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.

Stability

There’s nothing more dangerous than a stable market.

The calm before the storm.

Stability, by its very nature, causes instability.

People get confident.

They let their hair down. Overextend. Dream.

They forget to steer the ship and it all goes off balance.

Stability is just an illusion, the way a pendulum seems to float at the top of its arc for just a moment, before hurting back the other way.

There’s no point aiming for stability.

Just enjoy it when it comes. And enjoy it when it goes.

Up Next

Life is full of cliffhangers.

Cliffhangers and roundabouts and whirligigs and roller coasters.

We can never be sure what’s up next.

But we can be sure that it’s good for us.

And that there’ll be lots of people waiting to meet us when we get there.

Preposterous

Not many things are impossible.

Far fewer than we might think.

Back when the world was flat, to say otherwise was hearsay.

In the Age of Steam, the idea of bacteria was ridiculous.

And when we thought we’d figured out the mechanics of the Universe, when it was preposterous to suggest that something could move faster than light, we discovered that light itself could be in two places at once.

Things only seem impossible, until they’re not.

And that’s often much sooner than we think.

Jump

We used to stand on edge of the bridge, fingers wrapped over the railings and muddy toes clinging to the boardwalk.

The water below opaque with swirling clouds of silt and sand, moving steadily out to sea.

The morning wind would rise to blow out the tide, sending goosebumps rippling across our bodies.

“Jump!” Someone would scream, hurling themselves into the icy water below.

We would all follow, arms and shrieks slicing the air.

I remember the first time, gazing into the gently brooding creek, the high tide waters lapping over the tips of the samphire that carpeted the marsh.

I remember the terror.

Was I expected to jump in too?

Only if I wanted.

Which of course I didn’t.

But who wants to be left behind?

Who wants to miss out on the fun?

Who wants to take that long walk back through the mud alone, wrapped only in a soggy towel and regret?

Not I.

Jump in!

Less

Often it’s when we do a little less, a lot better, that we get far greater results than when we were hammering away with app our energy.

No body likes a try hard.

Even the Universe.

Outta the Way

Once we decide what we want, the rest is easy.

You’d be surprised what you can say no to once you decide what you really want.

Prioritize ruthlessly.

Practice relentlessly.

We march fearlessly forward.

Apples

Apples are fantastic little fruit.

Their tasty, nutrient-rich flesh is meant for us to eat.

Us or some long-fingered ape or bumbling quadruped.

The half-dozen little seeds encased within don’t need the sugar-rich flesh to grow.

To grow, they must be eaten. Crushed. Drawn into the belly of the beast.

Some will not survive.

Those that do will fall somewhere new, somewhere far, somewhere different.

The apples that don’t fall far from the tree rarely grow strong under the great, thick-boughed shelters of their parents.

Apples may not fall far from the tree, but if they’re lucky, life will carry them a lot further than that.

Confidence

Being confident is a lot easier than people realize.

When we say somebody is confident, we are saying that we wish we were confident enough to do whatever it is that person did:

Public speaking.

Publishing our work.

Asking for a raise.

A confidence trickster doesn’t trick people through their confidence, they trick people with a goal, and then helping them along it until they become so confident in it that they make an error.

We only tell ourselves that we’re not confident enough to do things because we haven’t done them, or we’ve only done them once or twice.

Once we set a goal, we know which path to take next.

And once we take that first step towards the goal, we grow a little more confident, because it takes confidence to take that step.

And the next one, and then the next one.

Being confident is as easy as setting a goal, and taking a step towards it.

The more steps we take, the more confident we become.

Doubt

Most successful creatives won’t tell you about this.

They won’t tell you about the angst and the doubt and the fear.

But if we are not struggling, if there isn’t doubt and fear, are we challenging ourselves at all?

Part of having a practice is deep down, hating that practice a little.

Sometimes.

Chipping

All diamond miners know the secret.

When the rock gets the hardest, we’re close to the diamonds.

It’s when chipping away at the cold stone face gets toughest, when we most want to relent, we must keep on chipping away.

The treasure you seek is closer than you think.

Mountains

There’s something very reassuring about mountains.

Vast slabs of stone rising up out of the ground like a hug from Mother Earth.

Deceptively close.

Deceivingly touchable.

Draped in quivering green.

Crowned in ice.

Reliably impressive.

Automate

We can’t get more time but we can buy it back.

If there’s something you do regularly that takes time, see if there is a way to automate it.

Some things, like bill payments or toilet paper deliveries, are super easy to automate.

Other, more personal things, take some research and time to figure out, but there are lots of free tools available like Zapier that can connect the apps we use daily and automate many simple tasks.

What are some things you could automate to get some time back?

Good Story

I should have double-checked the reviews.

We arrived at our “cozy and vintage” AirBnB on a balmy Toronto evening, and discovered it was a shit-hole.

On the front porch, a terracotta cigarette-fountain was oozing damp, mangled butts across the top step.

Generations of dirt marbled the ancient pine floors. A yellow, naked bulb cast shadows up the stairs.

The key code I’d wrangled from the host worked, but as soon as I opened the door I knew there was a problem.

This wasn’t a top floor suite with a kitchenette and a lake view. This was a ground floor twin-bed closet with a view of the raccoons fucking in the alley.

And someone else was living in it.

After an hour or so on the phone, we were found somewhere better, as is often the case.

And besides reminding myself how lucky I was to be there in that mess in the first place, I tried to keep calm by thinking how it would make a good story later — as most trauma does, given time.

In the worst times, there’s always a great story — a great lesson — to be told.

We just have to survive it first.

Change of Scene

Wherever the world takes us next.

It’s usually because we need that change of scene.

And it’s always good for us in the end.

Get Used to It

There is a lot of bad advice about being happy.

Here is some good advice:

Get used to not getting everything you want.

There will always be another dream, a bigger vision, a new toy, or a fresh style to pursue.

Something that rich people complain about is still feeling a sense of missing something; of needing more.

That is just how human brains are wired.

Just the same as we will always get hungry, and thirsty, and tired.

We haven’t got the time to be great at everything. We can’t solve all the problems in the world or have all the things or even try everything.

Just anything.

So we must be content with immersing ourselves in the handful of pursuits that make us most happy — and get used to not having the rest.

White Belt Mentality

All the best martial artists have the same mentality.

One of the greatest fighters of all time, Georges St-Pierre, called it a “white belt mentality.”

The white or colourless belt is the lowest novice ranking in almost every martial art.

Having a white-belt mentality means being humble, knowing there is always more to learn, ways to improve, and people to listen to — even when we already have lots of experience.

As George St-Pierre said,I keep the white-belt mentality that I can learn from anyone, anywhere, anytime.”

Breadcrumbs

Once we’ve decided we’re going on a quest, the clues will find their way to us.

The brain is wired to learn patterns that make it feel good.

Every time we complete our practice we get a little boost of dopamine.

If we push through the early stages of forming a habit, eventually our brain will start to look for ways to get that dopamine hit daily.

It will nudge you to do it by itself, so much so that guilt can even form around failure to do so.

Our brain is looking for a quest.

Set it on one, and the breadcrumbs will comes to you.

Protein First

Want to lose weoght?

Don’t eat less.

Eat more! And lift more.

Eat more protein in particular.

And eat your protein first.

Your body is wired to find proteins, so get it in quick..

You’ll feel much more satiated after.

It’s an easy diet change that’s guaranteed to make you leaner.

Have a Fun Time

A coffee server said something weird to me this morning.

As I walked away with 16oz of coffee steaming in my hand, she said, “Have a fun time.”

Maybe she meant to say it that way because it gave a funny feeling, like I was starting a trip or going on an adventure.

Every day we enter a boundless theme park.

Roller coasters with and downs.

Whirligigs and haunted houses.

Sun and rain.

Unpredictable challenges at every turn.

Endless opportunity to explore and learn and grow and build.

Every step a gamble in the playground of Life.

Have a fun time!

Quiet

The US Army is allowed to torture in only three ways.

The first way is through sound.

They play loud music constantly to deprive captives of sleep and space to thin.

It’s often heavy metal, but even Lady Gaga will work after 20 hours of audio bombardment.

Pretty much everything works, except classical music. And even that gets old after a few days.

Everyone deserves a bit of quiet now and then. 

One of the most impactful things we can do for our health and wellbeing is to find some quiet time.

It doesn’t have to be meditating.

It could just mean going for a walk, a bath, or a nap.

Finding a few minutes for ourselves can help us discover so many new things about ourselves that it’s never a minute wasted.

And even if it is wasted, so what

Re-Assess

No matter what anyone tells you, there’s no perfect way to get what you want.

Sticking to a methodology or a way of practice is — if anything — a weakness.

To master anything, to reach any vision, we must accept the struggle.

But we must also be mindful enough to know if we are struggling more than necessary because we have taken the wrong approach.

Or if we are struggling because we have let our priorities slip.

It’s easy to let older habits fade to the backburner when exciting new work comes our way.

When the sun comes out to play after a long winter, it’s even easier to make excuses not to practice; not to find the time for our practice.

Instead, we should re-assess our approach to ensure we have time for our old habits. The ones that got us here.

That means switching up the schedule and consciously blocking the time to ensure we make time for the little but important things that move us towards our long-term goals.

No plan is perfect. And a perfect plan never stays perfect long.

Brain Train

The brain is a muscle

The most significant muscle we own.

It powers all our other muscles as well as our behaviour.

We need to train it like we train our other muscles.

We need to practice using it in different ways like we practice anything.

The problem is that we train it by accident most of the time because the brain is a mush that moves itself if we leave it alone.

We need to train our brain to respond to circumstances the way we want.

We need to practice being happy.

We can’t just expect it to happen.

We need to practice gratitude.

We need to practice composure.

We need to practice empathy.

Use it or lose it.

So get on the brain train and keep training your brain.

No two ways

Every morning we are presented with the same challenge.

Wherever we are in our lives, and no matter what happened the day before, we open our eyes to this challenge. 

Will you grow or die today?

We either step forward and fight for our survival and the chance to create our art. 

Or we accept defeat and begin to decay. 

There are no two ways about it. 

Until tomorrow.

Guts

Some decisions we must leave to our guts.

Data can help.

Experience can help.

But some things we just know deep down, in the pits of our stomachs. In our second (or maybe first) brain.

When it grinds in our guts, there isn’t much we can do but follow it.

Journey

I’ve learnt several important things so far in my self improvement journey.

One of them is that you don’t need to do so much cardio.

Achieving a goal is never a sprint, although there will certainly be sprints involved.

But when we accept the call to realize a vision, we must also accept the long journey to get there.

We can’t skip to the end. If there was a pill to get the perfect body, we still wouldn’t have it for long.

The journey is necessary.

The journey is the point.

Take the first step.

Stimuli

They used to think the body only evolved slowly, by chance.

Some freak occasional mutation would give one animal an advantage over its peers. Over generations, they’d become dominant traits.

But we evolve much faster than that.

Our bodies will adapt to any stimuli incredibly quickly.

So quickly that we often have to keep upping the dose of the stimuli to keep seeing benefits.

We’ll never be ready to start doing something well, but you better believe that after a few weeks, your body will have adapted and you’ll be several times better than you were.

These changes might not always become imprinted in the genetic code, but they might be. And there’s more to life than just DNA.

We can adapt to ANY stimulus, given time.

The problem isn’t whether you can do it, it’s choosing one for you.

Moustache

If you have ever wondered about whether you will look good in a moustache — you will.

Almost every man can grow a decent soup strainer, even those who are follicly challenged elsewhere.

Thats not an accident.

It’s design.

Women love some face fuzz.

They have selectively bred men to grow abundant bristles.

We all got one.

Grow it out and see.

Hiring

Ranking people is a weird feeling.

I’m sure we all do it to an extent, even subconsciously, but doing it systematically is challenging.

On paper, there are so many people that can probably do the job. How can you judge someone’s work ability without seeing it?

Why not take the first one that passes the technical test, the first who can back up their paperwork?

There are other elements like character, salary expectations, career level etc. but it’s tough not to feel that everyone deserves a chance.

It’s hard to know what’s available until you’ve met a few of them — everything is relative, after all.

But when it comes to the final decision, the margins are so fine that they’re barely noticeable, and probably inseparable from our biases.

Together

A desert island is a very lonely place to live.

Sure, there are palm trees.

Of course, the beaches are blissfully deserted.

Coconuts aplenty.

But what is life without another to experience it with?

Just a memory. Maybe a photo or two.

Experiences are made when we can turn to our travelling companion and say: “I’m glad you’re here to share this with me.”

Or often just, “This is pretty nice, eh?”

Always one

There will almost guaranteed be a typo you miss.

Someone won’t get the memo.

The link will break.

It won’t go to plan.

Is that a reason to hold back?

Hell no!

Nap Time

Napping is a bit trickier than just falling asleep.

It’s a wonderful way to refresh the brain and body if done the right way, but it takes some practice.

Once I’m in bed, I tend to want to stay there for a bit.

Some famous people hold an object in their hand, so that once they fully nod off, it falls and wakes them.

But often I feel like more than a micro nap, and curl up for half an hour, only to wake up more tired and grumpy.

You would think that something as natural as sleeping wouldn’t take practice, but it does.

Just like anything else, we have to practice it to be able to integrate it into our lives.

And I think it’s about time I did.

Grind Softly

More work doesn’t mean better outcomes.

Overwork is a great way to burn out though.

Working out more doesn’t mean faster gains.

But it is a good way to injure yourself.

Forcing our way through the jungle is a lot more work than slipping through it.

Work smart. Work often. Work consistently. Those are all great ways to get what we want.

But grind softly, and the flour will be fluffier.

And it won’t taste like blood and sweat either.

Answers

We don’t need more questions.

We want answers.

We don’t need more luck.

We want chancers.

We don’t need temptation.

We want discipline.

We don’t need to paddle.

We want to dive in.

We don’t need an audience.

We want dancers.

Step by step

That’s how it comes together.

A blog.

A party.

A relationship.

A home.

A vision.

Step by step.

Don’t trip up by taking two at a time.

One is more than enough.

Step by step.

We march on.

Big Tips

We don’t tip in the UK because we have solid employment laws.

I never liked tipping, but I’ve changed my mind, now I have a little more money to spend, it sure is nice to give it back

In the States, when someone’s livelihood depends on that tip, it sure is a lot easier.

I found out recently that some people like to have a minimum amount they spend on tipping each year.

Imagine that!

These crazy people are looking for ways to give their money to other people — just for doing their job!

Why wouldn’t you, if you had it too?

And it’s that’s the sort of attitude that gets you that extra little bit to spend.

If you want a bit more cash, The Universe just needs to know that you know how to spend your money right. Sharing it about. Helping people that don’t have it, or could do with a little more.

There’s always more money — that’s how the economy works.

It goes around.

I your rent is paid, do us all a favour and spread the rest far and wide.

It’s a pleasure to share our privilege.

Priorities

Before we were busy little bees, there was only one priority.

Literally.

Priorities as a word didn’t exist.

We could only have one priority at a time.

Maybe technology changed that. Perhaps we changed that in our haste to Get Important Things Done.

But multi-taskers are only fooling themselves.

There can only be one priority at a time, and when we try to juggle too many, the rest will tumble to the floor.

When priorities clash, there is only the priority and then everything else.

Which one we choose can change everything.

Dancing

Whoever said dancing is poetry in motion obviously didn’t like dancing very much.

I can’t think of a more boring way to describe it, but let’s give it a shot.

Dancing is the story of four feet and a single heartbeat.

Dancing is passion.

Dancing is timeless.

Dancing is humanity at its finest, moving through chaos together.

Dancing is connection.

Dancing is failure in tandem, legs akimbo and toes bruised.

Dancing is vulnerability.

Dancing is one step away from crossing the brink and never coming back.

Dancing is falling forever.

Dancing is fear and fun all wrapped into one.

Dancing is love in motion.

Why Me?

Why was I born into the richest country in the world?

Why have I lived in peace my whole life?

Why was I educated for free?

Why did my parents love and care for me?

Why am I surrounded by people that love me?

Why am I smothered by opportunity?

Why do I have so much choice that it’s paralyzing?

Why am I the lucky one?

Why are you?

Because we knew you would make someone else lucky too.

Quickie

Good work happens quickly.

Good work happens slowly.

Good work happens one little piece at a time.

We don’t need to meditate for an hour a day to find our focus.

We don’t always need to grind for weeks and years to fulfill our practice.

We don’t need to write a book a day.

We don’t need a billion dollars to make the world a better place.

A minute, a word, or a single dollar is enough to change it all.

It’s not the size of the deposit that counts, it’s how often we make it.

Participate

Who wants to be a teachers pet?

It wasn’t cool in school to sit at the front.

It wasn’t cool to participate.

So I didn’t.

But there’s nothing wrong with participation.

Participation means living life fully.

Roll up your sleeves and get mud under your fingers.

Participation is cool.

Who wants to participate?

I do.

I

Dog balls

There’s something magical about a dog’s ability to chas a ball.

They just don’t stop.

They just go after it.

Gleeful jaws.

Frantically wagging tails.

To a dog, every challenge is just another tennis ball to find; to treasure ; to drool on

Because when you’re committed, every moving object is a tennis ball in disguise.

Howwewwewwwoooooowl!!

Conflict

Can war be creative?

We think of conflict with as negative but that’s rarely the truth.

Conflict can be positive.

Conflict can be creative.

Conflict can help to create the space for diversity and opportunity, if we approach it the right way.

Conflict is inevitable. It means that we are in motion, and movement always creates friction.

The least productive and most harmful type of team environment has conflict at all, because it is artificial harmony.

The conflict still exists, but suppressed.

Conflicting opinions and ideas are an opportunity to learn, build trust, and make things better.

While war is always unnecessary and horrific, conflict is often an opportunity, if we choose to respond to it with openness and be open to working together to resolve it.

What a grim world it would be without conflict.

Just enough.

Often it’s just enough to say nothing.

And that can be much more powerful that saying an awful lot of rubbish.