Kinder

Nobody is going to listen to you.

Unless you say it the right way, it doesn’t matter what words you use.

There are lots of ways to get our point across.

The kindest route is often the hardest path to take.

But it’s the most effective too.

Biscuits

Always risk it for a biscuit.

This is wise advice and common sense too.

Another word for risk is opportunity.

The opportunity to get a biscuit, in this case.

The opportunity of a biscuit also comes with the opportunity to choke on said biscuit; The risk.

Biscuits are always worth the risk of choking on them because they are delicious and the source of infinite crumbs.

Crumbs are just tiny biscuit babies — small enough to inhale — and so impossible to choke on.

Hence, it is almost always worth it to risk it for a biscuit.

Cookies included.

Duality

When is it bad to be good?

When is it good to be bad?

Everything that exists in the Universe has an opposite pole.

Up and down. Dry and wet. Hot and cold.

Happy and sad.

Alive and dead.

In the same way, everything has two ends. Everything exists on a spectrum of itself. Never fully at one end or the other; always somewhere in between.

Discipline means having the tenacity and accountability to keep pushing on. But discipline also means having the awareness to know when to stop pushing.

Being well-behaved is great, until it becomes harmful.

We all like to have fun until the fun stops being fun.

Equilibrium is found in the knowledge that anything exists at every point along its spectrum at all times.

That’s why we see it, wherever we look.

Thank You

It’s the easiest way to make someone smile.

It only takes a second — barely a breath.

But it can make someone’s day.

And it feels pretty good too.

Comeback

Ever wish you had a better comeback?

We can’t change the past.

But if we wanted to have good comebacks in future, we could write down five comebacks a day for a few weeks.

The next time we needed one, there would be one waiting to be unleashed.

That wouldn’t be a very productive way to use our time.

But if it will work with comebacks — it will work with anything.

Storm

A gust rips along the water and thunders into the beach, rocking parasols and snatching at hats and towels.

A dark beast looms over the horizon.

Bruise blue clouds boil over one another, dragging a dreary skirt along beneath them.

There’s barely time to find cover before the tempest erupts.

Thick, heavy drops pound the earth.

Everything is wet.

The ground shakes as the beast bellows.

We huddle together until it passes.

As it always does.

Never Always

Two words that are more dangerous than they are untrue.

When we tell ourselves things like we never get what we want or we always get ignored, we’re only lying to ourselves.

It’s not true, even if we want it to be.

The only correct way to use never is in the sentence:

Things never stay the same.

And the only way to use the word always in the sentence:

Things always change.

HOPE

They say you can’t time the market.

But this might help you avoid getting sunk by it.

This interesting pattern can help you understand why we’re only at the beginning of this downward trend: HOPE.

Housing. Houses are expensive. Most people can’t buy a home outright, so they take out debt. Housing is the first area to decline when the market begins to turn because it is particularly sensitive to high-interest rates.

Orders. Orders refers to the net new orders placed for equipment and services. As interest rates increase, companies decrease the number of things they buy.

Profits are next. Fewer orders mean lower revenue and profits. When earnings start to drop, there’s only one thing left to fall.

E is for Employment. Believe it or not, companies don’t want to fire people. It’s very expensive. But when Profits collapse, there isn’t much else they can do.

Then — and only then — have we hit the bottom.

The final, critical information to know is that central bank rate increases take about 18 months to impact the market.

That gives us six months before the shit hits the fan in Q2 Earnings Season 2023.

You heard it here first.

Double-Whammy

Isn’t it suspicious that all those fossils were neatly preserved?

The odds of a moving animal ending up in circumstances required for fossilization are pretty low.

Religious fundamentalists have long bemoaned their Satan for leaving all those bones around to confuse the picture.

Why are there so many dinosaur bones?

They say a big, old, firey space-rock smashed into our nascent home, throwing up clouds of dust that choked off 99% of life.

That seemed the best explanation, especially after we found a massive hole in Mexico that looked very much like the sort of hole a bloody big space-rock would make.

Except, that wasn’t the only mass extinction event. And there are just as many fossils wrapped in those layers as in the dinosaurs’.

Why?

Volcanos.

Enormous fucking volcanos spouting hell-fire-on-earth and spewing boiling rock all over our lovely green home.

Presumably, the dinosaurs pissed off one deity or another because while rivers of lava were oozing across West India, that massive rock smashed into the other side of the planet.

And apparently — on a planetary timescale — those volcanos happen pretty regularly.

Pompeii was just a taste.

Think Different

The first step of kaizen is the first rule of success:

Always assume you could be doing things better.

Seek out new and different approaches.

If we want to change our lives, we must first change how we think.

The way we think now will only get us further down the path we’re on.

Don’t just ask, how can I do things differently?

Ask, how can I think about this differently?

Why do I think about it that way?

And what am I not seeing because of it?

Cycles

People move in circles.

History moves in cycles.

Big crushing waves of change we can’t escape, even if we notice them at the time.

We’re hurtling into the close of one of those cycles right now.

The economy isn’t money, it’s people. These sweeping macroeconomic forces are created by millions of us all behaving slightly different day to day.

Some say there are several more cycles coming to a close — more subtle, centuries-long cycles of power and wealth shifting beneath our feet.

Only time will tell if history continues to rhyme, but we can be sure that there is more change than we can possibly imagine coming.

And that change means opportunity, if you keep your eyes peeled.

Cinch

Most of our problems have an easy solution.

At least on the surface.

To lose weight, we just need to eat less.

To get strong, we just need to work out.

To be successful, we just need to work harder.

Walking a thousand miles is as simple as putting one foot in front of the other.

But simple doesn’t mean easy.

We know what we need to do.

Knowing the solution isn’t the problem.

The challenge is doing that simple thing enough times to amount to something great — to secure something we want.

We can all put one foot in front of the other, but how many times can you do it, in the direction you want to go?

Sod’s Law

Murphy’s Law says that the worst that can happen will happen.

Finagle’s Law says that the worst that can happen will happen at the worst possible time.

Sod’s Law says that the worst that can happen will happen to you, because you’re a particularly unlucky sod.

Sound advice from all three miserly idioms.

But only for those that dare to adventure.

Practical Will

There isn’t a secret method,

And you can’t buy a magic pill.

Dreams blossom from taking steps daily,

Practicing living our will.

Goodbye Big Sky

By the time you read this, the stars will be gone.

Not gone from the Universe, but gone from our sight.

Over the weekend, an antenna the size of a squash court will be unfurled over our heads.

Some people are worried that its reflection will be so bright that we won’t be able to see any of the stars.

It probably won’t be as bad as people say, but it won’t be the last shiny big thing we hang above our heads.

Many city folk have never seen the stars anyway. So they won’t know what they’re missing.

Not properly seen them:

Lying flat, back pressed safe against our big warm rock, eyes wide to catch every photon, soul lifted into the thick, swirling, endless night.

On the rare occasion I get to truly see the stars, I shit you not, I cry every time.

My heart aches for our loss now and our losses to come.

Get out and look at the stars tonight from somewhere really dark.

You will probably have to drive quite far.

But at least you won’t have to go to space.

Starline

I caught the stars dancing last night.

They didn’t see me see.

They were twinkling away in the velvet blue,

As normally as could be.

When they must have heard a penny flute,

Or the beat of a tom-tom drum.

Because right in front of my honest eyes,

There began a strange procession.

The stars abandoned their usual posts,

And shuffled into a line.

Then began to march across the sky

In a quivering celestial spine.

You won’t believe this tale I’ve told,

Without evidence, I think.

So jump into the cyber web,

And Google, “Aliens or Starlink?

Daily Gains

Work doesn’t have to be gruelling.

Working out shouldn’t be a punishment.

We don’t have to love our practice every day, and it will certainly be tough at times.

But pleasant practice makes perfect practice.

Scientists recently found that just a small amount of exercise — just lowering a heavy weight — a couple of times a day produced more muscle strength than working out intensely once a week.

And maybe if we took it a little easier on ourselves while we were working, we’d look forward to it more next time.

Work doesn’t have to be a punishment.

Daily gains come from small, manageable practices.

The Last Rule

The last rule is: Break all the rules.

Wedding ourselves to a mode of practice can be a great way to build our knowledge and skills.

But if we stick with it too long — if it’s the only way we work towards our goal — it oftens leads to a plateau.

Then we must break our rules.

We must always challenge our practice, challenge the rules and methods we use and ask: do these rules still serve me?

Are these rules guiding or blocking me?

Let them moan

Starting a new habit is hard.

The old habits don’t like it.

They moan and squirm and itch under the skin telling us to pick up the phone, the controller, the lighter, the bottle, the pipe, or the spoon; the implement of our addiction.

They whisper how hard it will be, how much we’ll ache and sweat, and how little it will do to make us happy.

But it’s never as bad as they say it will be, and most of the time, it’s better.

Let them moan.

Undiscovered

They say Atlantis has been found.

And so has the Lost City of Gold.

The Pyramids of the Pharaohs’ are Old News.

Anything with legs, we’ve named too.

But don’t let that confidence fool you.

There’s much more to be discovered yet.

Out there, beyond the stars, that’s true.

But right under our noses, too — I’ll bet.

Phase 1

Your next project is bound to come in late.

And probably over budget too.

It’s just the way things go — and is the last thing that should prevent it from getting started.

Our blueprints and Gantt charts are essential to help us feel our way through a project — to map the steps we must take to reach our vision’s peak.

But Time doesn’t care about our timelines and deadlines.

When things are falling behind schedule, we can always be grateful that we have another day to finish the job.

Calm

Even billionaires struggle to buy it:

A few moments of peace and calm, alone with nature.

Tress whispering.

Waves lapping.

Waterfowl cooing.

How often do we let it slip us by without noticing?

Enjoy the calm before life’s storm starts purring again.

Cows

How many cows is your daughter worth?

A perfectly normal dilemma facing any household leader of millennia long past.

How many cows is this year’s crop worth?

How many cows to buy the gold leaf of Athena’s shield?

We don’t measure wealth in cows anymore, but it’s still a pretty good measure of wealth.

How much is a cow worth anyway?

Five barrels of Brent Crude Oil.

A third of an ounce of gold.

A tenth of an pound of Saffron.

0.025 of a Bitcoin (today).

0.0013 of a Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT (but more tomorrow).

500 dollars.

300 of the queen’s pounds.

One cow.

It’s all the same, as long as we agree.

Soylent Beef

It’s not as cool as flying cars, but we got liquid food.

Many old sci-fiction writers imagined that poor people in the future would eat flavoured protein bars and drink vitamin-enriched sugar water to survive.

We’re not there, but we’re pretty close.

The vitamin water is just sugar though, so it makes us fat.

We had to add the vitamins to the food because it wasn’t nutritious enough to be sold as food.

Everything in the grocery store is in a brightly coloured container and will last for weeks, if not months.

We can get all our nutrition in powders and pills and packets.

We’ve even recently rebranded hydrolyzed soy protein with flavouring as “future beef.”

Hydrolyzed soy protein lasts a lot longer in a bag than a fresh slice of cow butt.

Watch this space for the ‘tasty insect’ rebrand coming soon.

Will they ever have to rebrand human meat?

Maybe as “man’s best friends’ best meal replacement?”

Hopefully, we can figure out how to grow steak in a tube before it comes to that.

And the flying cars too.

Washout

As a fabled King once found out, we cannot escape the rising tides.

Every champion has their down days.

The weather will always break eventually.

Every washout brings us closer to a gorgeous, crystal blue sky.

Odds On

Uncomfortable Universal Truth #3.1: Mathematics is great.

Most children dislike arithmetic, although only for the same reason they hate spinach or mushrooms.

I disliked it too. It always seemed too complicated.

But for all its funny little symbols and relationships, Maths is far simpler than the Arts.

2×2=4. Or you’re wrong.

Maybe that was the real reason I disliked it.

I relish in the grey areas; where one could never be fully wrong.

It wasn’t till later that I realized how cool maths was — how many of life’s wheels it can grease.

No thanks to our Mathematics teachers, to whom the pinnacle of success was becoming an accountant.

But Maths makes life easier.

Compound interest. Boy, I wish I’d understood that ten years ago.

Mean reversion. It’s the way of the world.

Probability. What are the chances of anything?

But nobody told me that creative genius could be explained with Maths too.

The more work we produce, the higher the probability that one of our pieces is deemed insightful, popular, or great.

Let me know when you see it!

Quantum Kaizen

Science can explain Kaizen’s power.

And it’s the most fun kind of science too: Quantum Mechanics.

Practicing something every day in a mindful way isn’t really about physically getting better at anything.

It is mostly so our mind can practice entangling with the right metaverse: The one where we become great at this skill.

Yes, our brain and bodies will adapt a little as we progress. But strength doesn’t come from muscle size. It comes from teaching our brain how to move that amount of mass through time and space.

It’s the same with every other skill.

Every athlete is strong, but they aren’t all good at the same thing.

The more we think about something, the more we practice it, visualize it, live it, the more our brains align with the future where we succeed at it.

Every opportunity that we give our minds to latch on to a photon from that alternative future, the closer we get to becoming it.

Simple, really.

Nine lives

Cats aren’t the only animal that has nine lives.

People do too.

We live several lives over our eight-odd years on this planet.

Childhood. High school. Young Adulting.

Exploring.

Real adulting. Parenthood.

Empty nesting.

And a few more in-between too.

We can live as many lives as we choose.

And we can always squeeze in a new one, no matter how late we are in the game.

Patterns

The Universe is built on patterns.

Everything we see and do has an ever-flowing pattern.

The curve of a wave.

Digital information.

Stock market trends.

The way we run.

The orbit of our sun.

Memories.

Our brain is a sponge for patterns. It’s so good at finding patterns that it can find them even when they are not there.

If we follow a pattern, becomes ingrained in our brain: a habit.

And eventually, we become the patterns we follow.

Break

Break is one of the least adulterated words in our language.

That sound has stood the test of time and a range of pronunciations and its meaning is still roughly the same as it was several thousand years ago.

Maybe being onomatopeic probably helps. Like a crack.

We break our brief in two to make the sound.

It also helps that breaks and cracks are so common in our lives.

They’re feared and desired.

A new day breaks as the waves break on the shore.

Wait till the news breaks that the heat today will break all records.

Take a break from work or you’ll break under the stress.

You’re breaking my heart.

And my favourite of all: breakfast.

Backyard

It’s all right here.

In the biggest, most beautiful backyard imaginable.

It’s endless.

No matter how far we travel, there will always be something new to explore. Or a novel view of something old.

New trees and flowers and birds and bugs.

Mountains that look both familiar and strange.

Every sunset glistening with fresh paint..

Every leaf and raindrop a mystery.

And the stars!

Each one setting ablaze their own alien worlds, across landscapes we can barely imagine, let alone touch.

How could you ask for more?

It’s already all here, right in our backyard.

Ulterior

A few questions can save your life.

The most important and powerful question is particularly potent because we don’t even need to utter it.

We already know that asking “Why?” can keep us alive because it keeps us curious forever; we can’t die if we’re always growing.

But “why” can also protect us from ulterior motives and misinformation.

All information should be questioned — especially when it fits into our narrative or aligns with our existing biases.

The first question we ask ourselves (consciously or not) when digesting data is:

“Does this fit my internal narrative and beliefs about the world?”

A better question to ask would be:

“Is this logical?”

But by far the most important question is:

“Why is this person telling me this?”

The motive for conveying information is often far more revealing than the information itself.

Confused

All it takes is a word.

Or two.

When things are falling apart and everyone is fighting, all it takes to make it stop is a word or two.

Stop.

I need help.

I didn’t mean it.

I’m confused too.

I don’t know what I’m doing.

Or how we got here.

But I know that all it takes to make it better is a word or two.

We just have to find the right ones.

Help me find them.

Grin

Strange things come out of a mine.

Besides the bodies and the ore, lots of lessons can be learned from those who work deep in the bosum of the earth.

Or strung out across the endless wavetops.

Or any work where humans are crushed under the yoke of industry and progress.

Lessons to be learned from those who have survived suffering; idioms like, “Grin and bear it.”

We must struggle through the tough times, whether we want to or not.

We can either wail and cry.

Or crack a smile and crack on.

The Universe always appreciates a good sense of humour.

Branch Out

Once we’ve developed a method, it’s exciting to see how many contexts it will work in.

One of the beautiful things about kaizen is that it applies to every aspect of our lives.

Any goal, any vision, any dream work.

They can all be broken down into tiny, achievable 1% parts.

There’s always room to improve.

We can always find a better way to get to our goal.

Making our goals into habits is like a cheat code for life.

What will you branch out into next?

Mote

For all our dreams and agency.

We are but a mote of atoms, swept along in Life’s currents.

Occasionally slipping under a wash or flipped above the surface by the pressure of the water.

Struggle not, little mote.

We will be at the sea soon.

Relinquish

The best way for your vision to fail is by clinging to it.

Whatever we do, it won’t turn out how we expect.

There are the things we can control: the daily contributions to our account.

And there are things we can’t control that will, all the same, determine how our vision manifests.

We can invest, but we can’t control the interest rate. Or inflation.

We can only have faith that our progress towards the goal, our determination to achieve our vision — whatever that ends up looking like — is enough to get us there.

But to be happy on our path, we must relinquish the outcome.

Clinging on to what we think it’s supposed to look like will only make it less likely to happen.

First Glance

Great arguments have simple logic.

That doesn’t make them true.

If something makes sense at first glance, there’s likely much more to the story.

Those with power in this world know that a Great Story can hide a thousand lies. Probably more.

You can commit atrocities in broad daylight, and no one will blink an eye as long as the story is strong.

The story is all that matters.

The first glance shrugs and agrees.

The second glance asks, “Why are they telling me this story?”

And there lies the twist.

Confront

The most dangerous type of conflict is hard to recognize.

It often looks like agreement.

But it doesn’t feel like it.

In a straight fight, it’s easy to know where to stand: out of reach of the other guy’s fists.

It’s easy to figure out who opposes you in an argument.

But it’s impossible to resolve a conflict if we avoid it.

Instead, the conflict becomes internalized.

It festers. It eats away at our passion and determination until we either crack or turn away; a cancer on our soul.

We can’t always win in a conflict. Sometimes, it’s even best if we don’t.

But we always lose when we don’t confront an issue.

Spend Well

“Getting a great deal” can be the worst possible outcome.

Not everything cheap is good. Most are cheap and bad.

Some cheap things are good, but they are rarely underpriced.

Cheap things must be replaced frequently, like the poor man’s shoes.

As one grandmother put it after getting screwed by a cowboy builder, “If you pay cheap, you pay twice.”

Take your computer or smartphone. I don’t mind dropping a thousand dollars on a device I’ll spend more than half my time on.

It would be hell to use every day if I didn’t enjoy it, like wearing shoes with holes in them because they were half-price.

Another example is Buy-One-Get-One-Free offers. Is it really a good deal if I buy twice what I need and throw half away?

The worst part about buying something expensive is purchasing it. That’s when we’re going to feel the worst about it: as the cash leaves our wallet.

When we buy something cheap and bad, the best we’ll feel about it is right at the beginning, when we get that “great deal.”

It’s usually increasing disappointment after that.

Next time someone offers you a “bargain,” tell them to BOGOF!

Mantra

Life will never be bad for too long.

Things will always change for the better.

And when things are perfect, remember:

They’ll never be perfect forever.

It isn’t the good or the bad that’s the point.

It’s about seeing through your endeavour.

Little Fizz

13.8 billion years.

That’s how long we used to think the Universe has existed.

A shade under 14 billion years.

It always struck me as a bit short in the grand scheme of things.

Our previous telescopes hinted at a sprinkling of anomalous holes in the theory.

The latest, James Webb Space Telescope, can see so far back in time that it’s causing some pretty big reassessments of what happened at the dawn of time.

The galaxies we can see are too small, too far away, too perfect — and there are too many of them to fit our theory neatly.

We don’t yet know what to make of this new data.

Some people will try and fit this new data into the theory, keen to preserve their life’s work defending the current thesis to see that redefining it could be much greater work.

But just like our Science always has, the accepted theory will change.

And who knows what opportunities await us outside the safe and comfortable confines of our paradigm?

We must be open to finding out.

That is the heart of the Scientific Method.

Ambitous

Ambitions are fantastic, when they’re not weighing us down.

Of course, we want to do it all.

It’s tempting to agree to everything; commit to delivering it all; RSVP for every party of the night.

All those ambitions can get in the way of the one thing we truly want, and we spend all the rest of the time thinking about that thing anyway.

Ambition is great, but only when focused.

Spread wide, it’s torture.

Brain Fog

It’s always nice when ancient wisdom gets validated by science.

For thousands of years, we’ve known the benefits of meditation.

The increased ability to focus.

A higher level of control over our behaviour.

Recently, scientists found that a neurotransmitter — glutamate — builds up the brain area we use for most of our cognition.

Just like lactic acid builds up in our muscles when we exercise, glutamate builds up in our brain, which eventually has to do something about it.

Every little decision — every time we have to refocus or exert willpower — a little glutamate builds up.

As the brain falls behind processing that glutamate, our ability to focus and choose diminishes.

Meditation helps us practice our willpower so that we require less effort to focus when we want to and can exert our will longer.

Just like exercise helps our body get better at exerting energy and removing lactate buildup, it seems very likely that meditation helps our body get better at exerting willpower and removing glutamate.

And just like exercise, it only takes a little practice every day.

You First

Helping people can be disastrous for your health.

It’s uplifting, rewarding, and fulfilling, but too much of anything will ruin it.

What used to give us a buzz or a warm glow turns into grim fog.

If we want to keep on helping other people, we must look after ourselves regularly.

There’s not much use in offering shelter if your house is on fire.

True Belief

There used to be one source of Truth.

People called in “God’s Word” in various tongues.

Later, when we all learnt to read, we discovered that was just one type of Truth from one group of individuals.

Later still, possibly to fill the Truth-shaped hole in their souls, people devised a method for discovering the “true nature of things.”

That method we call Science.

The idea was to remove our perception from the equation; to objectively quantify our collective experience to define what was truly what.

The problem with that is that Truth is largely a matter of Belief.

We can present all the most-rigorously verified evidence in the world, and it still won’t alter an individual’s Belief about What is True.

The Truth is what we believe.

When we agree on words to describe our common Truths, like, ‘The Sun is bright,’ ‘breathing is necessary,’ ‘heavy things fall,’ and ‘you can’t escape taxes,’ it becomes Our Truth.

That may be alarming. It should be.

Our brains are horrifyingly capable of constructing the world around us as it needs it to be seen.

If The Truth is only what you believe.

What do you believe that might not be True?

Slake

A glass of water can be a powerful tool.

It doesn’t seem like much.

It’s not much of an accomplishment.

But it’s an ideal way to get momentum.

Slaking our thirst the right way is a chance to take control.

An easy route to the high ground in the morning;

An opportunity to take control of the flow of dopamine for the day.

It feels good. It clears the mind of bodily needs for a moment.

And it opens the door to our next choice for the day.

Be a Vibe

Have you ever met a Caribbean island,

Strolling through town in a colourful shirt?

Have you ever bumped into a prison, marching off to work?

Most people bring a vibe; some people more than others.

Some people can fill a room with rugs,

And cushions that feel like marshmallows.

There are people that bring a marching band,

Or a festival troupe draped in colours.

However you do it, when you leave the house:

Be a vibe that brings joy to others.

Crossroads

There are certain spots on this planet that are still magical.

They always have been, and most likely always will.

Places where the fabric of the Universe holds a little more energy than other places.

Areas where the magical threads that link us all come together in webs.

Some of them are portals through time.

Some of them bring deep calm and contentment.

Some of them drip with evil.

Like any magical thing, these crossroads can consume us, their scintillating buzz lulling our desires.

They tempt us to stay forever.

But would we become numb to the magic?

Unexcogitable

What a terrifying word.

Unexcogitable.

Not just unknown, but unsolvable too.

Terrifying because that is the only view of our future.

We like to think that we know how we feel about things, what might happen next in our lives and how we might react.

We don’t know.

Things we think will hurt don’t. Or they do, but it feels good.

We think certain things will make us happy, but we don’t really know.

And even if they do, it usually doesn’t feel the way we expected.

We often think of life as a string of challenges and problems through which we prove ourselves.

But to whom?

We can try to fix things when they break, but we don’t even know if fixing them is the right thing to do.

And for how long will we solve them until they become unsolved again?

Because that’s what things do at every scale, from Bosun to Universe: Forever falling apart and coming back together again in a different order.

If we can be content with the space they make when things fall apart, we won’t mind what shape they put themselves back together in.

Pay to Care

You can’t buy happiness.

But not for lack of trying.

Happiness isn’t a thing that we can purchase by weight or time.

We can buy things that make us happy for a bit.

We can buy things that make us comfortable or sexy, or smart.

And that can make us happy too.

But you can’t buy passion.

We can’t pay someone more and expect them to care more.

There isn’t a salary big enough to make someone care about a job more than they already care about it.

You can’t pay people more to care.

Pay people that care, more.

Ground

We have a powerful but dangerous neurological trait at our disposal.

Habits are how we shape our behaviour to take advantage of our environment.

When we string habits together into routines, systems that help one practice bump energy into the next, we can make sustained progress with decreasing effort over time.

When we ignore our brains’ ability to standardize and repeat tasks, it does it for us, forming routines that take us further away from what we desire; Who we want to be.

Routines are incredibly effective at moving us toward our goals. But by the same mechanism, they are incredibly effective at keeping us away from them.

Routines going nowhere grind us down into a deep hole with steep and slippery sides.

When we choose our habits, the world is our playground.

But if we let our habits choose us, it’s deadly.

Triumph-Pie

Take a big slice.

A huge wedge of accomplishment pie.

Or just a little sliver if you’re already full.

Look at the size of it!

It’s a mighty big pie.

No one could finish it all in one sitting.

And you wouldn’t enjoy it if you did.

This pie was meant to be savoured for many evenings.

So take a slice of accomplishment pie, for now.

And put it back in the fridge ’til tomorrow.

There’s plenty more where that came from.

Awakening

Today is your awakening.

The sun always rises on a chance to change our minds;

To learn something new;

To see something old in a new light;

To uncover a new dimension of our practice;

Or to unpeel another layer of understanding.

Each new day is an awakening.

Don’t snooze!

All Yours

Have you looked outside the window lately,

Or up into the sky?

The world is filled with beautiful things.

Do you want to know why?

They’re here for you to see and smell.

It’s all ours to explore.

With countless gifts and pains to solve,

There’s no need to ask for more.

Underdogs

Winning rarely looks and feels the way we thought it would.

We watch others win and occasionally get a tantalizing whiff of gold ourselves, imagining how victory would taste.

When it does finally come, it often takes us by surprise.

We think we know the story.

We think we knew who the underdogs are, but when victory comes, we finally see that the real underdogs have gone unnoticed and unsupported, right under our very noses for decades.

And they win with all the grit and gumption we could ever want.

Victories like that can start a new era.

Get Up

Mind your step!

No matter how carefully we tread, eventually, we’ll slip and fall.

There’s no point wallowing in the mud.

The only thing we can do is get up, brush off our knees, and keep trudging forward.

Blue or Green?

Humans need to fight.

It’s our nature to seek out challenges.

Conflict is one of the best ways to learn about ourselves and our world.

Several years ago, a web designer and I argued about the shade of blue they’d used on a website we were building.

The problem was that it was green. And not a very nice shade of green either.

The argument didn’t last very long because we were both looking at the same objective thing — and there was a simple way to confirm it.

That day my colleague learned they were colour-blind, which would not have happened without the conflict.

Ideas are much harder to debate.

When we bump into someone with opposing beliefs about less tangible knowledge, like the nature of God or Society, rhetoric can quickly deteriorate into war.

Physical altercations are not the best way to learn from each other.

So we must learn to question and be questioned without retreating to outright antagonism.

How else can we separate our perceptions from reality?

Blue can be green.

And we’d never know unless we argued about it.

Buzzy Bee

Don’t underestimate how much energy it takes to keep our subconscious ticking over.

Even when we stop thinking about something, our subconscious still mulls it over in the background.

That’s why the solution to a problem will suddenly come to us.

Knowing we should do something, whether it’s a work project or the laundry, can weigh on our mind in this way.

Not a conscious burden, but a burden all the same.

Better to get it out the way.

The Couch

There’s a lumpy brown couch that everyone knows.

Every week for years, five yellow bums found their way on to that couch in a new way.

728 ways, to be precise.

Now there are so many episodes of the Simpsons that you can watch two a day for a year, each with a unique “family gathering on the couch” scene.

And there’s a whole 20 minute episode after it too.

These days we are so used to skipping the intro that we forget how much of a pleasure it was to get that one new scene every episode.

Not every scene is great. And I’m sure there are some days they wish they’d never started doing it.

But that little nod to the audience, a brief gratitude for watching the credits, made the Simpsons stand out then and now.

How do they come up with a new idea every time?

It’s simple: They have to.

They committed.

People love it when you keep a promise.

One Win

The bottom of the barrel is pretty crowded.

Most people are closer to rock bottom than the top of the mountain.

We all end up there, bent sore on the back of a belt of losses. There’s rarely one strike in a lashing.

They come thick and fast and sting like hell.

A whipping from fate knocks our confidence. Nothing works quite the way we want it to. The ball won’t go in the back of the net.

We plug away through the mire because that is all we can do, even though every step grows heavier with the weight of the last.

We struggle because we know it only takes one win to turn things around.

One glimmer of hope. One chink in the clouds.

And the future looks a lot brighter.

A single win starts the beginning of all the great winning runs of history.

Still Heavy

Practice doesn’t always make things easier.

It makes things easier most of the time.

It can make it easier to access certain skills, use parts of our brain and environment in new ways.

It can make us so good at doing something that we forget how hard it is.

It can make us strong enough to carry an incredible load.

But the weights themselves still always weigh the same

No matter how good we get at lifting them.

Even the lightest load sometimes feels just as heavy as it did at the beginning.

And lifting it is enough.

Bodyguards

The Secret Service’s job is not to protect the President.

That’s second on the list.

The first job of the Secret Service is to protect themselves.

A bodyguard isn’t much use if they are easily beaten in a fight. Or if they are too tired to notice a threat.

Their first job is to look after themselves, to work on their skills and health and ability to ensure their environment is as safe as possible.

Unless they ensure that they are safe and strong and ready, they are in no position to help anyone else.

Forward

This journey is one way.

No going back to take a different path.

It has many branches open to us, but we may only travel one route.

We can linger a little but it’s never long before the path draws forward.

If we blindfold ourselves the path will chose itself.

One step at a time

Forward.

Family Men

There are few pleasures in life as great as watching your boy mates turn into Real Men and Great Fathers.

What a joy to behold children become adults.

We are blessed to witness.

ID

Films can be dangerous.

Even the most childish stories can work themselves into our brain folds and lie there whispering to our subconscious.

The potent stories shout.

The stories we tell to each other are culture, and the stories we tell to ourselves are identity.

And we can tell ourselves any story we like.

Little Wins

Little wins are more important than big wins.

Big wins are just the result of lots of little wins strung together.

Big wins are pretty loud and glamorous so people naturally talk about them.

They take pictures and say things like, “Congratulations” but most of the time they’re not sure why.

The little wins that no one sees are the most important because they makes us who we are.

Nobody gets a medal for going to the gym.

But it’s the only way to get on the podium.

Desire

Lust and desire are not to be confused.

Lust is mostly biochemical.

Desire is in the mind.

Desire cannot exist at the same time as lust, because desire exists in the space between two people.

Desire is the distance.

Queues

Queues are one of the Great Wonders of Humanity.

Once August weekend, I was wandering around the BoomTown Fair with a gang of inebriated reprobates when we spied a line of equally inebriated gang of reprobates waiting in a long line.

There were several gangs, in fact, standing around gurning and smoking in the late summer sun.

At the head of the queue, there was a rope.

I could feel the velvet sheen brushing against the inside of my knuckles from twenty feet away.

We joined the queue, of course.

That the magic of queues.

When we finally got to the head of the queue, we were corralled in single file down the center isle of a tent filled with wild eyed, giggling druggies in fancy dress drinking cups of tea, before being deposited out the back of the tent by the force of the people behind us in line.

It was a trick.

We dispersed in shame.

A queue is a great way to catch a human.

We trust it.

We trust each other in it.

The Queue is a Pillar of Civilization.

One Chance

We only get one chance to go around on the the merry-go-round of life.

Even if we get more rides, getting this one right, doing everything we can right now, is all that counts.

Make this one everything.

To Be

If we’re lucky, we grow up with loving parents and family around us.

Then we make our first childhood friends and it seems impossible to think of being friends with anyone else.

Then we grow up and fall in love, often several times.

We meet new friends and lovers and new people who love us in new ways, and sometimes even people who love on a very special way: enemies.

No matter where we are in life, there are always people old and new waiting to love us.

And just as many left to meet as we’ve already met!

Irrational

There is no such thing as a logical decision.

Not by a human.

We like to think we’re rational but the truth is that most of us can’t ever truly reason.

Our reasoning is clouded by subconscious biases, conscious beliefs, stories, stereotypes, emotions, habits, and culture.

Even the most thoroughly planned experiments fail to neutralize all the variables of life.

It is comforting to feel some agency in our existence and so we rationalize our decisions.

But it’s possible that we are such slaves to our habits and environment that we always make the same decisions, regardless of how much we think about them.

Then we must wonder: is it worth thinking it through at all?

Maybe, if we surrender the outcome, we’ll end up in the same place, with half the worry.

It sure is scary to let go though.

Fake it

Practice is just faking it.

Fake it till you make it.

Dress for the job you want not the job you have.

Tell people you’re great when they ask how you’re doing and it will be true.

Practice being good until you are.

Then practice being a little better than that.

And it won’t be long until you’re not faking it anymore.

Dive-off

Anything can be a diving off point.

The tough part is convincing yourself to do it.

Bumps and Tears

Life sure can be pretty painful.

We don’t acknowledge it but children sure do.

Somewhere between five and thirty-five times a day, children will bang the head, poke their eye, eat something nasty, trip, see a spider, shit themselves, stub their toe, get hungry, or walk into a door.

Then the tears. And the wailing.

That’s the first couple of hours of the day.

The first five years are pretty much solid failure for kids. Growing up and figuring out a body and society is tough.

But they always end up smiling again before too long.

Every day is filled with painful mistakes and we don’t learn very quickly.

But that doesn’t stop the giggles.

One Toe

Death isn’t something to fear.

Death is already here.

We don’t like to talk, as if that will make it go away.

As if that will make it untrue.

But death is already upon us.

As close a companion as love and chance.

It has already taken the time we have lived.

No need hurry to drop a foot.

We are all one toe in the grave.

Hooked

45,000 years of practice.

Nearly fifty millennia we’ve been flicking little hooks into the water.

Hooks and nets and leeches and worms and flies cast out into the deep, hoping for a slippery wet meal.

And after all that time, all those generations of experience and knowledge accumulated, we still can’t guarantee a bite.

Sometimes, you come home open handed.

But that’s don’t stop us from going out to cast a line tomorrow.

Ill-Luck

Even the best laid plans fall prey to the fates.

Sometimes the fish don’t bite

Better to know when to go home then drag out the failure too long.

No Talent

There’s no such thing as no talent.

Just like there’s no such thing as talent.

At least not the way we talk about it.

Talent is misunderstood.

Talent is the product of genetic potential, environmental circumstances, and practice.

Lots of practice.

Mostly practice.

No talent, not often than not, just means we need more practice.

Punishment

The hustle doesn’t have to feel like hell.

We don’t need to be a martyr to get what we want in life.

Anyone can work themselves into the ground.

But then what’s left?

We don’t need to punish ourselves with insane workouts or extreme dieting or endless hours to make up for being human.

Hard work can be a pleasure, when we’re not using it to compensate for something.

There’s nothing to compensate for!

Your Call

There’s an old saying that tells us pretty much everything we need to know about the secrets of the universe.

It has many versions in almost all the languages, but they all sum up to this:

Whether you think you will, or you think you won’t, you’re right.

We decide what the outcome will be, every time. The Universe bends to our will.

Whether we realize it or not.

Diminishing Returns

Money can buy happiness.

But only for a short time.

Wealthy people only tell you money doesn’t buy happiness because they’ve tried.

They know that all the happiness you can buy has diminishing returns.

That first hit is amazing.

Pure ecstasy.

The real fucking shit.

But each time, that juice tickles the spot just a little less.

Pretty soon, everything gets old.

Fancy clothes. Nice cars.

Technology gets old real fast.

Can’t taste the difference between the Michelin stars.

Nothing feels quite like the dragon’s first bite.

But all the happiness you can buy has diminishing returns.

There are some things in life that bring happiness that doesn’t fade with use.

Sunsets.

Starlight.

Warm fires on cold nights.

The beat of a drum.

A hug from your mum.

The satisfaction of struggle won.

Some happiness never loses buying power.

Because that’s the kind of happiness you can’t buy.

Short Term

Commitment is expensive.

It’s easy to do things for a day or two.

But doing anything long term always seems expensive.

If we add up all the hours in advance, the months and years stretch on and up and we turn away.

To make the long term cheap, take one bite at a time. Save one dollar a day.

Take one step forward.

Don’t worry about the steps ahead.

Hoist Away

Destiny is a moving target.

The things that happen do not determine the quality of our lives.

They are milestones. Forks in the road.

Yes, we must all surrender to the winds of fate.

But it is entirely up to us how we set our sails against kismet’s currents.

Life is not the changing wind.

Life is what we choose to do when the wind changes.

Hoist away!

Value

We are trained to spend our time and money unwisely.

I used to balk at the idea of spending $20 a month on a gym membership.

Why spend money just to work hard hard?

But $150 on eight pints, two shots of tequila and plate of nachos at the pub?

That was money well spent.

It’s easy to spend money on the things we see value in. Or we think we see value in.

The problem is the things that we’ve been taught to value are not the things that actually bring us value.

We spend thousands of dollars entertaining ourselves.

So, what’s a few hundred to live a little longer?

Usually, it sounds like a scam.

It’s easy to see the value in immediate satisfaction.

But it’s the things we have to wait for, the delayed gratification, the investments, that really bring us value and contentment.

Once you start seeing the value in delayed gratification, cheap and quick purchases start to look an awful lot more expensive.

S-Cared

Don’t be scared to care.

There are a lot of things we don’t do because we’re scared that caring about them — caring whether they succeed or fail (or if we succeed or fail) is terrifying.

It’s much easier just to not care.

To walk on by.

But it’s the people who care that change the world.

Civilization is the result of people who cared enough to fix something or make it better when nobody else cared enough.

Don’t be scared to care.

But it’s ok to be a little scared of what might happen when you do care.

Because the consequences are world-changing.

Imperfect

Stop looking for perfection.

There’s no perfect opportunity.

There’s no perfect job or business idea.

There’s no perfect situation or moment.

There’s no perfect person either.

Waiting for the perfect moment is the perfect way to spend a long time waiting.

Sometime, you just have to suck it up and go all in.

Either it works out.

Or you try something else.

That’s life.

S.O.S

All stories about people who wash up on a desert island stories end after they figure out thing: how to ask for help.

It’s the hardest part – admitting you need help – admitting things aren’t the way we’d like – that we messed up or made the wrong call or even maybe aren’t the right for the job.

But once we ask for directions, the rest is easy.

It takes strength to ask for help.

Easy Days

One test, is they drop you in a pool with your hands and legs tied.

Another test you have to run 60km carrying 150km.

When you train to be a S.E.A.L., they put you through six months of hell, with one purpose:

To make you comfortable being uncomfortable.

They have a saying, the young men and women that choose to complete one of the most grueling physical challenges in human history.

The equivalent of swimming from Cuba to Florida. And then running from there to NYC. In combat gear.

The words those survivors chant, knee deep in mud, freezing cold, and hungry, is:

The only easy day is yesterday.

The only easy day is yesterday.

The only easy day is yesterday.

A Day

Work will always be there.

There will always be more to do.

The laundry will never stay clean and the fire will always need wood.

We will never be able to do so much work in one day that there will not be anything to do tomorrow.

Once the important work is done, it’s just as important to know when to call it a day

Loved

One of the greatest strengths you have, whether you realise it or not, is that you will always be loved.

Maybe not by everyone, but enough people.

No matter what you try to do next;

No matter what adventure you embark on;

You will be lamented and welcomed and loved at every stop.

What a way to travel!

Done

Just a quick reminder that if you can do anything you set your mind to.

What will you set it to next?

Never too old

People say awful things about themselves all the time.

Things like, I’m too old.

You are:

Never too old to be silly.

Never too old to have fun.

Never too old to dance the night away.

Never too old to dream.

Never too old learn.

Never too old to explore.

Never too old to grow.

Never too old to start again.

Long Drives

There’s quite a reliable way to make a long road trip seem much shorter.

Until I was about 11, the longest drive I’d been on was about 4 hours.

When we were children, that seemed like the longest trip in the world — an eternity of tarmac and boiled candy and I Spy.

But every year, that trip got slightly shorter.

It wasn’t that we drove faster or knew a better route, although all those benefits of experience played their part.

It was because we had travelled the road before, so there were fewer new things to notice about it.

That’s why the trip home always seems shorter.

If you want to make a long, hard journey fast and easy, do it a thousand times.

Don’t squirm

There are many fantastic tales of people who tried to fight the Fates.

Those who saw failure in their future and conspired to avert it, instead of continuing on their path to face it.

No matter how they wriggle and squirm, Misfortune always catches up, wielding her scroll and spoon to stir things up until we learn a lesson.

There is no need to fret when destiny takes you for a spin.

You’ve failed before and were fine — better even.

You can do it again.

And next time will be more fun.

Skills

One of the greatest things about life is skills.

Trying them. Being awful. Learning them.

Still being awful.

Battling away until we’re a little better and a little better than that until we master it.

One of the greatest gifts we have is the ability to learn anything we want, along with the hundreds of people waiting to help us master it.

Finding a skill you enjoy and mastering it is one of the most gratifying things we can spend our time doing.

A blip

Progress may feel achingly slow sometimes.

The days may seem to drag by and the work load barely shift.

But looking back, when all is said and done, it won’t seem like long enough at all.

Effectiveness

There are a lot more things we can do that lead to failure than to success.

We can form habits and systems to help us efficiently achieve anything, and most of us are better at it than we realize.

Subconsciously or not, our success is measured not by the efficiency at which we can execute our plans but by the effectiveness of the things we choose to become efficient at.

It’s just as much work to become efficient at something useless as it is something useful.

Relax

Sometimes there isn’t much more you can do than relax.

And that’s not always as easy as we’d like.

Relaxing takes practice too.

What to Want

If you’re at a loss as to what to do or what to want, think about this.:

Maybe we only struggle to figure out what we want because we already have it

We already have everything we need.

We are already surrounded by love.

What more could one want?

Once you have everything, the only logical next question is, how can I share it with everyone else?

And now we’re cooking.