Day #924:How do I get rid of the fear?

Alas, this is the wrong question.

The only way to get rid of the fear is to stop doing things that might not work, to stop putting yourself out there, to stop doing work that matters.

No, the right question is, “How do I dance with the fear?”

Fear is not the enemy. Paralysis is the enemy..

My wish for you this new year is courage to move on in the face of fear. To ship something even if it’s not perfect.

Here’s to a 2016 full of actions and not just ideas. To more work even in the face of fear.

Day #923:The Best Posts of 2015!

2015 was a great year over all. As the year draws to a close, I wanted to quickly highlight the top posts that got the most attention in terms of views and comments. A surprising thing about some of these posts, most of them were written before 2015.

5.Day #809:The Curse of Sisyphus

Sisyphus was cursed with one of the greatest of afflictions, the curse of doing something meaningless in an endless loop. He was cursed to push a boulder up a hill to the top.  Alas, every time he got to the top, the boulder would roll back down to the bottom of the hill and he was forced to repeat the exercise for eternity.

Favorite part of the post

It sounds sad, but it what so many of us do as well, especially in our careers.

Go to work, turn on your computer, send some emails, look busy, do nothing of genuine importance or impact and don’t act with passion or enthusiasm.

Then do it again tomorrow.Read the rest of the post here.

4.Day #91:The Story of Post-it Notes

Everyone knows the Post-it Note, we have all used it, but do you know how it was invented?

Favorite part of the post

He remembered an adhesive developed by a colleague that everyone thought was a failure because it did not stick very well. “I coated the adhesive on a paper sample,” Fry recalls, “and I found that it was not only a good bookmark, but it was great for writing notes. It will stay in place as long as you want it to, and then you can remove it without damage.”

Read the rest of the post here.

3. Day #618:Quotes From Salvador Dali

Salvador Dali was one of the most enigmatic artist of the last century. Not only as one of the greatest surrealist painters in history, but also because he was a fiercely controversial and quotable man. I captured some of his memorable quotes here.

Favorite part of the post:

Have no fear of perfection-you’ll never reach it. Mistakes are almost always of a sacred nature. Never try to correct them. On the contrary: rationalize them, understand them thoroughly.Read the rest of the post here.

2. Day #166:The Elephant in the Room:Randy Pausch’s “last lecture”

When Randy Pausch died on July 25, 2008, at the age of 47, he died a happy, fulfilled man. We dont like talking about the concept of death because it scares us so much. We feel like it’s taking something away from us or from our friends. Randy Pausch gave meaning to the saying: ‘We are ALL dying – but only a small select few are truly LIVING‘ We fear death so much we dont even live. 

Favorite part of the  post:

He went on to say, “I’m dying and I’m having fun, and I’m going to keep having fun every day I have left.” He talked about his childhood dreams and what they had taught him about life. He said, “If you live your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself … your dreams will come to you.” Read the rest of the post here.

1. Day #761:Kintsugi

This post I wrote about the Japanese concept of Kintsugi got the most views and comments in the year 2015. In a way, it’s easy to see why. The question of how to deal with adversity and how we pick ourselves and move on after dealing with the challenges of life is one we continue to grapple with as humans everyday of our lives.

Favorite part of the post:

When we go through challenging times, we may crack and shatter and fall apart. When we care for our broken pieces, and piece them back together with a sense of love and appreciation, we celebrate who we are and how far we’ve come.

The goal, then, isn’t to return to a state of perfection; it’s to come to a place of comfort and peace with our cracks. Read the rest of the post here.

Thank you for reading this blog and for your kind words and comments. See you in 2016.

Day #922:It Matters

It matters what you care about. What makes you angry. It matters to identify an injustice you can try to right.
It matters that there’s something more than regular life that pushes us to wake up every morning without an alarm. Some people call it passion, some people say it’s drive? I think it’s more like finding a void, something that makes us thirst for more.Some form of inner motivation. Some people find it easily and they can pick themselves up every morning to follow their passion and do amazing things in the world. Some of us have to dig deeper to find it. if you fall in the latter category, the key is to never give up.
Every time you fall down, you feel like you are not motivated enough, pick yourself up and move on.
There has to be more to life than having a regular job, starting a family and growing old. There has to be something we are put here on earth to do. Or maybe there isn’t. I guess it’s more fun to just believe there is.

Day #921:How to Have Your Best Year Ever

Hello!  And happy holidays!

This post is about making things happen. Putting your goals into practice. Getting the rubber on the road.

A couple of years ago I read a book called The Slight Edge and it changed the way I thought about my goals.
Before I would always make these big hurrahs to exercise, or push through on a project. It was all or nothing.

Afterward I started examining all the little decisions I made every day, and starting thinking smaller. How could I do one thing today, something that was easy to do, that would move me forward?

And this has been the greatest secret to my ability to write everyday for over 900 days now in my 1000 days of Inspiration project.

The Big Lesson
Success is a product of a lot of small decisions your make every single day. And making good decisions is what leads to favorable outcomes.

Just think about it – you won’t gain 10 pounds if you eat that cookie. However, if you decide to eat the cookie every day you will eat an extra 200 calories per cookie, which over 365 days is 73,000 calories; which adds up to about 21 lbs per year!  All from a simple daily cookie.
And now if you walked an extra 1000 steps, which would burn 100 more calories you could lose 36,500 calories, or 10+ lbs in one year.  It is pretty amazing how these things that are easy to do can lead to such big results when compounded over time.

And this analogy can be applied to all your goals:

  • Reading 10 to 20 pages in a good book (reading all those books in a year  will make you smarter)
  • Putting a little extra into your savings account each paycheck
  • Skipping a meeting you don’t need to attend and working on something that matters instead
  • Spending 15 minutes on one of your goals instead of watching TV or playing video games

Success and failure don’t happen overnight. Those outcomes don’t even happen in a few days or a couple of weeks. Your success and failure is determined by your consistency. What you do day in and day out over the next year. It is the compounding of all the little things.Success or failure does not happen overnight. Success is sending the email, making the phone call, writing the blog post, sending in that application. Failure is also the same. the lack of daily, actions no matter how small can have a catastrophic effect down the line.

How to Set Your Goals for 2016
To set clear and simple goals, It is helpful to think about goals falling into two buckets:

1) Concrete things you accomplish (i.e. finishing a book, traveling to China, completing a project)
2) Habits you want to stop/start/change (i.e. start working out, eating healthy, drinking more water, not biting your nails, getting up early, etc.)

The main idea for each area is to brainstorm for 5 minutes to generate a list of goals, then take 1 minute to assign a timeframe to each goal, (this time frame should be what time in the year would you like to achieve the goal and then choose one primary goal and write for 2 minutes about why it’s so important. to achieve it.

How does that affect your goals?
I want you to think small and I want you to think long term. For each of your goals for 2016, I want you to write them down no matter how silly, I want you to categorize them and then craft an action plan.  This way I know you will accomplish your goals next year.

More importantly, the moment you finish writing down your goal, make sure you take action towards it no matter how small. If one of your goals is to start a blog. Once you close your notepad, go on WordPress and open the blog. It doesn’t cost anything in case you are thinking about money. Write the first blog post. If your goal is to change jobs, pick up your resume, edit it, send it out to someone, a recruiter, former colleague or someone who can help you out. The most critical thing to keep in mind is taking action. Make sure you are taking action no matter how small everyday towards your goal. If it’s to write a book. Try and write a sentence. Never let a day go by without registering action on your goal.

Martin Luther King Jr. said: “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

See you in 2016.

Day #920:Regrets as fuel

If regrets about yesterday’s decisions and actions help you do better work today, then they’ve served a useful purpose.

“I wish I’d taken that job.”

“I should have been more careful before I shipped that out the door.”

“I could have been more kind.”

“I’ll do better next time.”

Most of the time, though, we use regrets to keep us from moving forward. They paralyze us in the face of possibility. We don’t want to do something if it reminds us of that black hole we have in our past.

It’s useful if you can forgive yourself, because the regrets you’re carrying around are keeping you from holding onto the possibility that you can contribute even more tomorrow.

Day #919:Things are never what they seem

According to an ancient and familiar legend, whose precise origins I have been unable to ascertain, a week before Christmas, the Archangel Michael asked his angels to visit Earth; he wanted to find out if everything was ready for the celebration of Jesus’ birth. He sent the angels in pairs, an older angel with a younger one, in order to get the broadest view possible of what was going on in the Christian world.

One of these pairs of angels was sent to Brazil, where they arrived late at night. Since they had nowhere to sleep, they sought shelter in one of the large mansions that can be found in certain areas of Rio de Janeiro.

The owner of the house, a nobleman on the brink of bankruptcy (a fairly common occurrence amongst the people of that city), was a fervent Catholic and he recognised the celestial envoys at once by their golden haloes. However, he was very busy getting ready for a big Christmas party and, having almost finished the decorations, he was reluctant to disrupt them in any way; and so he asked his visitors if they wouldn’t mind sleeping in the basement.

According to all the Christmas cards, it is always snowing at that time of year, but in Brazil, Christmas falls during the height of summer; it was, therefore, unbearably hot in the basement to which the two angels had been banished, and the humidity made the air almost unbreathable. They lay down on the hard floor, but just as they were beginning their prayers, the older angel noticed a crack in the wall. He got up, applied his divine powers to mending the crack, then resumed his nightly prayers. It was so hot in the basement that it was like spending the night in Hell.

Despite their sleepless night, they still had to carry out the mission they had been given. The following day, they travelled the length and breadth of the great city with its 12 million inhabitants, its beaches and its mountains, its many contrasts. They filled in the requisite reports, and when night fell once more, they made for the interior; however, still confused by the time difference, they again found themselves with nowhere to sleep.

They called at a modest house, and a couple came to the door. Unfamiliar with the depictions in medieval engravings of these messengers from God, the couple failed to recognise the pilgrims, but if the two men needed shelter, their house was at their disposal. They made them some supper, introduced them to their new baby and gave up their own bedroom to them, apologising for their poverty and for the terrible heat and for the fact that they could not afford an air-conditioning unit.

When the angels woke the next day, they found the couple in floods of tears. Their only asset, a cow that provided them with milk and cheese and sustenance for the family, had been found dead in the field. They said goodbye to the pilgrims, embarrassed because, since they had no cow to milk, they could not even offer their guests any breakfast.

When the angels were walking back down the dirt track, the younger angel gave vent to his anger:

‘I simply cannot understand your behaviour! The first man had everything he could possibly want and yet you helped him, but when it came to that poor couple who welcomed us so warmly, you did absolutely nothing to relieve their suffering. ‘

‘Things are not always what they seem,’ said the older angel. ‘When we were in that awful basement, I noticed that there was a stash of gold hidden in the wall, left there by a previous owner. The crack exposed some of that gold, and so I decided to cover it up again, because the owner of the house had shown  himself incapable of helping others in need. Yesterday, when we were sleeping in that kindly couple’s bed, I noticed that a third guest had arrived: the angel of death. He had been sent to carry off their child. Now, I’ve known the angel of death for years and I managed to persuade him to take the life of the cow instead. Just remember what day we are about to commemorate: the only people who welcomed Mary were the shepherds, and because of that, they were the first to see the Saviour of the World.

This story is written by Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho for theInternational Network of Street Papers and Translated into English by Margaret Jull Costa.

Day #918:Christmas Tale : The music coming from the house

On Christmas Eve, the king invited the prime minister to join him for their usual walk together. He enjoyed seeing the decorations in the streets, but since he didn’t want his subjects to spend too much money on these just to please him, the two men always disguised themselves as traders from some far distant land.

They walked through the centre of the city, admiring the lights, the Christmas trees, the candles burning on the steps of the houses, the stalls selling gifts, and the men, women and children hurrying off to celebrate a family Christmas around a table laden with food.

On the way back, they passed through a poorer area, where the atmosphere was quite different. There were no lights, no candles, no delicious smells of food about to be served. There was hardly a soul in the street, and, as he did every year, the king remarked to the prime minister that he really must pay more attention to the poor in his kingdom. The prime minister nodded, knowing that the matter would soon be forgotten again, buried beneath the day-to-day bureaucracy of budgets to be approved and discussions with foreign dignitaries.

Suddenly, they heard music coming from one of the poorest houses. The hut was so ramshackle and the rotten wooden timbers so full of cracks, that they were able to peer through and see what was happening inside. And what they saw was utterly absurd: an old man in a wheelchair apparently crying, a shaven-headed young woman dancing, and a young man with sad eyes shaking a tambourine and singing a folk song.

‘I’m going to find out what they’re up to,’ said the king.

He knocked. The music stopped, and the young man came to the door.

‘We are merchants in search of a place to sleep. We heard the music, saw that you were still awake, and wondered if we could spend the night here.’

‘You can find shelter in a hotel in the city. We, alas, cannot help you. Despite the music, this house is full of sadness and suffering.’

‘And may we know why?’

‘It’s all because of me.’ It was the old man in the wheelchair who spoke. ‘I’ve spent my life teaching my son calligraphy, so that he could one day get a job as a palace scribe. But the years have passed and no post has ever come up. And then, last night, I had a stupid dream: an angel appeared to me and asked me to buy a silver goblet because, the angel said, the king would be coming to visit me. He would drink from the goblet and give my son a job.

‘The angel was so persuasive that I decided to do as he said. Since we have no money, my daughter-in-law went to the market this morning to sell her hair so that we could buy that goblet over there. The two of them are doing their best to get me in the Christmas spirit by singing and dancing, but it’s no use.’

The king saw the silver goblet, asked to be given a little water to quench his thirst and, before leaving, said to the family:

‘Do you know, we were talking to the prime minister only today, and he told us that an opening for a palace scribe would be announced next week.’

The old man nodded, not really believing what he was hearing, and bade farewell to the strangers. The following morning, however, a royal proclamation was read out in all the city streets; a new scribe was needed at court. On the appointed day, the audience room at the palace was packed with people eager to compete for that much-sought-after post. The prime minister entered and asked everyone there to prepare their paper and pens:

‘Here is the subject of the composition: Why is an old man weeping, a shaven-headed woman dancing, and a sad young man singing?’

A murmur of disbelief went round the room. No one knew how to tell such a story, apart, that is, from the shabbily dressed young man sitting in one corner, who smiled broadly and began to write.

(Based on an Indian story)