A Technique for Producing Ideas by James Webb Young

Categories ideasPosted on

An idea occurs when you develop a new combination of old elements. The capacity to bring old elements into new combinations depends largely on your ability to see relationships. All ideas follow a five-step process of 1) gathering material, 2) intensely working over the material in your mind, 3) stepping away from the problem, 4) allowing the idea to come back to you naturally, and 5) testing your idea in the real world and adjusting it based on feedback.

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A Short Guide to a Happy Life by Anna Quindlen

Categories HappinessPosted on

The only thing you have that nobody else has is control of your life. The hardest thing of all is to learn to love the journey, not the destination. Get a real life rather than frantically chasing the next level of success.

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The 10X Rule by Grant Cardone

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The 10X Rule says that 1) you should set targets for yourself that are 10X greater than what you believe you can achieve and 2) you should take actions that are 10X greater than what you believe are necessary to achieve your goals. The biggest mistake most people make in life is not setting goals high enough. Taking massive action is the only way to fulfill your true potential.

The 10X Rule breaks down the anatomy of extraordinary success by first pointing out what’s wrong with shooting for average, why you should for ten times more when tackling your goals and how to back up your new, bold targets with the right actions.

One thing I’ve learned from thousands of marketing articles and videos over the years is to never judge people in those professions by their cover. I was raised, like most people, to be skeptical of all sales people, but that makes it harder to see the often good person behind the shiny exterior.

Grant Cardone is definitely one of the guys I would have instantly put into a box five years ago, but not today. I took the time to watch a few interviews with him and he’s quite smart, humble and actually a bit nerdy. In Your Move by Ramit Sethi, I learned to ask myself how much impact potential projects can really have.

Why bother with growing your revenue 20% when you can try to double it? The 10X Rule sounded like a similar idea, so I thought I’d check it out. Here are the 3 things I learned:

  • The problem with average is that it may not last very long.
  • The 10X Rule has two parts: outstanding effort and audaciousgoals.
  • Most people know only three degrees of taking action, butthere is a fourth one and it’s the best.

Imagine you 10x-ed everything in your life right this second. What would that feel like? Let’s see how we can turn this vision into reality!

Lesson 1: All average everything is the world we live in, but it often doesn’t last.

One of Grant’s favorite quotes is that “average is, by definition, less than extraordinary.” A line rappers use to hint at the lavish luxury of their cars or clothes is “all black everything.” Our world is closer to “all average everything,” where most people live average lives in average houses with average careers and average goals.

The problem isn’t so much the state of average itself – not everyone can be a millionaire – but the fact that average is sold to us as a safe bet to make. It’s not. When you aspire to be part of a middle class that has been dwindling for years, you’re only thinking about today and tomorrow, but not long-term.

A nasty side effect of only lurking around average is that you can fall below average very quickly. All it takes is one busted loan, one property damaged, one financial crisis and you’ll go straight to poverty.

The 10x Rule will help you make sure this never happens.

Lesson 2: There are two parts to The 10x Rule: extra effort and bigger goals.

To prevent your brain from even thinking in “average mode,” you can use Grant’s 10X Rule, which has two simple aspects to it:

Whatever goal you’re trying to achieve will probably take 10X the effort you suspect, so you should account for it.

Wherever you set the bar for your goal, if you shoot for 10X the results, you’ll end up in a much better place.

The first part is just smart. If you expect you need 10 phone calls to make a sale, schedule 100. Think you’ll shoot five takes for your video? Plan 50. And so on. This buffer achieves multiple things. It lowers your expectations, increases your patience and re-calibrates your work ethic, right from the start.

The second part is about shooting for the moon and then landing among the stars, even if you miss. Like the question I found in Your Move, going for 10x the results you originally wanted instantly rules out average thinking. You can’t possibly make $10,000 with the exact same approach as making $100,000.

Kicking your creativity into high gear helps you accomplish more than you think you’d be capable of, even if you fail. That’s still better than getting the average result you set out for. Now all you have to do is take action!

Lesson 3: A degree of action most people don’t see is massive action and it’s the one that’ll get you to your goals.

Another thing Grant sees that most people don’t is an extra degree of action. Here are the three everyone knows, we all spend most of our time in one of them:

No action. You do nothing. Your book lies unfinished in the drawer, the website redesign remains un-tackled.

Retreat. Whatever action you took before has lead to failure so right now, you’re dialing back and laying low.

Normal action. You just go about your day and comply with requests and to dos as they’re served.

The last mode is the one we spend the most time in and it’s also the most dangerous because it has us running right towards average. Here’s the fourth degree of action Grant thinks is best: massive action.

It’s when you go all out to convince Home Depot to stock your sprinkler. When you re-record all the videos for your course in one day, because the files were unusable. This kind of action should be your default mode and we all know people who live that way: children.

Kids don’t budget their time or weigh their effort. They just set a goal and then they work on it until it’s done. Who’d have thought one of the most successful sales guys in the world gets his inspiration from the little ones?

Well, so can you and maybe that’s the true secret behind The 10X Rule.

My personal take-aways

Rarely has the phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover” felt more appropriate. Grant’s a good guy. Give him a chance and hopefully, you’ll learn to think in bigger dimensions too. If there’s only one takeaway from this summary, I think it’s that.

10% Happier by Dan Harris: Summary

Categories Mindfulness & HappinessPosted on

#Graphic| #3 Lessons | Notes | Audiobook | Hard Copy | Softcopy

10% Happier gives skeptics an easy “in” to meditation, by taking a very non-fluffy approach to the science behind this mindfulness practice and showing you how and why letting go of your ego is important for living a stress-free life.

In 3 Sentences: Practicing meditation and mindfulness will make you at least 10 percent happier. Being mindful doesn’t change the problems in your life, but mindfulness does help you respond to your problems rather than react to them. Mindfulness helps you realize that striving for success is fine as long as you accept that the outcome is outside your control.

Favorite quote from the author: 
“When you have one foot in the future and the other in the past, you piss on the present.” 
― Dan Harris, 10% Happier

Life as a ABC News correspondent must feel pretty good right? The pay is great, millions of people know your face and name, and you get to tell everyone what’s important. But for some, the pressure can become too much – and they crack.

This happened to Dan Harris 12 years ago and his voice broke in a live, on-air panic attack on national television. Convinced that it was time to do some digging into his self and life, he started a long journey into the science of stress and eventually, mindfulness. Originally a skeptic himself, Dan eventually learned to tame his ego with the power of meditation, and shared his lessons in this 2014 bestseller.

Here are 3 lessons to show you why your ego causes problems, that letting it go won’t make you lose your touch and how meditation helps with this process:

The problem with your ego is that it’s never satisfied.
Be simple, not a simpleton – why letting go of your ego won’t make you a pushover.
Meditation increases your mindfulness and compassion by giving you a fourth habitual response.
Ready to crank up your happiness by at least 10%? Let’s go!

Lesson 1: Your ego gets in the way of your happiness by constantly wanting more.
The friction between acting in the present, but constantly thinking about the future and past is what causes your ego to be impossible to satisfy. This issue is also addressed in The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle in a very similar manner.

Dan Harris says your ego constantly assesses your worth by looking at your own wealth, looks and social status, and then finding the next best person with more of it to compare it against. Therefore, your ego’s default setting is more. The minute you feed your ego a new achievement, toy or compliment, the baseline for desire is reset and it starts looking for the next thing.

It thrives on drama and worry, and will instantly look for the next bigger achievement to compare yourself to, and if none is there, dig up some ancient problem or crisis and pester you with it. That’s why the ego is never happy, and it’s up to you to take charge of that, because no matter which new heights you reach, it’ll never be enough.

Time to reign it in!

Lesson 2: Be simple, not a simpleton – why letting go of your ego won’t make you a pushover.
Now you might say: “If my ego is my drive to achieve greater things, won’t I lose my edge if I completely let go of it?”

Nope! That doesn’t have to be the case at all. To the contrary. Often people overdo it with the Buddhist attitude of letting go and in some cases even end up not letting themselves orgasm during sex or letting other people order for them at restaurants in order not to express personal preference.

That’s just stupid. As Indian meditation teacher Munindra taught his students to keep things simple and easy, one of them approached him when he was fiercely negotiating the price of a bag of peanuts at the local market about how this matched his earlier lesson. Munindra replied: “I said be simple, not a simpleton!”

Mindfulness just makes you more creative and productive, not a pushover. It removes the need for competition and fuels your drive by removing wrong assumptions and bad thoughts, so instead of the usual stress you’ll approach things more clearly, because you’re not giving in to aggressive temptations.

Dan found himself filling pages upon pages with notes during a meditation retreat, because his mind was less cluttered and chaotic, and his creativity flowed freely.

Lesson 3: Meditation makes you more mindful and compassionate by giving you a fourth habitual response.
So what is it that meditation can help us do to tame the ego and fuel our drive?

It makes us more mindful and helps us live in the moment, as well as act more compassionately towards others. Meditation achieves this by giving you a fourth habitual response. According to ancient Buddhist wisdom, we usually exhibit three characteristic habitual responses to all of our experiences:

We want it. Ever passed by a hamburger place when you were hungry? Yeah. That.
We reject it. Did a spider ever land on your hand? You probably instantly threw it off.
We zone out. I bet you always listen to the flight attendant’s safety instructions all the way to the end too. Yeah, right.
But once you start meditating, you’ll be able to choose a fourth alternative: Observing, without judging.

It usually starts with physical pain, and you notice when your legs are sore or your nose itches, but you can resist the urge to scratch it and just let it be. But after a while, this transfers to your emotions and thoughts as well. You’ll catch yourself while gossiping, acting out on a bad habit, or when you’re thinking negative thoughts – and can just observe your feelings until they pass by, without reacting to them.

It’s this little pause between thinking and acting that makes you realize often no action is necessary and thus helps you make better choices altogether.

My personal take-aways
I’m skeptic about meditation. If you are too, this book is perfect for you. It does away with all the mumbo-jumbo flower power hippie stuff and takes a purely scientific, down-to-earth approach to mindfulness.

I like that this book spends more time on convincing you to give it a try, than it does on explaining the process, because it’s really simple: sit and focus on your breath. If your thoughts wander off, bring them back. That’s all there is to it. 10% Happier explains that and then focuses on the benefits, which are much more important for beginners than nailing the technique.

It takes a lot of guts to write a book about one of your most embarrassing moments in life – Dan’s boldness sure paid off!

Who would I recommend the 10% Happier summary to?
The 15 year old, who often gets angry at her classmates, the 32 year old with a demanding and stressful career in a competitive environment, like journalism, and anyone who thinks meditation is hocus-pocus.

Long notes

“My preconceptions about meditation were misconceptions.”

“In my experience, meditation makes you 10% happier.”

Some of the traits we think are fixed like a quick temper or moody-ness or compassion are learned skills, not fixed characteristics.

Many people assume they must be paranoid and worry if they want to stay at the top of their game.

People care a lot about the bio on an author’s page.

“The best parts of Eckhart Tolle were a form of Buddhism.”

Most improvements in life make very little difference and that’s fine. We spend so much time searching for transformational change in one easy step, but can we all just admit that were looking for the easy way out here? Just because you can’t change everything at once doesn’t mean you can’t get better. In many cases, most cases in fact, you are only going to see a very small increase from each action. One workout builds a very small amount of muscle. That is what is to be expected. You’re not doing it wrong if you get very tiny results. Most strategies deliver tiny results and require consistent over a long period of time. In the book, Harris makes a comment about therapy only working a little bit: “The limit isn’t your therapist. The limit is therapy itself.” It makes a small difference, but it still makes a difference. The key is to embrace these daily marginal gains rather than dismissing them because they are small.

Meditation is like doing focused reps for your mind. Focus on the breath, lose your focus, bring it back to the breath, repeat. This is the whole game. Keep bringing your mind back to the breath.

How to meditate: sit somewhere comfortable, keep a straight spine, focus on a spot, and bring your focus back to your breath whenever you lose it.

Meditation helps you shut down your monkey mind for a moment.

We have 3 habitual responses to everything we experience: 1) We want it. 2) We reject it. 3) We zone out. Mindfulness is a fourth response. Viewing what happens in the world without an emotional response about it.

“Mindfulness represents an alternative to living reactively.”

Interesting self-sabotage insight: many people worry that if they meditate they will lose their edge and no longer be competitive or driven.

“When you squelch something you give it power. Ignorance is not bliss.” You should not run from your problems and pain. You should acknowledge them.

The R.A.I.N. Technique for meditation: Recognize. Allow. Investigate. Non-identification. 1) Recognize: Acknowledge your feelings. 2) Allow: Where you lean into the pain. Let the pain be. 3) Investigate: Check out how the situation is impacting your body. Is my face hot? Is my back tight? Etc. 4) Non-identification: Realize that just because you feel pain or frustration or guilt or anger right now does not mean you are an angry or broken person. It is simply a phase happening at this moment, not your identity as a person.

Mindfulness seems to be about awareness of the self. You recognize and acknowledge the things going on around you and the emotions you are feeling. Rather than let the emotion drive everything, you step outside of it and see it from afar.

Being mindful doesn’t change the problems in your life. You still need to take action, but the key is that mindfulness allows you to respond rather than react to the problems in your life.

Hedonic adaptation: the observed tendency of humans to quickly return to a relatively stable level of happiness despite major positive or negative events or life changes.

A simple question to ask yourself when you’re worrying: “Is this useful?”

“I do meditation because it makes me 10 percent happier.”

“Everything we experience in this world goes through one filter — our minds — and we spend very little time bothering to see how it works.”

Meditation will make you more resilient, but it is not a “cure all” that fixes your problems or relieves all stress in your life.

One Harvard study shows that gray matter grows in meditators. This is known as neuroplasticity.

Scientists have developed a term for the consequence of all our multitasking: continuous partial attention.

The Dalai Lama has a theory on selfishness: We should strive to be wise selfish rather than foolish selfish. Foolish selfish is when you focus on self-centered and shallow activities. Wise selfish is when you show compassion and help others because it benefits you and makes you feel good. Compassion is in our own self-interest.

Make eye contact and smile at people. This simple habit that will make you feel more connected and much better each day.

When police officers or first responders are interviewed about how and why they acted in a particular way during an emergency they often say, “My training kicked in.” I like this idea of training yourself to be mindful, aware, compassionate, and so on. These are traits that can be trained and then will automatically reveal themselves when needed (assuming you’ve practiced enough).

Don’t confuse letting go with going soft. Just because you’re aware of what is going on and being mindful about it does not mean you just let things go when you have the ability to take action on them and improve. The way to respond to adversity is often to work through it, not to avoid it altogether in the name of acting Zen.

Striving for success is fine as long as you realize that the outcome is not under your control. Be as ambitious as possible, but let go of the result. This makes it easier for you to be resilient and bounce back if the result is poor.

Buddhism is “advanced common sense.” It requires you to analyze simple fundamentals until a deeper understanding is achieved.

10 Buddhist Principles for the Modern Worker: 1) Don’t be a jerk. 2) When necessary, hide the Zen. 3) Meditate. 4) The price of security is insecurity, until it’s not useful. 5) Equanimity is not the enemy of creativity. 6) Don’t force it. 7) Humility prevents humiliation. 8) Go easy with the internal cattle prod. 9) Non-attachment to results. 10) Ask, “What matters most?”

“Meditation is the super power that makes all the other precepts possible.”

Reading Suggestions

This is a list of authors, books, and concepts mentioned in 10% Happier, which might be useful for future reading.

Books by Dr. Mark Epstein

Books by Eckhart Tolle

12 Rules For Life Summary

Categories BusinessPosted on

12 Rules For Life is a stern, story-based, entertaining self-help manual for young people, that lays out a set of simple principles, which can help us become more disciplined, behave better, act with integrity, and balance our lives while enjoying them as much as we can.

Four words every writer is dying to hear at least once in life: “One million copies sold.” But you wouldn’t expect to hear them four months after the publication of your second book. Then again, Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules For Life isn’t just a book. As for his first one, Peterson spent years collecting and refining the ideas that would create a sort of blueprint for a good life. This time, however, the book didn’t flop and sell less than 500 copies.

Since its publication in January and Peterson’s accompanying world tour, 12 Rules For Life completely exploded, dominating bestseller lists around the globe. Suddenly, millions view, listen to, and follow Peterson on social media, he’s racked up over $60,000 in monthly donations through Patreon, and, of course, one million copies sold.

Whether he’s just struck the right nerve at the right time or put his finger on true significance and meaning, only time will tell, but with thousands of people messaging him how the book’s changed their lives, chances are good it’s the latter. Let’s look at 3 of his 12 rules to begin to find out:

Sweep in front of your own door before pointing out the street is dirty.
Treat yourself like a child you’re responsible for.
Aim to do what is meaningful, not convenient.
These form the premise Peterson’s book is built on and thus, the context for understanding why it’s been such a success. Let’s go!

Lesson 1: Before you judge the world, take responsibility for your own life.
Life isn’t fair. We all learn that one way or other. Some of us sooner, some later, some in small ways, some from terrifying blows. But we all realize it eventually. Like the Russian writer Leo Tolstoy, who, in his short, philosophical piece, A Confession, concluded there are only four reasonable responses to the absurdity of life:

Ignorance, like a child refusing to accept reality.
Pleasure, like an addict on the hedonic treadmill.
Holding on, despite everything.
Even though he concluded suicide was the most honest answer, Tolstoy himself chose the last option, forever struggling on, which tells you a lot about his and Peterson’s beliefs about a good life: No matter how unfair life gets, you should never blame the world. There’s always someone who’s suffered worse than you. Like Viktor Frankl, for example.

Besides, even though the future may sometimes look bleak, if you can focus on taking responsibility and keeping your own house clean, so to speak, you’ll find the bad times will pass.

Lesson 2: Care for yourself like you would for a loved one.
Have you ever gotten a prescription from the doctor and thought: “Naaa, I don’t need that?” Over one third of people do it regularly. According to Peterson, it’s neither smart nor smug. It’s a subversive form of self-punishment. We do it a lot and, as a result, tend to take better care of others than ourselves.

Peterson suggests this is a consequence of our inability to deal with the insanity of life described above. Just like Adam and Eve had to taste the forbidden fruit of knowledge, we too indulge in our dark sides from time to time and thus, feel we deserve punishment. But, as with the unfairness of life, we all got thrown out of the Garden of Eden. Like Yin and Yang, we all carry both light and dark inside us. One can’t exist without the other.

That means instead of just striving for either one, we should seek balance, which is why his second rule is to care for yourself like you would care for a loved one: do what is best for you, even though it might not always make you happy.

Lesson 3: Seek meaning through sacrifice, not happiness through pleasure.
Balancing your light and your dark side can take many different forms. Sometimes, it may be staying in bed to get healthy, even though you want to work. Other times, it might mean staying late at work on a Friday. However it looks like, it always involves choosing meaning by making a sacrifice, rather than temporary happiness by choosing pleasure.

Peterson says this is a great coping mechanism, because it helps balance your life between drowning in hedonism and being so righteous it drives you mad. Of course not all sacrifices are equal. Those you make for personal gain, like working overtime to pay for a vacation, hold less meaning than those you make for the greater good, like volunteering on a Saturday.

Even though it might feel like it when you do it, sacrifice is never really about giving up rewards, it’s about deferring them until you can get something even better, usually a feeling of whole-ness or contentment. As such, it’s also great willpower training.

I’ll leave you with an analogy Peterson makes. The Lotus flower starts out at the very bottom of the lake, drenched in darkness. Inch by inch, it grows its way towards the surface, until, eventually, it breaks through and into the sunlight. I could sure think of worse ways to spend a life than to be a Lotus flower.

My personal take-aways
I haven’t gotten around to reading the full book, but I’d like to. It’s full of stories, science, myths, a broad mix of engaging ways to get his message across. It’s mainly targeted at male millennials, but don’t let that stop you. There’s something for everyone in 12 Rules For Life.

What else can you learn from the blinks?
Where the expression ‘pecking order’ comes from
What makes Jordan sad every time he returns to his childhood home
Why you should assess your life like a home inspector
The real job of parents
Nietzsche’s tool for measuring the strength of the human spirit
How you can practice active listening
Why you should pet all cats you see on the sidewalk
Who would I recommend the 12 Rules For Life summary to?
The 27 year old college student, who’s worried because she hasn’t figured out life, the 48 year old parent, who’s in a crisis, because he thinks he’s too old for this, and anyone who’s feeling lonely and depressed.

Buy this bookhttps://amzn.to/2GvtxPR

10 Days To Faster Reading Summary

Categories CommunicatePosted on

10 Days To Faster Reading helps you bring your reading skills to the current century, even if you’ve stopped developing them, like most of us, with the end of elementary school, by helping you select what to read in a better way and giving you actionable techniques to read and retain faster and better.

This book is the result of America’s number one speed reading expert teaming up with The Princeton Language Institute. Over the span of ten days, it encourages you to run various reading experiments, so you can figure out which bad reading habits you have to let go of, which good ones will help you and what reading techniques you’ve already mastered.

Whether you think you lack the time, the attention, or the memory to properly read, this book gives you a stretch of rope to hold onto and pull yourself out of the hole.

Here are 3 lessons to help you become a better reader:

Don’t just read everything, be picky and ask some questions first.
Preview everything you read.
Focus on important keywords to grasp sentences without reading them.
Ready to read like a pro? Let’s crank up your literary intake!

Lesson 1: Be restrictive with what you read by asking these two questions.
Just like true productivity doesn’t mean doing everything, but doing it faster, being a prolific reader doesn’t mean reading everything that lands in front of you.

The easiest way to read more is to read less of the stuff you don’t need to. Reading is food for the mind and just like a good diet requires you to take responsibility for what you put in your mouth, you’ll also have to stand up for what you put in your brain.

The authors suggest you ask yourself two crucial questions before ever reading anything longer than a tweet:

Why am I reading this?
Why do I need the information that’s in here?
The first question helps you figure out if you’re just servicing someone else’s request, or your own desire of being able to say “I have read that.” For example, just because you failed to read the 2014 industry report for the past two years does not make it relevant now, so you might as well toss it.

The second one digs into whether you’ll actually use what you read. For example, a scientific paper that might help you solve an important problem one of your clients has should probably take precedence over your child’s homework review, especially if your kid is already an A-student.

Lesson 2: Subject everything you’re about to read to a preview, it might be enough.
This won’t work with fiction books, but for everything non-fiction, it helps a lot. By getting an overview of what a book or article is about, you’ll get a better sense of the bigger picture and figure out which parts will be relevant for you to read in the first place.

Just like you don’t have to read everything that ends up in your hands, you don’t have to read everything that’s in whatever you do decide to read.

Here’s how: Read the title, foreword and text on the back flap, followed by skimming the index. Then, leaf through the chapters and look at the headings and subheadings. Read the first sentence of paragraphs or chapters that seem interesting.

After doing this, you’ll already have a good sense of what’s about to come, which makes you less likely to have to re-read lines and paragraphs as you go through.

According to the authors, previewing can give you up to 40% of the information – and sometimes that’s all you need. For example, a book like The One Thing has one predominant and specific message, which you can get in five minutes flat. That doesn’t make the rest of the book bad or unnecessary, but depending on the time and place it might be all you need for now, until you return to the book later.

Lesson 3: Focus on important keywords to grasp sentences without reading them.
You could look at the entire lesson above and instantly tell me what its core takeaway is, without reading a single sentence.

Why is that?

Because I’ve bolded the most important keywords. Just by taking a glimpse at the paragraph above, you’d instantly recognize that looking at title, foreword, back flap text and index give you a great preview of a book.

Usually, our eyes jump around while reading, but by following a constant stream of keywords, you can read more fluently. These keywords are often longer than three letters and carry the meaning of the sentence.

This is easier in texts with highlighted parts (like this summary), but with a little training you can employ this method even without particular visual guidance.

My personal take-aways
I was expecting a bunch of scammy speed reading techniques, but this turned out well! I like the focus on prioritizing and changing what you read in the first place. The book then talks about bad reading habits and good reading habits, which makes it easy to distinguish between things not to do and things to strive for. The speed reading part really more rounds out the book, as opposed to dominating it.

Good read!

Buy this bookhttps://amzn.to/2DOmiP8

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