Tuesday, 30 June 2009

The best way to recover your peace of mind

No matter how hard you work or how motivated you are, sooner or later, bad luck is going to hit you. Otherwise, someone acting negligently or mistakenly might cause your misfortune. Some people are victims of a general shift in the economy, others of a car accident. Adversity just happens.

Recovering your peace of mind when life turns for the worse is a major achievement. Difficult periods test the validity of your personal philosophy and rightly so. Can your convictions help you regain serenity? Are you able to face a painful loss without giving up hope for the future?

Many books recommend naive optimism and groundless enthusiasm as psychological defences, but none of them works for long. The human mind cannot sustain effectively beliefs that are not anchored in reality. Self-manipulation, instead of creating joy, leads to bitterness and confusion.

What is the first step to improve your mood when your world seems to be falling apart? My recommendation is to focus on reality. Forget about empty positivity and gratuitous cheers. What you need to do is to look hard at your problems and measure them. Assess the damage and count what is left.

An analysis of the situation should allow you to identify the real trouble. It might be sickness or the loss of a job. It could be an exploitative relationship or a wrong career. Whatever the affliction, it is essential to separate the actual problem from the emotional reaction. Worrying about bankruptcy is not bankruptcy itself.

Make an effort to distinguish the facts from the folklore around the facts. Unless you are in jail or suffering from terminal illness, most situations can be turned around. We all possess an innate inclination to exaggerate our misfortunes to a ridiculous extent. Emotions magnify problems.

The rational response to adversity begins with reducing difficulties to their proper size. Do not let yourself be overwhelmed by seemingly endless negative consequences that might occur in the future. Force yourself to drop irrational concerns and concentrate exclusively on the problem at hand.

Sickness is destructive and unpleasant, but you might still have many years left to enjoy life. A loss of employment or reputation can reduce your current income, but nothing prevents you from changing direction. To rebuild your finances, there are countless options that you can explore.

To recover your peace of mind, you don't need to become optimistic. What you want to gain is perspective, the path to serenity. Can you appraise your concerns and muster enough strength to shrug your shoulders? Try to say “so what?” and mean it. Once you get past that point, you are on your way.

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

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

Monday, 29 June 2009

Advantages and disadvantages of leading a rational life

If you ever thought that the benefits of acting rationally in life are self-evident, you are wrong. In fact, nothing can be further from daily experience. Irrationality and short-term thinking are preached constantly by the media and, to a great extent, by the ethical ideas that dominate our society.

There are many drawbacks to being rational, as there are many negative consequences of being good. Contrary to what you might believe, people who behave foolishly or wickedly are not stupid. They may be uninformed or short-sighted, evil or self-destructive, but not stupid.

There are great personal advantages to be drawn from behaving appallingly. Nobody told us at school and, around us, most will deny it, but I believe that it is better to face the truth. Consuming refined sugar and saturated fat might lead to health problems in the long run, but it can be a great treat right now.

If you are enlightened enough to think otherwise, this will bring about positive results for you and for the world. My point is that you should not assume that others will automatically recognize your good choices as valid. Rational thinking must involve the realization that most people will not understand it. What are the reasons behind this phenomenon?
  • IMMEDIATE BENEFITS. Short-term thinking often entails immediate pleasure or enjoyment of some kind. Children prefer chocolate chips to vegetables because they taste better. In terms of eating pleasure, you cannot argue otherwise. Without developed mental skills, childish and primitive behaviour is all you get.
  • HIDDEN DRAWBACKS. Many negative consequences of irrational actions are difficult to figure out. Human beings took hundreds of years to understand basic facts about nutrition and how it affects biochemical processes. In our days, discussions are still ongoing about why we have strong cravings for low-quality food. Good nutrition is all but self-evident.
  • PERCEIVED LOW-COST. The crucial contribution of economics to human thinking is that, when it comes to complex problems, no conclusion should be drawn without studying the complete picture. The acquisition price of an item can be judged cheap or expensive only if we consider its lifetime benefits. In the short run, you can save effort if you don´t brush your teeth. This is the sort of cheap omission that may bring you considerable long-term harm.
Even nowadays, when internet access has become commonplace for educated individuals, irrational thinking remains widespread in our world. It is undeniable that, on many occasions, foolish choices are encouraged by our social environment, but for a wise man, this should be no excuse.

Rational thinking and good ethical choices bring about enormous benefits to society, but we cannot expect that, for every decision, individuals consider all possible consequences for third parties around the world. The great news is that advantages to society are automatic.

Luckily, the main beneficiary of rational thinking is the individual who makes correct decisions, frequently in opposition to his immediate social environment. Acquiring wisdom takes substantial effort and difficult short-term choices, but constitutes the only solid foundation of personal happiness.

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

[Image by Per Ola Wiberg (Powi) under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Sunday, 28 June 2009

How to promote your blog: practical advice and reasonable expectations

Blogging is taking over the world in terms of activity and influence. Starting up a blog is easy and anyone can get it running in about half an hour. Nobody knows exactly how many active blogs are on the internet. My guess is that today, in June 2009, there must be around 20 million that post new material daily.

Writing original material everyday is a different game. Many are able to begin a blog and publish text during the initial weeks, but taking the venture further is not for the faint of heart. Focused writing requires tremendous discipline and generating fresh ideas everyday is tough.

Six months later, the 20 million blogs that were started get reduced, I estimate, to about 1 million. Of course, in the meantime, another 19 million blogs have made their appearance on the web. This new influx of players re-establishes the market to its former size until the the next round of pruning takes place.

Promoting a blog is not much different from other forms of internet marketing. What is difficult is choosing the way of promotion that matches best your objectives. Are you writing about a popular subject or is it highly specialized? Will you be addressing controversial issues? Here are some ideas:
  • GOOGLE ADS: You can purchase ads from Google by bidding for a certain word or group of words. People who search for those words, will click on them, and be directed to your blog. Your cost per click will vary according to the word you choose and how many people are bidding for it at a given time. If you sell high-margin items, this is an alternative that you should definitely explore.
  • PURSUING THIRD-PARTY LINKS: If you are a writer, you will most likely be using your blog to promote your current and future books. In that case, you might wish to devote part of your time to pursue third-party links. If you are featured by a major website in your field, the number of visitors to your blog is sure to increase. Introduce yourself and inquire if that website publishes articles by guest writers. Usually, the answer will be negative. Don't be discouraged, move to the next site, and keep trying.
  • USING RSS FEEDERS: This approach needs lots of patience, but in the long-term, is by far the most solid. RSS feeders are automatic distribution systems that disseminate the content of your blog to those who wish to receive it. Install one in your blog, so that your audience can subscribe to your posts. Some readers will try it only for a while and that is perfectly fine. Those who really like what you write will stay and allow you to grow.
Your expectations for your blog should be in line with your long-term goals. By posting shocking material, you might attract hundreds of one-time readers, but those are not worth much. What you want is to attract people who move in the same direction as you do.

Typing your name on Google and Yahoo remains the best way to measure how fast your influence is spreading. If you begin your blog from scratch, from absolutely zero, what sort of expectations should you have? How do you know if you are progressing at a good speed?

If you do not have an advertising budget and are not building on previous celebrity status, you would be doing well if you manage to accumulate a few hundred readers or third-party links after six months. If that is the case, congratulations, you are doing great. Your blog belongs to those who stay.

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

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

How to promote your blog: practical advice and reasonable expectations

Blogging is taking over the world in terms of activity and influence. Starting up a blog is easy and anyone can get it running in about half an hour. Nobody knows exactly how many active blogs are on the internet. My guess is that today, in June 2009, there must be around 20 million that post new material daily.

Writing original material everyday is a different game. Many are able to begin a blog and publish text during the initial weeks, but taking the venture further is not for the faint of heart. Focused writing requires tremendous discipline and generating fresh ideas everyday is tough.

Six months later, the 20 million blogs that were started get reduced, I estimate, to about 1 million. Of course, in the meantime, another 19 million blogs have made their appearance on the web. This new influx of players re-establishes the market to its former size until the the next round of pruning takes place.

Promoting a blog is not much different from other forms of internet marketing. What is difficult is choosing the way of promotion that matches best your objectives. Are you writing about a popular subject or is it highly specialized? Will you be addressing controversial issues? Here are some ideas:
  • GOOGLE ADS: You can purchase ads from Google by bidding for a certain word or group of words. People who search for those words, will click on them, and be directed to your blog. Your cost per click will vary according to the word you choose and how many people are bidding for it at a given time. If you sell high-margin items, this is an alternative that you should definitely explore.
  • PURSUING THIRD-PARTY LINKS: If you are a writer, you will most likely be using your blog to promote your current and future books. In that case, you might wish to devote part of your time to pursue third-party links. If you are featured by a major website in your field, the number of visitors to your blog is sure to increase. Introduce yourself and inquire if that website publishes articles by guest writers. Usually, the answer will be negative. Don't be discouraged, move to the next site, and keep trying.
  • USING RSS FEEDERS: This approach needs lots of patience, but in the long-term, is by far the most solid. RSS feeders are automatic distribution systems that disseminate the content of your blog to those who wish to receive it. Install one in your blog, so that your audience can subscribe to your posts. Some readers will try it only for a while and that is perfectly fine. Those who really like what you write will stay and allow you to grow.
Your expectations for your blog should be in line with your long-term goals. By posting shocking material, you might attract hundreds of one-time readers, but those are not worth much. What you want is to attract people who move in the same direction as you do.

Typing your name on Google and Yahoo remains the best way to measure how fast your influence is spreading. If you begin your blog from scratch, from absolutely zero, what sort of expectations should you have? How do you know if you are progressing at a good speed?

If you do not have an advertising budget and are not building on previous celebrity status, you would be doing well if you manage to accumulate a few hundred readers or third-party links after six months. If that is the case, congratulations, you are doing great. Your blog belongs to those who stay.

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

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

Saturday, 27 June 2009

The shortcut to a better life: consistency

When you were a kid at school, you probably endured lots of preaching about the virtue of flexibility. Most likely, the moral speeches you heard were accompanied by fulminating diatribes against rigidity. Imprecise is right and exact is boring, you were told. Weightlessness is strength and fragility is solidity.

In the terms of ethics, this leads to the enthronement of relativism as a moral absolute, which is, of course, absurd. Nowadays, if you watch a movie or an episode of a television series, you will rarely be able to escape the portrayal of fuzziness as sharpness. Ignorance is information. Confusion is wisdom.

On the other hand, look at what happens when we turn our attention from fiction to reality. When values and commitment lose their contours, life on earth becomes hell. If you doubt my words, talk to anyone who has lived for a while in a country where basic ethical principles have been abandoned.
  • CONTRACTS ARE IGNORED. The stories that you read in newspapers about doing business in unstable countries only reflect a small part of the horror. Without people's willingness to keep their word, society simply disintegrates. Without enforceable contracts, all that remains are shady transactions and an extremely high cost of living.
  • ABUSE BECOMES DOMINANT. Once ethics become dispensable, life turns into a race of cheating and abuse. If people begin to question fair, well-functioning agreements that have been long established, everything is up for grabs. When psychological manipulation becomes the currency of the day, any sort of purchase turns into a nightmare.
  • WORKING HOURS GROW WITHOUT LIMIT. Productivity is always the first victim of moral decay. Without honesty, agreements on time, results, and compensation lose all meaning. Reliability and credibility are the best cost-reduction tools in business. When those two disappear, the effort needed to complete any task grows exponentially
All this is, at the same time, bad news and good news. Even if the media advocate moral relativism, you are not obliged to adopt vagueness as personal philosophy. Even if people around you behave dishonestly, you can decide to stay dependable and truthful.

A wise man seeks compromise in negotiations, but only when essential moral principles are left untouched. Reality is forgiving of innocent mistakes, but merciless with those who twist facts and corrupt their soul.

Your peace of mind and self-confidence depend on your rational principles. Stick to them and they will show you the way. For the sake of your present happiness and future health, reject temptation and pass the test. Even if your environment deteriorates, your life can still remain at its best.


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

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

The shortcut to a better life: consistency

When you were a kid at school, you probably endured lots of preaching about the virtue of flexibility. Most likely, the moral speeches you heard were accompanied by fulminating diatribes against rigidity. Imprecise is right and exact is boring, you were told. Weightlessness is strength and fragility is solidity.

In the terms of ethics, this leads to the enthronement of relativism as a moral absolute, which is, of course, absurd. Nowadays, if you watch a movie or an episode of a television series, you will rarely be able to escape the portrayal of fuzziness as sharpness. Ignorance is information. Confusion is wisdom.

On the other hand, look at what happens when we turn our attention from fiction to reality. When values and commitment lose their contours, life on earth becomes hell. If you doubt my words, talk to anyone who has lived for a while in a country where basic ethical principles have been abandoned.
  • CONTRACTS ARE IGNORED. The stories that you read in newspapers about doing business in unstable countries only reflect a small part of the horror. Without people's willingness to keep their word, society simply disintegrates. Without enforceable contracts, all that remains are shady transactions and an extremely high cost of living.
  • ABUSE BECOMES DOMINANT. Once ethics become dispensable, life turns into a race of cheating and abuse. If people begin to question fair, well-functioning agreements that have been long established, everything is up for grabs. When psychological manipulation becomes the currency of the day, any sort of purchase turns into a nightmare.
  • WORKING HOURS GROW WITHOUT LIMIT. Productivity is always the first victim of moral decay. Without honesty, agreements on time, results, and compensation lose all meaning. Reliability and credibility are the best cost-reduction tools in business. When those two disappear, the effort needed to complete any task grows exponentially
All this is, at the same time, bad news and good news. Even if the media advocate moral relativism, you are not obliged to adopt vagueness as personal philosophy. Even if people around you behave dishonestly, you can decide to stay dependable and truthful.

A wise man seeks compromise in negotiations, but only when essential moral principles are left untouched. Reality is forgiving of innocent mistakes, but merciless with those who twist facts and corrupt their soul.

Your peace of mind and self-confidence depend on your rational principles. Stick to them and they will show you the way. For the sake of your present happiness and future health, reject temptation and pass the test. Even if your environment deteriorates, your life can still remain at its best.


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

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

Friday, 26 June 2009

Story of Krishna and the salesman

Every town has a Saturday market, but in the whole of India, you will not find a tougher weekly market than the one that takes place in Shurasena. A dozen spice merchants compete to offer the lowest prices and, if you are planning to buy a camel, choices in Shurasena are more numerous than the hairs of a squirrel.

Like all philosophers, Krishna loved to go the market. In the morning, he traded his medicinal herbs for coins, and in the afternoon, he used those to purchase fish and salt. Every week, he did the same, and the path he walked to the market was the path he walked to return home.

One Saturday in July, after Krishna had bought a trout and an ounce of salt and was about to leave the market, he saw a kid, barely a man, sitting on the ground and weeping bitterly. “Crying makes birds fly higher,” said Krishna to the kid, who stopped sobbing and lifted his head.

“Will you have a lemonade?” asked the boy with a trembling voice, as he got to his feet and pointed at a two-wheel cart next to him. Ripe lemons and mountain ice were lying on the cart, as well as six glasses and a tin jar. A banner on the cart read “Dhiren's Cold Lemonade.”

The kid's question was as incongruous as misplaced hope can be, since ten yards away, there was a public fountain. “I am Dhiren,” he announced shyly. “If I don't sell enough lemonade, tonight I will not have a room to stay.” The whole scene was so pathetic that, if Krishna had had any coins left, he would have drunk several glasses.

“Would you sell more if you had no fear?” inquired Krishna. Dhiren nodded and explained that he had not sold a single glass of lemonade in the whole day. The ice on the cart was melting and Dhiren had been weeping because he had lost all confidence in himself.

“I have done my best,” Dhiren went on sadly, “but there must be something wrong with me, since nobody in the world wants to buy my lemonade.” Krishna smiled, for he knew better. In Dhiren's doubts, Krishna had recognized himself as he had been a long time ago and no longer was.

“Changing oneself is often harder than changing the world,” commented Krishna, laying his hand on one of the wheels and signalling Dhiren to push the cart forward. The wheels squeaked as they rolled on Market Square and the narrow streets of Shurasena.

When Dhiren asked where they were going, Krishna just repeated his mysterious words about change. An hour later, they crossed the south port of Shurasena and, right outside the walls of the ancient city, they met a long caravan of pilgrims that had just arrived from the desert.

As soon as the pilgrims saw Dhiren's banner, they dismounted their camels, and walked to the cart. By the time all ice had melted, Dhiren had sold more glasses of lemonade than in the previous three months. With success, his smile and confidence returned to him.

When the day was over, Dhiren was a different man, sure of himself and fearless of the future. He searched long amongst the pilgrims, since he would have liked to express his thanks, but Krishna was already gone. The night fell and Dhiren found that, although the stars had not changed, he was living in a different world.

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

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

Story of Krishna and the salesman

Every town has a Saturday market, but in the whole of India, you will not find a tougher weekly market than the one that takes place in Shurasena. A dozen spice merchants compete to offer the lowest prices and, if you are planning to buy a camel, choices in Shurasena are more numerous than the hairs of a squirrel.

Like all philosophers, Krishna loved to go the market. In the morning, he traded his medicinal herbs for coins, and in the afternoon, he used those to purchase fish and salt. Every week, he did the same, and the path he walked to the market was the path he walked to return home.

One Saturday in July, after Krishna had bought a trout and an ounce of salt and was about to leave the market, he saw a kid, barely a man, sitting on the ground and weeping bitterly. “Crying makes birds fly higher,” said Krishna to the kid, who stopped sobbing and lifted his head.

“Will you have a lemonade?” asked the boy with a trembling voice, as he got to his feet and pointed at a two-wheel cart next to him. Ripe lemons and mountain ice were lying on the cart, as well as six glasses and a tin jar. A banner on the cart read “Dhiren's Cold Lemonade.”

The kid's question was as incongruous as misplaced hope can be, since ten yards away, there was a public fountain. “I am Dhiren,” he announced shyly. “If I don't sell enough lemonade, tonight I will not have a room to stay.” The whole scene was so pathetic that, if Krishna had had any coins left, he would have drunk several glasses.

“Would you sell more if you had no fear?” inquired Krishna. Dhiren nodded and explained that he had not sold a single glass of lemonade in the whole day. The ice on the cart was melting and Dhiren had been weeping because he had lost all confidence in himself.

“I have done my best,” Dhiren went on sadly, “but there must be something wrong with me, since nobody in the world wants to buy my lemonade.” Krishna smiled, for he knew better. In Dhiren's doubts, Krishna had recognized himself as he had been a long time ago and no longer was.

“Changing oneself is often harder than changing the world,” commented Krishna, laying his hand on one of the wheels and signalling Dhiren to push the cart forward. The wheels squeaked as they rolled on Market Square and the narrow streets of Shurasena.

When Dhiren asked where they were going, Krishna just repeated his mysterious words about change. An hour later, they crossed the south port of Shurasena and, right outside the walls of the ancient city, they met a long caravan of pilgrims that had just arrived from the desert.

As soon as the pilgrims saw Dhiren's banner, they dismounted their camels, and walked to the cart. By the time all ice had melted, Dhiren had sold more glasses of lemonade than in the previous three months. With success, his smile and confidence returned to him.

When the day was over, Dhiren was a different man, sure of himself and fearless of the future. He searched long amongst the pilgrims, since he would have liked to express his thanks, but Krishna was already gone. The night fell and Dhiren found that, although the stars had not changed, he was living in a different world.

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

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

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Prune your trees, cull your herds, and release the paradise birds

There is a cure for stress. It is not a drug and it is not a fantasy. It won't cost you money, but it is not for free. From those who try it out, some feel born again, others rejuvenated. Experience has shown however that many cannot cope with the freedom that the medicine brings.

The remedy is known under many different names. You may call it simplification or reduction, downsizing or streamlining, selection or choice, reshuffling, refocusing, elimination, or termination. In any case, the concept will be much easier to name than to implement.

In order to be able to concentrate our energies on the essential areas of our lives, we must first establish clear priorities. The latter, of course, is what makes some people shun simplification. What they dread, like mice running in circles, is to stand still for a minute and question their contradictions.

Rational decisions are impossible for those whose life lacks a sense of direction. Overloading one's days with senseless activities is a psychological defence mechanism against the terror of taking responsibility. Too much to do is an excuse to avoid facing indecision. A hundred random acquaintances cannot replace conversation with one true friend.

Newspapers often report of companies that collapse due to excessive debt. Stress is heavier for the soul than indebtedness for a business. Efficiency begins with clarity. Selection enhances results. Resources are limited in all endeavours, but the time of our lives is the most scarce resource of all.
  • LESS COMPLEXITY RESULTS IN MORE ENERGY. Fruit growers prune their trees once per year in order to reinforce the vigour of the healthiest branches of each plant. Lean trees will produce more fruit than those whose moribund branches have not been cut off.
  • CONCENTRATION IMPROVES RESULTS. Shepherds cull their herds at regular intervals to prevent contagious sickness to spread. We all are naturally reluctant to give up possessions accumulated in the past, but frequently, liquidating non-performing assets and reinvesting the proceeds is the best strategy.
  • SELECTION FREES UP SPACE FOR PRIORITIES. Retailers put slow-moving items on sale or give them away for free in order to make space on the shelves for more popular goods. Are you investing endless efforts in a dead-end career? How can you reinvent your past and aim at a future that is spectacularly better than your present?
Productivity experts who advise manufacturers always start by asking workers to clear up the factory floor. It is only when misplaced tools and obsolete inventory are removed from the work space that people begin to see their own mistakes. Without visibility, there can be no transformation.

A cluttered agenda is a cage that houses paradise birds waiting to be released. Those birds are your best ideas, the ones that you have not formulated yet. It is high time to simplify your life and sharpen your ambitions. The birds are ready to fly. Open the cage door and set them free.

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

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

Prune your trees, cull your herds, and release the paradise birds

There is a cure for stress. It is not a drug and it is not a fantasy. It won't cost you money, but it is not for free. From those who try it out, some feel born again, others rejuvenated. Experience has shown however that many cannot cope with the freedom that the medicine brings.

The remedy is known under many different names. You may call it simplification or reduction, downsizing or streamlining, selection or choice, reshuffling, refocusing, elimination, or termination. In any case, the concept will be much easier to name than to implement.

In order to be able to concentrate our energies on the essential areas of our lives, we must first establish clear priorities. The latter, of course, is what makes some people shun simplification. What they dread, like mice running in circles, is to stand still for a minute and question their contradictions.

Rational decisions are impossible for those whose life lacks a sense of direction. Overloading one's days with senseless activities is a psychological defence mechanism against the terror of taking responsibility. Too much to do is an excuse to avoid facing indecision. A hundred random acquaintances cannot replace conversation with one true friend.

Newspapers often report of companies that collapse due to excessive debt. Stress is heavier for the soul than indebtedness for a business. Efficiency begins with clarity. Selection enhances results. Resources are limited in all endeavours, but the time of our lives is the most scarce resource of all.
  • LESS COMPLEXITY RESULTS IN MORE ENERGY. Fruit growers prune their trees once per year in order to reinforce the vigour of the healthiest branches of each plant. Lean trees will produce more fruit than those whose moribund branches have not been cut off.
  • CONCENTRATION IMPROVES RESULTS. Shepherds cull their herds at regular intervals to prevent contagious sickness to spread. We all are naturally reluctant to give up possessions accumulated in the past, but frequently, liquidating non-performing assets and reinvesting the proceeds is the best strategy.
  • SELECTION FREES UP SPACE FOR PRIORITIES. Retailers put slow-moving items on sale or give them away for free in order to make space on the shelves for more popular goods. Are you investing endless efforts in a dead-end career? How can you reinvent your past and aim at a future that is spectacularly better than your present?
Productivity experts who advise manufacturers always start by asking workers to clear up the factory floor. It is only when misplaced tools and obsolete inventory are removed from the work space that people begin to see their own mistakes. Without visibility, there can be no transformation.

A cluttered agenda is a cage that houses paradise birds waiting to be released. Those birds are your best ideas, the ones that you have not formulated yet. It is high time to simplify your life and sharpen your ambitions. The birds are ready to fly. Open the cage door and set them free.

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

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

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Three uncomfortable habits that will put you ahead of the game

A man can live the soft way or the hard way. Provoking unnecessary conflict and behaving aggressively are not symptoms of a strong personality, but of serious psychological trouble. To make headway when matters get complicated, thinking is a thousand times more valuable than shouting.

Unfortunately, on many occasions, knowing what to do is not the difficult part. What is hard is actually taking action. Have you realized how good children are at devising excuses for not doing what they know to be correct? Breaching the distance between ideas and implementation is a universal problem.

Habits represent the most visible and stable part of our personality. They can play against us, if they are destructive, or they can push us in the right direction, when they favour our goals. Even in our days of cultural relativism, many still regard the acquisition of beneficial habits as the central purpose of education.

Those who have incorporated good routines into their daily life enjoy enormous advantages over the rest of the population. Not only will they advance faster on the professional track, but they will also tend to live happier, healthier, and longer. Here are three habits that are uncomfortable to develop, but which pay huge dividends down the road:

1.- MAKE LISTS REGULARLY. The most common notes that we make for ourselves are to-do lists. Why not compile as well a list of long-term objectives, books that you intend to read, places you want to visit, or companies in which you would like to invest? Writing down ideas by hand on a piece of paper is often faster than typing them into a laptop or cell phone.

2.- PERFORM BORING TASKS FIRST. Setting priorities is as important in our private life as it is in business. We all tend to procrastinate when the moment comes to carry out chores we dislike. In those cases, human beings love to invent reasons to postpone activities that should be performed right away. The discipline of forcing ourselves to do unpleasant tasks first is as hard to acquire as it is invaluable.

3.- AVOID DANGEROUS SITUATIONS. It is regrettable to witness how frequently movies, television, and magazines portray reckless adventurers as heroes. Professionals who work in hazardous environments go to great lengths to adopt all sorts of precautions. Even those who possess combat training are reluctant to engage when they lack knowledge of the territory and enemy forces. Never place yourself in explosive situations unless you have indisputable reasons to do so.

When things get tough, don't allow problems to get you off the track. Doing the right things properly and consistently, day after day, is a simple and effective way to develop your potential. Make the effort to cultivate the correct habits and let them move your life forward on automatic pilot.

Ambition might take you places, but its ports of call always remain uncertain. Routine, on the other hand, will show you regular progress and establish the foundations of unbreakable self-confidence.


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

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

Three uncomfortable habits that will put you ahead of the game

A man can live the soft way or the hard way. Provoking unnecessary conflict and behaving aggressively are not symptoms of a strong personality, but of serious psychological trouble. To make headway when matters get complicated, thinking is a thousand times more valuable than shouting.

Unfortunately, on many occasions, knowing what to do is not the difficult part. What is hard is actually taking action. Have you realized how good children are at devising excuses for not doing what they know to be correct? Breaching the distance between ideas and implementation is a universal problem.

Habits represent the most visible and stable part of our personality. They can play against us, if they are destructive, or they can push us in the right direction, when they favour our goals. Even in our days of cultural relativism, many still regard the acquisition of beneficial habits as the central purpose of education.

Those who have incorporated good routines into their daily life enjoy enormous advantages over the rest of the population. Not only will they advance faster on the professional track, but they will also tend to live happier, healthier, and longer. Here are three habits that are uncomfortable to develop, but which pay huge dividends down the road:

1.- MAKE LISTS REGULARLY. The most common notes that we make for ourselves are to-do lists. Why not compile as well a list of long-term objectives, books that you intend to read, places you want to visit, or companies in which you would like to invest? Writing down ideas by hand on a piece of paper is often faster than typing them into a laptop or cell phone.

2.- PERFORM BORING TASKS FIRST. Setting priorities is as important in our private life as it is in business. We all tend to procrastinate when the moment comes to carry out chores we dislike. In those cases, human beings love to invent reasons to postpone activities that should be performed right away. The discipline of forcing ourselves to do unpleasant tasks first is as hard to acquire as it is invaluable.

3.- AVOID DANGEROUS SITUATIONS. It is regrettable to witness how frequently movies, television, and magazines portray reckless adventurers as heroes. Professionals who work in hazardous environments go to great lengths to adopt all sorts of precautions. Even those who possess combat training are reluctant to engage when they lack knowledge of the territory and enemy forces. Never place yourself in explosive situations unless you have indisputable reasons to do so.

When things get tough, don't allow problems to get you off the track. Doing the right things properly and consistently, day after day, is a simple and effective way to develop your potential. Make the effort to cultivate the correct habits and let them move your life forward on automatic pilot.

Ambition might take you places, but its ports of call always remain uncertain. Routine, on the other hand, will show you regular progress and establish the foundations of unbreakable self-confidence.


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

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

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

The proven antidote against the blues

Depression has become so common in our society that, most of the time, we don't even notice it. You can only see the phenomenon through the darkness its exudes. Motivation becomes paralysis. Vision breaks apart in doubts. Energy can no longer be replenished and attention gets distracted.

If you look around, you will find plenty of examples: Co-workers who lately have been looking sort of sad, call up the office, name some vague problem at home, and disappear for week. Students who have been at the top of their class, start to fail one exam after the other. Thoughtful friends, the kind who used to have strong opinions, suddenly turn silent.

What is the cause of this wide-spread ailment? Where is this malignant wave coming from? The automatic response in those cases is to blame the world. When you talk to men and women who suffer from the blues, you will often find them willing to enumerate all the negative conditions affecting their life.

Those complaints will usually have a sound basis in reality. Some people will tell you stories of abuse and unfairness, injustices of all sorts, inefficiency and dishonesty. Others will speak about their sickness, the ingratitude of their family, treason by friends, loneliness or divorce.

Nevertheless, those explanations remain insufficient to justify the overweening levels of depression in our society. The most important element in the equation is never mentioned. Why is nobody pointing out that, for every dispirited person, you can find a reasonably contented one who is enduring similar difficulties?

Misfortune and catastrophe are not to be trivialized. Bad luck and sickness can wipe out your savings, your business, your family, and put to test your will to keep on living. Serious problems and painful periods do occur in most people's lives. My point is not that one should become foolishly cheerful in the face of adversity.

Pharmaceuticals aimed at alleviating distress can help to a certain extent, although they are frequently loaded with secondary effects. My message is that, in the worst possible moments, a man owes to himself, to his happiness, to reflect and act with proper perspective. What one should keep in mind is that, on many occasions, depression is a synonym for short-term vision.

Rational thinking is the only antidote that has repeatedly proven its effectiveness against discouragement and depression. Seeing obstacles and disadvantages in the frame of a lifetime helps to reduce them to a manageable size.

Drop the false comfort of self-pity. Never allow yourself to limit your own potential. Never give up before the game is really over. Remind yourself everyday that life offers many opportunities. Define your long-term target, sharpen your arrows, and leave the blues behind. You have better things to do.

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

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

The proven antidote against the blues

Depression has become so common in our society that, most of the time, we don't even notice it. You can only see the phenomenon through the darkness its exudes. Motivation becomes paralysis. Vision breaks apart in doubts. Energy can no longer be replenished and attention gets distracted.

If you look around, you will find plenty of examples: Co-workers who lately have been looking sort of sad, call up the office, name some vague problem at home, and disappear for week. Students who have been at the top of their class, start to fail one exam after the other. Thoughtful friends, the kind who used to have strong opinions, suddenly turn silent.

What is the cause of this wide-spread ailment? Where is this malignant wave coming from? The automatic response in those cases is to blame the world. When you talk to men and women who suffer from the blues, you will often find them willing to enumerate all the negative conditions affecting their life.

Those complaints will usually have a sound basis in reality. Some people will tell you stories of abuse and unfairness, injustices of all sorts, inefficiency and dishonesty. Others will speak about their sickness, the ingratitude of their family, treason by friends, loneliness or divorce.

Nevertheless, those explanations remain insufficient to justify the overweening levels of depression in our society. The most important element in the equation is never mentioned. Why is nobody pointing out that, for every dispirited person, you can find a reasonably contented one who is enduring similar difficulties?

Misfortune and catastrophe are not to be trivialized. Bad luck and sickness can wipe out your savings, your business, your family, and put to test your will to keep on living. Serious problems and painful periods do occur in most people's lives. My point is not that one should become foolishly cheerful in the face of adversity.

Pharmaceuticals aimed at alleviating distress can help to a certain extent, although they are frequently loaded with secondary effects. My message is that, in the worst possible moments, a man owes to himself, to his happiness, to reflect and act with proper perspective. What one should keep in mind is that, on many occasions, depression is a synonym for short-term vision.

Rational thinking is the only antidote that has repeatedly proven its effectiveness against discouragement and depression. Seeing obstacles and disadvantages in the frame of a lifetime helps to reduce them to a manageable size.

Drop the false comfort of self-pity. Never allow yourself to limit your own potential. Never give up before the game is really over. Remind yourself everyday that life offers many opportunities. Define your long-term target, sharpen your arrows, and leave the blues behind. You have better things to do.

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

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

How to clear the way for great relationships: avoid dishonest people

Dishonesty, like cancer, starts small. One day, for instance, you learn that someone whom you considered a friend has been maligning you behind your back. On other occasion, you might act on the basis of a verbal agreement only to find out later that the other party has reneged on his word.

You will fall into many of those traps, as we all do, since few things are as difficult as assessing the character of strangers. A wise man writes off his loss as part of the cost of living and learns from experience that, on the next encounter, he should not trust the person who has lied to him.

Honesty is a thread that a man should be allowed to break only once. If you are cheated the first time, blame it on your limited knowledge and do not recriminate yourself. On the other hand, if you are misled twice by the same individual, it is advisable that you take a hard look at your fundamental beliefs.

Achievement in any field of human endeavour requires focused effort sustained through a long period. Sometimes it takes months, frequently years or decades. For many persons, the major obstacle to progress is not lack of funding, but of time. Unless you clear up the clutter from your days, you will never find the hours that you need for your essential goals.

The same principle applies to relationships. Friendship and love constitute wonderful pleasures. We all recognize them as two of the main sources of enjoyment in life. Although none of them can be purchased with money, both require substantial investments of time, continuity, and consistency.

Dealing with dishonest people will waste your energies, consume your patience, and fill your life with disappointments. Do not tell yourself that everybody is like that. Do not argue in your mind in favour of the inevitability of evil. This is not true and you know it perfectly well.

Undeniably, it takes a lot of conviction to make uncomfortable changes in our lives. To quit smoking is extremely difficult. To stop drinking might require a long process of detoxification. To rid ourselves of damaging relationships is tantamount to climbing the steep slope of high mountain.

Take heart and keep your ethical bar at the proper level. Place it low enough to forgive innocent errors. Keep it sufficiently elevated to reject attempts to miscarriage your judgement, fairness, and objectivity.

Who twists reality once to his advantage will not hesitate to abuse your confidence on the next occasion. Just say no. The sooner you see bad people disappear from your life, the faster you will clear the way towards wonderful relationships.


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

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

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Act now or inflation is going to get you


When inflation ravaged Germany in the 1920s, it found most people unprepared. There were a lot of lamentations, but only when it was too late. Millions of families suffered a depreciation of their savings due to their refusal to acknowledge reality. The signs of the coming tide had been everywhere for people to read. Nevertheless, few did what was required.

Was it failure to understand or resistance to take action? We don't know, but complaining about excessive rain will make little sense when overflowed rivers are flooding the streets. Nobody can tell exactly how high inflation will be in the next years, but prudent men are already aligning their investments with their reasonable expectations.

These are some of the companies that, today 21 June 2009, I am researching as possible additions to my own portfolio. In my selection, I have combined different criteria, such as my wish to spread risks internationally, in different currencies, and my preference for businesses with a stable client base. The latter will be put to test when companies are obliged to raise prices due to inflation.

1.- VERIZON (NYSE:VZ). This telephone operator makes its profits through subsidiaries and joint ventures in all five continents. Even if there is high inflation in some markets, this company should be able, to a good extent, to set off negative effects with income from other territories. The price/earnings ratio is, at this moment, about 13. If the dividend remains stable, the yield should be in the range of 6.5% this year, which is nice to take home.

2.- CELLCOM ISRAEL (NYSE:CEL). This company, which has about 3.1 million customers, is a major operator in the Israeli telecommunications market. It is difficult to predict how the economy of that area will develop in the next years. Personally, I am optimistic, but it is undeniable that placing your savings in that part of the world entails extra risks. The current price/earnings ratio is about 9.5 and the high payout policy of the company may lead to a dividend yield in the range of 12%.

3.- MAGYAR TELEKOM (NYSE:MTA). This Hungarian telephone operator has more than 5 million customers. At this moment, its current price/earnings ratio is around 7 and its dividend yield in the range of 11%. While the company itself is doing reasonably well, Hungary is experiencing serious economic trouble and local public opinion is asking for a policy change. This stock should benefit if the Hungarian economy turns around in the next years, but it remains to be seen if a change for the better will actually take place.

4.- JOHNSON AND JOHNSON (NYSE:JNJ). This company makes and distributes cosmetics and personal-care products around the world. In addition, it sells pharmaceuticals for, amongst others, dermatology, cancer, and cardiovascular applications. The varied international sources of its profits make this sort of company specially attractive in times of inflation. At its current level, this stock has a price/earnings ratio around 13 and a dividend yield in the range of 3.5%.

5.- BRISTOL MYERS (NYSE:BMY). A major pharmaceutical company that, in addition to medicines, sells nutritional products, such those for children. It makes and distributes drugs for applications in the cardiovascular area, mental health, cancer, and others. These days, the price/earnings ratio of this stock is around 11 and is expected to produce a dividend yield in the range of 6%.

Although no company offers perfect hedging against inflation, it makes sense to devote some effort to studying foreign shares in order to spread risks internationally. The five above constitute my personal choice at this moment, but you should never follow any opinion without making your own research. Always check things for yourself before committing your savings to any investment. Since it looks as though inflation is coming, the sooner you start with your research, the better.

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

[Image by digitalART2 under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Act now or inflation is going to get you


When inflation ravaged Germany in the 1920s, it found most people unprepared. There were a lot of lamentations, but only when it was too late. Millions of families suffered a depreciation of their savings due to their refusal to acknowledge reality. The signs of the coming tide had been everywhere for people to read. Nevertheless, few did what was required.

Was it failure to understand or resistance to take action? We don't know, but complaining about excessive rain will make little sense when overflowed rivers are flooding the streets. Nobody can tell exactly how high inflation will be in the next years, but prudent men are already aligning their investments with their reasonable expectations.

These are some of the companies that, today 21 June 2009, I am researching as possible additions to my own portfolio. In my selection, I have combined different criteria, such as my wish to spread risks internationally, in different currencies, and my preference for businesses with a stable client base. The latter will be put to test when companies are obliged to raise prices due to inflation.

1.- VERIZON (NYSE:VZ). This telephone operator makes its profits through subsidiaries and joint ventures in all five continents. Even if there is high inflation in some markets, this company should be able, to a good extent, to set off negative effects with income from other territories. The price/earnings ratio is, at this moment, about 13. If the dividend remains stable, the yield should be in the range of 6.5% this year, which is nice to take home.

2.- CELLCOM ISRAEL (NYSE:CEL). This company, which has about 3.1 million customers, is a major operator in the Israeli telecommunications market. It is difficult to predict how the economy of that area will develop in the next years. Personally, I am optimistic, but it is undeniable that placing your savings in that part of the world entails extra risks. The current price/earnings ratio is about 9.5 and the high payout policy of the company may lead to a dividend yield in the range of 12%.

3.- MAGYAR TELEKOM (NYSE:MTA). This Hungarian telephone operator has more than 5 million customers. At this moment, its current price/earnings ratio is around 7 and its dividend yield in the range of 11%. While the company itself is doing reasonably well, Hungary is experiencing serious economic trouble and local public opinion is asking for a policy change. This stock should benefit if the Hungarian economy turns around in the next years, but it remains to be seen if a change for the better will actually take place.

4.- JOHNSON AND JOHNSON (NYSE:JNJ). This company makes and distributes cosmetics and personal-care products around the world. In addition, it sells pharmaceuticals for, amongst others, dermatology, cancer, and cardiovascular applications. The varied international sources of its profits make this sort of company specially attractive in times of inflation. At its current level, this stock has a price/earnings ratio around 13 and a dividend yield in the range of 3.5%.

5.- BRISTOL MYERS (NYSE:BMY). A major pharmaceutical company that, in addition to medicines, sells nutritional products, such those for children. It makes and distributes drugs for applications in the cardiovascular area, mental health, cancer, and others. These days, the price/earnings ratio of this stock is around 11 and is expected to produce a dividend yield in the range of 6%.

Although no company offers perfect hedging against inflation, it makes sense to devote some effort to studying foreign shares in order to spread risks internationally. The five above constitute my personal choice at this moment, but you should never follow any opinion without making your own research. Always check things for yourself before committing your savings to any investment. Since it looks as though inflation is coming, the sooner you start with your research, the better.

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

[Image by digitalART2 under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Why it is on slow days that you make big breaks

Irregular verbs and plurals are the most difficult part to memorize when you study foreign languages. For children learning their mother tongue, atypical cases are also the most complicated. Asymmetrical constructions are slowly assimilated by the human mind, which, at any stage of development, automatically tries to find patterns in reality.

We have created numbers, which are a sequential representation of quantities. We love to understand complex phenomena and find solutions to problems. Our brains seek to identify consequences through observation and logic. Weather prediction comes from generalizing past experience. Looking for order in chaos is natural to humans. It is our way to grasp the world and make sense of it.

Nevertheless, as soon as we begin to gather knowledge in any field, we realize that many causal connexions are far from self-evident. The earth looks flat and it is no wonder that it took hundreds of years to develop and spread the understanding of planetary orbits. Science rests on the recognition that causal connexions need to be, not only theorized, but proven.

From all disciplines, philosophy and economics have been the slowest to adopt a scientific approach. Even nowadays, professionals in those fields disagree on basic questions of methodology. Discussing what is true makes little sense if we cannot even concur on the criteria to assess the validity of a proposition.

As a result, defining success and happiness has turned into a haphazard endeavour for most of History. Determinism, which attributes those to chance, remains a wide-spread philosophical error in many segments of the population. A superficial examination of the human condition can lead to see life as a series of misfortunes intertwined with lucky encounters. This perception is as false as the belief that the earth is flat.

Scientists know that observing reality with our eyes and drawing immediate conclusions frequently leads to mistakes. A more accurate view of the world is the result of understanding that a large number of effects can only be perceived long-term. The impact of events is not necessarily local. Actions without consequences to those who performed them can have a devastating outcome for third parties.

Reality is more complex than the eye can perceive and rational explanations more uncomfortable than make-belief. This is why confusion reigns about the roots of happiness and success. Determinism exaggerates the role played by misfortunes and luck in human life. Believing that your destiny is controlled by random events only leads to paralysis and nihilism.

Ambition and purpose, relentlessly implemented on good and bad days, constitute the bedrock of individual progress. Small steps taken regularly can go a long way. Advancing a little every day in your chosen direction is what makes great achievements possible. Big breaks, at first sight, seem to have happened overnight, but the truth is that a river takes years to build a gorge. The results are breathtakingly beautiful.


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

[Image by Per Ola Wiberg (Powi) under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Why it is on slow days that you make big breaks

Irregular verbs and plurals are the most difficult part to memorize when you study foreign languages. For children learning their mother tongue, atypical cases are also the most complicated. Asymmetrical constructions are slowly assimilated by the human mind, which, at any stage of development, automatically tries to find patterns in reality.

We have created numbers, which are a sequential representation of quantities. We love to understand complex phenomena and find solutions to problems. Our brains seek to identify consequences through observation and logic. Weather prediction comes from generalizing past experience. Looking for order in chaos is natural to humans. It is our way to grasp the world and make sense of it.

Nevertheless, as soon as we begin to gather knowledge in any field, we realize that many causal connexions are far from self-evident. The earth looks flat and it is no wonder that it took hundreds of years to develop and spread the understanding of planetary orbits. Science rests on the recognition that causal connexions need to be, not only theorized, but proven.

From all disciplines, philosophy and economics have been the slowest to adopt a scientific approach. Even nowadays, professionals in those fields disagree on basic questions of methodology. Discussing what is true makes little sense if we cannot even concur on the criteria to assess the validity of a proposition.

As a result, defining success and happiness has turned into a haphazard endeavour for most of History. Determinism, which attributes those to chance, remains a wide-spread philosophical error in many segments of the population. A superficial examination of the human condition can lead to see life as a series of misfortunes intertwined with lucky encounters. This perception is as false as the belief that the earth is flat.

Scientists know that observing reality with our eyes and drawing immediate conclusions frequently leads to mistakes. A more accurate view of the world is the result of understanding that a large number of effects can only be perceived long-term. The impact of events is not necessarily local. Actions without consequences to those who performed them can have a devastating outcome for third parties.

Reality is more complex than the eye can perceive and rational explanations more uncomfortable than make-belief. This is why confusion reigns about the roots of happiness and success. Determinism exaggerates the role played by misfortunes and luck in human life. Believing that your destiny is controlled by random events only leads to paralysis and nihilism.

Ambition and purpose, relentlessly implemented on good and bad days, constitute the bedrock of individual progress. Small steps taken regularly can go a long way. Advancing a little every day in your chosen direction is what makes great achievements possible. Big breaks, at first sight, seem to have happened overnight, but the truth is that a river takes years to build a gorge. The results are breathtakingly beautiful.


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

[Image by Per Ola Wiberg (Powi) under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Three irresistible reasons to believe in fantasies and why they will destroy your life

Contrary to what is commonly believed, individuals extract massive advantages from telling lies and pretending to be convinced by them. A large number of people are perfectly conscious of the falsehood of many social conventions, but still, those practices are maintained, endorsed, and enforced.

It is a fact that millions of men and women comply daily with silly rules that they could avoid if they wished. When a corporation allows lies to shape its culture, History shows that most employees will shrug their shoulders and pretend to see what does not exist.

Would you call someone irrational if he chooses to behave in a manner that allows him to keep his job, at least for a while? In those situations, revenue projections of companies become unrealistic, profits are faked, and bookkeeping loses touch with reality. A few months later, the business collapses.

Such stories appear so frequently in newspapers that we almost take for granted that people will learn from example. Next time, we tell ourselves, things will be better. After every scandal, we love to believe that manipulation and corruption will not happen again. Unfortunately, this hope never comes true and it doesn't take long before the next scandal comes to light.

Why are such problems so ingrained in society? What makes human beings support fantasies in word and deed? How is it possible that we devote so much effort to lying to ourselves? The correct answer is not that people are sick and evil. No, the truth is more complex than that.

There are three reasons that explain why many men and women are deeply invested in falsehood. Social convenience is the first, since it feels good to belong to the overwhelming majority. Financial benefit is the second, since certain doors are closed to those who ask uncomfortable questions. The third motive, fear of rejection, is perhaps the strongest.

No wonder that, in History, philosophical and social progress are achieved only little by little, by taking infinitesimal steps. Each of those justifications possesses extraordinary appeal on its own. All three combined are almost irresistible. Nevertheless, experience proves that, in the long run, pretence and manipulation inevitably destroy a man's life.
  • Social convenience leads people to repress their best ideas. The habit of seeking conformity at all times deprives men of the force to speak out their dreams and stake their claims.
  • The financial benefits of lying, although sweet, tend to be short-lived. Schemes that look too profitable to be true lead those who engage in them, more often than not, to heavy monetary losses.
  • In industrial societies, the negative consequences of rejection are wildly exaggerated. Nowadays, global markets allow innovators to find their public anywhere in the world even if their ideas are not appreciated by their neighbours.
Thinking for ourselves is difficult in the face of opposition. Taking the golden promises of social convenience always seems, at first sight, the obvious choice, but blind conformity to the world's fantasies destroys man's life. Becoming aware of long-term consequences and acting rationally are hard at times, but they mark the path to real success and happiness.

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

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

Friday, 19 June 2009

How to minimize your dependence on other people's opinion

Anyone who tells you that you should always be yourself under any circumstances does not have your best interest in mind. On the contrary, placing yourself in difficult situations for no good reason will prevent you from enjoying life and leave you little energy to develop your talents. Being authentic is great, but not at any cost.

When it comes to pursuing your dreams, you will be much better off if you do it the right way. Minimizing your psychological and financial dependence on other people's opinion is a prerequisite for being able to make your own choices without fearing dire consequences. My point is that it is perfectly rational to avoid confrontation in situations from which you cannot walk away.

Increasing individual independence from third parties' opinions is such a fundamental skill that it should be taught at school. The idea that only millionaires possess the means to speak out their mind is false, although unfortunately, such an argument is frequently invoked to favour conformism. The truth is that everyone can take steps to protect his privacy and integrity. In my experience, the following two strategies are particularly useful:

1.- DO NOT VOLUNTEER PERSONAL INFORMATION. There is little advantage in providing details of your private life to strangers, colleagues at work, employers, suppliers, or anyone who does not belong to your circle of close friends. Why should you give anyone the opportunity to use that information against you or the power to manipulate you in anyway?

Rudeness is unnecessary to protect your private life and, to prying questions, it is often wise to give a vague reply. In most cases, people will accept your reluctance to provide personal details and change the subject.

2.- SAVE REGULARLY, IF POSSIBLE, EVERY MONTH. Accumulating a financial cushion will do wonders to protect your peace of mind and personal freedom. The temptation to engage into doubtful business or professional practices can hardly tempt a man who possesses enough savings. He will be able to used those to quit his job and spend a couple of months searching for a new position.

Nobody needs to be a millionaire to be able to do that. The real bedrock of self-confidence is not magic or make-belief, but financial foresight. If you save regularly every month, it should not take you too long to accumulate a financial cushion that can take you through a rough period in your professional life.

Make the decision to bring your dependence on other people's opinion down to a negligible level. Find polite ways to show your determination to protect your private life. It is easier than you think and it will save you lots of problems down the line.

Establish a reasonable monthly savings goal for yourself and stick to it until you reach your desire level of safety. By adopting these simple measures and implementing them consistently, you can substantially enhance your well-being, peace of mind, and happiness.

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

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

How to minimize your dependence on other people's opinion

Anyone who tells you that you should always be yourself under any circumstances does not have your best interest in mind. On the contrary, placing yourself in difficult situations for no good reason will prevent you from enjoying life and leave you little energy to develop your talents. Being authentic is great, but not at any cost.

When it comes to pursuing your dreams, you will be much better off if you do it the right way. Minimizing your psychological and financial dependence on other people's opinion is a prerequisite for being able to make your own choices without fearing dire consequences. My point is that it is perfectly rational to avoid confrontation in situations from which you cannot walk away.

Increasing individual independence from third parties' opinions is such a fundamental skill that it should be taught at school. The idea that only millionaires possess the means to speak out their mind is false, although unfortunately, such an argument is frequently invoked to favour conformism. The truth is that everyone can take steps to protect his privacy and integrity. In my experience, the following two strategies are particularly useful:

1.- DO NOT VOLUNTEER PERSONAL INFORMATION. There is little advantage in providing details of your private life to strangers, colleagues at work, employers, suppliers, or anyone who does not belong to your circle of close friends. Why should you give anyone the opportunity to use that information against you or the power to manipulate you in anyway?

Rudeness is unnecessary to protect your private life and, to prying questions, it is often wise to give a vague reply. In most cases, people will accept your reluctance to provide personal details and change the subject.

2.- SAVE REGULARLY, IF POSSIBLE, EVERY MONTH. Accumulating a financial cushion will do wonders to protect your peace of mind and personal freedom. The temptation to engage into doubtful business or professional practices can hardly tempt a man who possesses enough savings. He will be able to used those to quit his job and spend a couple of months searching for a new position.

Nobody needs to be a millionaire to be able to do that. The real bedrock of self-confidence is not magic or make-belief, but financial foresight. If you save regularly every month, it should not take you too long to accumulate a financial cushion that can take you through a rough period in your professional life.

Make the decision to bring your dependence on other people's opinion down to a negligible level. Find polite ways to show your determination to protect your private life. It is easier than you think and it will save you lots of problems down the line.

Establish a reasonable monthly savings goal for yourself and stick to it until you reach your desire level of safety. By adopting these simple measures and implementing them consistently, you can substantially enhance your well-being, peace of mind, and happiness.

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

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

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

The lesson from 50 years of Japanese management techniques


“Time is of the essence,” is a clause that lawyers insert in contracts when the date of delivery plays a crucial role. In those cases, even one day of delay might determine that commitments have not been satisfactorily fulfilled.

When heavy contractual penalties apply, the whole undertaking could become a nightmare for the party who has incurred the delay. The experience of 50 years of Japanese management techniques only serves to confirm that speed has become a critical success factor in all fields of human endeavour.

Producing and exchanging value, whether physical or psychological, is the fundamental reason why people interact. In this sense, purchasing commercial products and services is not that different from enjoying conversation with friends or family. It all boils down to giving and receiving some kind of value.

Five decades ago, Japanese firms began to develop a management style based on extreme cost-awareness. Their experimentation with different techniques quickly led to the conclusion that the best way to deliver maximum value was to increase the end-to-end speed of processes. This principle applies equally to design, engineering, factory organisation, and sales.

In the case of car manufacturing, this approach has resulted in a relentless shortening of delivery times. In Japan, for example, the period elapsed between the order placed by a customer and the date of delivery of a new car specially made for him is often under 20 days.

The constant drive for improvement has led, at the same time, to progressively better working conditions in that industry. The manpower required to manufacture some vehicles has already fallen below 40 hours, which is the standard weekly working time in most of Europe.

In our private lives, speed and frequency have also become part of the definition of success. Wide-spread inexpensive Internet connections determine in part how often we call up parents or relatives who live far away. Low-cost airlines allow us to visit them more often. On-line dating permits contemporary men and women to meet potential partners outside their circle of acquaintances.

In our age, speed is taken for granted in most products and services. Nobody has the time to wait. In many fields, providers can no longer charge premium prices for preferential attention. Immediate availability has become the first criterion that might lead us to try out a new supplier. If you cannot offer that, your company might not survive for long.

Should we be reluctant to allow time-consciousness to drive our actions and choices? In my view, we have reached a point where one seldom has the alternative to do otherwise. In all we undertake, privately or professionally, speed is of the essence.

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

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

The lesson from 50 years of Japanese management techniques


“Time is of the essence,” is a clause that lawyers insert in contracts when the date of delivery plays a crucial role. In those cases, even one day of delay might determine that commitments have not been satisfactorily fulfilled.

When heavy contractual penalties apply, the whole undertaking could become a nightmare for the party who has incurred the delay. The experience of 50 years of Japanese management techniques only serves to confirm that speed has become a critical success factor in all fields of human endeavour.

Producing and exchanging value, whether physical or psychological, is the fundamental reason why people interact. In this sense, purchasing commercial products and services is not that different from enjoying conversation with friends or family. It all boils down to giving and receiving some kind of value.

Five decades ago, Japanese firms began to develop a management style based on extreme cost-awareness. Their experimentation with different techniques quickly led to the conclusion that the best way to deliver maximum value was to increase the end-to-end speed of processes. This principle applies equally to design, engineering, factory organisation, and sales.

In the case of car manufacturing, this approach has resulted in a relentless shortening of delivery times. In Japan, for example, the period elapsed between the order placed by a customer and the date of delivery of a new car specially made for him is often under 20 days.

The constant drive for improvement has led, at the same time, to progressively better working conditions in that industry. The manpower required to manufacture some vehicles has already fallen below 40 hours, which is the standard weekly working time in most of Europe.

In our private lives, speed and frequency have also become part of the definition of success. Wide-spread inexpensive Internet connections determine in part how often we call up parents or relatives who live far away. Low-cost airlines allow us to visit them more often. On-line dating permits contemporary men and women to meet potential partners outside their circle of acquaintances.

In our age, speed is taken for granted in most products and services. Nobody has the time to wait. In many fields, providers can no longer charge premium prices for preferential attention. Immediate availability has become the first criterion that might lead us to try out a new supplier. If you cannot offer that, your company might not survive for long.

Should we be reluctant to allow time-consciousness to drive our actions and choices? In my view, we have reached a point where one seldom has the alternative to do otherwise. In all we undertake, privately or professionally, speed is of the essence.

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

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

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Why predictions of worldwide economic recession are utter nonsense

Intellectual sedation can be sweet and reassuring, but it will destroy your capacity to think for yourself. Do not trust any magazine or television reports forecasting a worldwide economic recession. Those predictions are utter nonsense.

The only effect of such reports is to paralyse readers with fear. Emotions sell newspapers and frightened people tend to watch television for hours on end. All in all, a losing proposition for the audience.

Real estate prices are plummeting in some parts of the United States and Europe. This makes exciting news for television channels. How many interviews have they shown with borrowers who have lost their job can no longer pay their mortgage? Probably hundreds.

On the other hand, did you know that the building trade in Romania is expected to grow 6% in 2009. New apartment buildings, hotels, and shopping centres are springing up in every town of that small country.

The demand for new housing in Romania is so strong that builders are working Saturdays and Sundays. Suppliers of construction materials are expanding at the same speed. Hardware retail chains are opening outlets at a rate of one per month. Is that not amazing?

Of course, my point is not that you should pack and move to Romania, since that country has serious problems in many areas. What I am trying to underline is that markets are asymmetric. What we see close to ourselves is a small part of the global truth.

Unemployment in one city is irrelevant to the job market in a town located three hundred kilometres away. Traffic jams on one side of the road are irrelevant to those travelling in the opposite direction. Even the flu affects different areas with unequal severity.

An excessive number of software engineers in the south of Germany tends to lower the overall salaries in the profession, that is, until they begin to move themselves to another country where there is a high demand for their services.

In the global economy, nothing is what is used to be. The gross national product of many traditionally poor countries is posed for rapid expansion. The Internet is wiping out old professions, in particular intermediaries, and enabling all sorts of new businesses.

Markets are being redefined, some times consolidated, often fragmented. The only permanent truth is that change takes place at different speeds. No two currencies are the same and each is exposed to different risks. Not all car manufacturers have the same cost structure. Not all countries have a flourishing entertaining industry.

Turn off the scaremongers on television and read some foreign newspapers on the web. Look up the stock markets in other continents. Reality is much more complex than what a local view can portray. You have no time to waste on the fantasy of a worldwide economic recession. You have better things to do.


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


[Image by Boy27wonder under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Why predictions of worldwide economic recession are utter nonsense

Intellectual sedation can be sweet and reassuring, but it will destroy your capacity to think for yourself. Do not trust any magazine or television reports forecasting a worldwide economic recession. Those predictions are utter nonsense.

The only effect of such reports is to paralyse readers with fear. Emotions sell newspapers and frightened people tend to watch television for hours on end. All in all, a losing proposition for the audience.

Real estate prices are plummeting in some parts of the United States and Europe. This makes exciting news for television channels. How many interviews have they shown with borrowers who have lost their job can no longer pay their mortgage? Probably hundreds.

On the other hand, did you know that the building trade in Romania is expected to grow 6% in 2009. New apartment buildings, hotels, and shopping centres are springing up in every town of that small country.

The demand for new housing in Romania is so strong that builders are working Saturdays and Sundays. Suppliers of construction materials are expanding at the same speed. Hardware retail chains are opening outlets at a rate of one per month. Is that not amazing?

Of course, my point is not that you should pack and move to Romania, since that country has serious problems in many areas. What I am trying to underline is that markets are asymmetric. What we see close to ourselves is a small part of the global truth.

Unemployment in one city is irrelevant to the job market in a town located three hundred kilometres away. Traffic jams on one side of the road are irrelevant to those travelling in the opposite direction. Even the flu affects different areas with unequal severity.

An excessive number of software engineers in the south of Germany tends to lower the overall salaries in the profession, that is, until they begin to move themselves to another country where there is a high demand for their services.

In the global economy, nothing is what is used to be. The gross national product of many traditionally poor countries is posed for rapid expansion. The Internet is wiping out old professions, in particular intermediaries, and enabling all sorts of new businesses.

Markets are being redefined, some times consolidated, often fragmented. The only permanent truth is that change takes place at different speeds. No two currencies are the same and each is exposed to different risks. Not all car manufacturers have the same cost structure. Not all countries have a flourishing entertaining industry.

Turn off the scaremongers on television and read some foreign newspapers on the web. Look up the stock markets in other continents. Reality is much more complex than what a local view can portray. You have no time to waste on the fantasy of a worldwide economic recession. You have better things to do.


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


[Image by Boy27wonder under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]
</