Work intelligently

Today I read this phrase in a marketing sheet:
"Many people work hard...
...the successful ones are the ones who work intelligently."

I phrased it earlier (in the The productivity trap) this way:
"WHAT to do and HOW to do is more important than the amount of things you achieve."

Or again in other words:
"It is not enough to work hard, it is important to work on the right thing in a good way."

An old phrase also says: "Switch on your brain before you do something."

In the last weeks I have seen pretty good examples where people worked hard on solutions where the goal could have been achieved better and easier by thinking simpler and different.

Another phrase says: "It's lonely in the saddle since the horse died."

Related posts: The productivity trap, Dynamic activity, Get focused with 3 questions, Responsibility and decision.


Living on others costs

Whenever I stand in front of my brother's grave I get reminded about the fact that I would have never met my wife if he would still be around.

I don't know if I would have married anyway and whom. And if I would have had the two wonderful children I do have now. Everything would be different I think.

What I also get reminded then in the next step is: Whenever people die, they make place for other life. And then I notice all the small things that are said and done harming others in one or the other way.

I think - in the same moment - of people getting exploited in their work and of people being psychological harmed for the sake or fun of somebody else.

We should remember that we do not have more permission to live than anybody else. I abominate people who just think of their own advantage, but dealing severely with myself, I can find myself also sometimes being egocentric.

There is overall equilibrium of life on this planet, just distribution of amount and quality varies from one corner of the world to another.

If I still would have my brother around, of course attention of my parents would be shared on us both. If he would have family probably we would see my parents less often to help us out looking after the children etc. - I must be thankful of the attention that I get and keep in mind, that whenever people are doing me a favor, they could have done for somebody else ... and maybe there would have been other people having a more serious and more urgent need for that attention...


Prejudice vs economization

Today I got critics of being biased towards (or against) particular products.

I have to admit: Yes, I am biased!

In my job I get more than 200 news items each day (and I am pretty sure that this applies for many other jobs also as soon as you want to stay up-to-date).

I have to take decisions!

Just an example: There are many notebook and pc vendors. Of course it applies for all vendors that there are series with problems from time to time. That does not mean that a particular vendor produces better products in general than another. If I decide to prefer one vendor over the other in general then of course I am biased.

But: I don't have the time to re-evaluate the market whenever somebody asks me, which computer to buy. When I bought the last notebook for myself I did a more detailed investigation and now I will go with the same recommendation. Maybe in one or two years I will re-evaluate the market. But it is not economical to do permanent re-evaluation. As economy, markets and vendors do not move that much in short time, decisions about vendors taken now will be most probably valid for the next few months. Product and service quality does not change from one day to the other.

The usual (and not the worst) reaction is: If you have bad experiences with a product you will change as fast as possible. On the other hand if you have good experiences with a product/vendor, you will keep and recommend it for the next few years probably. That is nothing other than "economical risk minimizing".

It is ok to be biased! It is ok to ignore other vendors/products as soon as you have taken the relevant decisions and if things go well.

The point is to know about your bias and to re-evaluate from time to time as in the long run things around you and your requirements may change! You should not keep your decisions automatically forever!

Related posts: People and information, Information overflow, Responsibility and decision.


Survival of the positive

Lately there is a lot of family stress. We have rented a grandma for almost a year but then a family member had serious health problems and she left us because it became too much for her. Within one or two weeks we were able to establish a relation with a new grandma (there is a "rent-a-grandma" service in our city). However after 3 weeks she got serious problems with health. - So again the need to search a new babysitter and get organized with additional stress as my wife started working again in september.

The problem: What I observed in the last days: I can try whatever to get everybody calm (wife, children), they are better in attaching the stress to me than I am in infecting with calm and mental balance.

What I don't get done even with hard work, can often be solved by 2 glass of wine ;-)

The Reason: It's easier to destroy, than to build; It is easier to distract than to focus and so on. Getting into a lasting balance is a product of hard exercise, experience and awareness.

The solution: Being in meditation condition (fully aware of the situations) cause fun and serenity - simply don't give up. But also develop empathy - understand the problems of others but don't make them your own problems!.

Related posts: Needs and meaning, Optimist meets pessimist, The power of intention, How to be happy.

The private thing

Working in IT business I do get involved into discussions about online privacy quite often.

At first I had the opinion that nobody needs to publish private information and hence I could not really see a privacy problem. The rule is simple: Just don't post stuff on the web which you consider to be private.

After my last discussion about this topic I have to revise my opinion a little: There is information about you that you cannot fully control. In former times people were talking about you on the street and spreading the word that way. Nowadays they do it on Facebook. Apart from a probably larger audience, there is no difference. In many cases you cannot control defamation - or even you don't notice. But that is the more problematic part! Whatever you do, people add their own interpretations and speculations. You "share" information most of the time!

Basically your life is not private. It's just a few moments that are really private - where no information is shared. I was about to think about sitting on the toilet - but with two small children even this is an exception. ;-)
With or without your actions, you publish at least a part of yourself (including non-verbal communication). Other people add their interpretations and speculations and maybe tell those to others. In most cases you cannot really do anything about it and simply have to accept.


Be thankful in the small

Today I had a lot of troubles due technical problems, but also due to strange concepts of people and strange implementations.

I was angry because I was not able to get my top priority work done for today and even arrived home late - my wife was angry too...

I was angry about all the people causing trouble...

Then my wife told me that today many people have helped her and without asking people have taken over and finished work for her. Wow! Can't say, that I had a lot of these experiences. In most cases I feel quite alone with my problem. That said, I began to re-think my day. Isn't it possible that I got some little help which I didn't either notice?

And yes, I found at least 4 cases of little or even medium sized help today. Not in all cases I said "Thank you".

And we really need every little helping hand!

And for those who did not really help you - thank good, that they didn't sabotage you! And for those who did sabotage you, thank them, that they didn't do either worse and kept a little rest of good-will!


Minimum relaxing time

I am currently sitting in a Hotel room after a long working day.

I should go to sleep as I do need it. However, after a long working day, I cannot go immediately to sleep because I simply feel frustrated if I had a whole day of work and nothing else.

You should also remember: Keep at least 30 minutes every day of relaxing activity (or non-activity) at least before you go to sleep.

A few minutes just enjoying life...


Be united

Lately I observed a larger group of children on a water playground.

Children were pumping water which flew down in a small river to a dam and later to a mill-wheel or the water could take a different way to another pump. To make the mill-wheel move, it was necessary to impound a certain amount of water.

The goal was set (by the children themselves) to make the mill-wheel move by the water. Basically there were 4 points of action:
  • Pump water
  • Set a switch point to go to other pump or versus the mill-wheel
  • dam (open or close)
  • Mill-wheel
As we left, the group of children has not been able so far to get the mill-wheel turned by the water.

Major reasons:
  1. Uncoordinated action.
  2. Several group members following different directives / having different goals.
  3. Egoism and greed.
  4. Missing patience.

Some wanted the dam to be closed and others wanted to see the water flowing, some wanted to play with the other pump and started to quarrel about how to put the switch. Although one had the great idea to put the switch in the middle so that half of the water went to both sides, there was always somebody who moved the switch trying to get all the water.

Does this remind you to something?

When they are adults, their brains are developed enough to handle more complex situations but the basic behaviour will not change.

In large companies and larger projects you can observe the same as what I described above.

How to get over this:
  • Have clear responsibilities. The less people working on the same thing the better.
  • Split into smaller groups/teams where continuous alignment of directives and goals is possible.
  • The character and philosophy of the people working together, is important because their personal goals derive from that. So discuss strategies to get a team where everybody is convinced about the decisions.
  • In the long-run you should satisfy the need of all parties/customers/partners, so they can trust you to solve their issues. That is the challenge of a team leader...
  • Withdraw stress wherever possible. The stressed person will concentrate on self and develop egoistic inner directives.
Related posts: Replace constraint with freedom, Show respect to the team.



As my wife and children are currently still in vacation my evenings are quite calm.

I thought, after a week of vacation I will use the evenings to get a lot of things done that cry for getting done in a few calm hours. Actually with all that silence I got quite tired and my soul and spirit dropped off for distraction. So I landed in front of the TV in the later evenings.

It has been quite a long time that I had time to watch TV. What I noticed is that after watching about 2 hours TV (some CSI like series) afterwards I felt bad - I had the impression that I just burnt 2 hours of my precious time. Two unrecoverable expensive hours. Horrible!

Two days later I landed again in front of the TV - approximately for the same time. But I watched two episodes of Star Trek Next Generation. Impression afterwards was different. Although I somehow thought that I could have made more from that time, I felt much better than the other day.

Investigating the situation I found that I got some interesting new viewpoints from watching the Star Trek episodes. The other day I went to bed frustrated about the all negative (and IMHO unrealistic) stuff (crazy people murdering in crazy ways). That time I went to bed thinking in a gentle way about some aspects of my world. And it made me think of my loved wife and children so that I sent them a miss-you-message before falling asleep.

I tell you this for one single reason: TV is not vasting time in general. You must carefully choose what you watch! - Choose to watch what is good for you!

It does not mean that you may not watch action movies - no - I learned a lot from several action movies (yes, sometimes just one or two very relevant sentences - however) - it depends on how you look at them. But of course, by tendency there are other movies where you can learn more from... - Star Trek is a special thing - I find it full of philosophy and I used to watch it a lot in former, former times. I would say, Star Trek did influence my viewpoints a lot (see links below for example)! Who did not watch it - you missed something! But remember to look at the philosophic and moral elements rather than on the action elements.

Related posts: The resource problem, The main purpose, What to learn from the Borg


Invest a minute to review an advice

Yesterday we were at a playground for children when I saw a father putting his little girl to empty her bowels right there on the playground. And even a second time a few minutes later. I walked there asking kindly to do this in the WC in the restaurant 100 meters away or at least behind one of the plenty trees right next to the playground. Guess what: I got badmouthed. - ...well, I could have guessed such behaviour to fit to piggy person like this.

This was somehow the peak of a general sad "hype" that I notice more often lately: People are doing wrong, get advised or others try to help but those people are heavily resistant to insight and refuse any chance to improve (a situation or themselves as a whole).

Is it so hard to even just review an advice kindly given? - In most cases I experience, people are building up walls and raise their weapons for self defence in an instant without even thinking 30 seconds, if the other person's thought could be worth appliance/implementation.

In communication science they tell you that in written form a lot of elements get lost and it is always better to communicate face-to-face. I say, face-to-face is not always the best way because when people are alone, hidden behind their laptops or in their beds, they are more likely to spend a minute on self reflection or review their thoughts of the day.

When you get critics, think of the chance to improve! Others who have given up on you, won't bother to correct you, they just stopped to cope with you. Those who criticize you, are still interested in you and want to socialize with you!


Prudential innovation

Very busy times for me - I have started a new job at another company. After 13 years at the same company I feel quite uncomfortable now - I am used to know all the internal workflows and this brings us to the topic:

People are often trying to avoid changes and usually this is seen negative as missing flexibility. I do consider myself of being flexible, but I do feel inner resistance to some elements of my new job. Analyzing the situation I find that this resistance has a simple reason: Some things worked better and more efficient the way I did it before. Not everything that is new, is better. But on the other hand, there are pretty reasons why things are done in other ways at other places.

Different companies have different focus, different countries have different cultures, different craftsmen need different tools, different software has different flaws, ... - and people need to adapt with their thinking, with their decisions and with their way of working.

However, there is always potential for improvement and wherever you go, keep in mind, that your input - the input of the new person with new ideas is very important. The big mistake is, if you judge everything new being wrong or done in a stupid way. If you act this way you will get negative responses and road blocks wherever you turn.

Before you change things you need to investigate in detail why the things are done currently the way they are done! There might be pretty good reasons!

Then, when you have analyzed the situation - then is the point to discuss evaluate possible alternatives and discuss this with the right people. A single person can improve to a certain level, but a complete team getting better and better by collaborating - that is real power.


Getting older

I was not sure if I should post about old-age, because I don't have experience in being old. But: I do see the problems that come along with getting older and I talked to several people who know how it feels to loose mobility, flexibility and tend to forget.

When I look at my recent family history, some members became over 100 years old, another one (even if not got that old) started learning Spanish and how to play the piano when he was already in his sixties). I think I am at risk not making it until 100 - but who knows.

I want to summarize a few essentials to keep in mind:
  • Retain physical fitness and health
    Do some sports and movement (of course do not exaggerate). My father in law (over 70) does a lot walking and he is in good shape. He was used to walk into town center and back nearly every day (now less).

    A few years ago I read an article about interview that have been done with people above 100 and asked them what they do and what their behaviors are - to find out the secrets of staying healthy. Basically they found out that those people did not have much in common. A single thing was: Once a day they all where sweating...

    And then I saw an interview with the oldest Italian (also a few years ago). He was a shepherd - and basically sleeping a lot.
  • Don't focus on yourself too much
    Many people, when getting old, focus on their sufferings, worry much about their health, worry about change, worry about how they will survive with the increasing amount of help they need and so on.

    I can see that those, who (still) focus on serving others, who are interested in (learning new) things, focus on doing (be it sports, literature or handicrafts) etc - stay better.
  • Train your brain
    A big issue can be the memory that cannot hold (especially short-term) information very well any more - people can be physically healthy but the brain slowly gets inflexible and people forget faster.

    It is important to know that your brain is like a forest where you can throw in quite every information and it remains there. The problem is usually to find the information. You need to walk through that forest to create paths to the information stored in your brain. This means: You need to fetch the information. So, if you do much reading or go to the theater etc - basically just consuming - talk with your buddies, friends or even foreigners or make use of the know-how you have in any other form (giving talks or writing also helps).
The worst thing that can happen is to give up yourself. I have also asked friends about their grand-parents - how they become old and what they experienced etc. - even if it is just going out once a day - if you stop activity, you lose. Use it (yourself) or lose it! A rolling stone gathers no moss!

Related posts: One-way ticket, Dynamic activity, The state of mind matters, Take care of you, About drugs, Urging to forge at full speed.