Sunday, 31 January 2010

The right way to make fundamental decisions


Whenever you move to a new job, chances are that you will have to spend the initial months clearing up the mess left behind by your predecessor. Resources are always limited, in particular time, and your new position might require you to make some tough decisions. Will you maintain the old routines or will you take the risk of antagonizing your colleagues and subordinates?

Entrepreneurs face the same dilemma everyday. Actually, the choice between proven systems and risky innovation has to be made by every person in business, often on the basis of incomplete information. When college students pick up their major subject of study, how many of them have a clear picture of the long-term consequences?

Around the year 70 B.C., Andronicus of Rhodes was elected head of the Lyceum, the school that had been founded by Aristotle in Athens two centuries before. After taking over his new responsibilities, Andronicus must have made an inventory of the assets and liabilities of the Lyceum and concluded that the school was in a sorry state.

Diodorus had been the head of the Lyceum during the preceding decades. Despite his efforts, the school had progressively lost ground to its main competitor, the Academy founded by Plato. Shortly after Andronicus became head of the Lyceum, the Roman legions invaded Greece and the economic situation in Athens turned from bad to worse.

A few years later, the state of affairs had barely improved and Andronicus was faced with the most difficult decision of his life. The implications were so far-ranging that no one could have foreseen all consequences. The Lyceum was going through difficult times, which called for swift action and strong leadership.

For Andronicus, there were two choices. On the one side, he could concentrate all resources on expanding the school curriculum in order to attract new students from Greece, Rome, Libya, and Egypt. On the other side, he could devote the available manpower to compile and edit the works of Aristotle, whose manuscripts were rapidly deteriorating and risked being lost forever.

Although the Lyceum was not a modern corporation listed in the stock market, we should not underestimate the pressures on Andronicus to decide in favour of short-term advantages. Suffice to say than in the preceding two hundred years, under much better economic conditions, no one had undertaken the task of editing and compiling Aristotle's works.

Luckily, Andronicus of Rhodes took the long-term view and decided to concentrate the Lyceum resources on producing a compilation of Aristotle's writings. You might not know that, by the time they began their task, already half of Aristotle's manuscripts had been rendered illegible by decay or eaten up by worms.

The compilation of Aristotle's writings made in the Lyceum under Andronicus' supervision consisted of 47 books. In addition, about thirty books by Aristotle available at that time were left out of the compilation, possibly considering that, since they were so many copies in circulation of those other thirty books, there was little risk of them disappearing.

That assumption proved catastrophically wrong, since with the passage of time, all other works of Aristotle have been irrecoverably lost. The last copies of those other Aristotle's manuscripts may have burned down in the fire of the Alexandrian Library, together with many other writings of Antiquity.

In our days, few students realize that, when they study Aristotle's ideas, they are mostly relying on Andronicus of Rhodes as historical source. In fact, a good part of what we consider Aristotle's works might have been written by Andronicus himself or by one of his colleagues in the Lyceum.

Had Andronicus not undertaken the arduous task of editing and compiling dozens of disparate manuscripts written by Aristotle, later centuries would have taken a different path, no doubt, for the worse. As it frequently happens, one man's long-term vision changed the course of History.

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

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

Saturday, 30 January 2010

How to develop an entrepreneurial mentality


You can win big in life by adopting an entrepreneurial mentality. It will allow you to overcome problems that other people find insurmountable, enabling you to detect hidden solutions and opportunities in difficult situations.

How can you train yourself to become more entrepreneurial? Taking risks, staying alert, and being quick at exploiting chance encounters are things that do not come naturally to most of us. Nevertheless, like any other skill, entrepreneurship becomes sharper through practice.

The best approach is simply to make a list of those traits that you wish to acquire and work constantly at improving the quality of your thinking. What are the characteristics of the entrepreneurial mind? My own list contains five points.

1. TOLERANCE: What does a moral virtue have to do with entrepreneurship? Everything. Intolerance and inflexibility are deadly poisons when it comes to detecting opportunities and taking initiative. Unless you push yourself to tolerate uncertainty and risk beyond normal levels, your mind will never operate on a high entrepreneurial gear.

2. INDEPENDENT THINKING: Start questioning things that seem self-evident. Why should you follow traditions that make no sense? Can things be improved? Why do we have to wait in line to purchase certain products or services? Is there a better way? When everything is expensive, try cheap. When everything is cheap, try borrowing. The best opportunities lie always below the surface.

3. CONSISTENT AMBITION: There is moral ambition and there is the search of wealth. In addition, many others are embarked in a quest for honours or simply desire to make the world a better place. Pick your choice and keep it present in your mind. What really counts here is consistency. Random changes in your goals will block your entrepreneurial vision. Confusion generates chaos. Consistency of purpose sharpens the mind.

4. DETERMINATION: Whatever path you take, you will face opposition and criticism. Ambition is worthless unless it is accompanied by an iron determination to persist, to try again, to stand up and push repeatedly until the wagon moves. Why do different people possess unequal levels of determination? Personal philosophy plays a major role in this. Those who have a stable, rational, and integrated view of the world tend to advance faster on the entrepreneurial road.

5. A FEELING OF DISSATISFACTION: Contented souls seldom have the drive that is necessary to challenge the way things are. On many occasions, entrepreneurship is linked to personal dissatisfaction with a product, service, or environment. Annoyance and irritation can fuel the motor of change. A strong wish to turn the present into a better future is the thread line of many entrepreneurial careers.

Make your own list of the traits that you want to develop and place it on a visible place in your kitchen or bathroom. The world of tomorrow is shaped by those who reflect on their life's purpose while cooking and brushing their teeth.

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

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

Friday, 29 January 2010

Make a commitment to take continuous action


What's the point of complaining that others may have better luck or personal connections than you have? Complaining is not going to change anything. If you look at the world realistically, you will see plenty of success stories of people who have achieved their dreams despite major difficulties or epochal mistakes.

Neither good luck nor being in the right place at the right time play a major role in personal long-term success. Luck is not the steam that moves the engine. The key to being able to slide over life's difficulties is your personal psychology.

The main issue is to identify which essential psychological trait is, given enough time, the principal driver in an individual's success. From many years of observation and personal experience, I put forward that this key element is the willingness to take continual action.

This is easier said than done, since the principle itself opens many other questions. In which direction should you take action? How do you know if you are following the proper course? Which technique should you use to define the steps that you need to take?

Let me condense my advice in a few words. If you know what you want, look around and take immediate action in the direction that seems the most promising. If a door closes, then try the next one. If you are not sure about what you want, then try out several things that you find interesting until you discover what attracts you the most.

In any case, put discouragement out of your mind and accept mistakes as part of the game. Moving continuously in your chosen direction does not guarantee success, but tends to increase achievement. When you are focused on being yourself at your best level, your results are bound to exceed your expectations. Before you realize, you will have built your own skyscraper.

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

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

Make a commitment to take continuous action


What's the point of complaining that others may have better luck or personal connections than you have? Complaining is not going to change anything. If you look at the world realistically, you will see plenty of success stories of people who have achieved their dreams despite major difficulties or epochal mistakes.

Neither good luck nor being in the right place at the right time play a major role in personal long-term success. Luck is not the steam that moves the engine. The key to being able to slide over life's difficulties is your personal psychology.

The main issue is to identify which essential psychological trait is, given enough time, the principal driver in an individual's success. From many years of observation and personal experience, I put forward that this key element is the willingness to take continual action.

This is easier said than done, since the principle itself opens many other questions. In which direction should you take action? How do you know if you are following the proper course? Which technique should you use to define the steps that you need to take?

Let me condense my advice in a few words. If you know what you want, look around and take immediate action in the direction that seems the most promising. If a door closes, then try the next one. If you are not sure about what you want, then try out several things that you find interesting until you discover what attracts you the most.

In any case, put discouragement out of your mind and accept mistakes as part of the game. Moving continuously in your chosen direction does not guarantee success, but tends to increase achievement. When you are focused on being yourself at your best level, your results are bound to exceed your expectations. Before you realize, you will have built your own skyscraper.

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

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

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Is stability safer than entrepreneurship? (Part 3 of 3)


Our world looks orderly because we have trained ourselves to disregard inconsistencies. Familiarity does not necessarily breed contempt, but it often renders individuals overconfident. Immigrants that arrive in a new country make observations that puzzle those whose ancestors have lived there for generations.

Watch out for the entrapments of stability so that you do not become sleepy. Our two most precious assets, our health and our mind, depreciate with excessive comfort. Our two most valuable qualities, ambition and persistence, vanish as soon as we take them for granted.

Once a man is born, he is tested and contested until the day he dies. Stability is for the greatest part an illusion to which we cling too avidly. Most things we do are meant to be temporary; attempting to make them last too long is unnatural and counter-productive.

Civilization has brought us a million gains beyond what prehistoric hunter-gatherers enjoyed. Those benefits should be preserved and enhanced. Let us savour modern life without relinquishing our entrepreneurial spirit.

Science has reduced the impact of sickness so that we can remain free-ranging adventurers. Technology has enlarged our scope of activity so that we can explore unknown territories. Do not let your longing for stability paralyse your initiative.

The price that we pay for the pretence of orderliness is always too high. Human beings function best when their mind remains flexible and alert. A wise man attains certainty by overcoming contradictions, not by avoiding action. Independent thinking and entrepreneurship lead to personal effectiveness, from which stability is just a side effect.

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

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

Is stability safer than entrepreneurship?
(Part 3 of 3)


Our world looks orderly because we have trained ourselves to disregard inconsistencies. Familiarity does not necessarily breed contempt, but it often renders individuals overconfident. Immigrants that arrive in a new country make observations that puzzle those whose ancestors have lived there for generations.

Watch out for the entrapments of stability so that you do not become sleepy. Our two most precious assets, our health and our mind, depreciate with excessive comfort. Our two most valuable qualities, ambition and persistence, vanish as soon as we take them for granted.

Once a man is born, he is tested and contested until the day he dies. Stability is for the greatest part an illusion to which we cling too avidly. Most things we do are meant to be temporary; attempting to make them last too long is unnatural and counter-productive.

Civilization has brought us a million gains beyond what prehistoric hunter-gatherers enjoyed. Those benefits should be preserved and enhanced. Let us savour modern life without relinquishing our entrepreneurial spirit.

Science has reduced the impact of sickness so that we can remain free-ranging adventurers. Technology has enlarged our scope of activity so that we can explore unknown territories. Do not let your longing for stability paralyse your initiative.

The price that we pay for the pretence of orderliness is always too high. Human beings function best when their mind remains flexible and alert. A wise man attains certainty by overcoming contradictions, not by avoiding action. Independent thinking and entrepreneurship lead to personal effectiveness, from which stability is just a side effect.

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

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

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Is stability safer than entrepreneurship? (Part 2 of 3)


Prehistoric hunter-gatherers moved around frequently, carrying their household items with them. A varied diet and daily exercise kept them healthy. Tribes rarely stayed long in one place; their changing habitations made them difficult targets for parasites.

In those days, man lived on the alert. The world was unstable; the environment, disorderly; man's attitude, entrepreneurial. Each season brought him new challenges, each territory fresh scents and herbs. To danger, he reacted with prudence; to opportunities, with self-reliance.

Stability made its entrance in man's life together with agriculture. Land cultivation and animal domestication brought us a steady supply of wheat, rice, corn, and cheese. On the other hand, they also brought us smallpox, influenza, malaria, measles, lice, and vermin.

As soon as human beings built stable dwellings, rats became their companions. Insects multiplied fed by our blood. Bacteria found a fertile ground to grow; viruses procreated and mutated. Sickness turned to epidemic, illness to pandemic, and disease to morbidity.

Stability possesses a heavy downside of which many people become aware only when it's too late. Routine has advantages, but it can blind you to innovation. Predictability has benefits, but it can render you passive. Steadiness has charms that can make you forget to profit from every day.

Viewing regularity as supreme virtue can lead to the demise of independent thinking. The idea of stability will keep you down if you let it overrule your perception of reality. If you trust routine too strongly, you will develop tunnel vision. If your entrepreneurial skills wane, change will find you unprepared.

To be continued in Part 3

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

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

Is stability safer than entrepreneurship?
(Part 2 of 3)


Prehistoric hunter-gatherers moved around frequently, carrying their household items with them. A varied diet and daily exercise kept them healthy. Tribes rarely stayed long in one place; their changing habitations made them difficult targets for parasites.

In those days, man lived on the alert. The world was unstable; the environment, disorderly; man's attitude, entrepreneurial. Each season brought him new challenges, each territory fresh scents and herbs. To danger, he reacted with prudence; to opportunities, with self-reliance.

Stability made its entrance in man's life together with agriculture. Land cultivation and animal domestication brought us a steady supply of wheat, rice, corn, and cheese. On the other hand, they also brought us smallpox, influenza, malaria, measles, lice, and vermin.

As soon as human beings built stable dwellings, rats became their companions. Insects multiplied fed by our blood. Bacteria found a fertile ground to grow; viruses procreated and mutated. Sickness turned to epidemic, illness to pandemic, and disease to morbidity.

Stability possesses a heavy downside of which many people become aware only when it's too late. Routine has advantages, but it can blind you to innovation. Predictability has benefits, but it can render you passive. Steadiness has charms that can make you forget to profit from every day.

Viewing regularity as supreme virtue can lead to the demise of independent thinking. The idea of stability will keep you down if you let it overrule your perception of reality. If you trust routine too strongly, you will develop tunnel vision. If your entrepreneurial skills wane, change will find you unprepared.

To be continued in Part 3

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

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

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Is stability safer than entrepreneurship? (Part 1 of 3)


Prosperity and happiness would be easy to achieve if we could make correct decisions all day long. Imagine how efficient we would become if we never succumbed to seductive lies. How far could we go if we never got distracted by irrelevancies? How much would we profit if we never wasted time chasing what cannot be accomplished?

An exalted view of stability can be a constant source of erroneous choices. Human beings seem to suffer from a persistent cognitive distortion that makes them favour all things that are tall, wide, and long. If you think about it, you will find few exceptions to this misconception.

The groundless preference for tall, wide, and long applies equally to space and time. In cities, residents like tall buildings better than small houses. In the countryside, hotels are built next to wide lakes, not meagre rivers. In literature, readers prefer long novels to short stories.

Our belief in stability is the culmination of our cultural bias towards everything tall, wide, and long. Children stories such as Three Little Pigs teach infants the desirability of solid homes. Career advisers encourage youths to choose well-established professions. Dietitians recommend patients to keep a constant weight.

Stability is presented as the perfect answer to all questions. It is the one solution that fits all types; it is the one preference that always satisfies. Temporary approaches are considered unwise. Anything transient is to be revised; anything incomplete, despised. Long live the mirage of stability.

How wrong and how historically false. The truth is that human beings have been leading predictable lives for less than 10.000 years. During the ten-times larger period that preceded agriculture, men and women had few routines and were, in certain aspects, much better off.

To be continued in Part 2

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

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

Is stability safer than entrepreneurship?
(Part 1 of 3)


Prosperity and happiness would be easy to achieve if we could make correct decisions all day long. Imagine how efficient we would become if we never succumbed to seductive lies. How far could we go if we never got distracted by irrelevancies? How much would we profit if we never wasted time chasing what cannot be accomplished?

An exalted view of stability can be a constant source of erroneous choices. Human beings seem to suffer from a persistent cognitive distortion that makes them favour all things that are tall, wide, and long. If you think about it, you will find few exceptions to this misconception.

The groundless preference for tall, wide, and long applies equally to space and time. In cities, residents like tall buildings better than small houses. In the countryside, hotels are built next to wide lakes, not meagre rivers. In literature, readers prefer long novels to short stories.

Our belief in stability is the culmination of our cultural bias towards everything tall, wide, and long. Children stories such as Three Little Pigs teach infants the desirability of solid homes. Career advisers encourage youths to choose well-established professions. Dietitians recommend patients to keep a constant weight.

Stability is presented as the perfect answer to all questions. It is the one solution that fits all types; it is the one preference that always satisfies. Temporary approaches are considered unwise. Anything transient is to be revised; anything incomplete, despised. Long live the mirage of stability.

How wrong and how historically false. The truth is that human beings have been leading predictable lives for less than 10.000 years. During the ten-times larger period that preceded agriculture, men and women had few routines and were, in certain aspects, much better off.

To be continued in Part 2

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

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

Monday, 25 January 2010

What a job, to be a prophet


I used to complain, what a job to be a prophet
it doesn't pay well, it has nothing to offer
why did I ever apply, I ask myself now
was it for the freedom that fools are allowed?

In the very beginning, I was given a warning
it is just an occupation for a rainy morning
but nobody told me about the long nights
trying to bring men to their proper heights

You don't know what you're doing, I heard
from every contented sheep in the herd
there cannot be any better world that this
where each human knows nothing but bliss

But is it perhaps my spirit of contradiction
that dares doubt truth presented as fiction?
Why was I unwilling to let things remain
stay on the course of a derailed train?

My motive has nothing to do with the food,
for all I've been able to reflect and conclude
my purpose is closer to an aimless drinker
who fears the day he might become a thinker

I was the last to graduate from prophet school
it took me a decade to learn the only rule
my rhetoric lessons have been mostly wasted
I tend to use words too sweet to be tasted

From the modest jobs available to prophets
I chose every time the carrying of buckets
upwards or downwards and the need may be
I missed no opportunity to speak out my plea

In times of discouragement, why did I not quit?
What burning message have I to transmit?
Has it not been proven nothing can change,
that nobody cares for views that are strange?

Will you believe that by the time I figured out
that harvest is pointless amidst eternal drought
my first disciple appeared, bringing red wine
I turned him away, but came another nine

What is the point of trying to walk straight
instead of following orders to carry extra weight?
This business can feed no disciples, I said,
forget joining a prophet, live quietly instead

Along they came, by the hundreds every week
young, old, married, single, none of them meek
Go back, there is no future in this calling
I cried, but their step was firm beyond stalling

I used to complain, what a job to be a prophet
it doesn't pay well, it has nothing to offer
until I discovered that in old age or youth
nothing can replace the sunrise of truth

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

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

What a job, to be a prophet


I used to complain, what a job to be a prophet
it doesn't pay well, it has nothing to offer
why did I ever apply, I ask myself now
was it for the freedom that fools are allowed?

In the very beginning, I was given a warning
it is just an occupation for a rainy morning
but nobody told me about the long nights
trying to bring men to their proper heights

You don't know what you're doing, I heard
from every contented sheep in the herd
there cannot be any better world that this
where each human knows nothing but bliss

But is it perhaps my spirit of contradiction
that dares doubt truth presented as fiction?
Why was I unwilling to let things remain
stay on the course of a derailed train?

My motive has nothing to do with the food,
for all I've been able to reflect and conclude
my purpose is closer to an aimless drinker
who fears the day he might become a thinker

I was the last to graduate from prophet school
it took me a decade to learn the only rule
my rhetoric lessons have been mostly wasted
I tend to use words too sweet to be tasted

From the modest jobs available to prophets
I chose every time the carrying of buckets
upwards or downwards and the need may be
I missed no opportunity to speak out my plea

In times of discouragement, why did I not quit?
What burning message have I to transmit?
Has it not been proven nothing can change,
that nobody cares for views that are strange?

Will you believe that by the time I figured out
that harvest is pointless amidst eternal drought
my first disciple appeared, bringing red wine
I turned him away, but came another nine

What is the point of trying to walk straight
instead of following orders to carry extra weight?
This business can feed no disciples, I said,
forget joining a prophet, live quietly instead

Along they came, by the hundreds every week
young, old, married, single, none of them meek
Go back, there is no future in this calling
I cried, but their step was firm beyond stalling

I used to complain, what a job to be a prophet
it doesn't pay well, it has nothing to offer
until I discovered that in old age or youth
nothing can replace the sunrise of truth

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

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

Sunday, 24 January 2010

How consistency leads to a better life (Part 3 of 3)


Relativists refrain from questioning their actions and convictions. They consider life unpredictable and causality unfathomable. When they propose improvements, they present them as opinions. When they present opinions, they treat them as facts. When reality belies their philosophy, they reply that both are true but that none of them matter.

Turning around in ethical circles is exhausting. Behaviour A may be encouraged on Monday, elevated to supreme virtue on Tuesday, and discarded on Wednesday. Behaviour B may become fashionable on Thursday, lose popularity on Friday, and be written off on Saturday. A new doctrine might be embraced on Sunday, but for how long?

Woe and waste, when shall this game end? Human beings cannot build knowledge on moving sands. We need a stable morality as much as we need a regular intake of vitamins and minerals. What cannot be apprehended cannot be validated.

We need a code of values that can be improved through trial and error. Should its length prove excessive, we can reduce it. Should its frame prove too heavy, we can resize it. Should its contents prove too abstract, we can turn them to simple words.

Active minds detect opportunities because stable values connect them to their environment. In contrast, those with shifting views cannot tell the blur from the colours. Without distinct goals, there are no workable plans. Inconsistent convictions lead to wasteful contradictions.

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

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

How consistency leads to a better life (Part 3 of 3)


Relativists refrain from questioning their actions and convictions. They consider life unpredictable and causality unfathomable. When they propose improvements, they present them as opinions. When they present opinions, they treat them as facts. When reality belies their philosophy, they reply that both are true but that none of them matter.

Turning around in ethical circles is exhausting. Behaviour A may be encouraged on Monday, elevated to supreme virtue on Tuesday, and discarded on Wednesday. Behaviour B may become fashionable on Thursday, lose popularity on Friday, and be written off on Saturday. A new doctrine might be embraced on Sunday, but for how long?

Woe and waste, when shall this game end? Human beings cannot build knowledge on moving sands. We need a stable morality as much as we need a regular intake of vitamins and minerals. What cannot be apprehended cannot be validated.

We need a code of values that can be improved through trial and error. Should its length prove excessive, we can reduce it. Should its frame prove too heavy, we can resize it. Should its contents prove too abstract, we can turn them to simple words.

Active minds detect opportunities because stable values connect them to their environment. In contrast, those with shifting views cannot tell the blur from the colours. Without distinct goals, there are no workable plans. Inconsistent convictions lead to wasteful contradictions.

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

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

Saturday, 23 January 2010

How consistency leads to a better life (Part 2 of 3)


On most occasions, contradictory behaviour arises from inconsistent convictions. Without a strong sense of direction, coherence is unsustainable. Without integrated values, ethics become meaningless. Without a reliable compass, maps can provide little certainty.

Even if individuals who perform counter-productive actions are willing to correct their mistakes, they seldom identify what they have to do. The difficulty does not lie in detecting failure, but in extracting valid lessons from experience.

If we do not grow in knowledge, we are bound to repeat our errors. The damage that will ensue could have been avoided. If we had understood the cause of the problem, we could have adopted preventive measures. If we had been able to detect the signals of danger, we could have steered our ship out of trouble.

What keeps us making the same mistakes repeatedly? What blocks man's ability to improve? In the great majority of cases, the culprit is relativism, the belief that a good outcome may result from random behaviour.

If people are determined to ignore the link between present actions and future consequences, they will not listen to rational arguments. Even when a person is responsible for catastrophic failure, he will deny any error or fault.

Wrong ideas blind man to reality as effectively as visual impairment. Individuals who embrace relativism choose to ignore the law of cause and effect. In this way, they curtail their ability to learn and become psychologically inert. Neither facts nor emotions can move them, because their minds do not link those elements to each other.

To be continued in Part 3

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

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

How consistency leads to a better life (Part 2 of 3)


On most occasions, contradictory behaviour arises from inconsistent convictions. Without a strong sense of direction, coherence is unsustainable. Without integrated values, ethics become meaningless. Without a reliable compass, maps can provide little certainty.

Even if individuals who perform counter-productive actions are willing to correct their mistakes, they seldom identify what they have to do. The difficulty does not lie in detecting failure, but in extracting valid lessons from experience.

If we do not grow in knowledge, we are bound to repeat our errors. The damage that will ensue could have been avoided. If we had understood the cause of the problem, we could have adopted preventive measures. If we had been able to detect the signals of danger, we could have steered our ship out of trouble.

What keeps us making the same mistakes repeatedly? What blocks man's ability to improve? In the great majority of cases, the culprit is relativism, the belief that a good outcome may result from random behaviour.

If people are determined to ignore the link between present actions and future consequences, they will not listen to rational arguments. Even when a person is responsible for catastrophic failure, he will deny any error or fault.

Wrong ideas blind man to reality as effectively as visual impairment. Individuals who embrace relativism choose to ignore the law of cause and effect. In this way, they curtail their ability to learn and become psychologically inert. Neither facts nor emotions can move them, because their minds do not link those elements to each other.

To be continued in Part 3

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

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

Friday, 22 January 2010

How consistency leads to a better life (Part 1 of 3)


While time runs only in one direction, human beings have the privilege of hesitating and zigzagging. Nobody can prevent you from destroying what you have built in the past. You can do away with your possessions and reputation. You can neglect to use your talent and education. You can move forward or start from scratch.

Consistency becomes ethically relevant when it is anchored on fundamental virtues such as honesty and independence. A man can be consistent with his best or worst actions; coherence with the former enhances his moral stature; loyalty to evil precipitates his demise.

Personal effectiveness is fuelled by virtue and accelerated by consistency. A rational man desires to build higher. He wants his health to improve, or at least, not to deteriorate. He expects his family to become a growing source of joy. In his work, he aims at expanding his business or advancing his career.

If he acts in alignment with reality, his expectations will be fulfilled barring extreme bad luck or misfortune. On the other hand, if he behaves inconsistently, chances are that he will make a mess out of his life.

Contradictions lead to waste, irritation, and chaos. A wise man corrects his mistakes and reaffirms his commitment to doing what is right. A fool dismisses lessons from experience and blames his errors on others.

When marriages fall apart due to lack of commitment, they leave adults scarred and children stranded. When companies change their strategy too frequently, they cumulate mistakes. When investors buy and sell shares too often, they fail to achieve substantial capital gains.

To be continued in Part 2

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

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

How consistency leads to a better life (Part 1 of 3)


While time runs only in one direction, human beings have the privilege of hesitating and zigzagging. Nobody can prevent you from destroying what you have built in the past. You can do away with your possessions and reputation. You can neglect to use your talent and education. You can move forward or start from scratch.

Consistency becomes ethically relevant when it is anchored on fundamental virtues such as honesty and independence. A man can be consistent with his best or worst actions; coherence with the former enhances his moral stature; loyalty to evil precipitates his demise.

Personal effectiveness is fuelled by virtue and accelerated by consistency. A rational man desires to build higher. He wants his health to improve, or at least, not to deteriorate. He expects his family to become a growing source of joy. In his work, he aims at expanding his business or advancing his career.

If he acts in alignment with reality, his expectations will be fulfilled barring extreme bad luck or misfortune. On the other hand, if he behaves inconsistently, chances are that he will make a mess out of his life.

Contradictions lead to waste, irritation, and chaos. A wise man corrects his mistakes and reaffirms his commitment to doing what is right. A fool dismisses lessons from experience and blames his errors on others.

When marriages fall apart due to lack of commitment, they leave adults scarred and children stranded. When companies change their strategy too frequently, they cumulate mistakes. When investors buy and sell shares too often, they fail to achieve substantial capital gains.

To be continued in Part 2

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

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

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Abdicate what you cannot demonstrate


"I am leaving behind everything that is artificial," announced Paul Gaugin to his friends when he was 43 years old. "I have decided to go back to nature and devote the rest of my life to painting."

Gauguin left Europe for Central America and later moved to an island in the South Pacific where he produced a series of paintings to which no one paid much attention.

Destitute and ignored by the public, Gaugin died in 1903, when he was only 55 years old. Long after his death, critics recognized him as a genius. Nowadays, each of his paintings is worth millions.

Paul Gaugin's biography is the quintessential story of the unrecognised artist living in miserable conditions. Disillusioned by his lack of success, he became an alcoholic, an aspect that must have contributed to shortening his life.

I do like Paul Gaugin's paintings, although they don't belong to my favourites. I will leave to art critics the job of praising Gaugin's work, since for me, this is not the lesson to be drawn from the story. My point is that Paul Gaugin made a mistake.

His was the kind of huge error that is often portrayed as heroic sacrifice. The fact is that nobody needs to ruin his life in order to become a great painter, inventor, musician, or entrepreneur.

Do you think that Gaugin would have lived longer if he had stayed in Europe and worked further at his job? Certainly, since he was a stockbroker. Would he had produced such great paintings if he had devoted just his evenings and weekends to art? In my view, that's most likely.

"Paul, your idea of leaving everything behind is pure nonsense," I would have told Gaugin if I had been one of his friends. "There are better ways to do things." I guess that he might have been curious to hear my advice, so here it is.

1. For succeeding in art, like in any other field, persistence plays a much bigger role than talent. A little every day amounts to a lot in the long term.

2. Extraordinary skill and expertise are the result of learning from a long series of failures. Take your time to make mistakes.

3. Giving up something in exchange of nothing is counter-productive. Advance slowly and make each step worthwhile.

4. Innovation in art, business, or philosophy needs a long time to catch the public's attention. You need to be both relentless and realistic.

5. Instead of wasting time complaining, devote your efforts to promoting your work. Flawless marketing comes no easier that perfect art.

Be patient. Build your pyramid stone by stone. One day, your monument will be so high that no one will be able to ignore it. Forget questionable ideas that lead to uncertain results.

Go for the gold. Persistence and patience work in most cases. Giving up everything and throwing yourself to the wolves is not a good approach. When you are faced with unproven ideas, follow my formula: abdicate what you cannot demonstrate.

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

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

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Which ethical theory works best (Part 3 of 3)


Nonetheless, these morality systems suffer from an inherent weakness. They are superior to partial ethics because they are non-contradictory, but internal consistency does not guarantee usefulness. Kantian morality is an intellectual clockwork foreign to the richness of human experience; it is a cold machinery that functions without feeling, ambition, passion, or hesitation.

Categorical imperatives forbid man to attack his neighbour but they won't tell him what he needs to do to be happy. Logical systems of ethics deal with the psychological aspects of human action only to a minor extent. Kantian morality won't provide you guidelines on how to define personal goals, allocate resources, and deal effectively with adversity.

[3] Teleological systems of ethics are the best that philosophy has produced. On the one hand, they go beyond the isolated commandments of partial morality; on the other hand, they aim at providing a comprehensive and consistent methodology, just like logical ethics. In addition, teleological systems render morality alive by linking it to an overriding goal, namely, happiness.

The word “teleological” comes from the Greek term “telos” which means purpose or goal. Advanced systems of ethics go far beyond “do not steal” and “do not murder.” They view the human condition as a complex combination of factors that need to be judged according to general values and prioritized according to individual objectives.

A teleological morality based on reason provides a frame of thought that encompasses all of man's decisions and actions. This system of ethics aims not only at keeping you out of trouble, but also at helping you make the best of your life. The list of teleological virtues includes not only honesty and justice, but also independence, ambition, and persistence.

If you want to make optimal choices, you should adopt a teleological system of ethics based on reason. Other approaches to morality are workable in certain conditions, but fail to pass the tests of universality, permanence, consistency, and comprehensiveness.

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

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

Which ethical theory works best (Part 3 of 3)


Nonetheless, these morality systems suffer from an inherent weakness. They are superior to partial ethics because they are non-contradictory, but internal consistency does not guarantee usefulness. Kantian morality is an intellectual clockwork foreign to the richness of human experience; it is a cold machinery that functions without feeling, ambition, passion, or hesitation.

Categorical imperatives forbid man to attack his neighbour but they won't tell him what he needs to do to be happy. Logical systems of ethics deal with the psychological aspects of human action only to a minor extent. Kantian morality won't provide you guidelines on how to define personal goals, allocate resources, and deal effectively with adversity.

[3] Teleological systems of ethics are the best that philosophy has produced. On the one hand, they go beyond the isolated commandments of partial morality; on the other hand, they aim at providing a comprehensive and consistent methodology, just like logical ethics. In addition, teleological systems render morality alive by linking it to an overriding goal, namely, happiness.

The word “teleological” comes from the Greek term “telos” which means purpose or goal. Advanced systems of ethics go far beyond “do not steal” and “do not murder.” They view the human condition as a complex combination of factors that need to be judged according to general values and prioritized according to individual objectives.

A teleological morality based on reason provides a frame of thought that encompasses all of man's decisions and actions. This system of ethics aims not only at keeping you out of trouble, but also at helping you make the best of your life. The list of teleological virtues includes not only honesty and justice, but also independence, ambition, and persistence.

If you want to make optimal choices, you should adopt a teleological system of ethics based on reason. Other approaches to morality are workable in certain conditions, but fail to pass the tests of universality, permanence, consistency, and comprehensiveness.

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

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

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Which ethical theory works best (Part 2 of 3)


If your only ethical principle is to help other people, how do you determine which individuals you should assist with priority? If person A is expected to help person B, is person B required to help person A? What happens if B has a different opinion? Who will settle disagreements on the meaning and scope of the word “help”?

Partial ethics are unsatisfactory because they do not work in all circumstances. Principles such as those mentioned above are correct if applied in a certain context, but cannot be stretched to a full-blown system of morality. Life is too complex to navigate if you know only one thing. Man requires a thinking methodology, not just a list of unconnected precepts.

[2] Logical systems of ethics represent a major step forward in human thought. Their purpose is to create a morality that answers all questions, a method that can be applied to all events without incurring contradictions. In History, partial ethics often evolve to logical moral systems after it becomes obvious that man cannot make rational decisions on the basis of isolated precepts.

In contrast to partial ethics, logical moral systems are consistent. Their principles and guidelines are linked to each other. Their conclusions aim at universality in space and permanence in time. A well-rounded moral system should be able to guide individuals in any situation that they may encounter in their private or professional lives.

The “categorical imperative” originated by the German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) is the best known system of logical ethics. According to Kant, true principles of morality must be universal, non-contradictory, and recognizable by reason. Decisions and actions are considered virtuous if they can be elevated to universal rules for all men.

“Do not steal” and “do not murder” are just two specific applications of the categorical imperative. Kantian ethics do not address simply a few situations, but all alternatives of human action. Logical ethical systems do not just provide recommendations for isolated cases, but a complete thinking methodology.

To be continued in Part 3

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

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

Monday, 18 January 2010

Which ethical theory works best (Part 1 of 3)


From all branches of philosophy, ethics is the most practical. Values connect abstractions to decisions and morality provides guidelines to surmount difficult situations. Ethical systems are worthless if they are not aligned with reality and validated by facts.

History has produced hundreds of different ethical teachings that work well in specific circumstances but fail catastrophically in other contexts. Fortunately, we can see if those philosophies pass the tests of veracity and practicality without having to examine them one by one. For the purpose of analysis, ethical systems can be grouped in three main types: the partial, the logical, and the teleological.

[1] Partial ethics consist of one or several precepts that are not comprehensive enough to constitute a system of thought. The vast majority of ethical convictions held by people can be classified as partial ethics.

Let me underline that moral principles enunciated in this manner are not necessarily false. Sometimes, flawless albeit incomplete guidelines are predicated; on other occasions, utter nonsense is put forward as ethical precept.

As examples of two well-meaning commandments, take for instance “protect the planet” and “help other people.” Individuals who advocate such ethics usually possess good intentions, but their formulations are so fragmentary that cannot be implemented consistently.

If you want to protect the planet, you have first to define “planet.” Does it involve only mountains or also animals and trees? If the concept encompasses animals, should it not include human beings as well? If plants and micro-organisms are both part of the planet, should you protect them from each other? Interesting questions, for which partial ethics cannot provide unassailable answers.

To be continued in Part 2

[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]

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Take a decisive step forward


Do you have lots of problems? I am talking about serious troubles, not small stuff. Have you lost a substantial part of your assets in the stock market crash? Are you going through divorce? Did you just lose a great job? Sometimes, it seems that all dikes break simultaneously in order to make sure that your home is flooded beyond repair.

When you reach the bottom, you have several alternatives. Your first option is to believe that your life is over. That could translate into opening a beer, sitting down on the sofa, turning on the TV, and letting electromagnetic waves numb you into unconsciousness. I have tried this approach myself once and it doesn't work. Let's see what else you can try.

A second possibility consists of wailing and crying yourself deaf. Make a list of your problems, from major to minor, call up a friend, and start sharing your lamentations. A close friend will put up with your complaints for a while, but eventually, he might decide to become an ex-friend of yours.

Have I ever gone on a wailing binge myself? You bet. Did it ever work? To this question, I believe that you already know the answer. Complaining doesn't work. Which other paths can you take?

Fury comes in the third place. Get angry, stand up from your sofa, go to the kitchen, and throw a dish against the wall. The dish breaks into pieces and now you have to sweep the kitchen floor. The anger approach is useless and will generate extra costs, additional work, or both. Fury turns into obfuscation, which is never conductive to improving your life.

Action comes next. This is a good alternative, the only proven to work. If you have lost a job, go and look for another position, preferably a much better one. Why is this obvious solution so difficult to implement? Why do most of us tend to run in circles doing nothing, complaining, or displaying pointless anger? This question addresses a crucial point. We fail to move forward because we are convinced that action won't lead to the desired outcome.

Would you admit that people react in highly divergent ways when facing the same problem? Some men need five years to get over a failed marriage, while others begin dating a couple of weeks after getting divorced. How come that one person gives up the hope of rebuilding a family, while others immediately start to search for a new life partner?

Personal philosophy plays the key role in surmounting any kind of tragedy or catastrophe. The beliefs and convictions inside a man's mind determine whether he will stand up once more, shrug his shoulders at failure, gather his remaining resources, and try again.

What is the best way to acquire the moral reflexes that will lead you out of darkness? I have a low-cost recommendation for you: read History, the more, the better. You will learn how men and women have triumphed over desperate situations by taking action. When everything fails, try imitating solutions that have repeatedly worked in the past. You might be surprised to find out that they usually work.

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

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

Take a decisive step forward


Do you have lots of problems? I am talking about serious troubles, not small stuff. Have you lost a substantial part of your assets in the stock market crash? Are you going through divorce? Did you just lose a great job? Sometimes, it seems that all dikes break simultaneously in order to make sure that your home is flooded beyond repair.

When you reach the bottom, you have several alternatives. Your first option is to believe that your life is over. That could translate into opening a beer, sitting down on the sofa, turning on the TV, and letting electromagnetic waves numb you into unconsciousness. I have tried this approach myself once and it doesn't work. Let's see what else you can try.

A second possibility consists of wailing and crying yourself deaf. Make a list of your problems, from major to minor, call up a friend, and start sharing your lamentations. A close friend will put up with your complaints for a while, but eventually, he might decide to become an ex-friend of yours.

Have I ever gone on a wailing binge myself? You bet. Did it ever work? To this question, I believe that you already know the answer. Complaining doesn't work. Which other paths can you take?

Fury comes in the third place. Get angry, stand up from your sofa, go to the kitchen, and throw a dish against the wall. The dish breaks into pieces and now you have to sweep the kitchen floor. The anger approach is useless and will generate extra costs, additional work, or both. Fury turns into obfuscation, which is never conductive to improving your life.

Action comes next. This is a good alternative, the only proven to work. If you have lost a job, go and look for another position, preferably a much better one. Why is this obvious solution so difficult to implement? Why do most of us tend to run in circles doing nothing, complaining, or displaying pointless anger? This question addresses a crucial point. We fail to move forward because we are convinced that action won't lead to the desired outcome.

Would you admit that people react in highly divergent ways when facing the same problem? Some men need five years to get over a failed marriage, while others begin dating a couple of weeks after getting divorced. How come that one person gives up the hope of rebuilding a family, while others immediately start to search for a new life partner?

Personal philosophy plays the key role in surmounting any kind of tragedy or catastrophe. The beliefs and convictions inside a man's mind determine whether he will stand up once more, shrug his shoulders at failure, gather his remaining resources, and try again.

What is the best way to acquire the moral reflexes that will lead you out of darkness? I have a low-cost recommendation for you: read History, the more, the better. You will learn how men and women have triumphed over desperate situations by taking action. When everything fails, try imitating solutions that have repeatedly worked in the past. You might be surprised to find out that they usually work.

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

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

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Opening the door to entrepreneurship (Part 3 of 3)


If you perform the exercise while you are driving alone, take the opportunity to speak out your thoughts. In these days of ubiquitous mobile phones, nobody will be surprised to see a driver speaking aloud in his car. Who knows if he is dictating notes into a recorder or giving instructions by phone to his stock broker?

Take a deep breath a spend the next three minutes exploring your feelings. How strong is your motivation to change? What penalties would you incur if you drop tasks you dislike? Can you afford to quit what you detest? Are you afraid of changing? How justified are your concerns?

During the remaining five minutes of the process, paint a mental picture of the desired transformation. Name the benefits of the alternatives that you want to pursue. Think of the doors that your new behaviour will open. Speak out the advantages and let them turn around your emotions.

If your disputation is sufficiently strong, a feeling of elation should ensue. Make your defence of change passionate. Your speech should win over your heart, not justify the past. Let optimism burn down the remnants of boredom; let ambition bury passivity under the debris of broken routines.

Ten minutes of thoughtfulness can turn around your mood. A vigorous disputation can shift your views from passivity to entrepreneurship. Make this exercise a fun performance. Win yourself over with sound arguments and enthusiastic words.

If you do this once a day during several months, your thought patterns will change. Your alertness to opportunities will increase. Your willingness to seek alternatives will grow until you won't need those ten minutes any more. At that point, your ship will have successfully sailed away from the shore.

[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]

Opening the door to entrepreneurship (Part 3 of 3)


If you perform the exercise while you are driving alone, take the opportunity to speak out your thoughts. In these days of ubiquitous mobile phones, nobody will be surprised to see a driver speaking aloud in his car. Who knows if he is dictating notes into a recorder or giving instructions by phone to his stock broker?

Take a deep breath a spend the next three minutes exploring your feelings. How strong is your motivation to change? What penalties would you incur if you drop tasks you dislike? Can you afford to quit what you detest? Are you afraid of changing? How justified are your concerns?

During the remaining five minutes of the process, paint a mental picture of the desired transformation. Name the benefits of the alternatives that you want to pursue. Think of the doors that your new behaviour will open. Speak out the advantages and let them turn around your emotions.

If your disputation is sufficiently strong, a feeling of elation should ensue. Make your defence of change passionate. Your speech should win over your heart, not justify the past. Let optimism burn down the remnants of boredom; let ambition bury passivity under the debris of broken routines.

Ten minutes of thoughtfulness can turn around your mood. A vigorous disputation can shift your views from passivity to entrepreneurship. Make this exercise a fun performance. Win yourself over with sound arguments and enthusiastic words.

If you do this once a day during several months, your thought patterns will change. Your alertness to opportunities will increase. Your willingness to seek alternatives will grow until you won't need those ten minutes any more. At that point, your ship will have successfully sailed away from the shore.

[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, 15 January 2010

Opening the door to entrepreneurship (Part 2 of 3)


Boredom is one of the most destructive effects of passivity. Lack of variety is annoying; extreme repetitiveness drives people to despair. Passivity generates drudgery because it sucks ambition out of the environment. Little by little, routine turns to hopelessness. Life enjoyment wanes as individuals are emptied of their last drops of entrepreneurship.

Few people are completely innovative or passive. The majority of us oscillate between the two poles, gaining ground one day and retreating on the next. Although we are clever enough to see the long-term disadvantages of passivity, we move away from it only slowly, in careful steps.

Human beings require time to change essential thinking patterns. Even if a man exerts massive efforts, he will not transform his personality in a week. Emotional changes are the outcome of philosophical transformation.

A quick fix will not overhaul your personality, but for all practical purposes, you don't need it either. To improve your effectiveness, you just have to correct your thinking when passivity makes its appearance.

We can start the transition from routine to entrepreneurship with a mental exercise that takes only ten minutes, but if you perform it daily for several months, your attitude will change permanently. Here is how the process works:

Devote the initial two minutes to verbalizing the habit that you wish to be discard. Ask yourself why you have been acting and thinking in that particular way. What were you trying to achieve with such behaviour? Was it something that you learned in infancy or that you have picked up along the way?

To be continued in Part 3

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

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

Opening the door to entrepreneurship (Part 2 of 3)


Boredom is one of the most destructive effects of passivity. Lack of variety is annoying; extreme repetitiveness drives people to despair. Passivity generates drudgery because it sucks ambition out of the environment. Little by little, routine turns to hopelessness. Life enjoyment wanes as individuals are emptied of their last drops of entrepreneurship.

Few people are completely innovative or passive. The majority of us oscillate between the two poles, gaining ground one day and retreating on the next. Although we are clever enough to see the long-term disadvantages of passivity, we move away from it only slowly, in careful steps.

Human beings require time to change essential thinking patterns. Even if a man exerts massive efforts, he will not transform his personality in a week. Emotional changes are the outcome of philosophical transformation.

A quick fix will not overhaul your personality, but for all practical purposes, you don't need it either. To improve your effectiveness, you just have to correct your thinking when passivity makes its appearance.

We can start the transition from routine to entrepreneurship with a mental exercise that takes only ten minutes, but if you perform it daily for several months, your attitude will change permanently. Here is how the process works:

Devote the initial two minutes to verbalizing the habit that you wish to be discard. Ask yourself why you have been acting and thinking in that particular way. What were you trying to achieve with such behaviour? Was it something that you learned in infancy or that you have picked up along the way?

To be continued in Part 3

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

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

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Open the door to entrepreneurship (Part 1 of 3)


Despite his many innovations in the field of psychology, Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) rarely spelled out the social consequences of his theories. His baseline approach was to listen to patients and analyse their mental shadows. Interpreting dreams constitutes an interesting intellectual exercise, but in terms of effectiveness, it cannot compare to vigorous rational discourse.

By the time Freud dared to present his social views in writing, he was already 74 years old. His essay Civilization and its Discontents (1930) was radically different from his previous publications. In this ground-breaking book, Freud outlines his views on human psychology from the point of view, not only of individual history, but also of interpersonal behaviour.

Although the overall tone of the essay is cautious and conservative, readers noticed Freud's underlying criticism. Reviewers of the book had no problem with Freud's listening to patients and interpreting their dreams, but his latest opinions were out of the question. The essay generated such opposition that Freud never addressed similar subjects again.

Many decades have passed, but tradition has not lost any of its force. Its tentacles feed on the weak in order to starve the independent; it silences doubts and paralyses initiative; it renders questions inaudible and self-reliance unthinkable.

On the other hand, preaching change for the sake of swimming upstream makes little sense. Being like everybody else has substantial private and professional advantages. It would be foolishly for anyone to discard a secure position simply because it offers few challenges. Before making a bold move, you should have something better in view.

To be continued in Part 2

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

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

Open the door to entrepreneurship (Part 1 of 3)


Despite his many innovations in the field of psychology, Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) rarely spelled out the social consequences of his theories. His baseline approach was to listen to patients and analyse their mental shadows. Interpreting dreams constitutes an interesting intellectual exercise, but in terms of effectiveness, it cannot compare to vigorous rational discourse.

By the time Freud dared to present his social views in writing, he was already 74 years old. His essay Civilization and its Discontents (1930) was radically different from his previous publications. In this ground-breaking book, Freud outlines his views on human psychology from the point of view, not only of individual history, but also of interpersonal behaviour.

Although the overall tone of the essay is cautious and conservative, readers noticed Freud's underlying criticism. Reviewers of the book had no problem with Freud's listening to patients and interpreting their dreams, but his latest opinions were out of the question. The essay generated such opposition that Freud never addressed similar subjects again.

Many decades have passed, but tradition has not lost any of its force. Its tentacles feed on the weak in order to starve the independent; it silences doubts and paralyses initiative; it renders questions inaudible and self-reliance unthinkable.

On the other hand, preaching change for the sake of swimming upstream makes little sense. Being like everybody else has substantial private and professional advantages. It would be foolishly for anyone to discard a secure position simply because it offers few challenges. Before making a bold move, you should have something better in view.

To be continued in Part 2

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

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

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

The discovery of effective truths (Part 3 of 3)


[2] Irritation should make way for constructive action. Imagine that, after suffering some minor abuse or discrimination, you have become enraged, lusting for revenge. The sweet lie is that someone is going to come to fix the world and put an end to unfairness.

The effective truth is that everybody makes mistakes and that it is seldom worth it to devote your time to correcting other people's minor faults. Put the unpleasant story out of your mind and move on. Apply your efforts to pursuing your goals, not to telling people off.

[3] Passive acceptance should be replaced by a workable plan: Put yourself in the shoes of someone who gets divorced in his mid-forties and moves to a new house. The sweet lie is that, for this man, it feels good to hang around his old friends and be comforted for the difficulties that he is encountering.

Maybe they will introduce him to someone nice who will put his life back on track. Otherwise, he will just have to get used to leading a life of loneliness, won't he? The effective truth is that he needs to make a workable plan to rebuild his life. Should he join a health club? Should he use on-line dating to meet a new romantic partner?

[4] Postponement should make way for entrepreneurship: Imagine that you practice a beloved hobby that you would like to turn into a source of income. Unfortunately, everybody is telling you that you should not take any risks at your age. The sweet lie is that your best chance of success is to stay put in your job until you reach retirement age.

The effective truth is that it takes a long time to establish any sort of business. The sooner you start your entrepreneurial career, the better off you'll be in the long term. Postponement does not reduce risk. A sensible approach would be to start up your business on the side, devoting it your evenings and weekends.

In every single case, falsehood delays progress. Do not allow wrong ideas to park your projects for years. Do not be contented with sweet lies that will waste your life. Throw away misrepresentations and adopt an entrepreneurial attitude towards life. Action solves problems; endless waiting only keeps you down.

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

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

The discovery of effective truths (Part 3 of 3)


[2] Irritation should make way for constructive action. Imagine that, after suffering some minor abuse or discrimination, you have become enraged, lusting for revenge. The sweet lie is that someone is going to come to fix the world and put an end to unfairness.

The effective truth is that everybody makes mistakes and that it is seldom worth it to devote your time to correcting other people's minor faults. Put the unpleasant story out of your mind and move on. Apply your efforts to pursuing your goals, not to telling people off.

[3] Passive acceptance should be replaced by a workable plan: Put yourself in the shoes of someone who gets divorced in his mid-forties and moves to a new house. The sweet lie is that, for this man, it feels good to hang around his old friends and be comforted for the difficulties that he is encountering.

Maybe they will introduce him to someone nice who will put his life back on track. Otherwise, he will just have to get used to leading a life of loneliness, won't he? The effective truth is that he needs to make a workable plan to rebuild his life. Should he join a health club? Should he use on-line dating to meet a new romantic partner?

[4] Postponement should make way for entrepreneurship: Imagine that you practice a beloved hobby that you would like to turn into a source of income. Unfortunately, everybody is telling you that you should not take any risks at your age. The sweet lie is that your best chance of success is to stay put in your job until you reach retirement age.

The effective truth is that it takes a long time to establish any sort of business. The sooner you start your entrepreneurial career, the better off you'll be in the long term. Postponement does not reduce risk. A sensible approach would be to start up your business on the side, devoting it your evenings and weekends.

In every single case, falsehood delays progress. Do not allow wrong ideas to park your projects for years. Do not be contented with sweet lies that will waste your life. Throw away misrepresentations and adopt an entrepreneurial attitude towards life. Action solves problems; endless waiting only keeps you down.

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

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

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

The discovery of effective truths (Part 2 of 3)


It takes a strong will and massive efforts to modify the way we eat. On many occasions, men and women undertake such changes only as a last resort; for instance, after having suffered a heart attack or being diagnosed with cancer.

Embracing a better diet becomes a major challenge when individuals endure constant social pressure to behave irresponsibility. At the time of this writing, business meetings in Russia are still being closed with rounds of vodka. When colleagues and customers push you to drink, it is very difficult to resist. How many of those people ignore the negative consequences of their actions?

Sweet are the lies that appeal to our vanity, but their charms do not make them less destructive. Misrepresentations can be pleasant and enticing despite their lethal consequences. Inferior food and excessive alcohol consumption undermine our health. Sugar-coated falsehoods sabotage our interests and place heavy burdens on our shoulders.

Seductive lies bring about perverse effects, from which the loss of personal autonomy is by far the worst. The bigger the falsehood, the less that will remain of your independence. If you subscribe to misrepresentations, they will erode your entrepreneurial abilities. You will forsake your initiative and become psychologically dependent. These are four examples of how to replace sweet lies by effective truths:

[1] Misplaced hope should make way for initiative: Do you ever tell yourself that someone, somewhere is going to recognize your talent? The sweet lie is that good things happen to those who wait long enough. The effective truth is that, if your talents are underutilized, you'd better take action to promote them. It is up to you to improve your situation.

To be continued in Part 3

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

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

The discovery of effective truths (Part 2 of 3)


It takes a strong will and massive efforts to modify the way we eat. On many occasions, men and women undertake such changes only as a last resort; for instance, after having suffered a heart attack or being diagnosed with cancer.

Embracing a better diet becomes a major challenge when individuals endure constant social pressure to behave irresponsibility. At the time of this writing, business meetings in Russia are still being closed with rounds of vodka. When colleagues and customers push you to drink, it is very difficult to resist. How many of those people ignore the negative consequences of their actions?

Sweet are the lies that appeal to our vanity, but their charms do not make them less destructive. Misrepresentations can be pleasant and enticing despite their lethal consequences. Inferior food and excessive alcohol consumption undermine our health. Sugar-coated falsehoods sabotage our interests and place heavy burdens on our shoulders.

Seductive lies bring about perverse effects, from which the loss of personal autonomy is by far the worst. The bigger the falsehood, the less that will remain of your independence. If you subscribe to misrepresentations, they will erode your entrepreneurial abilities. You will forsake your initiative and become psychologically dependent. These are four examples of how to replace sweet lies by effective truths:

[1] Misplaced hope should make way for initiative: Do you ever tell yourself that someone, somewhere is going to recognize your talent? The sweet lie is that good things happen to those who wait long enough. The effective truth is that, if your talents are underutilized, you'd better take action to promote them. It is up to you to improve your situation.

To be continued in Part 3

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

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

Monday, 11 January 2010

The discovery of effective truths (Part 1 of 3)


Our culture feeds on the sugar contained in cakes, cookies, ice cream, and alcoholic drinks. Packaged foods are conditioned to suit the taste of the consumer, which varies from country to country. Bread is baked differently in cities that are just a hundred kilometres away. When you travel to a new destination, tasting local dishes will be a source of delight and horror.

The opponents of the Western diet will warn you that sugar is going to kill you. Actually, not only sugar, but also alcohol, red meat, white flour, and many other elements of the modern everyday fare from Seattle to Bouloge-sur-Mer.

Contemporary medical studies have proven those admonishments true to a good extent, but also acknowledge that dead will very rarely be the penalty for eating a beef hamburger. The reasonable conclusion is that some foods create certain health risks; you should be aware of them and select your meals accordingly.

Nowadays, few people contend the principle that bad food is detrimental to your vitality. If you don't make a minimum effort to gather correct dietary information, you will make random choices. If you eat appallingly, you will suffer the consequences. In terms of food, science has established that sweetness is not always conductive to wellness. Tasty is not tantamount to healthy.

Can we remove counter-productive actions also from other areas of our life? How much of what we believe about the world holds true upon detailed examination? Are our convictions solidly based on facts? What about our ethical values and fundamental goals? Do we ever resort to prejudice in order to hide irrational fears? Do we ever appeal to tradition in order to safeguard inefficiency?

To be continued in Part 2

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

[Image by Ephemeron1 under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

The discovery of effective truths (Part 1 of 3)


Our culture feeds on the sugar contained in cakes, cookies, ice cream, and alcoholic drinks. Packaged foods are conditioned to suit the taste of the consumer, which varies from country to country. Bread is baked differently in cities that are just a hundred kilometres away. When you travel to a new destination, tasting local dishes will be a source of delight and horror.

The opponents of the Western diet will warn you that sugar is going to kill you. Actually, not only sugar, but also alcohol, red meat, white flour, and many other elements of the modern everyday fare from Seattle to Bouloge-sur-Mer.

Contemporary medical studies have proven those admonishments true to a good extent, but also acknowledge that dead will very rarely be the penalty for eating a beef hamburger. The reasonable conclusion is that some foods create certain health risks; you should be aware of them and select your meals accordingly.

Nowadays, few people contend the principle that bad food is detrimental to your vitality. If you don't make a minimum effort to gather correct dietary information, you will make random choices. If you eat appallingly, you will suffer the consequences. In terms of food, science has established that sweetness is not always conductive to wellness. Tasty is not tantamount to healthy.

Can we remove counter-productive actions also from other areas of our life? How much of what we believe about the world holds true upon detailed examination? Are our convictions solidly based on facts? What about our ethical values and fundamental goals? Do we ever resort to prejudice in order to hide irrational fears? Do we ever appeal to tradition in order to safeguard inefficiency?

To be continued in Part 2

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

[Image by Ephemeron1 under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]