Easy Lift

There’s only one way to make lifting a heavy weight easy.

Lift something heavier.

The same goes for work.

The only way to increase your productivity is to be more productive. Note, that doesn’t necessarily mean working longer.

Consistently adding just a little bit more effort, a little heavier a load, makes everything else easier the rest of the time.

Hard road, easy life.

Easy road, hard life.

Keep adding to the weight you bear on your shoulders, and one day you may lift the whole world.

Alcohol

Alcohol.

What a terrible drug.

The more we drink the more we realize what a waste of time and money it is.

Yet somehow, we always manage to forgive it.

Alcohol.

What a terrible drug.

What would life be without you?

Out of Pocket

For some reason, commercial life is filled with pointless and misused expressions.

Seth Godin would say that jargon helps people demonstrate what tribe they are in — that they’re “people like us.”

Mostly they’re just confusing. 

But sometimes, their etymology is interesting. 

Take this phrase: Out of Pocket. 

I’ve heard people using it when they’re going to be unreachable for a while, which is quite apt. They are taking some of the time out of the company’s pocket and putting it back into theirs.

Time is, after all, our most valuable resource.

Time is how we turn our skills into other things, like money. And we can never get more time.

Every day we make a trade.

We trade one day of our time for whatever we can achieve on that day. We each get about 30,000 days to trade — more if we’re lucky.

And that’s all we get. Time, and a body to experience it.

Spend time wisely. Invest it wisely because it pays out cumulatively.

And make sure you’re not”out of pocket” at the end of the day too often, or there will be nothing left to spend on yourself.

Leaders Ship

What’s the difference between a manager and a leader?

Leaders must manage. But not all managers lead.

A manager watches over our shoulder and points out when you’re doing it wrong. They set deadlines and tasks and follow up.

A good manager helps us manage our time better. They lend their support when we’re swamped. They help us identify and negotiate what we want and need from a project.

But a leader. Well, they’re a whole different breed.

Leaders ship. They put it out there.

They buy the boat, fill it with hands, sheets, and cargo, and get us fired up about where we’re going.

They stand on the bow, eyes fixed upon the glittering heavens, calculating safe navigation across a swirling, foreign sea.

They holler, “Here be treasure. Who’s coming?”

They leap off the boat and hurtle into the jungle, sword flashing as they gleefully hack through the foliage, sweat dripping from their brow and bellowing for us to join them.

And when they find the spot marked ‘X,’ they fill our pockets with bullion.

What makes a leader?

Leaders ship.

Dogged

One of the most powerful aspects of Kaizen philosophy is that it asks us to always start with nothing.

That means no materials. But it mostly means no ideology.

Every day is an opportunity to challenge our beliefs.

Every time we pick up a hammer and swing it at our art, we have an opportunity to improve.

Every time someone challenges our ideology we are given an opportunity to learn.

Perhaps our belief will be bolstered by our defence. But it may also crumble and give way to a new, deeper understanding of the world and how we move in it.

Few things are more potent tools for growth than the ability to challenge dogma continuously.

That’s where all the best ideas come from.

Know-How

Only one small thing separates top-performing students in the world from everybody else. 

It’s not how much they study. 

It’s not some enhanced genetic capacity for memorization.

It’s not even anything to do with their literacy or environment, although I think it’s safe to say those contribute.

The one thing that all top-performers do that others don’t is ask questions. Specifically, they ask Google.

Anytime they don’t know something, they find out immediately.

No “Oh, that’s weird.”

No, “I wonder why that is?”

No, “I don’t know.”

Just a perpetual, “Let’s find out.”

Blinkered

The capacity of humans to ignore the bleeding obvious still amazes me.

It’s a survival tactic.

It’s not productive to ruminate on the environmental disaster we’ve created. Or ignore that changing ourselves to fit into a hierarchy we don’t believe in makes us sick.

Blinkering ourselves is far more than just a survival tactic.

It can help us thrive.

People who excel in one particular area, skill, or task tend to be able to blinker themselves to life’s distractions.

They can focus on one thing and ignore everything else around them until they complete it or burn out.

Most of us want to be left alone so we can look after ourselves and our family and maybe have some fun along the way. So we blinker ourselves to our potential.

That very same trait most people unconsciously use to limit themselves is one of the hardest to apply consciously.

Mastering that skill — self-control — will help us get anything and everything we ever wanted.

Continue

The formula for success is confoundingly simple.

So simple that most people don’t believe it.

Start.

And then continue.

That’s it.

Don’t start something else.

Don’t take a holiday.

Just, continue.

And you’re there.

Above the Parapet

There isn’t much difference between the fool and the hero.

Both stick their head above the parapet.

The fool takes risks with little or no potential for reward.

For jest. For attention. For nothing.

The hero takes risks that have the potential to pay off handsomely. Often they won’t be the person getting rewarded.

That might mean running into a burning building, but often, that’s a fool’s errand.

It takes courage to step out of our comfort zone.

It takes more courage to stand up and demand the best for ourselves.

But the thing that takes the most courage is to stand up for something we believe in or speak out when we see a misdeed.

Nobody likes to be told they need to change. And we like it even less when we are called out for immoral behaviour—intentional or not.

When we put our head above the parapet, there is a very high risk that we will end up with an extra hole in the head.

But there’s also a chance we will make the world a better place for everyone.

That’s what real heroes do.

Gambolling

There’s a lot of fun we can have when we go off the beaten track.

It’s ok to get distracted. To faff about.

Frolic in the long grass.

Stop and smell the flowers.

Chase the butterflies.

Spend an hour reading about something random.

Just don’t lose sight of the path.

Mixed Bag

Humankind is destined for destruction.

Ask most people what their “perfect day” looks like, and they’ll describe something between an all-inclusive resort and an adventure tour.

Very few people consider that if they were to live that every day, we’d probably get bored.

Bored, and restless. And then, we’d start to go out and cause some trouble.

Dostoevsky said it best when he said: You could drown a human in happiness, give us a perfect life, and we would eventually find a way to mess things up; To demonstrate our individuality; To prove that we have some agency and can leave our mark on the Universe.

“Shower him with all earthly blessings, drown him in happiness completely…[and he will] of sheer ingratitude, out of sheer lampoonery, will do something nasty. He will even risk his gingerbread and wish on purpose for the most pernicious nonsense, the most non-economical meaninglessness, solely to mix into all this positive good sense his pernicious fantastical element.”

Not every day is going to be perfect. But we wouldn’t want it to be.

If it were, we’d find a way to mess it up.

Thankfully, we don’t have to worry about that because Life is a mixed bag as standard.

Joker

What’s the difference between a joke and an insult?

Timing? 

Perhaps.

Intent?

Almost certainly. 

But the key difference between a joke and an insult is how we take it. 

Got a message from the haters?

Laugh it off. 

Laugh it all the way to the bank.

Very Important Perambulation

Television has a way of taking our day-to-day and turning it into the fantastic.

Take meetings, for example.

Shows like The West Wing and House of Cards turn ordinary meetings into exciting encounters.

The West Wing famously does this by adding movement; the ol’ walk ‘n talk.

The bustle of the White House going on around the walkers is an absorbing backdrop, and the brisk pace of their walk brings a sense of happening to what is typically quite a boring conversation.

Everyone gets to see them being busy. It’s a Very Important Perambulation. Plus, they all get to chalk up a few more steps out of their daily 10k.

In real life, most meetings are just social events. 80% of it is chatter.

The point of a meeting is to meet; To discourse; To get to know each other, or discuss an idea.

If that’s not why we’re meeting, it should probably just go in an email. Or mix it with some much-needed exercise, and do the walk ‘n talk.

Unsad

Why do we have to be “happy” or “sad”?

Why is there an “unhappy” that means sad but not an “unsad” that means happy?

Why can’t we ever be “unsad?”

Most of the time, that’s where I am.

Not happy. Not sad.

Not unhappy, though. Just alive.

Not doing great.

Nor bad.

But quite happy about it.

Or at least not upset.

Doing alright:

Unsad.

Idea Me

We like to think our ideas are born in our brains, but that’s not where they come from.

Ideas don’t come from anywhere. Ideas are everywhere. They flit around like neutrinos on crack, bumping into each other, smashing together, breaking apart and fusing together again somewhere else.

Occasionally, particularly if we stay still for a moment, an idea will bump against our skull, worm it’s way into our thoughts; Be conceived.

The temptation is to hold on to that idea; To examine it, nurture it; To ruminate upon it until we’re ready to show the world.

That is a mistake. Ideas do not wish to be clung to. They want to be used.

The more ideas we covet without using, the fewer new ideas we receive.

We must open the gates and release our ideas into the world, with as little nurturing as possible.

They will come back. They will bring their friends.

And we will become a river of ideas.

Dawned

Is it possible to get bored of seeing the sun set?

Spurting flaming fingers into the deepening blue as it nestles down among the mountaintops or slips between the waves.

Tickling the treetops with rosy glints of gold as it drags the day down. Splashing the cottontail clouds with amber and scattering them to the night.

I’m not sure it’s possible to get bored of watching the sun set.

But I suppose if we ever do, we can always get up early, and watch the dawn instead.

Discipline

Not many people will like hearing this, but few can deny it.

The truth is, most people want to be told what to do.

Those who turn up at work with a neat to-do list ready-made for them have a vastly different job to the person making that list.

When it comes to personal life, where the incentive to compete or complete must be self-sourced, few people take the time to practice the discipline required for success.

That’s 80% of what success is: discipline. The rest is luck.

Unfortunately, the discipline they teach in schools is designed to teach us to follow a system of regulations; To get us used to doing what we’re told or fear punishment.

The aim is not to create people with discipline, but to discipline people, because that is what makes a good worker.

Nobody teaches us how to stick with something boring or hard when there’s no punishment or immediate reward. Why would they?

A pupil with discipline quickly becomes a master.

More importantly, how could they?

True discipline can only come from within; From constant practice.

And once we find it, we’re free.

Mothballs

If you believe the news, the very fabric of society is being nibbled away by a swarm of toxic moths.

Depending on who you read, those moths have different coloured dust on their wings.

Mainly Red or blue. Maybe yellow. Rarely green. But the bites they take are the same size.

Drawing a line and saying, “We’re right, and those moths are wrong,” is the real cause of the problem; the root of our division.

Picking your favourite coloured moth and blaming the destruction on the other colours is as shortsighted as, well, a moth.

Electioneering moths. Gerrymandering moths. Filibustering moths. They’re all damn moths. And they’re eating the rug from under our feet, whichever side you choose.

If we want to protect the fabric of democracy, we don’t need more of either colour; We don’t need moths in new colours, either.

We need mothballs.

And a big bird or two.

The Eavesdropper

We must be careful what we say when we’re alone.

We must be careful what we think.

Lord forbid we write it down,

And cause a grand ol’ stink.

We must beware of what we wish for,

Lest it manifests our fears.

The Universe is listening,

Listening to you; All ears.

Resistance

“Be like water” is 50% terrible advice. The other half is genius.

Bruce Lee is often credited with this ancient slice of wisdom, but humans have known about it as long as we’ve known anything.

We want to be like water in that we become relentless in our pursuit of a goal: To go around anything blocking our path. To wear away the obstacles we cannot bypass through our persistence.

But water has one trait that we would do very well to avoid: Following the path of least resistance is the quickest way to go downhill.

Water wants to be the sea, but we want to touch the sky.

The easiest way to be successful is to follow the path of most resistance:

Add more weight to the bar.

Always walk up the escalator.

Learn something new and challenging.

Train in the rain.

Go to bed early.

Stop drinking.

Taking the easy road makes a hard life.

Choosing the hard road makes an easy one.

Time Crunch

There’s one way to be sure you get your work in by the deadline, and that’s to make the deadline yesterday. 

It won’t be our best work. 

It might not even be average. But it will be finished.

When we set unrealistic deadlines, such as those in the past or the very immediate future, we define the quality work we expect through the timeline we establish. 

How long does it take to make something interesting or noteworthy? 

It’s hard to say exactly, but you can bet it isn’t “as quickly as possible.” 

Challengers

There’s a type of pressure that only comes when you get to the top of the pile.

When we’re challenging, it’s everybody out for themselves; everyone against each other.

Everyone aiming to reach the top.

When we’re already at the top, the whole pack is out to beat us.

It’s not just us against the next challenger.

It’s us against the world.

Inertia

Feeling a little sluggish this morning?

It’s not your fault. You can blame the Universe.

As a big mass of matter, it’s our natural tendency to remain in a state of rest unless otherwise compelled to change that state by force.

When in bed, that force will often be Time: a lack of it, manifesting in the form of an alarm clock ringing.

Inertia is a physical principle, but it also applies to our mental state.

What people often call “writer’s block” is simply creative inertia.

The energy it takes to get something moving from a dead standstill is far greater than the energy required to keep it moving.

So whether it’s your next big renovation project, the fitness plan that was supposed to start two weeks ago, or another blank page to fill with words, give it a big ol’ push today.

Then tomorrow, you just have to keep the ball rolling.

Early Night

Few things are more important than a good night’s sleep.

It’s when our brain makes sense of the day’s events.

It’s when our body repairs all the damage done over the day. 

Without a good night’s sleep, very few things will go to plan the next day. 

The best thing we can do to lose weight, be productive, hit our goals, and generally be a happier, healthier human, is to get into bed an hour or earlier than normal — and actually go to sleep.

Bonne Nuit!

Deliver You

We don’t have to wait for much these days.

It took a whole 25 minutes for some kind gentleman to deliver me a six-pack of IPA at 4.45 on a Monday night in the pouring rain.

Sure, I paid for the privilege. That’s what privilege means.

The next morning we realized we were a blender cup short of an incredibly healthy breakfast smoothie, so we put in an order.

It arrived the next day.

In this age of fast buying and even quicker delivery, why is it that we wait to live our passions?

We’re the only person who can deliver the life we want.

Get pedalling!

Prime Time

How to get more time?

Everybody knows that time flies when we’re having fun.

Some people feel uncomfortable calling work fun, calling it “flow” instead.

It’s the same.

Getting more time isn’t possible, but we can stretch our perception of it by doing the reverse: Something we hate.

The guy that holds the world record for planking must enjoy it.

For everyone else, it’s the easiest way to stretch time.

And there we have it: The secret to a long life — or at least one that feels long — is to be miserable.

Live fast and die young isn’t about the age we die; it’s about how old we feel when you do.

There is no way to get more time.

So, work hard and play hard while it lasts.

And don’t count a second of it.

Detox Dreams

Some pretty nasty things have happened to those who forgot about the mind-body connection.

First, calling it a link is an understatement.

Mind and body are the same.

The brain doesn’t end at the neck. It extends all the way to our fingertips. Stubbing a toe on a coffee table is a direct hit to the brain.

This pervasiveness is most obvious when we put our bodies through intense change or trauma. The brain uses the body to “store” many of the physical memories we have but are not quite ready to process.

We keep those tough emotions locked in with our routines and jobs and drugs and distractions, but there is nothing to hold them in when we go on a detox.

Our old memories bubble to the surface. Our dreams become vivid with ex-girlfriends and lost battles. We night-sweat out the past traumas that our brain has stashed away into folds of flesh.

Without a break from processing the toxins in our environment, our brains can’t process the poison that sticks in our minds.

Happily Sad

The all-time bestselling product is impossible to bottle.

It’s the secret behind some of the biggest brands in the world today.

Coca-Cola doesn’t sell sugar. It sells happiness in a can.

McDonald’s doesn’t sell food. It sells happiness in a box.

“I just want to be happy,” Gary Vaynerchuk proclaims at the start of every video: “Don’t you wanna be happy?”

The answer to that should be no.

We can’t be happy all the time. Nor should we want to be. Even if we could inject happiness (and many people try) it never lasts long. Happiness is not the point.

Happiness is a vague idea — a way to describe the handful of hormones that make us sociable and keep us alive.

One — Dopamine — isn’t related to satisfaction as many people believe. It’s our get-up and go; The hormone that drags us out of bed and on the hunt.

Happiness comes from being unsatisfied; From working towards a goal. It doesn’t even matter what the objective is.

As long as we progress towards a stated goal, even our sadness or dissatisfaction has a purpose. It’s part of the struggle.

That’s why you can’t buy happiness and happiness never lasts.

Conspiracy

We live in a time of many conspiracy theories, but nobody is talking about this one.

It may be the most important one of all. It’s certainly the one that we have all experienced.

Maybe it’s The Big Slip. The thread by which all the other conspiracies come undone.

Around the same time as the first COVID-19 lockdown, little signs started to appear on all the traffic lights — often over or above the button pedestrians press to request to cross the road.

The signs read, “Do not press button. Automatic signal.”

Which means the buttons were always automatic. And that means they were only put there to trick us into being more patient; A delusion of agency to appease us.

It’s all I can think about, but nobody else seems to care.

How much agency do we really have?

And what else are they doing to placate us?

Personal Play

Any great craftsperson will tell you that our tools rarely provide exactly what we need.

It’s the same reason someone else’s millionaire routine isn’t going to work for us. Parts of it might. Or it may work for some time.

But success comes from the process of figuring what works for you.

All our funny little habits and desires and tastes need a personalised plan.

Playing around with others’ routines and tools and piecing together one that works for us — that fits the life we want to live — is where all the fun is to be had.

So play away!

Endowment

There’s one investment that always brings great returns.

It never fails to return your money — often many times over.

It’s never too late to start investing in it. And there are (almost) no management fees.

Even if you only invest a tiny smidgen, it will bring great returns — especially if you invest a little bit every day.

There aren’t any interest rates or expense ratios or deductibles, and you can invest as much or as little as you like, whenever you can.

Because the best place to invest your money, is you.

In yourself. In your dreams. And in your future.

It’s foolproof.

Dog Work

This week, a new generation of robots entered our lives.

Our little fabricant friends get more advanced, smarter, more capable, and more useful every year.

With each new model comes a new funny name to make them seem more human and more likeable; Less of a threat to our existence.

This clever little chap is called the “Labrador Retriever.”

As our species grows and expands into space and technology evolves, our lives will change dramatically, as will our language.

One day in the not-so-distant future, people may not even remember the furry namesake of this little bot.

“A real dog?” Our grandchildren will ask incredulously, “that would fetch things?”

“Well,” we’ll say with a wistful smile, “most of the time, just a ball or a stick.

And they’ll roll over laughing until the tears trickle down their cheeks.

Small Privileges

You may not have noticed, but we already have it all.

Everything the sci-fi writers and politicians of the past proclaimed — and more — we’ve done it.

Instant communication. Flying cars. AI Robots. Mind-reading. Enough food and resources for everyone (if we shared them better).

We have so much time and money on our hands that we have the luxury of being bored — something reserved for the upper classes for almost all of human history.

Next time you’re feeling bored or unsatisfied, make a short list of all the normal, everyday, uninspiring things you’re grateful for — or even just one thing. Almost everything we have today would blow the minds of a Victorian.

Today, I am grateful for the Kiwi fruit I had for breakfast.

It’s travelled halfway around the world to get here, and it cost me about $1.

I ate it with my coffee made from real Columbian beans that also cost me about $1.

Now, you don’t get more privileged than that.

On the Wall

The first time the writing was on the wall, nobody could read it.

The King of Babylon — it was his wall that had been written on — called together all his great scientists and priests to translate it.

When they finally figured out what it said, it was a death threat to the King, who was not in the least bothered by it.

That very night, the King was killed and the empire he so treasured was divided between his enemies.

When the writing is on the wall, we shouldn’t ignore it. That’s why it’s on the wall — often written in blood.

It might say, “Go home.”

It could say, “You’ve failed.”

It often says, “Game over.”

But the message is always the same:

“You need a change.”

All Ears

One dark October night in Wallonia, two neuroscientists were talking to a vegetable.

Not any old cucumber, Patient 23 had been in a ‘vegetative state’ for five years following a tragic accident.

Comatose and unresponsive, Patient 23 had been declared dead to the world. But the researchers believed otherwise.

Using an fMRI to scan his brain activity, they asked Patient 23 to imagine walking around his house to communicate “no” and playing tennis to communicate “yes.” These would produce distinct brain patterns.

They asked the first question, “Is your father’s name Alexander?”

The man’s premotor cortex lit up. He was thinking about tennis — Yes.

“Is your father’s name Thomas?”

Activity in the parahippocampal gyrus showed he was imagining walking around his house — No.

They continued to ask questions about Patient 23’s life before the accident. Every answer was correct. He had been completely aware of the last five years; Buried alive in his body.

They asked the final question on their list:

“Do you want to die?”

For the first time that evening, there was no clear answer.

Lackolade

There’s one medal all successful creatives have in their trophy cabinets.

The one we earn every day we get up and decide to create something for the world.

It’s the honour of no one giving a shit — the great lack of accolade — the lackolade.

As much as we might tell ourselves otherwise, when we take on the responsibility of creation, the potential for future fanfare is a powerful driving force.

But if we intend on making something for the world, we must prepare to get ignored for a long time.

Even if people deem our early work noteworthy, rarely do people want to hear about the time we spend practicing or all the things we made that didn’t work.

Widespread public recognition makes it more likely that our next work won’t be as popular.

And if we keep creating, it’s only a matter of time before we make something people don’t like. Fortunately, that means it’s only a matter of time until we create something people like, too.

The real badge of a creative is continuing to show up for the sake of creating — and the chance to make something better.

All is Lost

Every hero story has a similar structure.

Before the final victory, the hero is always defeated.

The bad guys band together and win the battle, swiping aside our hero at the last minute with a nefarious trick — or a through cruel manipulation of the hero’s Achilles’ heel.

Our hero is dejected, but they have shaken the villain. The hero was stronger than they expected and the victory closer than they would have liked.

The villain believes the hero is vanquished, but we can sense the tide is turning.

As long as our hero finds the strength to pick themselves up, learn their lesson, and try again, we can be sure of one thing:

Next time, defeat is not an option.

This Year

How much has life changed in the last 12 months?

How many new things have you tried over the last year?

Restrictions made it a short year in some measures. But in other measures, we’ve experienced far more than a year — and many surprises.

Who else thought they’d be an expert at taking nasal swabs?

Six months from now our lives can and will be different. Many aspects will be the same. Others will look similar, but even those will have changed; Grown or matured or decayed.

Knowing that the change is coming, we can choose to direct it.

This time next year, we can be so much better mentally, physically, and financially — in any way we choose to be. If we chose to take a step down that path every day.

Your next adventure isn’t then or next or later — it’s now!

Tomorrow has arrived.

Long Haul

The key to investing — in yourself or in your future — is to do it for the long haul.

When we’re in it for the long haul, it doesn’t matter if things don’t go our way at first.

We believe something has a bright future ahead, so we understand that comes with its challenges; Challenges that could appear to threaten the existence of the future we’re working toward.

Some days it might feel like we’re going backwards, but the truth is that a rise requires a fall — often several.

If we can stick it out for the long haul, we’re bound to go further than most.

MM

A great man once said that history is measured in millimetres.

A fumbled ball. The kiss of a crossbar. The whistle blown a second too early.

We can do everything up to that point perfectly and a millimetre can make all the difference between win and loss.

That’s luck.

Good Form

There’s one thing we can be certain we’ll have to do, no matter what kind of success we want in life. 

Fill out forms. 

Society rests upon a stack of forms.

Forms to go to school. Forms to get a doctor. Job applications, grants, mortgages, citizenship, and gym memberships all start with a form.   

Bureaucracy is the first hurdle the Universe throws up to test if you really want something.

Everything we want requires a form.

Being good at filling them out can unlock a lot of doors.

Conjugations

The past is history.

We move on from it.

The future is destiny.

We move on to it.

In the present we steadily, endlessly,

Move.

To bursting

Unfortunately, most of us don’t know our limits.

And to be fair, how can we be expected to know our limits without first having pushed them as far as they will go?

Pushing the limits doesn’t always turn out well. And it’s always uncomfortable.

But we often find we can squeeze in a little more than we think, if we take a deep breath and enjoy it slowly — one morsel at a time.

Unwrapping

This morning I find the dog waiting eagerly outside the living room door, which is strange because that’s where he sleeps.

He catches my eye as I return from the bathroom and wags his tail.

“Is it time to unwrap the presents yet?”

I duck under the tree to turn on the lights, and the thumping of his tail increases. 

“Not yet, mate,” I mutter, before stumbling away to the kitchen to make a coffee. The dog lets out a little whine.

He doesn’t get many presents, but that’s not what he is excited about. He only cares about the gift wrap. 

Later, as always, he leaps on every scrunched ball of paper we produce with a gleeful snarl, methodically shredding each sheet into a thousand damp scraps.

I guess that’s the part of getting a present that he enjoys the most: unwrapping it.

And sometimes, I think he might be right.

Ripple

The forces of good and evil are at constant war.

The line between them runs straight down the middle of the human heart.

We can influence that battle every day. We can change the world one good deed at a time.

A truly selfless act always spawns another. One small act of kindness can trigger a wave of goodwill that spreads far further than we will ever know.

When you put a hand out to one, you lift us all.

Brain Stew

Ideas don’t just pop into existence.

The brain doesn’t work linearly — only our conscious does. We can’t keep track of more than one thing at once, but our brains are gently mulling things over behind the scenes.

Every time we think or read more about an idea, we throw a few more ingredients into the pot. Maybe it still doesn’t taste right. We add a little stir. We look back at the recipe and maybe add a little more of something.

Even when we spend time thinking or doing other things — or better still, sleeping — those ideas are gently simmering on the back burner.

Sometimes it’s a flash fry.

But often, the best ideas are slow-cooked.

Let Flow

The laws of the universe say that energy doesn’t disappear — it just gets turned into another type of energy.

To do something like getting out of bed we need to find the energy somewhere, and it’s rarely under the pillow.

We can’t get more energy. We can facilitate more energy flowing through us.

Don’t try and store energy because it will become stagnant.

Instead, find ways to spread energy to those around you, and you’ll see the flood gates open and wash you out of bed.

WCGR?

There’s a great YouTube channel called “What Could Go Wrong?” with videos of people attempting everyday tasks that go hilariously wrong.

It’s a great avenue for content because we all tend to trip ourselves up by imagining the worst. This is our worst fears come true — but it’s funny because it’s someone else.

The amygdala — our inner eeyore — is primed to fantasize about the worst case scenarios.

So we often spin our wheels in a turmoil of deaths and disaster that only rarely occur.

Life is random as hell. But far too infrequently we ask ourselves the other side of that coin: What Could Go Right?

And the list of things under that is even longer than the one under “WCGW.”

Cost of Service

Something changes in us when we step up to take responsibility.

The more people we serve, the larger the responsibility, and the greater the pressure.

There are fewer opportunities to take time off and far less time for ourselves.

Everything revolves around that responsibility.

Not everyone steps up to manage community organizations. Most people don’t want the responsibility and the work involved in managing a group of half-interested people.

Many people can run a business but shy from the pressure of having people’s livelihood depend on their decisions.

The cost of service is the responsibility we carry for those we serve.

Down Time

Grab a snack.

Put your feet up.

Stare at the ceiling.

Watch something funny again.

Take a nap.

Relax. It’s in the plan.

Return to Sender

Every gift you give comes with a little stamp from the Universe.

You probably don’t even notice, but it’s always there.

It’s purpose is to make sure a little portion of that gift gets returned back to you — a morsel of gratitude and goodwil; Even if you don’t get a thank you card

The more you give, the more smidgens of love whizz their way back to you.

Sometimes they just take a little while to find their way.

Second Serve

Even the best tennis players in the world hit the net occasionally.

It happens so often that they even let them retake their serve. Tennis would be a very different game if they didn’t.

The first time we try something new or make a piece of art we might not enjoy it as much as we expect.

It’s novel and challenging and it almost always doesn’t turn out how we expect — especially when we’re trying something new.

That’s why it’s always worth another go; a second serve; an edit.

We may enjoy it more the second time. And it always turns out better.

Slapstick

Human brains read each other all the time — it’s the most fundamental way we learn.

Our ‘mirror neurons’ are gently mimicking everyone around us, all the time.

There are several reasons that someone falling over is funny, and one of them is these mirror neurons.

When we fall over or get surprised, our brains send out flashes of electrons, thrashing about just as we flail our arms when we trip.

When we see someone fall, some of our neurons fire as if we were the person falling over. We experience the ghost of it in our subconscious — our brain is ‘tickled’ by theirs.

So even when we fall, we create a little spark of joy.

Together

Sometimes it takes the worst of situations to remind us how lucky we are.

We all had a taste of disaster recently. A little reminder that things go wrong; fortune misses; luck runs out.

Most of us escaped the worst of it with only a small scar — a lingering reminder that it could have been worse.

A reminder that things don’t just happen to other people. They happen to people like us, on days like today.

Whether we like to admit it or not, we’re all in this life together. Bad luck isn’t picky, it can claim any of us in a moment.

Which is reassuring, because we wouldn’t want good luck to be choosy either.

Making Gratitude

There’s a lot of great science to help us make our brains happy.

One of the most powerful tools that science has discovered to help make us happy is gratitude — but not the kind of gratitude that most people think.

Being thankful for what we have creates a spark.

Being thanked for what we’ve done sets our brains on fire.

The action of helping — and the gratitude that it brings — is a potent way to improve our brains, our environment, and the lives of others around us. And it immediately comes back around to help us.

Thanks for reading!

Keep it LISS

I hated cardio until someone taught me how to do it properly.

For many years, obsessed with burning as many calories as possible, I’d hit the treadmill or the rower with gusto, pounding away until I was a dripping mess in motion.

Heart pounding and back drenched seemed the only way to reverse the laziness of the rest of the day; Flagellation for failure to be fit.

Of course, that never lasted long. After a few weeks, your body gives up and finds a way to sabotage the sweat fest.

My latest coach advised me that the only way to keep it up was to keep it LISS: Low-Intensity Steady State.

It’s the opposite of HIIT.

It’s just walking. Sometimes on a steep gradient. Sometimes a shallow one.

Heart rate stays consistently low. You can still talk (or write).

There’s no rush. No fuss. No sprints.

You just put one foot in front of the other, moving one step at a time towards the goal. Focusing on each step and relaxed all the way.

Now that, I can do every day.

Self-Flagellation

Everyone starts out on a new adventure with the same confidence.

We’ll just put our foot down and arrive in now time.

Never mind the statistics that most diet changes fail; the weight never stays off; most new enterprises fail; we’re still surprised when we fall off.

Failure is not the problem. The problem is the rush of self-flagellating that follows.

We beat ourselves up and continue to wallow off the wagon.

One of the hardest lessons to learn is to correct those stinging, self-doubting thoughts.

They’re what holds us back more than anything. We have to learn how to make room for the things we want to do, without punishing ourselves for them.

We all need to take some time off from driving the wagon.

Play in the mud for a bit. Stop to sniff the daisies on the roadside.

Just don’t let the wagon get out of sight.

Hesitate

Blink and you’ll miss it.

Thoughts flood forward and choke us.

A moment’s hesitation – caught in the headlines – and life changes forever.

Often the consequences are not too dire. Maybe we pay a little more. Sometimes we miss the train or the plane.

But occasionally we escape death or fortune by a whisker; often without knowing it.

The word hesitation comes from the Latin for “stuck.”

We train and practice so that it’s easier to get unstuck when the need arrives. We have values and visions for the same reason:

Hesitate and it’s too late.

Real Math

There’s a little bit of magic I learned about that can make you rich.

Not instantly rich or jaw-droppingly rich, but rich enough to do whatever you want. 

They teach us about it in school but often not in a way that makes practical sense. If we don’t learn it, it really can screw us over very quickly. Some say it’s the most important algorithm: the Master Key.

The magic of cumulative interest is the same magic that makes kaizen so powerful.

It works like 100 plus 1% is 101. That’s all fine and normal.

But 101 plus 1% is 102.1%. That extra 0.1% is where the magic happens.

Over time, say once every day for a year, that little decimal grows into a monstrous magnifier.

101 plus 1% every day for 365 days isn’t 365.

It’s 36,868.65.

And when we do that for thirty years?

It’s impossible not to be rich.

Time Pass

Something strange happens when we leave a place.

Our brains wrap up all our memories of a place and tucks them away safely.

When we return to that place later, the bubble unfolds, and all the memories we have stashed away unravel.

At first glance, it’s almost as if no time has passed at all.

A week away and a year away feel pretty similar to the person who went away.

That’s why it’s often a shock to find quite a lot has changed while we weren’t around.

Does time pass us by, or do we pass through times?

Modern Travel

The list is long.

There’s a lot going on.

We’re not really sure that we’ll make it.

Our bags still unpacked.

The odds ever-stacked.

If it’s positive we’ll have to forsake it.

When that test is done,

Tie another one on.

Who knows what they’re trying to measure.

It’s a bi-lateral scoop.

So it must be foolproof.

Just be glad you can pay for the pleasure.

Dunno

We like to think that we know what will happen next — or at least we have an inkling.

Most of the time, we’re not too far off. But the truth is that there’s nothing more uncertain than what will occur with the passing of time.

The future is little more than what we hope and work towards; it rarely wants to play with the same ball as we’ve been practicing.

That race we’re preparing to win might be a lesson in humility in disguise.

That mountain we’re scaling may be about to teach us how to fall.

The treasure we’re hoarding might only be there to teach us how to lose it all.

We can dream and hope, pray and labour, fret, wail, and shake. But we just don’t know what the words on the next page say until we turn it over.

And we never will.

Switch it up

The best way to keep yourself young is to switch it up regularly.

Eat a dish you’ve never tried before.

Make something different from the normal.

Take a chance. Place a bet.

Don’t just shuffle the playlist. Try a completely new genre.

Move across the country. Travel around the world.

Make a new ambitious goal you have no idea how to achieve.

Break your routine on the river banks of Comfort, put it all together again on the other side, and you’ll never stop growing.

That’s all young people do; grow.

It’s No Secret

There’s no secret to getting what you want.

There’s no special path or magic juice.

You might need a slice of luck now and again.

But the best way to find that is to set a goal, work hard towards it, and don’t stop until you arrive.

It’s no secret. It’s usually not even as hard as we might think.

But it does always take hard work.

Dead Bugs

It’s not every morning you wake up to discover you’re a mass murderer. But that’s what happened this morning.

Go back 600 millions years and we find the ancestor we share with the insect world — probably some sort of a slug with limbs.

That slug had feelings. Feelings of joy upon finding a dirty great pile of rotting foliage. Maybe fear whenever the local sulphur geyser erupted.

Those emotional states — it turns out — are just as present in their modern day arthropod descendants; The same as they’re present in us.

Bugs don’t just feel pain. They feel anxious. They get depressed. They experience hope and desire; If not exactly as we do, then pretty close.

Maybe the only thing that’s surprising about this discovery is how long it took us to notice.

Let’s just hope the afterlife isn’t full of dead bugs.

In-Person

There’s nothing like a shot of tequila and a waft of pheromones to really get to know someone. 

The more of either the merrier!

 

 

Spacial Awareness

Never underestimate the power of environment on one’s behaviour.

We like to think we’re fully in control, but often we’ve just been subconsciously reacting to the space around us, forming habits in association with it.

If we’re smart, consciously moulding it to help us reach our goals. And that’s been doing more of the lifting than we realize.

Change the space and suddenly, we’re back to square one.

Unpresentable

The French say that we eat with our eyes but I think that’s just so they can get away with smaller, prettier portions.

How we present ourselves or the things we’ve made to the world matters, as much as we might hate to admit it.

We’re giving the world something to feast on, so make sure it doesn’t need too much extra seasoning to make it palatable.

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Last Call

The whistle shrieks.

The bells rings

Jump aboard.

Grab your coats.

Sprint or you’ll miss it.

It’s time to go home.

Lingerie Linguistics

Good descriptions are like lingerie.

That’s why the characters we love in books never look how we imagine when we see them on the silver screen.

It’s not some casting agent’s preference or the director’s mate or the need for a star to lead the line — although those can be reasons.

The main reason is that there wasn’t much of a description in the first place.

That was probably the best lesson I ever learnt about writing character descriptions: Don’t.

A sentence is often more than enough:

Small and pale, with a mess of black hair and a lightning-shaped scar on his forehead.

Her hair fell over a sheer cliff of cheekbones in a soft golden wave, rising gently to curl against a blood-red purse of lips.

He was a giant of a man, with calloused, hairy hands and a voice like a gravel driveway.

Everything else happens in the reader’s mind.

That’s why nobody likes to read those overly lengthy, dense descriptions slung with similes.

They’re probably fantastic examples of communication, but they don’t leave much to the imagination.

The Fourth Day

Something happens after the third day “off the wagon.”

The links between the chain of habits, especially when it’s a new one, stretches past breaking point.

It’s no longer a cheat day or a recovery weekend or whatever you want to call it to justify it at the time.

After three days, the old habits ambush the new ones, and generally they win.

One day is ok. Three days is pushing the limit.

On the fourth, it takes exponentially more energy to get back on the wagon. It’s travelled too far since we took a tumble.

It’s not impossible but you’ll have to work pretty hard to catch it up.

Food Regret

It’s not eating too much or eating the wrong thing.

It’s that feeling the next day that I should have eaten more of those goodies while I had the chance.

Say It

There’s an easy way to find out how somebody feels about that big secret you’ve been hiding.

Tell them.

They might not like what you have to say.

And you might not like their response.

But it’ll be a damn sight easier — and 100% more accurate — than not saying anything and leaving it to your imagination.

All Hands on Deck

The most dangerous time to be on a sailing boat is when it’s barely moving at all.

When the boat is ripping along at full pace, sails stretched full, hull creaking and humming under the pull of the wind, it’s relatively safe.

But when a sailboat turns, it slows to a stop. The sails shiver. There’s a brief lull when the only sound is the clinking of rigging and the groan of momentum soaking the hull.

Then there’s a whistle and a loud crack, as the huge pole hung along the bottom of the sail swings across the boat. That pole is called a ‘boom’ because of the sound it makes when it moves.

Many men have heard that whistle — the devil’s catcall — but not the boom that follows.

The most dangerous time to be on a sailing boat is when it’s changing course.

If you don’t have all hands on deck, aware of what’s going on and ready to haul on the right ropes, someone is likely to get cracked in the skull.

Very Clear Routes

The hardest questions in life often have the simplest answers.

Most of the time, we already know the answer. We just don’t want to hear it.

The fantastic Mark Manson, author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, calls these VCR questions.”

Questions where the answer is in the question.

Things like, “How can I talk to her?”

“How do I move out of my parents’ house?”

“How do I drop out of med school?”

“How do I stop smoking?”

How do I lose weight?”

The answer is painfully obvious when someone else is asking. I bet you could tell me the answer to any of those questions right now.

But there’s a jungle of emotion between us and where we want to be, and it’s full of whispering lies about epic embarrassment.

We are not scared.

We just feel scared, and that can and will pass.

After a few brutal, hacking steps, we almost always find that the brambles only block the entrance to the path.

There’s a very clear route behind them.

You May Not Drive

We had the best car growing up.

It was a yellow Fiat saloon.

The seats were walnut brown. The interior was various shades of mud and sun-kissed polyvinyl.

Rust-red paint licked out from the wheel arches, giving the car a “just fled the battlefield” vibe. This paint was designed to prevent any further rust from forming out of sheer pity.

The paintwork was faded. The chrome was flecked. But the car moved, and that little yellow tub took us all over the country.

We’d squeeze in, Dad would slot in a Massive Attack tape, and we’d hurtle on to the A406 in a puff of smoke.

By the time we hit the motorway, the driveshaft would be clanking in time to track four, and we’d holler out the opening lines of one of the greatest songs ever:

“Though you may not drive…a great big Cadillac…”

Whenever we arrived after a long journey, Mum would pat the dashboard and say, “Thanks, little car.”

And she meant it. 

We loved that heap of shit so much that when it finally limped to the scrapyard, Dad found the only other one still puttering around and bought it.

We loved that one even more.

Word Stream

Everything was different a year ago today.

But three hundred sixty-five spins later, some things are the same; I’m still sitting here, still writing.

Every year has its changes, but this year feels a little longer than most, now there’s a post to mark each day.

No longer am I bobbing aimlessly at the mouth of the stream, waiting for the journey to begin; Undecided.

Now the words flow past. When I look back, I have made it further upstream than seemed possible just a few short months ago.

There is much paddling to do yet.

Hesitation will only whirl me back downstream.

But today, in between strokes, I can celebrate a little; Mark this little milestone on my riverbank.

And paddle on till tomorrow.

The Response

The best defences take time to build.

We don’t get many choices in life, but we do get to choose how we respond when things we don’t like happen.

Some will argue that our reactions are not real choices — and they’d be right most of the time.

But we can train ourselves to act in a certain way to events until it becomes automatic. It becomes our spontaneous reaction.

Just as the fighter trains his counter-moves thousands of times until they become instinctive, so too we can train our reactions.

It’s not easy — I need to learn this lesson more than most — but it is possible. It just takes practice.

When angered or shocked, we can always say thanks.

When confused or disappointed, we can always say thanks.

When saddened or scared, we can always say thanks.

The best defence is always gracefully moving out of the way because it leaves our assailant few places to land except flat on their face.

Let Slip

We all say things we don’t mean to sometimes.

Our prefrontal cortex gets caught napping for half a second and some terrifyingly honest sentence slip out from the base of the brain.

Test failed. Thinking brain beat.

Subconscious gets it’s way today.

Try again tomorrow.

The Chemist

Everyone knows about the chemistry teacher that became a crystal meth millionaire, but have you heard about the chemistry teacher who beat Arnold Schwarzenegger?

Frank was a skinny little teen, clocking in at an effeminate 130lbs.

He studied mathematics and chemistry and taught both at local high schools. And the whole time, he lifted metal off the floor over and over again.

He ate protein pills and studied and lifted more weights. And every day, he said his mantra 1,000 times; Sometimes 2,000 times.

On the hardest days, he would repeat it 3,000 times.

The same four syllables, again and again, until they were branded across his subconscious:

Already Won.

Already Won.

Al-read-y Won.

ALL-RED-EE-WON.

In 1977, Frank stood on stage next to the greatest physique of the era — The Terminator himself — and beat him to a Mr. Olympia title.

Frank won it again the next year and the year after that.

He won Mr. Pennsylvania. He won Mr. America. He won Mr. Universe.

And he’s been winning ever since.

If you ask Frank what his secret is, he’ll tell you without hesitation.

“I already believed I’d won. It just took a lot of work for other people to notice.”

Streaker

Winning streaks are impressive because winning all the time is against the Laws of Nature.

The Invincible Arsenal football team of the early noughties went unbeaten for 49 games — nearly a season and a half. That number is so unfathomably against the odds it boggles the mind.

Especially because it doesn’t get easier the more we win. It gets harder. The odds of failure double every time we roll the die.

The most exciting thing about a winning streak is that every win brings us closer to that inevitable loss. 

Like the streaker who knows it’s only a matter of time before the security guards of fate crush his face into the cool grass of reality, we know it won’t be long before the odds catch up with us.

Most of the thrill of winning is knowing we must fail eventually and fighting on still. We feel it in our gut, as much as we wish it postponed.

And the longer a winning streak, the more we realize that failure is part of the fun. 

Some say it may even be the whole point.

Beyond Death

It is possible to walk through the land of the dead and live to tell the tale.

All it takes is a breath.

As anyone who’s sat at the bottom of the swimming pool knows, it isn’t long before the body demands air.

First, it’s a dull ache in the pit of the stomach. Then a moan, rising and filling the chest. A few seconds later and it pushes at the neck and face. Alarm bells start to ring.

Wait a little longer, and every nerve begins wailing and clanging; eyes bulging; veins wide blue and bursting through the skin in a desperate hunt for oxygen.

That is where most of us give in.

But beyond that — across the wailing river of blood — there is calm.

Any of the world’s four dozen professional free-divers can confirm it.

The body slips into a different realm, and we find that we don’t need to breathe at all.

It’s the same calm that was there before the Universe took its first breath. And the same peace that will meet us with our last.

Just remember to come back while you can!

Digital Renaissance

Did you know God hates artists?

Several hundred years ago, when books were rare and information even more precious, freedom and justice were just good jokes.

But soon after the printing press was used to spread Bibles, an enterprising Italian family decided to print their own tomes: little-known texts from early modern Humanist philosophers and their ancient counterparts.

These contained some deeply concerning ideas for the Church because they put agency into human hands instead of God’s. It was an indirect attack on the Church’s absolutism.

Until then, monks wrote all the books. Attempts to spread new ideas were labelled blasphemous and met with a pretty rapid and terminal punishment.

The Medici family changed this with the most successful content marketing campaign in history.

Wealthy nobles were soon throwing gold at artisans and entrepreneurs instead of priests, eager to demonstrate their status and cultural preeminence to posterity with new ideas and technology.

God had to make room on their throne for some new deities: Freedom; Ethics; Science; Justice.

Controlling the flow of ideas is how you control the world. The internet made information free.

And that’s why Facebook is building the Metaverse: It’s a printing press for Gen-Z.

Plan Man

We may not be able to see the future, but we can use a couple of tools to get a pretty good idea.

The first one is a vision.

When we have a vision, whether, for a business or a product or just ourselves in ten years, we’re choosing the future we want.

We may not be certain how it will pan out. It will rarely feel the same as we imagine. But we can be sure that it will look pretty close, as long as we use the second tool: plans.

Once we have a vision, we can make a plan.

And once we have a plan, all we have to do is stick with it and get the future we chose (or something very like it) sooner or later. Often, it’s later than we’d like but sooner than we expect.

Nothing is unattainable if we have a strong vision and a plan to get there.

Sadly, many people don’t realize that it’s as easy as that, and they never choose a vision at all.

Stomach it

Decisions feel like a punch in the gut.

The hard part isn’t making a choice, it’s the taking action that comes with it, which is typically not what we want to do and comes with some unpleasantness.

The uncertainty is stressful but we often know what we should do far sooner than we’d like to admit.

The delay is the most harmful part, and can result in a worse outcome than making a “wrong” move too quickly.

“I wish I did this earlier” feels way better than, “I wish I’d done that” and is the far more likely outcome.

The most effective people take action quickly and completely, following through until another change of course is required.

All the decision frameworks in the world pale in comparison to a strong vision and values because they make every choice binary: ‘Will this get me closer to my vision/does this fit with my values’ is far easier to swallow than weighing the data scientifically.

That leaves you with the energy to see that decision through.

Stomach it and do what you have to do to get where you want to go. If you’re not sure where that is, that’s the first course.

Candy Shop

Once upon a Tuesday, the Dean of Music at USC was standing in the local candy shop in his briefs, screaming at the top of his voice.

It was one of those Tuesdays.

The candy shop was stuffed with sugar in every shape imaginable: Tall skinny bottles bristling with Strawberry Laces; Shimmering bell jars hovering atop saucers of snow-white Gobstoppers; Deep, wide baskets brimming with Sticky Toffee Apples and Turkish Delight and Curly Wurlys and Sherbert Fountains; And buckets upon buckets of Love Hearts and Refreshers and M&Ms and Pop Rocks and Skittles and everything in-between.

The Dean, like any hyperglycaemic toddler, was hysterical. His father had caught him with his hand — quite literally — in the cookie jar.

The infant Dean’s excuse: “I was going to pay for them later.”

His father replied with words so powerful they still rang in the Dean’s ears five and a half decades later:

“Son, it would be better to simply take all you want and call yourself a thief every time.”

Fixable but unfixable bad performance is bad character. Making excuses for bad performances only creates more of them.

That’s why it’s better to be an honest thief than a dishonest judge.

Nothing

Not so long ago, writing was my greatest fear.

A monthly article seemed too big a commitment, let alone a daily blog.

How could there be that many things to write about?

What if I ran out of ideas?

What would happen when I had nothing to say?

In the 355 days since this blog began, I’ve run out of ideas many times. There was rarely much in my notes that seemed interesting enough to write about.

The stress or distractions of my life often threw up a great wall between the muse and me. The glowing white screen before my eyes frequently mirrored an empty expanse behind them.

The pressure to write something meaningful or entertaining prevented me from writing anything at all.

On those days, I had no choice but to settle for writing about nothing and simply write. And before you know it, something was written.

Just like today.

Old Saw

The human race has a fantastic propensity for killing one another.

We’re so good at it that we’ve even come up with stirring stories to kill each other with. They help us get it done and live with it later; Historically speaking, at least.

If you tell these stories just right, you can get thousands of people to join you in the slaughter, even if they don’t understand why.

Aren’t stories wonderful?

Here are the most popular stories we use to kill each other:

  1. They’ll do it to us if we don’t do it first
  2. They’re animals who eat babies
  3. We’re saving them
  4. Revenge
  5. Profits
  6. God

Use them prudently. These stories have a habit of escaping the narrator and taking life on their own. 

On a Rail

One of the most common complaints successful people have is something we all have to live with.

That feeling of not being quite where we belong; that we might get caught out; that one day people will see through our veneer, realize we’re an imposter, and run us out of town on a rail.

The good news is that only idiots never doubt themselves.

That kind of comparison is just a part of human nature. It’s one of the many ways our hormones and nerves collide to help us socialize.

The bad news is that only the foolish let that doubt stop them.

Letting doubt stop us is foolish because we’re pretty much always going to feel like we’re failing. Being successful feels like failing. Being mediocre feels like failing. And doing nothing at all feels like failing.

If you’re feeling a little out of place, you’re probably exactly where you should be.

Backhand

The Universe sure knows how to pile on the pressure.

Like a haywire tennis ball machine, challenges ping out the ether in a relentless stream, and we scramble to return them without getting hit in the face. 

Getting hit in the face hurts. But it’s part of the game. And the only thing that getting hit in the face means is that another ball is coming up pretty fast behind it.

The whole point of the game is to have problems hurled at us non-stop; how else can we return them? 

So there are two options when we miss or don’t see one or just plain hit a dud into our face.

We can curl up on the floor to get hammered by the next dozen problems, or we can adjust our footing, spin that racket, and use the adrenaline spike to smash the next issue right through the net. 

Now, let’s see that backhand. 

Progression Impression

The hardest choices often have the biggest impact.

Spending too much time making a decision that only has a minor impact is wasted energy.

That’s why large inter-government conventions always disappoint. The outcomes are disproportionate to the size of the meeting and the resources required to make them.

While it’s true that the Laws of the Universe determine that the larger a group, the harder it is to get it moving, we also have the internet, which eliminates the need for physical proximity; Unless you want to whisper in someone’s ear.

It’s almost as if our leaders fear that without all the fanfare and security and photo opportunities and protestors, people might notice they don’t make many decisions at all; Unless you count choosing the status quo, of course.

The only thing more naive than expecting a government to make a real decision is expecting them to follow through with it.

But it’s a great show.

That’s why the clown got the ringmaster’s hat.

Try to know

We never really know how we feel about something until we try it for ourselves.

The more distinct that new thing is, the less likely it is that we can conceive of what it will feel like.

Feeling very uncomfortable is just what ‘new’ is supposed to feel like.

That feeling is the same every time.

But we never feel the same once we try the new thing.

That always feels different.

Late Peak

It’s not every day you find a 70-year old mother pursuing her son up a vertical cliff face.

But then, Dierdre Wolownick isn’t your everyday kind of woman.

She didn’t learn to swim until her 40s, but then she taught herself. She took up running in her 50s after her recently-divorced husband dropped dead in an airport; her escape from a “life of turmoil.”

And in her mid-60s she took up rock climbing with her son.

These are mighty big rocks we’re talking about here, like Yosemite’s notoriously challengingly El Capitan.

This self-described “lumpy old middle age woman” didn’t just climb this rock. She scaled it four times faster than the average person.

What has climbing taught her about life?

“Climbers get to go to the most unimaginable, beautiful, inspiring places, and the only way to experience them is to put in the hard work.”

It’s never to late to start climbing your peak, whatever it is.

Funny Bones

There are two ways to react to anything in life:

Laugh. Or cry.

And there isn’t a whole lot of difference between the two.

Everyone knows about laughing until you cry, but it’s just as easy to cry until you laugh. I thoroughly recommend trying it.

That’s why the funniest bone in the body is the one that hurts the most.

Close Until

Today, take a look around at the people who colour your life.

They will not be with you forever.

Your paths may interweave, for now; crisscrossing one another for a time; sometimes running so close they are almost one path.

But time is an endless fork.

All roads lead to change.

Sometimes it takes years. Often, a mere bustle of weeks.

But always, we bare our teeth at one another for a final time, sometimes, without even knowing it.

Take a look around at the people who colour your life.

They will not be with you forever.

But today, we are close.

Fruity

Do you know what you are, you sweet little thing?

Covered in soft flesh and bursting with life, gushing with all the potential in the Universe.

Helpless mushy bag; powerful enough to move mountains, should you try.

Not into the world. Nor out of it.

A part of it. The point of it.

The smallest seed.

Fruit of the World.

Still Surprised?

Some of the most useful stories are the shortest.

There’s an ancient fable about a Frog and a Scorpion, which you may even know already.

It stuck around because it’s true.

If you haven’t heard it yet, Scorpion persuades Frog to carry him across a river. Frog isn’t keen about this until Scorpion points out that if he stings him, they’ll both drown. That seems rational enough, so Frog agrees, and off they go.

Obviously, Scorpion stings Frog before they reach the other side.

As they start to sink, Frog cries out, “What the fuck, dude?!”

Scorpion shrugs and says, “It’s just what I do, bro.”

And they both die.

If you expect people to act differently to the way they’ve always done, you’re going to be disappointed.

ESPECIALLY when they’re acting in groups.

Weird Win

Not every win comes with a bottle of champagne and a big fat check.

Precious few do, in fact.

Many of the wins don’t feel like much at the time. Some of them even feel like losses.

It’s important to remember that when we get hit by a win that feels like a loss, the only way to tell if it actually is one will be in hindsight.

More often than not, when we look back, we find that even the big losses contributed to our future wins in some way.

So until you hear otherwise, treat every loss like a win.

If it isn’t one now, it will be later.

Back On It

Some surprising things you can do and still reach your fitness goals:

Taking a slice of chocolate cake.

Lying on the couch all day.

Eating a wheel of cheese.

Drinking eight beers.

Staying up too late.

Ordering pizza.

Tequila.

None of these things will stop you reaching your goals as long as you stick to this one rule:

Get back on it the next day.

And the day after that.

And probably a few days after that too — especially if you had beers and pizza.

Frown Lines

I woke up this morning with frown lines across my forehead.

They were not there yesterday, I am sure of it.

I pulled apart the furrowed skin, peeling back the valleys of flesh to reveal a bright pink riverbed meandering across my forehead.

Three of them, in fact.

Tributaries of emotion. Tributes to my perpetual confusion.

Perhaps I’ve been waking up on the wrong side of bed for a few mornings now.

But am I really old enough for wrinkles?

Is anyone?