Context is Crucial

Modern men say, “Most books are too long. In a world where attention becomes the main currency,the best books of tomorrow will be concise, elegantly written & dense in knowledge.”

I would disagree.

Context is important, and an extended narrative provides contour and character to context, which establishes the bounds and behavior of specific knowledge necessary for expertise.

A friend

I need a friend. Who can be there for me. Who I can love.

Something simple. Something that feels secure, and kind, and gentle, and puts me at ease.

I crave a chemistry where nothing needs to be said. Where there is an understanding that goes without saying. Just a mutual acceptance of the other. Something fearless and peaceful

Valere

Recently I’ve been reflecting on the concept of value as it relates to business, and sociology and psychology, as a driving ideal, which provide the framework for future ethics. Values drive behavior, they dictate choice.

The goal of business:

Creating customers by satisfying needs by delivering value by providing innovative products or services

Value has greater, existential implications beyond business, of course.

But value has been a theme of my reflections the past year. How to become a man of value?

The answer to that question requires dissolving the ego, and practicing compassion, putting yourself in others shoes, seeing things from their perspective, with their needs, and working backwards to find solutions

We don’t decide what’s valuable, per say. Not in business. It’s the customer, the market, the needs of the people, defined by their struggles and problems and pain points and headaches.

Value is something that’s relative to the people you’re serving. Be it customers, colleagues, or your company.

I don’t decide my value. That’s for others. I can only decide to modify my behavior in ways that better delivers that value. Their repeated engagement is the barometer of success.

Death is a Mind Fuck

Everything is one, we are all connected.

Learning to tune in to the source, and learning to listen, to perceive beyond the conditioned senses, is a spiritual endeavor.

Death is a mind fuck.

The biggest single mind fuck you can experience. And the more intimate the loss, the bigger the mind fuck. It causes a dis-integration of self. A piece of your identity goes missing, into oblivion, which exposes the finitude of self, and frailty of life.

Whether we acknowledge the role of socialization or not in constructing our conscious experience and sense of self, the reality is the human mind never exists in a void on its own. Our relationships with others orient our self to the world, and provide a starting point for identity. Everything we are is a reflection of others in some respect, an amalgam of our most powerful influences.

Death changes you, and changes the way you perceive your relation to others and the world.

Death is permanent, something completely unfamiliar and unknown to our continuous conscious experience.

I think death is a powerful event that should be meditated upon, rather than repressed.

It’s a powerful experience in gaining profound perspective on life.

What Makes a Great Day

It was a great day overall. Everyday is a great day really, all things considered.

My ability to maintain daily happiness is proportional to the challenges and responsibilities that stimulate me.

It’s that sense of purpose: my actions are intentionally and meaningfully progressing me toward my ideals and visions.

When my mind is fully engaged, and focused on a goal, I am happy. Always. No matter what the circumstances. No obstacle or setback gets me down.

When I lose this, this focus, this sense of purpose, this sense of stimulation and engagement, my mental energies began wandering toward trivialities, and dwell on insignificant matters, which end up self sabotaging my sense of well being.

My mind is far too active to be left alone.

I need challenges. I need responsibilities that give me that urgent sense of purpose to plan, to act, to complete.

When I don’t have challenges, I’ve learned to create challenges by shifting my focus. Become more educated in matters I know nothing about, become more competent in skills I admire, find the hard thing and do it until it becomes effortless.

Work stimulates me. Everyday I wake up with a sense of purpose. Work never feels like a chore. It feels like a challenge. A challenge to be overcome. And when I struggle, it’s a reminder that I am not my best self yet, that I have much room to improve, and it only hardens my resolve.

Beyond work, there is not much else that gives me the same satisfaction. I sometimes ask myself if this is healthy, or what the repercussions may be. But then I consider the alternatives.

What else would I prefer doing? Not much else.

I want to develop myself by being consistently on my A-game. I don’t want any days off. This is my attitude for all things I value, all goals I cherish.

There are no days off when you want to achieve your dream.

There is nothing I wouldn’t sacrifice for the things I want most.

And life is a game of patience. Consistent action over time. Persistence. Energy and time conquer all things.

Distractions serve momentary gratifications. They are not investments in my future.

Every extra effort I put into being my best sharpens the blade.

It’s an investment, and the returns compound. At first, imperceptibly. But if you are patient, these efforts to self invest begin to increase exponentially.

You need to start before you can finish. You are always bad before you are good. Patience.

Knowing that the first 100 books you read are only the warm up. The first 1,000 workouts are laying the foundations. The first million words you write are just the beginning of articulating the imagination. The first few years of sales calls and presentations is practice for when you’re on the world’s stage.

Once these habits are ingrained and take root, they begin to blossom, and bear the best fruit that sustains you for a lifetime. You must sow before you reap.

The best way to spend your time is not to spend it at all. It’s to invest it.

In time, your time will become ever more valuable to the world, because you will be more valuable to the world, due to these daily investment habits in yourself.

The Problem with Problems

I think problems are only problems if you don’t have a solution.

If you have a solution, the problem goes away.

All problems are people problems. They begin at an individual level, whether they’re rational problems or not.

The more individuals who believe it’s a problem, the greater consensus arises that it’s a problem. I would say all problems have a solution.

Most problems are misidentified.

The problem isn’t the problem, it’s usually how you think about the problem. Thinking is the problem.

Irrational attachment and misaligned expectations are the source of most problems, if not all problems.

Change happens. Letting go of the past or the old is apart of being adaptable. It’s the essence of evolution and survival. Those who can’t do this suffer.

I think death is not a problem. Or at least, not the way we’ve pathologized death.

I think the fear of death is a greater problem.

Granted, death is an existential problem. The greatest.

But when you come to terms with death, with loss, with finality, I think this is where the mind begins to see possibility and potential in wondrous ways.

Also, reconciling what’s inside our minds (internal expectations) with what we’re perceiving (external impressions).

This is a great source of suffering and problems, which closely relates to our tendency to attach to things, be it tangibles such as material possessions or loved ones, or intangibles, such as belief or identity or ideas/opinions.

What is in our mind is not a perfect representation of the world.

Understanding that dissonance or suffering is not a problem in the world but a problem of perception, within the mind, is a great step to liberation. Listening to our feelings, exploring the contents of our perceptions, being mindful about “what is” vs “what we think it is”.

Stoicism is very helpful in this regard.

A baked turkey is either a delicious meal, or a burnt carcass. A blanket is soft or rough depending on what it’s relative to.

Objective thought is the goal, but it requires distancing the subjective moral evaluations of good or bad.

There is a hierarchy of values built into every culture and individual psychology based on personal experiences relative to given experiences and available perceived options.

Many times the mind cannot escape what’s given, and is hostage to making judgements based on the narrow evaluations available to us via experience and culture.

The ability to be objective and evaluate ideas and experiences on a granular basis, based on basic sense data and natural unbiased observations, allows us to see how everything fits into a bigger picture.

For instance, you have a culture that endorses eye for an eye. This is justice. Perpetuate vengeance. It makes sense if there is limited options available. This is a scarcity mindset.

A better culture would be forgiveness. There is opportunity cost associated with vengeance. The time and energy to seek justice may be more valuable than the justice you seek. Forgive and devote time and energy into building anew, rather than destroying the bad.

Everything just “is”. There is no supreme moral hierarchy that exists. Every culture and mind brings it to reality.

Prior to human civilization, shit lived and died. Countless species lived for hundreds of thousands or millions of years, and died. No one cared. Dust to dust. No moral outrage about justice.

What is good or bad is a human dilemma revolving around what it means to self-preserve.

These are culturally transmitted, and not representative of “what is”.

We’re animals. We respond to pleasure and pain. We respond to our unconscious culturally programmed bias about is good or bad.

Part of cleaving from the herd, or the mob mentality characterizing tribalism and society at large, is learning to disassociate with these biases, and really investigating the contents of these impulsive reactions to perceptions and stimuli.

All pain is not bad.

All pleasure is not good.

The highest ideals, for me, is truth and love.

Truth to see reality or the contents of our perceptions for what is, to align with the present and observe what is in its most natural form, unadulterated by bias and feeling. This involves courage, curiosity, and work.

Love is to see the humanity in all living things, and cultivate that through modeling behaviors that promote collaboration and trust and honesty and compassion.

No man is an island.

Humanity is stronger when its unified. It’s also weaker.

At the end it’s about identifying the right ideals to unify around, to manifest individual flourishing that promotes diversity of thought without fragmented tribalism.

At the end of the day, imagination and creativity is an almost spiritual source of power.

The ability to conceive alternative possibilities is crucial for problem solving, from escaping fixed or scarcity mindset.

There is always more than meets the eye.

You can create the way. Past solutions aren’t always adequate for present problems/challenges.

Faith is also crucial.

Faith that there is possibility beyond current perception.

I used to be skeptical about the word faith, because of religious connotations.

But now I see that it’s absolutely fundamental for creation, for imagining possibilities yet-to-be.

Faith in vision. Faith in something that is yet-to-exist.

Faith is powerful. You don’t need to rationalize forward to an answer. You act toward your goal, learn along the way, and reconstruct rationality with hindsight.

But this isn’t indicative there was an inherent logic along the way.

Logic exists in the mind. It’s a powerful tool. But it is bound by experience and current assumptions.

But I think imagination and creativity are more powerful.

Obviously both are helpful. Logic is more helpful for communication than anything. It allows others to understand.

But a spiritual conviction arising from a creative insight about a yet-to-be possibility may not have a rational narrative. Not until it’s complete.

Most “problems” are a result of a lack of imagination, a lack of faith in alternative possibilities.

Wherever our attention goes, the energy flows.

I actually think emotions are rather simple and primitive.

I think rationalizing emotions make them complex and complicated.

The phenomenal or sensational experience is another matter.

How to adequately conceptualize a phenomenon? What is red? We can perform a series of iterative propositional statements embedded with assumptions to form a logical statement about them, but when you drill into the assumptions it becomes an ad infinitum rabbit hole of semantic interpretation and agreement.

I find most problems arise because of inaccurate or incomplete assumptions.

This is where philosophy is immensely valuable

Learning to question assumptions allows us to expand on our understanding of problems, which allow for reframing

Once the unconscious assumptions are identified and elaborated we can reframe the context of the problem and proceed with employing the powers of reason to navigate to an appropriate solution.

So long as there is change and intemperance, there will be problems, and dissonance.

Reconciling faulty assumptions embedded with outdated and inaccurate representations with the present reality is the key for creative problem solving, and a clearer more peaceful life.

Problems arise when we don’t question the assumptions built into our language.

Our unstated beliefs about the world, which exist unconsciously.

Language makes the mind, but the mind makes language.

Language tends to be fixed. The world is not; it is in constant flux and change. Updating language and the beliefs and assumptions therein is crucial for greeting the world and its challenges in the present, where they can be resolved.

Pitfalls to Growth

The two greatest pitfalls a person can experience: selfishness and dishonesty.

When you are selfish, your energy becomes concentrated into a tangled ball, a concentrated heavy mass that weighs you down, and you get stuck, in the past, in the same feelings and thoughts, and stagnate.

When you are others focused, you become light and porous, your energy radiates, you illuminate, and thoughts and feelings pass through and you can remain in the present moment, ready to embrace new opportunities, and perceive new thoughts and feelings.

Dishonesty is the other pitfall.

When you are dishonest, it’s not with others. It’s with yourself. And it’s the result of shame. Of not valuing yourself. Not seeing your worth. Not believing in your best. The dishonesty is self deception, a reaction to surpress pain. Pain that you are not worthy, that you are defected, that you are not lovable. So to hide the pain, you mask it with untruths, with lies. These are deep. They are trying to protect the most vulnerable aspects of yourself. But this dishonesty or lies creates a fragmented self, an incoherent self, full of conflicts and contradictions and anxieties.

When you are honest about who you are, and believe that you are worthy, that you are worth love and acceptance, that you are beautiful and kind and capable, you can work on yourself. You can see the areas that you struggle with, rather than mask them and hide them. The greatest realization is that you are perfect right now, in the moment. Your being is pure. Your heart is pure. This is true only if you accept it as true right now, in the moment. The past is irrelevant. It doesn’t exist. We only keep it alive by believing in a false narrative about ourselves.

Honesty and truth and love allow healing. They also allow selflessness. They allow you to see honesty and truth and love in others, and allow others to see it in you. This is where real intimacy flourishes.

Stoikos

Embracing the struggle. That’s what separates the good from the great. They do their duty. They do it 100%, even if it’s not their first choice. They rise to the challenge because that’s who they are. They never shirk from responsibility, they accept it humbly, they perform their best no matter what the circumstances, they learn from every experience, they never avoid the present, but greet it with resolve and cheerfulness. I believe only then do circumstances change in our favor. They may not be what we had envisioned, but often times they lead to things better than we could have imagined. The struggle is where growth is. The habit of embracing the struggle, embracing the difficulty is what transforms every situation into something you can master, rather than have it mastering you. We alone are masters of our destiny, the captains of our fate. The right Mindset will attract far greater opportunities.

Reliance

Most people are not themselves. They are a reflection of everyone else, of others, of the world.

Being self-reliant is where it starts. You are the source of your well being. Only you know what is best and right and true for you. There is a spirit within you that needs nurturing, your true self, your authentic self. It knows what’s best. It is primal, it is eternally wise. But you must listen, and practice listening, practice solitude, practice reflecting on what it’s telling you. Trust yourself. Trust that voice. Not what others want from you, or tell you what is best.

To manifest your destiny, your true purpose, you must be wholly yourself, unapologetically authentic and self-reliant, always bending your ear back to that inner voice. There are no answers in the world. Everything we need to flourish and radiate and grow into our full potential and realize our destined fate exists already within us, if only we should look.

Life Might Be

You are in a new place.

It might be awkward and uncomfortable. Lonely and isolating. You may spend countless nights by yourself contemplating if it was the right decision. Wondering what other decisions would have brought you. You may get homesick. Bitter and resentful at your ex, your parents, your friends, that things turned out this way. You may feel lost and confused. You may stop taking care of yourself, stop eating, or eat too much, and sleep all day, to avoid the important things, to avoid the feelings, and painfully greet each day in misery, wondering if it’s ever going to get better, waiting for things to change.

Or you may feel all those things, and then decide this is where you want to be, exactly where you were meant to be, that opportunities are everywhere around you, waiting for you to see them, and you decide to stop waiting for change but to make the change, to be the change, and begin to step outside of your comfort zone, and explore new places with new people and see and think and feel things you never imagined seeing and thinking and feeling before, and they will begin to change you, and this may terrify you, but you decide that this is your life, and you embrace it, all of it, and in the process you begin to blossom and grow into something unimaginably beautiful and strong and resilient, and challenges that once made you shirk become the fuel that lights your path forward… into the life you were always meant to live

The best thing to do

You know what’s the best? Not thinking about anything. Literally being okay with nothing to do or think about. Just sitting there. Or, walking, or driving. But, you’re literally not thinking about anything. You’re just completely free. Just living. No tension. No worries. No cares. You’re just doing nothing, for no reason at all.

Maybe this lasts for 5 minutes, maybe 10, sometimes an hour or two. But it’s nice. No phone. No music. No place to be. No thinking about what’s next, or what else. Just doing nothing. Just chillin. Just relaxing. Your mind expands. It just has this open effect. Where things begin to flow, possibilities begin to open up, new ways of feeling begin to blossom. There’s just this space that occurs. It’s nice. It provides a kind of freedom. It’s just open.

Liberal Arts vs Technical Disciplines

Big reason why liberal arts education is so valuable to future leaders and managers and decision makers. Liberal arts teaches values, and values are the essence of what drives humanity and behavior. Values provide a framework for prioritization— what matters, and what matters most? Whereas technical disciplines teach methods or analysis, crucial for execution once the values have been identified and defined.

Both are crucial for leadership.

However, liberal arts in the mainstream is often denigrated as being useless. How can English or philosophy or sociology or history psychology be of any use? How can I make money? What a waste to learn these things!

I think this thinking is rather impoverished and unimaginative. I think it’s a message for the masses.

Society is comprised of humans, and understanding humanity is a tremendous asset, the greatest asset for leaders or visionaries. What is important? What do people care about? What do people want, need, desire, cherish?

The liberal arts is the bedrock for leadership and management. Technical skills are important, but you can leverage other’s skills. I don’t think it works the same the other way around. Leaders need to know the way, go the way, and show the way.

When being pestered with questions about whether he was ignorant, Henry Ford replied:

”If I should really WANT to answer the foolish question you have just asked, or any of the other questions you have been asking me, let me remind you that I have a row of electric push-buttons on my desk, and by pushing the right button, I can summon to my aid men who can answer ANY question I desire to ask concerning the business to which I am devoting most of my efforts. Now, will you kindly tell me, WHY I should clutter up my mind with general knowledge, for the purpose of being able to answer questions, when I have men around me who can supply any knowledge I require?”

I think a broad liberal arts education (self taught or formal schooling) becomes increasingly important as you become increasingly responsible for other people.

Children from the wealthiest families overwhelmingly pursue “useless degrees” in the liberal arts. Children from the poorest families overwhelmingly pursue “practical degrees” in technical disciplines. There are obvious exceptions but this is what the data says.

You could conclude that wealthy students have the luxury of having a useless liberal arts degree, but I’m inclined to believe there’s something more here. That those families understand the life importance of a liberal arts education.

And I’m not saying that just because you pursued a technical subject there’s no value. Definitely not the case. It’s just that as you accrue more influence over the life’s of others, technical skills matter less and less. Leading an organization or others is not about your technical understanding, but about your understanding of the human condition, which is crucial for managing others and providing a compelling vision to organize around and strive for.

Psychedelic Transcendence: Spirituality and Materialism in the Modern Age

“Reflecting on my [psychedelic] experience, I find myself agreeing with the eminent Cambridge philosopher, Dr. C. D. Broad, “that we should do well to consider much more seriously than we have hitherto been inclined to do the type of theory which Bergson put forward in connection with memory and sense perception. The suggestion is that the function of the brain and nervous system and sense organs is in the main eliminative and not productive. Each person is at each moment capable of remembering all that has ever happened to him and of perceiving everything that is happening everywhere in the universe. The function of the brain and nervous system is to protect us from being overwhelmed and confused by this mass of largely useless and irrelevant knowledge, by shutting out most of what we should otherwise perceive or remember at any moment, and leaving only that very small and special selection which is likely to be practically useful.” According to such a theory, each one of us is potentially Mind at Large. But in so far as we are animals, our business is at all costs to survive. To make biological survival possible, Mind at Large has to be funneled through the reducing valve of the brain and nervous system. What comes out at the other end is a measly trickle of the kind of consciousness which will help us to stay alive on the surface of this particular planet. To formulate and express the contents of this reduced awareness, man has invented and endlessly elaborated those symbol-systems and implicit philosophies which we call languages. Every individual is at once the beneficiary and the victim of the linguistic tradition into which he has been born–the beneficiary inasmuch as language gives access to the accumulated records of other people’s experience, the victim in so far as it confirms him in the belief that reduced awareness is the only awareness and as it bedevils his sense of reality, so that he is all too apt to take his concepts for data, his words for actual things. That which, in the language of religion, is called “this world” is the universe of reduced awareness, expressed, and, as it were, petrified by language. The various “other worlds,” with which human beings erratically make contact are so many elements in the totality of the awareness belonging to Mind at Large. Most people, most of the time, know only what comes through the reducing valve and is consecrated as genuinely real by the local language. Certain persons, however, seem to be born with a kind of by-pass that circumvents the reducing valve. In others temporary by-passes may be acquired either spontaneously, or as the result of deliberate “spiritual exercises,” or through hypnosis, or by means of drugs. Through these permanent or temporary by-passes there flows, not indeed the perception “of everything that is happening everywhere in the universe” (for the by-pass does not abolish the reducing valve, which still excludes the total content of Mind at Large), but something more than, and above all something different from, the carefully selected utilitarian material which our narrowed, individual minds regard as a complete, or at least sufficient, picture of reality.

In the final stage of egolessness there is an “obscure knowledge” that All is in all–that All is actually each. This is as near, I take it, as a finite mind can ever come to “perceiving everything that is happening everywhere in the universe.”

—Aldous Huxley, The Doors of Perception

I took LSD today. Always a therapeutic experience. Of course I know better, but I’m always… apprehensive… of the unknown, when I decide to trip. You never know what is in store, what will manifest, for better or worse. But I always know that my fears are irrationalities, and a natural response to the potential loss of control. Fear is the ego’s defense mechanism, a way to retain the illusion of control. The greatest insight is that there is no control, that control is an illusion we create for ourselves and others to pacify our ego’s desire to self-preserve, and when that illusion is gone, there is nothing to fear.

”It is often tragic to see how blatantly a man bungles his own life and the lives of others yet remains totally incapable of seeing how much the whole tragedy originates in himself, and how he continually feeds it and keeps it going. Not consciously, of course—for consciously he is engaged in bewailing and cursing a faithless world that recedes further and further into the distance. Rather, it is an unconscious factor which spins the illusions that veil his world. And what is being spun is a cocoon, which in the end will completely envelop him.”

—C.G. Jung, Aion

Jung’s work on the collective unconscious is something I think about whenever I trip, and tap into that state of… oneness. When the doors of perception are made clear.

If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.

—William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

The real pickle is translating spiritual experiences to others without codifying them, which perverts the essence/internal back into the material/external.

We use symbolism and signs to capture the sublimity of spirituality, to point to higher archetypal truths that resonate on a deep level with that unconscious, the collective unconscious, the universal forms governing experience/reality. I’m not necessary saying “truth” exists as something you can point to and possess, but there are patterns that yield insights into the present, which is a wisdom that comes close to truth.

“Truth” is a present condition. Outside of that it’s speculative. Truth is what is, presently, being. Accessing truth is facilitated through meditation, but I also feel it’s facilitated by the seeker, the one who has “faith” that truths are accessible the more present our conscious experience remains, when are are, free from speculation, and open to the now. Acceptance. Faith in embracing whatever is, regardless of our preconceptions, assumptions, conditioned state of being. Freeing the mind from that— via mediation, “prayer”, psychedelics, or any activity that allows the mind to transcend the material pull away from the present— allows being, and accessing the reservoir of universal wisdom.

Practice is crucial, but practice is no substitute for execution. Going through the motions does not substitute progress, or enlightenment. Relying on the preacher for your weekly fill of the unity of being is inadequate, just as relying on people or things for inspiration or guidance. I think there needs to be a self generated, self guided intention to submit to the present state of being, however that manifests. But the habit of relying on external forces or ideas to supplant that intention is where things fall apart.

Maybe.

It’s hard because books are and continue to be a source of incredible wisdom and revelation. But after a long journey of seeking for truth in books, I realized it does not exist there. The best Books and texts are trying to capture “something else”, those higher truths about the human condition, and those that successfully capture that reveal that something else to my mind. But it’s not the power of the text. It’s in the mind’s willingness to draw connections to something else, those higher truths. Every book or person contains a perspective of this something else. Assimilating and synthesizing them all with personal experience occurs when we’re open to that revelation, which requires present being, and tapping into the Mind at Large.

I feel the best teachers, spiritual leaders, understand this, whether they are real or not: Jesus, Socrates, Buddha, whoever else. They didn’t write anything down, and they didn’t follow any dogma. They followed that inner genius, the same that Emerson speaks about in his essay Self-Reliance. They believed to know something is to impress it deep within you, and relying on texts and outside media or teachers causes you to become reliant on them, and a failure to internalize the wisdom and knowledge. They sought to walk the walk, and not worry about talking the talk, and codifying the “right way”.

The gatekeepers of “spiritual enlightenment” say: That’s not how you meditate. That’s not how you pray. That’s how how you show thankfulness. That’s not what mindfulness looks like. Look— do as i say and follow these steps and you will get there. Say your Hail Mary and other prescribed chants. Go to communion. Do the Hajj. Attend temple. Follow this ritualistic curriculum for daily meditation. These routines are what a spiritually minded man does, they say.

But these prescriptions reveal nothing of the heart, of the intention to seek communion with a present state of being, the willingness to shed the ego and access the Mind at Large. This is where the symbolic imagery of sacrifice of crucial— found in all religions. Sacrifice attachments— be willing to give up that which is most sacred— and recognize you are nothing, no one, know nothing, have nothing, that these attachments are illusions, neurosis of the ego, the flesh.

Socrates, regarding writing, or codification of “knowledge”:

”For this invention will produce forgetfulness in the minds of those who learn to use it, because they will not practice their memory. Their trust in writing, produced by external characters which are no part of themselves, will discourage the use of their own memory within them. You have invented an elixir not of memory, but of reminding; and you offer your pupils the appearance of wisdom, not true wisdom, for they will read many things without instruction and will therefore seem to know many things, when they are for the most part ignorant and hard to get along with, since they are not wise, but only appear wise.” (Phaedrus 274c-275b)

I feel that technology as a whole is facilitating this decline in spiritual self guided thinking (whatever that means, i.e. willingness to seek “truth/wisdom”), as much as it’s increasing our capacity to accumulate webs of abstract information to build upon, which only serve to veil the mind in the end.

Anyway. I have no idea what I’m saying. These are just intuitions. I’m not a spiritual or enlightened person by any means. I’ve had some profound experiences and that changed the way i think about things, but in the end I’m just a cog in the machinery, squeaking with the rest.

I think it’s hard to judge anyone. Religious folks and philosophers and academics and politicians scientists and everyone is just in this soup together. It’s hard to know where we’re all at on this journey.

I think people like Sam Harris are great. But there is always an irony. We often become what we are most afraid of becoming.

“Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster… for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.”

—Friedrich W. Nietzsche

Stoicism is hard in practice, but it’s truly the way to approach the world. Nothing is good or bad, but thinking makes it so.

A man may be convinced in all good faith that he has no religious ideas, but no one can fall so far away from humanity that he no longer has any dominating representation collective.

—C.G. Jung, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious

The things that come to light brutally in insanity remain hidden in the background in neurosis, but they continue to influence consciousness nonetheless. When, therefore, the analysis penetrates the background of conscious phenomena, it discovers the same archetypal figures that activate the deliriums of psychotics.

—C.G. Jung, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious

Being able to suspend judgement is scary. We want to judge, in our effort to control. Understanding requires a suspension of judgement. It requires being. Just embracing what is, being. Instead of leveraging preconceived ideas to perceive, in an effort to label and control and judge and organize and know, the seeker is open, observing, perceptive, listening, embracing every reaction the percolates and releasing ideas and tensions with equal ease, until there is an honest alignment between the mind the the world. A communion. This is where truth and wisdom seem to be revealed.

But then again I’m a giant contradiction. So there’s that.

The Machine Stops

Summary of “The Machine Stops“, written by EM Forster in 1909.

The story describes a world where people live in isolated chambers and communicate with each other on devices much like FaceTime.

There is no human contact. Everything is facilitated by the machine, every need and comfort is taken care of. There are no public gatherings. Everything is done remotely, in a livestream kind of way.

Day and night do not exist in this world. Everything runs according to the rhythm of the machine. People do not venture outdoors. They remain inside, on their devices, in the isolated dwelling spaces, and communicate with each other from afar. All the comforts have become uniform across the world, all the beds and desks and appliances and air and temperature have converged in optimization for the consumer public.

The only persistent sound is that of the machine, humming in the background, barely audible to the conscious ear, like the steady hum of an electrical signal powering it all.

The world brings everything to the people, their shopping and conveniences. Gone is the age where people go to things. Everything comes to the people. You summon whatever you’d like, a car (referred to as a “lift”), a meal. People don’t change the room for fresh air, they change the air in their room.

Healthcare is administered by a doctor via a robot within the convenience of your room.

“Men seldom moved their bodies; all unrest was concentrated in the soul.”

Anxiety is rife.

People never touch one another. That is inappropriate.

People are never direct with one another, but rather speak indirectly. It is barbarous to speak directly, lest you offend someone’s sensibilities.

People worship the machine. It is the spiritually minded thing to do, to confer with the rules of the machine, put forth by the committees that govern the machine, who have become the moral arbiters of machine.

Those that rebel against the machine are excommunicated to “homelessness”, and must live outside the comforts and conveniences the machine provides those who abide.

Going outside is not permitted. Breathing natural air is dangerous, a risk to exposing yourself to toxins.

You are not to exert effort, but must rely on the machine for your needs.

Muscles earn you demerits, social points lost. Babies are inspected at birth, and if found to possess too much musculature, are destroyed. It would be unkind to let athletes live, for they would desire to stretch their legs and climb and jump and work, and this is not conducive to progressing the machine, which must persist eternally.

The world is full of lecturers who exchange ideas for audiences on these live stream devices, providing spiritual guidance and ideas to other audiences watching from their isolated chambers. Similar to YouTube and Instagram personalities.

“Cannot you see, cannot all you lecturers see, that it is we that are dying, and that down here the only thing that really lives is the Machine? We created the Machine, to do our will, but we cannot make it do our will now. It has robbed us of the sense of space and of the sense of touch, it has blurred every human relation and narrowed down love to a carnal act, it has paralysed our bodies and our wills, and now it compels us to worship it. The Machine develops — but not on our lines. The Machine proceeds — but not to our goal. We only exist as the blood corpuscles that course through its arteries, and if it could work without us, it would let us die.”

Stimulating ideas are the currency of the Machine.

“I was surrounded by artificial air, artificial light, artificial peace, and my friends were calling to me down speaking-tubes to know whether I had come across any new ideas lately.”

Everything is an abstraction of some distant foreign thing, similar to Baudrillard’s Simulacra and Simulation:

“Beware of first-hand ideas!” exclaimed one of the most advanced of them. “First-hand ideas do not really exist. They are but the physical impressions produced by love and fear, and on this gross foundation who could erect a philosophy? Let your ideas be second-hand, and if possible tenth-hand, for then they will be far removed from that disturbing element — direct observation. Do not learn anything about this subject of mine — the French Revolution.”

Hard facts derived from observation and experience are replaced by platitudes of inert generalizations:

“there will come a generation that had got beyond facts, beyond impressions, a generation absolutely colourless, a generation

‘seraphically free From taint of personality,’”

Slowly people become desensitized to problems, and rather than act to remedy the dissonance, acquiesce and learn to live with the dysfunction:

“No one confessed the Machine was out of hand. Year by year it was served with increased efficiency and decreased intelligence. The better a man knew his own duties upon it, the less he understood the duties of his neighbour, and in all the world there was not one who understood the monster as a whole. Those master brains had perished. They had left full directions, it is true, and their successors had each of them mastered a portion of those directions. But Humanity, in its desire for comfort, had over-reached itself. It had exploited the riches of nature too far. Quietly and complacently, it was sinking into decadence, and progress had come to mean the progress of the Machine.”

“The defects [of the Machine] had not been remedied, but the human tissues in that latter day had become so subservient, that they readily adapted themselves to every caprice of the Machine… All were bitterly complained of at first, and then acquiesced in and forgotten. Things went from bad to worse unchallenged.”

Along with visceral experience, silence has become humanity’s greatest, most crippling fear:

“Then she broke down, for with the cessation of activity came an unexpected terror — silence. She had never known silence, and the coming of it nearly killed her — it did kill many thousands of people outright. Ever since her birth she had been surrounded by the steady hum.”

We are living in the Machine.

Perhaps man is nothing more than, as Hume put it in his Treatise of Human Nature, “a bundle or collection of different perceptions, which succeed each other with an inconceivable rapidity, and are in a perpetual flux and movement.”

We are in an age where generations cannot conceive a world beyond the Machine. Raised on a steady diet of stimulation and convenience, conditioned to the persistent, reliable hum of the Machine, it’s pervasive influence is shaping our minds to its end, rather than the other way around.

We no longer use the Machine. The Machine uses us. It depends on our complicit attention to fuel it’s growth, while simultaneously robbing humanity of it’s will.

Transactional Costs

Transaction: a mutual exchange of value.

Transactional Costs: time and resources (information, mediums, etc) to conduct a valuable transaction. i.e. the friction of doing business.

The goal of business is to satisfy a demand for something of value.

Transactional costs are often not accounted for in business transactions, because they are incurred by the purchasing party, but they remain a decisive psychological factor in the decision to conduct an exchange. e.g. Waiting in line to purchase, waiting to process an order, learning the value of a thing (creating symmetric information between agents), delivery time, the learning curve needed to utilize the thing of value, etc.

The best business management identifies transactional costs and organizes people and processes to reduce transactional costs as much as possible.

The most competitive businesses have the lowest transactional costs. E.g. Amazon, fast food, mobile apps, self-checkout, PayPal, Square, etc.

Three Principles of the Effective Executive

1. Focus energies on creating and adding value for everyone you engage with: be helpful, go above and beyond, anticipate needs. The goal is identifying the needs in others and effectively delivering value to satisfying those needs.

2. Take full responsibility for outcomes. Enlarge how you perceive your sphere of influence over outcomes, and the tasks and people involved with positive outcomes.

3. Be so dependable you become indispensable. Reduce transactional costs and activity friction for others so they learn to rely on you when they need something. Cultivate activity habits that deliver so much value to others that they become addicted and dependent on you.

I See Satan Fall Like Lightning

Been reading more of Girard the past year. He’s a “Christian” but not a literalist, but a figurativist. If that’s a word.

His take on the socio-psychological role of Christianity’s symbolic process of expunging “sin” through a perfect sacrifice is fascinating.

In this case, sin is a parasitic byproduct of humanity’s natural desire to compete through mimicry. There is a point where the competitive tension of mimesis (copying others) becomes so strong, that the desire to mimic morphs into the desire to “be” the idealized other, that violence ensues.

In order to alleviate the tension and create peace, a scapegoat is chosen, in which all the tension is symbolically transferred to a victim and sacrificed, thus ending the mimetic cycle and violence.

Sacrifice is a prototypical behavior cross culturally throughout history. Cain and Able were sacrificing (hell, when Cain was unable to provide an appropriate sacrifice he killed his brother, whom god favored, thus setting the stage for the sacrificial theme). Jacob and his son. Oedepus. Mayans. Etc. etc.

According to Girard, mimesis, violence, scapegoating, peace, deification— is a natural anthropological procession, an inescapable reality of the human condition.

What reinforces this sacrificial ritual is the double transference that occurs when a scapegoat is killed. 1. Peace is achieved. 2. People attribute the peace to the scapegoat, thus deifying it.

The post sacrificial deification results in a rebirth, or reincarnation of the scapegoat.

What separates Christianity from all other myths and sacrificial rituals is that the scapegoat ends up being wrongly sacrificed. The scapegoat, the lamb of god, is vindicated right before his death by the crowd and his followers, resulting in a blameless sacrifice.

The result is the entire sacrificial procession is demystified, and breaks the spell.

Sacrificial scapegoats are unnecessary.

The Christian narrative is told from the perspective of the victim, rather than the community benefiting from the sacrifice. This is the first instance of a myth told in this way. It allows the readers to see things from the victims eyes for the first time.

This is the crux of Christianity: blessed are the meek, the powerless, the poor, for they shall inherent the kingdom of heaven.

While this message in essence runs in direct contrast to mimetic desire, and more precisely the ego which manifests mimetic desire and perpetuates violence, it opens the door to the sin, by leveraging the victim in order to perpetuate mimetic desire all over again.

This victimization is precisely what Nietzsche shunned, and he referred to as the slave morality.

The slave morality plays the victim card as an insidious and subversive way to reclaim power, under the guise of self-righteousness. It uses pity and condemnation to subvert power structures through guilt and wielding the moral gavel. But this is simply another guise for the parasitic sin of Satan, which is synonymous with mimetic desire.

Parasitic in the sense that Satan has no being, no form, but attaches himself to others to grow in power and perpetuate violence and disorder. From the very beginning, Satan was the angel who wanted to be god: mimetic desire is the source of evil and violence.

Thou shall not covet: the most fundamental of commandments. The origin for the word covet is the Latin word “cupiditas” meaning “to desire or wish for inordinately or without regard for the rights of others”.

Pain and Progress

The pain… is your friend.

The pain is the way.

Pain is the door to growth.

Pushing through pain leads to strength.

Learn to love the pain, and you will become unstoppable.

Because you get what you earn

Because there is no reward without sacrifice

Because you never get something for nothing

Because…

We become what we think about.

There are no shortcuts to character. Character defines a person, what they achieve and what they manifest and what they become.

Thoughts become actions

Actions become habits

Habits become character

Character becomes destiny.

The biggest lie of our culture is that there are shortcuts.

That you can buy your way to dreams and goals.

That you can outsmart hard work and character development.

There are no shortcuts to anything worthwhile.

If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you. If it doesn’t change you, then you remain the same. And if you remain the same, then you are where you started, and there is no progress.

Doing the hard work, the uncomfortable work, enduring discomfort, pushing through the struggle rather than finding a way around… is the key to progress.

Facing the pain. Confronting fears. Looking your fears in the eye, and standing tall, head up, eyes penetrating the darkness, prepared to fight through it, to become greater and stronger than whatever is in your way, is THE way.

Life is a battleground.

The battleground is in the mind.

The mind is the battle ground.

Not people, not circumstances.

Personal fears, emotional obstacles, mental barriers. These are the enemy. This is where darkness exists.

Developing your inner world— cultivating right thoughts, right attitude, right state of mind, proper wisdom— ignites the flame that illuminates darkness, and provides the courage to boldly venture forth, into the dark valleys, to conquer the next mountain in your way.

Progress does not begin until there is pain.

Only when the struggle begins does the journey begin.

Everything else is a charade.

It only counts when it begins to hurt.

The ability to persist through the pain, and endure, and overcome in spite of the pain, is the greatest ability, and the embodiment of ultimate willpower, the greatest tool in our arsenal.

Will Power is mind over matter.

The mind is the master.

Not the body. Not the world. Not others. Not circumstances.

The mind is the master. The mind decides where we are going.

The will is the extension of the mind to persist, to overcome, to dominate.

There is nothing a properly trained mind can not overcome.

The mind is the master. Not the pain. Not the fears. Not the hurt.

Master the mind, and you master the world.

The gym is a metaphor for life.

Progress only occurs in proportion to the struggle we endure.

The longer we endure the struggle, the stronger we become.

Anyone can lift weights. Anyone can move their body. Most people go through the motions and they never challenge themselves, never decide to push through the discomfort. And they never change, and never grow.

To grow, in athletics or gym or in life, you only begin counting when it hurts.

The amount of time you spend pushing through the pain, every additional rep, every additional second of hurt, is the only payment that earns strength.

Everything else is a charade, an act of deception, for yourself or others.

Change and growth and strength and development happens when we learn to love the pain, and embrace the pain, and see it as our greatest ally, rather than our enemy.

The pain is the way.

It highlights where we need to grow, where we are weak. It exposes our shortcomings.

Recognizing pain as a teacher allows us to step toward it, rather than away from it.

Every step toward pain, we become stronger. And the pain becomes less controlling.

We train the mind to be the master.

Letter to a Friend

Being stubborn is a double edge sword. I don’t know how you see our friendship, but I see us as on a journey together. The past year or two has been a real struggle. I let myself go. A lot of pain and depression. Truly dark. And it’s really all because i stopped taking responsibility for my life. I started having this bad attitude. Like, life isn’t fair.

I made a decision to leave a job making $200k a year to join a friend in a business, as a contractual partner, and i was counting on it working out. It was risky. I busted my ass. I was all in. And he wasn’t. And i didn’t curb my lifestyle. I was assuming it would work out. We had big plans. I racked up debt. I went from living very comfortably, in a nice ass apartment with all my beloved furnishings, to being in debt, in a shitty little apartment, with a fuckin roommate. I got into an unhealthy relationship in the process. I was miserable. I stopped working out. I just… became a piece of shit. I started climbing out of this hell hole I dug myself middle of last year. Finally began accepting responsibility. Finally began to change my attitude. Finally stopped making excuses for my life, my unhappiness, my relationship, my situation, and began to embrace it. It was my doing, and my responsibility, and the only person who will change this shit is me.

Last fall I began making hard changes. In the process we reconnected. I relayed with you. With where you are at in life. Which is essentially, not what you expected, and not where you want to be.

I know where I want to go, and I am committed to going there. I see you on this journey.

I’ve been on this journey before. It’s been awhile. It sucks, but it’s also beautiful. It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish.

One thing is, I don’t ever wanna settle. I wanna surround myself with people going where I’m going. I don’t have time for people who aren’t heading in the same direction, who aren’t on a similar journey. Our influences make us or break us. It’s why I had to end it with my girlfriend. I’m not even sure it was the correct move. Maybe I should have stuck it out? She called me Monday night. She was so sweet and bubbly, but then… it reverted to the same thing. Talking about problems. Just dwelling on this negativity. She was a downer. She cried and she began to argue with me about where things went wrong. And I’m like, this. This very thing. What we’re doing now. What is the point? Can we just joke and be happy? Can we be light hearted? Can we talk about the future? Can we just enjoy the moment? The present? And not like, discharge your feelings onto me, and make it my problem? I get that we’re suppose to care and support eachother. But where is the line? What is the threshold for the average interaction being negative or drama where it’s just not healthy? There are patterns. So anyway.

I want to be my best. I want to be my best for everyone in my life. I don’t want my feelings to define me. I don’t want them to influence my actions, my attitude, my behavior, my goals, my dreams, my schedule and plans. I want to cherish ideals and meditate and manifest them, live them out, be self aware when I’m harboring negative feelings, toxic feelings, and I want to let them go. I don’t want that shit. I have one life. I want it to be pure, and focused, and clear. I want to know where I’m going, and not stop until I get there. Doesn’t matter how I feel. I decide my attitude and feelings.

So anyway. I’m rambling cause I’m exhausted. But what I’m sayin is that I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired. I refuse to continue like I have for the past two years. I can’t expect anything to change unless I do. I can’t kid myself, I can’t lie to myself or make excuses or whatever.

I see us on a similar journey. It’s not easy. It’s not a straight line. It’s not always good. There are bad days. But I refuse to give up. All that matters is progress.

Knowing where I want to end up. Making it a goal. Promising myself I will achieve that goal even if it fuckin kills me, and keeping that promise to myself.

I want our friendship to be a positive thing for us both. I want your life to inspire me. I want to see you dominate. I want to see you kill it. I want you to master shit. I want to see you achieve your wildest dreams.

I don’t want anything less. For you or myself.

Just know that my intentions are good. It’s always coming from a good place. But I always want what’s best. And I don’t necessarily know what’s best. But I always remind myself, it’s not how good you are, it’s how good you want to be. In the end, that will and desire will get you closer.

So yea bro. I’m here. You can tell me to shut up. But I don’t wanna bullshit you, and i don’t want you to bullshit me. Plenty of other people will do that. Just tell you whatever you want to hear. That isn’t a friend.

We care, support, and are honest with each other. That’s friendship. We don’t take things personal because we know we want the best.

So yea man. Forgive my ramble. That’s just where I’m coming from. I think you’re a fuckin stud, and I think we have a shit load in common. That’s pretty rare. Not many people can relate to my life or lifestyle. So it’s comforting. I’m not alone. You’re not alone. And I want us to get the fuck out of this funk and life a life that’s admirable and honorable and respectable on a deep level.

21st Century Dating

I’ve been through the dating cycle so many times.

You swipe. You date. You juggle a bunch of women. Trying to keep options open while determining who the best one to settle with is.

Eventually you find one where you realize she’s a babe, but maybe not perfect, but you gotta pull the trigger.

The love and romance is there. Hot sex. For months. Passion. Sensuality.

Then the honeymoon period begins to wind down.

You slowly realize this person is a lot of work. Not easy. Maybe they have emotional baggage. Maybe they’re mental. Maybe they’re high maintenance. Maybe they’re psychos.

After months. You ponder your options. You decide to just bounce. End it and ghost. Chalk it up to whatever.

Or you think that you’re 30 something and you don’t wanna get back into the cycle, the grass is never greener. You’ve already invested x time so let’s try to overcome the issues and make it work.

A year or two or three later.

You’re fuckin pullin your hair out trying to maintain a relationship that, if you stopped and paused and asked yourself, is just fuckin miserable.

So one day you just stop giving a fuck.

Then the relationship just stops working. There are no fucks to give.

Then your single. But alone. Craving companionship.

You get back on the dating apps. Then you begin the cycle again.

This was my entire 20’s

Narcissus

“Narcissists are made by being over or under indulged.”

Grandiose vs vulnerable narcissist

Trump= grandiose = over indulged

My ex= vulnerable = under indulged

It’s truly fascinating.

All comes down to self esteem and insecurity ie bring ego driven.

What’s interesting is that, after going to psychotherapy in an attempt to understand myself and my relationship with my ex and establish a baseline reference of what “healthy” is, these narcissism traits seem to be generational.

Like she said, they’re made, not born.

I read some books recommended by my therapists about childhood development and attachment theory, to understand what kind of environment nurtured these narcissistic tendencies.

I learned that narcissism is a spectrum.

I also learned that there is a narcissist antithesis, which is referred to as a “shadow narcissist” which I also is called an empath. They’re literally the opposite of narcissists.

I forget what the statistics are, but it’s like if you have a narcissistic parent, there’s a 70% chance their kids will be shadow narcissists, and 30% chance they’ll be narcissists. But that may be reversed.

But I concluded that narcissism is the result of a highly inflated ego.

For vulnerable narcissists, or those who were under indulged by their caregivers, this ego serves as a protective mechanism, because they had very little emotional attention or support when they were developing. So they had to essentially look out for themselves to compensate.

I think on some level many people possess traits like this. I know I do. Trying to compensate for a lack of self worth. I don’t think that’s totally rare or uncommon. Especially in a culture which prizes individualism. I can see how kids were raised by parents who were self absorbed or emotionally absent.

But it exists on a spectrum, and I think it becomes a pathology when there are strong patterns of dysfunctional relationships. Or drama. At work. In romantic relationships. With friends.

I think by and large our culture really encourages narcissism. In a variety of ways.

I think ego is a double edge sword

It’s this necessary evil. Because anyone that wants to change the world in a significant way must place an inordinate amount of faith and value on the way “they” see the world.

In a free competitive market, there are no safety nets. Unless you’re born into privilege.

It’s everyone out for themselves. You’re either the master, or the slave. To put it bluntly.

I also think psychotherapists, or psychologists more generally, or even the psychological toolkit used to describe the world and people and relationships, almost causes them to walk around with a hammer looking for a nail.

I’m not sure the psychotherapeutic framework is the end all be all when it comes to labeling or trying to understand personalities. It’s useful. But it can also lead to narrow thinking.

Much like a religious person walks around and just sees the world as sinners or saints or whatever.

The world is nuanced, and it’s very hard to be a judge until we walk in other people’s shoes. It’s easy to judge at a distance.

And our default it to measure the world with the same measure we use to measure ourselves.

It’s very challenging to gain a self awareness of this tendency, and acknowledge its limitations.

I also wonder if psychology or psychotherapy attracts narcissism.

Imagine being the center of the world for so many people, and they look to you to provide all their answers, and you have such a high esteem that you possess the answers for people’s problems, that you make it your living.

Or you could just want to help people, and help them heal themselves.

It just gets tricky.

Who is to say who has compassion or is capable of feeling?

Writing

I write about whatever is on my mind… it’s a therapeutic release, being able to see what I think, organize my thoughts. Writing is a creative outlet that I play with. It just happens… sometimes its reflections on personal growth, sometimes my job and professional things, sometimes it’s a story I keep in my mind, a scene that I imagine that I want to capture, sometimes it’s just stream of consciousness, sometimes poetry…

Writing is like drawing, like dancing, like music.

I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to express yourself, and create art. And I think like any activity, the more time and energy you carve out for it, the better you become.

Reflections on Professional Development

I’ve learned a lot about people this year. It’s the first time I’ve managed teams of people. In prior roles I’ve managed customers and projects, but this is the first time I’ve managed humans, and had to collectively organize them in a way that adds value. Literally, creating systems and processes out of the people and resources available to me.

I decided last year to focus on myself, to practice the art of solitude, and being with myself. Being aware of distractions and vices, even if they’re not obvious. Bodybuilding became a distraction. My ex girlfriend was a distraction. I had to confront things and people and situations, and ask myself if they aligned with the grand vision I want to manifest in this life, and if they supported the version of the person I wanted to be, or needed to be to make that manifest.

And what is this grand vision? My goal is to add value to the world. Real value that wasn’t there before. Measurable value. There are lots of ways to do this, but whatever way you choose needs the utmost devotion and focus. You get what you give. Value is anything which elevates the state of mankind.

Professionally, this means generate more value for my organization than anyone. It goes beyond my personal sales numbers. Value is my goal. Not just doing my job. But doing whatever it takes to make the business grow, Even if it’s not my formal responsibility. Even if it means advocating for proposed changes in the broader organization.

I think this is the only way to rise up in the world.

I applied for over 400+ jobs. I wrote over 100 cover letters. I had close to 50 interviews. I was holding out for an opportunity to make a difference.

I was fortunate to find my company. The organization is in much dysfunction. I joined because I saw it as an opportunity to make an impact. I was told the business group was struggling, but I was told that they were committed to doing whatever had to be done. That it was a global priority, and the Japanese HQ was providing unique strategic support.

My director looked me in the eye during our interviews, and literally told me it was not going to be easy, that at a company this size things happen slowly. But that the company has smart people, and they have tremendous resources, and that if I’m patient, and work hard, we can turn things around.

I looked him in the eye, and asked if he was willing to do whatever it took. I told him I’m looking to make an impact. I want to win, and I want the support to make that happen. I asked him, are you committed to making these hard changes?

We looked each other in the eye for a moment, and he said yes I am. I am committed, and I’m serious. I said then this is where I want to be, and I look forward to making things happen.

About 6 months into the job I began to question my decision. Work was hard. There was no strong leaders. No one going above and beyond. Not even my director or Sr. Director. No one providing direction. There were no answers, no support. It’s very sterile. Good people. Smart people. But no leaders. No people stepping up.

Most of the team just complains. And I started to do the same thing. Just criticizing and complaining and critiquing. Wishing for people or things to be different. And just kind of throwing up their hands like that was enough of an excuse to justify going through the motions.

But then I had a good long hard look at myself.

If everything was great, how could I make an impact?

If there were no problems to solve, what value would I bring?

How would I stand out if everything was great?

I reminded myself that the harder the struggle, the greater the adversity, the bigger the opportunity to grow, and learn, and make a difference.

I got disciplined with myself. Every time I noticed my attitude getting critical or down or I felt helpless or defeated, I stopped myself. And told myself to do something about it. Be the change.

If I want things to be different, I can’t wait around for anyone else to make that happen. I need to do whatever I need to do. Take responsibility.

If I can’t rely on my engineer to follow through on projects, am I going to let that stop me? Nope. Learn the engineering. Learn not to depend on him.

If I don’t have good marketing, am I going to let that prevent me from identifying and reaching out to my target customers? Nope. Learn data analytics. Build a market model. Generate leads. Cold call. Do it yourself.

If I don’t have product managers who know or communicate our value proposition, am I going to let that prevent me from selling? Nope. Dig into the technical weeds. Develop the value proposition for myself, my territory.

So I just started doing whatever I had to do.

I don’t keep track of how much I work, but I work… 24/7. Not saying this is sustainable, but for the time being, there is work to be done to achieve my goals, and the only one stopping that from happening is me. So I do whatever necessary. I think about work all the time. It’s not even work. It’s life. It’s a problem to be solved. It’s a puzzle. It’s a challenge that I am obsessed with overcoming.

I kept this activity to myself for months. There was a status quo that I felt uncomfortable disturbing. I was hesitant to make waves, to stand out, and then be found out that I’m stepping out of line.

But soon my activities began to spill over, out of necessity, because I had to do whatever I needed to. It felt risky. Speaking up or doing something beyond my “formal job description” responsibilities. I always wondered if someone was going to call me out. “Who do you think you are?” “That’s not your job!” “Stay in line!”

But that never happened. Not from my immediate colleagues or Sr. Management. Instead, they praised it. I realized, I was making their job easier, even if I was doing their job. I was making the look good. And they began to reach out to me and consult, and me questions, ask me for guidance.

I did get pushback from those “below” me. People who wanted to maintain the status quo. They see my activity as more work. They try to avoid work, avoid responsibility.

But when I questioned what I was doing, and shared with Sr. Management, they were very supportive. I felt very blessed that they support me no matter what I do, because they either believe in me, or because I’m adding real value, and helping them, even if they should be responsible for leading it.

Adding value means making other people’s jobs easier, better, clearer. To make everyone else look good and feel good.

My current mindset is be the change I want to see.

I want my attitude and practices to be a model for the organization. I will never ask someone to work harder than me. I’ve tried, and it’s impossible.

But I’ve found that in order to be a leader, and possess the power of leadership, by working harder than everyone else, by being the most responsible for outcomes, it elevates the game for everyone. It raises the bar.

No one wants to look bad. My goal is to create such a contrast in attitude and work ethic that it inspires or drives or motivates people to up their game. To be more dependable. Because I will do your job if you don’t. And then what value do you bring? I will never ask something that I would not ask of myself. People start seeing this, and they start realizing that it’s their choice to be a team player, and they want to have a place on the team.

And those that don’t, realize that this isn’t the job for them. And they quite.

You can only hold people accountable when you hold yourself accountable to them.

Often times, this is all that’s needed to influence organization change. You are responsible for the success of everyone involved in the goal of your organization.

Childhood Bonds

I have many friends. We’ve all made many friends, and had many friends over our lives. Through school or work or parties or whatever. I respect all the friends I’ve made, and I share a bond with them based on admiration of character. Because I know their struggle, identify with it, and respect their desire to strive for more, to be the best version of themselves they can conjure.

My childhood friends, specifically this group, is unique.

We share struggles. Unique struggles. Struggles before I knew what was worth struggling for.

We share the struggles of adolescence, of chaotic home life, of finding identify and peace, of reconciling death, of competition.

These are the struggles that we rarely choose. They are chosen for us. As children, we are given a life and circumstances. We chose nothing. Not our parents. Not our hometown. Many times not even our friends or interests. Our lives just unfold according to the influences we find ourselves in, for better or worse.

As we grow, we learn to navigate and make sense of them, and determine the best way for overcoming the circumstances we were born into.

This process happens on an individual level. But we have been fortunate to go through this journey together. The deepest struggles and our choices to overcome them, define our character.

We’ve all have and had our individual journeys. But we’ve all shared a significant part of that journey together.

In my mind, each of you is the kid I grew up with. The first impression you made on me remains today. The kind hearts. The intelligence. The zeal for life.

You’re still those kids to me. No one else will replace that bond.

Achieving Worthwhile Aims

Some Saturday reflection on how to organize, how to plan, how to progress towards worthwhile aims:

1. Start with THE goal: what is the goal? Make sure it has a “why” that energizes and excites and inspires you, that imbues you with a transcendent vision of clarity.

2. Assume maximum responsibility for achieving this vision— expand your mind in a way that allows you to see the largest sphere of influence over your desired outcome. Often we think too small, and get stuck in the weeds. We wait for permission. Take responsibility. Act, and ask for forgiveness later. You alone are responsible for your dreams.

3. Practice daily meditative reflection— spend more time alone, in isolation, with yourself. Be still for long periods of time, let your mind open, and listen to what arrives, what presents itself to your mind. Pay attention to pain— discomforting thoughts and feelings are teachers pointing us where we need to go and what we need to do. Write down these thoughts. Write them all down. List, connect, associate, outline. Let these thoughts illustrate that vision, and materialize it with every connecting realization.

4. Spend time organizing these thoughts. Prioritize. Distinguish the signal from the noise. Always keep the goal in mind— each idea should connect and justify the goal, the vision. Each of these ideas should produce clarity. Create a plan, with goals, and steps for each goal.

5. Execute. Make the vision manifest through intentional activity. You alone are responsible. Do not depend on anyone. Learn what you need to learn. Partner with like minded people, who share similar visions.

6. Repeat this process daily.

Online Dating

I wish I had the energy for dating. Or flirting or courting. The process becomes repetitive and glib, and eventually contrived. So many fleeting virtual connections that desensitize the romance and thrill of quality chemistry. Portraying our best selves, and who we want to be, rather than who we are. But it takes energy to invest and peel back the layers of personality to find substance. And the enthusiasm wanes when the dating routine is wrapped up into every other mindless social media distraction.

Where do authentic working people with a sincere desire to connect in a deep and meaningful way find each other nowadays? Is this the best we got?