Day #863:The secret of happiness

A merchant sent his son to learn the Secret of Happiness from the wisest of men. The young man wandered through the desert for forty days until he reached a beautiful castle at the top of a mountain. There lived the sage that the young man was looking for.

However, instead of finding a holy man, our hero entered a room and saw a great deal of activity; merchants coming and going, people chatting in the corners, a small orchestra playing sweet melodies, and there was a table laden with the most delectable dishes of that part of the world.

The wise man talked to everybody, and the young man had to wait for two hours until it was time for his audience.

With considerable patience, the Sage listened attentively to the reason for the boy’s visit, but told him that at that moment he did not have the time to explain to him the Secret of Happiness.

He suggested that the young man take a stroll around his palace and come back in two hours’ time.

“However, I want to ask you a favor,” he added, handling the boy a teaspoon, in which he poured two drops of oil. “While you walk, carry this spoon and don’t let the oil spill.”

The young man began to climb up and down the palace staircases, always keeping his eyes fixed on the spoon. At the end of two hours he returned to the presence of the wise man.

“So,” asked the sage, “did you see the Persian tapestries hanging in my dining room? Did you see the garden that the Master of Gardeners took ten years to create? Did you notice the beautiful parchments in my library?”

Embarrassed, the young man confessed that he had seen nothing. His only concern was not to spill the drops of oil that the wise man had entrusted to him.

“So, go back and see the wonders of my world,” said the wise man. “You can’t trust a man if you don’t know his house.”

Now more at ease, the young man took the spoon and strolled again through the palace, this time paying attention to all the works of art that hung from the ceiling and walls. He saw the gardens, the mountains all around the palace, the delicacy of the flowers, the taste with which each work of art was placed in its niche. Returning to the sage, he reported in detail all that he had seen.

“But where are the two drops of oil that I entrusted to you?” asked the sage.

Looking down at the spoon, the young man realized that he had spilled the oil.

“Well, that is the only advice I have to give you,” said the sage of sages. “The Secret of Happiness lies in looking at all the wonders of the world and never forgetting the two drops of oil in the spoon.”

from the book  “The Alchemist”

Day # 862:The best laid plans

As your plans get more detailed, it’s also more and more likely that they won’t work exactly as you described them.

Certainly, it’s worth visualizing the thing you’re working to build. When it works, what’s it going to be like?

Even more important, though, is being able to describe what you’re going to do when the plan doesn’t work. Because it won’t. Not the way you expect, certainly.

Things will break, be late, miss the spec. People will let you down, surprise you or change their minds. Sales won’t get made, promises will be broken, formulas will change.

All part of the plan that includes the fact that plans almost never come true

Day #861:The road not taken

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I””
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

-Poem by Robert Frost (1874-1963).

Day #860:Our Infinite Search for ‘Betters’

We are all seeking something better. Better jobs, better pay,better life, better relationships. But what does better mean? Is better a final product? Something you stick to once you get it and dont have to look for something else?
I am guessing your answer is no. We are always going to be looking for something better than what we currently have. And once we get that ‘better’, we start looking for another better. Life becomes infinite cycle of looking for ‘betters’.

Day #859:Are You Going to Matter?

You are most likely going to be successful. Have a successful career.Make a lot of money to take care of your family, live in a big house and take vacations every summer.You may even be famous. That’s not the point. The question is, are you going to matter? Will a group of people gather when you die and say, ‘he touched my life’, ‘he made me see the world in a different way’. That’s what we should be fighting for.

The Dutch painter Van Gogh died penniless. He couldn’t pay his bills by the time died. Today, the cheapest Van Gogh goes for millions of dollars. Tesla died a failure. He was never as successful as Thomas Edison who was his adversary if you call it that while he was alive. Today, Tesla’s ideas brought us the radio, the internet and the company Tesla Motors is built on Tesla’s idea of generating electricity through solar power.

The point is not to put your life on hold and try to live poor perhaps you might be famous in death. The point is to choose work that affects people’s lives even if no one sees it today and you don’t win any ‘outstanding innovation awards’. The point is to take your day job whatever it is even if it’s running spreadsheets and make it art. Find a way to make it change or make people’s live better.

Day #858:Why You Should Adopt The ABZ Career Planning Method

ABZ Planning is the career planing methodology discussed in the book ‘The Startup of You’ by Reid Hoffman.It is an adaptive approach to planning that promotes trial and error. It allows you to aggressively pursue upside and mitigate against possible downside risks. ABZ Planning isn’t something you do once early in your career. It’s a process as important for someone in their forties or fifties as for a newly minted college grad. There is no beginning, middle, or end to a career journey; no matter how old you are or at what stage, you will always be planning and adapting.

So what do A, B, and Z refer to exactly? Plan A is what you’re doing right now. It’s your current implementation of your competitive advantage. Within a Plan A you make minor adjustments as you learn; you iterate regularly. Plan B is what you pivot to when you need to change either your goal or the route for getting there. Plan B tends to be in the same general ballpark as Plan A. Sometimes you pivot because Plan A isn’t working; sometimes you pivot because you’ve discovered a new opportunity that’s just better than what you’re doing now. In either case, don’t write out an elaborate Plan B—things will change too much after the ink dries—but do give thought to your parameters of motion and alternatives. Once you pivot to a Plan B and stick with it, that becomes your new Plan A. 5 years ago, working in the non-profit industry was my plan A. Today, my Plan A is Jumia, because it’s where I am right now.

Plan Z is the fallback position: your lifeboat. In business and life, you always want to keep playing the game. If failure means you end up on the street, that’s an unacceptable failure. So what’s your certain, reliable, stable plan if all your career plans go to hell or if you want to do a major life change? That’s Plan Z. The certainty of Plan Z is what allows you to take on uncertainty and risk in your Plans A and B.

Day #857:Tell a story

The great Rabbi Israel Shem Tov, when he saw that the people in his village were being mistreated, went into the forest, lit a holy fire, and said a special prayer, asking God to protect his people.
And God sent him a miracle.

Later, his disciple Maggid de Mezritch, following in his master’s footsteps, would go to the same part of the forest and say:
“Master of the Universe, I do not know how to light the holy fire, but I do know the special prayer; hear me, please!”
The miracle always came about.

A generation passed, and Rabbi Moshe-leib of Sasov, when he saw the war approaching, went to the forest, saying:
“I don’t know how to light the holy fire, nor do I know the special prayer, but I still remember the place. Help us, Lord!”
And the Lord helped.

Fifty years later, Rabbi Israel de Rizhin, in his wheelchair, spoke to God:
“I don’t know how to light the holy fire, nor the prayer, and I can’t even find the place in the forest. All I can do is tell this story, and hope God hears me.”
And telling the story was enough for the danger to pass.

And I will add:
Tell your stories. Your neighbors may not understand you, but they will understand your soul. Stories are the last bridge left to allow different cultures to communicate among each other.

Taken from Paulo Coelho’s blog