Lessons From “The Manuscript …”

These are lessons learned from Paulo Coelho’sManuscript Found In Accra“:

  • Discipline is important, but it needs to leave doors and windows open to intuition and the unexpected.
  • The simplest things in life are the most extraordinary. Let them reveal themselves.
  • People who seek only success rarely find it, because success is not an end, but a consequence.
  • Real success means enriching your life, not cramming your coffers with gold.
  • Do not try to make the road shorter but travel it in such a way that eery action leaves the land more fertile and the landscape more beautiful.
  • Respect the time between sowing and harvesting.
  • Let us be aware of the forces that move us.
  • Be a master of your tongue. Not a slave to your words.
  • Scatter your seed wherever you go because we can never know which seeds will grow and flourish.
  • “We do not agree about dates or the best way to worship God, but in every other respect, we live together in peace.”
  • “What is knowledge? It isn’t the absolute truth about life and death, but the thing that helps us to live and confront the challenges of day-to-day life.”
  • Only he who gives up is defeated. Everyone else is victorious.
  • The defeated are those who never fail because they will never succeed.
  • “And blessed be those who say: ‘I’m not brave enough.’ Because they know that it is not someone else’s fault.”
  • “Ask the river: ‘Do you feel useful, given that all you do is keep flowing in the same direction?’ And the river will answer: ‘I’m not trying to be useful; I’m trying to be a river.'”
  • Walk neither faster nor slower than your own soul, because it is your soul that will teach you the usefulness of each step you take.
  • Small things are responsible for great changes.
  • “‘Difficulty’ is the name of an ancient tool that was created purely to help us define who we are.”

Judgement: This is a great book, similar to “The Prophet” by Khalil Gibran. It will take you a day or two to read. Let me know which lesson above applies most to your life right now! 

Bruce Lee’s Biggest Fear …

I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times. – Bruce Lee

In college, I took a semester-long course in Judo. I don’t know if you’ve ever taken a martial arts class, but the following format is typically observed:

  1. Learn new skill
  2. Drill said skill ad nauseam
  3. After nauseousness is achieved, continue drilling said skill
  4. Repeat

Sounds fun, doesn’t it?

The thing you don’t realize while you’re doing a drill 10,000 times is that it is slowly becoming more and more effortless. One sweaty repetition at a time, the skill becomes a part of you.

So, on repetition 10,001, when you hip toss your weary partner onto the mat, jump on top of them, and put them in a headlock without consciously thinking about what you’re doing, you realize why people still use the ad nauseam approach – it’s effective.

I used to read the above quote and think, “Ok, Bruce fears someone who has discipline.” That may be partially true, but I don’t think it’s the whole story.

The scary thing about someone practicing one kick 10,000 times is that the kick has become part of them … they don’t have to think about it … it’s automatic … it’s precise … it almost operates on its own. 

We live in a world full of distractions. It’s easy to get dragged in one hundred different directions. With that said, I’ll ask you the same thing I asked myself ….

What do you care about enough to go through 10,000 reps? 

Whatever it is, do that thing. Do it ad nauseam. Do it when you don’t want to. Do it when it’s sunny, when it’s raining, when the world is ending. And one day … one glorious day … you’ll do it without thinking …. on that day, pat yourself on the back  … you have become Bruce Lee’s biggest fear.

Ms. Fat Booty and Other Life Lessons

Mos Def is one of my favorite musicians.

He wrote classic songs like ClimbMathematics, and the legendary Ms. Fat Booty.

Out of all the lyrics he wrote, one still stands out to me:

10% condition // 90% response // Survival Mathematics // The Number Man Psalm

For those of you wondering WTF that means, the Mighty Mos Def is highlighting the same rule that wise people have been speaking about and following from the beginning of time. Namely:

You do not control conditions. But you do control your response to conditions.

It’s easy … even natural … to complain about things we can’t control – the economy, the government, our mother-in-laws. But it’s far from effective.

How would your life change if you completely stopped worrying about things you can’t control? How would it change if you dedicated every ounce of effort to optimizing the things you can control?

Here’s a hint: FOR THE BETTER. 

In my opinion, there is only one thing you and I can control: our mind. Which is a good thing, because it calls all the shots. It decides whether you’re offended or not offended. It decides whether you’re happy or sad. It decides whether you’ll be miserable or grateful.

Always remember, life is 10% condition, 90% response. You cannot choose your circumstances, but you can choose how you respond to them.

Action Step: Take a piece of paper. Write down all the things you’re worrying about right now. Which of these things do you control? Highlight those MF’rs (mark out everything else) and focus all your energy and attention on them.

I Need To Tell You Something …

I have no idea how to run a successful blog.

Here’s something else I had no idea how to do … hit a baseball.

But, after a number of years of practice, I got pretty good at it (*not so humble brag*).

I know what you’re thinking … “What do you want? A cookie? You learned how to hit a baseball, dude. My six year old cousin can hit a baseball!!! What the hell does that have to do with me or running a successful blog?!”

The answer is: almost nothing … almost.

I vividly remember the beginning stages of trying to hit a hurtling sphere with a cylindrical tube … it was ugly.

The whole time, I thought: “Is this damn thing gonna hit me in the head? Why can’t I make contact? Do I look like an idiot right now? Am I bringing dishonor to my whole family with these shameful attempts at a swing? I hope my parents still love me after this performance.”

Welcome to my eight year old mind. The funny thing is that my 24 year old mind isn’t much different.

“Why should anyone listen to what I think? Who the hell am I to write articles? What if all these ideas I have are actually stupid?” And my personal favorite, “Do I look like an idiot right now?”

Every time I try to learn something new, these same old fears come up. That little voice in my head thinks I’m a buffoon. It’s hard not to listen to his opinion.

But I remember. I learned how to hit a baseball. I learned how to keep my eye on the ball … how to use my whole body to generate power … how to hit a fast-moving sphere with a skinny cylindrical tube.

And when I did, all the fear left … all that stayed was the satisfaction of a skill.

Next time you’re trying something and your little voice starts asking, “Do I look like an idiot right now?” Keep going, and remember …

There was a time when Einstein knew nothing about physics … when Shakira knew nothing about the truthfulness of her hips … when Maya Angelou knew nothing about poetry … and when I brought shame to my whole family in a North Little League batting cage.

Think of all the great things the world would miss out on if these people would have let their fears stop them.

Think of all the great things the world will miss out on if you let your fears stop you.

Action Step: When is the last time your fears stopped you from doing something? Did you move past them and keep going? Why or why not? Let me know here, reply to this post, or shoot me a message over on Facebook. I’d love to hear who else is worried about looking like an idiot.

Five Simple Words

God said to clarity, walk.

That’s a line the great Persian Poet, Rumi, jotted down back in the 13th Century.

The beauty of those five simple words is that they hold the problem in one hand and the solution in the other.

The Problem: Clarity is a moving target – you can never find it finally. In life, you will go through cycles of discouraging confusion and propelling clarity. It is easy to get stuck … but the remedy has been given to us.

The Solution: Solvitur Ambulando. It is solved by walking. For ages, walking has been known as the best problem solver and clarity bringer.

Next time you’re disoriented in a hazy cloud of confusion … step outside, walk, and watch the sun come out to clear the sky.

Into The Dark Forest Alone

The following words left Joseph Campbell’s mind and walked into the great, big world alone:

“They thought that it would be a disgrace to go as a group. Each entered the forest at a point that he himself had chosen, where it was darkest and there was no path. If there is a path, it is someone else’s path and you are not on the adventure.”

We live in a world of hacking – of finding the quickest, most direct route. We say, “Who has done this before? What path did they take? I’m taking that path.”

Certainly, there are benefits to this way of traveling, but there are also costs.

The question is: what is the cost of sacrificing the adventure in hopes of a faster arrival at your destination?

The winding journey to who knows where may be superior to the shortcut to paradise. No one reads books about shortcuts.

Enter the forest at a place of your choosing, where it is darkest and there is no path – and do it alone.

Don’t Be Nice

Being nice is for amateurs.
Nice is an outward condition. Nice is how agreeable, how pleasant, how satisfactory you are in another’s eyes.
Being kind is what the pros do.
Kindness is an inner condition. Kindness proceeds from an internal benevolence not outer requirements.
Don’t be nice … Be Kind.
Your kind.
My kind.
Humankind.