New year decisions

Last year at this time I read a lot about new year's resolutions and why people mostly fail in implementing them.

Reasons why they fail are for example:
  • Lack of a step-by-step plan to implement (re)solutions.
  • Missing milestones/control/verification points (just once a year doing a check is not enough).
  • Bad analysis in why the old habits were there - implementing a new habit instead of an old one works better if the new habit is also solving the old problem(s).
  • ...
So the point is, that just from one day to the next you will hardly be able to change your life or your habit(s) respectively. The best approach for changing your life is to plan several different goals and step-by-step programs for implementation. But this is done mostly during "normal" - continuous - personal development.

Dedicating time to personal development just once in a year is clearly not fruitful.

But anyway I do consider the new year's eve a good opportunity to look back at the last year, build a summary and do some focus decisions for the next year. Writing the old year's number for the last times or writing the new year's number for the first times is somehow something special that let us feel a cesura - it causes us to pause for a moment or at least creates a good environment to do so.

It is the same as in project management: Milestones should not be too distant from each other. Points of control should be often enough to ensure you are on track but there should be enough time between to have the chance finish some implementation (attempts).

I find new year's eve not the best time to break with old habits as during the last weeks of the year most people tend to find more stress than less. Thinking about and implementing new habits for me works better during and after longer (summer) vacation.

On the other hand new year's eve for me is a good time to think about a (possible but not necessarily "new") focus for the next year and take some (maybe already overdue) decisions. This will help you in your daily decisions already in the first days of the year. Just having the desired focus in mind masks irrelevant information making your life easier. And it avoids making commitments that do not support your life plans but take effect later during the year (so you don't notice immediately).

I wish you a successful 2010 with good decisions and razor sharp focus.

Related posts: Razor sharp focus, Information overflow, Focus by decision, Focus by direction.


Needs and Meaning

I did not write for a while due to several reasons. First I invested a lot of private time into building technical knowledge slightly different from my daily work. That held me back from writing more posts already earlier, but sometimes such is necessary if you want to grow - see also "Knowledge is freedom".

The second reason is the birth of our second son. Unfortunately after the first two weeks it turned out, that he has a tachycardia and needed to stay under intensive care. A few days ago we got him back home with medication and a heart monitor.

What I learned from this recently:
  • Luck, happiness and healthiness is fragile.
    When he was born I was so happy to have two sane children. Now I know how fast that can change. - I should already know this very well - everything is fleeting...

  • Replace worrying with real risk management.
    When situation is bad we are full of sorrows and when everything is fine we actually need to worry about our properties and health fading away. So we could spend our life worrying all the time or simply stop it because anyway it does not make anything better. This is not to be put together with not being aware! - We should be aware of potential risks and problems! We should do our best to act healthy and ethical! But plain worries focus just on all the possible bad results without real risk management and taking any action - so our day-to-day repeating worrying really does not make any sense.

  • Maslow is quite right with the hierarchy of needs.
  • Viktor Frankl was quite right also.
    He has written about man's search for meaning and developed the logotherapy. He basically states that we can discover meaning in life in three different ways: (1) by creating a work or doing a deed; (2) by experiencing a value – nature, a work of art, another person, i.e., love; (3) by the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering.

  • Be thankful for every help you get.
    Especially doctors often have a negative image, but they really can save your life (or in our case the life of our son).
Related posts: Biggest worries, Knowledge is freedom, The most important things to know, All done status, There is suffering.


Biggest worries

One of my biggest worries always was to get the children born healthy and sane. Now, with the birth of our second child I am very happy and thankful that both are well.

Thinking of the family I do notice that it is extremely important to me that my loved ones stay well - healthy, sane and happy.

But the other very, very important thing mostly underestimated while everything runs (still) fine: Having a job is a key major need and doing a good job is the best insurance of keeping it.

Remaining without a regular work / day job is one of my key worries. It is a requirement to get settled with your family and have enough money/resources for food, roof, clothes and medical support.

The next biggest worry is that my loved ones get ill, rubbed or knocked down for example. I want to know them being sane and save. Having a good job and enough income is a key requirement to get everything needed for a living.

Although quite logical and most should know, sometimes I have the impression that people's life is so full of things that the most primary priorities lack attention...

Related posts: The most important things to know, Knowledge is freedom, Needs and meaning, The family.


Knowledge is Freedom

You might have noticed that I currently do less posts on this blog lately. This is not due to less interest or that I don't have opportunities to learn general lessons of life. - The reason is: I am in a heavy upgrade of my knowledge in the branch of my main profession - the IT.

In relation to that I want to point out some general important considerations:
  1. Knowledge is creating/increasing job security!
    In a downturn many people fear to get laid off. People with a high level of knowledge simply have a higher value for a company (if the knowledge is not just focused in a very limited area - although even this can make sense).

  2. Knowledge is creating more options!
    Expanding your knowledge is opening your mind to other - new - things in general. Especially when gathering knowledge in other (completely) new areas you get a more complete view of the world. You begin to see more and more options: More options to solve a single problem, more job opportunities, more benefits and even risks - that all helps you to find your way in life that fits best for you.

  3. Knowledge is boosting creativity and efficiency!
    Especially when you get more knowledge in very different areas of life you are increasing your creativity because of the linking of different approaches taken in different branches or areas. For instance physicians often look at biology to find more efficient solutions in their realm. By getting more creative you also find better options for using your time efficiently.

There are some side effects of knowing much that you may like, such as:
  • When learning you have the opportunity to get in touch with other people.
  • Your opinion is appreciated when people begin to notice that you know much.
  • You get more self-esteem and feel more inner security.

Some of the challenges are:
  1. Work-Life-Balance
    To get more knowledge often implies that you have to gather that outside of your daily job - in the evenings, nights or early mornings. While the family can often understand that for a while, you most likely get into trouble, if it gets usual that you spend your spare time more working than dedicating to your family.

  2. Overwhelming amount of knowledge
    The more you know the more you get aware how tiny your knowledge is. There is not enough time to gather and learn all available knowledge (not talking about the not-yet-available knowledge). So: You have to choose wisely what to learn to not waste your time!

  3. Efficiency in learning
    There are several different approaches to learn something new: Read books, ask experts (coaching), take courses, play around and try (experiment), ...
    Attending a course is not always the wisest choice, especially if you want to offer a unique service or product as a follow-up. In many cases, if you want to be at the frontline of some new technology or movement there is either not much offer in courses or books.
Related posts: The most important things to know, Transferable know-how, Hunting for degrees, Information overflow, Show respect to the team, What to learn from the Borg, Biggest worries, Needs and meaning, Know your options.


Peoples history

It happens so easily that we label other people being idiots or behaving in a strange way. A broad minded way of looking at others is often missing and we are often not very "fault-tolerant" when it comes to our social living.

Just to give an example: How often does it happen that you drive by car and find yourself arguing about others in front or behind you doing stupid maneuvers?

Usually we look at people (or even on everything else also) in a quite limited way. While labeling others we put our own limited view and experience onto them and on this poor base we start with heavy interpretation and wild guessing.

But we usually know very little to nothing about the personal history and experience of others (even of our friends and neighbours)!

Prior to labeling and criticizing others we should do a lot of listening and asking for reasons! Maybe we can learn a lot!

Related posts: Crappy Guesswork, The value of experience.


Ice Age

When I heard Al Gore talking about the global warming a good while ago (therefore I can't find the link again of that particular talk), something that kept being on my mind since then is:

While he was explaining world history, melting of ice and the increase of temperature he also mentioned that a next step (talking in millions of years) after a global warming is an ice age.

So, if we do now have have to expect a global warming of a size and speed that never has happened before in world history - couldn't it be possible that the next step is following as fast?

If I think of control engineering and if I would be able to control the world, what would I do NOW? - Knowing that people created massive reasons for global warming, I would do everything to cool down the world. - Al Gore mentioned that after global warming the typical way weather happens then change and all the ice is rebuilt (not only on the poles). So if I would be mother nature I would already in advance do some change to advance too much of global warming.

When people talk about global warming I often get the impression that people believe that world reacts very slowly to all changes and is always behind. I don't think that changes in the world are always just lacking behind.

What, if the triggers for the next ice age already have been initiated? What if our massive contribution to causes of global warming are already also triggering the next ice age in the same speed?


Being like a child

In personal development blogs I read a lot about being like a child increases creativity and happiness for example. I have also seen people having serious psychological problems when growing up and facing an increasing amount of worries.

Indeed, when remembering childhood I can recall fewer worries than later on when in a relationship, in business world or after starting a family. But the point is that there were not less reasons to worry when I was a child. I was just not aware of them! - I could have worried about my future job, if I would earn enough money to keep my family fed and so on. Growing up I got aware of more and more things that can go wrong, more and more important decisions that could be life changing.

Returning to be like a child for me in some way would seem like just fading out most of the worries I am now aware of. And in fact some people when facing themselves in the middle of job, family and future worries, get into midlife crisis or just put their had in the sand (or their nose into the alcohol or whatever).

The blogs or people recommending to return being a child do mean particular properties that children usually have, such as curiosity, being themselves (what they say and do fits together), worry less etc. - But I think that you can't tear these things out of context. You usually can't do something experiencing just the positive and not the negative aspects that come with your decision. For example: With the comfort of going by car you have to refuel it which costs money. Or a more related example: "The all done status" - I am usually the more happy the more I feel that I have the impression that all my duty has been done. I had that impression much more often in childhood than nowadays. But in reality there were a lot more things uncertain and not finished in those times. I just did not know. I could have said that it is just not the right time for more - but I could have done more to be well prepared for life. And what holds me from saying that now - "it is not the right time for more"?

They say, the wise people are again more like a child. I think the key does not lie in the intention to return to childhood. I think the key lies in mastering the uncertainty and worries by surpassing a certain level of wisdom. Others will then notice a light heartedness known from childhood but the background of such wise people must be completely different.

Sometimes an effect cannot be reached by just focusing on the desired effect, because the effect is created in a totally different way. As a sample I think it is very hard to achieve lasting happiness without knowing what real suffering is.

Related posts: All done status, How to be happy, Highly happy people, There is suffering.


About management

In these times at least some companies do recognize that it is important to have enough Indians to do the work. In the last years many have grown too big in administration and increased the amount of chiefs in favor of operators.

And especially the managers often eat up the most of the money a companies earns. But I guess even more money is wasted when performing big mergers that go along with a rebranding.

Another observation reveals that most people are somehow managers. A person that cleans up the room is treated as "facility manager". Sounds good, isn't it? - Well, my special honor goes to everyone who does a hard and dirty work, they don't need to be any form of manager to get my respect. Everyone who does a good work has my full respect for that. My doubt is that many companies do "job rebranding" to attract people. For a job (title) that supports (self) esteem people may also accept a lower income and therefore this might be a good strategy of companies to save money. And further there are a lot of jobs that only a few people accept to do.

The very strangest thing that my experience shows is that although everywhere it is full of managers, it seems that since economical crisis started (or even already before) many services are not provided in the quality any more that I got used to. The efficiency in many places seem to go down instead of getting better.

I think the reason is that calling every action being management and calling everyone a manager does dissolve the whole meaning of management. Real good management may already be absent in many places.

Luckily as long as Wikipedia and other sites are around we can be full of hope that the important knowledge of management does not get lost. From Wikipedia about management:
Management in all business and human organization activity is simply the act of getting people together to accomplish desired goals and objectives. Management comprises planning, organizing, staffing, leading or directing, facilitating and controlling or manipulating an organization (a group of one or more people or entities) or effort for the purpose of accomplishing a goal. Resourcing encompasses the deployment and manipulation of human resources, financial resources, technological resources, and natural resources.
If you look at this definition you notice that management is an activity that requires
  • having a very good overview of the whole thing that is being managed
  • good social skills
  • good organizational skills (many think that this is something you get automatically when getting adult but this is not necessarily the case)
  • ability to resolve conflicts
  • accounting skills
  • ...
A good manager must be able to do accounting (at some level) and even must be half a psychologist (I talked to a manager who told me that sometimes it is also necessary to help employees to solve their private problems to get them productive again).

Management is important to have a company working efficiently! While reducing number of managers in the downturn it is important to increase or at least maintain the quality level in management.

It is important to have as many Indians for the war as you can feed but it is important that they are motivated and run against the right target(s)!

Related post: Management by Customer.



Imagine the situation: There is a dog dropping. A women is approaching in bicycle and in the hand holding even a plant. She does not notice the waste and drives right through.

I walked slowly instead and noticed it long before.

What to learn from this?

Beware of your speed! - Whatever you do, whatever decisions you are about to take, keep in mind that being too fast is a bad idea - it drives you right through the mess!

Taking decisions too fast without watching and evaluating the situation or operating too fast reduces the quality of your output. Take into consideration that with every mess that you produce you are not only failing to achieve the goal, you are creating additional work for you - needed to clear up the mess.

Again I do remember what the doctor told me:
Nobody is dying within 60 seconds. You always have at least 60 seconds for analyzing the situation doing nothing. (There might be some exceptions, e.g. when a very lot of blood is extruding around.)
When the patient has got a medicine in a dose somewhat too high trying to get back equilibrium might be difficult.

Should this not be enough to calm us down?

Related posts: Slowing down, Transferable know-how, Reduce the stress factors, How to instantly change a habit, The productivity trap.


Transferable know-how

Lately I had a discussion about the value of particular experiences. Many people had been laid off because their particular and very specific knowledge was not needed any more.

It has been a longer while ago when I watched a video of Nathan Myhrvold - watch it yourself here (length 17:14). For me this is a very good example (if not the best) that you can apply knowledge and experience you gain in one realm onto completely different subjects to find creative new solutions or bring additional value into foreign areas.

It can an immense opportunity for a company hiring people with a broad experience on different areas - and it is a primary productivity boost if you are able to learn quickly from experience and find out different realms where it can be applied.

Another example: I talked to a doctor where I go to the gym. He has more than 20 years of experience at the intensive care unit in different hospitals. He told me that many times nurses called him being totally in panic because of emergency and he learned to take himself 60 seconds of time looking at the situation and analyzing. He said: Nobody is dying within 60 seconds. You always have at least 60 seconds for analyzing the situation doing nothing. (There might be some exceptions, e.g. when a very lot of blood is extruding around.) His experience is that doing "something" (in panic) often makes the situation becoming worse. If an injection is set, it's in and if it was the wrong action or just the dose was too high then you suddenly have to deal with two things running out equilibrium. He said, in 90 percent of the cases a slight adjustment was sufficient. Slight adjustment can be worth more than big rough action. I think this could be for example applied perfectly to IT emergencies also - as well as for a plenty of other situations too.

And while talking about knowledge being applied on other issues under different circumstances, I see that the knowledge from different other areas can help you in fitting your solutions to the rest of the world. I think, especially the wise men/women are particular good in re-utilizing knowledge.

I always tried not to get stuck looking just at my programming code, I always looked for the link to the customer real needs and kept an eye on overall efficiency and productivity. And I wish I had better listened to the other subjects in school too - even those which did not interest me at all. There are so many things you can learn from animals, from physics, from history etc - knowledge that can be useful while thinking of solutions for your daily issues. Testing knowledge and experience on different realms can boost your personal development (BTW: A boar is running faster than Bolt - maybe you should learn running from the boars ;-) ).

Keep your eyes open, learn, be creative and test on reality!

Related posts: Unwanted creativity, Speed, Knowledge is freedom, The value of experience, Prudential innovation.


About drugs

In the last days there were a lot of articles in the news talking about doping or about the tremendous drug usage all over the world.
I did not talk about drugs so far because it is so natural for me to not even think of drugs. Other happens to the drug user: Often he/she can't think of anything else than the next dose.
Why do people start with that? I can't believe that most new users try it just for fun. The more I think of it the more I get to the conclusion that it must be stress, pressure, fear and similar reasons that drive people to do that.
I don't want to talk a lot about the huge amount of disadvantages, I prefer pointing out just one fact: Using drugs is making dept. You gain a short boost and later you pay for it. For a little too much in alcohol you pay with a headache on the next day, for "real" drugs the price is much higher (also - but not only - from the financial point of view.
In reality there are a lot of possibilities in making dept from the health point of view - smoking, eating junk food, too few movement, working too much or lack of sleep and so on. - But I think the rule applies that the harder the drug, the higher the dept.
As it applies for your financial situation, it also applies for your health: Don't make dept!
Related post: Reduce the stress factors, Getting older.


Weird symbols

Lately for our tenth anniversary I have been in the church with my wife and although I do not feel a particular relation with the catholic religion I found two particular meanings in Jesus hanging there on the cross:

  1. Don't whine about your suffering.
    There could be so much more suffering that it is most likely that your suffering is not that hard as you may think.

  2. Be careful about what you do.
    You can easily contribute to big suffering with your words and actions - or with prejudice.
When we face different cultures with different rites and traditions we often tend to find it odd or weird. It might take many years before one understands the meaning...

Related post: There is suffering.


Something more important

A good while ago I stumbled upon this quote:
Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear. (Ambrose Redmoon)
I am about to widen this:
Whatever problem might hold you back from success, whatever suffering you face, it might be worth every single step towards a better future.

Thanks to all those who are working honestly and with the best intentions to create a better world for all of us.

Related posts: The fear, Plan to get fear done, The golden rule, Primary motivator.

Unattended mode

While proceeding with your life plans or projects or "simply" building up your personal environment you are establishing services and systems that assist you in being more productive and/or focusing on what you like to do most.

While creating this environment you move your focus from one service or "feature" to another.

So what we do is usually that we pay attention to a thing only during the period when it is created - "installed". Afterwards we tend to consider the thingy to be working. In some cases we remember more or less continuously to check or do some maintenance work.

I am not talking only about technical equipment and infrastructure like heating, light, your PC and all your other devices and gadgets, I am also talking about non-material topics like friendships, partnerships, education of children, inner peace and so on.

Not only when we have finished installing some technical stuff, but also when we have taken decisions or established relationships, we tend to leave it in unattended mode and we forget about the "maintenance work" that is necessary in the long run to keep everything "up and running".

Remember your "civilization goodies" in the way that you pay attention to them once in a while to do a little maintenance work, adjust things a little or "simply" - show a little respect. And pay attention not to commit for too many things!

Related post: Total cost of commitment, Show respect to the team, Respect by attention.


Analysis and therapy

Whenever I face a new project or a new environment I usually do a lot of analysis, investigation and exploration. This is of course not a bad idea - I mentioned the importance of analysis in several other posts already.

Lately my father was in hospital and they did a lot of exams. But from a particular doctor I learned that a particular test/analysis/exam only makes sense in two circumstances:
  • When there is a therapy indicated on a positive or negative result.
  • When there is scientific interest in knowing that detailed information.

This is a good rule to avoid exaggeration of analysis.

And you can widen this idea in the way that it does not make sense thinking of something if there is no consequence whatever the result is. Keeping this in mind frees you from a lot of "spam thoughts" and reduces your "information overflow".

Related posts: Spam thoughts, Think yourself, Detect the weak point, Focus by decision, Information overflow, Will to change is not enough, The benefit of planning, Early intervention.


Scoundrel days

I am not sure if it is because of the economic crisis but I see more and more people concentrating on their own benefit and on there own profit. And this although current knowledge status is that we should try to find win-win solutions and the only long-term way into a better future is to collaborate and pull together on the same strings.

We should know that we are all connected, dependent from each other and in whatever way we contribute to the world it will have effect on the others and come back to us.

Despite these facts a lot of people get more self-concentrated and try to rip others off and exploit existing resources (preferable the resources of others).

Not having a solution for this in general the only tip I can give you is: Take these times as opportunity to find out who really is friend with you? Who are those who love you?

See...as our lives are in the making
We believe through their lies and the hating
That love goes free through
scoundrel days. (A-HA, Scoundrel Days)

Appreciate those who are really your friends and maybe spend some more time with them instead of allowing others to exploit your resources.

Related posts: Good heart these days is hard to find, The most important things to know, Stop the service, The main purpose, Ethic economy, How to rebuff somebody.


Fool me once...

Lately I heard a phrase the first time that fits very well to the core purpose of my blog:
Fool me once, shame on you.
Fool me twice, shame on me.
This means basically, that you should learn immediately to not tap into the same trap a second time.

A core message of my blog is that the first time something happens can be an accident, the second time you should start searching for the patterns to solve the problem and with the third time the problem could already be solved.

Everybody tells that making mistakes is normal. At least you should learn from it. - There are things you should learn immediately and there are things that need another happening to get the lesson. And other cases are "well documented" - so you should never suffer of those - learning from others that already failed.

Learning the life's lessons is essential. Whatever you experience, you should use it to improve your habits. Do not just try to improve, but dedicate a part of your time to learning from your experiences.

As quoted on the Positivity Blog in "Yoda's Top 3 Word of Wisdom": Do or do not... there is no try.

Related posts: Will to change is not enough, Find the root problem, The value of experience.


Create consensus

I was in the train on the way home. A girl was sitting in some distance (the train was quite empty). She was reading "How to Win Friends and Influence People".

She has put her legs on the seat in front of her and she was wearing
earphones. She either didn't look up and around once in a while and had her hair falling over her eyes. I did not read that book but I wonder if this is the right way to make friends? - Well, maybe this is exactly the reason why she reads that book. ;-)

However, it reminds me to a meeting last week where I noticed statements aimed at totally different goals.

My conclusion of such experiences is: Many people do not notice how contrary their own talking, their goals, their behavior - yes, their complete character is.

How can we find consense in this world when either a single person can't find consense?

I understand that it is difficult sometimes to find a homogeneous style of living in modern times, but we should watch our most obvious visible contradictions in our behavior.

Related posts: Between short and long term goals, Masked rot.


Razor sharp focus

While the economy is undergoing essential changes - which by the way seems to be necessary for this world - you also might want to realign some core elements in your life.

The problem: You are unsure about directions and tend to be undecided.
Especially when many parameters in the environment are unsure many people tend trying to do "business as usual", to follow known rules and well prepared paths. But many of the well known paths and proven strategies now even do not seem a really good choice. What then often happens is that people do switch priorities and goals very often - try this and that and be erratic in their behavior.

The reason: You are full of worries and slightly entering panic mode.
Over the years many things adjusted to each other somehow (more or less automatically). Bigger changes in the environment now do disturb the balance in a significant way. Arising fears are a natural effect. But you should deal with them properly.

The solution: Get informed, dedicate to creativity and evaluation of new ways, choose and focus.
  • Analysis
    Open your eyes and look around - get informed about what is going on around you.
  • Creativity and Evaluation
    Take yourself time to excavate your creativity, evaluate possible solutions and new ways.
  • Choose and focus
    Choose between your alternatives, choose a few important new goals and priorities - this might not be always clear from the arguments. In case of doubt follow your inner voice - your gut feeling.
    Then focus on the very few important new goals and priorities. Command yourself with the words "Razor sharp focus!".
    To have all your priorities served remember to give enough time to each and be patient with step-by-step improvements. Don't expect the fast and big success - "Constant And Never-ending Improvement" is the wise way.
    What then happens while on your way is that you will get critics - this is natural and there might be new arguments, but if you did the analysis and evaluation right then you can be sure that a few critical words of others are not really a reason to change your decisions!
Related posts: Information Overflow, Focus by decision, Focus by direction, Know better and act on it, Total cost of commitment, Time bandits, Why not multitasking how to, Slowing down, New year decisions, The productivity trap, The golden rule, Team meeting with yourself.


Tell not more and not less

Reading personal development blogs I often read that you should reduce the amount of words you write and say sticking to the kernel message.

And they are right because of a simple argument: Nobody wants to spend a long time reading and listening in times of information overflow. This is reason enough to reduce the text in your mailings and phone calls.

But be aware of reducing too much! - Many people are very quickly in adding interpretations where they lack information.

Here is a sample conversation via SMS I faced two days ago:
A: I would like to pass by for a short talk. Do you have time now or are you busy?
B: After 9:45
Person A interpreted the response that B has time after 9:45 and is busy now (maybe because of the short response). A passed at 10:30 and found B busy because B meant "After 9:45 I am busy".

What has to be said must be said - not more and not less!

Wrong interpretations others get from your information can be very dangerous!

Related posts: Blog post lengths or how to write, Information Overflow, The time bandits, Importance of collaboration, Hot air, People and Information.


How to rebuff somebody

The problem: You feel considering others so much while others do not really contribute.
When conflicts arise I do have very often the feeling, that I am the flexible one, I am the one considering others and reducing my own desires and needs. Looking around I can see there are those type of persons who have the general habit of requesting others to change and on the other hand those who somehow mostly become the "victim".

The reason: You are flexible and agile which makes it less effort needed if you change.
While working on your personal development (consciously or not) you may have cultivated skills like flexibility, creativity, humility and so on. You might have commit to change.

Now, when there is a problem or conflict, it is often very hard work and difficult for people to climb-down, change or simply just consider a little bit the others. Mostly people are focused on themselves and their own goals.

So, if you learned flexibility others do notice that and know (consciously or not) that for you it will only be small effort to change for you and they often do not have any idea (if they are willing) how they could solve the problem themselves.

The solution: Suggest how they can solve the problem themselves.
As you are flexible and creative you could help out with proposals how they can solve the problem themselves.

Just to give a sample: When somebody feels disturbed by you being too noisy while there is at least one door (of office or bedroom) that can be closed, you could suggest to close the door when that somebody wants to have silence.

Another sample: When discussing a concept for a project with a customer there might be requests that are complicated to implement, but with a small change in the customers processes the whole project could be a lot easier to implement (and therefore also gets cheaper).

The point is: When others request solutions from you (and they can be very persistent in requesting that you solve the problem), you can sometimes solve the problem simply by pointing out how they could solve the problem easily.

So you solved the problem without retreating yourself which also means that you can handle the problem as solved. It is not an open issue for you any more.

Related posts: Between GTD and GHE, The time bandits, Efficient meetings, Stop the service, Stake your claim, Let'em wait, Scoundrel days.


Crappy guesswork

I have heard it in a film one time, but lately made a view little experiences that confirm this:
At the beginning of a disaster there is always crappy guesswork.

So remember to
  • Stick with the facts.
  • Do well the analysis.
  • Detect the weak points in your concepts.
  • Listen rather than persuading others with your opinion.
  • Before making an assumption think twice whether it is really needed or probably better to find out by investigating or asking people.
Related posts: Detect the weak point, The mismatch problem, Information and Experience, Plan to get fear done, Peoples history.


Importance of collaboration

This morning listening to the news I heard that there is the first case of swine flu arrived in Austria. They told that the person is in hospital already getting better.

The swine flu teaches us about the importance of sharing information and collaboration around the world!

Nowadays due to global traffic illnesses can spread out easily getting pandemic. Without the traffic illnesses would spread slower and the radius in which sharing of information and cooperation is that important may be smaller, but anyway: If something of big relevance happens (and that is not necessarily to be an illness, it can be any experience and knowledge that is gained), the effect sooner or later shows up somewhere else in the world too. And it is not only the traveling humans, it is also wind, water or animals that is keeping things moving.

When talking about "something of big relevance" I am talking - besides of illnesses - of any health related effects (electric smog or other emissions, used ingredients in food, ...) and also of technical inventions that reduce our footprint or even political movements, philosophical views and all kind of things that can help improving the world but also can cause very negative impacts.

Although I do not agree with many actions that have been taken globally to fight the economic crisis there is one important thing that people have realized: There must be global solutions!

Collaboration is a word that is widely used as a buzzword - first of all in IT business, but we have to realize that collaboration means in detail the need of:
  • communication skills
  • intention and desire of making everybody happy
  • willingness to contribute to the community
  • viewing at the whole
  • being open minded
  • mastering of the tools to do collaboration
The fate and fortune of the whole world is related to the fate and fortune of the single individual!

Related posts: The main purpose, Best wishes to all, An eye for an eye, Tell not more and not less.


Beware of your routines

First, a short story:
When I woke up this morning, it was already seven o'clock (and I should get up at 6:30). I wondered why I didn't hear the music and found that it must have been my little son playing around there. So I did everything in a hurry, looked at the temperature outside, wondered why it was (still) so fresh outside. Then I wondered why there is so few traffic on the streets. I began to wonder, looked at the time on my watch and on my mobile phone... - I was an hour too early. My son must have been playing around with time adjustment also. :)

At the gas station, when filling the tank I am always trying to get a clean sum of money to avoid to much money changes. This time by mistake I was 2 cents above 45 Euro. From Italy I know that they wouldn't ask me the 2 cents. Here in Austria maybe not. The guy asked me the 2 cents, which I found bad customer service as I know that gas stations make a lot of money here. And there are 2 other gas stations very next to the one where I stop...

Then it happened that a driver on that street apparently woke up in bad mood and showed an aggressive driving style although so few traffic. I had to hit on the breaks to avoid a crash.
This was basically my morning. So, what to learn?

All those things have something in common: There might be a little trigger that cause you to run a complete program automatically without either thinking and/or without any further review.

When going through your routines or while doing "business as usual", it is important to review behavior and processes from time to time - or in single cases. Sometimes it may be worth making exceptions. But people do follow their automatic routines even if it is not appropriate...


The main purpose

While on the self development path you might get to focus on GTD and then you might find blog posts that propose to focus more on happiness. There is also very much written about the idea to write a life plan.

When I was a boy I was told I need to have goals. But I experienced a lot of suffering because of goals I did not achieve (in the desired time). In the parallel search for meaning I noticed that whatever "higher" purpose I will set in my life, I can always ask for the why and for the next higher purpose and meaning behind it. I was not able to find the one big meaning of mankind and so I decided not to set a particular purpose or goals and just to make optimum use of the opportunities from the point of view when the opportunities show up.

But what is the optimum? Again as there is no big meaning to identify you are free to set whatever priorities you want. However, there are some purposes that are healthy (in the way that they make you feel better) and others are not. I found it a healthy purpose to

help minimizing suffering (in the whole - and not for a single individual).

This is basically what is also mentioned to be logical by Spock in Star Trek (starting with 1:25 in the video):
The needs of many outweigh the needs of a few - or the one.
From time to time we need to remind ourselves to such basic purposes to find realignment in our life.

But what are the needs? Productivity? Happiness? Absence of suffering?

I mean, that you cannot be happy if you don't know what despair and fear is. You cannot know love if you didn't experience hate. Somehow I think that for a "fulfilled" (the word says it) life you need to get many (completely) different experiences. This probably is meant when somebody had a "rich" life. - Not rich of money, but rich of experience and rich of impressions - rich of feelings, rich of views, ...

So when you feel sad or despaired or whatever, just remember that it is giving content to your life. Accept it and feel it fully.

For your decisions and actions remember that principles are more important than rules and the direction is more important than the goal.

Related posts: Principles over rules, Direction over goals, Finding the proper priorities, Between GTD and GHE, Scotty, beam me up, Who? When? For Whom?, There is suffering, Importance of collaboration, Scoundrel days, Living your opportunities, The golden rule, Television, The fool gives way without borders.


Know better and act on it

I am currently reading the book "Secrets of the Rockstar Programmers", written by Ed Burns.

I only read a few pages so far, but I consider the content being "zipped" knowledge, as it touches many realms, not just the technical points of view. Already from the first pages the book / Ed encourages me to "boldly go where nobody has gone before" (or in some particular details to boldly return to things that worked better in the past). Actually I consider this book to be a book on self development or a book on management also. And this is the reason why this post goes to 1-2-solved blog and not to IT-Tactics.

Ed quotes Rod Johnson mentioning an important skill: "Knowing better and act on it".

In the last years I am facing more and more people and companies following just the sure path - the path that is "known to be working". People do this from my experience mainly because of the following reasons:
  • Fear to be wrong (and all the other so many people can't be wrong)
  • Fear to loose business and market.
  • Search for the quick success/money (short "time to market" - go the easy way)
  • Minimizing costs and risks (no investment into research and development)
  • Personal limits (people simply don't have better ideas or just don't bother)
But following paths that are known to be working also means that there are already many people there where the path leads to. I think people can't expect outstanding success by just providing something that plenty of others already do offer. This does not necessarily apply to regional suppliers (thinking of the supermarket in the neighborhood, haircutter, doctor, ... - although good quality or unique product offers attract new customers from the distance).

Some other words on "doing what works": Going the sure path means to do what in the past turned out to be working. What worked good in the past does not necessarily work (that good) now. On the other hand: A lot of strategies that worked very well in the past have been dropped in favor of others that do not work so well.

So, some things change that shouldn't and other things should be changed. In our fast times people often rush and quick-fix. People do not take time to sit down (or walk slowly), think and listen to their gut feeling. If they would, there own experience and knowledge could take off and have effect on the now. Then they could see and know better. Then take action on it and you will succeed!

Related posts: Think yourself, Total cost of commitment, Slowing down, Dynamic activity, In the present moment, Get focused with 3 questions, Simple Life, Razor sharp focus, The value of experience.


Ethic economy

Yesterday I watched the video "Constructive Capitalism" - a presentation held by Umair Haque.

In this presentation he talks about old business rules that do not work any more nowadays - in this time of crisis. Instead he suggests to apply new rules and he named a few examples of companies and people who already switched there general strategies.

The video is quite long and the slides are unfortunately not very readable and there is also no option to rewind the video, so I tried to extract the new rules - the new focus - of economy he suggests:
  • Renew things instead of exploiting
  • Democracy instead of command
    (voting, discussions - explain, understand and reach consensus)
  • People, not product
    (no democracy without people)
  • War to peace
    (War is crisis of conflict, competition does not work
    because of the limitations of competition given by growth and monopoly,
    Obama won the elections because he did not provoke conflicts)
  • Connections, not transactions
  • Domination to equity
    (not try to dominate the market - create new markets)
  • Creativity, not productivity
  • Value to meaning
    (Crisis of nihilism - a lot of stuff that is done, is
    meaningless today - we often give value to numbers that are not very
  • Outcomes, not incomes
This reminds me to the song "Love Is The Seventh Wave". And it also reminds me to earlier posts about love and intentions...

Related posts: The power of intention, Best wishes to all, The big difference of the How, The most important things to know, Healthy motivation, An eye for an eye, Scoundrel days, The resource problem.


Think yourself

Do not believe in anything because you have heard it.
Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations.
Do not believe in anything because it is spoken and rumoured by many.
Do not believe in anything because it is found written in your religious books.
Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders.
But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.
(words of Sakyamuni Siddhartha Gotama from the Kalama Sutta, Anguttara
Nikaya, Vol 1, 188-193, Pali Text Society Edition)
Related posts: Know better and act on it, Analysis and therapy.


Optimist meeting pessimist

Putting optimists and pessimists together is a potential conflict source. Under the shower I had the following thought:

The optimist should not cross the border to frivolity. The pessimist should not cross the border to angst/anxiety. If both go to meet each other they meet at reality.
And at reality you find people exercising reasonable care, being motivated by the positive goal in mind and with the intention of long-term positive evolution.

Related posts: Positivity barricades, The power of intention, Healthy motivation, Between short and long term goals, Success with optimism AND pessimism.


Between short and long term goals

Ever asked what you would do if you get notice that you will only have a few months left to live?

Sometimes when I get notice of critical illnesses around or when I hear from accidents then I ask this question to myself. In personal development blogs I read about how to achieve your dreams to give meaning to your life which I see somehow related.

It is somehow a question how you want to be remembered by
  • your partner
  • your family
  • your friends
  • your colleagues
  • the rest of the world
If you would get notice that you just have some months left, you probably would stay next to your family or - if you are not a family being - you would probably prefer to do something "great" before you die.

Some articles tell, you should focus on these important things NOW.

The problem with this is: If you are not going to die soon then what would you live from in a few months?

My conclusion is: You should think long term in your planning and goals. But you should not invest ALL your time in that. Keep in mind that you will probably never reach your final goals. You might not get to the big outcome when your goal is or your goals are reached, so you should enjoy the journey - in the short and long term context.

But there are things that are independent from long or short term view because it affects both - the eightfold path known from Buddhism (see also at Wikipedia) - known from Buddhism but IMHO is not limited to any particular religion or philosophy.

Related posts: As it would be the last day, The power of intention, Between GTD and GHE, Get focused with 3 questions., In the present moment, The big difference of the How, Principles over rules, Create consensus.


The power of intention

Some weeks ago I heard (already the second time) of Masaru Emoto and his water experiments. He freezes water after exposing to different type of music, different words etc and then takes pictures of the crystals that are built out by the freezing water. I have seen several pictures of frozen water crystals and I was stunned.

Searching the internet I found also several criticism about the work of Masaru Emoto. See Wikipedia or the statements of Kristopher Setchfield for instance.

I am not sure what to think about this controversal opinions. One thing I can say is: If there might be the possibility that the intentions, wishes and words that you put anywhere in this world do manifest in water or life forms then it makes sense to put positivity in this world.

I do focus on intuition during the last weeks and while in meditation state you can get also a better feeling of the intention - your own intentions and the intention of others.

My results so far are:
  • If you are open minded you can distinguish between people who are interested in doing positive things for others and those who think only about themselves.
  • People with positive intentions are liked more and one feels better being together with positive people.
  • People with positive intentions do emit peace and love and this gets multiplied.
For the empathetic person you can't hide your intentions. So watch your intentions and pay attention to your major orientation and goals.

May peace and love be your intention...

Related posts: When to criticize, How to be happy, Highly happy people, Healthy motivation, An eye for an eye, Positivity barricades, Between short and long term goals, Success with optimism AND pessimism, Optimist meeting pessimist, Ethic economy, The resource problem.


The time bandits

Although reading and implementing a lot of life hacking methods I get caught within useless meetings or do other work with less outcome than effort. Not talking about the countless interrupts while you are trying to do something important.
Often people learn to focus only in very tough times when there is no option and the focus on that one thing is the only choice to survive. You may know this from learning for exams or starting with an important work - often you start quite in the last moment.

It is sad, annoying and producing either aggression when you hardly try to be efficient and do your best and then others start or continue to waste your time. Others? Why others? If my time is wasted it is me wasting my time, isn't it?

Indeed, it is you wasting your time, but sometimes there are others contributing a lot to navigate you in such situations. Then often you can't really get out easily.

What can you do to avoid getting caught by the time bandits (yes I prefer the word bandit here in favor of thieve)?
  • Never attend a meeting without an agenda!

  • Avoid multitasking. As with computers doing two tasks in parallel means that both tasks get done slower and there is an overhead lost needed for the task switching!
    E. g. Never take the phone or switch to read emails if you are currently working on an important task or on a task that requires your full attention!

  • Have clear and priorities and goals (or direction where you want to go). For whatever comes up that does not meet these commitments define a late schedule.

  • Urge others to be concrete (have concrete goals and priorities). If you can't get concrete information immediately keep asking. Often the get away quickly if you ask the right questions, because they have no idea.

  • Don't jump on hypes just because it's a hype. Do your own critical investigation asking for the big benefit. Often there is no real benefit.

  • Don't start actions as long as others did not take their decisions. You cannot take all decisions for your customers, boss or partners - often it is simply not your job and you are not in the appropriate position. Although it seems to be less effort to take a decision than implementing a project often the decisions take far longer.
    Exception: If it has been declared that you do take all relevant decisions.

  • Learn to ignore things that others deposit on you just to get their mind flushed and cleared (this includes everything from annoying colleagues to news crying for attention.
    Exception: If they really have good and creative ideas.

  • Don't attempt to help others if they do not give the clear statement/commitment that they want to really solve their problem. You can identify such situations by watching the reaction of your first solution proposals or by asking for that commitment prior to further action.

  • Don't take the responsibility for a project that others drove into a mess and then just want to attach the problem to somebody else! You take the responsibility for your actions and others have to take their responsibility.
    Exception: You get hired especially for such an impossible mission and get payed accordingly.

  • Change the environment! Hard to accept, but you simply will never be able to have a power hour if many people are around you and can ask you any stuff by accident.

  • Instruct people that they should ask for your time in advance.
    They should ask for a schedule or at least do not immediately come up with their questions but rather ask before if you have time now. If the question is already told your concentration is gone. But a "No, come back in an hour" can be given automatically without loosing focus.

  • Learn to say "No" or learn to postpone the things that are not really important (procrastination can be useful). Some problems dissolve themselves if you do not disturb them.

Related posts: Time thieves and real news, Change the environment, When changing the environment does not help, Crying for attention, Hot air, Masked rot, Total cost of commitment, Change hype, Focus by direction, Find the root problem, Let 'em wait, Why not multitasking how to, How to rebuff somebody, Tell not more and not less, Razor sharp focus.


Total cost of commitment

The problem: Available time for new projects is very short.
Although you already invested a lot of effort into strategies to improve productivity, you still have not really much time free for your new ideas or new projects.

The reason: Maintenance work
Our life is full of things created during the progress of mankind. Many very helpful tools have been created, but also many "toys". And we are not limited to things. Because of the progress in IT keeping contact with many people also is possible in a size that never has been possible before (talking about social networking). I lately got back in contact with many old class mates and I would like to meet them all re-vitalizing the relationship. In addition to that I have set several goals during self development and I do play several roles - in the job as well as for my family and friends.

But there is a lot of "maintenance effort" needed to keep everything we use, every relationship and every service "up and running". Many people have their daily life filled up with maintenance tasks.

The solution: Reduce your commitments and life goals - unclutter your life - get less done.
While optimizing your life and finding out that you can get more things done when you start really optimizing, you might tend to set too many goals while creating your life plan and living your dreams. Together with a lot of existing stuff to be managed this may eat more time than available.

Many things, once started, eat up a certain amount of maintenance time/money (even if you are "just" a blogger - there is maintenance work answering comments or searching for advertising options etc.). To start living a big dream might come along with the fact that you have less time left dedicated to your family and friends (just to give an example).

The day has only 24 hours, you can't fill in everything and in the highest quality.
Set only a few clear major priorities/goals and declutter your life accordingly.

Keep in mind, that it is more important to be happy than to achieve something great!

At the end it is important that you enjoyed your life and leave with clear conscience rather than having your name be remembered for a long time after your death.

Review your current life with the appropriate services you are using and providing looking at all the related work that comes along with those. Often it is not easy to identify the whole related maintenance work for a particular thing or service because not occurring in a bunch.

So carefully log or analyze the tasks and time needed to keep your things and services up and running. Put them in relation to the outcome for you. You might find out that several services are not worth it for you. This applies also for every goal and every commitment you have set or taken.

Related posts: Crying for attention, Slowing down, How to be happy, Know better and act on it, Razor sharp focus, The family, Know your options.


Slowing down

It was for many years that I got into full-speed action immediately when I saw the need to take action or when somebody needed help or when somebody had a great idea and I wanted to support it.

When the first signs from health and frustrations about stress came up, I noticed that somehow there must be an end of this madness. There was the feeling deep inside that I should slow down. I changed some style of work, for instance:
  • Better planning (Schedule everything to be done).
  • Be well prepared instead of working on current pressure.
  • Don't act immediately on a new issue or idea - instead take time to analyze, research and find an optimum solution.
  • More efficient multitasking.
  • ...
Well, it worked in the way that I managed to get more things done. I managed to get more free time. And I managed to fill it up again. So I got more done but nothing won. And I knew that I should slow down and I did again several attempts to find a resolution.

As I wrote in my previous post "How to instantly change a habit", sometimes all you need is the one kick-a** reason to change. And I found even multiple such reasons now to slow down.

You can work wonders and cause miracles by speeding up to 200%, running full optimizations to your own mental and physical machine, but (please relax and read slowly):
  • You will be exhausted after a shorter or longer while working on full throttle - and then you are done: Health problems (back, heart, ...), frustration, mistakes and so on trigger a vicious circle. You will not be able any more to feel inner happiness.

  • At the end nobody will show compassion with you having done so much, instead everybody says that if you are on stress, it is your own fault (and somehow this is true)!

  • It will be impossible for you to get important deep and detailed impressions of the present moment. It causes misinterpretation and wrong judgment of the current situation!

  • It is much more important to take the right action than doing anything quickly. Taking action to fast, you can screw up things completely. So take yourself enough time to evaluate a situation and decide!

  • Stress shortens your life! So you do not win anything being on speed.
I wish you happy - and slow - browsing on www.slowdownnow.org.

Related posts: How to instantly change a habit, Reduce the stress factors, Dynamic activity, In the present moment, How to be happy, Change hype, How to eat less, Urging to forge at full speed, Total cost of commitment, Know better and act on it, Razor sharp focus, Speed.


How to instantly change a habit

It is February and I guess there are already a lot of drop outs from new years resolutions.

There has been a lot written about how to change a habit (me included ;-) ). Important tips are for instance:
  • Only one habit only at a time.
  • Select a new different habit (as change is only possible if you have an alternative).
  • Start with single step towards your desired life style or new habit (e.g. instead of not eating sweets just reduce your consume a little bit).
  • If you can walk a different road for a month, it's done (if you didn't felt back to your old habit for a month then it's solved).
  • Review your situation more often (weekly or at least monthly - once a year is clearly not enough).
  • ...
Changing a habit is hard work, isn't it? - Not necessarily: If you got the kick - THE reason - then you can also be able to change a habit in an instant.

When people talk about shocks that happen in childhood they are often talking about a key insight, a crucial experience that changed their view of the world and life goals or priorities in an instant. - Such experiences and insights are not always caused by a tragedy or accident.

As I read lately in the post "How to Think Better: The Top 8 Tips from the Last 2500 Years" at The Positivity Blog:
“People mistakenly assume that their thinking is done by their head; it is actually done by the heart which first dictates the conclusion, then commands the head to provide the reasoning that will defend it.”
Anthony de Mello
So if you want to change a habit (from deep in your heart and not because of some trend around) then you somehow already decided that you want to change, you already have an idea - a big picture - of what should be.

Watch out for the key reason - for the key experience, that erases all doubts, that makes it completely clear why you should change as soon as possible.

  • Stop smoking because it simply isn't healthy.
    I never smoked but I got explained from a coroner (with pictures from lungs etc) what effects smoking have and why. In addition to the ingredients of the cigarette other dust and stuff included with air gets deposited in the lungs then.
  • Being depressed after you got criticized is simply wrong.
    You must be happy because of a honest feedback. If it is true then you have the opportunity to correct the problem and if it is wrong then you have the opportunity to get stronger representing your position.
  • ...
Related posts: Quickly change a habit, Speed.


When to strictly avoid multitasking

The problem: Mistakes and errors caused by multitasking
Multitasking often results in mistakes and errors as you forget about a task while occupied with another or because because you get in time trouble and hurry because you loose too much time switching tasks (overhead).

The reason: While multitasking your attention to the single task is reduced.
Often longer lasting tasks involve long waiting times. Although many life hackers warn about multitasking and recommend to avoid it, there are some tasks that continuously ask for multitasking because they are simply very time consuming while not needing the full attention or come along with long waiting times between several actions.

The solution: Only multitask jobs that come to a proper end themselves.
When analyzing my multitasking behavior and the cases where problems occur due to multitasking habit I found out that safe multitasking can only be done for tasks that can be checked at whatever time if they came to a proper end. An important thing is that when multitasking the multiple jobs should not run on same priority. There should be only one active task that has your full attention. Other tasks - those that safely can come to a proper end left on their own - should run as "background task".

Samples for tasks that can be safely run in background:
  • Washing clothes (Washing maschine)
  • Copying files on your computer, burning CDs/DVDs, ...
  • Filling your tank at the gas station (usually can be fixed and it quits automatically when the tank is full)
Samples of tasks that should NOT be run in background:
  • Cooking
    Why not: If you watch the milk to boil it will boil in the moment you look out of the windows.

  • Filling a big bucket of water (inside house)
    Why not: When you forget about the tasks the water runs out on the floor

  • Handling less important phone calls.
    Why not: Even if your mom talks long about something very unimportant the subject might change and suddenly something important is said.
The point is that you should only run tasks in background that you can safely forget about.

Related posts: Why not multitasking how to, Reduce the stress factors.


Simple Life

Although I know about the importance being able to return to the present moment and although I tried and experienced it several times, it is still quite difficult for me.

Living in a bigger city does not offer the optimum environment to find silence and peace. Outside, being in a forest or on grassland it is easier. In the city or in front of the computer or TV attractions, impulses and distractions are on a very high level.

Yesterday, listening to a song of Elton John "Simple Life", he gave me a good hint how to improve the ability to return to the present moment:
And with the last breath we ever take
We're gonna get back to the simple life again
So, when you imagine that what you currently do is the very last thing you do, you will give more attention to this doing and you will be more impressed and more present. And take deep breaths!

Related posts: In the present moment, The tension habit, Know better and act on it, Your situation does not suck.