Thursday, 30 April 2009

How to regain serenity and motivation after making a serious mistake


Publishers love biographies since they usually sell well for many years. The best biographies are short on dates and rich on story, meagre on doubts and abundant on motion.

Reading about mistakes made by illustrious individuals is why people enjoy biographies. In this respect, little, insubstantial errors don't count. A solid biography must contain at least one horrendous, shattering mistake.
  • A great actor who accepts a role in a trash movie and ruins his career.
  • A successful fund manager who makes a bad investment and experiences enormous losses.
  • A self-made millionaire who marries a worthless woman and goes through devastating divorce.
Thick biographies provide extensive details about how eminent persons turn into fools. Vanity and greed play a role sometimes, although less frequently than venal authors like to portray.

The truth is that, in the great majority of cases, mistakes are made in good faith, out of insufficient knowledge, insight, or perspective. Dangers that appear self-evident in hindsight often pass undetected under real-life strains and tensions.

Demanding readers expect stories to be both entertaining and thought-provoking. We want books to provide teachings that go beyond the trite and commonplace. There is no point in reading about past mistakes if we cannot draw lessons for the future.

How can you overcome feelings of impotence, sadness, and guilt after you have committed a gigantic error? Here is what I have learned form reading History.

As soon as we realize the full extent of a major error, psychological misery arises from comparing ourselves to others or to a parallel reality that would have existed if we had known better.

Such negative emotional reactions rest on a logical fallacy that only determined reasoning can erase. Mistakes are subjective and the knowledge present in a person's mind is the only relevant factor when it comes to taking decisions.

This means that, after making a dreadful mistake, you should avoid comparing your situation with someone else's. It makes little sense to lament how well you could be doing if you had made wiser choices.

Each of us is born in different circumstances and each life is unique. Individuals have to grow at their own pace and learn their own lessons. Competition is a fallacy because life is not a race.

Experience can be painful but it is irreplaceable. Don't linger on illogical comparisons that bring nothing but misery. Stand up and look ahead. Your next achievement will bring you farther. Mistakes can make you a better human being and show you the way to happiness. Let them.

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

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

How to regain serenity and motivation after making a serious mistake


Publishers love biographies since they usually sell well for many years. The best biographies are short on dates and rich on story, meagre on doubts and abundant on motion.

Reading about mistakes made by illustrious individuals is why people enjoy biographies. In this respect, little, insubstantial errors don't count. A solid biography must contain at least one horrendous, shattering mistake.
  • A great actor who accepts a role in a trash movie and ruins his career.
  • A successful fund manager who makes a bad investment and experiences enormous losses.
  • A self-made millionaire who marries a worthless woman and goes through devastating divorce.
Thick biographies provide extensive details about how eminent persons turn into fools. Vanity and greed play a role sometimes, although less frequently than venal authors like to portray.

The truth is that, in the great majority of cases, mistakes are made in good faith, out of insufficient knowledge, insight, or perspective. Dangers that appear self-evident in hindsight often pass undetected under real-life strains and tensions.

Demanding readers expect stories to be both entertaining and thought-provoking. We want books to provide teachings that go beyond the trite and commonplace. There is no point in reading about past mistakes if we cannot draw lessons for the future.

How can you overcome feelings of impotence, sadness, and guilt after you have committed a gigantic error? Here is what I have learned form reading History.

As soon as we realize the full extent of a major error, psychological misery arises from comparing ourselves to others or to a parallel reality that would have existed if we had known better.

Such negative emotional reactions rest on a logical fallacy that only determined reasoning can erase. Mistakes are subjective and the knowledge present in a person's mind is the only relevant factor when it comes to taking decisions.

This means that, after making a dreadful mistake, you should avoid comparing your situation with someone else's. It makes little sense to lament how well you could be doing if you had made wiser choices.

Each of us is born in different circumstances and each life is unique. Individuals have to grow at their own pace and learn their own lessons. Competition is a fallacy because life is not a race.

Experience can be painful but it is irreplaceable. Don't linger on illogical comparisons that bring nothing but misery. Stand up and look ahead. Your next achievement will bring you farther. Mistakes can make you a better human being and show you the way to happiness. Let them.

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

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

The mirage of a perfect world and why you should avoid it


One day, human beings will inhabit a perfect world. There will be no violence and no poverty. Productivity will be high and consumption will take place without waste. Everybody will be free and healthy. The environment will always remain clean and nature, most of the time, green.

Discussions are ongoing about how long it is going to take us to get there. Some say a hundred years, others speak about seven times seven generations. Giving a precise estimation is a difficult question, since reaching the goal depends on so many factors.

The positive side of having ambitious plans for the world is that they keep people busy reading newspapers, watching debates on TV, listening to talk radio, campaigning for this or that cause, making speeches or pretending to listen to them. The bad news is that those activities, whether taken all together or one-by-one, will have little effect on your own life.

The more passionate you are about improving society, the harder it will be for you to accept the world's fundamental inertia. Even if you devote all your resources to a single goal, give up sleep, and work at your cause year after year, chances are that your achievements will remain modest.

There are powerful reasons for this:
  1. Fundamental changes in society take place only at low speed.
  2. From the perspective of human lifespan, even major world improvements can remain imperceptible.
  3. The dominant change paradigm is false. The truth is that rapid technical innovation does not necessarily bring profound changes to society.
  4. New technologies often do little but reinforce traditional views.
  5. Making the same old mistakes faster does not improve anything.
You will find irrefutable proof of my thesis by opening any History book at random and reading a few paragraphs. In hindsight, we can tell that the Roman Empire was doomed already by the beginning of the 3rd century. The effort of millions of people during the following thousand years did not manage to save it, only to prolong its agony.

Is the fact that we will never get to live ourselves in a flawless society a reason for despair? Should we let the mirage of perfection paralyse our actions? Absolutely not. Psychologically, cynicism is as lethal as perfectionism. The answer to the riddle is rationality.

By all means, do work at improving society, but make sure that your actions generate also short-term victories that you can enjoy in your own lifetime. Do be idealistic and seek to eradicate world problems, but do it in an affordable way.

Nothing is gained by your going bankrupt for a good cause. Nobody is helped by endless discussions about what society will look like in a hundred years from now.

One day, human beings will inhabit a perfect world. That's a great place to dream of. That's a wonderful target to aim at, provided that we keep our present actions focused on the small gains that make our daily happiness.

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

[Image by (~ +) Luis Barreto under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

The mirage of a perfect world and why you should avoid it


One day, human beings will inhabit a perfect world. There will be no violence and no poverty. Productivity will be high and consumption will take place without waste. Everybody will be free and healthy. The environment will always remain clean and nature, most of the time, green.

Discussions are ongoing about how long it is going to take us to get there. Some say a hundred years, others speak about seven times seven generations. Giving a precise estimation is a difficult question, since reaching the goal depends on so many factors.

The positive side of having ambitious plans for the world is that they keep people busy reading newspapers, watching debates on TV, listening to talk radio, campaigning for this or that cause, making speeches or pretending to listen to them. The bad news is that those activities, whether taken all together or one-by-one, will have little effect on your own life.

The more passionate you are about improving society, the harder it will be for you to accept the world's fundamental inertia. Even if you devote all your resources to a single goal, give up sleep, and work at your cause year after year, chances are that your achievements will remain modest.

There are powerful reasons for this:
  1. Fundamental changes in society take place only at low speed.
  2. From the perspective of human lifespan, even major world improvements can remain imperceptible.
  3. The dominant change paradigm is false. The truth is that rapid technical innovation does not necessarily bring profound changes to society.
  4. New technologies often do little but reinforce traditional views.
  5. Making the same old mistakes faster does not improve anything.
You will find irrefutable proof of my thesis by opening any History book at random and reading a few paragraphs. In hindsight, we can tell that the Roman Empire was doomed already by the beginning of the 3rd century. The effort of millions of people during the following thousand years did not manage to save it, only to prolong its agony.

Is the fact that we will never get to live ourselves in a flawless society a reason for despair? Should we let the mirage of perfection paralyse our actions? Absolutely not. Psychologically, cynicism is as lethal as perfectionism. The answer to the riddle is rationality.

By all means, do work at improving society, but make sure that your actions generate also short-term victories that you can enjoy in your own lifetime. Do be idealistic and seek to eradicate world problems, but do it in an affordable way.

Nothing is gained by your going bankrupt for a good cause. Nobody is helped by endless discussions about what society will look like in a hundred years from now.

One day, human beings will inhabit a perfect world. That's a great place to dream of. That's a wonderful target to aim at, provided that we keep our present actions focused on the small gains that make our daily happiness.

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

[Image by (~ +) Luis Barreto under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Five steps to find a job in difficult times


Thanks to unemployment, newspapers and television are managing to recapture part of their lost audience. Pictures of forlorn job seekers alternate with interviews of puzzled white-collar workers who, until today, had never given a thought to the possibility of finding themselves on the street.

In some countries, the number of job seekers is reaching unheard-of proportions. Ireland and Spain, two of the worse cases, are on their way to a 20% unemployment rate. If disasters paralyse, absolute disasters can wipe out all capacity for action.

Should you be searching for a job, here is some advice to help you move faster on the road back to employment:

1.- FORGET ABOUT DEPRESSING UNEMPLOYMENT STATISTICS. No matter how bad the business downturn is, there are jobs out there. All you need to do is to find yourself one. If you are flexible, organized, and relentless in your approach, you won't remain unemployed for long.

2.- UNDERSTAND THE REASONS. Mass unemployment is a phenomenon that results from major shifts in the economy. You, as an individual, are in no way to blame for circumstances that affect a great segment of the population. Do not take it personally and, above all, do not waste a minute complaining.

You cannot change factors that are causing the loss of thousands of jobs in certain locations or sectors of the economy, but you can move away from those and, instead, seek a job in areas where you stand much better chances.

3.- GO WHERE THE MONEY IS. If companies in the field where you have been working for the last ten years are going bankrupt one after the other, you'd certainly want to move to greener pastures. The same principle applies if you reside in an area whose economy is in shambles.

Even in a downturn, there are bad places and horrible places to look for a job. Don't waste your time trying to land a job in companies that are falling apart. You have better things to do than seeking to get aboard The Titanic, now and for the rest of your life.

4.- BE RELENTLESS IN YOUR SEARCH. Don't post your curriculum vitae on just two web sites, but on twenty. If that doesn't work, then try another twenty. Call up ten companies per day, ask to talk to their human resources manager, and pitch your skills. If that doesn't work, call another ten.

Looking for a job is a tedious chore, but if you have to do it, you might as well give it all you have. The faster you get it done, the sooner you can go back to normal life.

5.- MAKE OFFERS THAT ONLY A FOOL WOULD REFUSE. As a result of your active search, you will be invited for interviews. If you really want the job for which you are being interviewed, chances are that you will get it if you manage to convince the other party that you are reasonably competent and extraordinarily motivated.

A big company might be too bureaucratic to appreciate your willingness to go the extra mile, but a small-business owner will be delighted to hear your plan to lower his risk of hiring you. Here are some examples:
  • If the laws of your country allow it, offer to work for a token salary during a certain period, so that he can see how great you are.
  • If you are looking for a job in a 24/7 operation, propose to work on the shift that nobody wants.
  • If there is a location where nobody wants to go, volunteer to work there temporarily.
In some cases, this approach will bring no results, but sooner or later, an employer won't resist the temptation of accepting your offer. Use your flexibility to get your foot on the door. As soon as you have regained employment, you can go up from there.

If you have the drive and curiosity to be reading this, I have little doubt that you will do what you need to do. Focused thoughts and relentless action constitute the rational approach for finding a job, or in general, for achieving anything of value. May your job search be short and your success spectacular.

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

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


Five steps to find a job in difficult times


Thanks to unemployment, newspapers and television are managing to recapture part of their lost audience. Pictures of forlorn job seekers alternate with interviews of puzzled white-collar workers who, until today, had never given a thought to the possibility of finding themselves on the street.

In some countries, the number of job seekers is reaching unheard-of proportions. Ireland and Spain, two of the worse cases, are on their way to a 20% unemployment rate. If disasters paralyse, absolute disasters can wipe out all capacity for action.

Should you be searching for a job, here is some advice to help you move faster on the road back to employment:

1.- FORGET ABOUT DEPRESSING UNEMPLOYMENT STATISTICS. No matter how bad the business downturn is, there are jobs out there. All you need to do is to find yourself one. If you are flexible, organized, and relentless in your approach, you won't remain unemployed for long.

2.- UNDERSTAND THE REASONS. Mass unemployment is a phenomenon that results from major shifts in the economy. You, as an individual, are in no way to blame for circumstances that affect a great segment of the population. Do not take it personally and, above all, do not waste a minute complaining.

You cannot change factors that are causing the loss of thousands of jobs in certain locations or sectors of the economy, but you can move away from those and, instead, seek a job in areas where you stand much better chances.

3.- GO WHERE THE MONEY IS. If companies in the field where you have been working for the last ten years are going bankrupt one after the other, you'd certainly want to move to greener pastures. The same principle applies if you reside in an area whose economy is in shambles.

Even in a downturn, there are bad places and horrible places to look for a job. Don't waste your time trying to land a job in companies that are falling apart. You have better things to do than seeking to get aboard The Titanic, now and for the rest of your life.

4.- BE RELENTLESS IN YOUR SEARCH. Don't post your curriculum vitae on just two web sites, but on twenty. If that doesn't work, then try another twenty. Call up ten companies per day, ask to talk to their human resources manager, and pitch your skills. If that doesn't work, call another ten.

Looking for a job is a tedious chore, but if you have to do it, you might as well give it all you have. The faster you get it done, the sooner you can go back to normal life.

5.- MAKE OFFERS THAT ONLY A FOOL WOULD REFUSE. As a result of your active search, you will be invited for interviews. If you really want the job for which you are being interviewed, chances are that you will get it if you manage to convince the other party that you are reasonably competent and extraordinarily motivated.

A big company might be too bureaucratic to appreciate your willingness to go the extra mile, but a small-business owner will be delighted to hear your plan to lower his risk of hiring you. Here are some examples:
  • If the laws of your country allow it, offer to work for a token salary during a certain period, so that he can see how great you are.
  • If you are looking for a job in a 24/7 operation, propose to work on the shift that nobody wants.
  • If there is a location where nobody wants to go, volunteer to work there temporarily.
In some cases, this approach will bring no results, but sooner or later, an employer won't resist the temptation of accepting your offer. Use your flexibility to get your foot on the door. As soon as you have regained employment, you can go up from there.

If you have the drive and curiosity to be reading this, I have little doubt that you will do what you need to do. Focused thoughts and relentless action constitute the rational approach for finding a job, or in general, for achieving anything of value. May your job search be short and your success spectacular.

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

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