5-takeaways: The 80/20 Principle, Richard Koch

First 5TA for the year! I will be covering this gem that has been staring at me from my bookshelf since I got it almost a year ago. The 80/20 Principle is a book that is based on the Pareto Law, first discovered by Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian economist. Who noticed patterns on wealth and income distributions in nineteenth-century England. Where on average the mathematical relationship between the total population and the total wealth was about 20% of the population held about 80% of the wealth. Pareto’s other finding was that the pattern of 80/20 repeated itself whenever he looked at data referring to a different time or a different country. However, He never fully realized that the principle could be applied to a lot more than just wealth and income distribution. A number of other great thinkers throughout the remaining and next centuries rediscovered and advanced the principle. Richard Koch, a former management consultant, and entrepreneur, just so happens to be the writer that brings the principle to the masses. The book is an easy read and Koch explains the principle well, using relevant examples and giving different ways to utilize the 20% of the effort that translates into 80% of the results in other aspects of business and life. The book is a great read and I hope I can provide a little insight into the principle and how you can utilize it.

  1. 20% causes provide 80% results.

A classic use of the 80/20 principle, is on business clients, 20% of whom provide 80% of the revenue. Most businesses could determine these numbers quite easily. Where are their efforts wasted or not well used on lesser clients that don’t provide enough compensation, let’s say like in terms of they have larger projects in the pipeline. So, in practice out of the remaining 80% of clients that only provide 20% of revenue, and if only half have notable future projects, you could remove 40% of total clientele and then the business would be able to free up time for new clients or double-down on current ones. This also translates into products produced or services provided. 20% of products or services generate 80% of revenue. This is very counterintuitive, you would think that having a variety of products, you would see a relative relationship directly proportional to the amount of items provided.

“The 80/20 Principle states that there is an inbuilt imbalance between causes and results, inputs and outputs, and effort and reward. Typically, causes, inputs or effort divide into two categories:

  • The majority, that have little impact.
  • A small minority, that have a major, dominant impact.”

Of course, this rule of 80/20 doesn’t just apply to business, as I will relate in other takeaways.

  1. 80/20 doesn’t have to equal 100 or is strictly 80/20

This was one of my misguided interpretations when I initially came across the principle. I thought that: a) the sets of data had to equal 100% and b) that the relationship was fixed at 80% to 20%. Koch notes that both of these aren’t integral parts of the principle. 80/20 is just an easy way to name the disproportionate relationship between the causes and the results, the relationship could be 65/35 or 90/1. One such example from the book below.

“One of the most dramatic examples of the 80/20 Principle at work is with movies. Two economists made a study of the revenues ad lifespans of 300 movies released over an 18-month period. They found that four movies – just 1.3 percent of the total – earned 80 percent of box office revenues.”

Koch notes that one limitation of the 80/20 Principle is that it is only a snapshot of the time when the data was collected. However, Koch does relate the 80/20 Principle to Chaos Theory, which states that outcomes are based on ’sensitive dependence on initial conditions’. So the chance that the first company to the market is going to be the biggest at a later date is massive compared to a new-comer. Not only will larger companies hold most of the market value, but they will also gain more and more of the market. A great example is Coca-Cola, one of the first to the market, and now holds 48.6% of the market share, imagine that one company owns almost half of the market. Let’s say that there are 100 cola companies total, that’s a 49/1, this stat is neither is 80/20, nor does it equal 100%, yet it is significantly skewed.

  1. 80/20 your Money.

Typically, 80% of your wealth will come from a small percentage of your activities. For myself, 100% of my money comes from one activity, my job. Similarly, if you look at someone like Warrant Buffett, most of his wealth comes from a small part of his investments, I would hazard a guess that’s its stocks. Speaking of stocks, we can use our new-found knowledge on it. Koch has some wise words on wealth, “You are more likely to become wealthy, or to obtain the greatest increase in wealth, from investment income rather than from employment income.” So, what should you do with most of your money? Around 20% of your money (of course this can be more or less depending on your personal & financial situations)? Save and invest.  And of that 20%, most of it should be put into long term investments, otherwise known as blue-chip shares, a good place to park the money is in an index fund. Koch describes what compound interest is, how it works and why you should use it to your advantage. I won’t go into it as it needs another post of its own, I can suggest looking it up, or playing around with some values on a compound interest calculator(which can be found here.

  1. 80/20 your Time and the rest.

Do you ever feel like you waste a lot of your day away? I know I do, whether I get sucked into social media browsing, or a youtube/Netflix binge, or doing things I don’t feel are productive or things that I don’t enjoy. Now, some things are very necessary, such as work and sleep, these will take up more of your time. But the rest of your time can be 80/20’ed. There are 168 hours in a week if we say that you work a 40hour week, and sleep for 8 hours a day, you are left with 72 hours, if you factor in travel to and from work and eating we’ll say that your left with 50 hours (being conservative). Of these 50 hours, you may only really enjoy doing 20% of the things that you do, or 20% of the people you see. So to get more out of your time break down what goals you want and, track your time and see where you are losing it. There are many ways to do this and find one that works for you, I often use a technique called time blocking, which I wrote about here. Once you’ve done that go out and achieve those goals. See more of the friends or family members you want to see, or you could optimize your time to learn a new skill, start a business or a blog, get to the gym more. Of course, all of these things will lean toward something that you enjoy. You could 80/20 your spare time for happiness if you so desire. You might even go so far as removing work altogether (not advised if you have another way to bring in money) or finding work that you enjoy (recommended).

  1. Change your mode of thinking.

Koch really does get into how effective the 80/20 principle is outside of finance and business, once the basics are understood and the reader can start thinking with the imbalanced required. This was maybe a bit easier for me as I had already been introduced to this mode of thinking by the likes of Tim Ferriss and Gary Keller. I had been meaning to get the knowledge from the source, and this is my biggest takeaway. The universe and the world is not fair and most likely never will be, things will always improve, but the balance of 80/20 will remain. Instead of worrying about how life isn’t fair and you feel downtrodden, try and make your own life 80/20, try and break out of the social norms that you have grown accustomed to. Instead of thinking about things in the standard direct cause and effect way, start to think 80/20, as Koch describes below:

“To engage in  80/20 thinking, we must constantly ask ourselves: what is the 20 percent that is leading to 80 percent? We must never assume that we automatically know what the answer is, but take some time to think creatively about it. What are the vital few inputs or causes, as opposed to the trivial many?”

Change is hard, going into the unknown is difficult, but with discipline, you can develop a habit, and with time the habit will become a lifestyle choice. I am trying to make 80/20 a lifestyle choice, I would love if you could join me.

Koch has produced a gem of a book, that has inspired many who use it for their own businesses and personal lives. The 80/20 principle teaches its readers that 50/50 is incredibly rare, often if you can figure out what the small minority that has a huge impact is, you will be able to maximize your time, money, and happiness towards achieving your goals and life visions. As usual, I will leave you with a powerful quote from the book.

“The greatest thing about the 80/20 principle is that you do not need to wait for everyone else. You can start to practice it in your professional and personal life. You can take your own small fragments of greatest achievement, happiness, and service to others and make them a much larger part of your life… You can become a better, more useful and happier human being. And you can help others to do the same.”

Thanks for reading.

See you on the mats.

-Carlos

5-takeaways:12 Rules For Life: An Antidote to Chaos, Dr. Jordan B. Peterson.

I’ll start by saying this, I do not agree with all of whatDr. Peterson says, however, A LOT, if not all, of what he has written in this book is very useful information and some of the rules are great guidelines to live by. One of the rules that makes this list is related to this topic of “because you may dislike someone’s viewpoints doesn’t mean that everything they say should now be dismissed.” (Rule 9: Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t.) There are a lot of things he says that I disagree with, including his view of mother/father parenting being the best way to raise a child, I know a few who have been raised by single mothers, or a lesbian or gay couples who are fantastic people, and I know of horrible people who have been brought up in the more traditional mother/father parenting dynamic. Still though I like a lot of what he talks about. One of the main reasons that I was drawn to and am interested in what Dr. Peterson has to say is his point that before pointing blame others or a system that does not favor you, first focus on the things that are in your control. Don’t give something or someone else control over the outcome of your life, otherwise, you will forever be powerless in the face of any chaos. That helpless feeling can be a very taxing one, one that can be debilitating, even fatal. The following list is my 5-takeaways (or top 5 rules in this case)of 12 Rules for Life, hope you too can take something away.

1. Rule 6: Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world.

Peterson uses many religious stories throughout the book, she has studied the psychology of the many archetypical stories found throughout the Bible and a few other religious texts. He also touches on a variety of literature and movies, including Disney classics and works from notable thinkers like Nietzsche, Solzhenitsyn, and Descartes. One such reference that stood out was T. S. Eliot’s explanation of a character in his play The CocktailParty, who “is not having a good time of it.” And Peterson’s take on it, as follows:

                “She speaks of her profound unhappiness to a psychiatrist. She says she hopes that all her suffering is her own fault. The psychiatrist is taken aback. He asks why. She has thought long and hard about this, she says, and has come to the following conclusion: if it’s her fault, she might be able to do something about it. If it’s God fault, however – if reality itself is flawed, hell-bent on ensuring her misery – then she is doomed. She couldn’t change the structure of reality itself. But maybe she could change her own life.”

As a human being, you have sole responsibility of your attitude towards life, and if you can take on the burden of knowing that your outcome is dictated by your actions then you can make a start of improving, not only your life but the lives of those around you. Peterson is famous for saying “clean up your room,” in his Alberta-Canadian accent. This is not meant in a “do as your told,” way, it is meant as a, “start with something small that is easily available and achievable” way. Then once you have cleaned up your room, move on to the rest of the house, and bit by bit, if you keep putting one foot in front of the other, even in the face of setbacks, slowly your life will be more in order. Leading on to the next rule.

2. Rule 4: Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today.

This is something that I constantly struggle with, I wish that I could be traveling more, or I could own a few houses already, or be a business owner. Whatever it is I forget that the person that I desperately want to be worked hard to get to where they are now. That for my own self-esteem, the comparison does not have the desired effect. When I get reminded that I am on my own path and that I should use the person’s success as motivation for what I could become, that’s when I focus on being better than the me of yesterday, it might be in the gym, or learning something new, sorting out my life in some fashion. That is when I move forward, one step at a time. Knowing full well that I need to put in the work and have the dedication to persist in the task.

“You are discovering who you are, and what you want, and what you are willing to do. You are finding that the solutions to your particular problems have to be tailored to you, personally and precisely. You are less concerned with the actions of other people because you have plenty to do yourself.”

Of course, to improve you must see the faults that you need to work on. To not see your flaws means that you are the perfect human and that you have nothing to work on. Which would be a lie, not only do you have to make constant adjustments in yourself for your well-being but for the well-being of those around you. Of course, you can lie to yourself and those around you that everything is fine, however, your internal voice/subconscious will become louder as you keep lying, and deeper you will fall into a pit that only you will be able to drag yourself out of.

3. Rule 2: Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping.

If I could write out most of this chapter I would, but then I might be up for plagiarism. Peterson uses a lot of religious and personal anecdotes of patients or clients that have come to his practice. However, if you only take one thing from this it would be the paragraph below:

“As God himself claims(so goes the story), “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”According to this philosophy, you do not simply belong to yourself. You are not simply your own possession to torture and mistreat. This is partly because your being is inexorably tied up with that of others, and your mistreatment of yourself can have catastrophic consequences for others. This is most clearly evident, perhaps, in the aftermath of suicide, when those left behind are often both bereft and traumatized. But, metaphorically speaking there is also this: you have a spark of the divine in you, which belongs not to you, but to God. Weare after all – according to Genesis – made in His image. We have the these-divine capacity for consciousness. Our consciousness participates in the speaking forth of Being. We are low-resolution (“kenotic”) versions of God. We can make order from chaos – and vice versa – in our way, with our words. So, we may not exactly be God, But we’re exactly nothing, either.”

I know it’s a lot to take in, however, the words have that kind of remembered-truth, “remembered” in the sense that deep down every human knows that they have the potential to be great or do great things. All anyone has to do is treat themselves with the respect that they would give to the person that they could become, not the person they were or are currently.

4. Rule 12: Pet a Cat When You Encounter one on the street.

Suffering is part and parcel of Being, Being in the sense of the state of existing or existence. At any point in life, either you yourself are struggling or a loved one is. Very rarely, and I would say that close to never has there been a point in my life when neither I nor a close friend or family member was dealing with some obstacle. I currently have no ailments; however, a close family friend is currently battling cancer for the third time. And yet, somehow, through all his and his families suffering, he still has the attitude he has always had, one of never giving up, one of child-like wonder and humor and a thorough love of life. He may not know it fully, but the impact that he has on many is almost as large as his personality. Peterson touches on his daughter’s life-long degenerative joint disease and how it has impacted him, how he could have cursed the world and human existence, yet faced with the limitation of being – suffering is the limitation placed on humans– Peterson understood that suffering is a part of living, much like Viktor Frankl in his classic, Man’s Search for meaning.

“If you are already everything, everywhere, always, there is nowhere to go and nothing to be. Everything that could happen already has. And it is for this reason, so the story goes, that God created man. No limitations, no story. No story, no Being.”

Make a story, despite your limitations. Always remember though, that when an opportunity arises, to pat a dog or cat, or do something to distract you from all the sorrow life has to offer, only for a little while.“Maybe you can steal ten or twenty minutes to do some little ridiculous thing that distracts you or reminds you that you can laugh at the absurdity of existence.”

5. Rule 9: Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t.

If you remember this is the rule I mentioned in the intro, and this I reckon is one of the more important rules Peterson lays out in the book. I myself struggled with this one growing up, I still check myself sometimes especially when meeting someone new, or someone who I have heard about from friends or family. Which as awful as it sounds, a lot of people will unknowingly make biased assessments of people and will automatically either give their undivided attention or completely disregard everything they say. The chance that they know something you don’t is higher than you think. Obviously, this goes the other way too, so when mutual respect of the other person’s knowledge is achieved, the conversation can become a more productive one, the where common ground can be established.

The other point of this rule is to listen, not think about how you will retort and flatten their argument with something witty, but to actually listen. Listen with the intent of taking in what the other person is saying. Peterson includes a Carl Rodgers quote that I thought was an interesting take on this topic.

“The great majority of us cannot listen; we find ourselves compelled to evaluate, because listening is too dangerous. The first requirement is courage, and we do not always have it.”

I know what you’re thinking, how could listening be dangerous? Well, the danger hides in your own insecurities, maybe you’re not right, maybe you are completely wrong. The main danger, however, is not in being wrong, but having your outlook or views changed, and these may be views that you hold so dear and close that they hold up part of your personality. Continuing:

“some of you may be feeling that you listen well to people, and that you have never seen such results. The chances are that your listening has not been of the type I have described.”

Everyone thinks that they are good listeners, I know I did until I started really trying to pay attention when speaking to people. Oh how wrong I was, I always would try to come up with an “I’m-better-than-you” retort, or be extremely dismissive of what they had to say. Straw manning their point of view. Definitely not a great way to listen. Peterson notes that the form of listening that Rodgers suggest is one where you repeat the person’s argument back to them, at a standard that they see fit. This does two things, you listen, but you understand their point of view.

As I have said, Peterson is not everyone’s cup of tea, but he is very good at translating complex ideas for those of us who have no prior background in psychology or mythology. The life advice found throughout the book is amazing and the 12 rules can be used as great guidelines to navigate the chaos and suffering. If you have no idea who Jordan Peterson is and enjoyed this article I can definitely recommend looking him up, his lectures can bewatch on YouTube and on multiple podcasts, such as the Joe Rogan Experience and the Jocko Podcast. I hope you enjoyed my 5 takeaways of Peterson’s book, 12Rules for Life.

See ya on the mats.

~Carlos

Why the change?

I have recently changed the name of the site to carlosygoa.com since I felt that readnroll.blog limited me in what I could and could not post about, I am in no way shape or form moving away from what I have been doing. This is just an update about the change. I Hope that you all understand.

Thanks

Carlos

5-takeaways: The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, Al Ries and Jack Trout

With over 40 years of marketing expertise between them, Al Ries and Jack Trout have produced the 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing. For any person or business wanting to sell a product or service give this little book a read, it will pay dividends. There is a multitude of historical examples of marketing going right and it going very wrong, the examples provided are over 20 years old but still help prove Ries and Trout’s unchangeable laws that govern marketing. Here are my takeaways from this little book.

  1. Be first, either in a new category or in the consumer’s mind.

If you are trying to provide a service or product being first is the most important part. Of course, if you can’t be the first you, to succeed you must either create a new category or make it that you are the first in the minds of the consumer. Being the first in the mind usually goes to the first in the marketplace, however, if you can’t make a person perceive you as the company with the best product or service it is much harder to change that opinion. Apple wasn’t the first to the computer marketplace, or mobile phone, for that matter. Why is it one of the largest companies in both fields, well simply, it’s the first thing that people associate to either category. It’s easier to remember the first position holder than it is to remember the second or third. Who’s the second fastest man on earth currently? To be honest I’m not sure. If you can own the first spot either in the category or the mind, then the success of you/the company becomes much easier.

  1. Be focused.

By focusing on one thing, for example, you might own a company that specializes in one thing like engineering. And everyone knows that your company is the top in your field, everyone comes to you for all their engineering needs, as Reis and Trout put it, engineering is “your word”. You start to grow with your success, so you decide to branch out into other fields, let’s say like construction, but there is already a great construction company. So, since you know that you must be first in the client’s mind for construction you spend millions on advertising to try to compete with the competition. However, since you are already associated with being great engineers the could-be-clients don’t recognize you as a great construction company, so no matter how much you spend on advertising your company will never make it into the first spot.

“This was the case with Atari, which owned the words video game. But the business turned out to be faddish – (foresight is 20×20)-, so in 1982 it sailed off in a new direction. It wanted Atari to mean computers. CEO James Morgan laid it all out: “Atari’s strength as a name also tends to be its weakness. It is synonymous with video games. Atari must redefine its image and broaden its business definition to electronic consumer products.”

Of course, we all now know how that played out. Not too great for Atari, if only they focused more on their One Thing, Video Games, then the world of gaming might look incredibly different. Atari’s problem stems from the next point.

  1. Remove your ego.

As we see in the example above Atari’s success went to their heads, and instead of committing to their long-term success, they went to chase the short-term gain. They felt that with their already famous name they could branch out into another category that at the time was already owned by IBM a giant in the computer industry.

“Ego is the enemy of successful marketing.”

Ego causes more problems in all aspects of life than it does correct them. The same can be applied to marketing. You may think that from previous success that you will be able to branch out into another field, this could not be further from the truth. Some companies can do it, such as Apple, however, their words aren’t computers, phones or tablets, its innovation. Because everyone associates them with innovation it allows them to break out into new categories, and as long as they are innovating then they will succeed.

  1. Keep it simple.

“Apple’s problem in getting into its prospects’ minds was helped by its simple, easy-to-remember name. On the other hand, Apple’s competitors had complicated names that were difficult to remember. In the early days, five personal computers were in position on the launching pad: Apple II, Commodore Pet, IMSAI 8080, MITS Altair 8800, and Radio Shack TRS-80. Ask yourself, which name is the simplest and easiest to remember?”

If you are going to market something, don’t make your job any harder than it needs to be. Keep it simple, for example, Apple – “Think Different”, McDonald’s – “I’m Lovin’ It”, Woolworths – “The Fresh Food People”. The list goes on. Simple product, simple slogan, simple marketing, the easier it is to remember the higher chance of getting into and staying in the minds of the consumer. Of course, to keep it simple you must…

  1. Make some sort of sacrifice, to get the things you want.

This ties in with point No.2, Not only must you focus but you must give something up. This not only relates to marketing, but to life. If you want to spend more time with your loved ones, or you want to post more on your blog, you must give something up. I know that I have lapsed on posting regularly recently, I have not prioritized my time well and I have turned my focus to other things, starting a new job being one thing. Sacrifices can be conscious decisions, however, a vast majority of people and companies let their circumstances dictate their attention. If you really want something you must make some sort of sacrifice. Time, money, other products, sleep, food or other hobbies. You want to have a successful product but want to chase other short-term trends to get quick profit, you will lose long-term. You want to become better at jiu-jitsu but also want to spend time at the gym, choose one over the other, or create time for both by making sacrifices in other areas.

These are only my thoughts on the book, I am no marketing expert or claim to have used these laws yet. I recommend anyone in a business of any sort to give it a read as you will benefit from it, either to improve on your product or service and your current marketing strategies. This is only a quick one, hope you enjoyed it.

Thanks for reading.

See you on the mats.

Fixing yourself does more than you think it does.

I have been thinking about this a lot recently, I know this idea is not new and I have been reading books and listening to people who share this view a lot. However, I have started to really understand why improving on yourself is more important than I first thought. So, have you ever been in a situation where you can see the answer for someone else’s problem but no matter what you do you will never be able to get them to fix it or change? I have a lot, and I expect to be in more of these situations the older I get. But having learned from past experiences I know there is nothing I can do to directly make them change or make them do something. Yet, there is one thing I can do that will affect them. I can keep on improving myself because as I get better, I then become an example of how improving yourself is the best way forward.

If you don’t improve that’s fine too but know this, no-one is holding you back but yourself. So, no use pointing blame at others (which gives them the power). And that is a hard pill to swallow, knowing that you have to take the outcome of your life into your own hands, that you are directly at fault for how your future pans out. Now I know that you could come from a fractured home, or you could have had cancer, or you were in a car crash but all of that is in the past and you can’t change it. What you can change however is where you are going and how you choose to react to things. I could have the view that the world sucks and why did I have to get one-third of my bowels removed? why couldn’t someone else have had cancer? But then I lost the battle. I have to look at my experience with positive eyes and realize I had to endure that to understand something. Life is a gift, it can be taken at any moment.

As you start to put yourself together into who you want to be, then you can help others, but more importantly, others will see that it is possible. So, by taking responsibility for your part of the world, no matter how small, others may do the same with their part and together you will both help improve the world.

These are just some late night ramblings.

Thanks for reading.

See you on the mats.

 

~~Carlos

5-takeaways: The Book of Five Rings, Miyamoto Musashi

Musashi

Miyamoto Musashi is regarded as the best Japanese swordsman/Samurai holding an undefeated record in his 61 duels. He not only was a wandering swordsman (ronin), but a writer and philosopher. He was the founder of the Niten-Ichi-Ryu-School, a style of swordsmanship where two swords are used. In his later years he wrote The Book of Five Rings, in which he “defends his thesis: a man who conquers himself is ready to take on the world, should the need arise.” (from the blurb on the back). The Book of Five Rings is considered alongside The Art of War, by Sun-Tzu, as one of the few books that cover the laws combat and more than that cover the laws of life. Here are my 5 takeaways from this classic.

  1. Know not only your abilities and limitations, but those of others.

Knowing your limitations means you can also know your strengths. So, you know when to ask for help or speak up when you don’t know how to do something. Musashi relates carpentry to the way of the sword, “The foreman should take into account the abilities and limitations of his men, circulating among them and asking nothing unreasonable. He should know their morale and spirit, and encourage them when necessary.” However, this can be applied across life. When you ask for the help of others, or when you are in a leadership role, you can organize people into roles in which they will thrive. This can also work in going against someone else. They will be defiant in their beliefs and will hold strong in opposition to them, so to know their limitations or weaknesses that will allow you to come at them from a different angle.

  1. Have the ability to view both the details and the big picture, be able to switch between the two.

Being able to detach and look at the big picture enables you to take stock of what you have done, what you are currently doing, and what you have to do. Giving you the overall picture, not only that but letting you really think about what you are doing and how to make it easier to achieve your next task or overall goal.

“What is big is easy to perceive: what is small is difficult to perceive. In short, it is difficult for large numbers of men to change position so their movements can be easily predicted. An individual can easily change his mind, so his movements are difficult to predict.”

Look at big goals, they are easy to understand, but the smaller you go the harder you must think about how it pieces together with other goals and tasks. However, when you can focus on the task at hand you are able to complete it quickly, whereas the larger goals need to be done over a longer period of time.

  1. Winning or success requires constant small improvements.

Throughout the whole book, Miyamoto finishes a lot of his paragraphs with lines like this:

“You must learn this through repetitive practice.” Or “You must study this well.” Or “With detailed practice you should understand it.” or “You must train constantly.”

So, it’s fair to say that he believes in constant and detailed practice, it might be a technique or strategy, but he really harps on this point. To get the desired results, you must put in the constant hard work. “Men must polish their particular way.” This can be applied in all aspects of life, you want to be better at your job, or you want to build a successful stock portfolio, or you want to lose 10kgs. Constant small improvements will determine if you succeed in achieving your goal.

  1. Live life fully. Don’t hesitate.

“This is a truth: when you sacrifice your life, you must make fullest use of your weaponry. It is false not to do so, and to die with a weapon yet drawn.” Miyamoto is talking about when in a swordfight you want to use everything you can at your disposal, however, life could be viewed as a swordfight. You could look at your potential as your weapon in life, and why wouldn’t you want to see yourself using your highest potential. Giving all you have to whatever task is in front of you.

Of course, not unlocking your potential or waiting for the opportune time is not good either. “Waiting is bad.” As above, you need to work on it constantly, “step by step walk the thousand-mile road.”

  1. Train your body, mind, and spirit.

Keep your mind sharp so you can perform in stressful environments, keep your body strong to be able to move how you want, and the spirit or heart must be able to push through the challenges you will face. Go to the gym, read books, study philosophy, write out your goals, listen to podcasts, meditate, whatever you have to do to improve yourself. Back to the constant improvement, just a little at a time.

“Both in fighting and in everyday life you should be determined though calm.”

Of course, if you lack training in one of these three, you will not be able to perform at a higher standard. You could be strong and have a large spirit or will, however, you could be bested by a person with a sharper mind. Conversely, if you are smart and strong you could be bested by a person with more will. It is like in jiu-jitsu, you want to have both strong defense and strong offense, if you lack in one, you will not be able to transition to your stronger aspect.

Hope you enjoyed my 5 takeaways from Miyamoto Musashi, like always I left a lot out, even though this book is less than 60 pages. I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes from this classic.

“Today is victory over yourself of yesterday; tomorrow is your victory over lesser men.”

Thanks for reading.

See you on the mats.

5-takeaways: The Essence of Happiness: A Guidebook for Living, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, M.D.

I thought I would try something new and use a new format of review, where I break down my top 5 takeaways from a book. Hopefully reducing your reading time, let me know how you find it. While I was reading The One Thing, by Gary Keller, I was also plodding along on the tiny 120-page book, The Essence of Happiness. The book is an already summarized version of The Art of Happiness, which is based on the conversations held between The Dalai Lama and Dr. Howard C. Cutler. Cutler wanted to understand the qualities and practices that the Dalai Lama uses throughout his day that allow him to live a rich and fulfilling life. Deconstructing and forming them so that they could be used by non-Buddhists to pursue happier lives. So here are my top 5 takeaways from The Essence of Happiness.

  1. That no matter where you come from or what has happened to you, you can find happiness or fulfillment.

How do you find fulfillment if you come from a broken home, or you are a recovering addict how does one find happiness? Well as His Holiness says “generally speaking, one begins by identifying those factors which lead to happiness and those factors which lead to suffering. Having done this, one then sets about gradually eliminating those factors which lead to suffering and cultivating those which lead to happiness.” Now, I believe that you can never truly eliminate suffering, as it is a part of life, whereby you can truly appreciate the highs when you pull through the lows. However, using your positives in ways to help others this contributes to a more fulfilling life. “Achieving genuine happiness may require bringing about a transformation in your outlook, your way of thinking, and this is not a simple matter.” It is not going to be easy, as your way of thinking is brought about by your experiences, however, you can change your future experiences to be positive ones.

  1. Having a clear and calm mind needs discipline.

The correct mental attitude towards anything is paramount in its success and your happiness, so when a greater level of calmness is achieved it allows you to enjoy life, that little bit more. If however your mind is clouded with negative emotions, everything will seem to be against you. “For example, if you harbor hateful thoughts or intense anger somewhere deep down within yourself, then it ruins your health; thus it destroys one of the factors.” Having a calm state of mind should not be confused with an insensitive state of mind. “a calm state of mind is rooted in affection and compassion. There is a very high level of sensitivity and feeling there.” without a calm mind you can be easily influenced by outside forces, however, with a little bit of discipline, you will be able to have some stability and therefore even in dire straits you will be able to navigate your ship. Discipline in the sense that you must train yourself to bring about positive thoughts.

  1. Change takes time.

These words are the only words on one page (page 29, if you have it), and I think that a lot of people forget that. If you go for the quick fix, it will be just that, quick. Then the problem will rise again. For a long-term problem a long-term solution must be used, “at the beginning, the implementation of the positive practices is very small, so the negative influences are still very powerful. However, eventually, as you gradually build up the positive practices, the negative behaviors are automatically diminished.” Do not get discouraged if you take a backward step, it is important to know that eventually, a negative situation won’t have an effect on your overall state of mind.

  1. Take the initiative to connect with people.

A lot of people often wait for others to respond to them in a positive way first, this creates a feeling of remorse and promotes a feeling of isolation away from others. Take the initiative and approach “others with the thought of compassion in your mind” meaning that you will be able to connect with them limiting the possibility that both of you involved will hold any ill will and negative feelings towards each other. “Whenever I meet people I always approach them from the standpoint of the most basic things we have in common. We each have a physical structure, a mind, emotions. We are all born in the same way, and we all die.” Using these underlying beliefs, you can more effectively and easily “exchange and communicate with one another.”

  1. The attitude you hold will determine the overall outcome of your life.

If you think the world is against you then it will seem that way. If you think that life is amazing and it should be cherished then that’s how you will see it. Experiencing suffering is inevitable, that is just how life is. A death in the family, finding out you have cancer, losing money on the stock market, all levels of suffering is sure to happen. “Our attitude towards suffering becomes very important because it can affect how we cope with suffering when it arises. Now our usual attitude consists of an intense aversion and intolerance of our pain and suffering. However, if we can transform our attitude towards suffering, adopt an attitude that allows us greater tolerance of it, then this can do much to help counteract feelings of mental unhappiness, dissatisfaction, and discontent.”  The Dalia Lama talks about people who can often allow feelings of loss, anxiety, and grief to overwhelm them if they go unchecked, pulling them into a deep hole of self-absorption. A few ways to combat such feelings is to think of others that have been or are in similar or worse off situations, allowing you to not “feel isolated, as if you (had) been single-pointedly picked out.”

These are my 5 main takeaways from His Holiness, however, the following passage is one that resonated with me the most.

“Trying to avoid our problems or simply not thinking about them may provide temporary relief, but I think that there is a better approach. If you directly confront your suffering, you will be in a better position to appreciate the depth and nature of the problem. If you are in a battle, as long as you remain ignorant of the status and combat capability of your enemy, you will be totally unprepared and paralyzed by fear. But if you know the fighting capability of your opponents, what sort of weapons they have and so on, then you’re in a much better position when you engage in the war.”

Thanks for reading.

See you on the mats.

Book Review: The One Thing, Gary Keller with Jay Papasan

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Having recently found an interest in extraordinary successes and results I decided to pick up The One Thing, by Gary Keller with Jay Papasan, as my next book review. Gary Keller is an American entrepreneur and best-selling author, he is most known for his work as the founder of Keller Williams which is the largest real estate company in the world, with over 180000 agents, and franchises in North America, South Africa, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Turkey, the UK, and Dubai. He has co-authored two previous books, The Millionaire Real Estate Agent and The Millionaire Real Estate Investor, the latter becoming a New York Times best-seller. So, it’s fair to say that Keller knows a bit about extraordinary success.

A Russian proverb starts the book, “If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one.” This sets up the book which holds the view that as Humans we can only focus on one thing at a time if we want that one thing to be successful. He backs this up with a passage from the movie City Slickers, where the following conversations take place between two characters:

Curly: “Do you know what the secret of life is?”

Mitch: “No. What?”

Curly: “This.” [He holds up one finger]

Mitch: “Your Finger?”

Curly: “One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and everything else don’t mean shit.”

Mitch: “That’s great, but what’s the “one thing”?”

Curly: “That’s what you’ve got to figure out.”

Keller goes on to say that at the time he didn’t realize the importance of this conversation. His company had run into some problems, after almost a decade of successfully building it from the ground up they had hit a wall. After going to a coach who helped him through his predicament they had come to the conclusion that Keller needed to fill 14 positions that needed new faces. Keller seeing that the most important thing to keep the business going was to find the people to fill those roles, he fired himself as the CEO. He made it his mission to focus on his one thing. Once the roles started being filled, the company grew year on year by an average of 40 percent for almost a decade. After looking back on his successes and failures he noticed a pattern, one that he would base this book on.

Keller goes on to reference the Domino Effect, whereby a single domino can set in motion a series of dominoes, not only that, but a domino can bring down another domino that is 50 percent larger. This can be used in the same way for goals and actions. For instance, what single action will set up another action that will ultimately end in achieving a goal. Keller notes that highly successful people find the lead domino every day and keep setting things in motion until they reach their goal or target. Keller has already underlined things of importance for readers, one being the following sentence:

“The key is over time. Success is built sequentially. It’s one thing at a time.”

I used to struggle with this concept, I would want that instant gratification and success. This is something I learned through starting Jiu-jitsu, and I have to thank my instructor Robbie for drilling it into my head for the past couple of months. I know that a lot of people think that success happens overnight, but having read books and really delved deep into how success occurs I have come to the realization that this is far from the truth. Constant work at a skill, on a task, or on a project in a big part determines its success.

Moving on to part one, where Keller breaks down the lies of success that mislead us and derail our efforts. Keller notes that there are six lies that society deems are true in creating success:

  1. Everything matters equally
  2. Multitasking
  3. A disciplined life
  4. Willpower is always on will-call
  5. A balanced life
  6. Big is bad

Now a few of these I already knew to be lies of success, such as multitasking, where you try to get multiple things done and you seem like you complete them both but ultimately you actually waste time in hopping between the two. Your mind has to adjust to the new task each time. That’s why you notice that your productivity goes down when a co-worker asks you to do something, as you then have to turn your mind to the new task to receive information, then go back to the one you were just working on.  However, I would have thought that discipline would be a key of success. But how Keller puts it changed my mind, how you can use discipline to create habits that lead to success. So, in the sense where self-discipline breaks down after a while unless the habit is made.

Never really thinking about if everything mattered equally I just assumed that everything was equal. Keller though would say that nothing is equal, in a contest one team is always going to be better, no matter how fair the official is, a person will always be more talented in one skill over another. Keller notes that when it comes to decision making, on what task to complete first we tend to trade the best decision for any decision. When everything seems important, then everything seems equal, we then try to complete everything at once, or value something that is not as important over something else as it seems more urgent. Making us busy and active, even though it doesn’t correlate with producing any results.

I am a sucker for to-do lists, I always make them and try to tick off the tasks on the list. Keller explains how they can become a trap of time wasting, as everything on the list seems important, even if it is a trivial task, it still sits on the same list as something more important. Keller referencing Australian prime minister Bob Hawke: “The things which are most important don’t always scream the loudest.” How to combat this lack of purpose in a to-do list, make a success list using the 80/20 principle, otherwise known as the Pareto principle. Take 20% of the list that would give you 80% of the productivity, and make a new list with that new 20%. Keller says to go even further, make a list that ultimately gives you only one thing to focus on.

Throughout the book there are many quotes by famous thinkers, writers and successful people from all walks of life, each giving a little bit of insight on the topic of the chapter. Not only has Keller underlined and included quotes, he has also summarized each chapter in a “Big Ideas” section at the end, meaning that instead of re-reading the book, you can just go back over each summary. The book is littered with figures and diagrams that help the reader visualize the concepts that Keller talks about.

Part two of The One thing starts with Keller telling his story of how got tired of “playing success” and ditched the lies of success that he talked about in the previous part and embraced the simple tactics that produce results. Starting with asking the hard question on what to focus on, what task are you going to focus on that will help you the most in working towards your goals, be it business, be it personal life, relationships whatever it is. Asking what Keller calls the focusing questions will allow you to break the task into smaller, more easily completed tasks. “The quality of any answer is directly determined by the quality of the question.” Keller includes a poem by J.B. Rittenhouse called My Wage that I will share with you below:

I bargained with Life for a penny,
And Life would pay no more,
However I begged at evening when
I counted my scanty store.

For Life is a just employer,
He gives you what you ask,
But once you have set the wages,
Why you must bear the task.

I worked for a menial’s hire,
Only to learn dismayed,
That any wage I had asked of Life,
Life would have willingly paid.

Noting especially the last two lines. When you ask for it, life will give it. However, you must take on the task of achieving it.

As covered in my review of Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl, Life is about searching and giving it meaning. Keller agrees and states that Life is a question, that is up to the individual to answer with their actions. Everyone will be different. Another benefit of asking the focusing question is that when you add on to that question “what is the one thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?” meaning that you can still have a big picture view of your current situation yet still focus on the one thing at that time and place that would make the next domino fall with less effort.

Keller talks about creating habits of success, habits that keep you asking the main question that he pushes: “What’s the one thing I can do today for______ such that by doing it everything else will be easier or even unnecessary?” and you use discipline for the habit to stick. Keller notes that research says that for a person to form a habit it takes 66 days. To help you in establishing this habit, it is imperative that you give yourself reminders to ask the question. Part of the ritual of asking questions is to break the question down, into small, big, broad and specific. So, you might ask yourself “what is something I can do to double my sales?”, this would be a big and broad question, too broad, and it doesn’t have any urgency to it. “What can I do to increase sales by 5% this year?”, this is a small and specific question, gives a goal date, but the sales increase is achievable. This is where you would have to ask a big and specific question to maximize your results. The question might look more like this: “What can I do to double sales in six months?” making it a habit to ask the questions in this way, gives you a large and challenging goal that you will have to work harder to achieve, while giving you a strict timeline whereby it creates a sense of urgency to complete it.

Moving onto part three, where Keller sums up how to get extraordinary results, where your productivity can be derived from the priority you give yourself at any given time, that works towards completing your purpose. “Live with Purpose”, how do you find your purpose? Well, you have to take on a task that you choose, it might be that you want to create a business, or that you want to grow your own produce and help reduce your pollution, whatever the case maybe it is up to you to decide on a purpose. As Keller puts it, “Who we are and where we want to go determine what we do and what we accomplish.” However, I will state that if you are struggling with a purpose and you are not sure were to aim. My advice, pick a direction and shoot, as long as you learn something from it, even if it is that you learn you don’t want to do it, then there is no harm done by it. Just don’t get discouraged and pick another thing to aim at.

With many repeating concepts such as goal setting, such that it gives you a clear big-picture direction that you can focus down on to what to do right at that moment of your day, where that action tips the next domino. Blocking time, not only time dedicated to your one thing, or big project but more importantly, a time where you can relax and time where you plan for the next week or month. The idea of making yourself accountable, where you actively seek and acknowledge reality and therefore find a solution to the problem you are faced with. Keller has written a great book, where most, if not all, of the concepts of The One Thing can be applied across all aspects of life. And Keller recognizes this, including a chapter all about putting The One Thing to work, including personal, family, job and a few others, all with examples of questions that you could ask of yourself.

The One Thing is another book to recommend to all of you, as I have only covered a fraction of the material. Keller and Papasan have written a great book, with a lot of new and old ideas that are actionable and backed by studies and research that was compiled over the four years before the book’s release. I buy most of the books I get through booktopia.com, I like the hard copy feel. However, if it is easier for you to get a PDF and chuck it on your Kindle or listen to an audiobook then I can highly recommend that you do so. What’s your One Thing? The thing you want to complete today, next month, next year? Let us know below.

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See you on the mats.

 

 

 

Top 10 habits that have changed my life

Here are 10 habits that have changed my life. My favorite would have to be either 1 or 4.

  1. Reading more

Getting back into reading was one of the best things I could’ve done. There is so much knowledge and life experience available in the pages of books. Experiences that I could learn from. My girlfriend and I are building quite the library from having only a handful to now almost 50. I try to read at least 10 pages or 20 min a day, all ways of learning something new.

  1. Journaling

I made it a point to start this year, and I have only missed a handful of days. Journaling is one of those things that I thought I would never do, however, it has been quite therapeutic. Putting thoughts on paper allows me to clear up the headspace and gives me the ability to focus on the daily goals. I have used 5-minute journaling for over a month and have not gone back. It’s an easy 5-minute task at the start and end of the day. Usually while eating breakfast and before bed.

  1. Listening to/watching interesting people

Listening and watching podcasts has become a staple of my routine. I listen to a podcast while I work out, Jocko podcast has been the main voice in my ear. And when my day is winding down I try to watch the Joe Rogan Experience Podcast. Both offer many different views from many different interesting people, Jocko reads military books and will provide his own view, and well, Joe is Joe and brings on a plethora of interesting and exciting people, some with views that challenge my own, others that provide motivation and some that just provide a laugh.

  1. Undertaking tasks that are challenging

I think this is one of the biggest changes I have done. I would’ve usually been fine in doing the bare minimum, I cruised through high school and most of my university. I often felt like I should do more. So, I decided to bite the bullet and take on challenging tasks, not ones that have been placed on me, but ones I have set for myself. Taking up new hobbies, different things that I would’ve otherwise never done only showed a little interest in. I have completed two blacksmithing courses, started BJJ and started this blog. It isn’t easy but I enjoy every moment of it.

  1. Waking up early

I wake up at 5 most mornings and get gym out of the way early, I feel that I can complete more during the day with those extra morning hours when most people are still asleep. Some will say I’m crazy, but then those people probably don’t want the things I want. I will say that it is not for everyone, some may find that they work better in the midnight hours and that is fine. Not everyone is wired the same, I just happen to be a morning person.

  1. Exercising daily

I have always been active, however, the past year I have really tried to get the body moving daily. At least an hour at gym or BJJ training. Studies have shown that physical activity can improve quality of life and health outcomes, like reduced chances of cardiovascular disease and improved mental-health, amongst other benefits. When I have a lot on my mind I tend to try to get out of my head and into my body, pushing weight around a room I find it somewhat therapeutic.

  1. Doing a martial art

The physical adversity that comes with martial arts is something that will test all people, be it boxing or wrestling, Muay Thai or judo. Any martial will bring challenges that help the mind and body grow. Martial arts teaches discipline through training a technique over and over, confidence in your own ability to defend yourself, helps form new friendships and teaches you to be resilient under stress. I have to say that doing any martial art will benefit anyone, however, I reckon that BJJ is the way to go for many reasons which I lay out in this article.

  1. Sorting out my finances

It’s something that not a lot of people want to think about, however, if you don’t then when you need to think about it, it’s already too late. This is something that I think all should do, or at least attempt to as it gives you a peace of mind. I personally use the barefoot investor method, which I cover here. So far having implemented it for a month together with my girlfriend we have saved a weeks worth of wages while going on a holiday and still living our lives. So, the method allows you to still live your life by allocating spending money, whilst you save for the future.

  1. Taking control of my attitude

Attitude is something that only you can control, no one has any power over what kind of attitude you have. I used to be a bit of a hot head, still can be, but I have learned that my attitude can dictate how I react to something or someone. When reading Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl, I began to understand that my attitude has really helped me navigate through life’s triumphs and tribulations. Not letting something or someone get the best of you all starts with your attitude and how you choose to react to it.

  1. Fear and goal setting

I wrote about this in a previous post. I never used to do either, but with the use of both, I am able to aim at my goals and strive to reach them, whilst also working away from my fears. Effectively it means that I have to modes of motivation, something pulling me and something pushing me. When setting goals, it is important to dream of the biggest goal, so for me it is to be financially free one day, then I have a five-year goal that will help me achieve that, then a one-year to a five-year, then a six month to reach that one year, and so on until it’s the goal for today. Which will help me reach the ultimate big picture goal that I first set. I will be covering The One Thing by Gary Keller with Jay Papasan, where goal setting is talked about at length.

 

So, these are my top ten things that I have done or used that have changed my life, they might work for you they may not (5am wake-ups can be a killer…. if you hate them). If you have any questions about anything I have covered, do not hesitate to ask. What habits have changed your life?

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See you on the mats.

 

Book Review: Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor E. Frankl – Part 2

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Continuing on from part one of this review, I will look at the second part of the book, where Frankl covers his theory of logotherapy and how he had used his experiences in Nazi death camps to help him in reinforcing it. Logotherapy is a form of psychoanalysis where there is “less retrospective and less introspective” methods used, meaning that the thoughts or past experience of the patient or subject are not as thoroughly examined. Instead, the future of the patient, in the sense of what they must achieve or what meanings to fulfill.

Logotherapy, taking the Greek word Logos, which signifies “meaning”, so patients are made to confront and examine the meaning of their life. Once given a meaning, they are able to turn their focus away from any feedback-loops from hell, which would otherwise have a chance to develop into neuroses. Breaking down the self-centered ego instead of feeding it. Giving motivation to the will of meaning, instead of following Freudian psychoanalysis or Adlerian psychology which would be the will to pleasure or the will to power, respectively. Each with their own problems, chasing happiness or pleasure often doesn’t end well as you will consistently be striving for it as one can never truly attain happiness. While striving for power also looks to attain superiority in some form over others, usually seen as an inferiority complex, of wanting to compensate for something that the person doesn’t have. Each of the three Viennese schools of Psychotherapy hold conflicting ideas, however, I think that each has some merit in some form and I suggest that you have a look into each and come up with your own assessment.

Back to Logotherapy and Frankl’s will to meaning. Frankl dictates that only the individual can fulfill the unique and specific meaning that he gives his own life. Meaning that the person must take it upon themselves to give their life meaning, one that they will not only live for but also die for. He goes on to reference a couple of public-opinion polls and studies done, all with very similar results. One done in France showed that 89% of the people acknowledged that man needs “something” to live for, and 61% said that they had something or someone in their lives that they were ready to die for. The polls showing that the thirst for meaning in one’s life is exceptional, considering that out of almost 8000 students from 48 colleges, 78% said their first goal in life was “finding a purpose and meaning to my life”. I would also fall into that category; however, I do not look back at my suffering and become paralyzed by it, I use all my experiences as a base to stand on, I look to the future of what I could achieve as a way to bring meaning to my life. It may be in the form of relationships, hobbies, career, side projects or hustles, And I have built a matrix of meaning so as to not make it that I am defined by only one meaning.

Finding a meaning can become a frustrating task, and as Frankl calls it “existential frustration”, which can result in the person forever searching and not coming to a solid meaning. Frankl states that existential in this circumstance may refer to the following:

  • Existence itself, “specifically the human mode of being”
  • The meaning of existence
  • Striving to find a concrete meaning in personal existence

I have had these thoughts, and I often came to the common thought that life is meaningless and that ultimately, I also have no meaning. However, my views have begun to slowly change. That yes life may not have a meaning, however, it is up to me to give it meaning. I touched on this briefly, that the memories that we leave behind are a big part of the meaning that we can give ourselves, on a piece dedicated to a friend’s father. Where memories that you share with others can give your life meaning. I have seen firsthand how someone can see the frustration with not having a meaning. You can often get yourself into a vicious cycle of negative thinking that can be difficult to recover from.

Frankl covers that this search for meaning may, instead of bringing the desired effect of inner equilibrium, it instead brings inner tension. This tension though is only a byproduct and referring back to Nietzsche: “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” The tension Frankl speaks of is “the tension between what one has already achieved and what one still ought to accomplish.” This is part of human nature, to be able to look both backward at what you have done, but also towards the future to dream of the things you want to do. So, one should not be afraid or scared of challenging themselves with a potential meaning, even if it may not be one that they ultimately go for. This allows one to suffer for a task or reason that they chose. An interesting comment that Frankl makes on therapists, as follows:

“So if therapists wish to foster their patients’ mental health, they should not be afraid to create a sound amount of tension through a reorientation toward the meaning of one’s life.”

Obviously not overloading their patient with a challenge that is far out of their mental level of sorts, but slowly having them set goals or achievements that they will be able to find meaning in.

If one doesn’t find meaning or lacks the awareness of a meaning that may be right in front of them, often they will complain about feeling empty. They find themselves in what Frankl describes as “The Existential Vacuum”. This Vacuum is in part due to one either wanting to do what other people do, or doing what others tell him to do. There is a responsibility placed on one’s shoulders whether they want it or not, one must choose what they want to suffer for. So, for instance, the elderly person who has just retired who’s meaning was their career. Now they have all this spare time and just sit at home depressed, not knowing what to do. They go to a therapist and asked to be cured. However, if they find a meaning that they can involve themselves in, like for instance a new hobby, or maybe at a community facility like helping out at a Men’s Shed program, or at their local sports center. Frankl says that with logotherapy almost anyone can find a meaning to their life, and ultimately find a meaning to their suffering.

Frankl goes on to describe what someone can do when they ask themselves, what is the meaning of their life? Knowing that no one will share their own meaning with another and that it may even change from year to year, like in chess how there is no best move, there is only such a thing as a good move, and it is solely dependent on the situation. Life is much the same, there is no best meaning, as it is totally dependent on the time and place of the moment in the person’s life. However, as each situation in one’s life signifies a trial to overcome, it is solely up to them to solve it. Ultimate responsibility.

“Live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to now.”

Living with this in mind allows one to grasp each situation and decision, whilst being confronted with their own finite time on this earth. Having experienced suffering, I took on the idea that instead of complaining, why me, why did I get this shit hand. I took it upon myself to not let it win and beat me. Because I noticed that I could turn what would seem like a tragedy, into a triumph. I could overcome my battle, and use it as a way to show people that if you have the mindset of the suffering is meaningful in the sense that life has given you a test to grow in, then I would too overcome my situation. Frankl uses an example of an elderly GP that came to him for his severe depression. He had lost his wife and could not overcome the grief. Frankl asked the doctor a question, “What would have happened, Doctor, if you had died first, and your wife would have had to survive you?” This way of thinking is crucial when going through suffering. As it gives the suffering meaning, and in the doctor’s case he found meaning in his suffering, and instead of having in a woe is me attitude, it shifted to an attitude of I would rather suffer through it than my wife.

In life, we are all able to change our attitude, and you can say that it is easier for some compared to others, or that I have not been through what you have been through so I wouldn’t understand. And you are right, I couldn’t understand what you specifically are going through. However, like every human that has ever lived and will ever live, I have suffered. I know I am not special and have been able to shift my attitude to help me in dealing with it. So, find your reason or meaning for your suffering, as it doesn’t matter about the hand you are dealt, it’s how you play your hand that matters. And this little snippet I found quite interesting, Frankl talks about how an old man need not envy a younger man as the old man has lived his life.

“Instead of possibilities, I have realities in my past, not only the reality of work done and of love loved, but of sufferings bravely suffered. These sufferings are even the things of which I am most proud, though these are things which cannot inspire envy.”

Living a life and being proud of each moment, so instead of becoming paralyzed by what has one has suffered and instead look at it as suffering one has endured and come out the other side with battle scars to be proud of. I at first wasn’t a fan of the scars I was left with, but as they tell a big part of my story I have grown to love them (plus, I’ve been told chicks dig scars).

Part two of Man’s search for meaning is littered with anecdotes provided by Frankl, each explaining one of his patient’s cases. From child abuse, to grieving, to sleep deprivation, he explains the principles behind logotherapy and how in each case the patient’s attitude can be changed and reoriented to a new meaning or used in a way that is quite paradoxical. In the case of sleep deprivation, Frankl advised the patient to try to not fall asleep, in doing so, the patient’s anxiety of not being able to sleep was reversed and now he wished for no sleep. Ultimately getting the desired result of sleep.

I have been able to touch and deliver only a few of the gold nuggets of information I came across in this book, and I can only recommend that you read it yourself. For a $10 book it is packed with so many ideas that will challenge your own ideas and like me, it may even change your life. I will finish this post with one quote from Frankl.

“In the concentration camps,.. we watched and witnessed some of our comrades behave like swine while others behaved like saints. Man has both potentialities within himself; which one is actualized depends on decisions but not on conditions.”

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See you on the mats.