Why I write

I received that text from a good friend earlier today.

I'll have more lessons to share after this 30 day blogging challenge is complete. Listen to Seth Godin and Tom Peters talk about blogging (or writing):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V4rq6Md3eHw

I believe everyone would benefit from writing, journaling, scribbling, having a diary, or whatever you wanna call it. There's some nuggets of wisdom inside everyone (some chicken nuggets, as well).

Tools

I use a writing journal when I'm feeling really pensive. It feels good to physically write things down, and I love the feel of the paper. I use a Sharpie felt tip pen because it just glides over the page, and gives me the precision I need. Here's the journal I use:

the journal I use

You can find a similar one at Barnes & Noble. They carry a good variety of journal styles, Moleskins, and other writing tools.

Here's a sample of what I write:

what I writeI use my journal to list projects, an outline for a post, some reflections from the day, brainstorm sessions, have by-myself meetings, or a desperate attempt to get some order back into my world.

On my Mac, I use Omnioutliner for outlines, Pages, Scrivener, but mostly I enjoy writing in Wordpress.

If you're not writing, I hope this post inspires you to write. You learn so much about the world, and most of all, yourself.

Paul


Go hard

Al came in, sat down, and told me that from now on, life would be different. Life had dealt him a bad hand, and he struggled with it. He was still young and inexperienced in many ways, but not in hardships.

After a great conversation, I offered my services and he said he would be interested some other time, but not right now. For now, he loved his role as a parent and enjoyed the time he was spending with his children. He missed out on their formative years, and felt a sting of regret recounting his early years as a parent, but the past is the past. He was ready to move on.

I explained that he could come back when he was ready, and I would help him prepare and look for work. He agreed.

Al came back from time to time to update me on how things were going. I could tell he was getting a little antsy, but he still wasn't ready to commit to work.

"I'm close", he confided in me. I knew it was a matter of time.

"50."

One day, Al came in with a serious look on his face.

"I'm ready."

"Ok", I said, "let's build out your resume and make it as tight as we can make it. We'll go from there."

He agreed. It didn't take too long to put together something good enough for the job market. Al always found a way to stay busy, finding odd jobs in his neighborhood, and picking up some temp work here and there. I know hustle when I see it and it translated well onto paper.

Once we finished the resume, I asked him how many he wanted me to print out.

"50."

Al caught me off guard, "50?? Uh, how about we start with 10 and go from there?"

"Naw, 50."

"Ok, how about 30?"

"Nope. 50."

"You're really going to do something with 50 resumes?"

"Yup. I go hard."

Hard to argue with that. "Ok, 50 it is."

I hit the print button, retrieved 50 copies of his resume and handed them over.

"Thanks man, I appreciate this", as he stuffed them into his folder.

"No problem. Let me know how it goes, and if you run out, come back and I'll print out some more."

One week later

Al comes to see me, sits down, and asks, "Can I get some more resumes?"

"How many do you want this time?", I asked knowing what he might say.

"50."

"Ok, so you're saying you put all your resumes into the hands of potential employers??", I asked incredulously.

"Yup. I go hard."

Hard to argue with that. "Ok."

I hit 'print', and 50 more resumes came out.

A week and a half later, Al was employed, earning good money with a reputable company with room for growth. He was happy with his situation, and I was grateful for the lesson.

Takeaways

Al taught me:

  • That somebody, somewhere is going harder than me. You can worship or idolize successful people, but how do you think they got to where they are? What will I do to match that energy and effort?
  • That sometimes deficiencies (like lack of work history) crumble to the ground under the sheer force of numbers. What if I did just one more? What if I multiplied my efforts and simply increased my output? Could I do ONE MORE push-up or blog post, help ONE MORE person, do ONE MORE presentation, and read ONE MORE page of that awesome book?
  • That persistence pays. How many "no's" did Al hear? At least 50, huh? And every "no" you hear brings you one step closer to a "yes". I have to remember that.
  • That I'm not challenging myself enough. Next time I'm thinking "10", perhaps I'll double or triple that number. Break through self-imposed limits.
  • To stay open to learning, and lessons will come from all angles. Even if someone is in a more vulnerable position than me, they can still teach me a lot. It happens all the time.

If you go hard it may or may not work out for you, but the odds will be in your favor.

So, go hard, and be like Mike was early in his career.

Paul


Play a new game

I often think of death.

As my dad once said to me, "We all gonna die", but it's hard to really understand that concept and get it in my gut.

I know I'm not making it out of this thing alive and you know that, but do we really, really KNOW?

My time may come in the next 5 minutes, the next 5 months, or the next 5 years. Who's to say? Nothing is certain in life, everything is impermanent, and life isn't fair.

Given that death is certain for us all, the question then becomes...

how do I want to live my life? Not in the future, but right now?

This question puts my entire life in perspective. More on this later.

Games

I'm becoming more and more aware that everything's made up, and I say "more aware" because it's easy to forget. It's easy to forget that society, and all the games we play within it, are made up.

The games of education and school.

The games of service and work.

The games of acquiring money and stuff.

The games of relationships, status and cultural relevance.

The games of politics, religion, racism, sexism or any ism you can conjure.

The games of anything you can imagine.

When I say games, it doesn't mean that life is not 'real' or 'serious' to you. I'm not minimizing what anyone does on a daily basis, but I am saying that if you look at it deeply, see things with a fresh mind, then you may realize the absurdity of what we put ourselves through, each and every day of our lives.

I say it's absurd given the outcomes and long term effects of these games: people mask their feelings through drugs, escape through entertainment, or commit violent or criminal acts because these games are confusing and frustrating to play. Sometimes, people just want to have the feeling of 'winning', even if they have to cheat to get it.

Should the games people play, fun or serious, bring out the best in you or a lesser version of who you are? For me, I want to play a game that's worth playing, a game that helps me grow and allows me to be my best self, whether I win the championship or not.

Real life games

It's important to note that serious games also contain the same elements and principles of fun games.

For example, every game has an overarching goal. There are rules that govern the players. Sometimes those players wear a uniform and use equipment to play the game well. Judges or referees are there to enforce the rules. The coaches or managers are there to help guide you or give you a strategy.

There's a way to keep score and some kind of prize or award that people are playing for. And there's the perception of winners and losers - you may not use those terms given the context of your situation, but terms like 'success' and 'failure' still hold the same meaning.

To give a real life example of serious games in life, take a look at the following infographics (click twice to see them in their full glory):

Does-Congress-Look-Like-America-TakePart-Infographic-April-2012

In the first infographic, you can clearly see who's making policy (the rules of the game). Think about it. If you could make the rules of the game anyway you wanted, would you purposely give your team an unfair advantage? Of course you wouldn't.

Check the second one out: transparency

Remember who's making those policies from the first infographic? Now you see who is impacted. What do you think?

Racism

The 'racism' game is a good example of serious games.

There are players, and they have a uniform (skin color) so you know who's on what team, and the challenges or 'hurdles' a team must overcome is determined by their uniform.

There are referees and judges to enforce unfair practices, but those unfair practices ARE the rules of the game.

And there's a way to keep score.

Race-ism is the 'perfect' term to use because that's precisely what it is - a race. Whoever came up with that term 'race' understood the impact it would have on society, and the various 'teams' it would impact.

Imagine one team runs the race without any obstacles, hindrances, or the least amount of challenge. The competing teams have parachutes strapped to their backs to slow them down, oil slicks that cause them to slip when they run, or 3-5 foot hurdles to jump over. Who has a better chance of winning?

With that understanding, look at those infographics again. How is it possible that skin color determines performance, outcomes, and your ultimate place in society? It boggles the mind and is just not possible - UNLESS - the 'race' is fixed.

Choice

This is just one example of a made-up game we're choosing to play. Yes, it is a choice, but we can decide to keep playing this game, play a different game, or create a new game.

Some may balk and say, "We don't have a choice, this is the way it is", and I say bullish*t. Either you're creating or co-creating your reality, or you're NOT.

To say, "this is the way it is", is creating the reality of what you already observe.

To say, "this is how it is now, and we can change this", is creating the reality of your imagination. Being victimized is one thing, remaining a victim is another.

You have a choice to repeat what you experience or create something new - observation or imagination. Stay in observation mode and you will mirror what you see, day in and day out. Options will be limited only to what you see, hear, smell, taste and touch. If you live in a certain area all your life then your culture, the rules you live by, and the world you experience will be similar to what others experience from that area.

If you choose imagination, then the paths and possibilities are endless. The game of life opens up and you're no longer limited to other people's creations. You have to still act on your imagination to make it happen. Living in your head doesn't count for much in this life.

My opportunity

I'm creating a new game for myself. Here's what I know so far:

  • I want to work and have relationships with people that energize, support, and 'get' me
  • I want to do work that's meaningful, makes me look forward to it, and challenges me to bring my 'A' game everyday
  • I want to live in full self-expression, totally being myself, and put myself in situations that bring out my best qualities

I'm sure I'll add more bullets later, but three is enough for now. These three bullets alone cause me to reflect on my current state, and make me question the work I spend most of my time doing, the quality of impact I'm having, as well as my current lifestyle.

I will look at myself deeply over the next few days and will be making some tough decisions soon.

Either I can continue to recreate what I have already experienced, with the same players, in similar settings, and familiar story lines...

OR

I can begin to create an entirely new life for myself, one that really inspires me to grab the chance to create a new culture of work, and realize the opportunity to live life on my terms, not somebody else's creation.

Is the game you're playing bringing out your absolute best? Are you playing a game you don't care for? If not, will you create a new game for yourself, or continue as you are?

I'll ponder these questions. More later.

Paul


Do you tale-spin?

I'm currently attending a conference called the California Nonprofit Technology Festival in Richmond, California. Like many conferences, there are break-out sessions, ice breakers, food, and most importantly, networking.

Whether you realize it or not, networking and the relationships you develop are SUPER CRITICAL to the success of your ideas, projects, and the general trajectory of your career. Who you know matters, and the higher the caliber of people and professionals you establish relationships with, the more likely your goals will be reached. Pretty simple, huh?

Well, I want to share a networking strategy I've used over and over again that's incredibly powerful. It's called Tale-spinning.

Tale-spinning

Tale = story, not the tail of an airplane.

1. Everybody IS a story

First, start with the idea that everybody is a story in progress. Go a little deeper and see that each and every project that they are working on is a mini-story within the main story of their lives. It's important that you understand the narrative of the person you're dealing with at the conference is much deeper, much more dimensional than the 5 minutes of interaction you have with them.

2. Discover challenges

Second, once you understand that there's a story operating in the background, take some time to discover the obstacles & challenges they're currently facing by listening and asking questions. Remember, they're there for a reason, even if they can't full articulate what that reason is. Help them get clear.

3. Collaborate and connect

Third, once you discover their real barriers, your job is to either:

  1. Collaborate with them on their problem by offering some specialized knowledge or a specific skill (if feasible), or....
  2. Connect them to somebody you know that can help them solve their problem. The people you connect them with can either be at the conference or within your personal network.

Simple, right? By doing all three steps you have the opportunity to alter the course of somebody's life story, or tale-spin them in a new direction.

Make impact

With Tale-spinning, you may only reach a few people, and that's fine. This strategy stresses quality over quantity, because in the end, the name of the game is impact. It's about how their stories progress and how people transform in the process.

Do you want to be followed or liked by the whole conference or do you want to impact someone's life? Impact and quality are memorable, 'follows' and 'likes' are shallow.

"We're here to put a dent in the universe."

- Steve Jobs

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook

Gary Vaynerchuk's latest book release is called: Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook - in the book, he gives case studies on successful social media campaigns. The primary strategy he employs to achieve his success (using his boxing metaphor)  is to give, give, give, then ask.

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook

You don't begin a social media campaign by telling people to 'like' your freakin Facebook page, but people still ask.  Why should I like your page?? Give me a reason, or better yet, make a dent in my life first.

And that's the point. Don't attend another networking event starting from the place of your needs and wants. Go to give, and give often. Gary says give 3:1, but even I know he gives way more than that for every ask he receives.

7:1 is a more powerful ratio that changes lives, and make you far more memorable than passing out business cards that no one will ever look at again.

I think 7:1 is reasonable, doable, and most of all, has long-term impact.

Does that mean you give seven to just one person? Is that seven spread out to three different people? You decide, but if you give it all to one person, you go much deeper.

Here's an example. I was at a networking event in Seattle, and one guy I met was doing some cool work abroad. I genuinely listened, asked questions that were relevant and took the conversation deeper to help me better understand the challenges he was facing. Someone walked up and before they could introduce themselves, I said, "Have you met Daniel? He does 'this and that' and what's cool about this is 'this and that' is...."

I realized I couldn't help him, so I began talking to everyone there about him. I soon walked away and met another person in a similar space, so I began recounting the first guy's story to him. Then I saw Daniel in mid-conversation and said, "Hey Daniel, I'm telling this guy about your business. You two should talk."

Then I walked away. I found a woman who I thought could also contribute to his unique problem, and yelled over two people, "Hey Daniel, I think she can help you, too."

By now, Daniel kinda felt obligated to me. He came up to me, and said sincerely, "I know you told me about your book, but I want to know more. I can help you promote it."

Be careful

Please listen. I don't do this to manipulate other people. I genuinely want to help them. Tale-spinning and the tactics that support it could easily be used to exploit a situation.

You know your intentions. Don't be evil.

Also, if you give, give, give and somebody takes, takes, and takes, then stop feeding them. Don't give to people who will take everything you have and not even think of giving back. What's the saying? Give someone an inch, and they'll take a mile? Yeah, no mile types, they're sharks and not good for the tale-spin ecosystem.

How can you tell a shark from a genuine contributor? Through practice and experience. I'm sure you've had some experience with selfish people. Learn from them, apply that wisdom, but don't let that stop you from being vulnerable. Take risks, put yourself out there, and learn from your mistakes.

One more thing. If you decide to give seven to just one person, make sure you feel out the situation and don't come across as overdoing it. There's nothing more suspicious than somebody giving everything they've got to assist you, and they're not asking for anything in return. So pay attention to context and feelings. Yes, there is such a thing as over-giving, especially with strangers, and I've definitely been guilty of that before. It makes you feel creepy.

Finally

Provide solutions. Give. Create value. Care. Help someone get past their obstacles and advance their stories, even if it's just a little bit.

In networking situations, take the attention off of you for once. Be a Tale-spinner and make impact.

And don't just save this strategy for conferences. Do this at work, at home, and try it in social settings. Everybody has goals, and goals have obstacles - these challenges must be overcome for them to advance their own life story.

Transformation is just around the corner for them - and for you.

Paul

7:1

 


I drool

I like to fart.

I pick my teeth and sometimes my nose.

I scratch my butt when it itches, and hope nobody catches me.

I love to floss my teeth.

I wear bow-ties with pink flamingos on them.

I refuse to eat dessert in the morning.

I have recurring dreams of playing basketball or football (no, I don't always win).

And I always know when I'm drifting off to sleep because I start to drool.

It doesn't matter. I know you do, too.

No, you don't do the exact things in the exact same way as I do, but I know you do things that you may be embarrassed or even ashamed to admit.

It's ok. I know.

Blemishes are universal

We all have our our so-called idiosyncrasies.

We all have fears.

We have insecurities.

We all make mistakes, a lot of mistakes if you want to be GREAT at anything.

I know you know all this stuff, but I'm reminding you anyway. I reminding you because you'll still compare yourself to others or to some ideal.

You'll see someone who is wildly successful or just seems to have it all, and I want you to remember that they stumbled and struggled to get to where they are. They are just more comfortable and accepting of their mistakes than most people are.

You'll also see someone who is  so beautiful that angels sing when they walk by. Just remember, they fart, too.

But ultimately, I'm reminding you to be yourself, no matter what.

The world is full of copycats, but we're thirsting for more originals.

It starts with you. It starts with me.

Be yourself.

Paul

oscar_wilde_quote


Everything's made up

"Everything's made up."

I'm in the middle of my workshop, and people are riveted.

Did he just say what I think he said?

I continue...

Anything woman or man-made is completely made up, created, designed, engineered or whatever verb you want to use.

Computers, tablets, and smart phones? Made up.

Institutions like schools, government, and religion? Made up, too.

Businesses, football, stoves, planes, cars, and the streets they drive on? All made up.

All the rules, laws, statutes, and codes that exist within certain systems, institutions, or inside ourselves? All created by fellow humans.

You see things, and you say, ‘Why?’, but I dream things that never were, and I say, ‘Why not?'

- George Bernard Shaw

This observation is clear when you think about it, even if some take offense to the statement at first, or accept it for certain things but not ALL things.

"My religion ain't made up! My god ain't made up!"

Perhaps god isn't made up, but out of the thousands of gods, which one is the right one to follow/worship/pray to?

Your feelings and the sensations you experience in your body are real. No denying that, but if you can get two people within the SAME religion to agree on who or what god is, then let's talk.

For the most part, religion and spirituality is a deeply PERSONAL affair and EVERYBODY thinks their way is right. The key word is "thinks."

Thoughts into things

We know how stuff got here. People had an idea, designed or engineered it, put some action behind it, and *poof*, we got something.

Anything that's something came from nothing, since an idea or thought is not something you can examine with your 5 senses.

Invisible stuff creates the visible world, and this is the way things get made, but WHY does it work this way?

Who cares. Call it natural law, or how stuff works, but the process is pretty awesome...more awesome if you're aware that life works this way.

If humans are NOT aware of their responsibility in reality making, then the world can get kinda crazy.

If people really knew that everything was made up, and that we're all co-creators and conspirators in our reality making, then the world we experience would change overnight.

There'd be less fighting and conflict and more moments of peace.

There'd be less blame and victimhood and more responsibility.

There'd be less hopelessness and despair and more purpose and meaning.

There'd be less hurt and abuse and faster healing and understanding.

There'd be less poverty and more wealth.

Because who would purposely, deliberately create more crap in their lives??

For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he...

Proverbs 23:7

War

A thought is just a thought, but when somebody actually identifies with a particular thought, interesting things start to happen.

If you identify with going to a certain high school, then anybody who goes to a rival high school is in conflict with you.

Sure, identification and attachment brings people together, and that's all good when it's fun and games.

But when you identify with a certain group, political party, country, region, sports team, neighborhood, social status, stigma, description, ethnicity, and on and on -- there is conflict with anybody who is not that.

This is how wars start.

It begins with somebody who thinks they're fundamentally "right". So-called leaders think their way is right, and seek to impose their 'righteousness' on the world around them and this leads to destructive conflict and wars that last for decades or even centuries.

Hitler was right, and needed the world to shift to his worldview.

And here you come, stating emphatically, "Hitler was wrong!"

Two worlds, different perspectives, different ideas must be in conflict.

Where is the wisdom in all of this?

7 billion

There are almost 7 billion people on the planet. That means there are 7 billion different stories, 7 billion distinct memories, 7 billion perspectives, 7 billion life philosophies, etc. You think all these people are seeing/experiencing the same things? You think others see what you see?

Nope.

Conflict arises between two people because they're living in two separate worlds and are completely UNAWARE of it. Two people, two sets of rules (yes, some rules are shared), but eventually someone will break the rules of the other and conflict will ensue.

If people were simply AWARE that:

  • You are making up your world as you go (as am I)
  • Belief and truth are NOT the same, and there's far more belief than truth in the world
  • You are NOT living in the same inner world as everyone else, though we share the same outer world
  • The inner world actually creates the outer world, conversely, the outer world has its roots in the inner world
  • The act of listening (real listening, not just using your sense of hearing) and observing leads to a better understanding of somebody's inner world, and simultaneously reduces conflict
  • It's better to understand first, then to be understood

...then we could solve many of the ridiculous wars, decades of conflict, and the silly arguments that occur between two people that may inflict needless harm and cause unnecessary trauma.

Takeaways

  • You are the creator of your reality, and so is everyone else. Yup, it's all made up, so why not make up the world you really want to live in?
  • And I get that you think that you're the center of the universe. But so is he, and so is she, and so is that turtle over there. Try to remember that everyone thinks they're the center of the universe when you're dealing with others. It helps.
  • Understand that we will never share the same inner world, but we do have to share this outer world. Let's do our best to understand the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of our fellow humans before going to 'war'.

Let's face it, everybody's right. And everybody's simultaneously wrong.

It's just a matter of perspective. Armed with that understanding, perhaps we can prevent the next war (or unnecessary argument) from happening.

Paul

 war quote russell


I just want my smile back

Yesterday, my bottom-left molar felt sore, and it stuck with me today. I'm sure I'm due for a dentist appointment soon. The dentist is an inconvenient necessity. I never look forward to those visits.

Today I met with someone I haven't seen in quite awhile, and we got to talking. Teddy has been missing his top row of teeth for quite some time now, and is ready to get them fixed. Can you imagine? Being without the top row of teeth, and always being conscious of your smile or when you're talking?

Then he said:

"I just want my smile back."

It got me thinking. The body is amazing, really miraculous. It does wonderful things for us each and every day, and it's impossible to track all the activities it engages in from moment to moment. We all have a beautifully, well-orchestrated natural work of art with us every waking moment of our lives.

It's easy to forget that, but Teddy helped remind me of how a simple smile can be so meaningful. A smile can disarm a fearful stranger, boost your self-esteem, or bring two lovers together.

I then felt a rush of gratitude in that moment.

What are you grateful for today? It doesn't have to border on the miraculous, but perhaps something you take for granted from time to time.

Today, I'm grateful for my smile.

Paul

i just want my smile back - quote


Find your passion

"Find your passion."

I agree. No matter what, experiment until you find something that excites you, makes you wake up smiling, and causes you to lose sleep.

This guy thinks that following your passion is bad advice - when it comes to earning money:

http://vimeo.com/85927282

Being passionate about a hobby or activity may or may not translate to economic value. However, being passionate about something you do can bring you immense personal value, and is a great place to start. Personal projects could eventually affect your pocketbook.

He makes a good point, but I'd like to counter with this:

If you're interested in making lots of money or being an entrepreneur, then I'd argue that passion is CRITICAL to your venture.

But not passion about an activityhobby, a job title, or social status, but being...

passionate about a problem.

You may have heard the phrase 'create value' before. That's just a fancy way of saying 'solve someone's problem'. Take the attention off what makes you feel great, and put your attention on problems that make people miserable (or unhappy, or hopeless, or bored, or disconnected, or whatever).

I'm saying be passionate about a problem then become a hero to all the people that particular problem affects. A problem doesn't necessarily have to be something that ruins a person's life, it can be seen as providing an experience that doesn't currently exist in their lives, such as Disneyland.

So be passionate about problems ONLY if you want to turn your passion into economic value.

Go ahead and be passionate about poverty.

Be passionate about homelessness.

Be passionate about corrupt politicians and government.

Be passionate about expensive taxi services. (Thanks Uber)

Be passionate about crappy restaurant service.

Be passionate about the lack of nutrition in our schools.

Be passionate about the incredible high school dropout rate in our country.

Be passionate about the slow internet service in the U.S. (Someone please take out Comcast, AT&T, et al.)

Be passionate about a problem that bugs or pisses you off so much that you're constantly seeking out other options. Chances are, you're not the only one, and there you have a market. If a problem bugs you, then you're your first customer.

And the sweet spot? Being passionate about what you do and how what you do helps alleviate another person's problem. If you get to this stage, you will experience some awesome highs along the way.

Questions

What problem(s) bother you?

What area of your life needs the most improvement? Relationships? Work/career/business? Health? Money? Learning? Why?

If a miracle happened and all of a sudden your life was almost perfect, what would have changed in your life?

Finally

Remember this: problems are screaming opportunities, waiting for someone to solve, alleviate, or improve.

What will you do to create some value in the world and make it a better place to live, not just for yourself, but for others?

Paul

be passionate about a problem


Problems or symptoms?

For every thousand hacking at the leaves of evil, there is one striking at the root.

-Henry David Thoreau

Are you working on the right problem?

It's a question I'm constantly asking myself. At work I like to say I'm working on the problem of poverty, but in actuality, that's not true.

After studying the problem of poverty, I found that it splinters into a subset of other problems such as:

  • poor information
  • lack of organization
  • poor lifestyle choices
  • lack of access to resources
  • unproductive network of people and cultural influences

It seems that poverty isn't the real problem at all - it's merely a symptom.

Let's explore one bullet on this list - poor information, and see where it leads.

Poor information

Information is fundamentally neutral, but there's no doubting information's influence on my thought process, and how I behave in the world.

If we take a closer look at the word, we see the word broken down as:

in - form - ation

in = what's happening inside | form = to shape

Why is information so important? Because it is shaping who we are INSIDE, and whatever's inside will eventually see the light of day outside.

In fact, physicists say that information is a basic property of the universe and is literally shaping reality from moment to moment.

Good or bad. Complete or incomplete. Information is the backbone of the decisions I make on a moment to moment basis.

How? Decisions are being made based on the number of choices available to me at any given moment.

The number of choices available to me, and the quality of those choices, are a result of the information I have acquired during my lifetime.

So we must go to the source.

Two worlds

We live in two worlds simultaneously. An invisible and a visible world. The visible world has its roots in the invisible world.

See this illustration of the tree?

visible-invisible

This is a useful metaphor. The roots of the tree are invisible to our eyes, and the trunk, branches, and leaves of the tree are visible.

But the trunk, branches, and leaves CANNOT exist without the roots.

Without the roots, you can't have any fruits.

The basic information of the tree determines whether the tree produces apples, oranges, or almonds. Since information is a building block of the universe and all living things, then it's critical that we acquire the 'right' information so that we can shape reality and our lives in a way that is suitable to us.

Whether you're conscious of the information you receive on a daily basis or not, this is an ongoing process that is ALWAYS influencing you, and every living and non-living thing.

Humans, squirrels, apple trees, and rocks all have their basic nature, BUT humans can create, shape their worlds in unimaginable ways that animals and nature could NEVER do. Well, maybe apes can, too.

Without quality information, quality behaviors and results cannot manifest. Regardless, whether the quality of information is good or poor, information is always present in our lives and will find its way to the surface. Just look at your results.

From their fruits ye shall know them; do men gather from thorns, grapes? or from thistles, figs?

- Jesus

Problems or symptoms

Poor information is a root problem that manifests as a symptom (poverty, violent behavior, obesity, etc.).

If your tree's roots are rotting, which is causing the leaves to be brown (brown leaves are a symptom) instead of green, then you have to deal with the REAL problem, not the symptoms.

Real problems are mostly invisible: poor information, habits, beliefs, thoughts, emotions and feelings, self-image, self-esteem, confidence, etc.

Symptoms are in the realm of the 5 senses: obesity, poverty, abuse of any kind, a sluggish economy, corrupt governments, emotional outbursts, stress, unhappiness, cancer, etc.

Here's the billion dollar question: are you working on the REAL problem, or are you dancing around symptoms?

Ex: your headache is caused by lack of water, so you're dehydrated. You're not aware of this, so you take an aspirin. The same problem comes up 3 days later. You take another aspirin. All this time, your body is crying for water - the real problem.

This is why information is so vital, and affects every aspect of your life. Not just whether you're rich or poor, but ALL areas of your life. The quality of relationships, your health, whether you have a growth or fixed mindset, and your ability to organize for maximum productivity.

Lessons

  • The visible world ALWAYS comes from the invisible world. Never forget that.
  • Every REAL problem in the entire universe lies beyond the 5 senses. Go there for long-lasting solutions.
  • Ask: what's the real problem here? What caused this? What caused that? Keep going until you've clearly identified and defined the problem.
  • Problems are a part of life, and there's wisdom and intelligence in this, but destructive problems that are harmful to others deserve to have their roots taken out.
  • Transformation is elusive until real problems are confronted, not symptoms. Sure, you may make some symptoms go away temporarily, but they'll be back, sometimes much tougher than before.
  • It's ok to take some ibuprofen from time to time, but if it's a recurring issue, then it's time to deal with some roots. Stop being lazy about chronic issues.

Find the real problems - in your job, organization, or your business - and solve them. Watch how life transforms for everybody involved.

Paul

p.s. remember the quote from Thoreau? Next time you're working on a big problem, make sure you're the ONE who's striking at the root.

thoreau-quote