Friday, 26 February 2016

Are you looking for enlightment, try reading books

Knowing others is wisdom, knowing yourself is Enlightenment. Lao Tzu

Why do people commonly search for for enlightenment in religion?   
What would happen if you ever reached enlightenment, would the person search for something else?
I searched for enlightenment in books and knowledge.  Enlightenment isn't a destination, it's a journey without end, understanding and knowledge can never be completed.
Here definition of enlightenment?
the state of having knowledge or understanding : the act of giving someone knowledge or understanding
Enlightenment is often associated with religion or spiritual journeys but it's about knowledge and understanding.
For many years I use to read 20 to 30 fiction books a year.  I discovered the Farnam Street blog which inspired me to read more non fiction books and learn more.  
There was one particular quote from Charlie Munger which resonated
“In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn’t read all the time – none, zero.”
I like this quote as well
“Develop into a lifelong self-learner through voracious reading; cultivate curiosity and strive to become a little wiser every day.”
This page has more Charlie Munger quotes on reading
I read more non fiction books and creating lists in Amazon and Goodreads about great books to read.  Ryan Holiday has a great reading list newsletter
I looked at my Goodreads currently reading list.  I like to read multiple books at once, I'm unsure if this is a good or bad habit but lets see what it says about my journey for enlightenment
Recommend by Ryan Holiday, I'm only 12 percent through but this book is magnificent book about a NBA coach Phil Jackson.  I'm enjoying his insights and engagement with people.  His interest in mediation and religious journey is fascinating and he attempts to still his busy mind.  I'm 14 % through but really enjoying it.
Ryan Holiday quotes a great section from the book in the article below, which persuaded me to buy it.

My current reading list

A great book which was free to borrow with my Amazon prime membership, it's one of the few free books I have found.  All three 99U book series are free for borrowing.  The book is a collection of articles on advise for creative people.  Interesting book.
A Science fiction book which is weird and great imagination.  I'm at the early stages and understanding how the world functions.
This is a classic book recommended by lots of people such as Shane Parish from Farnam Street blog, Charlie Munger and lots more.  It explains how people use your biases to persuade you into doing things.  It is a must-read book to enable you to understand how shops and salesman are persuading you without you knowing.
The new book from Cal Newport on deep work.  I am trying to improve my focus  and banish distractions.  This book has great tips on focusing.  
This was the book I asked my wife to buy for valentine's day and yippee she brought it for me.  I was looking forward to getting this, and writing is excellent, Adam Grant's writing style is generous and easy to read.  Adam uses great stories to emphasis his thoughts and opinions.  
Fiction book I'm reading on my phone.  I read a few pages whilst I'm stuck in queues or waiting.  It's an apocalypticstyle book similar walking dead.  The lead character is battling to survive, it makes you question how you would react.
User stories are a method to capture requirements and this book explains why user stories are useful and best practices and understand the process better.  The books old but it has lots of interesting points.
A look at how technology affects our lives and the counter intuitive way the industry works.
I'm trying to improve my writing, this book has opened my eyes
A small book written in a friendly and amusing tone.  I have learnt a lot from this book and its highlighting throughout.
I have been trying mediation as another method to improve my focus and keep my cool, this books a great introduction to mediation and amusing.

What does it say about my journey

My current reading is trying to understand how people work and insights on my own experiences.  Improving focus and concentration would be awesome. Mobile phones,  social media and email are distractions which constantly tug at your concentration.

Books offering deep thinking on topics and give the author time to explain topics in detail and offer insights.
I thought enlightenment was searching externally but during the writing of this article I began to think enlightenment is about knowing yourself and your thoughts.
Enlightenment is understanding, which comes from knowledge.

My two favourite books from last year

This is an amazing book, Maria Kondo's enthusiasm for tidying for inspiring.  I now even fold my socks and pants after reading this book.  If something doesn't spark joy then get rid of it.
This book was fascinating and explained many biases.  Understanding how your brain thinks and how it provides you instant opinions and thoughts was really interesting
book picture by kirrus

The views and opinions are personal opinions and not the opinions of my employer.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

You can fail but you are not a failure

I wasn't sure what to give the title of this post
Embrace Failure
To fail is to try
Benefits of failure
but in the end I chose
You can fail but you are not a failure
Failure is feature of all of our lives, peoples reaction to failure can shape their lives and the path they choose to take. Some people choose paths which minimize their experience with failure and others embrace it.
The fear of failure is so powerful that it can stop people trying but people should stop being afraid of failing and remember
Failing = Feedback
Every time you fail you are getting closer to succeeding. You can pick yourself up, analyse what went wrong, learn the lessons in failure and try again avoiding your previous mistakes.
repeat the above until you succeed
I know you are not going to take my word for it, so I have been looking at some inspirational quotes on failure, which I feature below.

Failing does not make you a failure

I watched an inspirational TED talk by Stanley McChrystal called Listen, Learn.... then lead. Four start General Stanley McChrystal talks about what he has learned about leadership from his life in the army.
He had this amazing quote
Leaders can let you fail but not let you be a failure

Not everyone fails because not everyone tries

for some people the fear of failure is so strong they don't even try to do something a bit risky. The quote from Michael Jordan sums this up nicely
I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can't accept not trying.

Everyone Fails

It's impossible not to fail at something in life, there will be things you are doing for the first time, things you are not good at, times you just get things wrong or under estimated the task in hand.
All the people who are considered successful will have had a few stumbles on the way to success and it's how they you react to failing that's important. You have to use as motivation to get better, motivation not to make the same mistake.
This quote from Edison is beautiful
Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.
I also like this quote from Zig Ziglar (what a fantastic name by the way)
Remember that failure is an event, not a person -Zig Ziglar
It's a great quote because failing is just a small moment in time, don't worry about it because soon no one will remember it later down the line.

Don't call it failing, call it learning

Failing, Failure are strong words and can have an emotional meaning with them. I look at failing, making mistakes as learning and refer to them as such.
Thomas Edison's quote neatly sums up this point, he famously created 10000 light bulbs which didn't work until he finally cracked it.
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” -Thomas Edison
Failure is a learning experience, bang on
Like success, failure is many things to many people. With Positive Mental Attitude, failure is a learning experience, a rung on the ladder, a plateau at which to get your thoughts in order and prepare to try again. - W. Clement Stone

TRY TRY and TRY AGAIN - Failing is a perspective

failing is a perspective, as shown by this great quote from Michael Jordon
“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” - Michael Jordan
It's an opportunity
Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely. - Henry Ford

Failure is one of the many steps on the road to success

It's unlikely you are going to succeed first time because you have to improve
“I’ve come to believe that all my past failure and frustrations were actually laying the foundation for the understandings that have created the new level of living I now enjoy.” - Tony Robbins
These two quotes make this point well
“Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.” - Dale Carnegie
“Failure is success if we learn from it.” -Malcolm Forbes
Failures are remembered easier than successes
Some of the best lessons I have learnt have been from my failures. For some reason the failures stick out in memory and I think I am more likely not commit the same mistake as I am than doing the thing the thing that lead to a success
I remember once riding my bike and going round the corner with my pedal facing the floor, the pedal hit the floor, I fell off. I never fell off my bike again because of my pedal (but did for lots of other reasons).

Finally a quote from Steve Jobs
Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything - all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.
picture failure by cambodia4kidsorg

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Why you should embrace wonky thoughts and wonky people

I always find beauty in things that are odd and imperfect - they are much more interesting .   Marc Jacobs


Don't think to straight, embrace some wonky thoughts and wonky people, it's no fun walking down the straight and narrow.  Life is a collaboration of individuals of different shapes and sizes with different thoughts and opinions, embrace the differences.
Beauty is skin deep but wonky vegetables are ugly to the bone. I watched a new snippet on how supermarkets are having wonky veg boxes, full of overgrown, funny looking vegetables which you can buy at a discount.
The highlight of the story was the news reporter asking a woman if she wasinsulted by a particularly curly carrot.
It was a daft question, but the answer was glorious
“No, I rather like itit has character

Wabi Sabi

was reading the book ReWork: Change the Way You Work Forever and itmentioned a phrase Wabi-sabi
Wabi-sabi is described as 
Wabi-sabi is the quintessential Japanese aesthetic. It is a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. It is a beautyof things modest and humble. It is a beauty of things unconventional...
Wabi-sabi is the art of imperfection, its important in world which moves towards conformity, a world of corporate companies and high streets filled with chain stores.  

Wonky Appearance

We live in a world which places a premium on looks and presentation.  The mediais filled with pictures, interviews and opinions of attractive people, why listen to the ramblings of people based on their appearance?
It turns out appearance is not only important in people but in our are fruit and veg, people don't want to buy funny shaped vegetables.
Thousands of tons of vegetables are thrown away because they are the wrong shape, supermarkets have stringent acceptable dimensions for vegetables.
We should champion the different shaped vegetables not throwing them away, we should buy them if they are cheaper and bigger.  Let us not forget wonky vegetables are funny

Be Prepared for Wonky

Wonkiness is not limited to vegetables, you will meet lots of wonky people in your life. People can have wonky thinking, behavior, appearance, methods, processes and wonky dress sense.
If we were all the the samelife would be boring but yet we are naturally suspicious of people who are different.  We should embrace the differences in each other and collaborate to incorporate the different views and ideas.
The difference in thinking of individuals is an invaluable tool, which bares the most fruit when working in groups, this allows the different views to merge and colloborate.  I use the term wonkiness of thought because other people have different opinions and methods of thinking, this can seem alien but ask questions and learn from a different perspective.
Wonkiness means you need to work differently with people to get the most from their wonky thinking.

Embrace Wonky

When you work at the same job or do the same process long enough you become a slick machine, to the extent it becomes a habit. Habits are the brains way of beingable to do tasks on autopilot e.g. when you do something enough time the braincan do it without concentrating on the task.
A great example is driving. Have you ever driven to work and forgot how you gotthereIt’s because your brain did it on habit autopilot.
It’s not habit autopilot that s the biggest threat it’s your system 2 logical brain accepting defaults. To progress you need to evolve processes, find better ways andthink about how to become more effective.
When new people join your department or team they bring with them wonkythinking, they question why we do things in certain ways. New team memberswant to understand the goal of processes and then see if there is a better way.
Wonky thinkers ask why?

Enjoy Wonkiness

We should embrace the wonky vegetable in everyone. Everybody has a wonky quality to them, which often manifests itself in fascinating hobby.
I love hearing about the unusual hobbies and stories of colleagues
A friends 2 year old son loved watching Youtube videos of clocks, particularlygrandfather clocks.
I used to collect erasers, which my nephews and nieces loved and some survived which my children play with!
My nephew used to collect can's of Lynx deoderant, he had over 50 cans
A school teacher did Kendo and brought in his sword
I will leave you with the quote from the great Roald Dahl
A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.  ― 
picture from here