Thursday, 28 August 2014

Thoughts on achieving success despite other people's mistakes

When someone is looking look for a job, he sends his resume around, replies to advertisements, and finally, he gets invited to interviews. Being the employment market what it is, candidates are rejected in nine out of ten cases. A week after the interview, they receive a phone call informing them that another applicant has been chosen to fill the open position.

How to deal effectively with other people's errors

Sometimes, there is a good reason why another person has been selected for that post, but a certain element of randomness influences a large proportion of hiring processes. On many occasions, the choice cannot be rationally justified and one should not waste time trying to figure out mysterious reasons that do not exist.

An element of arbitrariness is not foreign to those cases, as it happens in countless human activities. Why did you buy this make of car and not that one? Would you repeat that purchase today? How did you come to choose your family doctor? Do you remember how you met each of your best friends?

Don't waste your time trying to find logical explanations for stupid mistakes

What is surprising is people's reaction to failure and rejection. Chances are that the candidate who has not been selected for a particular job will get to hear from his family and friends that he should improve his attitude, manners, clothing, hairdo, and who knows how many other aspects.

Salesmen who go through a difficult period also get served a menu of motivational speeches and meetings to discuss their attitude. In other professions, such as sports, acting, or management, the story runs a parallel course. The problem, you will be told, is in how you see the world.

The role that enthusiasm plays in success is massively overrated

Well, luckily, this is not true. Enthusiasm and attitude play a certain role in performance, but their importance should not be overemphasized. If you pause to think for a second, you will realize that the professionals whom you most trust don't seem to be excessively driven or enthusiastic.

What you expect primarily from your doctor, lawyer, plumber, or car mechanic is not that they are greatly inspiring, but that they do a good job and deliver competent service. Action is what we want to see. Service is what we want to receive. Predictable, rational action is one million times more valuable than attitude and motivation.

Action is the essential factor that gets things done, sold, and delivered. The candidate who has not been selected for the job should not spend too much time wallowing in self-recrimination about what he could have done better. If he can draw some useful lesson for the future, so much the better, but in most cases, a failed interview was just a sale that didn't close.

Only productive, rational effort can bring you closer to prosperity and happiness

Don't devote your worthy hours to speculate about undefined psychological factors, arbitrary theories, and nonsensical advice. Professional salesmen know that, given enough time and effort, they will find more customers. Watching, hoping, and talking seldom help. Only productive effort can bring you closer to success.

Athletes are motivated when they compete, but in the end, it is their past training what usually determines who will win the race. Instead of speculative advice, choose the wisdom of rational action. Let others wonder if the world should be this or that way. Move on, redouble your attempts to reach the place you want to be, and let your actions speak for themselves.

 For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my book The 10 Principles of Rational Living

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Randy Son Of Robert under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

How to build self-esteem in the face of obstacles



Rationality is the way to happiness
by John Vespasian

In a world where philosophy is often reduced to catch-phrases and empty theories, this is a passionate defence of logic and consistency as the keys to happiness. Personal effectiveness, the basis of well-being and success, results from rational goals, workable plans and relentless action. 

In the areas of career, health, relationships and investments, this essay shows how to let go of wasteful propositions, pursue compatible goals, cultivate perseverance and resilience, minimize problems and maximize opportunities. Inspired by the teachings of Aristotle, Maimonides, Erasmus, Montaigne, Epictetus and Spinoza, the book encourages readers to embrace rationality and adopt a self-reliant, entrepreneurial attitude.


Table of Contents

1. The untold key to success and happiness
Ten positive trends rarely reported by the media
The way to independent thinking
Trust only your own statistics
Achieving happiness through rationality
Wake up to a sharp vision of reality
Important lessons from history
In search of principles that make sense


2. Fundamental skills that everybody should master
Relentless initiative creates opportunities
An active mind looks for alternatives
Cultivate perseverance and resilience
Avoid waste and embrace frugality
Shun overcommitment and worry


3. The easy way to prosperity
Select a career where you can make a good living
Principles of accelerated learning
Using Ancient Mongol tactics to find employment
Discard the myth of career planning
Growth sectors in the 21st century
Those who can sell are always received well


4. Philosophical ideas to make the best of your life
Take the perspective of a lifetime
Focus on practical solutions
Self-confidence arises from preparedness
Pursue compatible goals
Concentrate your resources on essential tasks


5. Get out of losing situations
Immobility is the enemy of achievement
Train yourself to face nonsense calmly
Throw away unworkable plans
Read the writing on the wall
Take simple measures to protect yourself
You have more options than you think


6. Avoiding major mistakes
Preserve your independent thinking
Don't make the same mistake as Confucius
Entrepreneurship is the opposite of resignation
Abandon perfectionism right now
Waiting for the world to change is a waste of time


7. How to find love without making a mess of sex
Rational values are the basis of great relationships
Overcoming the main obstacle to meeting new people
The high cost of short-term romantic involvement
The entrepreneurial factor in love and friendship
What is the crucial success element in dating?
Break free from artificial social constraints


8. Saving and investing to secure your future
Take control of your financial life
Principles of rational investment
Techniques for reducing risk
How to develop self-confidence as an investor
Saving regularly brings peace of mind
The advantage of turbulent times


9. Principles of optimal health
The teachings of Maimonides
Living in accordance with nature
How psychology can improve your health
Modern theories about prolonging life
How some people live to become 100 years old
The low-cost approach to good nutrition
Effective methods for minimizing stress
Sleeping well by natural means


10. Seeking personal growth one day at a time
Embrace rational principles
The link between personal effectiveness and happiness
Become an entrepreneur in your everyday life
Do not be discouraged by your limited resources
Clear thinking gives you the ultimate advantage
It is on slow days when you make big breaks


11. Conclusion
The human need for logic and consistency
Achieving happiness in a chaotic world
Philosophy summarized in a single sentence
It takes a while, but it can be done


Rationality is the way to happiness
by John Vespasian

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Education is the key to success. Zero-cost education is even better

Many universities and colleges offer courses to improve your learning effectiveness. In those sessions, usually spread across several weeks, you will be taught to define your goals, to get organized, to be disciplined in your studies, to take notes, underline the main ideas, and review constantly what you have learned.

Why people fail to complete crucial tasks


Judging by the results, one might wonder if those courses work that well. The number of drop-outs from colleges and universities is still substantial. Wasted resources and wasted time. What a pity, people lament, but can the situation be improved? If we take a look at adult vocational training, the situation is somewhat better, but still far from ideal.

Indeed, there is plenty of room for improvement, but this is the kind of problem that cannot be solved by preaching. If conditions are going to ameliorate, this will happen only as a result of personal example. With good reason, people tend to believe more what they experience themselves than what they are told.

Effective learning can take place at minimum cost


Let me tell you a story that illustrates how effective learning can take place at minimum cost. Moses Maimonides was born in the year 1135 C.E in Cordoba, in the south of Spain. His father was a rabbi and possessed at home a few dozen books about Jewish law, medicine, and Greek philosophy.

During his infancy, Moses Maimonides, together with his older brother David, received many hours of instruction from his father, although that cannot be compared to the thousands of lessons that contemporary children receive at school. What is amazing is that, with very limited resources, Maimonides absorbed knowledge like a sponge.

His brother David began a jewellery business and Maimonides also took some part in it, at the same time that he devoted a share of his time to writing a General Commentary on Jewish law. His writings were based on the books that he had read, to which he added his own reflections.

The jewellery business had its ups and downs, but Maimonides continued researching and writing during his twenties and early thirties until he finished his commentary, which today, nine hundred years later, is still considered one of the major scholarly works on Jewish law.

What to do when you are stranded in a foreign land with no money


The family moved to Egypt in search of a better life, but a catastrophe was soon to wipe out their resources. Maimonides' brother, David, died in a shipwreck, taking down with him all the family fortune. Stranded in Egypt with no money, Maimonides opted for trying to make a living as a physician, using the medical knowledge that he had acquired in Spain.

As of 1165 C.E., during his thirties and forties, Maimonides practised medicine in Alexandria, the main port in the north of Egypt. His success was so astounding that, although Maimonides was a Jew, Sultan Saladin appointed him physician to the court. That entailed regular obligations and, every morning, Maimonides went to the royal palace to give medical consultations to the royal family and court officials.

In addition, every afternoon, he ran his private medical consultation at home, both for the Jewish and Islamic community. As though this was not enough work, every evening, he tried to devote some time to read philosophy and to continue writing.

By the time he was 50 years old, Maimonides had completed his second major work, the "Guide for the Perplexed," an extraordinary intellectual attempt to reconcile religion with Aristotelian logic. The book had a major impact in later Western thinkers and, nowadays, in the 21st century, it is still in print.

The inexpensive short cut to extraordinary knowledge


This was just the end of the second period of his writings, since later on, he began to produce texts about medicine, including a commentary on the aphorisms of the Greek physician Hippocrates. How did Moses Maimonides managed to accumulate such an extensive knowledge in different areas? Here is the explanation that I can put forward:
  1. Enormous curiosity to learn things that he considered interesting.
  2. Getting hold of a few good books in the areas of knowledge that he liked.
  3. Reading those books many times, year after year, making his own notes.
  4. Taking every opportunity to learn from experts and ask questions, driven by his curiosity.
  5. Concentrating on different fields of knowledge one after the other. In the case of Maimonides, he focused his research and writings, sequentially, on the areas of law, for about twelve years, then on philosophy, for about another twelve years, and finally, on medicine.
  6. Learning from mistakes and making corrections as he went along.
You may argue that such rules of learning were good for someone living nine centuries ago, but that they have become obsolete in our time. Modern schools and universities, such as those in the fields of law and medicine, impose strict requirements on which subjects are to be covered by students.

The rules of learning and self-development have not changed


Although the environment and demands have changed, I submit that the principles of accelerated learning have remained the same. Curiosity, personal motivation, and a few good books is all it takes to get started. For those who possess the knowledge, passing formal exams has never been a problem. Other elements, such as working experience, can be picked up as you go along.

Does this method really work?


The ultimate proof of the learning method was provided by Maimonides himself. He got married when he was 50 years old and, soon after, he had a son, whom he named Abraham. The kid read at home the same books that Maimonides had read and, already as an infant, he began to assist his father during his medical consultations.

When Maimonides died in 1204, he was 69 years old. By that time, his son Abraham, who had just turned 19, had already acquired such a reputation as physician that he was also appointed to a position in the royal court. Apparently, the system of learning had worked its wonders once again, but the story does not stop here.

During the following decades, Maimonides' grandson and the son thereof also learned the same profession at a young age and, later on, practised medicine very successfully. During the 13th and 14th centuries, they belonged to the most famous physicians of Egypt.


For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my book The 10 Principles of Rational Living 
The 10 Principles of Rational Living
[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com] 

[Image by RonAlmog under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Personal growth starts with getting yourself unstuck

Millions of people spend their days trying to convince themselves that change is impossible. They feel trapped by their profession, job, spouse, friendships, or financial obligations, to the extent that any attempt at improving their situation seems destined to fail. Time goes by and, after a while, they give up all hope of amelioration.

Dramatic improvement remains possible every single day


There are many reasons to experience such feeling of being driven by external events. If you look around, you might find some justifications for immobility, but do not let them make you feel powerless. The truth is that, every year, thousands of people throughout the world undertake such fundamental changes. Here are some examples:
  1. Sell their house in the city, move to a village on the coast, and build up a new life there.
  2. Drop out of their current circle of friends from one day to the next and seek out people with other values or interests.
  3. Go through their kitchen, throw away all unhealthy items, and commit to purchase exclusively wholesome food in the future.
  4. Look for a job in a field unconnected to their previous experience.
  5. Buy a bicycle and ride it every day for an hour.
  6. Unplug their television set, throw it away, and never spend another minute watching TV.
  7. Learn a foreign language and find a job in another continent.
  8. Cancel their affiliation to an organization that has been part of their lives for decades and cut off links to former associates.
  9. Liquidate their assets, move to a tax heaven, and change their nationality.
  10. Throw away all tobacco and alcohol that they have at home and never purchase or consume those again.
  11. Start up their own business during evenings and weekends, while keeping their present employment.
  12. Study nutrition, learn to cook, and lose any extra weight that they have accumulated over the years.
  13. Tell your spouse that you want a divorce, move to another place, and start building a new life.
People who embrace major personal change come from all walks of life

These cases are not as rare as you may think. People who embrace major personal changes come from all walks of life. Middle-aged or old, male or female, they hesitate long until, one day, they make the decision. Their determination to take a new road frequently antagonizes family and friends, who find their old expectations undermined.

It takes enormous courage to embark on this sort of journey. More often than not, what moves individuals to alter essential elements of their existence is the realization of the limited time they have. This may happen as a result of a major illness or simply because they outgrow their previous living conditions.


Have you reviewed lately your long-term objectives


Have you redefined your long-term objectives? What aspects of your life do you wish to improve? Stepping out of our routine and taking a few days to reflect might be the initial step. Are you considering embarking on a major change or taking an unconventional path? Should that be the case, let me wish you a quick and successful transition.

For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my book The 10 Principles of Rational Living

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Alan.V under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Monday, 25 August 2014

A good health is the best confidence booster

The principles of preventive medicine have remained practically the same for centuries. The idea behind those guidelines is that individuals, barring birth defects or misfortune, should stay healthy if they lead a balanced life. Sickness is an exceptional status arising from wrong behaviour or from wounds received in combat or by accident.

Some useful things I learned from Maimonides


In Antiquity, Hippocrates formulated the precepts that a man should follow in order to maintain a good condition. In the Middle Ages, Maimonides compiled and commented Hippocrates' writings, confirming their effectiveness. Here is a summary of those principles:
  1. Ensure proper rest everyday at least for eight hours.
  2. The ideal sleeping time is between sunset and dawn.
  3. A man should not eat more than he strictly needs.
  4. Foods that are difficult to digest should be avoided.
  5. The most healthy drinks are water and wine.
  6. Bowels evacuation should take place at least once a day.
  7. Fruits, legumes, and nuts should be eaten regularly.

Common remedies that work perfectly well

Beyond those basic rules, other prescriptions of Maimonides have also been confirmed by modern medicine as highly beneficial. For instance, the recommendation that a man should sleep on his side instead of lying on his back or face. In our age, a common remedy against back pain consists of sleeping on the side, with one leg stretched and the other in the foetal position.

Another guideline from the Middle Ages encourages eating small fish. During the last decades of the twentieth century, this prescription has been confirmed by marine biology studies. Apparently, in areas of the sea polluted by chemicals, large fish, due to their size, are more likely to be contaminated than small sardines or anchovies.

Discovered by practice, confirmed by analysis


Amazingly, even the contemporary exhortation against saturated fat finds some precedents in Maimonides' writings. Nine hundred years ago, although the chemistry of the different types of fat had not yet been discovered, olive oil was already being recommended as a healthy food. At the same time, man was being advised against eating old cheese.

Most of the great physicians of Antiquity and the Middle Ages spent a good part of their lives working for kings and princes. This fact explains why, in their writings, they placed so much emphasis on recommending a balanced life as the best way of preventing disease. Nowadays, when workers are wealthier than ancient monarchs, such advice remains as valuable as in the times of Maimonides.


For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my books.

Consistency: The key to permanent stress relief

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Martin Pettitt under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]