Day #993:Tomorrow…

No one can go back, but everyone can go forward.

And tomorrow, when the sun rises, all you have to say to yourselves is:
I am going to think of this year as the first year of my life.

I will look on the members of my family with surprise and amazement, glad to discover that they are by my side, silently sharing that much-talked-about, but little understood thing called love.

I will pass a beggar, who will ask me for money. I might give it to him or I might walk past thinking that he will only spend it on drink, and as I do, I will hear his insults and know that it is simply his way of communicating with me.

I will pass someone trying to destroy a bridge. I might try to stop him or I might realise that he is doing it because he has no one waiting for him on the other side and this is his way of trying to fend off his own loneliness.

I will look at everything and everyone as if for the first time, especially the small things that I have grown used to, quite forgetting the magic surrounding them. The desert sands, for example, which are moved by an energy I cannot understand – because I cannot see the wind.

Instead of noting down things I’m unlikely to forget on the notebook I always carry with me, I will write a poem. Even if I have never written one before and even if I never do so again, I will at least know that I once had the courage to put my feelings into words.

When I reach a small village that I know well, I will enter it by a different route. I will be smiling, and the inhabitants will say to each other: ‘He must be mad, because war and destruction have left the soil barren.’

But I will keep smiling, because it pleases me to know that they think I am mad. My smile is my way of saying: ‘You can destroy my body, but not my soul.’

Tonight, before leaving, I’m going to spend time sorting through the pile of things I never had the patience to put in order. And I will find that a little of my history is there.
All the letters, the notes, cuttings and receipts will take on their own life and have strange stories to tell me – about the past and about the future. All the different things in the world, all the roads travelled, all the entrances and exits of my life.

I am going to put on a shirt I often wear and, for the first time, I am going to notice how it was made. I am going to imagine the hands that wove the cotton and the river where the fibres of the plant were born. I will understand that all those now invisible things are a part of the history of my shirt.

And even the things I am accustomed to – like the sandals which, after long use, have become an extension of my feet – will be clothed in the mystery of discovery.
Since I am heading off into the future, I will be helped by the scuff marks left on my sandals from when I stumbled in the past.

May everything my hand touches and my eyes see and my mouth tastes be different, but the same. That way, all those things will cease to be a still life and instead will explain to me why they have been with me for such a long time; and they will reveal to me the miracle of re-encountering emotions worn smooth by routine.

taken from THE MANUSCRIPT FOUND IN ACCRA

Day #992: When is The Best Time to Quit?

Just this morning on my commute to work I was reading the story of Ellen Chisa and how she made the decision to quit Harvard Business School. In today’s world of positive thinking, work hard, hang in there till you succeed, talking about quitting is not only counter intuitive, it goes against the general idea of success. We all know too well the quote : “quitters never win and winners never quit” often attributed to legendary American coach Vince Lombardi and to Napoleon Hill.

While this has some element of truth in it, it doesn’t tell a complete story. Winners do quit sometimes to good measure and quitters do win.

In their book Mastering the Art of Quitting, bestselling author Peg Streep and psychotherapist Alan Bernstein demonstrate that persistence alone isn’t always the answer. We also need to be able to quit to get the most out of life. Most times quitting promotes growth and learning, as well as the ability to frame new goals. Without the ability to give up, most people will end up in a discouraging loop. The most satisfied people know when it’s time to stop persisting and start quitting. Quitting is a healthy, adaptive response when a goal can’t be reached.

In the Business Insider story on Ellen Chisa, Ellen used a simple system to determine why she needed to quit Harvard Business School. She used a framework to think through it:

  • She didn’t know what she wanted to get out of the Harvard experience, so she didn’t know how to prioritize her classes. There was missing context.
  • She would’ve definitely chosen the Lola opportunity ( a job opportunity she got after her 1st year in HBS) over HBS had it arrived earlier. This she knew stone cold.
  • The Lola role would give her an experience she had prioritized for a long time — the ability to grow a product team.
  • She could always go back to HBS. There would be no chance to join Lola at such an early stage again.

It can be tricky to determine when is the best time to quit. Quitting a job, a relationship, a goal you set for yourself or something you have put so much into.

We waste time and effort trying to stay in touch with people who have no interest in keeping their friendship with us.We hold on to jobs  and relationships where we are not happy, making ourselves physically and emotionally ill.

So how do you know when it’s time to give up? Here is what I think:

If you feel that you’re not enjoying life to the fullest because you can’t stop thinking about your situation, it might be time to reconsider the reasons you continue trying.

Working toward a worthwhile goal should be elating and exciting. Lack of excitement about achieving what you think you want probably means that you’ve become used to striving and never arriving. It’s “what you do,” and this routine doesn’t serve you.

Also, you may be justifying a painful situation in the name of psychological comfort. Fear of the unknown or of upsetting other people could be the true driver of your efforts because perceived safety and popularity are comforting.

What would your life be like if you stopped trying? Notice the first feeling that arrives when you ask this question. A feeling of freedom or exhilaration is a sign you are ready to give up.

Day #991:The Butterfly Effect

In 1963, Edward Lorenz presented a hypothesis to the New York Academy of Science. His theory, stated simply, was:

A butterfly could flap its wings and set molecules of air in motion, which would move other molecules of air, in turn moving more molecules of air–eventually capable of starting a hurricane on the other side of the planet.

Lorenz and his ideas were literally laughed out of the conference. What he had proposed was ridiculous. It was preposterous. But it was fascinating!

Therefore, because of the idea’s charm and intrigue, the so-called “butterfly effect” became a staple of science fiction, remaining for decades a combination of myth and legend spread only by comic books and bad movies.

So imagine the scientific community’s shock and surprise when, more than thirty years after the possibility was introduced, physics professors working from colleges and universities worldwide came to the conclusion that the butterfly effect was authentic, accurate, and viable.

Soon after, it was accorded the status of a “law.” Now known as The Law of Sensitive Dependence Upon Initial Conditions, this principle has proven to be a force encompassing more than mere butterfly wings.It basically means that everything you do—and don’t do—matters. It has a bigger impact on the world than you can possibly imagine.

Day #990:Steve Jobs on Living, Failure and Creating Your Own Path

Most people know Steve Jobs for his work as CEO of Apple and the person who revolutionized the Personal Computing, Mobile phone, Music, and numerous other industries.

Steve Jobs was ahead of his time and what is more important than his work with Apple that we don’t often get to read about was Steve’s philosophy of life. How he thought about life and his commitment to challenging common beliefs in society.

Nothing demonstrates this more than this 46-second interview excerpt featured in a PBS documentary on Jobs. This clip captures his wisdom, his genius, and his vision for life more articulately and succinctly than anything else.

Steve shares his vision for the world as follows:

When you grow up you, tend to get told that the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world, try not to bash into the walls too much, try to have a nice family, have fun, save a little money. That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader, once you discover one simple fact, and that is that everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.”

This clip is actually part of an interview Steve conducted for the  Santa Clara Valley Historical Association, while Jobs was still at NeXT. Here shares his though further:

The minute that you understand that you can poke life and actually something will, you know if you push in, something will pop out the other side, that you can change it, you can mold it. That’s maybe the most important thing. It’s to shake off this erroneous notion that life is there and you’re just gonna live in it, versus embrace it, change it, improve it, make your mark upon it.
I think that’s very important and however you learn that, once you learn it, you’ll want to change life and make it better, cause it’s kind of messed up, in a lot of ways. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.”

He further shares his thought on failure which I completely agree with:

 

Most people never pick up the phone, most people never ask. And that’s what separates, sometimes, the people that do things from the people that just dream about them. You gotta act. And you gotta be willing to fail… if you’re afraid of failing, you won’t get very far.”

Steve is  right on this last point.And we are all culpable one way or another of letting our dreams remain dreams while we sleep walk through life everyday going to jobs slowly killing us. We never act. We are okay with filling our days with activity: checking emails, flipping through pictures on Instagram and checking every second to see how many people have liked our post. We are merely existing instead of living.

Here is a final thought from Steve’s Stanford University commencement address, one of the best works of public speaking available on the internet today. I would recommend it if you haven’t seen it yet. In the final phase of the address, Steve delivers one of the most important piece of wisdom we should all connect to everyday:

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

Day #989: “You can’t connect the dots looking forward;”

“Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

Steve Jobs from the Stanford Commencement address

Day #988:Act of love

Rabbi Iaakov’s wife was always looking for an excuse to argue with her husband. Iaakov never answered her provocations. Until one night, during a dinner with some friends, when the rabbi had a ferocious argument with his wife, to the surprise of all at table.

“What happened?” they asked. “Why did you break your habit of never answering?”

“Because I realised that what bothered my wife most was the fact that I remained silent. Acting in this way, I remained far from her emotions.

“My reaction was an act of love, and I managed to make her understand that I heard her words.”

Day #987: I am Not There Yet, But I’m Getting There

I’m not there yet, but I’m getting there.

Sometimes, I feel as though I still have a long way to go, but I’m getting there.

Sometimes, my steps are bold, sometimes, they are tentative, but I’m getting there.

Sometimes, my vision of the future is clear, sometimes, it’s a bit blurry, but I’m getting there.

Sometimes, I come across obstacles that are meant to stop me, but they will only slow me down and renew my determination, because I’m getting there.

Sometimes, I look at the success of others and feel insecure about my own achievements.  But then I remember that I have my own path to walk and realise that I’m getting there.

Sometimes, I repeat the same old mistakes and fall into the same old bad habits, but I’m getting there.

I don’t know exactly when I’m going to get there, and I’m still working through the how as well, but you can be sure that I will get there.