- This book covers many topics related to the “art of living.”
- The authors define ikigai and the rules of ikigai; they conducted a total of one hundred interviews in Ogimi, Okinawa to try to understand the longevity secrets of centenarians and supercentenarians.
- “What do Japanese artisans, engineers, Zen philosophy, and cuisine have in common? Simplicity and attention to detail.”
- “The authors of this book wish you a long, happy, and purposeful life.”
WHAT IS IKIGAI?
- In Japanese, ikigai is written by combining the symbols that mean “life” with “to be worthwhile.”
- “Translates roughly as ‘the happiness of always being busy.’”
- “There is a passion inside you, a unique talent that gives meaning to your days and drives you to share the best of yourself until the very end. If you don’t know what your ikigai is yet, as Viktor Frankl says, your mission is to discover it.”
- “Our ikigai is different for all of us, but one thing we have in common is that we are all searching for meaning. When we spend our days feeling connected to what is meaningful to us, we live more fully; when we lose the connection, we feel despair.”
- “Our ikigai is hidden deep inside each of us, and finding it requires a patient search. According to those born on Okinawa, the island with the most centenarians in the world, our ikigai is the reason we get up in the morning.”
- “Once you discover your ikigai, pursuing it and nurturing it every day will bring meaning to your life.”
- “They have an important purpose in life, or several. They have an ikigai, but they don’t take it too seriously. They are relaxed and enjoy all that they do.”
- “One thing that everyone with a clearly defined ikigai has in common is that they pursue their passion no matter what.”
THE 10 RULES OF IKIGAI
- Stay active; don’t retire.
- Take it slow.
- Don’t fill your stomach.
- Surround yourself with good friends.
- Get in shape for your next birthday.
- Reconnect with nature.
- Give thanks.
- Live in the moment.
- Follow your ikigai.
STRESS & EXISTENTIAL CRISIS:
- “Many people seem older than they are. Research into the causes of premature aging has shown that stress has a lot to do with it.”
- “The American Institute of Stress investigated this degenerative process and concluded that most health problems are caused by stress.”
- “Existential crisis, on the other hand, is typical of modern societies in which people do what they are told to do, or what others do, rather than what they want to do. They often try to fill the gap between what is expected of them and what they want for themselves with economic power or physical pleasure, or by numbing their senses.”
- “Those who give up the things they love doing and do well lose their purpose in life. That’s why it’s so important to keep doing things of value, making progress, bringing beauty or utility to others, helping out, and shaping the world around you, even after your ‘official’ professional activity has ended.”
- “Many Western forms of therapy focus on controlling or modifying the patient’s emotions. In the West, we tend to believe that what we think influences how we feel, which in turn influences how we act. In contrast, Morita therapy focuses on teaching patients to accept their emotions without trying to control them, since their feelings will change as a result of their actions.”
- “Logotherapy and Morita therapy are both grounded in a personal, unique experience that you can access without therapists or spiritual retreats: the mission of finding your ikigai, your existential fuel. Once you find it, it is only a matter of having the courage and making the effort to stay on the right path.”
- “The happiest people are not the ones who achieve the most. They are the ones who spend more time than others in a state of flow.”
- “In order to achieve this optimal experience, we have to focus on increasing the time we spend on activities that bring us to this state of flow, rather than allowing ourselves to get caught up in activities that offer immediate pleasure.”
- “Concentrating on one thing at a time may be the single most important factor in achieving flow.”
- “Japanese people often apply themselves to even the most basic tasks with an intensity that borders on obsession.”
- “Our ability to turn routine tasks into moments of microflow, into something we enjoy, is key to our being happy, since we all have to do such tasks.”
- “Artists, for example, who carry the torch of their ikigai instead of retiring, have this power. Art, in all its forms, is an ikigai that can bring happiness and purpose to our days. Enjoying or creating beauty is free, and something all human beings have access to.”
- “Artists know how important it is to protect their space, control their environment, and be free of distractions if they want to flow with their ikigai.”
- “Many such artists might seem misanthropic or reclusive, but what they are really doing is protecting the time that brings them happiness, sometimes at the expense of other aspects of their lives. They are outliers who apply the principles of flow to their lives to an extreme.”
- According to Csikszentmihalyi,
in order to focus on a task we need:
- 1. To be in a distraction-free environment
- 2. To have control over what we are doing at every moment
- “We realized right away that time seems to have stopped there, as though the entire town were living in an endless here and now.”
- “Many Japanese people never really retire—they keep doing what they love for as long as their health allows.”
- “The Japanese are skilled at bringing nature and technology together: not man versus nature, but rather a union of the two.”
- “Okinawans live by the principle of ichariba chode, a local expression that means ‘treat everyone like a brother, even if you’ve never met them before.’”
- Celebrations seem to be an essential part of life in Ogimi.
- “Being in a hurry is inversely proportional to quality of life. As the old saying goes, ‘Walk slowly and you’ll go far.’ When we leave urgency behind, life and time take on new meaning.”
- “Looking back, our days in Ogimi were intense but relaxed—sort of like the lifestyle of the locals, who always seemed to be busy with important tasks but who, upon closer inspection, did everything with a sense of calm. They were always pursuing their ikigai, but they were never in a rush.”
- “They are always busy, but they occupy themselves with tasks that allow them to relax. We didn’t see a single old grandpa sitting on a bench doing nothing.”
- “The restaurant is right by the sea and seems like something from the planet Tatooine, from Star Wars. The menu boasts in large letters that it serves ‘slow food‘ prepared with organic vegetables grown in the town.”
SECRETS OF THE CENTENARIANS & SUPERCENTENARIANS:
- “Over the course of a week we conducted
a total of one hundred interviews, asking the eldest members of the community
about their life philosophy, their ikigai, and the secrets to longevity:
- Don’t worry
- Cultivate good habits
- Nurture your friendships every day
- Live an unhurried life
- Be optimistic”
- “Eat and sleep, and you’ll live a long time. You have to learn to relax.” — Misao Okawa (117 years old)
- “I’ve never eaten meat in my life.” — María Capovilla (116)
- “Everything’s fine.” — Jeanne Calment (122)
- “Your mind and your body. You keep both busy, you’ll be here a long time.” — Walter Breuning (114)
- “I just haven’t died yet.” — Alexander Imich (111)
- “Food won’t help you live longer…The secret is smiling and having a good time.”
- “My secret to a long life is always saying to myself, ‘Slow down,’ and ‘Relax.’ You live much longer if you’re not in a hurry.” (Note: Hooray for more slow living!)
- “The key to staying sharp in old age is in your fingers. From your fingers to your brain, and back again. If you keep your fingers busy, you’ll live to see one hundred.”
- “One hundred percent of the people we interviewed keep a vegetable garden, and most of them also have fields of tea, mangoes, shikuwasa, and so on.”
- “Locals eat a wide variety of foods, especially vegetables. Variety seems to be key. A study of Okinawa’s centenarians showed that they ate 206 different foods, including spices, on a regular basis. They ate an average of eighteen different foods each day, a striking contrast to the nutritional poverty of our fast-food culture.”
- “They eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. At least seven types of fruits and vegetables are consumed by Okinawans on a daily basis. The easiest way to check if there is enough variety on your table is to make sure you’re ‘eating the rainbow.’ A table featuring red peppers, carrots, spinach, cauliflower, and eggplant, for example, offers great color and variety. Vegetables, potatoes, legumes, and soy products such as tofu are the staples of an Okinawan’s diet. More than 30 percent of their daily calories comes from vegetables.”
- “Grains are the foundation of their diet. Japanese people eat white rice every day, sometimes adding noodles. Rice is the primary food in Okinawa, as well.”
- “Eat fish an average of three times per week.”
- “Consume fewer calories: an average of 1,785 per day, compared to 2,068 in the rest of Japan. In fact, low caloric intake is common among the five Blue Zones.”
- “Tofu, Miso, Tuna, Carrots, Goya (bitter melon), Kombu (sea kelp), Cabbage, Nori (seaweed), Onion, Soy sprouts, Hechima (cucumber-like gourd), Soybeans (boiled or raw), Sweet potato, Peppers”
- “Okinawans drink more Sanpin-cha—a mix of green tea and jasmine flowers—than any other kind of tea…Okinawans drink an average of three cups of Sanpin-cha every day.”
- “White tea, with its high concentration of polyphenols, may be even more effective against aging. In fact, it is considered to be the natural product with the greatest antioxidant power in the world—to the extent that one cup of white tea might pack the same punch as about a dozen glasses of orange juice.”
OTHER MEMORABLE QUOTES:
- “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” — Aristotle
- “To be able to concentrate for a considerable amount of time is essential to difficult achievement.” — Bertrand Russell
- “The grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.” — Washington Burnap
- “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” — Viktor Frankl
- “Nana korobi ya oki (Fall seven times, rise eight.)” — Japanese proverb
- “Metabolism slows down 90 percent after 30 minutes of sitting. The enzymes that move the bad fat from your arteries to your muscles, where it can get burned off, slow down. And after two hours, good cholesterol drops 20 percent. Just getting up for five minutes is going to get things going again. These things are so simple they’re almost stupid.” — Gavin Bradley
Shout out to KYLE KOWALSKI for doing this written summary
There is no wrong way to a meditation — the right way is what feels right to you.
…if I know one thing for sure, it’s that you can do small things inside your mind that will lead to big changes in your brain and your experience of living.
What flows through your mind sculpts your brain. Thus, you can use your mind to change your brain for the better — which will benefit your whole being, and every other person whose life you touch.
I’ve already experienced the positive change that happens after meditative practice. A lot of times change happens without me noticing it consciously.
If you want to get good at anything, it helps to study those who have already mastered that skill, such as top chefs on TV if you like to cook. Therefore, if you’d like to feel more happiness, inner strength, clarity, and peace, it makes sense to learn from contemplative practitioners — dedicated lay people and monastics — who’ve really pursued the cultivation of these qualities.
Our brain has two major neuronal systems which keep us chasing carrots. The first one is dopamine based which has the effect of us wanting to repeat things that gave us rewards in the past. The second system is based on several other neuromodulators like endorphins, oxytocin and norepinephrine. These strengthen the neural circuits that are active, making them more likely to fire together in the future. Having desires can feel great but desiring in itself can be an unpleasant experience as the book states. Even mild longing is subtly uncomfortable.
When you do fulfill a desire, the rewards that follow are often not that great. They’re ok, but look closely at your experience: Is the cookie really that tasty — especially after the third bite?
One reason meditation makes us happier is because it helps us overcome these stronger longings that prevent us from being happy.
The brain typically detects negative information faster than positive information.
It’s easy to acquire feelings of learned helplessness from a few failures, but hard to undo those feelings, even with many successes. People will do more to avoid a loss than to acquire a comparable gain.
The Simulator in our brains
Simulation makes us suffer. What? Yes, it turns out our brain developed over three million years the capability to simulate the future, that’s why we don’t have to get hit by a car first to know that we should watch out before crossing the street. That ability of our brain is great, but it also pulls us out of the present moment by its very nature. There you are trying to concentrate at your work or to meditate, but your mind keeps caught in these mini mind-movies.
In sum, the simulator takes you out of the present moment and sets you chasing after carrots that aren’t really so great while ignoring more important rewards (such as contentment and inner peace.)
Self-compassion isn’t self-pity, but is simply warmth, concern, and good wishes — just like compassion for another person. Because self-compassion is more emotional than self-esteem, it’s actually more powerful for reducing the impact of difficult conditions, preserving self-worth, and building resilience (Leary et al. 2007). It also opens your heart, since when you’re closed to your own suffering, it’s hard to be receptive to suffering in others.
The darts we throw ourselves
This concept was very interesting to me, I figured it to be so true in my own experience. Let me explain what first and second darts are. First darts are painfull experiences we have. Some are very useful, like the pain we feel when touching a hot stove. That pain protects us from a bad burn. But second darts are entirely of our choosing, it is how we react to our experiences.
They are ironically the ones that make us suffer most, not our initial experiences.
In relationships, second darts create vicious cycles: your second-dart reactions trigger reactions from the other person, which set off more darts from you, and so on.
Remarkably, most of our second-dart reactions occur when there is in fact no first dart anywhere to be found — when there’s no pain inherent in the conditions we’re reacting to. We add suffering to them.
And saddest of all, some second-dart reactions are to conditions that are actually positive. Like if someone pays you a compliment, that’s a positive situation. But then you might start thinking, with some nervousness and even a little shame: Oh, I’m not really that good a person. Maybe they’ll find out I’m a fraud. Right there, needless second-dart suffering begins.
The balanced brain
One of the things I most liked about this book is how it explains in very scientific terms the way our brain works. For instance, the amygdala is the part of the brain that produces a lot of suffering if not balanced by other parts of the brain like the prefrontal cortex (PFC) or the Anterior Cingulate Cortex Hub (AAC)
Strengthening the AAC — such as through meditation — helps you think more clearly when you’re upset, and brings warmth and emotional intelligence to your logical reasoning.
Understanding equanimity, something you gain with meditation
With equanimity, what passes through your mind is held with spaciousness so you stay even-keeled and aren’t thrown off balance. The ancient circuitry of the brain is continually driving you to react one way or another — equanimity is your circuit breaker… With equanimity, situations have only characteristics, not demands…
Equanimity is neither apathy nor indifference: you are warmly engaged with the world but not troubled by it.
Wow, I’m still amazed about this concept, it is something I want to obtain more of. I’ve had several experiences where I react very different now than I did before starting to meditate, I guess that’s some equanimity in action.
Awareness are neural patterns in your brain that are highly variable, but the representational capacities themselves — the basis of the subjective experience of awareness — are generally very stable. Consequently, resting in awareness brings a beautiful sense of inner clarity and peace.
Through mindfulness practice you can strengthen your mentalability of staying in awake and alert, but quiet and peaceful mind. In essence,mindfulness is well-controlled attention.
Shout out to karlbooklover.com for doing this written summary
- Any time your thoughts are flowing the law of attraction is operational. (Lisa Nichols)
- Ask and it shall be given you, Seek and ye shall be find. Knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For everyone that asketh, receiveth; And he that seeketh, findeth; And to him that knocketh, it shall be opened. (Earl Nightingale)
- Ask for great success and joy, and you’ll probably get it. Don’t ask for anything in particular, and you will get whatever life throws at you. (Anthony Robbins)
- Attract what you want by being what you want. (Unknown)
- Everything that is coming into your life, you are attracting into your life and it’s attracted by the images you hold in your mind, what you are thinking. Whatever is going on in your mind you are attracting to you. (Rhonda Byrne)
- I realize the dominating thoughts of my mind will eventually reproduce themselves in outward, physical action, and gradually transform themselves into physical reality. (Napoleon Hill)
- If you can see it in your mind, you’re going to hold it in your hand. (Bob Proctor)
- If you think about something for a long time the likelihood of it having a real effect in your life is many times greater that if you think about it briefly. It is also common sense that desires morph into beliefs, and beliefs make us who we are. When you deliberately choose your desires and beliefs, it is logical that you can begin to master your reality. (Esther & Jerry Hicks)
- Instead of thinking that life is a struggle, start believing that things come easily to you. (Rhonda Byrne)
- Life eventually mirrors your thoughts. The law of attraction is very dangerous. It has positive and negative effects on your life. Be sure about what you think. (Tejas Patel)
- Nothing is created or destroyed. Everything you are seeking is seeking you. It is a matter of learning how to use your mental faculties to work with the invisible side of life – where all good originates. (Bob Proctor)
- People think about what they don’t want and attract more of the same. (Rhonda Byrne)
- The creative process is the specific way in which you can use the law of attraction to obtain what you want. It involves three steps: Ask the universe – you must be crystal clear about what you want. Believe – act, speak, and think as through you have already received what you have asked for. Receive- feel great that it is coming to you. Feeling good sets up the necessary vibration to manifest the desire. (Rhonda Byrne)
- The future belongs to the asker’s. (Brian Tracy)
- The images fixed in your subconscious mind control your vibration and your vibration controls what you attract. (Bob Proctor)
- The law of attraction (a universal law that is never contradicted) is that whatever you put your attention on through thought or desire becomes reality. Whenever you are focused on what you don’t have, that situation of not-having will also be your reality. You attract to yourself things or people that are the equivalent of your current state of being, or “vibration.” (Esther & Jerry Hicks)
- The law of attraction is not bias to wants or don’t wants, it manifests the things that you think about. (Lisa Nichols)
- The law of attraction says like attracts like, and so as you think a thought, you are also attracting like thoughts to you. (Rhonda Byrne)
- The mind is a powerful magnet and as such, it attracts whatever corresponds to its ruling state. Expectation dictates what that ruling state will be and therefore governs what corresponds to the mind and is attracted into your life. Expectation can be either a blessing or a curse but either way it is certainly one of the most powerful unseen forces in your life. (John Kanary)
- The more you desire of fear something, the more likely you are to attract it into your life. (Brian Tracy)
- There is a law that everything that happens in life first constellates on the inner planes. (Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee)
- Thought attracts that upon which it is directed. (Claude M. Bristol)
- To attract attractive people, you must be attractive. To attract powerful people, you must be powerful. To attract committed people, you must be committed. Instead of going to work on them, you go to work on yourself. If you become, you can attract. (Jim Rohn)
- Visualize this thing that you want. See it, feel it, believe in it. Make your mental blueprint, and begin to build. (Robert Collier)
- What has prevented you from getting what you want is you, your thoughts that do not align with what you want to be and where you want to go. (Esther & Jerry Hicks)
- What you radiate outward in your thoughts, feelings, mental pictures, and words, you attract into your life. (Catherine Ponder)
- What you seek is seeking you. (Rumi)
- Whatever you hold in your mind on a consistent basis is exactly what you will experience in your life. (Anthony Robbins)
- When one is truly ready for a thing, it puts in its appearance. (Napoleon Hill)
- You always attract into your life the people, ideas, and resources in harmony with your dominant thoughts. (Brian Tracy)
- You attract and manifest whatever corresponds to your inner state. (Eckhart Tolle)
- You attract to you the predominant thoughts that you’re holding in your awareness, whether those thoughts are conscious or unconscious. That’s the rub. (Michael Bernard Beckwith)
- Your vibe attracts your tribe. (Unknown)
“Brilliant men are often strikingly ineffectual; they fail to realize that the brilliant insight is not by itself achievement. They never have learned that insights become effectiveness only through hard systematic work.”
“Intelligence, imagination, and knowledge are essential resources, but only effectiveness converts them into results. By themselves, they only set limits to what can be attained.”
“There are few things less pleasing to the Lord, and less productive, than an engineering department that rapidly turns out beautiful blueprints for the wrong product. Working on the right things is what makes knowledge work effective.”
“The greatest wisdom not applied to action and behavior is meaningless data.”
“Knowledge work is not defined by quantity. Neither is knowledge work defined by its costs. Knowledge work is defined by its results.”
“The realities of the executive’s situation both demand effectiveness from him and make effectiveness exceedingly difficult to achieve. Indeed, unless executives work at becoming effective, the realities of their situation will push them into futility.”
“If the executive lets the flow of events determine what he does, what he works on, and what he takes seriously, he will fritter himself away “operating.” He may be an excellent man. But he is certain to waste his knowledge and ability and to throw away what little effectiveness he might have achieved.”
“What the executive needs are criteria which enable him to work on the truly important, that is, on contributions and results, even though the criteria are not found in the flow of events.”
“An organization, a social artifact, is very different from a biological organism. Yet it stands under the law that governs the structure and size of animals and plants: The surface goes up with the square of the radius, but the mass grows with the cube. The larger the animal becomes, the more resources have to be devoted to the mass and to the internal tasks, to circulation and information, to the nervous system, and so on. Every part of an amoeba is in constant, direct contact”
“And yet the bigger and apparently more successful an organization gets to be, the more will inside events tend to engage the interests, the energies, and the abilities of the executive to the exclusion of his real tasks and his real effectiveness in the outside.”
“What seems to be wanted is universal genius, and universal genius has always been in scarce supply. The experience of the human race indicates strongly that the only person in abundant supply is the universal incompetent. We will therefore have to staff our organizations with people who at best excel in one of these abilities. And then they are more than likely to lack any but the most modest endowment in the others.”
“If one cannot increase the supply of a resource, one must increase its yield. And effectiveness is the one tool to make the resources of ability and knowledge yield more and better results.”
“Effectiveness, in other words, is a habit; that is, a complex of practices. And practices can always be learned.”
“There is, in other words, no reason why anyone with normal endowment should not acquire competence in any practice. Mastery might well elude him; for this one might need special talents. But what is needed in effectiveness is competence. What is needed are “the scales.” These are essentially five such practices— five such habits of the mind that have to be acquired to be an effective executive:
- Effective executives know where their time goes. They work systematically at managing the little of their time that can be brought under their control.
- Effective executives focus on outward contribution. They gear their efforts to results rather than to work. They start out with the question, “What results are expected of me?” rather than with the work to be done, let alone with its techniques and tools.
- Effective executives build on strengths— their own strengths, the strengths of their superiors, colleagues, and subordinates; and on the strengths in the situation, that is, on what they can do. They do not build on weakness.
- Effective executives concentrate on the few major areas where superior performance will produce outstanding results.
- Effective executives, finally, make effective decisions. They know that this is, above all, a matter of system— of the right steps in the right sequence.
Know Thy Time
“Most discussions of the executive’s task start with the advice to plan one’s work. This sounds eminently plausible. The only thing wrong with it is that it rarely works. The plans always remain on paper, always remain good intentions. They seldom turn into achievement.”
“Effective executives, in my observation, do not start with their tasks. They start with their time. And they do not start out with planning. They start by finding out where their time actually goes. Then they attempt to manage their time and to cut back unproductive demands on their time. Finally they consolidate their “discretionary” time into the largest possible continuing units.”
“People— the third limiting resource— one can hire, though one can rarely hire enough good people. But one cannot rent, hire, buy, or otherwise obtain more time.”
“To be effective, every knowledge worker, and especially every executive, therefore needs to be able to dispose of time in fairly large chunks. To have small dribs and drabs of time at his disposal will not be sufficient even if the total is an impressive number of hours.”
“The first step toward executive effectiveness is therefore to record actual time-use.”
“Systematic time management is therefore the next step. One has to find the non-productive, time-wasting activities and get rid of them if one possibly can. This requires asking oneself a number of diagnostic questions.”
“I have yet to see an executive, regardless of rank or station, who could not consign something like a quarter of the demands on his time to the wastepaper basket without anybody’s noticing their disappearance.”
“Effective executives have learned to ask systematically and without coyness: “What do I do that wastes your time without contributing to your effectiveness?” To ask this question, and to ask it without being afraid of the truth, is a mark of the effective executive.”
“We usually tend to overrate rather than underrate our importance and to conclude that far too many things can only be done by ourselves. Even very effective executives still do a great many unnecessary, unproductive things.”
“My first-grade arithmetic primer asked: “If it takes two ditch-diggers two days to dig a ditch, how long would it take four ditch-diggers?” In first grade, the correct answer is, of course, “one day.” In the kind of work, however, with which executives are concerned, the right answer is probably “four days” if not “forever.””
“Another common time-waster is malorganization. Its symptom is an excess of meetings.”
What Can I Contribute?
“To ask, “What can I contribute?” is to look for the unused potential in the job. And what is considered excellent performance in a good many positions is often but a pale shadow of the job’s full potential of contribution.”
“For every organization needs performance in three major areas: It needs direct results; building of values and their reaffirmation; and building and developing people for tomorrow.”
“The man who asks of himself, “What is the most important contribution I can make to the performance of this organization?” asks in effect, “What self-development do I need? What knowledge and skill do I have to acquire to make the contribution I should be making? What strengths do I have to put to work? What standards do I have to set myself?””
“He always, at the end of his meetings, goes back to the opening statement and relates the final conclusions to the original intent.”
Making Strength Productive
“He knows that one cannot build on weakness. To achieve results, one has to use all the available strengths— the strengths of associates, the strengths of the superior, and one’s own strengths.”
“Whoever tries to place a man or staff an organization to avoid weakness will end up at best with mediocrity.”
“Effective executives know that their subordinates are paid to perform and not to please their superiors.”
“The effective executive therefore first makes sure that the job is well-designed. And if experience tells him otherwise, he does not hunt for genius to do the impossible.”
“The effective executive knows that to get strength one has to put up with weaknesses.”
“It is generally a waste of time to talk to a reader. He only listens after he has read. It is equally a waste of time to submit a voluminous report to a listener. He can only grasp what it is all about through the spoken word.”
“All in all, the effective executive tries to be himself; he does not pretend to be someone else. He looks at his own performance and at his own results and tries to discern a pattern. “What are the things,” he asks, “that I seem to be able to do with relative ease, while they come rather hard to other people?”
First Things First
“If there is any one “secret” of effectiveness, it is concentration. Effective executives do first things first and they do one thing at a time.”
“This is the “secret” of those people who “do so many things” and apparently so many difficult things. They do only one at a time. As a result, they need much less time in the end than the rest of us.”
“Effective executives do not race. They set an easy pace but keep going steadily.”
“Effective executives periodically review their work programs— and those of their associates— and ask: “If we did not already do this, would we go into it now?””
“Above all, the effective executive will slough off an old activity before he starts on a new one.”
“The job is, however, not to set priorities. That is easy. Everybody can do it. The reason why so few executives concentrate is the difficulty of setting “posteriorities”— that is, deciding what tasks not to tackle— and of sticking to the decision.”
“Setting a posteriority is also unpleasant. Every posteriority is somebody else’s top priority. It is much easier to draw up a nice list of top priorities and then to hedge by trying to do “just a little bit” of everything else as well. This makes everybody happy. The only drawback is, of course, that nothing whatever gets done.”
“Concentration— that is, the courage to impose on time and events his own decision as to what really matters and comes first— is the executive’s only hope of becoming the master of time and events instead of their whipping boy.
Elements of Decision Making
“But clear thinking about the boundary conditions is needed also to identify the most dangerous of all possible decisions: the one that might— just might— work if nothing whatever goes wrong.”
“The things one worries about never happen. And objections and difficulties no one thought about suddenly turn out to be almost insurmountable obstacles.”
“People inevitably start out with an opinion; to ask them to search for the facts first is even undesirable. They will simply do what everyone is far too prone to do anyhow: look for the facts that fit the conclusion they have already reached. And no one has ever failed to find the facts he is looking for. The good statistician knows this and distrusts all figures— he either knows the fellow who found them or he does not know him; in either case he is suspicious.”
Conclusion: Effectiveness Must Be Learned
Steps to effectiveness:
- Recording where the time goes
- Focus your vision on contribution
- Make your strengths productive and focus on using them
- Prioritize the most important things first, not necessarily the most urgent
- Take rational action
Shout out to nateliason.com for doing this written summary
Learn from one of the biggest visionaries and entrepreneurs, the mind behind Amazon.
Jeff Bezos worked at the hedge fund D.E. Shaw & Co back in the early nineties. He was a remarkable employee. He had the ability for deep analytical thinking since he was a young boy.
Upon graduating from Princeton in 1986, Bezos worked for a pair of Columbia professors at a company that developed a private transatlantic computer network for stock traders called Fitel. Bezos moved to a financial firm in 1988 but was looking for an opportunity to start his own business. Between 1989 and 1990 Bezos spend time at a startup with a young employee named Halsey Minor who would later start the online news network CNET.
Bezos’s role models and learning strategy
Minor remembers that Bezos closely studied several wealthy businesspeople and that he admired two men in particular. A man named Frank Meeks, a Virginia entrepreneur who had made a fortune with the Domino’s Pizza franchises, and the pioneering computer scientist Alan Key. Bezos often quoted Alan’s observation that “point of view is worth 80 IQ points” a reminder that looking at things in new ways can enhance one’s understanding.
Jeff also took every possibility he could to learn something. Minor said that he learned something from every person he knew. Bezos tended to think analytical about everything including relationships. He famously tried to increase his “woman flow” by taking ballroom dance classes and increase his n+ woman exposure.
Amazon’s focus on the customer
From the very beginning, it was Jeff’s priority to focus on customer satisfaction. The online store got its current name after Bezos pored through a dictionary and found the word Amazon. It resembled what he envisioned, earth’s largest river — > Earth’s largest bookstore.
Amazon’s focus on customer satisfaction leads to a continual development of new features that traditional publisher often found doubtful, like the customer reviews for instance. Traditional publishers resisted the customer review feature because they thought it would harm sales. Similarly, the decision to make a platform for individuals to sell used products met with opposition at first.
Bezos realized the potential e-commerce had over traditional businesses and explored it with features like product recommendations which pop up based on previous shopping behavior. This feature increased sales consistently as customers stumbled on relevant products they wouldn’t have discovered otherwise.
“If you want to get to the truth about what makes us different, it’s this, ” Bezos says, “We are genuinely customer-centric, we are genuinely long-term oriented, and we genuinely like to invent.
Jeff’s frugality and the company’s sometimes harsh working environment
Jeff has an obsession with frugality. He thinks that it helps Amazon concentrate on the important things like customer satisfaction. Amazon’s employees have to pay for parking permits themselves. There are no free snacks and executives are required to fly coach.
Bezos used to say “You can work long, hard, and smart, but at Amazon, you can pick only two out of three.” A young CEO liked to rephrase it to “You can work long, you can work hard, you can work smart, but at Amazon, you can’t choose two out of three.”
Over the years, Amazon has repeatedly hired tens of thousands of temporary workers on each holiday season for ten to twelve dollars an hour. Amazon’s approach is to establish fulfillment centers in economically weak areas to exploit cheap labor and the ability to fire workers once the season is over.
In colder climates, company managers skimped on the installation of air-conditioning in the fulfillment centers and instead used protocols to deal with heat waves. If temperatures spiked above 100 degrees, five minutes were added to morning and afternoon breaks, which normally were fifteen minutes long. The company also installed fans and handed out free Gatorade. But all these moves were insufficient in 2011 when a brutal heat wave lead fifteen workers were taken to the hospital due to heat-related symptoms. A newspaper reported that Amazon — in an attempt to deal with employees as they dropped — hired a private ambulance company to have paramedics stationed outside the FC’s during the heat wave.
Amazon’s management and corporate culture
Bezos insists that employees don’t use PowerPoint decks or slides in company meetings. Instead, employees have to write six-page narratives laying out their points. Bezos thinks that doing so fosters critical thinking.
New products have to be presented like documents of a press release. The goal is to frame the proposed initiative in a way a customer might hear about it the first time.
Teams at Amazon have usually fewer than ten employees per unit, following the two-pizza rule. The two-pizza rule is a quirk at Amazon, implying that no team should have more members than can be fed with two pizzas in late working hours. Bezos thinks that big meetings are unproductive and likes to replicate Darwinian principles of survival between small teams. Small teams are used to tackle Amazon’s biggest problems independently. They have to compete with each other for resources, sometimes duplicating efforts.
Jeff even went so far as to implement a “fitness function” for each group. The function was a linear equation that each team had to use to measure its impact without ambiguity. Bezos would then personally approve each equation and track each team’s evolution over time.
Bezos used this style of management as a tool to handle the complexity of his organization by breaking it down into the most basic parts, let them compete in a type of artificial evolution, and then track their progress. The goal was to attain great results but the fitness function, in particular, clashed with some fundamental aspects of human nature. Employees were uncomfortable to have to set their own framework of evaluation if they might get judged harshly by the result. The incentive was that teams ended up making their formulas ever more complex and did not help to get the job done.
Decentralization and independent decision-making over communication
Bezos often has passionate aha moments where his blood vessels are pulsing, and his face turns red. In one of these moments, he told young executives that emphasis on communication in a large organization is completely wrong. Instead, he told them that communication is a sign of dysfunction. It means that people aren’t working together in an organic, closed way. Instead of improving communication, the focus should be to figure out how to communicate less with each other, not more.
Bezos also made it clear that a hierarchy isn’t responsive to change. The emphasis should be on decentralization and independent decision-making. Coordination is wasted time and people closest to the problem usually are in the best position to solve them.
Amazon’s meetings are extremely data driven. Employees need to back their arguments up with hard data which enables unambiguous decision-making in honor of the maxim “Numbers don’t lie.”
Vision and long-term thinking
Bezos is a visionary, similarly to Elon Musk. He doesn’t shy away from temporary losses if they bring a long-term advantage to Amazon. In fact, that is how he established the Kindle as the leader in the e-book market. When Amazon first started to offer its Kindle, Bezos insisted that there should be a plethora of books already available for Kindle and that the book price should be lower than physical books. He set a flat price of $9.99 for the digital versions of books, following his gut’s call and Apple’s successful ninety-nine-cent price tag for digital files on iTunes.
Both decisions, especially the price was confronted with a lot of resistance from book publishers. First, they had to find a way to digitalize a great percentage of their books. Then they were forced to comply with the lower digital price eventually. At first, however, Amazon bought copies of the e-books for the same price as their printed equivalents, which meant that the company lost money on every book. Bezos was all right with it because he knew that he would establish Amazon as a market leader that way and book publishers would have to lower their prices sooner or later once Amazon would be the go-to marketplace for e-books.
Bezos pattern for long-term strategies then is to take short term loss to get long term advantages. He often said that Amazon had a “willingness to be misunderstood.” Jeff also said that he would take a missionary over a mercenary company every day, alluding to a concept from the 2001 business philosophy book The Monk and the Riddle. In the book, missionaries are portrayed as having righteous goals and are trying to make the world a better place, while mercenaries are pursuing money, power, and are willing to run over anyone to get it.
Bezos’ private projects
Bezos dreamed about making a huge impact on big things like space travel from an earlier age. The billionaire status he got from Amazon’s success gave him the possibility to tackle on some bold things. His secret company Blue Origin is such a program. Blue Origin works on revolutionary space travel technology and operates largely in secret.
Jeff also became the biggest financial backer of a giant, 10,000-Year Clock. The clock is a mechanical timepiece designed to last millennia, and in Bezos’ words “The symbol is important for a couple of reasons. If [humans] think long term, we can accomplish things that we wouldn’t otherwise accomplish.” In other words, Bezos believes that the human species should think in the long term and that the clock can deliver such a powerful message.
Since Amazon’s founding, Bezos has put emphasis on acting rather than overanalyzing. Overanalyzing often results in missed opportunities and lost time. Often the possible implications and outcome are not analyzable anyway. In fact, the very founding of Amazon was a giant risk which many other people wouldn’t have committed to, at least not if it means leaving a well-paid job as a hedge fund manager.
Bezos even created a “Just Do It” award for self-motivated employees who created something on their own initiative — even if it wasn’t successful — as long as they acted with resolve. The price, of course, was frugal, like winning a pair of Nike sneakers that belonged to a basketball player who worked at Amazon.
Amazon Web Services, Amazon’s expansion
Once Amazon was established as an online book retailer, Bezos could focus on expansion, something he wanted to do from the beginning. After all, Amazon was destined to become the everything store.
Amazon expanded to the music, film, electronics and toys industry. One particular revolutionary invention was Amazon Web Services or AWS in short. AWS turned into the first successful, widely used, commercial cloud computing platform. Business and organizations like NASA, the US government, and the CIA all started using AWS.
It all began in 2002 when O’Reilly and other publishers had a need to track their book rankings on Amazon. O’Reilly presented a tool called Amarank to Bezos. It consisted of a web scrapper, a clunky process in which an algorithm parses a website, trying to isolate interesting data. The process is inefficient and buggy, which is why O’Reilly suggested to Jeff, that Amazon should develop application programming interfaces or API’s. API’s are tools which allow third parties to communicate with an application in a clean way, for example, to harvest data about prices, products, and sales ranking.
Following O’Reilly’s request, Bezos arranged meetings with his Associates and even invited O’Reilly to speak to his engineers about the importance of becoming a platform. Bezos himself quickly adopted the Web’s philosophy of openness and preached inside Amazon about how these new tools would enable developers to surprise them with new ideas.
Bezos’ focus on this new approach also happened due to his love for a book called Creation, by Steve Grand, the developer of the 1990’s game called Creatures. The game allowed players to guide and nurture organisms which had a simple form of artificial intelligence or AI. Grand wrote that his approach to AI was to focus on designing simple computational building blocks called primitives. And then let them interact and create complex, surprising behavior. Grand wrote that sophisticated AI could emerge from cybernetic primitives through evolution.
The book was widely discussed at Amazon and formed the basis of a new philosophy of the company’s own infrastructure. To foster creativity, Amazon should emulate nature’s principle of evolution, that is, create the primitives necessary for developers to create something interesting, and then get out of the way. Instead of trying to guess what services developers might want.
The primitives would form small, flexible and simple components for developers to work with. Bezos’ approach was that developers are like alchemists, and he wanted to do everything possible to let them do their alchemy without getting in their way.
Of course, Jeff’s vision for Amazon goes muchfarther. He plans to expand to the grocery business (Amazon Fresh), aswell as getting into the Smartphone, television, and 3D printing business, toname a few. One thing is for sure, as long as Bezos is in charge, Amazon willcontinue to move, evolve, and do things in unusual ways.
Shout out to karlbooklover.com for doing this written summaryT
HIGH PERFORMANCE HABITS by BRENDON BURCHARD
- Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit. (Aristotle)
- This book is about how people become extraordinary, and why others block themselves for possibility.
- Achievers fight long and hard to succeed, propelling themselves forward by grit and hustle. And then, at some point they could never have anticipated, they plateau, lose passion, or burn out.
- With the right training and habits, anyone can become a high performer.
- High performers have systems built into their days that drive their success. Systems are what separate the pro from the novice.
WHAT’S NOT WORKING
- Work hard
- Be passionate
- Focus on your strengths
- Practice a lot
- Stick to it
- Be grateful
- Life is precious beyond words, and when you get a second chance – and every morning, every decision, can be that second chance – take a moment to define who you really are and what you really want.
- Live. Love. Matter. That is my mantra.
- With the right habits, anyone can dramatically increase results and become a high performer in almost any field of endeavour.
- High performance is not achieved by a specific kind of person, but rather by a specific set of practices, which I call high performance habits.
Not all habits are created equal
- It turns out that there are bad, good, better, and best habits for realizing your full potential in your life and career.
- Achievement is not your problem – alignment is.
- What’s achievable is not always what’s important.
Certainty is the enemy of growth and high performance.
- Certainty ultimately blinds you, sets false or fixed limits, and creates “automatic” habits that become predictable bad thinking and openings for your competitors to surpass you.
- High performers outgrow their youthful need for certainty and replace it with curiosity and genuine self-confidence.
What is High Performance?
- High performance refers to succeeding beyond standard norms, consistently over the long term.
- High performers break the norms. They’re consistently exceeding the standard expectations and results.
- You simply can’t beat the norms if you’ve driven yourself into the ground. As it turns out, high performers’ sustained success is due in large part to their healthy approach to living.
What we Know about High Performers
- High performers are more successful than their peers, yet they are less stressed.
- High performers love challenges and are more confident that they will achieve their goals despite adversity.
- High performers are healthier than their peers.
- High performers are happy.
- High performers are admired.
- High performers get better grades and reach higher positions of success.
- High performers work passionately regardless of traditional rewards.
- High performers are assertive (for the right reasons).
- High performers see and serve beyond their strengths.
- High performers are uniquely productive – they’ve mastered prolific quality output.
- High performers are adaptive servant leaders.
- Habits are created when we do something so many times that it becomes almost automatic.
- For example, after doing it a few times, it’s easy to tie your shoes, drive a car, type on a keyboard. You can now do those things without much thought. You’ve done them so many times, they became automatic routines.
- Deliberate habits. These must be consciously chosen, willed into existence, and continually revisited to strengthen your character and increase your odds of success.
- Deliberate habits usually won’t come easily.
- When you knock on the door of opportunity do not be surprised that is Work who answers.
- Just as athletes never quit training, high performers never stop consciously conditioning and strengthening their habits.
- To succeed, always remember that the main things is to keep the main thing the main thing.
BEYOND NATURAL: THE QUEST FOR HIGH PERFORMANCE
- Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself. (William Faulkner)
- Success in general, in almost any endeavour, is made possible by malleable factors – things you can change and improve with effort. For example:
- The mindset you choose to adopt
- The focus you give to your passions, and the persistence you pursue them with
- The amount of practice you dedicate yourself to
- The way you understand and treat others
- The discipline and constancy with which you strive for your goals
- The way you bounce back from losses
- The amount of physical exercise you do keep your brain and body fit and your overall well-being cared for
- Success is achieved not by a specific type of person but rather by people from all walks of life who enact a specific set of practices.
FINDING WHAT MATTERS
- Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going. (Jim Rohn)
- High performers do things differently from the way others do, and their practices can be replicated across projects (and almost any situation) regardless of your personality, past, or preferences.
SIX HIGH PERFORMANCE HABITS, or HP6.
- 1. Seek clarity on who you want to be, how you want to interact with others, what you want, and what will bring you the greatest meaning.
- 2. Generate energy so that you can maintain focus, effort, and wellbeing.
- 3. Raise the necessity for exceptional performance. This means actively tapping into the reasons you absolutely must perform well.
- 4. Increase productivity in your primary field of interest. Specifically, focus on prolific quality output (PQO) in the area in which you want to be known and to drive impact.
- 5. Develop influence with those around.
- 6. Demonstrate courage by expressing your ideas, taking bold action, and standing up for yourself and others.
- Seek clarity. Generate energy. Raise necessity. Increase productivity. Develop Influence. Demonstrate Courage. These are the six habits that you need to adopt if you are to reach high performance in any situation.
- Effectiveness in life does not come from focusing on what is automatic, easy, or natural for us. Rather, it is the result of how we consciously strive to meet life’s harder challengers, grow beyond out comforts, and deliberately work to overcome our biases and preferences, so that we may understand, love, serve, and lead others.
- It’s about rising to serve a mission, not the mission bowing down to match limited strengths.
- If you have great ambitions to contribute extraordinary things, you’ll have to grow and stretch far beyond what’s natural to you. To rise to high performance, you’ll have to work on the weaknesses, develop entirely new skill sets beyond what you find easy or what you “like to do”.
A RISING TIDE LIFTS ALL BOATS – ONE HABIT LIFTS ALL OTHERS
- We like to think of the HP6 as “meta-habits” because they make all other good habits in life fall into place.
- Each improvement in any one area improves the others.
- Start with the end in mind. Start bringing your full attention to the moments of your life. Start bringing more joy. Start bringing more confidence. These things will not only make your feel better, they’ll also help you perform better.
SECTION ONE: PERSONAL HABITS
HIGH PERFORMANCE HABIT #1: SEEK CLARITY
- If you don’t have clarity of ideas, you’re just communicating sheer sound. (Yo-Yo Ma)
- The essential habit of seeking clarity helps high performers keep engaged, growing, and fulfilled over the long haul.
- Compared with their peers, high performers have more clarity on who they are, what they want, how to get it, and what they find meaningful and fulfilling.
- You generate your reality. In this same line of thinking, you don’t “have” clarity; you generate it.
- Clarity is the child of careful thought and mindful experimentation. It comes from asking yourself questions continually and further refining your perspective on life.
- Clarity research tells us that successful people know the answers to certain fundamental questions: Who am I? (What do I value? What are my strengths and weaknesses?) What are my goals? What’s my plan?
- Self-awareness is so key to initial success. You have to know who you are, what you value, what your strengths and weaknesses are, and where you want to go. This kind of knowledge makes you feel better about yourself and about life.
- You should also give yourself deadlines for your goals, or you won’t follow through. Studies show that having a specific plan attached to your goals – knowing when and where you will do something – can more than double the likelihood of achieving a challenging goal.
- Highest performers had a great ability to focus on the future and define how they would achieve excellence. They didn’t just know who they were; indeed, they rarely focused on their present personality or preferences. Instead, they consistently thought about who they wanted to be and how to become that.
PRACTICE ONE: ENVISION THE FUTURE FOUR
- High performers are clear on their intentions for themselves, their social world, their skills, and their service to others. I call these areas self, social, skills, and service, or the Future Four.
- Simple things you can do: Be more intentional about who you want to become. Have vision beyond your current circumstances. Imagine your best future self, and start acting like that person today.
- What is apparent across all high performers is that they anticipate positive social interactions and they strive consciously and consistently to create them.
- High performers are also working on skills that focus on what I call their primary field of interest (PFI). If they love music, they laser in on what kind of music they want to learn, and then study it. Their PFI is specific.
- High performers approach their learning not as generalists but as specialists.
- Look to the future. Identify key skills. Obsessively develop those skills.
- If you leave your growth to randomness, you’ll always live in the land of mediocrity.
- Clarifying your PFI and the skills you need to master for your next level of success must be a priority.
- How can I serve people with excellence and make an extraordinary contribution to the world?
PRACTICE TWO: DETERMINE THE FEELING YOU’RE AFTER
- The second practice that will help you heighten and sustain clarity in your life is to ask yourself frequently, “What is the primary feeling I want to bring to this situation, and what is the primary feeling I want to get from this situation?”
- My automatic emotions don’t have to be in charge. My feelings are my own.
- High performers are generating the feelings they want more often than taking the emotions that land on them.
PRACTICE THREE: DEFINE WHAT’S MEANINGFUL
- High performers can do almost anything they set their heart and mind to. But not every mountain is worth the climb. What differentiates high performers from others is their critical eye in figuring out what is going to be meaningful to their life experience. They spend more of their time doing things that they find meaningful, and this makes them happy.
- High performers tended to equate four factors with meaning.
- First, they linked enthusiasm with meaning.
- The second link to meaning was connection.
- Third, high performers relate satisfaction with meaning.
- Passion + Growth + Contribution = Personal Satisfaction
- The fourth way that high performers say their efforts have meaning is by making them feel that their life “makes sense.”
- Enthusiasm + Connection + Satisfaction + Coherence = Meaning
- You need to bring more conscious and consistent thought to what you will find meaningful in life.
- Focus on these things more consistently than you ever have before. That’s what moves the needle. With greater focus will come greater clarity, and with greater clarity will come more consistent action and, ultimately, high performance.
HIGH PERFORMANCE HABIT #2: GENERATE ENERGY
- It takes a lot of energy to succeed over the long haul. High performers have the magical trifecta of capital “E” Energy – that holistic kind that includes positive and enduring mental, physical, and emotional vibrancy. It’s the key to force that helps them perform better in many areas of their life. It’s why high performers have so much more passion, stamina, and motivation. If you can tap into the capital “E” Energy stored within, the world is yours.
- Low energy correlates with lower overall high performance scores.
- Energy is also positively related to educational attainment, creativity, and assertiveness.
- The more energy someone has, the more likely they are to be happy and climb to the top of their primary field of interest.
- Stress is the ultimate energy and well-being killer.
PRACTICE ONE: RELEASE TENSION, SET INTENTION
- The easiest fastest, and most effective way to help them increase their energy is to teach them to master transitions.
- What do I mean by transitions? Well, every morning when you wake up and start your day, you experience a transition from rest to activation. The start of your day is a transition.
- Our days comprise a series of transitions.
- Release Tension, Set Intention.
PRACTICE TWO: BRING THE JOY
- Bring more joy into your daily life.
- Positive emotion, in general, is one of the greatest predictors of the good life – high energy and high performance. People with more positive emotion have more satisfying marriages, make more money, and have better health.
- You’ve heard it said that showing up is 80 percent of success? Well, if you want to be a high performer, show up and bring the joy.
- Only you are in charge of your enduring emotional experience.
- High performers will themselves into positive states. Just as athletes do specific things to get themselves into “the zone,” high performers consciously cultivate joy.
TRIGGERS TO SET UP
- The first trigger to set is, put an alarm on your phone that reads BRING THE JOY! Bring joy to every moment.
- The second trigger to set is the Door frame trigger. Every time you walk through a doorway, say to yourself, “I will find the good in this room. I’m entering this space happy man ready to serve.”
- The third trigger to set up is the “waiting trigger”. Whenever you are waiting in line to buy something, ask yourself, “What level of presence and vibration do I feel right now, on scale of 1 through 10?”
- The fifth trigger is the “gift trigger.” Whenever something positive happens around me, I say “What a gift!”
- To complement the triggers, begin an evening journaling activity in which you write down three things that made you feel good during the day. Then take just a few moments to close your eyes and actually relive them.
- Gratitude is the granddaddy of all positive emotion. There’s perhaps no better way to increase ongoing happiness than to start a gratitude practice.
- Gratitude is the golden frame through which we see the meaning of life.
- High performers cultivate joy by how they think, what they focus on, and how they engage in and reflect on their days. It’s a choice. They bend their will and behaviors to generate joy.
PRACTICE THREE – OPTIMIZE HEALTH
- We all know what to do to increase our physical energy, because by now it’s common sense. Exercise – work out more. Nutrition – eat healthier food. Sleep – aim for seven to eight hours.
HIGH PERFORMANCE HABIT #3 RAISE NECESSITY
- The most powerful drives of human motivation and excellence: performance necessity
- Necessity is the emotional drive that makes great performance a must instead of a preference.
- Necessity inspires a higher sense of motivation than usual because personal identity is engaged, creating a sense of urgency to act.
- When this emotional drive of necessity doesn’t exist, no tactic, tool, or strategy can help you.
- You cannot become extraordinary without a sense that it’s absolutely necessary to excel.
- The Four Forces of Necessity: identity, obsession, duty, and urgency.
- We humans have a lot of internal forces shaping our behaviour: your values; expectations; dreams; goals; and need for safety, belonging, congruence, and growth, to name but a few. Think of these internal forces as an internal guidance system that urges you to stay “who you are” and grow into your best self. They are forces that continually shape and reshape your identity and behaviors throughout your life.
- High Personal Standard and Commitment to Excellence.
- “The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavour.” Vince Lombardi
- When we do what aligns with our future identity, we are more driven and likely to do a great job.
- People who set goals and regularly self-monitor are almost two and a half times more likely to attain their goals.
- High performers care even more about excellence and thus put more effort into their activates than others do.
- Self-monitoring is what high performers do vs underperformers, on the other hand, are often less self-aware aware and sometimes oblivious to their behaviour and their results.
- People who set goals and regularly self-monitor are almost two and a half times more likely to attain their goals.
- They also develop more accurate plans and feel more motivated to follow through on them.
- If you set a goal and don’t track your progress, you’re almost sure to fail.
- High performers are happier than their peers, perceive that they have less stress than their peers, and feel that they’re making a greater difference and are being well rewarded for those efforts. They feel this way because they feel that they’re on the right path. And they feel that they’re on the right path because they frequently check in with themselves.
- The goal for all underperformers must be to set new standards, self-monitor more frequently, and learn to become comfortable with taking a hard, unflinching look at their own performance.
- Decades of research has shown that people who set difficult and specific goals outperform people who set vague and non-challenging goals.
- High performers’ dreams of living extraordinary lives aren’t mere wishes and hopes. They make their dream a necessity. Their future identity is tied to it, and they expect themselves to make it happen. And so they do.
- High performers have Grit, which is a combination of passion and perseverance.
- People who become world-class at anything focus longer and harder on their craft.
- If you can stay highly emotionally engaged and laser focused over the long term, you get into the territory of obsession.
- To win, one must first begin.
- Plunge into the unknown and be reckless, that’s where the treasure lies.
- High performers spend an enormous amount of time thinking about and doing their obsession(s).
- EXTERNAL FORCES
- There are three primary positive external forces that exert the kind of motivation or pressure that improves performance. Social Duty, Obligation and Purpose.
- Nothing motivates like a hard deadline.
- “Without a sense of urgency, desire loses its value” (Jim Rohn)
- High performers are more focuses on doing what really matters when it matters
- Having a deadline helps people focus on activity.
- To keep the fire going you need to add necessity to identity, obsession, duty, deadline.
- We change and improve over time only when we must. When the internal and external forces on us are strong enough, we make it happen.
- Three practices that can fire up a greater sense of necessity.
- PRACTICE ONE: KNOW WHO NEEDS YOU’RE A GAME
- Choose a high-performance identity. Immerse yourself fully in activities that force you to stretch.
- Bring you’re a game for some else. Look beyond your individual performance or feelings and connect with a reason to be your best for others. Find somebody or something worth fighting for.
- PRACTICE TWO: AFFIRM THE WHY
- The moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves, too. (Goethe)
- Affirm your goals to yourself and others.
- To affirm is to declare or strongly assert something as valid or confirmed. It is saying with confidence that something is true or will happen.
- Affirm your why to yourself, by literally talking to yourself using affirmations.
- When we verbalize something, it becomes more real and important to us. It becomes more necessary for us to live in alignment with that truth. So the next time you want to increase your performance necessity, declare – to yourself and to others – what you want and why you want it.
- PRACTICE THREE: LEVEL UP YOUR SQUAD
- “Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.” (Amy Poehler)
- Spend more time with the best people in your peer group, and less with the more negative members.
- Get around new people who expect and value high performance.
- Expand your peer group to include more people who have greater expertise or success than you, and spend more time with them.
- There is power in your peer group.
- None of us is shackled to our past or environment. We have tremendous personal control over the factors that improve our lives and performance.
- Make a conscious effort to surround yourself with positive, nourishing, and uplifting people – people who believe in you, encourage you to go after your dreams, and applaud your victories. (Jack Canfield)
- 1. Add one more awesome friend.
- 2. Volunteer
- 3. Play sports
- 4. Seek mentorship
- 5. Earn it
- SECTION TWO: SOCIAL HABITS
- HIGH PERFORMANCE HABIT #4: INCREASE PRODUCTIVITY
- “Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” (Andy Warhol)
- One of the worst feelings in the world is to be incredibly busy but feel that you’re not making any progress.
- Busywork isn’t your life work.
- “The day is always his who works with serenity and great aims.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
- The fundamentals of becoming more productive are setting goals and maintaining energy and focus. No goals, no focus, no energy – and you’re dead in the water.
- Almost everything you do to take good care of yourself matters in increasing your high performance. Good sleep, nutrition, and exercise are huge enhancers of productivity.
- Happier people are more productive.
- If you’re going to be productive, you’ve got to maintain focus.
- Multitasking itself is a distraction.
- Interruptions is another big culprit.
- The great mistake most people make is to think of balance in terms of evenly distributed hours.
- Their expectation is a quality expectation versus a quantity expectation, and anytime we confuse the two, we get into trouble.
- Instead of trying to balance hours, try to balance happiness or progress in your major life areas.
- Organize your life into ten distinct categories: health, family, friends, intimate relationship (partner or marriage), mission/work, finances, adventure, hobby, spirituality, and emotion.
- Rate your happiness on a scale of 1 through 10 and write your goals in each of these ten areas every Sunday night.
- If you aren’t consistently measuring the major areas of your life, then you couldn’t possibly know what the balance you seek is or is not.
- It’s not about the hours you spend but about the harmony you feel.
- You’ll always feel out of balance if you’re doing work that you don’t find engaging and meaningful.
- For optimal productivity, you should not only take longer breaks – claim your vacation time – but also give yourself intermittent breaks throughout the day.
- Stop your work and give your mind and body a break every 45 to 60 minutes.
- A break of just 2 to 5 minutes every hour can help you feel much more mentally alert and energized for your work and life overall.
- By slowing down or taking a break once in a while, you work faster, leaving more time for other areas of life.
- PRACTICE ONE: INCREASE THE OUTPUTS THAT MATTER
- “Nothing is less productive than to make more efficient what should not be done at all.” (Peter Drucker)
- If you want to become extraordinary, you need to figure out the productive outputs that matter in your field or industry.
- High performers have mastered the art of prolific quality output (PQO).
- Real work is producing quality output that matters.
- Figuring out what you are supposed to produce, and learning the priorities in the creation, quality, and frequency of that output, is one of the greatest breakthroughs you can have in your career.
- Spend 60 percent of your workweek oriented to your PQO.
- PRACTICE TWO: CHART YOUR FIVE MOVES
- “I believe half the unhappiness in life comes from people being afraid to go straight at things.” (William Locke)
- To become a high performer requires thinking more before acting.
- Think of the most ambitious dream you’d like to take on, identify what you really want, then ask yourself: “If there were only five major moves to make that goal happen, what would they be?”
- Know the big five moves that will take you to your goal, break those moves down into tasks and deadlines, then put then in a calendar.
- The magic of knowing your Five Moves. By knowing the first major activity, then the second, then the third, then the fourth, then the fifth, you have a map, a plan, a clear path forward. You don’t get distracted.
- It doesn’t matter whether you know how to achieve your Five Moves at first. The important thing is that for every major goal you have, you figure out the Five Moves. If you don’t know the moves, you lose.
- PRACTICE THREE: GET INSANELY GOOD AT KEY SKILLS
- To become more productive, become more competent. You have to master the primary skills needed to win in your primary field of interest.
- Determine the five major skills you need to develop over the next three years to grow into the person you hope to become.
- Everything is trainable. No matter what skill you want to learn, with enough training and practice and intention, you can become more proficient at it.
- You can get better at practically anything if you keep a growth mindset (the belief that you can improve with effort), focus on your goals with passion and perseverance, and practice with excellence.
- “Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.” (Pablo Picasso)
- HIGH PERFORMANCE HABIT #5: DEVELOP INFLUENCE
- “We’re not who we say we are, we’re not who we want to be. We are the sum of the influence and impact that we have, in our lives, on others.” (Cal Sagan)
- Having influence is the ability to shape other people’s beliefs and behaviours as you desire.
- It means you can get people to believe in you or your ideas, but from you, follow you, to take actions that you request of them.
- One reason people struggle to gain influence in their personal and professional lives is that they simply don’t ask for what they want.
- People drastically underestimate the willingness of others to engage and help.
- You never know until you ask.
- Underperformers fail to ask all the time.
- If you want more influence, ask and ask often.
- In all the asking, don’t forget to give. In just about any area of endeavour, giving to others with no expectation of return increases your overall success.
- You can double your ability to influence others by giving before you ask for something.
- High performers have a giving mindset. The enter almost every situation looking for way to help others.
- “Blessed is the influence of one true, loving human soul on another.” (George Eliot)
- To gain influence with others, (1) teach them how to think about themselves, others, and the world; (2) challenge them to develop their character, connections, and contributions; and (3) role model the values you wish to see them embody.
- PRACTICE ONE: TEACH PEOPLE HOW TO THINK
- There are three things you want your people thinking about: themselves, other people, and the greater world (meaning, how the world works, what it needs, where it’s headed, and how certain actions might affect it).
- PRACTICE TWO: CHALLENGE PEOPLE TO GROW
- Influencers challenge others in three realms. First, they challenge their character. The second area where you can challenge others concerns their connections with others – their relationships. High performers are explicit in their expectations for how people should treat each other. The third area where you can challenge others is in their contributions. You push them to add more value or to be generous.
- PRACTICE THREE: ROLE MODEL THE WAY
- “Example is leadership.” (Albert Schweitzer)
- High performers think about how to act so that others might follow them or help them achieve a specific outcome.
- High performers have a laser-focused intention on how they can act in a way that gets someone to improve who they are or achieve a specific result.
- If you want to be respected, you have to give the same respect.
- What if our real ability to be truly influential is our ability to be influenced?
- “You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.” (Zig Ziglar)
- HIGH PERFORMANCE HABIT #6: DEMONSTRATE COURAGE
- High performers are courageous people.
- Individuals who have developed greater courage in life also tend to have more clarity, energy, necessity, productivity, and influence.
- Courage sometimes is taking the first step toward a real change in an unpredictable world.
- High performers report taking action despite fear much more than others do.
- People think of courage as a human virtue that some have others don’t. But that’s incorrect. Courage is more like a skill, since anyone can learn it.
- “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.” (Mark Twain)
- Courage is not fearlessness; it is taking action and persisting despite that fear.
- But courage can lead to fearlessness in many domains.
- The more experience you have in facing your fear, the less fear and stress you will feel.
- You are capable of remarkable things that you could never foretell and will never discover without taking action.
- PRACTICE ONE: HONOR THE STRUGGLE
- “Success is giving 100 percent of your effort, body, mind, and soul to the struggle. (John Wooden)
- We’re surrounded by memes and media and influencers telling us we’re not supposed to struggle, that life should just be an easy flow or we’re on the wrong track.
- To achieve excellence requires hard work, discipline, routines that can become boring, the continual frustrations that accompany learning, adversities that test every measure of our heart and soul, and, above all, courage.
- No one who achieved greatness avoided struggle.
- When we learn to see struggle as a necessary, important, and positive part of our journey, then we can find true peace and personal power.
- Those with a fixed mindset are five times more likely to avoid challenges than those with a growth mindset.
- There are only two narratives in the human story: struggle and progress. And you can’t have the latter without the former.
- To excel, you must teach yourself to view struggle as a stepping-stone to strength and higher performance.
- Embrace the suck
- Know you will make it through. Trust that things turn out.
- PRACTICE TWO: SHARE YOUR TRUTH AND AMBITIONS
- Express your own truth and pursue your own dreams.
- Judgement will always be there, just as there will always be cloudy days. Don’t let their criticisms sway you from your convictions. If you believe in your dream, stay on your path. You need no permission beyond that tingling hope in your soul.
- “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one will go.” (T.S. Eliot)
- Some people worry that being their best, they would make others feel insufficient. They were fearful of expressing their true ambitions, joy, and powers, because the people around them could feel bad about themselves.
- Do not dare play small, do not feel guilt because you have high aims. Those dreams were seeded in your soul for a reason, and it is your duty to honour them. Do not hold back in life.
- No one can quiet you without your permission. No one can minimize your self-image but you. And no one can open you up and release your full power but you.
- Ultimately, you must ask which your life is about: fear or freedom? One choice is the cage. The other – that’s courage.
- A successful person fails to achieve the next level of success because they chose to strive in silence.
- If you don’t ask for help, the right people can’t come into your life.
- Make it a daily practice to share your thoughts and goals and feelings with others. Every day share something with someone about what you really think and want in life.
- What do you want to share? Whatever it is, share it. Then take bold action each day to bring it to reality.
- PRACTICE THREE: FIND SOMEONE TO FIGHT FOR
- “I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.” (Albert Schweitzer)
- High performers will do more for others than for themselves. And in doing something for others, they find their reason for courage, and their cause for focus and excellence.
- In general people do things for noble causes beyond themselves. For high performers, that noble cause usually happens to be just one person or a few people.
- “Courage and perseverance have a magical talisman, before which difficulties disappear, and obstacles vanish into air.” (John Quincy Adams)
- The kinds of courageous acts that you are proud of at the end of your life are those in which you faced uncertainty and real risk, with real stakes, when doing something for a cause or person beyond yourself, without any assurance of safety, reward, or success.
- SECTION THREE: SUSTAINING SUCCESS
- HIGH PERFORMANCE KILLERS: BEWARE THREE TRAPS
- The real traps are internal – negative patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving that slowly kill our humanity, zest, and well-being. The traps are superiority, dissatisfaction, and neglect.
- TRAP #1: SUPERIORITY
- Superiority has no positive connotation in a healthy mind.
- Superiority draws us off track a quarter inch at a time.
- All isolation is ultimately self-imposed.
- Most high performers think they are not “at the top”. Most feel like they’re just getting started.
- You can’t maximize your potential while minimizing others.
- A large part of the differentiation in performance come down to habits.
- The major thing that made the difference was not a person’s innate talents, but the hours of exposure and deliberate practice.
- Don’t judge others as below you or separate from you.
- Everything is trainable.
- You were once a mess, too, or did you forget already?
- When you start seeing others as wrong or inadequate for life, then you’ve fallen so far into the trap of superiority that you are in danger of destroying your connection with others, and your ability to lead.
- Superior-minded people are certain they are better, more capable, more deserving. And it’s that certainty that closes their minds to learning, connection with others, and ultimately, growth. The more you absolutely believe anything, the more likely you are to become blinded to new perspectives and opportunities.
- First step is awareness and staying humble.
- Humility is a foundational virtue that enables many other virtues to grow.
- Never forget, people can perceive you to be superior minded when you don’t engage with them, even if it’s not your true intent or spirit.
- TRAP #2: DISSATISFACTION
- Satisfaction must accompany striving for optimal performance. Those who are never satisfied are never at peace.
- Ultimately, the dark, exhausting, negative emotional prison that is constant dissatisfaction saps performance. Perennial dissatisfaction is the first step on the path to misery.
- People who feel a sense of play, not dissatisfaction, perform better in almost every field of Endeavor. Play is not indulgent; it’s crucial to creativity, health, healing, and happiness.
- Make peace with yourself. You’ve been through enough. Yesterday did not make it through last night, and this morning’s sunlight belongs to a fresh new day.
- If you love what you’re doing and you feel you’re on your right path, when do you get to just feel good about that for a moment?
- If your aim is to maintain high performance, please, allow yourself to feel the wins again. Don’t just hope to arrive somewhere someday and finally feel satisfied. Strive satisfied.
- TRAP #3: NEGLECT
- Neglect is a trap that sneaks up on you. It’s more that passion or busyness blinds you to what’s important, just long enough for things to fall apart.
- In single-minded pursuit of achievement and mastery in one area of life, you take your eyes off the other areas. Soon, those areas fight back for more attention.
- Obsession in one area of life hurts another area, setting off a negative cascade of events and feelings that eventually unseats the high performer.
- One cause is Obliviousness. It means you are so focused in one area that you are completely unaware of the growing problems in another.
- Intense hard work sustained for too long becomes workaholism, creating work-home conflict, which hurts the well-bring of the workaholic and the family members.
- There are always warning signs along the road to disaster. We just have to pay attention.
- The second cause of neglect is Overreaching. It’s an issue of going for too much, too fast, in too many domains.
- According to the high performers who failed to maintain their success, overreaching was a problem that stemmed from an insatiable desire for more, couple with an unrealistic sense of what is possible in a short time frame, which led to overcommitment. In other words, it was an issue of going for too much, too fast, in too many domains.
- Focus on just a few things and the people and priorities you really care about, and you won’t fall prey to overreaching.
- Broaden your ambitions too widely, and your appetite soon outstrips your abilities.
- The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.
- Slow down, be more strategic, and say no more often.
- It’s a short hop from badass to burnout.
- Rather than live a reactive lifestyle, you take ownership of your day.
- Slowing down means taking the time to care about your schedule.
- Cramming your day so full that you have no time for thought or rejuvenation just makes you tired and irritable. And no one credits fatigue and a bad mood for their world-class performance.
- Say no to almost every opportunity in your mind first, then force yourself to justify it before ever giving a yes.
- More yeses can start hurting you. No keeps you focused.
- Don’t forget the positive habits that brought you to this level of success, and do not neglect the habits that you now know will take you to the next level.
- THE #1 THING
- “They are able who think they are able.” (Virgil)
- Confidence is the secret ingredient that makes you rise to the challenge.
- High performers worldwide strongly agree with this statement more than their peers: I’m confident I can achieve my goals despite challenges or resistance.
- When someone is more confident, they consistently have greater clarity, energy, productivity, influence, necessity, and courage.
- Confidence is a powerful gateway to so much of what we want in life.
- Confidence often called self-efficacy predicts exceptional performance and happiness.
- The more confident you are, the less likely you are to feel burnout from work.
- The more you believe in your ability to perform well, the more likely you are to do things that protect, restore, and improve your health.
- THE 3 C’S OF CONFIDENCE
- “Self-confidence is the first requisite to great undertakings.” (Samuel Johnson)
- PRACTICE #1: DEVELOP COMPETENCE
- “As is our confidence, so is our capacity.” (William Hazlitt)
- The more knowledge, skill, ability, or talent – that is, competence, you have at a given task, the more likely you are to be confident and perform well.
- The more competence you get at any given task, the more confident you’ll become in trying it more often – and the more you’ll stretch yourself. That repetition and stretching leads to more learning, which gives you more competence.
- Confidence is not a fixed personality trait. It’s a muscle you build through exertion.
- High performers are learners, and their belief that they can learn what is necessary to win in the future gives them as much confidence as their current skill sets.
- The competency that matters is the ability to become competent.
- High performers ponder the lessons from their wins. They give credit to themselves, and they allow those wins to integrate into their psyche and give them greater strength.
- PRACTICE #2: BE CONGRUENT
- “Self-trust is the first secret of success.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
- They shaped their identity by conscious will and have aligned their thoughts, feelings, and behaviours to support that identity.
- Confidence comes from being truthful with yourself and others. You have to avoid the little lies that can easily tear at the fabric of your character.
- PRACTICE #3: ENJOY CONNECTING
- “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you. (Dale Carnegie)
- High performers have learned the tremendous value in relating with others. They’ve discovered that it is by connecting with others that they learn more about themselves and the world. It’s their connection with others that inspires greater congruence and competence.
- If you can summon that curiosity and talk to enough people with that intention, you will gain confidence.
- A FORMULA AND FAREWELL FOR NOW
- “As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.” (Johann von Goethe)
- Curiosity x (Competence + Congruence + Connection) = Confidence
- Curiosity itself can improve your well-being.
- THE 6 HIGH PERFORMANCE PRACTICES
- 1. Seek Clarity
- 2. Generate Energy
- 3. Raise the necessity
- 4. Increase productivity
- 5. Develop influence
- 6. Demonstrate courage
- These are the six habits that you need to adopt to reach high performance and stay there. These are the habits that will make you more confident in life and even more extraordinary.
- You became extraordinary because you chose to.
In “Is It True?,” the fourthchapter of her extraordinarily popular 1984 classic “You Can Heal Your Life,”Louise Hay seems to have put down in writing a justification for her book:
I have never understood the importance of having children memorize battle dates. It seems like such a waste of mental energy. Instead, we could teach them important subjects such as How the Mind Works, How to Handle Finances, How to Invest Money for Financial Security, How to be a Parent, How to Create Good Relationships, and How to Create and Maintain Self-Esteem and Self-Worth.
Can you imagine what a whole generation of adults would be like if they had been taught these subjects in school along with their regular curriculum?
In “You Can Heal Your Life” – a seminal work in the field of self-help literature – Hay has attempted to write a book for this new generation of adults, a sort of an alternative curriculum to life and everything else.
The main premise is very simple:
Everything is connected, and you can change your world by sheer mental power – from your body to your well-being to the nature of your very spirit.
Sounds too Secret-like?
That’s because it is!
Hay’s influence on subsequent authors in the genre is immeasurable – after all, her books have sold over 50 million copies – so don’t be too surprised to learn that you are already familiar with some of her ideas.
The gist of them is presented in the introductory chapter, “What I Believe,” which comprises the first part of this book on its own.
Its opening sentence has been quoted so many times that it has become an anthological one:
What we think about ourselves becomes the truth for us.
In other words, we are responsible for everything that is happening to us, since “the thoughts we think and the words we speak create our experiences.”
The root of all problems?
The innermost belief Louise Hay considers the main culprit for everything bad in your life?
A very simple, but, unfortunately, tremendously powerful thought:
I’m not good enough!
According to whose standards?
And to whom?
To make matters worse, this is as true as much as you believe in it.
Because it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy: you make yourself not good enough by thinking that you are not. While you are sleeping, walking, talking, or doing any of your obligatory everyday activities – your mind relays this message to the Universe, and the Universe does everything in its power to transform it into reality.
The good news:
You can reverse this!
And Louise Hay provides you with an eight-chapter’ long psychoanalytical session, coupled with preparatory affirmations, relevant exercises and treatments, and a closing mantra.
The mantra always opens with “In the infinity of life where I am, all is perfect, whole, and complete” and concludes with the ever wonderful “All is well in my world.”
This comprises the second part of “You Can Heal Your Life” in which you can learn in detail about the true origin of this problem and what you should do to transcend it and start building your life anew.
Needless to say, the belief that you are not good enough or that you don’t deserve happiness stems from your early childhood years, when you had been inadvertently exposed to this kind of beliefs shared by the adults around you.
For the simple reason that your parents and their friends are actually not too dissimilar to you.
A quick rational check of these traditional beliefs should be enough to tell you how wrong they are: boys do cry, and women can handle money.
And even though they are untrue, these beliefs limit your vistas.
To transcend them, start examining them one by one more regularly and let go of the false ones the minute you realize their inaccuracy.
Next, try shifting your mindset from “I should” to “I could” so that “I should start exercising” transforms into “I can start exercising today.”
Adorn this with another important change: turn the negative affirmations into positive ones.
For example, “I don’t want to be fat” should become “I am slender” and “I don’t want to be lonely” is, from now on, “I am filled with love and affection.”
Much like David Hooper’s “Ask, Believe, Receive” is to Rhonda Byrne’s “The Secret,” the third part of “You Can Heal Your Life” is to the second one of this book.
Namely, a practical step-by-step tutorial teaching you how you can put the ideas just presented to work.
Hay has chosen pretty much the same categories as Hooper, teaching you, in very brief lessons, how you can harmonize all your relationships and how you can be deeply fulfilled by your work, in addition to how you can be more successful and experience more prosperity.
Possibly the most famous chapters of the book are the 14th and the 15th in which Hay postulates her theory that “we create every so-called illness in our body,” since it, our body, “like everything else in life, is a mirror of our inner thoughts and beliefs.”
And she tops her theoretical explanation with a long list in which she states the probable cause for every disease – or, in Hay’s dictionary, dis-ease – and the new thought pattern which should help you cure it.
For example, according to Hay, fever is caused by anger, and it should be countered by the mantra “I am the cool, calm expression of peace and love.”
The cause of heartburn, on the other hand, is clutching fear, and the new thought pattern is the following one: “I breathe freely and fully. I am safe. I trust the process of life.”
Hay concludes her book with a story from personal experience, describing how she cured herself of “incurable” cervical cancer via her methods, an event which proved to her once and for all that pills can’t cure a disease.
DIS-EASE CAN BE HEALED IF WE ARE WILLING TO CHANGE THE WAY WE THINK AND BELIEVE AND ACT!
Key Lessons from “You Can Heal Your Life”
1. You Are
What You Believe In
2. Forgiveness Means Letting Go of the Past
3. Every Disease Is Actually Dis-Ease
You Are What You Believe In
Louise Hay claims that your mind and your body are connected, in such a way that all of your experiences are actually just a mirror of your innermost beliefs.
That’s why it’s very important that you start thinking positively, reciting encouraging and self-assuring affirmations on a daily basis while transforming all of the “shoulds” in your life to “coulds.”
To paraphrase Paulo Coelho’s “The Alchemist” – do this, and all the universe will conspire in helping you become the person you want to be.
Forgiveness Means Letting Go of the Past
A lot of the problems you experience in your present are actually remnants of the past.
Take Hay, for example!
Supposedly, her violent stepfather physically abused her, and a neighbor raped her when she was merely 5 years old!
The result of this?
An incurable cervical cancer, which, in Hay’s opinion, is the direct consequence of “deep hurt” and “longstanding resentment” of a “deep secret or grief eating away at the self.”
The solution is straightforward:
Let go of all the hatred.
The best way to do this is by forgiving those the anger against whom holds you back.
Here’s your mantra:
I lovingly forgive and release all of the past. I choose to fill my world with joy. I love and approve of myself.
Every Disease Is Actually Dis-Ease
In Hay’s opinion, just like her cervical cancer, every other disease has a mental origin.
In fact, every disease is actually a dis-ease, that is, a form of discomfort caused by repressed emotions and feelings.
The cure is simple: accept life and yourself, and you will be disease-free!
“You Can Heal Your Life Quotes”
The past has no power over us. It doesn’t matter how long we have had a negative pattern. The point of power is in the present moment. What a wonderful thing to realize! We can begin to be free in this moment!
Russell Brand’s Recovery
With nearly fourteen years of clean time under his belt, Russell Brand understands recovery quite well. He speaks on it often, offering revolutionary messages of hope and change. From time to time, he even involves himself in politics, fighting for greater access to treatment and an overhaul of laws that punish addicts rather than help them. So it comes as little surprise that he would eventually disseminate his understanding of recovery in the form of a self-help book.
This book, Recovery: Freedom from Our Addictions, approaches the topic of addiction recovery from two directions. Not only does Russell Brand offer insights into the 12 Steps utilized by most support groups, but he also uses the 12 Steps as a springboard to discuss his own unique perspective on recovery. Those who remain wary of the 12 Steps may find that they can relate to Brand’s particular take on them with relative ease.
Initially, some of his views may seem incompatible with the messages you hear in the rooms. In truth, however, Brand cuts right to the heart of the spirit behind the 12 Steps. Based primarily on principles with only minimal focus on orthodoxy, he presents a program of recovery that anybody can utilize. Below are just a few points of discussion that we found particularly thought-provoking.
Recovery is for Everybody—Including Non-Addicts
When we say that anybody can utilize the teachings in this book, we mean just that—anybody. Early on, Brand makes the point that we all suffer from inner turmoil in one form or another. And while those with tangible and easily defined addictions may require help more urgently than others, a program of self-discovery and transformation can benefit anybody who feels ready to change.
You may sometimes hear people in anonymous meetings declare their pity for non-addicts who do not benefit from the teachings of a recovery program. This rubs some AA and NA members the wrong way, coming across as arrogant and judgmental. Yet in his writing, Russell Brand makes a very similar point while explaining it in terms that make quite a bit of sense.
Remarking that “we are all in prisons of varying categories,” Brand believes the fortune of the addict lies in a greater desire to escape that prison. Our addictions readily apparent, we benefit most from their consequences. We know what rock bottom feels like, whereas others who feel dissatisfied with their lives may never suffer quite enough misery to spark their desire for change.
“No one likes going through withdrawal or delirium tremens, but it does have the advantage of being easily identifiable. The problem of denial is hopefully easier to confront. If you’re chugging through life in a job you kind of dislike, a relationship that you are detached from, eating to cope, staring at Facebook, smoking and fruitlessly fantasizing, you can sit glumly on that conveyor belt of unconscious discontent until it deposits you in your grave.”
Russell Brand defines addiction not merely as compulsive behavior, but as behavior performed explicitly for the purposes of providing instant relief. We know that drugs and alcohol cause great harm when used in this pursuit. But those who find themselves in cyclical relationships with “bad relationships, bad food, abusive bosses, conflict or pornography” may not recognize their patterns as easily. He therefore suggests that you needn’t be an extremist to seek a better way of living. You need only be a human being who feels that something is missing, and that there must be a better way of finding it than the method you’re using now.
Our Addiction Begins Before We Start Using
Throughout the early chapters in Recovery, Russell Brand references a duality of self. A multiplicity, really. He mentions the Jekyll and Hyde complex understood by most addicts and alcoholics, but also suggests the existence of another. A better, higher self that we’ve yet to realize.
“All the while I was rattling around on my picaresque excursion, causing damage inside and outside, there was another version of me waiting to be realized. We are, after all, an organic entity, like a tree, with a code stored in our embryonic form that is set to grow to completion. A tree doesn’t face the kind of obstacles a highly socialized mammal does, it might get chopped down, or aggressively pruned or have some wire wrapped round it, but no one is going to say it’s too fat or that it’ll never amount to anything. But in your life you’ve faced obstacles, inner and outer, that have prevented you from becoming the person you were ‘meant to be’ or ‘are capable of being’ and that is what we are going to recover. That’s why we call this process Recovery; we recover the ‘you’ that you were meant to be.”
Before we can realize this person, however, we must often get in touch with our dark side. Furthermore, upon seeing the light inside of ourselves, we must work to nurture it. Because while we may keep the darkness at bay to the point of never hearing from it again, our base nature never truly disappears.
“The unmanageability at its heart means that there is a beast in me. It is in me still. I live in negotiation with a shadow side that has to be respected. There is a wound. I believe that this is more than a characteristic of addiction. I think it is a part of being human, to carry a wound, a flaw and again, paradoxically, it is only by accepting it that we can progress.”
Russell Brand notes that we cannot come by this new self through our old way of thinking. In the same way that Jekyll created Hyde through misguided ambition and bad science, our pre-addict selves were in fact the same people who sought escape. We may harbor dreams of becoming our old selves, but we cannot—not successfully, at least. Whoever we were before we started using, we can never be again. Our sobriety depends on the acceptance of this truth.
We Don’t Need to Understand Our Higher Power
Brand’s spiritual views take up a lot of page space. While not religious, he does agree with the need for a Higher Power. He notes, however, that we needn’t define it fully. Many of us get carried away trying to find the Higher Power that works for us. Is it God, science, our home group? According to Russell Brand, we can take a broader approach to the issue. In fact, doing so may even open our eyes to the greater presence that pervades all facets of the world around us.
“The music of Mozart (or Moz), the Sistine Chapel ceiling, George Best – all these allude to some Power that is greater than me. The chances that I have had in life, the people that have loved me and been there for me. There are many examples of a Power greater than myself, alone, with my addiction and my thoughts.”
All we really need to understand is our own patterns of thoughts and behaviors. Russell Brand illustrates this point by removing God from Step 3 entirely. Without this reference, all that remains is recognition that our previous way of life has failed us. We may wish to accomplish recovery through self-will, but that never worked in the past. Why would we expect it to work now? We need help.
Authenticity Brings Us Closer to Others
Many of us hesitate to enter recovery due to the stigma we associate with addiction. But even after entering recovery, we sometimes feel the need to hide. Yes, we all share this one unfortunate trait. But what of anxiety, depression, self-harm, eating disorders, etc.? How do we tell others about the thoughts and feelings that continue to bother us long after you remove the drugs and alcohol from our lives? We know intuitively that we must address these issues if we wish to truly recover; however, we also know that we need a support network, and fear that people will leave us if they see the true darkness of our struggles.
Russell Brand talks about this core fear quite often. The fear of being abandoned, left alone and possibly unable to take care of himself. He notes that Step 5, sharing his inventory with another addict, helped him to get over this. Not simply because he got things off his chest, but because someone found his authentic self worthy of both acceptance and understanding.
“The main thing was there was nothing I said that was too terrible or too trivial to shock or bore him. He identified throughout and through this practical communication an unexpected thing happened: the veil of separation that I had lived my life behind lifted. The tense disconnectedness that I had always felt lifted. It is commonly understood that the opposite of addiction is connection. That in our addictive behaviours we are trying to achieve the connection. Think of it: the bliss of a hit or a drink or of sex or of gambling or eating, all legitimate drives gone awry, all a reach across the abyss, the separateness of ‘self’, all an attempt to redress this disconnect.”
To Russell Brand, who characterizes all addictions as stemming largely from this disconnection, this sense of acceptance proved vital. Over time, he found others with whom he could open his heart without fear. Likewise, others began trusting him in return. He believes this sense of connection under the banner of shared authenticity benefits more than our recovery. He believes that, were all human beings to adopt these principles of total honesty and mutual understanding, the world itself would become a better place.
We Do Not Need to Completely Reinvent Ourselves
While working through the “action steps,” we often think the goal is to become a new person. To some extent, this bears truth. However, Russell Brand links the transformative power of the action steps back to the multiplicity of self discussed earlier. As in the tree analogy, we do not reinvent but rather simply discover ourselves.
Some believe the 12 Steps incite negativity, focusing too much on character defects and the shadier moments of our past. As Russell Brand points out, however, they also tell us to hope for a restoration to sanity. And that hope only exists if we accept ourselves capable of a better lifestyle. We learn this when we identify our character defects through Step 6 and seek humility in Step 7. Humility cuts through the lies we tell ourselves and straight to the truth of who we are inside. We should not see this as negativity, but rather as a more narrowly directed extension of the hope in Step 2.
“Having reviewed our inventory, we have decided we want to eliminate our defective characteristics, our patterns that generated personal and general misery. We acknowledge here that we have positive attributes, that we are capable of kindness and love: we are not total s—tbags.”
We often define addiction as a symptom of something greater. So why not take the same approach to recovery? If our addiction preceded our addictive behaviors, we may just as easily suggest that our recovery preceded our positive lifestyle. In fact, the two manifest as part of the same journey. Without addiction, we may never have discovered our inner light in the first place. Recovery does not require us to construct a personality, covering up our faults with a veneer of forced moral responsibility. We must only tap into the person that already exists, and work to nurture that person. Russell Brand puts this in mythological terms.
“Whether you’re a gnarled and boisterous apprentice mechanic or a Cambridge don, solving conundrums from your high-tech wheelchair, there is in most cases a comparable inner world. If not a basic binary, a universal pantheon of inner deities and demons which, in our race to total rationalism, we have unwisely discarded. The Greeks knew these gods dwelt not on Olympus but upon the summits, crags and slopes within. This inner realm interfaces with external phenomena for good or for ill. This program, like all mythology, is a methodology for management.”
To restate this relationship between the external and internal, our behaviors stem from our beliefs. Addiction represents the abandonment of those beliefs, or perhaps the failure to see them realized in the first place. We achieve recovery by reclaiming those beliefs, and bringing them to the surface through our actions.
Our Amends to Others Will Amend Ourselves
We refer to the 12 Steps as a program of action. Perhaps no action taken in this process stokes as much fear in people as that of making amends. Many struggle with simply revisiting the past in Step 4, and find themselves doubly fearful when stating the past aloud in Step 5. But when we must again revisit the past in Step 8 and confront it head-on in Step 9, some recovering addicts and alcoholics find themselves feeling resistant. Not only must we stand up and accept responsibility for our wrongs, but this often requires us to forgive others for the wrongs they committed against us.
Both our forgiveness and our amends serve to benefit us immensely. On the subject of forgiveness, Russell Brand writes:
“It is not my job to adjudicate the world’s people and supply them with a template for how they should be. In fact it’s none of my business. There is only one human being I’m in control of and that is me, and that is where the effort must be concentrated. Forgiveness is a powerful spiritual tool, without it we are damned as individuals and as a people. Forgiveness means letting go. It means being willing to accept that we are all mortals flawed and suffering, imperfectly made and trying our best. That sometimes there is a collision of instinct.”
Russell Brand also notes how strange it is that we would ever choose resentment, given it causes us nothing but harm. Furthermore, resentment allows us to place ourselves on the high road, despite knowing the extent of our own past transgressions. This pushes people away, and rightfully so. To feign superiority when we know the error of our ways stands directly in the way of the authenticity that would otherwise bring us closer to people.
Fortunately, our growing understanding of human nature and the multiplicity of self makes it easier to accept others’ faults. And to an extent, it also makes it easier to forgive ourselves. Some will still struggle with this, but amends help by allowing us to see our evolution in progress. The better self that we conceptualized in Step 2 and discovered in Step 7 begins to take over. Russell Brand—not to mention the Big Book, in its Ninth Step Promises—suggests that this process ultimately leads to our full-fledged transformation into the higher self within.
“In Step 9 we make restitution that in our old life, our old plan, we would never have countenanced. It is a fine example of the broader 12 Step philosophical trope that ‘You can’t think your way into acting better but you can act your way into thinking better’. Under the guidance of a mentor, with the support and community of other people on the same path, you have, by following the actions suggested by this program, broken loose from your prior confinement and become a different person. Whilst Step 9 seems to be about making amends to others it is we who are amended.”
Bear in mind that Russell Brand speaks of more than self-forgiveness here. To “amend” something simply means to change it. In that sense, our self-amends actually began in Step 1, even if we didn’t know it at the time. And while we never truly stop growing as long as we continue our spiritual journey, Step 9 will be the final push we need before we can begin to focus primarily on maintenance.
Love and Awareness Complete Our Transformation
While Step 9 helps us to fully realize the trajectory of our evolution, we must still work to maintain the person we become through our journey of self-discovery. We do this through daily inventory in Step 10, spiritual awareness in Step 11, and love for others as expressed through Step 12. Love plays an especially prominent role, and Russell Brand suggests we not overthink it. We could easily list reasons for the transformative power of love, but we find it far better to experience it first-hand. As Brand writes:
“If this were a pop science book, I’d now regale you with tales of the oxytocin ballet and dopamine dance that takes place when we are altruistic or in proximity to our beloved, but this biochemical analysis amounts to a fashionable and semantically novel reworking of what yogis, sages, Sufis and saints have been telling us for millennia as the result of their limitless work in laboratories that are subtler than those forged in concrete and glass: love is the answer.”
Recovery opens the door to compassion in many ways. First, we receive it from those who help us through the steps. Our support network shows us just how important a sense of solidarity can be to our recovery. Then, we demonstrate compassion through the forgiveness and repentance demonstrated in Step 9. When we reach Step 12, we use our fully discovered sense of love and empathy to help others overcome struggles we know all too well. This sparks our awareness, as we find that we still relate to them, no matter how far removed we’ve been through our days of active addiction.
“To take someone through the steps properly…is time-consuming. Step 5 in particular is a labour of love. There you sit, hour after hour, listening to someone else talk about themselves with no intention other than to help them. Well hang on to your hats folks, but that is not the way ol’ Russ used to roll—if I was listening to someone talking it meant that we were about to have sex or they were going to give me some money. Now as I sit listening to some poor old sod unpack their life, like they’ve been selected for a random search at an airport, I am plugged into my neglected compassion, my empathy, my kindness. To feel these forces awaken within is for me to be reborn.”
Service work provides more than self-awareness. It also helps us by allowing us a simple method of spiritual upkeep. According to Russell Brand—and indeed to many mentors in recovery programs—every piece of advice he offers someone else reminds him that he must take this advice as well. We cannot tell others to maintain spiritual principles when we still put them aside in favor of earthly pursuits. The hypocrisy would be too much to abide.
Not only do we increase our awareness during Step 12, but we also find that it becomes essential to the working of the step. To “practice these principles in all our affairs,” we must remain vigilant. We may slip from time to time, but we acknowledge this using the skills we’ve developed and keep moving forward. And as long as we maintain awareness, we keep finding avenues of further growth. Russell Brand notes that in this sense, Step 12 acts not as a destination but as an ongoing source of new beginnings.
“This program is simple and it works well with complex people. It is made up of ancient but timeless principles: overcome the ego, connect to a Higher Self, a higher purpose and serve others. Step 12 is the apex but also a spur to remind us that our work is never finished, we are on a journey of discovery and service and each of us has a unique purpose to realize and an intended self to recover.”
Shout out to amethystrecovery.org for doing this written summary
To buy the book, click the link in the image below to purchase from Book Depository
- 50 Words to Your Dreams20
- Brian Tracy8
- Business & Marketing58
- Chris Guillebeau2
- Dale Carnegie3
- Donald Trump2
- Earl Nightingale2
- Eckhart Tolle3
- Evan Carmichael2
- Gary Vaynerchuk5
- Grant Cardone6
- Jim Rohn2
- John Maxwell2
- Lewis Howes2
- Malcolm Gladwell2
- Napoleon Hill5
- Og Mandino2
- Personal Development90
- Real Estate2