School run

It was a strange morning in Shanghai.

Despite its age, the local school had very graciously walked down the street to make room for a new skyscraper complex.

The 7,600-ton building, severed from its roots and mounted on hundreds of mechanical legs, inched 200 ft down the road; without dropping so much as a windowpane.

We don’t always have to destroy the old to make way for the new.

It’s cheaper — and way cooler — to carefully nudge it out the way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who’s too small?

One big issue we must all battle is that we start so small.

The problem isn’t quite that we’re small.

The problem is that we expect the world to get smaller as we grow, to start to make more sense and show where it will bend to our will.

But unfortunately, as our limbs expand, so do our horizons.

The world turns out to be an even bigger and busier and scarier place than we thought. And we feel smaller and less important than ever.

Which is a good place to start.

We are small and unimportant, little more than a mote of sand in the sea or a mosquito in the marshes. 

But put that dust mote into an oyster or that mosquito in a tent and you’ll quickly find out that nothing is ‘too small’ or ‘too big’ to make a difference.

Making a difference is about context and action.

Nothing else matters — least of all size.

Fat people try harder

Exercising will teach you a lot about life and even more about yourself as a person.

When a close friend first dragged my lazy ass to the gym, I was incredibly unfit and doughy and unconfident. And to top it all, I was embarrassed about all those things.

I was scared that people would point at me and laugh as I chafed myself into a puddle, plodding along on the treadmill at a snail’s pace. Or worse — they would pity me lifting these tiny little weights.

The way that I did them.

I would watch that obese guy walking on the treadmill and think, “Give up fatso — you’re not even trying.”

But he was trying a lot harder than me. And deep down, I knew it. 

The problem was me — it was how I looked at people. They were making an effort to improve themselves and I was standing there being a snide little prick because of my insecurities.

I wasn’t mocking them. I was mocking me.

Exercise taught me that the people doing the most criticism are almost always the people who are doing the least to change.

Maybe it’s because they haven’t found their light, their way to improve the world and themselves, and they deeply wish they had. Or maybe because it hurts to watch someone winning when you’re losing or lost and don’t know how to turn it around.

Exercise taught me that it’s a lot easier to mock someone else for trying than making an effort yourself.

Exercise taught me that change is hard, but it’s almost impossible when you hate yourself and believe the world is against you. 

And exercise taught me that I’d rather be the fat fucker plodding away with everyone laughing than the skinny fucker sitting around doing nothing but criticizing.

Now whenever I catch the eye of an obese person trying to turn their life around, trudging along on a treadmill, scared and self-consciously sweating buckets, I give them a nod and a smile so they know I’m rooting for them.

Because now I know how hard it is to climb that mountain.

And how brave they are for trying.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Change the world

Oh, didn’t we all dream to change the world.

I wanted to be king of the galaxy. You may laugh, but there’s still time.

One of the most frustrating things about becoming an adult was realizing how little power I had over the world.

I didn’t like the world the way it was. And the world didn’t give a fuck about what I wanted, which only made it worse.

It took me another decade or so to realize that Life is more subtle than that.

Anyone can change the world.

We can change the world one little bubble at a time.

Sometimes that bubble is small and sometimes it gets really big.

But often we’re so busy looking at other people that we forget how many people are looking at us — looking up to us — for guidance in this mad world.

At least three people are copying you because they think you’re cool. Really.

We change the world one brick at a time.

One little action. One little word. One little smile.

It doesn’t just add up — it compounds.

Keep at it.

 

 

Is this working for you?

Is this working for you?

If it is, keep doing it.

If not, maybe it’s time to change it up.

It’s either change it up or put up and shut up, right?

And nobody should have to do that.

Least of all you.

Hard decisions

When someone is letting you down they’ll often say something like, “This is the hardest decision I’ve ever made.”

It sounds nice. And it’s nice that they bother to say it. But it doesn’t do much to soften the blow and does nothing to change the fact they’re rejecting you.

What they’re really saying is, “I know this is going to hurt you, which is probably going to hurt me too but I’m doing it anyway.”

And when you put it like that, the first way does sound a lot nicer.

They often mean that it was an easy decision not to…

The easier decision to stay. The easier decision not to say no. The easier decision to stay in their comfort zone.

The shit thing about life is that the hardest decision is usually the right one.

Easy road, hard life. Hard road, easy life.

As they say.

Just a feather

We like to think we’re in control of things — especially when they’re going well.

But as ol’ Bill wrote, “We are but a feather for each wind that blows.

When a chinook of change rips across the prairie of Life, plucking us from our steady path to dance with Fortuna and Discordia for a time, there isn’t much we can do about it.

By the time we settle back down to ground, Life has changed.

Often, we have changed too.

Many people busy themselves trying to stay rooted to the ground — to steel their future against fickle flaws of fate.

Have you ever watched a swallow bursting its little heart flapping against a gale? 

It never lasts long.

When those winds wail through, there isn’t much else we can do but let go, spread our arms, and hope that where we come to rest the sun is shining.

Not finished yet

It’s well-known that humans are terrible at remembering things.

We peer through the blurry lens of time, forgetting the boring or nasty or annoying memories and embellishing the tasty morsels.

It makes us awful at predicting the future too.

We ignore all of the massive, disruptive change we’ve lived through and decide that the future will be pretty much the same as it is now. Nothing will change. We are at the end of the line—the end of history.

But we’re not.

We’re not even close.

Imagine a 20-year-old suggesting that they’d done all the changing they’d ever do and life would be plain sailing for the next decade.

Laughable.

Yet, that’s what we do to ourselves every day.

I aim to change my life every 6 months and the last year has still seen far more change than I ever expected. And I’m betting Life will change again by the end of this year for all of us. 

Don’t beat yourself up by imagining the future is the past.

Not finished yet?

More like just getting started

Reinventing the shoe

I had something else scheduled for today but there’s news I have to tell you and it’s so big I’m breaking my own rules.

Nike reinvented the shoe (again) on Tuesday by releasing a pair of fully ‘hands-free’ sneakers.

And. They. Are. Stunning.

Not only are they sci-fi sexy, but they’re also a monumental feat of functional, behavioural design.

There is not supposed to be pics in this but would you just look at them:

nike fly go ease best trainers in the world

This formidable team at Nike set out to make a shoe that made life easier for members of their para-athletics team.

They ended up with something so simple, so obvious, and so beautiful that you just know it’s going to be around forever.

That’s why Nike is awesome. They don’t just make cool gear. They reinvent how we use clothes — and not in that bullshit catwalk way.

I’ve personally ruined every pair of shoes I’ve ever had by stamping down the back to take them off.

Just take my money, Nike.

I’ll never buy another pair of shoes again.

Mind follows body

People think that to change your behaviour or reach your dreams, you have to change your mind. But that’s backwards.

Mindset plays an important part, but the truth is, when we change our actions first, our minds will follow. 

That’s why even a tiny behavioural change — like drinking a glass of water in the morning — can make us healthier. 

That one small action opens the door to dozens of other small but positive actions over the day. And over time, these all add up and move us closer to where we want to be, and who we want to be. 

We can’t talk ourselves into change, but if we act as if it’s already happened, our minds will quickly catch up.

Raising the bar slowly

The current high-jump record is nearly two and a half meters (8.13ft) — a superhuman leap. 

But when Javier Sotomayor took his first jump, he set the bar much lower.

Each round, he raised the bar a little, sometimes as little as a quarter of an inch. Jump by jump, he pushed his body slightly further from the ground, until eventually, he achieved something remarkable.

Set the bar too high and we’re bound to bump into it.

But if we focus on raising the bar just a tiny bit higher at every attempt, we can go higher than we ever thought possible.

Everything is change

It’s human nature to look for meaning in the world; to attach labels and think up laws to make sense of the chaos.

But there is only one True Constant in the Universe: everything changes.

All empires eventually falter. Our things break and need replacing. Fashions cycle, meanings shift, and one way or another, every relationship comes to an end.

We cause ourselves a great deal of pain by ignoring this simple fact.

Change isn’t just something that happens; it is Life itself.

Everything in existence is just matter changing from one form to another at different speeds. We can influence it, and often we can direct it in our favour, but we can never prevent it.

This eventuality is something to be grateful for when we’re ill, depressed, stressed, waiting on hold, and even if a narcissistic, racist orange with tiny hands runs your country.

Nothing lasts forever.

And I find that oddly comforting.

There’s no such thing as ready

Hugh Laurie is an interesting chap with an expressive face and an impressive career.

If you’ve been struggling to get started on your goals this year, he said something that might help you out:

“It’s a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you’re ready. I have this feeling now that, actually, no one is ever ready to do anything. There is almost no such thing as ready. There is only now, and you may as well do it now. Generally speaking, now is as good a time as any.”

If we wait until we’re ready, we’ll never be ready at all. It’s called “chasing a dream” because it’s a journey into the unknowable. 

We don’t know how we’ll realize the dream or what will get in our way. No matter well we prepare our plans, life changes them the moment we step foot on a new path.

There’s no such thing as ready.

That’s why the only proper answer to “Are you ready?” is: “As ready as I’ll ever be.”

Ringing in your ears

Words are incredibly powerful.

These little sounds and symbols are programming for humans. Without them, our world falls apart.

Some words are so powerful they stick in our brains — ringing in our ears — and changing us forever. It becomes true.

The words we use to talk about ourselves are the most powerful because we listen to them all the time; they work a rut in our brain that’s hard to escape.

We never know when something we say will strike a chord and change behaviour — including our own.

That’s why we have to be so careful with what we think and say. And if we want to do something, we write it down.

Listen to the words ringing in your ears and ask if they’re in harmony with your goals.

If not, start to change their tune.

How to win the stock market

The people that make the most money in the stock market aren’t day traders. Ever.

They’re the patient ones. The people who wait it out.

They’re not trying to make a million today, or even tomorrow, because they know that if they turn up and put in a little extra every day, they’ll be head and shoulders about the rest in a decade or two.

They don’t worry when the stock market goes down. Or too pumped when it leaps up.

They just turn up every day and look for little ways to improve.

Life is a bit like the stock market — it’s all over the place.

Some days are going to feel like you’re going backwards.

You’re not.

And guess what?

Just like the stock market, a little investment in yourself on those down days is worth a lot more when your stock goes back up.

That’s just how it works.

Kerching!

Today is day one

Some ‘life advice’ is just terrible.

“Live each day like it’s your last…” is one example.

It sounds good. It has that existential quality, and it nods to our great motivator: death.

But beyond that, it’s useless.

First, most people wouldn’t spend their final dozen hours doing anything productive at all. And even if they did, it’s doubtful that they’d be able to create anything worthwhile in a day.

Just as you won’t change your life in a day.

So, as attractive as it may be cast aside our responsibility for tomorrow and focus on what we want right now, this won’t get us very far.

The chances are, we’re not going to die today.

Why not live each day like it’s our first, instead?

Lay each day like a bricklayer places the first brick of the world’s tallest building: carefully, in the knowledge that he has many more bricks to place on top. Each brick must be laid well, or the building will fall.

Every day you have the opportunity to lay the foundation for something monumental.

And if you do that, when you look back, you’ll see that what you’ve built is great.

Better late than never

About 2,047 years ago, a Roman historian wrote the eternal words, “potius seo quam numquam.

Or in our words, “rather late than never.

But nobody told my high school teacher, Ms. Kattan, that.

She made it so awful to be late that I would rather skip school than face her wrath. I often chose ‘never.’

As children, life throws all sorts of deadlines at us: you’re an adult at 18, have kids by 35, retire at 65, die at 85…

But, time doesn’t really exist.

It’s just an agreement that we make with ourselves so that we can meet people for lunch or catch the train.

The danger is when we start to believe that it’s real.

We miss our goals or deadlines, and we start to believe those dreadful words: “It’s too late.”

It’s never too late.

If it was too late, you couldn’t switch from journalism to midwifery at 32.

And you couldn’t give up engineering and move to Florence to design shoes at 55.

And you definitely couldn’t be 74 years old and follow your dream of being a stand-up comedian — like Julie Kertesz did.

But you can do any of those things.

These stories prove that late is better than never.

So, screw you, Ms. Kattan.

I might be late, but at least I turned up.