Marginal Error

It has never been easier to become a billionaire.

You don’t even need a profitable company these days.

If you’re really charismatic, you don’t even need a working product. Just a cool video and a blaze of content marketing.

There are dozens (probably hundreds) of publicly traded companies that have never turned a profit. Never. They are losing billions and nobody seems to mind.

No doubt, companies like Uber are building the next generation of infrastructure and paying for the privilege. Networks are one of our superpowers and worth investing in.

But most of these spiffy startups are not doing anything new. The direct-to-consumer model existed long before the internet. 

They are solving the same old problems we have always had but in new ways, and a new story behind it. 

And that is all you have to do too.

Both Ways

We can’t input and output at the same time.

Computers can because they have separate processors.

Humans do not. And whatever your 5th-grade science teacher said about left and right brains is almost complete nonsense.

It’s difficult to output without some experience or information we can process and change into something new—some material we can use to create. Input.

Interesting creative output requires interesting creative input.

But the output directs the input.

Without our own output to direct what we put in, we just become someone else’s input.

Brain Bike

Steve Jobs had a thing about bikes.

He’s well known for choosing a velocipede as his mode of transport when exploring a city.

Even more famously (and somewhat ironically), he was noted for calling the personal computer a “bicycle for the mind.”

At the time, it was difficult enough to fit a computer into a garage, let alone your pocket.

But Jobs was talking about evolution and efficiency.

Humans are very average at converting food into movement until you put us on a bike. Then we can go further and faster on fewer calories than any other animal.

Now that we can fit the computing power of the planet into our pocket, we can achieve an incredible amount with the mere lift of a finger (or thumb).

We can move the world — without moving our ass out of bed.

Eat that dust, evolution.

Eat a Toad

Mark Twain was a smart chap and a great storyteller, but he didn’t say this:

“Eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you all day.”

The idea is sound.

Completing the most challenging or least enjoyable tasks first greases the wheels of the day. Everything goes a little smoother afterwards.

It’s such a sound idea that OG business coach Brian Tracey wrote a whole book about it.

It’s why Admiral McCraven tells us to make our beds in the morning and why drinking a glass of water first thing can change our lives.

Writing this note to you is often the hardest part of my day.

But here’s my favourite part about this expression.

When M. de Lassey said it, he said it about Napoleon and his cronies, and it originally went something along the lines of:

“If you have to spend the day in court, eat a toad first so that nothing more disgusting happens to you all day.”

Uncovered

There are some secrets to happiness that stand the test of time.

The most important one is not to go looking for happiness.

We can never be satisfied with anything that must be pursued because even if we catch it, we will always need to chase down more of it, given time.

If we chase happiness — hedonistic or wholesome — it won’t be long before we’re itching for more.

Happiness isn’t caught.

Happiness sidles up to you at a party and pinches your bum.

Happiness slips into bed for a quick early morning cuddle.

And happiness puts wings on your ankles halfway through an evening jog.

Happiness smells like coffee and feels like sunshine, and sounds like a beach, and if you can imagine any of that right now, you already know how to uncover that “happiness” within you anytime you want.

There’s no need to go searching for happiness because it can be found anywhere we look.

Condo Creators

People have worked remotely for thousands of years.

Before the Industrial Revolution, women in cottages across the land wove wool into cloth and sold it to manufacturers who turned it into clothes.

Technology developed, and it was more profitable to have everyone weaving together, so the factory was born.

Two hundred years later and we are going back to our homesteads.

Technology has spawned a new breed of the industry: cottage creators. Or perhaps, more aptly, condo creators.

Individuals or small groups can now produce content as well (or better) than most major studios and publishing houses.

Watching 5-a-side pick-up games on YouTube is more fun than the big leagues in many ways. We can even save lives with memes.

Supporting upstart musicians, independent journalists, and Instagram artists creates an explosion of cultural diversity and creativity that makes the Renaissance look barbaric.

It’s a part of an unstoppable wave of economic adjustment that will leave society unrecognizable in fifty years or less.

As we automate more tasks, we will need more entertainment, more ideas, more stories and more games than ever before. Or things could get nasty.

Now is your chance.

Save the human.

Get making.

Hard Fork

We all get at least one hard fork.
The point where we make a decision that changes everything.
If we’re lucky, we’ll know about it.
If we’re unlucky, we won’t recognize it until it’s a distant memory.
There’s no knowing if it would’ve been different, and no right or wrong about either prong.
When we see a fork coming in the road, it often comes with a sense of panic.
How can we get it “right” this time?
We can’t know that either.
The only thing worse than picking the “wrong” path is picking none at all.
That’s the quickest way to end up wrapped around a tree.

Sunken Costs

There are two ways sunken costs can trick us.

The first is believing that because we’ve already bought something — invested time or money into it — that we must use it to get our money’s worth.

That’s not to say we should be wasteful, but it does mean that we have to drink the rest of the bottle.

The second way they get us is when we think that we’ve put in enough.

We think that we’ve invested enough to be sure that another minute won’t achieve anything.

Often, that’s the moment when a little extra push would bring success.

Sunken costs hurt us both ways. There’s no way to tell the difference.

The best we can do for ourselves is ignore them altogether.

Because as much as we like to draw lines between the past and present, the only connection they have to the future is the one we choose to make right now.

Teaser

We are waiting for you.

We are waiting for you to tell us a story — the one that only you can.

We want to hear what the world feels like from where you’re standing.

Do not be selfish with your story. Your story matters.

Open a channel so that it can trickle out and carve a new valley into the world.

We are waiting for you to tell us your story.

Give us a teaser, at least.

Hot Air

If you are ever uncertain of your ability to change the world, know this:

Some people believe they can survive from sunlight and air alone.

A Flat Earth is one thing, but Breatharianism is another thing entirely.

You would think the evidence is pretty sound on the whole sustenance thing. You know, from millennia of struggling to survive.

Nevertheless, some people believe that they can get by on sunlight and atmospheric absorption, or some such guff.

At least, that’s what they tell people.

That means every time they eat or drink — and they do — they are then able to convince themselves that it didn’t happen.

Some people’s ability to delude themselves was so strong it killed them.

That is why arguing with people on the internet is a waste of time.

People don’t believe facts. They believe stories. That leaves pretty much everything up for debate — a debate that nobody ever wins.

Even if we’re going to argue about what we eat, you would think we could all agree that eating some food is necessary.

I guess that’s humans for you.

Limitlessly, psychotically creative

Day One

Day One is full of excitement and anticipation.

The vision is strong.

The path for the day is short and straight, or at least it appears to be from where we’re standing.

Bursting with energy and promise, we stride out into the unknown: we invent; we create; we conquer.

As we get older and learn how to tread our path, we often start to coast, to relax. We take our eyes off the road.

We let ourselves get bored.

The risk then is that we just fade away.

The best way to tackle day 303 or day 3,003 on our adventure is to approach it as if it were Day One.

Accelerating into our future selves — naive and eager and ambitious — starting all the way to the end.

B-Sides

Not so long ago, the best way to share music was by making plastic sing.

We scratched music into 7″ oily black discs in hundreds of neat rings. To get it out, you would scrape a tiny sliver of metal along the ridges.

The size of the disc changed the normal length of songs because you could barely fit four minutes of music on one side.

At first, A and B side was just a label to tell you what song was playing.

Then record labels began only to put the song they wanted radios to play on the A-side. For a couple of decades, the ‘B’ became synonymous with bonus; a special place where artists could try something out knowing their label would just shrug and say, “Make it quick.”

That little creative freedom has spawned dozens of unexpected hits.

There were many ‘B-sides’ that were as much of a hit as their flip-side. Sometimes more. I Will Survive and Ice Ice Baby are just two examples of this.

We can’t always know what people will like — even ourselves.

Always listen to the B-side because you might like it even more than the A-side.

Written Sober

It’s best to strike while the liver is hot.

Somewhere between stone-cold sober and fighting to stand, there’s a lot of creative juice to be squeezed.

Don’t expect it to be much use the next day though.

Editing sober is certainly easier, but it’s painful when hungover.

Trying to be creative in the wake of half a pint of tequila just adds another bell to the banging between the ears.

The only time I ever truly consider throwing in the towel is when hungover.

There’s a lesson in that, most likely.

But right now, all I can think about is fried stuff with cheese.

Look Alive

Most people don’t realize how easily they can change reality.

It’s not that it changes the world materially. It just chooses different materials to make the world.

Our brains are wired to look for things we want to see, whether we’re consciously looking or not.

If bananas are keeping you alive, it pays to be able to spot as many of them as possible, even when you’re not paying attention. The same goes for tigers.

That’s why you always notice more of the car model you’re driving, and ants always all appear at the same time.

If we believe the world is dangerous, then it will become more dangerous.

If we are looking for reasons to be happy, we will find many more of them.

There are too many good reasons to be alive once you start looking.

Sometimes we have to go away and look somewhere else to see what was there all along.

Pavement Prophet

The words “Jesus is coming” are scrawled across the grimy cardboard hung over his chest.

Passers-by squeeze themselves around his eager cries and shaking fists, intent on shutting this loud, dirty intrusion out of their day.

Nobody wants to listen because whether they realize it or not, deep down, we all already know that “the end is nigh,” at least on an individual level.

And whether we’re expecting to meet St. Paul on a cloud or slip into a blissful eternal nothingness, the reality is the same. That unignorable, unknowable finality is what drives us to do anything — or prevents us from doing anything.

The fear of it drives us to survive on a physiological level. When that’s covered, we devote our efforts to surviving beyond the grave, in whatever way we like. Most often, we survive through other people.

As my turn comes to squeeze past the pavement prophet, I get lucky. He spins and leaps away to berate those walking in the other direction. One young woman lets out a small yelp of surprise.

As I barrel away I glimpse the other piece of cardboard, slung over his shoulders with a knotted rag.

It reads, “Look busy.”

Play Dead

Have you ever seen a human play dead?

Lots of animals do this to try and escape a toothy death.

Life moves. If it doesn’t move, it’s usually dead or a rock.

We call it ‘playing’ dead because staying alive is work.

To play dead, you just have to do nothing. Don’t even bother breathing.

Playing dead can work quite well if you’re an opossum or a frog or some other prey that can’t move very fast. So if you’re trapped by a hungry bear, playing dead could be a great shout.

Otherwise, work alive.

Lie in

Everybody likes a lie-in until it ruins the day.

Dragging ourselves out of bed five minutes before work is an easy way to mess up any plan.

Once the emails start pinging, and our colleagues start singing, there are often very few moments left to do anything for ourselves.

Those precious moments of slumber before we lose the day to the world are some of the most deceptive.

That’s why they call it a lie-in.

Spread snoring across the linen might feel like winning.

But everybody knows that when you snooze, you lose.

Street Heat

There’s visceral magic in a street fight or a pickup ball game on a summer evening.

Acquaintances going to a measured war.

We fall in love with sports on the playground with our friends.

The trappings and red tape that come with the big money often hang a dark veil over that spark.

On the street, where the cursing and scuffling of the players are louder than the crowd, we find a different type of sport—the real one.

The one we can all play. Where the rules are open to interpretation and trash talk is mandatory. Where everybody leaves their heart on the pitch, battling for the sheer hell of it. Playing for the simple joy of winning together and a large scoop of ego.

No doubt, the pros have reached the pinnacle of technical skill.

But out there on that lonely expanse of bowling green grass, I bet you they miss that street heat more than most.

Balls

What is it about a sphere that gets us so excited?

Such an alien shape.

Everybody loves ’em.

Dogs. Humans. Even cows.

You can kick ’em. You can throw ’em.

They fucking roll!

One little ball can be the cause and the solution to so many of our problems.

Balls.

Great all round.

Right Here

You’ve got it all right here.

Everything you need.

Anything you ever wanted.

Even things you can’t imagine right now are yours, should you choose to take them.

It all lies within you. 

All you have to do is decide what you want.

And take a little bit of it every day.

Under One Roof

The closer we are, the more obvious it is.

That might mean close like family close, or that could mean physically close like locked in a prison cell close.

Either way, the closer we are, the harder it is to ignore our impact on the people we live with.

When we’re all up here under the big sky, it’s easy to forget those invisible ties. The ripple we create is quickly absorbed in the ocean of humanity around us.

But under one roof, when that ocean becomes a puddle, the ripple we create is much more noticeable.

Bunged Up

Writer’s block is for amateurs.

There are few things more intimidating than a blank page. But everyone knows that the way to get through any creative block is to just get going.

For writer’s block, write something. For painter’s block, paint something. For accountant’s block (is that a thing?) do your favourite equation or something.

Whatever we do, every day is a clean slate — a blank page.

Some of us may have an itinerary, but there are always big blank spots that need filling, and they are can be just as intimidating as sitting down at an actual blank piece of paper.

That’s one reason why doing something deliberate early, a small morning routine like drinking a glass of water or exercising, can be so powerful. It helps us get going. It breaks the seal on the day.

It’s my remedy to “being a functioning member of society block.”

Shoot

We saw it a lot last month, those golden moments of failure.

Athletes who tried their best and didn’t perform as they or we expected.

We saw many Olympians who spent the last four years or more preparing for that moment and found themselves wanting on the day, for whatever reason. That’s the way it goes.

On my bad days or weeks, it’s often a struggle to get out of bed, let alone perform on the world stage. But on their bad days, they still show up.

They shoot their shot anyway, knowing it will fall short. Accepting that this time, it’s just one more leg in their journey to the top of the podium.

And then they get up tomorrow and do it again.

Mugs

Some people have no regard for where things belong.

The other day I saw a bloke walking down the street holding a coffee mug.

Not a disposable cup or one of those reusable cups that looks like a disposable cup, but an actual fucking proper mug. It even had a handle!

The absolute nerve of this guy.

From the wary glances of passers-by, you could tell that this flagrant disregard for societal norms was making people uneasy.

Why does a ceramic mug belong on a table but a paper cup can go anywhere it likes? Who makes these rules?

These little rules exist in our brains to alert us to a difference in the environment that may or may not be a threat. It’s not a rule it’s just out of the norm.

Doing it on purpose is what we call creativity.

Doing it every day makes it a habit.

Doing it in public makes it normal.

Doing it for money makes it professional.

And doing it for free makes it an identity.

Except for mugs.

Mugs are just mugs.

If Only

If only things were different,

I wouldn’t have to be the same.

I could be tall or short or fat,

Or get paid for playing a game.

If only things had been different,

If I’d done that instead of this,

I’d probably be sat on a beach right now,

Immersed in perpetual bliss.

If only things had been different,

If I had been there or then,

I could’ve been stupidly rich and cool,

But then I wouldn’t get to be Ben.

Personal Insult

Not many people want to hear this:

If you’re insulted by something, it’s your fault.

This is my favourite of Don Miguel Ruiz’s Four Agreements because it’s so hard to agree with, and to put into practice fully.

How can it be our fault if we get insulted by someone who is screaming at us or calling us names?

The idea is that we always have a choice; we are the ones who allow words to carry weight, whether we’re conscious of it or not. And of course, often what people are angry about has very little to do with us or what just happened.

It’s one thing to know that it’s not our fault when someone is angry at us. But it’s far harder to remember that when we’re mad at someone else, that’s on us.

Much easier said than done!

Start poorly

Rome wasn’t built in a day, as they say.

It started as we all must: pretty poor. Just a cluster of farmer’s huts dotted across the hillside.

It’s not like anyone can just pick up a guitar and start playing it. Or read. Or walk.

Even simple things that we assume we can all do – like a star jump – don’t come naturally to the human body. We just forget how much effort we spent learning them. And often, how much help we had getting there.

There is nothing in this world worth doing that doesn’t take some practice. Nothing in this world worth having that won’t cost us some time in one way or another.

The best chance we can give ourselves is to start poorly and keep on plugging away until we fail better.

Or at least until we’re finished for the day.

Song for Change

We all know that the best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago.

But the next best time is now, and we need trees planted now more than ever.

Mass tree-planting is back-breaking work. And there are only so many trees you can plant on a balcony before you start getting complaints.

But what if it was as easy as listening to a song? Or perhaps even a 30-second ad?

Well, that is how easy it is because some clever bloke decided to make a 30-second track and use the money it earns from streaming to plant trees.

We should all be planting at least six trees a month to offset our carbon. So, add the song that plants trees to your playlists and play it for a few minutes every day. That’s all it takes.

You can even use this method to make a small amount of money for yourself. But better still, if you could make a “song that does something,” what would it do?

A song that cleans up litter? A song that saves the bees?

Now that anyone can write a song for change, what will yours be?

10 Fast Fingers

Several years ago, I was staying in the back room of my parents’ house with little idea of what or who I wanted to be.

I knew that if I were going to survive in the world of work, or have any chance of success as a writer, I would need to learn to type.

People talk about how writing with a pen is more ‘connected.’ But it’s also slow and impractical in the modern age.

That connection is learned like any other, and so I decided to practice often to form that same deep connection with a keyboard.

So to start my day, and to instill the belief that I was headed somewhere, I would spend about 15 minutes every morning practicing touch typing. Then I would apply for jobs I didn’t want.

That bit of time invested has probably saved me hours since.

Today, the words flow through my fingertips onto the screen with the same ease as a pen and three times faster — faster than I can think.

The pen still feels snug in my hand. But when I sit down at a keyboard, the words just fly.

Lift the Lid

Back in the rectum of history, some boys in white coats stuffed a few hundred fleas into a mason jar.

I don’t know where they got the fleas and how they got them into the jar, but it’s probably safe to say there was a lot of cursing and itching.

Once the fleas were in the jar, they kept trying to jump out and hitting their heads against the lid. Eventually, they gave up.

When the researchers took the lid off, the fleas still didn’t try to jump out because they thought it was still there.

There are many other examples of this trainable aspect of nature, in humans too.

But the magic we humans have is the power to think again and un-break ourselves. We can always try another way. We can keep jumping now and then to be sure the lid is still there.

We can resist any training, but we often fail to recognize the psychological bonds we have wrapped around ourselves.

A kaizen mindset means that we always assume the way we’re doing things wrong in some way.

When we learn to challenge our beliefs regularly, we can even distort time.

In Your Stride

We’re not all in the same race.

Some of us aren’t even running in the same direction.

So, there’s no point judging our pace by looking at other people.

When a wall or a river crosses the path, we all tackle them in our own way. Some people are better swimmers, while others can race up a wall like a gecko. Others are swimming upstream.

When an obstacle crops up, the best we can do is tackle it on our own terms, at our own pace. Trying to match pace with someone in a different race or different strides will only tire us out.

We can give help and get help, but taking it in our own stride also means realizing that other people aren’t obliged to help us either.

It’s your race when you take everything in your stride.

And running your own race is the only way to win.

Remember Your Art

A lot of the science we learn in school is wrong.

It’s mostly either oversimplified or partially disproved by the time we hear it. 

One myth is that the right brain is creative, and the left brain is logical, right?

Not quite.

The right side of the brain is best at novelty: identifying new problems and solving them, learning new things. Experimentation.

The left side of the brain is concerned with sorting the results and recalling them when needed. Matching them up.

When a student plays an instrument, their right hemisphere is firing all the time. But Miles Davis, the right side would be only simmering gently; the patterns of chords and melodies neatly delivered from the left side.

Even that is a gross simplification.

But it’s clear that by performing a creative task every day, creativity becomes muscle memory. 

That’s why experts can see all sorts of patterns that a novice may miss. They just pop out. And those experts can get so used to seeing those patterns that they forget to experiment with them. 

Art is experiementation. Science is experimentation remembered. 

Now, remember your art.

Cacophony

There’s a lot that goes into winning at a professional level.

Most of it is off the field of play.

Training. Practice is everything when perfecting a skill and learning to play together. But we need more than that to reach the top.

Harmony. Harmony is more than teamwork.

Great teams are a symphony of minds. And that goes for all those involved, not just those doing the running around.

Harmony is every person playing their part in the same story — singing from the same hymnsheet.

Harmony of purpose and place is at the core of every world-beating business and every world-beating team.

There are few things worse than hearing the same tired old tune played badly.

Do it

Do it because you’re happy.

Do it because you’re sad.

Do it just because it feels good.

Or do it because it feels bad.

Do it because it’s easy.

Do it because it’s tough.

Do it because it fills up your cup.

And don’t stop till you’ve had enough.

Do it every morning.

Do it whenever you feel.

Do it just because you only live once.

Do it till it’s lost all appeal.

Cornering

Even if we’re paying attention, we don’t see every sharp turn coming.

Life is hurtling along at a grand old pace when a sharp corner appears over the horizon—a bend or a twist that we missed the sign for.

Or we saw it coming, but it was one of those cheeky ones that start smooth and get sharper so fast that before you know it, you’re veering across the lines with your ass pressed against the door, praying that the wheels stick.

Can’t slam on the brakes. Can’t stop turning. Just got to ease off the pedal a bit and hold on tight until things level out.

And they always do.

That’s Not Me

The most dangerous ideas we have are the ones we use to limit ourselves.

Interestingly, we base many of those on our ideas about other people.

It could be things like “boys like cars” or “girls like dolls” or “salespeople are extroverts” or “running is hard” or “they’re better than me.”

Our identity is as much defined by the things we think we aren’t as by what we think we are. To misquote Seth Godin, “people like me can’t do things like that.”

Fortunately, there are millions of people out there that are just itching to prove us wrong. People who are doing things we think we can’t do but who look suspiciously like us.

There are few things better than having a conversation with someone you admire and respect deeply and realizing that you’re not so different.

Because that’s when “that’s not me” turns into “that could be me.”

And another door opens.

In the pants

We all need a kick in the seat of the pants, at some point in life or another.

It could come from a teacher, a friend, or our boss — or a loving boot straight from our mother.

It might not feel good, and we might feel some shame; all those things should quickly pass.

But there’s one thing for sure that we’ll look back and say: that we deserved that kick in the ass.

Eye Believe

The human eye is a remarkably poor tool for observing the world.

We can look but often do not see. And seeing certainly doesn’t result in believing.

We can focus with great skill but at the risk of blinkering ourselves.

Best of all, we can hold such a strong belief in our brains that it determines what we see and what we focus on — what’s real.

It’s funny how easy it is to ignore what’s right in front of us — and terrifying how we can focus on what isn’t there at all.

Seeing is rarely believing.

But when we really believe in something, that’s all we can see.

Outta Your Way

Before we could write books or draw maps, we told stories to guide our children.

One of the oldest stories is about the Troll who lives under the bridge.

The story is about how whenever we try to cross to better pastures or make a change in our lives — when we attempt to bridge the gap between ourselves and our future self — we will bump into a Troll.

The Troll will psyche us out in whatever way they can: telling us we’re too small or weak or stupid and we’ll get eaten alive. Or that the grass isn’t greener. Or to try tomorrow when the Troll isn’t there (it’s a lie).

The Troll that blocks the path to our dreams is the same nasty, hairy ape that lives in us all: the one that’s scared of change and worries about food all the time.

The only way to get past the Troll — to reach our dreams — is to stamp our hooves on the ground, lower our head, and charge straight through that fucker.

What it is

Bill was a bit confused by all the fuss.

The journalists, bored of the wildfires and plague, had pointed out that he had just dragged the New England Patriots out for full training in the pouring rain.

Bill Belichick replied the only way he knew how: with a sentence stoic enough to have tumbled from the lips of Cato or Marcus Aurelius himself.

One that has been echoed over thousands of years by warriors and athletes and artists and anyone who ever wanted to get something serious done:

“If it rains, it rains.
If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.
If it’s hot, it’s hot.
If it’s not, then that’s what it is.”

Circumstances are bound to change how we execute our plans, but we can’t let them get in the way.

The world is full of elements that are out of our control. Regardless of what they throw up, when we’ve got training scheduled, we train. Because that’s what training is.

 

Node

The line between what’s real and what’s not is worryingly out of our control.

When we take a moment to examine the fabric of space-time — when we crush our tiny cone of perception back into it — it all starts to look like the same geometric nightmare.

There isn’t really an I or them it’s just us.

Surrendering our limited, singular view of the world for a moment helps to remind us that we’re never separate. Just little nodes of awareness popping up to see what we look like from different angles. Experiencing the potential of the universe through as many different views as possible.

Inseparable from the ether, no matter how long we spend telling ourselves otherwise. No sense in trying to fight it closing.

Just enjoy the connection while it’s open.

Bants

We don’t need a reason for everything.

Sometimes we do it for bants.

It could be a skydive or a trip to Milan.

Or a magnum-sized bottle of champs.

We don’t need a reason for everything.

We mostly just do it for bants.

There’s a prize to be had, even when it goes bad.

And that’s the prize of having a bant.

 

 

Irritant

Some people just love to crawl under your skin.

It’s one thing when they do it by accident. But some people definitely seek to irritate.

Getting under someone’s skin is a great way to get their attention – it’s not the sort of thing you can ignore.

One way not to be irked, not to fall into their twisted embrace, is to stop and ask: why does that irritate me?

The list might be longer than we think.

But the interesting part is that it rarely contains much about them.

 

Transitions

We are all in transition.

From asleep to awake.

From young to old.

From naive to wise (if we’re lucky).

Our ideas about the world change almost as often as the world around us does.

Our bodies are constantly ebbing between hot and cold, sympathetic and parasympathetic, elated or depressed. It is never the same.

It’s abjectly terrifying. And thrilling. And essential.

That’s why all sports are won or lost on our ability to transition between phases; attack and defence; perform and recover; between one spin and the next.

Every coach knows the importance of mastering the transition – preparing for it and responding when it happens. Because the only time a transition is a problem is when we fight or ignore it.

Master those transitions, and nothing will phase you.

 

Idle Thumbs

The first rule of survival is that you must always be doing something.

It could be hunting. It could be chopping wood. It could be making tools or clothing or food.

It’s the first rule because survival takes a huge amount of effort. It’s a constant struggle just to get enough food.

But every one of us is a survivor.

The amount of energy required to survive is so much that as soon that ferociously powerful brain of ours gets time to stop and think, we are instantly overwhelmed.

That’s what powers the ticking clock within us. The nervous itch, the restless tapping of our feet — it’s all because the ancient ape within is wondering how the hell we’re going to survive if we’re just sitting there.

We must move.

So we work. We make. We explore.

Or we dampen the urge with drink and drugs and food and fighting; we consume.

We made fishing hooks and wheels and philosophy and farms and skyscrapers and the blockchain all because that curious chimp couldn’t sit still.

The devil will make work for our idle thumbs, if we let him.

Only daily practice, kaizen, a future self, can keep him quiet.

 

Give it a yank

Your brain is hiding quite a lot from you.

Maybe it just gets lost. Perhaps we’re just scared.

It’s not like it’s ever been easy to start taking on the world in our own special way. But we do it all the time.

And when we think about it, starting was always the hard part.

We don’t give ourselves enough credit for the number of times we’ve yanked the ripcord on our diamond-edged brains and unleashed some badass topiary on the world.

Those first struggles fade, the little pains and victories that seem so big at the time quickly withering into yesterday.

Some days when it seems particularly hard, it’s useful to remember that it’s never been easy, but we’ve done it many times before.

And we know exactly how things will go if we just get started.

So give it a yank and get going. 

 

Laboured

Art doesn’t come easy.

What to say?

No wisdom to expound. Or inspiration to share.

It would not be missed if it was never made.

But there lies no escape.

What else to do but make?

Hammer down those dumb words.

Lash the paper with ink.

Rip a chunk from the mould and hack hack hack away until the tears flow.

There. It is done.

 

 

Hand Out

There’s nothing like a good castle.

We build them with massive chunks of stone carved from the mountains nearby.

We build them with steel and glass stacked so high they breach the clouds.

And we build them with ideas and rules and stories about who can do what and who doesn’t deserve it.

Most of human history was met on the barricades of one castle or another, stone or otherwise.

It’s sad that our institutions still work to uphold the walls that so many of us question. It’s up to those on the ramparts to reach out to those who have been shut out.

Like the US Men’s Soccer team backing up the Women’s wage discrimination lawsuit against their own federation. Or every player that takes a knee for their teammates. Or every athlete taking part in mixed events this year.

There are certainly still barbarians out there, but far fewer than some would have us think.

Not everyone knocking on the gates is trying to break them down. Most of them just want shelter too.

And there’s plenty of room.

 

Leaky Brains

Big brains must give off more electromagnetic energy or something. 

Occasionally, we’ll meet a person whose brain is so chock full that it leaks out of their ears into everyone around them. 

It might be new information. Sometimes it’s just a different way of looking at things. And just listening to them talk is a learning experience. 

That’s why James Altucher says we should try to be the stupidest person in the room. 

The best way to fill our brains is to fill our lives with wonderful, colourful, big leaky brains of all types. 

And let our brains soak up all that juicy knowledge. 

 

Routine-me

We never really appreciate a great routine until it’s gone. 

A great routine can work such deep, comforting grooves in our brain that it becomes almost impossible to do anything outside of it.

Routines can turn a frustrating chore into an automatic action we don’t even remember, but the trick is getting them good enough to take out of the box.

Skip town or jobs or even just a weekend and it’s not long before that routine crumbles and all the things with it. 

The workout plan got left at the boarding gates. 

The healthy diet got left on the plane. 

It’s about all I can do to cling to these words. 

Until I’m back in a routine again. 

 

Dropped it

There’s a line on my resume that says, “fire-juggler.”

It’s been quite a few years since my Dad dipped a club into some paraffin, sparked its tip to a flaming ball, and flicked it 15ft through the air at my head. But I’m pretty sure I could still return a couple before setting my hair on fire.

And it’s not like they can ask me to show them in the interview anyway.

Juggling is an overused metaphor for so many great reasons.

For starters, it’s not easy to keep your eye on several things at once.

We can certainly learn to juggle more, but that means being comfortable with dropping those balls a lot more. 

Just speed up the rhythm until those flailing wrists are sending them sailing above your head with a 12345671234567123456712…

It doesn’t matter how good we get at juggling; eventually, we have to drop the ball.

It’s not how long we can juggle for that makes us great at juggling.

It’s how quickly we pick the balls up when they fall.

The Loop

The Loop is how we survive, particularly from terrors of our own making.

It used to be a series of giant fires spread across hilltops, from coast to city. Their smoke would relay a warning only as fast and as far as a person could see.

Later, The Loop would be scratched on clay tablets and raced on horseback across the desert or hurled into the sky in little parchment scrolls strapped to bird’s legs.

We evenutally squeezed The Loop into copper wires and accelerated it to the speed of light until it included everyone and no one at the same time.

The Loop is how we share information. The Loop is how we shout a warning or send help. The Loop is where the action happens.

In the show Hamilton, Alexander sings that he longs to be in the room, the room where things are decided; The Loop.

The News loves to make us feel like we’re in The Loop when we’re usually not. And we won’t go very far if we’re out of The Loop at work.

The Loops we maintain or let go are what holds us together. 

Don’t stay out the Loop too long!

 

End Plate

There are statues of men and women both good and evil all across the world.

There are stories both true and untrue of the things they did and the people they helped and hurt.

Millions of people have built great knowledge and wealth into our societies in their own little ways; and just as many have taken from society for themselves.

Whichever side we believe we’re on, the truth is that it doesn’t matter.

We can be terrible or wonderful and there is no right or wrong about it, there is only the world we create around us, which is where we all have to live and eventually die in.

Now that we all have a digital record forever, what will it say on your bronzed nameplate?

Better Air

Some places have better air.
It’s intoxicating.
We step out of the car and take a breath and the anxiety falls from our shoulders.
The trees rustle a wave.
There’s a little more room in our heads.
Some places have better air.
Room to breathe.
Would it always feel the same, if we stay here forever?

Leave it be

“You’ve got to know when to stop,” was probably the best culinary advice my dad gave me.

The same would go for drawing, plasticine, model airplanes. Even turning off the tap.

Unfortunately, humans have a tendency to ignore their parents, and many a stir fry was mashed into a pulp in my early attempts to cook. But I do make good mashed potatoes.

Humans have such a great ability to understand and manipulate the world around us that it’s hard to not believe that we can fix things we’ve broken if we carry on going.

But in our hubris we forget that we are still learning about the ways this planet is connected.

Whatever clever way we design to make it rain in the desert won’t fix the drought problem.

Mining coal and cutting down rainforest on the other side of the planet might not seem related but it certainly isn’t going to help.

Most of the best work we’ve done has been giving back what Nature needs and then just leaving it the fuck alone for 10 years.

Because Nature certainly isn’t going to leave us be.

The Universe Talks

Five days a week for the last few years, the Universe has sent me a short note to remind me why we’re here.

They almost always give me a little smile, and I don’t let the fact that a T-shirt seller from Florida writes them spoil the fun.

It’s also true that he is partly responsible for this project; him and Seth Godin and a few others.

The Universe’s emails are a little out there. And by “out there,” I mean angels and pre-life memories and destiny.

Pretty far gone, some might even say.

But it does remind me that there are signs all around us and within us to guide us in this Life. Big red flags and deep hollows. Moments of bliss and contentment and certainty.

Roads that always seem back to the same place.

And whether you believe the Universe is trying to tell us something or we’re telling it to ourselves through our surroundings, not listening hurts.

 

Act or Ignore

Caring about anything can be a thrilling and dangerous business. 

That shouldn’t stop us. But beware caring about things you can’t control.

Caring about things we can’t control is a bad idea because we will inevitably be disappointed.

They will change and there’s little we can do about it. But just because change is inevitable doesn’t mean we should stop caring.

Care about the things we can change: the things we do and say; the work we produce; the way we treat people; the things we put in our body. The promises we keep.

We can’t care about it all. But we can decide to care about one or two big ones — things that do impact us all — and really care about those.

And caring means actually doing something about it.

It’s act or ignore.

Few of us have the energy or time to do more.

 

 

 

Smile First

Laughter is one weird evolutionary quirk.

Thought you were going to die and then didn’t? Shake uncontrollably and make weird panting sounds.

It doesn’t seem like there would be much use for that on the ancient savannah. Yet, of all the weird things babies do, smiling is one of the first.

Maybe it’s because they see so many faces light up when they come into view.

Maybe it’s just a natural part of our trauma response, the last few sparks flashing down the wiring as our flight-or-fight system switches off its pre-flight checks: relax, you don’t have to run.

Whatever it is, we learn it early because we need it.

We can meet anything in the world with a smile, and when we do, it only ever makes things better.

Smile first. Smile last. Smile because it’s better than crying.

Smile because that’s the way things go.

Smile as often as you can, even if it’s only a grimace.

 

 

Distracted

It’s so easy to get dangerously distracted. 

A glint of gold. A flashing light.

A list of things we should be doing or a meeting that’s happening right now. 

An hour or two slips by and suddenly, that milestone in the day has slipped out of sight. 

Technical issues are one thing. 

Getting distracted is a survival tactic. 

We’ve got to learn to ignore that basic instinct to follow the will ‘o wisp into dreamland and focus on what counts, if we want to thrive.  

 

 

 

New Leaf

Every morning is the chance to start again.

To turn the page.

Make a fresh start.

A dozen tiny buds just itching to bloom.

Which will get nurtured today?

 

 

Summer Friends

Nothing brings up tears like packing the car and saying goodbye to our friends from the summer.

Travelling far away back home, away from the sun and sand and mud and grass and adventure. Sad to close the chapter on the summer and the friends we made, even if we know we’ll be back next year.

It’s never the same when that year has passed. We’re never the same after a year of school and growing and new experiences. And neither are they.

Waving goodbye to summer friends always brings tears because we’re waving goodbye to part of ourselves too, a moment in time when we were and could be something else.

Often, it isn’t until many years later that we realize the last time we saw them was when we waved them goodbye out of the car window that day.

We never know who will arrive at the end of the journey. But we know they won’t be the same as when they left.

So wave hard and wave long; until they’re completely out of sight.

 

Fail and Repeat

That’s the secret to success.

Be happy to fail.

Accept that you’ll fail.

Prepare to fail.

Get up when you fail.

Fail better.

And look for more ways to fail when you succeed.

Take the biggest, most ridiculous thing that you can think of doing and go fuck that up real good for as long as possible.

Try something so impossible that even when you succeed, you’ll still have only started, so that you can keep on failing.

Fail for the sake of it, and fail at what you love.

There’s nothing worse than failing at something we don’t care about.

And there’s nothing better than failing at something we do — especially because it doesn’t feel like it. 

 

Hard Lines

Kids are terrible at drawing, but most of us don’t get much better.

For over 65,000 years, Humans have painted the walls of our caves with plant blood, scratching in the stories of the animals nearby; where the deer drink; where the big cats lurk.

And for 63,350 of them, nobody gave a damn about perspective.

After all, it’s not like you get long to practice art when you’re halfway between starving to death and eaten alive.

Then one day about 600 years ago, some bloke finally figured out how to properly draw perspective, and before you could say “vanishing point,” everyone was at it.

What takes most kids just a few years to pick up — and less if we try — took dozens of millennia for Humanity to learn.

But just because we can all learn to do it now doesn’t make it any easier than it ever was.

We’ve just got 150,000+ years of lessons to lean on.

 

Tingly Pinky

You never really know how much you use something until it’s not there.

Take that little pinky finger.

It doesn’t get used for much — maybe to type the occasional ‘Q.’

It doesn’t seem to pull its weight when the other fingers are gripping hard. It won’t even hammer that guitar string the way it’s supposed to.

Now out of the blue, it doesn’t want to do anything without a fight; a numbing, tingly ripple up the arm every time it moves.

And all those things are at risk because that little digit was way more important than I thought.

Get ready for some typos.

And look after those hands!

 

Eaten Alive

There are vampires out here in the North.

The bears aren’t the half of it.

Giant blood-sucking leeches the size of your finger.

Leathery-winged bats that’ll punch a fist-sized hole through your tent to get a taste.

The horseflies with their saw-edged teeth.

And don’t forget the mosquitos. Not that they’d let you if you tried.

Swarms of them whining around your head and your ankles and elbows, leaving throbbing, cherry-sized welts wherever they land.

Everything out here is trying to get a taste of our rich, salty blood.

But it’s no big deal.

We adapt. We build a stone bank to lure the leeches off the beach. We wear long sleeves when the gnats come out and dive into the lake when a horsefly launches an attack.

We stay inside for an hour or two and light some scented candles to ward those whining little bastards away. And we rub cream on to soothe the wounds when our efforts fail.

Getting eaten alive is just part of the fun, part of the constant battle of wants and wills of nature.

Unless, of course, it’s a bear.

Then scream like hell.

 

Rush Job

Rushing through something never feels good.

Even if we’ve done it a million times — and no matter the excuse for rushing — it’s never quite feels right.

Rushing through is a good way to make a mistake, too. And it’s the quickest way to make something average.

But every now and then, giving yourself a short sprint to make something can turn out pretty well.

Sometimes, it’s better not to have too much time to think.

If you’re having trouble getting started, leave it late and just go go go!

 

Breather

We greatly underestimate our ability to survive and adapt.

The longer we have to think about doing something, the harder it appears. But when we’re thrust into a bad situation we just react. We just do.

We get through.

And it often isn’t until we get far away from it that we realize how hard it was and what changed to get us through it.

It pays to take a breather.

That’s when we get the chance to let the experience sink in and figure out what we’ve learnt from the mess we just lived through.

And how that can help us do what we need to do next.

The Hive

There’s Safety in the Hive.

There’s Knowledge in the Hive.

We Share Art in the Hive.

We Find Love in the Hive.

We Fight in the Hive.

 

Share Your Truth with the Hive.

Spread a Lie through the Hive

Make a Wish to the Hive.

Take Men’s Lives with the Hive.

 

Can’t Wait without the Hive.

Can’t Make without the Hive.

Gut Aches without the Hive.

Can’t Escape the Hive.

 

New ZIP, who dis?

I don’t know about you but something strange happens when I travel great distances at speed.

It’s more than just jet lag.

Step off a plane a few hundred miles away and suddenly, it’s someone else’s money I’m spending.

Sometimes a bit of that new person sticks around even after the old me catches up with all his baggage.

But every time, there’s an adventure to be had — and Future Ben foots the bill. 

So — tequila shots all round before he gets here.

 

Home Stretch

One of the worst parts about travelling is arriving to find that you’re already there.

65 miles. 1,074 miles. 3,547 miles. 5,919 miles…

No matter how many miles away we fly, it never seems to be far enough to escape what’s going on in those brain folds.

Travelling a long way from home always seems to dredge up a bunch of old stuff that should have been dealt with a long time ago. We’re always over that baggage allowance.

Distance makes the heart grow fonder.

But it’s through a pink-tinted telescope.

Slip in

The water’s lovely. But it’s not always safe swimming.

It’s easy enough to get distracted when there’s interesting and exciting things going on.

Time slips by. A relentless trickle, washing the sediment of life down to the sea of oblivion.

It only takes a second to slip and fall into the torrent. Or dive right in.

To let go.

To let life carry us where it decides, and to hell with fighting the tide.

Before we know it, we’re a long way from where we started, and even further from where we want to be.

And there are few things in life more miserable than wet clothes and a long walk home.

 

 

 

Shirtless

The world is full of convenient stories, and one of them is that other people can help you get what you want.

That probably seems morbid, but the truth is that most people haven’t even figured out how to get what they want. And what we want is prone to change. 

It’s often a struggle to decide what we want for dinner, let alone what we want to do with our life. 

Maya Angelou has a great line that goes, “Be careful when a naked person offers you a shirt.”

The way I see it, we’re all out here shirtless in one way or another. And as we’re headed on a long journey, there’s no telling what the weather might do on the way.

I’m no Maya Angelou, so the best I can do is, “Pack a jumper just in case.”

 

Montage Time

The villain always wins the first Act.

If you’re going to tell a hero story — and believe me, that’s what yours is — you need to have a Long Dark Night of the Soul.

It always takes a good beat down before the hero realizes they had it in them from the start.

That’s just how it works.

In the Real, we go through a couple of these a year. Maybe more.

When the bedroom ceiling starts to become the most interesting thing to watch.

When two bags of chips and a tub of ice cream start to look like a well-balanced breakfast.

When the old drugs don’t work like they used to. And the new ones are making it worse.

It’s time to switch it up. Time to make a plan.

Time to double-down and get pumped up for the come-back.

Time to realize what matters, and that the answer was there all along. Even if we didn’t want to admit it. 

It’s time for a montage.

It’s alright to have a little cry first, though.

 

Hormonal Sapiens

We place so much attention on our sapient side that we often overlook the real driving force: hormones.

It’s nice to feel like we’re in control of our thoughts and actions until we wake up one morning with our hormones out of whack and nothing really matters anymore.

The truth is that on some days, the quest for improvement, kaizen, career, dreams or self-actualization — whatever we call it — is mostly just a fight to control our hormones.

Figuring out what we can do to rebalance them when they get messed up. Uncovering what messes them up in the first place.

Learning how to talk down that ancient, anxious Ape inside. How to hype them up. Cheer them up. Give them a reason not to fling shit at the wall.

And that usually means getting out for some exercise, eating something healthy, and going to bed a little bit earlier. And laying off the fermented fruit for a bit.

But some days, Chimp just doesn’t want to be good. 

 

Easy Over

If it was easy everyone would do it.

If you wanted to do it every day it would be bad for you.

If you always had something interesting to say, it would get boring.

Best to just show up and hack away until it’s over.

And hope there’s something to be said about that.

 

Quote Note

One thing I’ve learnt writing these blogs is many self-help book authors are liars.

You’d be surprised how many things Einstein, Aristotle, and Ghandi didn’t say.

Today was going to be about “eating the frog.” I’m not sure why Brian Tracy chose to misattribute this quote to Mark Twain, but it’s a great example of why you should always double-check history: some old white bloke is probably twisting it.

“History” is full of misattributions, purposeful or otherwise.

Of course Brian Tracey, the epitome of white America, wouldn’t quote a bastard French revolutionary writer who committed suicide after the democratic government turned on him.

It’s way cooler if Mark Twain said it. Plus, everyone knows who he is.

Most of our history is the result of pandering like that.

Evolutionary Theory wasn’t Darwin’s idea — and it’s unproved.

The richest empire in the world was in Africa long before Europe.

The Nazis got the idea for concentration camps from the Brits.

And everybody knew what happened at those Church Schools long before they started taking childrens’ bodies out the ground.

Why do you think they waited until the perpetrators were all dead?

But it’s only real if it fits the narrative.

 

Sensible Bedtime

The first gut-clench of FOMO for most people comes about 20 minutes after their parents put them to bed.

Sleeping is terrifying and boring. I get it. The journey to the land of nod was always an unwelcome one for me.

Going to bed seems like the worst option of many, much more fun or interesting things we could be doing. And to make it worse, the adults get to stay up as late as they want.

Children don’t realize that adults aren’t staying up and partying. Most of the time, they’re too tired.

Going to bed early is the real adult choice: like a drinking glass of water.

It’s insanely hard to go to bed at 9 pm. But that’s what has to happen if we want to get up and think at 5 am.

As adults, there’s nobody to stop us from staying up all night playing cowboys.

The question is, will that stop us from getting what we want tomorrow?

 

Second at Best

Sometimes all it takes is a word and we feel out of place.

It casts such a long shadow of doubt over our plans that we decide to rearrange them completely.

We abandon our race.

But there’s a difference between listening to a coach’s advice and running someone else’s race. And the best coaches will tell you to always run your own race no matter what.

Even Usain Bolt can’t tell you how to run your race.

So what if someone thinks you’re going too slow or even in the wrong direction.

The best we’ll ever do when we run someone else’s race is silver.

We might not always win when we run our own race.

But we always have a chance.

 

Build Your Boat

How many hearts were lost at sea?

Before we flew, we strung some old cloth to a bunch of dead trees, flung them in the ocean, and clung on tight. Fortunes were made and lost on the high seas. 

Many a maiden looked across the harbour, hoping to see the dove-white flash of a topsail on the horizon; their heart returned.

Most waited in vain. 

The thing about waiting for our ship to come in is there’s nothing we can do about it. We can gnash our teeth and wail and pray and beg, but that only makes us feel better about our helplessness.

Building a boat isn’t easy. It will take a long time, a year or two minimum. There will be many splinters and bruised thumbs and cursing along the way. Even if we finish it in time, there’s no telling that it will float.

And even if floats, that could spell the end for us.

We could drown, far away from where we began, wet and cold and alone and wishing we’d taken some navigation courses while we were building our boat.

But it sure beats waiting for your ship to come in.

 

 

 

No going back

We all wonder what life would be like if we’d done it differently.

We might even wish we could go back to the way things were, so we can do it better or make a different decision; if only I knew what I know now.

If only I’d accepted that Bitcoin back in 2011.

If only we hadn’t walked down that road that night.

If only I hadn’t said that to her then.

But we did. And there’s no going back to change that.

There wasn’t any going back after WWII. Nobody could pretend the housing crash of 2008 hadn’t happened. And the world hasn’t been quite the same since September 11th. Or Trump, for that matter.

But for some reason, people think this time will be different.

Even if we all wanted to, there’s no going back to normal. And the only people who stand to gain by going backward are those selling rear-view mirrors.

It’s time to stop dragging our heels and help push forward.

We’re going that way anyway.

 

Because You Can

It doesn’t take much to get me to misbehave.

Most of us need very little motivation to do something we want to do, and even less when our mates are doing it too.

Children are pretty busy trying things out, and it’s easy to justify spending time doing that. 

Over the years, people tend to forget that we can try things out for the hell of it. Or play a spontaneous pick-up ball game with random people in the park.

Certain things convince us that “need” and “want” are better reasons than “can,” but there’s no difference at all.

That’s why doing the “can’t” is how we get what we “want.”

 

 

Hurry up and Stick

Isn’t it terrifying that you know you could do it if you really wanted?

Deep down, we all know that if we put in the work — just that little bit every day for a long while — then whatever it is that we dream of would actually happen.

It’ll never look exactly how we imagine, of course. But often, it’s always worth the journey.

That’s the real reason behind every act of self-sabotage in my life.

It wasn’t the fear of failure. It was the fear that it might actually work, and then I’d have to actually do the work, and real people might actually hold me accountable for it.

All of that is rubbish. Ancient fear. It takes years of practice before we’re good enough to decide if we want to carry on doing it anyway.

Just pick something and stick with it for five years. No big deal.

The worst that can happen is you get better at it than most people.

And the best?

Well, I don’t think I need to tell you.

 

 

Tipple and fall

Alcohol is only my third favourite drug, but it just keeps turning up like an old ex.

You know you’re not good for each other, and it’s not even like you have that much fun when you’re together, but for some reason, you keep waking up the morning after a party wondering why the hell you did that again. 

These days, even a mild session saps the life out of me. 

They say write drunk but they don’t say edit with a hangover and a blinding headache. 

The ol’ engine takes a couple more kicks to build up a head of steam the next morning. The day trickles away, spent tinkering with nothing much in particular.

Everything seems a bit shit.

And I think, “Next time, just have a tipple,” knowing even that will likely be too much.

Christ, I’m getting boring fast.

 

 

 

Eke it out

A common misconception about being creative is that it’s enjoyable.

That couldn’t be further from the truth.

Being creative is fun. Creating for a living is work.

No muse appears for a deadline. We’ve just got to sit down and start working.

We won’t get calloused hands, but we’ll probably get repetitive strain injury. Our back won’t break from hauling stones, but it will creak from hours hunched over a table.

Being creative is rarely fun for long.

But it sure as hell is rewarding when you eke out something where there was nothing before — not even the desire to create.

 

 

 

27,000 pounds of flesh

The whole world can change the moment a fresh perspective is gained. 

One truth most people don’t see until it’s too late is that they’ve already won. So, here’s an easy way to tell which side of the table you are sitting on.

If we were to divide all the wealth in the world equally, everybody would get about £27,000, or about $40k. And about $6k a year going forward.

That means that if your net worth, aka the assets you own or your salary, is more than that, you are one of the people that we’ll be taking money from in this global redistribution. 

It’s easy to look up at those big houses and shiny cars and think we’ve been hard done by or cheated.

It’s a lot harder to look down at all the people we’re standing on to get that view. And there are a lot more of them.

We are the problem.

Fortunately, that means we can be the solution too.

 

 

Results Guaranteed

Try this one simple trick. 

Get instant results.

Crush your goals.

Buy this tool or program to unlock the secret; the result; the answer you need. It’s the thing you’ve been missing that will make it all make sense.

But it never does. 

When we feel like we’re running out of time or we want results faster, it’s human nature to look for something that will get us there.

But no fancy or complex or brutal weekly workout can beat 30 mins moderate exercise every day. It just can’t.

If you’re plugging away at something every day, you’re already on the right path. Results take time. That is what time is for.

The only thing between you and that dream is a little bit of patience and a lot more time.

 

Before the dance

As a great pugilist once said, the fight is won long before we dance under the lights.

Just like the race is run a dozen different ways before we even cross the starting line. And the book is written over hundreds of early mornings, with words that are never read.

The training we do every day shapes our future.

What does your day prepare for you?

 

Write you are

For a long time, I wasn’t a writer.

I had dreamed about it, but I didn’t have anything that proved it. Nothing had been written.

Evading and denying my inner writer caused great anguish and uncertainty in my life. Later, I found some solace because my work involved writing, but deep down, that wasn’t enough. 

It was writing, sure, but it wasn’t my writing. Copywriting is all about writing for someone else in someone else’s voice, after all. But it paid the bills.

Writing to you every day changed everything. Just that tiny bit of doing, and suddenly, I was. 

It’s not like it’s easy writing every day. Some days, it’s not even enjoyable. But I write every day because that is what writers do.

Doing is being. Either we do, or we’re not.

But when we are, and we don’t, that’s when things get really messy. 

 

 

 

It happens

The way it happens is rarely how we planned.

Even when we’ve planned how we’ll react if it happens, for some reason, that never pans out how we intended either.

But it’s important to remember that it happens because it happening is the whole point, not because we’re weak or lazy or stupid.

The best we can do is know that it will happen one way or another, and when it does happen, just be grateful that it did.

Because if it didn’t happen, something else certainly would.

And there’s no telling what that could be.

 

Take it Pro

Logic and tactics are rarely enough to win.

Some days, even if we love doing it, it’s good for us, and it’s worth doing, that rational part of the brain just can’t be bothered to put up a fight.

Pushing through on those days is the difference between good and great.

Doing it when we want is easy. Doing it when we don’t want to is the whole point.

The days when we take it pro and push through regardless of whether we want to or not are the days we make the most progress. 

Because nothing worth having ever came easy. 

 

Noca cola

One small gesture can make a whole lot of difference.

Especially when you’re one of the most famous people on the planet.

Cristiano Ronaldo has indeed taken just as much money off corporate food giants as any other sportsperson. And he’s probably even drank pop before.

But that one simple act of removing a bottle of coca-cola from where advertisers had carefully placed it, and replacing it with water, might change how a million children view sugary drinks.

Luckily, most of us don’t have our every action scrutinized by a billion eyes. But we still never know how big a small gesture can become because we never know who’s watching.

 

 

Any Way

There’s an easy way and a hard way.

There’s a smart way and a silly way.

There’s a simple way and a complex way.

There’s a short way and a long way.

And fortunately, there isn’t a wrong way.

We can go any way our heart desires. But there’s no way we won’t regret it if we don’t give at least one way a try.

And there’s no getting lost because all ways lead home.

 

Precedent

Decisions made before we get there are tough to swallow.

That’s why all kids burn their fingers on the stove. They weren’t there when it was decided it was too hot to touch, even though the information was relayed to them sincerely.

Telling somebody, “We decided giving you Y would be better than giving you X” is pointless because we didn’t give them a chance to consider the alternative.

Something isn’t better than nothing if you didn’t realize you were getting nothing to begin with.

And what might seem like the best of both worlds could turn out to be the worst of both for the person who wasn’t involved in the conversation.

It’s safer not to assume otherwise.

 

Rules is Rules

Usain Bolt isn’t always the fastest man in the world.

Not all of Stephen King’s books are good.

And even Novac Djokovic occasionally drops a few sets.

All lovers hate each other sometimes.

All parents make mistakes.

Up must come down.

Everything goes around.

Nothing is the same twice.

And everyone gets another turn.

That’s the rules!

 

Damp Days

Perhaps it’s 15 years of school summer holidays drilled into my biological clock.

Maybe it’s 25 years living on a wet, windswept island off the coast of Europe. Or the ice-walled winter that keeps Canada locked inside for six months of the year.

Whatever the reason, it’s tough to work when the sun is shining.

After a weekend soaked in sunshine, this damp and grey Monday makes it possible to sit down at a desk for six hours and tap tap tap out a living, without too much anguish.

So, I am grateful that today is cooler and damper and grey.

Another perfectly sunny day would have been too much.

 

Kaizen Quotes

These are all the quotes I could find about kaizen and continuous self-improvement. They are mostly related to personal development and kaizen, but there are some about kaizen in the business world too. 

Lots are missing from some of my favourite books about kaizen for self-growth, which I will be adding as soon as possible.

In the spirit of kaizen, this post will be continuously updated with more kaizen quotes as I find them and improved with images and sharable stuff as and when I can. I will also attempt to verify who they are attributed to as much as possible.

My Favourite Quotes About Kaizen and Continuous Improvement

 

“Patience is a competitive advantage. In most fields, you can find success if you are simply willing to do the reasonable thing longer than most people.”
— James Clear


“Average ones compete with others. Great ones compete with themselves.”
— Vadim Kotelnikov


“We cannot become what we want to be by remaining what we are.”
— Max DePree


“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
— Sir Winston Churchill


“I’m always trying to get better. There’s always room for improvement.”
— Cain Velasquez


“Kaizen is like a hotbed that nurtures small and ongoing changes, while innovation is like magma that appears in abrupt eruptions from time to time.”
— Masaaki Imai


“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.”
— Vince Lombardi


“Knowledge has to be improved, challenged, and increased constantly, or it vanishes.”
— Peter Drucker


“There are no big problems. There are just a lot of little problems.”
— Henry Ford


“Persistence, perseverance, and continuous improvement are the ingredients for forming a successful person.”
— Debasish Mridha


“The distance between number one and number two is always a constant. If you want to improve the organization, you have to improve yourself and the organization gets pulled up with you.”
— Indra Nooyi


“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but habit.”
— William Durant


“Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.”
— Henry Ford


“Without change, there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement. Those who initiate change have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable.”
— William Pollard


“The largest room in the world is the room for improvement.”
— Author Unknown


“A relentless barrage of “why’s” is the best way to prepare your mind to pierce the clouded veil of thinking caused by the status quo.
Use it often.”
— Shigeo Shingo 


“Fall seven times. Stand up eight.”
— Japanese Proverb


“The Hacker Way is an approach to building that involves continuous improvement and iteration. Hackers believe that something can always be better and that nothing is ever complete.”
—Mark Zuckerberg


“There’s no limit to the possible expansion of each one of us.”
— Charles Schwab.


“The message of the Kaizen strategy is that not a day should go by without some kind of improvement being made somewhere in the company.”
— Masaaki Imai


“Never stop investing. Never stop improving. Never stop doing something new. Make it your goal to be better each and every day, in some small way. Remember the Japanese concept of Kaizen. Small daily improvements eventually result in huge advantages.”
— Bob Parsons


“The most dangerous kind of waste is the waste we do not recognize.”
— Shigeo Shingo


“If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse.”
— Joe Paterno 


“The Kaizen Philosophy assumes that our way of life – be it our working life, our social life, or our home life – deserves to be constantly improved.”
— Masaaki Imai


“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”
— Vincent Van Gough


“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks and starting on the first one.”
— Mark Twain


“The man who makes no mistakes does not usually make anything.”
— E.J. Phelps


“Learning is not compulsory; it’s voluntary. Improvement is not compulsory; it’s voluntary. But to survive, we must learn.”
— W. Edwards Deming


“Where there is no Standard there can be no Kaizen.”
—Taiichi Ohno


“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.”
— Robert Collier


“Kaizen means ongoing improvement involving everybody, without spending much money.”
— Masaaki Imai


“Continuous improvement is not about the things you do well — that’s work. Continuous improvement is about removing the things that get in the way of your work. The headaches, the things that slow you down, that’s what continuous improvement is all about.”
— Bruce Hamilton


“If a company isn’t continuously improving then it is slowly dying.”
— Dave Waters


“He who rejects change is the architect of decay.”
— Harold Wilson


“Small daily improvements over time lead to stunning results.”
— Robin Sharma


“Kaizen and innovation are the two major strategies people use to create change. Where innovation demands shocking and radical reform, all kaizen asks is that you take small, comfortable steps toward improvement.”
Robert D. Maurer


“Excellent firms don’t believe in excellence, only in constant improvement and constant change.”
— Tom Peters


“You can’t do kaizen just once or twice and expect immediate results. You have to be in it for the long haul.”
— Masaaki Imai


“I don’t worry about maintaining the quality of my life, because every day I work on improving it.”
— Tony Robbins


“There’s no good idea that can’t be improved on.”
— Michael Eisner


“I’m never satisfied with what I do.
I always think I can do it a lot better.” 
— Michael Jackson


“The secret of getting ahead is getting started”
— Mark Twain


“Small actions are at the heart of kaizen. By taking steps so tiny that they seem trivial or even laughable, you’ll sail calmly past obstacles that have defeated you before. Slowly – but painlessly! – you’ll cultivate an appetite for continued success and lay down a permanent new route to change.”
— Robert D. Maurer


“It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.”
— W. Edwards Demin


“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”
— Bruce Lee


“Sometimes, the best kaizen is no kaizen at all.”
— Jon Miller


“As you experience success in applying kaizen to clear goals like weight loss or career advancement, remember to hold onto its essence: an optimistic belief in our potential for continuous improvement.”
— Robert D. Maurer


“If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.” 
— Yogi Berra


“We conquer by continuing.”
— George Matheson


“The past does not equal the future…unless you live there”.
— Tony Robbins


“I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better.”
— Elon Musk


“Learn continually. There is always one more thing to learn.”
— Steve Jobs


“Something is wrong if workers do not look around each day, find things that are tedious or boring, and then rewrite the procedures. Even last month’s manual should be out of date.”
— Taiichi Ohno


“If you stop learning, you stop creating history and become it.”
— Vadim Kotelnikov


“One key to successful leadership is continuous personal change. Personal change is a reflection of our inner growth and empowerment.”
— Robert E. Quinn


“Success is a process that continues, not a status that you reach. If you are alive, there are lessons to be learned.”
— Denis Waitley


“There are risks and costs to a program of action, but they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction.”
— John F. Kennedy


“If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse. ”
— Pat Riley


“No company can afford not to move forward. It may be at the top of the heap today but at the bottom of the heap tomorrow, if it doesn’t.”
— James Cash Penney


“To make the quickest progress, you don’t have to take huge leaps. You just have to take baby steps and keep on taking them. In Japan, they call this approach kaizen, which literally translates as ‘continual improvement.’ Using kaizen, great and lasting success is achieved through small, consistent steps. It turns out that slow and steady is the best way to overcome your resistance to change.”
— Marci Shimoff


“The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas.”
— Linus Pauling


“There are many experts on how things have been done up to now. If you think something could use a little improvement, you are the expert.”
— Robert Brault


“As you experience success in applying kaizen to clear goals like weight loss or career advancement, remember to hold onto its essence: an optimistic belief in our potential for continuous improvement.”
Robert D. Maurer


“Even perfection has room for improvement.”
— Ty Warner


“An open society calls itself open to improvement. It is based on the recognition that people have divergent views and interests and that nobody is in possession of the ultimate truth.”
— George Soros


“Excellence is a continuous process and not an accident.”​
— A.P.J. Abdul Kalam


“Never be so afraid of making mistakes that you stop taking action.
Kirtida Gautam


“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time”.
— Thomas Edison


“Excellence is not a destination; it is a continuous journey that never ends.”
— Brian Tracy


“Persons who reach the higher rungs in business management, selling, engineering, religious work, writing, acting, and in every other pursuit get there by following conscientiously and continuously a plan for self-development and growth.”
​— David J. Schwartz


“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
​— Thomas Edison


“No matter how good you get you can always get better, and that’s the exciting part.”
— Tiger Woods


“Change is inevitable… except from a vending machine.”
— Anonymous


“Society’s future will depend on a continuous improvement program for the human character. And what will that future bring? I do not know, but it will be exciting.”
— Neil Armstrong


“Control your own destiny, or somebody else will.”
— Jack Welch


“In terms of changes, the spiritual mentors teach me that I must not forget those relating primarily to improve myself.”
— Chico Xavier


“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”
— Henry Ford


“Strive for continuous improvement, instead of perfection.”
— Kim Collins


“If we’re really committed to growth, we never stop discovering new dimensions of self and self-expression.”
— Oprah Winfrey


“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”
— Albert Einstein


“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.”
— Benjamin Franklin


“An extraordinary life is all about daily, continuous improvements in the areas that matter most.”
— Robin Sharma


“Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection.”
— Mark Twain


“Continuity of strategic direction and continuous improvement in how you do things are absolutely consistent with each other. In fact, they’re mutually reinforcing.”
— Michael Porter


“Everything can be improved.”
— Clarence W. Barron


“In order to be happy, human beings must feel they are continuing to grow. Clearly, we must adopt the concept of continuous improvement as a daily principle.”
— Tony Robbins


“The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is not training them and having them stay.”
​—​ Henry Ford


“We are always pregnant with a truer version of ourselves.”
— Marianne Williamson


“The journey is never-ending. There’s always gonna be growth, improvement, adversity; you just gotta take it all in and do what’s right, continue to grow, continue to live in the moment.”
— Antonio Brown


“Improvement begins with ‘I’.”
— Arnold H. Glasow


“It’s a great thing about being a musician; you don’t stop until the day you die, you can improve. So it’s a wonderful thing to do.”
— Marcus Miller


“I do not think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.”
— Abraham Lincoln


“Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.”
— Winston Churchill


Act the way you’d like to be and soon you’ll be the way you’d like to act.”
— Bob Dylan


“We know what we are, but know not what we may be.”
— William Shakespeare


“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”
— Charles Darwin


“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.”
— Winston Churchill

 

The Magic Juice

The cliche moments in films — the cringy ones you know are coming — are there for a reason.

Take The Magic Juice. Space Jam was where I saw it first.

The protagonist and their team drink some “magic juice” that helps them win against the odds. But near the end, they find out that it was just boring old water, and they had the power in them all along.

This isn’t just the World Mothering Association trying to get you to drink more water and eat some fruit…

The magic juice has to be water because the protagonist has to learn that doing the “boring” stuff we can all do is what makes them a winner.  Not some unattainable, magical remedy.

The secret to success is doing the boring stuff, like drinking more water, walking 10 km, doing a bit of exercise. Consuming in a way that doesn’t destroy our planet. Working on something long-term that fulfills us and improves our community.

It’s all small and trite and uncool. Nothing mysterious about it.

But if you can pull that off for any length of time, you win.

 

 

Bad Idea

One life-changing moment was when I realized I would never have another good idea.

It was Seth Godin’s fault.

He was telling some overly enthusiastic podcaster that most of his writing was below average, and he had no idea which of his ideas were any good — even after they were published.

“I can just tell which ones are most popular,” he said, that mischievous little smile tweaking the corners of his lips. “They could still be terrible ideas.”

Many creatives, particularly writers, get caught up thinking they must have something to say.

It’s an ego thing. Just ask Dostoyevsky.

There are plenty of terrible, meaningless, and badly-made ideas that are considered extremely valuable and worthwhile by many people.

The secret to being a successful creative or entrepreneur isn’t having one big idea or one breakthrough piece or one work of critical acclaim that blows everybody’s socks off. 

The secret is getting used to getting a ‘D’ and still keep on plugging away at it, churning out bad ideas.

You never know which one might stick.

 

What a Ride

Did you hear the one about the woman who fell in love with a rollercoaster?

It wasn’t a joke.

Maybe there is some security in knowing that a rollercoaster will never look at other rollercoasters or try to rub rails with them.

Maybe there’s some comfort in knowing that a rollercoaster will always be there; colourful, well-oiled, steadfast, and reliable.

Maybe it’s the taboo thrill of the safety bar closing around your chest, locking you in a PVC-scented embrace.

Maybe it’s the tickle of the cold steel brushing against the hairs on your arms. Or the loss of orientation, and the screaming as things go rapidly downhill.

I’m not sure what has to happen to a person to make them fall in love with a rollercoaster, but let’s assume it isn’t great.

It is pretty cool that despite that hurt, the human heart will always find something to love, even if the brain is too scared to let it be another human. 

Excuse me while I hug my guitar.