What I Learned
"No one is going to invite you to the table; you have to take the initiative" says Betsy Myers in this Newsweek article. "Ninety-nine percent of the time it isn't personal. People aren't sitting around thinking how they can exclude you."
The One Who Is Not Busy
I recently ran across a great article that really struck a cord with me so much so that I read it three or for times already. Is has a Zen like flavor and it talks about a not busy self that we can get in touch with if we just try. We need to understand, Norman Fisher writes, that there is no such thing as multitasking; we can only accomplish one thing at a time. Business is a state of mind, a creation of our brain, not a fact. Regardless of how much or how little we have to do, in the end we'll just do what we always do, live this moment of our lives.
He advises to regard time for what it is, a tool to keep our lives organized. I started thinking about it and now, mostly in situations when I am running late, I try to relax myself and accept the situation as opposed to get stressed out about it.
One other take away from the article, when you get all worked up, softly tell yourself a couple of times "not busy". You will recognize that it is your thoughts and your feelings that make you feel pressured, not the task itself. It will help calm your mind and this in turn will help you get the tasks done. And if they do not get done, it's not the end of the world even though your mind tries to tell you otherwise.
”… what science tells us is that we are but one among hundreds of millions of species that evolved over the course of three and a half billion years on one tiny planet among many orbiting an ordinary star, itself one of possibly billions of solar systems in an ordinary galaxy that contains hundreds of billions of stars, itself located in a cluster of galaxies not so different from millions of other galaxy clusters, whirling away from one another in an accelerating expanding cosmic bubble universe, that very possibly is only one among a near infinite number of bubble universes.”
It seems that I have found yet another way to search for speeches in Google. I looked for "commencement speech" and "Yogi Berra" and got a ton or search results. The conclusion is obvious, the man is quoted a lot. I am still trying to find his original speech at St. Louis University. In the meantime, I though I came out empty handed tonight but then I found "The Meaning of Life, the Universe, and Everything" the commencement speech from May 23, 2008 by Dr. Michael Shermer. It's the first graduation speech I read that helps putting things in perspective by talking about the sky and the Universe. Here are his words:
”I am deeply moved, for example, when I observe through my eight-inch telescope in my backyard the fuzzy little patch of light that is the Andromeda galaxy. It is not just because it is lovely, but because I also understand that the photons of light landing on my retina left Andromeda 3 million years ago, when our ancestors were tiny-brained hominids roaming the plains of Africa.”The pic is Andromeda, as found at the Astronomy Picture of the Day –a great site I first heard of back in 1999, can’t believe they still keep posting a picture every day - not that they'll ever run out of stars or galaxies to feature. It's a good habit to start your day, from time to time, by looking at a picture from the Universe and give it a moment to pause over. Finally, here is the Yogi Berra quote that made this little discovery possible...:
"In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; in practice, there is."
Lost in the Crowd
Quite some words of wisdom from David Brooks in the NYT.
"Most successful people begin with two beliefs: the future can be better than the present, and I have the power to make it so. They were often showered by good fortune, but relied at crucial moments upon achievements of individual will.
Most successful people also have a phenomenal ability to consciously focus their attention. We know from experiments with subjects as diverse as obsessive-compulsive disorder sufferers and Buddhist monks that people who can self-consciously focus attention have the power to rewire their brains.
Control of attention is the ultimate individual power. People who can do that are not prisoners of the stimuli around them. They can choose from the patterns in the world and lengthen their time horizons. This individual power leads to others. It leads to self-control, the ability to formulate strategies in order to resist impulses. If forced to choose, we would all rather our children be poor with self-control than rich without it.
It leads to resilience, the ability to persevere with an idea even when all the influences in the world say it can’t be done. A common story among entrepreneurs is that people told them they were too stupid to do something, and they set out to prove the jerks wrong.
It leads to creativity. Individuals who can focus attention have the ability to hold a subject or problem in their mind long enough to see it anew. "
Around the World with Matt
Watch Matt dancing around the the world - same music, same cute steps and yes same smile and joy from people from many far, far away countries. An inpirational and very uplifting video... I should be watching it every night. I knew about Matt's videos a while back but I found this one today on the Presentation Zen blog. Enjoy!
Where the Hell is Matt? (2008) from Matthew Harding on Vimeo.
Hugh MacLeod from gapinvoid.com
"Never compare your inside with somebody else's outside"
The Meaning of Life
Every January, the Esquire magazine has a special issue on the Meaning of Life and I keep buying it in the hope that I will find the answer... Here are the quotes I liked best:
If you can't do anything about it, forget it.- Chuck Yeager 85, Pilot
When you get shit on from a height, you can walk around smelling or you can go take a shower.
In a hundred years, all new people.
One person out of one will die.
The best place in the world to ski is where you're skiing today.
- Warren Miller 84, Filmaker
You practice and you get better. It's very simple.
When you're really working, really playing tennis, lifting weights, playing basketball, or whatever it is - it happens in sports, it happens in music, it happens in everything - when you're fully consumed with the act, the witness just dissapears. And for that reason, when someone asks, "What was it like?" you can't remember, because the person inside of you who does the remembering was otherwise occupied.
-Philip Glass 71, Composer
60 Seconds on Small Talk
Few tips on small talk from a conversationalist guru as published in the Fast Company magazine. Fast Company also has quite a good archive of articles, First Impression.
Maira Kalman - The Principles of Uncertainty
Simply delightful... from the New York Times.
The Antidote to Death is Life
A recent article from the New York Times/Health written by an oncology nurse, Theresa Brown, has a very graphic narration of a sudden death in the hospital and the way the hospital staff tried everything to save the patient. It is a very raw description which makes a gripping impression on the reader. As a result, the advice that ends the article sounds way less like a platitute and much more like a motto to live by.
"My patient died looking like one of the flesh-eating zombies from “28 Weeks Later,” and indeed in real life, even in the world of the hospital, a death like this is unsettling. What can one do? Go home, love your children, try not to bicker, eat well, walk in the rain, feel the sun on your face and laugh loud and often, as much as possible, and especially at yourself. Because the only antidote to death is not poetry, or drama, or miracle drugs, or a roomful of technical expertise and good intentions. The antidote to death is life."