seem to stop working towards it. Also when we suffer a setback we spend more time resenting the setback than working to make up lost ground. Whether you had it and lost it, or never had it to begin with, we must own our current circumstance and work towards where we want to be.

Fight Club-ish quote: We work at jobs we hate to buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t like.

The majority of people cannot be above average. People tend to feel they are a special. You are not. You may not be special to (many) others, but you are special to you. So be kind to yourself. You are not a special snowflake in the sense that your problems are not unique. This may be depressing at first, but it becomes comforting when you think more about it. Common problems have been solved many times before – and you can solve all your problems more easily than you think. And since the problems are so common, you are likely to find solutions and how-to’s out there that will make your challenge easier to overcome. If someone else has done it, so can you.

Picasso napkin – lesson learned, don’t ask for the napkin. Fish it out of the trash instead.

We get better slowly over time. Don’t expect instant success.

The more you progress, the better and/or harder your problems get.

Something I got out of this book, be it directly from the author or indirectly is this: Often we hide from challenge because we are afraid of failure, or we are avoiding pain of some type (the more you ask for, the more you get in severity or quantity). Don’t retreat from the challenge. If anything charge at it. Let yourself throttle the pain/load. For example, in the workplace – ask for difficult or high volume work if you feel you can handle it. Also don’t be afraid to tell work that you need time off. Defend your borders. Don’t become a workaholic. One of the lessons in the book is to not to live for work. The F’s you give need to be things like “family first” and “when you die what will be your regrets?”. Once your boundaries are set, feel free to go all in on your work. This distinction is important and nuanced. It’s a challenging balance to become the go-to pro at work and also put your personal time first. Avoid the American pitfall of thinking the 80 hr workweek is heroic. It’s not. It’s suicide. Granted times will arise where you must push hard to get a goal. Make sure it’s a goal you really want. Use these 80 hr weeks prudently as they come at a cost.

As technology progresses, so will your exposure to more/differing ideas. Be prepared for this.

The same way everyone reports only the best and most exciting things in their social media, the news sensationalizes everything – because of revenue. If it bleeds it leads. You will be bombarded with how awesome everyone else is. You will feel that you really suck. Don’t fall for this. There is NO overnight sensation or BORN talent. Everyone must work very hard for many years in order to get good at something. Just like how people post pictures of their European vacation but never the mundane daily commute to work and all the bills they pay.

The author states the more uncomfortable an answer is the more likely it is to be true. I would modify that statement to read the more uncomfortable an answer is for you to hear, the more important it is for you to receive it. The theme here is take criticism of all forms and make it constructive by taking action.

People who base their self-worth on being right all the time prevent themselves from improvement and learning from their mistakes. You must empty your cup before your teacher can fill it. Ryan Holiday in Ego is the Enemy stated that ego prevents us from advancing – how can you improve if you think you are perfect already?

People want to always be happy and successful. This is not the key, we are better off accomplishing things and persevering through adversity. The feeling at the end of that is more sustainable and healthier for people. Chasing the next high is like eating cookies.

Your identity is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Be inspired to do something. Then derive inspiration from the accomplishment which fuels the next endeavor. This is an upward spiral.

How does one be a prolific writer? “200 crappy words per day”

The author talks about going deep, plant roots. There is joy in focusing from breadth to depth.

The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker

Life isn’t just one big problem to solve. If we avoid problems we won’t be happy. We have to learn to enjoy solving problem. And we need to be careful which problems we choose to solve. It’s ok not to finish #1 in every contest you enter. You can’t be the best at everything. However if you focus and work hard you can be the best at something, or at least really good at it.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck – 111 2017-08-17T03:20:30+00:00

What If There Was No Tomorrow? – 110

More apologies for lateness, I’ve been sick lately. Also I’ve been working on my other podcasts: The Confirmation Bias podcast and Every Day Prepper
New car fiasco – I bought a new Honda Accord V6 Touring just to find that it makes some whining/ringing noise at highway speeds. The dealer heard the noise but could not fix it, so I was stuck with a car I hated (because of the noise).  Even though I couldn’t return it, I was able to exchange it for a Honda Accord Hybrid. I’m digging the tech in the hybrid and it has power. You couldn’t tell it was a hybrid driving the car. Lesson learned is try new things, and test things in all possible conditions.

Carpe Diem

“You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think.”
Marcus Aurelius
Atheists have no “afterlife” to rely on so do they live this life to the fullest. And Religious people who believe in an afterlife are calmed with the belief that they won’t die (forever), just move on to the next adventure. And they will see loved ones in the next life. So there are advantages to both philosophies.
What If There Was No Tomorrow? – 110 2017-07-21T01:15:50+00:00

The Secret To Success – 109

Originally it was thought that the predictor of a person being successful was IQ. Traditional intelligence is a critical factor to being successful, however there are some attributes to intelligence that can lead to ones downfall. One is ego. Ego is the enemy. Also Tetlock in Superforecasting determined that the most intelligent forecasters were not necessarily the most accurate. IQ is definitely a contributing factor but by itself insufficient to success.

Next EQ, emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others. It is generally said to include three skills: emotional awareness; the ability to harness emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problem solving; and the ability to manage emotions, which includes regulating your own emotions and cheering up or calming down other people.

EQ was thought to be the secret to success, a critical requirement for leadership. Imagine how helpful it is for leaders in general and successful people specifically to achieve success through the help of others. The best way to elicit others help and motivate them is via EQ. While EQ is definitely a strength that facilitates success, it alone is also insufficient.

Multiple Intelligences

Hard work was also considered the key to success. It is true that hard work is a requirement. Consider it the gas in your tank. Nothing gets accomplished by just thinking about it. Action must be taken. A journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step, and many thousands of steps after the first one are required to complete the journey. The world is full of smart, hard working people who have failed to achieve their success.
Grit as a secret formula to success.
Courage and resolve; strength of character – Google dictionary.
Angela Duckworth defined grit as perseverance and passion for long-term goals. Achievement of difficult goals entails not only talent but also the sustained and focused application of talent over time.
Grit is that force which helps one persevere through adversity, it gets one back on the horse after falling off. It is true that grit is essential to success. There are many failures in the path to success. Silicon valley has a famous quote of Fail Fast and Fail Often. While grit is essential to success it is also insufficient by itself.
The Dunedin study made clear that the single greatest indicator of future success for study participants was self control (aka Will Power). Grit can be considered another word for self control. A word of caution about self control: This is an exhaustible and renewable resource that has significant limitations. If it were so easy, we could will ourselves to become what we wish we were. The reality is that you revert to what you are. By that I mean we have a homeostasis where our thoughts and feelings invariably guide us to. Will power can force a temporary deviation but we always revert back to the mean (our mean – homeostasis). Example – the typical diet, new years resolution, or exercise program. The vast majority of people revert back to their “usual ways”. Habit modification can bring about permanent change, this is a slow and tricky process, but one that is effective.
Creativity is considered the key in many circles. There are many books and podcasts with the word “creative” in it. Although creativity is an amazingly impactful component to solving problems and generating content, it alone is also not the single key to success. Applying creativity is challenging because even incredibly talented people can die broke. A good example of this are all the world class artists who only became successful after their deaths. The world needed time to learn to appreciate their great works. I discussed this in Super Smart Guy Podcast episode 106, Hit Makers.
The concept of a growth mindset also caught on as a key to success. How can someone become better if they have a fixed mindset? Fixed mindset is the idea that we must be born with a talent in order to become great at something. The growth mindset is the philosophy that anyone can achieve any goal if they set their mind to it. I wholeheartedly agree that the growth mindset is essential to success. However, that alone is also insufficient for success.
10,000 hours became popular with Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers. K. Anders Ericsson pioneered research in the field of excellence that 10K hours along with deliberate practice and masterful coaching were required to become great at something – such as playing a musical instrument or practicing a sport. Actually this philosophy can be applied to pretty much anything that one can learn to do or be. Think cerebral and physical (doctor, engineer, musician, athlete). Again I feel this is essential to success but insufficient by itself. For example there are many very talented and creative artists and musicians in the world who will die poor because their talents are not recognized in their lifetime.
I have researched a lot of people’s success and what is present in every story is some element of luck. I challenge any successful person to look you in the eye and honestly say that luck had absolutely nothing to do with their success. The problem is if you sit at home hoping luck will make you successful, without your exerting effort then you miss the point. Luck is a necessary ingredient but definitely insufficient for success. How can one win the lottery if they don’t buy the ticket? I had outright arguments with coaches and other idealistic people who think luck has nothing to do with it, and that it’s all about hard work and determination. I know of many hard working and determined people who haven’t achieved success.

Some people think Darwin is quoted as saying “It Is Not the Strongest of the Species that Survives But the Most Adaptable.” There is a theory that it was someone else discussing Darwin who said it. Either way everyone can agree that evolution and adaptation is essential of the success of a species. Life is the best test of success. Who survives? Everything stems from evolution. Biological evolution has been studied for many decades and is well understood now, but how does adaptability apply to success in the modern world? We have so many technological advantages today that almost everyone can survive, and even thrive. The strongest by far are not the advantaged anymore. Evolution applied to a product means that the company who manufactures it is constantly improving it based on its’ success and customer feedback. Evolution applied to personal development is constant improvement. Go with what works, and drop or fix what doesn’t. Adaptability is a powerful skill to improve oneself and be successful. But alone it is not the sole key to success.

Gratitude helps one cope with the stress of life. They say one can’t feel gratitude and be depressed or sad. Feeling gratitude eliminates the negative feelings that produce stress hormones. Also negative thinking wires the brain for failure.

To summarize, we looked at several factors that are required but by themselves insufficient to bring about success:
Emotional Intelligence
Hard Work
Self Control/Will Power
Growth Mindset
10K Hours
It is likely that some combination of these characteristics are necessary for success. Like making a master recipe, a combination of ingredients in just the right portions and added at just the right time are required for success. And there is one more factor I want to add that is often overlooked: Drive.
If you are to ask me what is the single most important factor to success, I will tell you that it is drive. Because with drive you are able to achieve all the other factors in order to become successful. It can be argued that there is no guarantee luck will favor you in your pursuits. This is true, however for as long as you are driven to try, you will get another chance at luck.
The Secret To Success – 109 2017-06-21T01:57:06+00:00

The Signal and the Noise – 108

The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail – But Some Don’t by Nate Silver

Nate silver writes on his blog about sports and political forecasting.

Most economists try to predict too accurately and are too confident about their skills.
Every prediction always needs the proper assessment of a human being.
You can use Bayes’ theorem to account for errors in your own predictions.

describes the probability of an event, based on prior knowledge of conditions that might be related to the event. For example, if cancer is related to age, then, using Bayes’ theorem, a person’s age can be used to more accurately assess the probability that they have cancer, compared to the assessment of the probability of cancer made without knowledge of the person’s age.

We are not very good at predicting the future.
Biases decrease accuracy of forecasting. Sometimes the bias is from special interests.
Having a pre-existing narrative or political partisanship bias negatively impacts forecasting accuracy.
The author discussed several examples such as predicting the stock market, poker, weather, earthquakes and other natural phenomenon, and terrorist/economic/political events.
I feel the perfect back-to-back reading is to read with this book –
Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction by Philip E. Tetlock, Dan Gardner
Also relevant is the book –
Ego Is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday
Like the author, Ryan Holiday mentions how the ego can  be ones downfall.
The signal is a metaphor for the correct data.
The noise is a metaphor for inaccurate data and other irrelevant information that misleads and causes predictions to fail.
Prediction is saying that a specific thing (usually with a level of severity) will happen at a specific time.
Forecasting is saying that an event has a statistical likelihood of occurrence within an approximate time frame.
Use common sense and human judgement in forecasting as well as math and statistics. Example is baseball scouts and statistical analysis of players performance.
Reference: Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis
With the advent of the Internet and big data, the shear volume of data has increased exponentially. This makes it harder to separate the signal from the noise. The internet contains more data now but there’s no guarantee it is correct data.
People are by nature pattern seeking creatures. Often times we see patterns where there are none.
Causation vs. correlation
Occam’s razor – Among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected, or, all things being equal, the simplest solution tends to be the correct one.
False positives are as dangerous if not more so than false negatives. For example, the odds of a test being wrong can be greater than the odds of having the condition to begin with. Example, getting cancer may be 1% while a false positive for having cancer may be 10%. This was actually seen with breast and prostate cancer.
The boy crying wolf syndrome where forecasting is ignored then something bad happens.
“The fox knows many little things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing”.
To predict the behavior of a system requires a thorough understanding of it. Weather, stock market, political predictions, earthquakes. These complex systems have so many moving parts, makes it nearly impossible to predict with perfection. The farther out in time one tries to predict, the less accurate the prediction becomes (and quickly).
Weather programs on TV predict on the “wetter” side because if they are wrong and you get wet, people are pissed while if they predict rain and you get sun the people are pleasantly surprised. There is bias in predictions, even weather.
earthquakes and terrorist attacks follow a power law distribution – smaller events occur more frequently and significant events occur infrequently.
Stock market example – if there is a pattern that can be identified by people, they will take advantage of it and effectively work it out of the system (make it disappear). I held this theory for a while then heard the author describe something similar. The market is driven to total chaos and unpredictability because of this – noise injected into the system by human behavior.
How bubbles work – people stay in the market too long and don’t know when it will pop. You know when you are in a bubble because you can’t believe prices keep rising. But FOMO keeps you in the market and it becomes a game of chicken.
Predictions can be self-fulfilling (elections) or self-canceling (flu)
Overfitting (too much noise) vs. underfitting (not enough data) data.
There is always some uncertainty in models and forecasting
model accuracy depends on our understanding of how the specific situation works, complexity of the situation, and time
timing the stock market is rarely profitable due to following wrong trends and being charged fees. Investing long term is more profitable, i.e. buy and hold or using index funds. Use low fee index funds that track the market (i.e. S&P). Tony Robbins in Money, Master the Game agrees with this philosophy.
80/20 rule, one can get good at something quickly. law of diminishing returns.
In some predictions one is competing with the model, in others they are also competing with other forecasters. (poker example)
If one is competing against other humans, heuristics and strategies used can be used against them. Not applicable to non-human models such as weather and earthquakes.
Inside view – considering all the factors related to one particular model and forecast
Outside view – considering factors related to several instances grouped by similarity
Past performance is not a predictor of future events. (stock market and investing)
In seismology, the Gutenberg–Richter law (GR law) expresses the relationship between the magnitude and total number of earthquakes in any given region and time period of at least that magnitude.
No other forecasting has been able to reliably beat the accuracy of the GR law because more complicated models overfit data. Simplest is usually best. Same for simple mode of baseball player vs. age compared to more complex models.
Weather forecasters have access to a vast amounts of data, and weather happens constantly which provides them rapid feedback loops that allow them to repeatedly test their hypotheses. Same for baseball.
The combined use of modeling the system and human judgment does notably better than modeling alone (for weather and baseball).

The more famous a political pundit/expert is the more likely they are to be incorrect on average.

Averaging across individual experts’ forecasts provides better forecasts than the average for any one individual, the difference being about 15-20%

Spaghetti model for hurricane tracking.

Some experts are better than others. Experts who do better tend to be multidisciplinary, pursue multiple approaches to forecasting at the same time, be willing to change their minds, offer probabilistic predictions, and rely more on observation than on theory.

The Signal and the Noise – 108 2017-06-02T03:06:10+00:00