Monday, 31 May 2010

The best strategy for personal growth - Story of Alexander Cruden (Part 5 of 5)


At a time when computers did not yet exist, the scope of such project could have exhausted the resources of any publishing house. Hundreds of words would have to be indexed, definitions would have to be written, quotations revised, and references organized.

The Bible Concordance was a gigantic enterprise, but Alexander Cruden carried it out alone. He did the complete work on his own, from beginning to end, without any help. It took him 12 years to complete the book, which he published himself when he was 38th years old.

The project demanded the very best of Cruden's talents: his knowledge of classical languages and his extensive Bible expertise. The book, which sold slowly in the beginning, became a success after its second edition in 1761. During the last decade of his life, Alexander Cruden was able to enjoy the well-deserved success of his labour.

Since its first publication in 1737, Cruden's Bible Concordance has remained uninterruptedly in print. It has sold a large number of copies around the world and remains a testimony of how much an individual can achieve by following the right strategy.

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

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

The best strategy for personal growth - Story of Alexander Cruden (Part 5 of 5)


At a time when computers did not yet exist, the scope of such project could have exhausted the resources of any publishing house. Hundreds of words would have to be indexed, definitions would have to be written, quotations revised, and references organized.

The Bible Concordance was a gigantic enterprise, but Alexander Cruden carried it out alone. He did the complete work on his own, from beginning to end, without any help. It took him 12 years to complete the book, which he published himself when he was 38th years old.

The project demanded the very best of Cruden's talents: his knowledge of classical languages and his extensive Bible expertise. The book, which sold slowly in the beginning, became a success after its second edition in 1761. During the last decade of his life, Alexander Cruden was able to enjoy the well-deserved success of his labour.

Since its first publication in 1737, Cruden's Bible Concordance has remained uninterruptedly in print. It has sold a large number of copies around the world and remains a testimony of how much an individual can achieve by following the right strategy.

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

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

Sunday, 30 May 2010

The best strategy for personal growth - Story of Alexander Cruden (Part 4 of 5)


When he was in his fifties, Alexander Cruden gave himself the surname “the Corrector” and petitioned the English Parliament to appoint him “Corrector of the Morals of the Nation.” Despite Cruden's sustained efforts to convince Members of Parliament to grant him this title, it was all to no avail.

Cruden's fixation with correctness reached such an extreme that, when he went out of his home, he carried a sponge with which he deleted any signs that he found in the street that he considered against good morals, grammar, or spelling. Such attitude led him to conflicts in which he defended his views with emphasis and determination.

His activities as self-appointed public corrector did secure Cruden a place in the list of History's great eccentrics, but contributed little to exploit his talents. Even if the man possessed genius, his obsession with righteousness did not produce a successful outcome.

To his advantage and that of posterity, Cruden simultaneously pursued his writing ambitions. When he was in his mid-thirties, he conceived the idea of a dictionary that would explain every concept in the Bible.

To be continued in Part 5

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

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

The best strategy for personal growth - Story of Alexander Cruden (Part 4 of 5)


When he was in his fifties, Alexander Cruden gave himself the surname “the Corrector” and petitioned the English Parliament to appoint him “Corrector of the Morals of the Nation.” Despite Cruden's sustained efforts to convince Members of Parliament to grant him this title, it was all to no avail.

Cruden's fixation with correctness reached such an extreme that, when he went out of his home, he carried a sponge with which he deleted any signs that he found in the street that he considered against good morals, grammar, or spelling. Such attitude led him to conflicts in which he defended his views with emphasis and determination.

His activities as self-appointed public corrector did secure Cruden a place in the list of History's great eccentrics, but contributed little to exploit his talents. Even if the man possessed genius, his obsession with righteousness did not produce a successful outcome.

To his advantage and that of posterity, Cruden simultaneously pursued his writing ambitions. When he was in his mid-thirties, he conceived the idea of a dictionary that would explain every concept in the Bible.

To be continued in Part 5

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

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

Saturday, 29 May 2010

The best strategy for personal growth - Story of Alexander Cruden (Part 3 of 5)


[1] Stabilize the situation: While he figured out how to make the best of his life, Cruden took a job as a tutor in London, in the house of wealthy family. After a while, he found a position as proof corrector, supervising publications. These jobs allowed him to put some of his knowledge to good use.

[2] Identify the best opportunities to exploit his talent: Eventually, Cruden realized that he would be better off working for himself and began a book-selling business in central London. In parallel, he started to write, hoping to attain recognition and financial success.

Alexander Cruden's plan was impeccable and, given enough time, it would have produced substantial benefits with limited risks. Unfortunately, in addition to adopting the best possible strategy, he also chose, at the same time, to embrace the worst.

For reasons that nowadays are difficult to fathom, Cruden became obsessed with righteousness and language. Single-handedly, he undertook a campaign to protect the morals of England and efface bad spelling from public life. It was a bizarre crusade which, in the eyes of many, made Cruden look quite mad.

To be continued in Part 4

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

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

The best strategy for personal growth - Story of Alexander Cruden (Part 3 of 5)


[1] Stabilize the situation: While he figured out how to make the best of his life, Cruden took a job as a tutor in London, in the house of wealthy family. After a while, he found a position as proof corrector, supervising publications. These jobs allowed him to put some of his knowledge to good use.

[2] Identify the best opportunities to exploit his talent: Eventually, Cruden realized that he would be better off working for himself and began a book-selling business in central London. In parallel, he started to write, hoping to attain recognition and financial success.

Alexander Cruden's plan was impeccable and, given enough time, it would have produced substantial benefits with limited risks. Unfortunately, in addition to adopting the best possible strategy, he also chose, at the same time, to embrace the worst.

For reasons that nowadays are difficult to fathom, Cruden became obsessed with righteousness and language. Single-handedly, he undertook a campaign to protect the morals of England and efface bad spelling from public life. It was a bizarre crusade which, in the eyes of many, made Cruden look quite mad.

To be continued in Part 4

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

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

Friday, 28 May 2010

The best strategy for personal growth - Story of Alexander Cruden (Part 2 of 5)


Cruden was born in Scotland and studied in Aberdeen with the goal of becoming a priest. During his training, he acquired a deep command of Greek and Latin, as well as detailed knowledge of the Bible. In his early twenties, while he was preparing himself to be ordained, he fell in love with his professor's daughter, who apparently was already involved with another man.

The problems that ensued blocked Cruden's ordination and forced him to move from Scotland to London in order to find a job. Since he could no longer become a priest, the question was how he could exploit his talents in the best possible manner.

Undoubtedly, Cruden must have experienced his failure to attain ordination as a major shock. His studies in Aberdeen had allowed him to acquire extensive expertise but only in areas that had little application outside the church.

His natural path to personal growth was obstructed and his employment prospects were bleak. If you had been in Alexander Cruden's shoes, what actions would you have undertaken to turn around the situation? Which strategy would you have adopted to exploit your talent? This is what Cruden did:

To be continued in Part 3

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

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

The best strategy for personal growth - Story of Alexander Cruden (Part 2 of 5)


Cruden was born in Scotland and studied in Aberdeen with the goal of becoming a priest. During his training, he acquired a deep command of Greek and Latin, as well as detailed knowledge of the Bible. In his early twenties, while he was preparing himself to be ordained, he fell in love with his professor's daughter, who apparently was already involved with another man.

The problems that ensued blocked Cruden's ordination and forced him to move from Scotland to London in order to find a job. Since he could no longer become a priest, the question was how he could exploit his talents in the best possible manner.

Undoubtedly, Cruden must have experienced his failure to attain ordination as a major shock. His studies in Aberdeen had allowed him to acquire extensive expertise but only in areas that had little application outside the church.

His natural path to personal growth was obstructed and his employment prospects were bleak. If you had been in Alexander Cruden's shoes, what actions would you have undertaken to turn around the situation? Which strategy would you have adopted to exploit your talent? This is what Cruden did:

To be continued in Part 3

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

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

Thursday, 27 May 2010

The best strategy for personal growth - Story of Alexander Cruden (Part 1 of 5)


Everybody has talents waiting to be developed. Education may give you the opportunity to move into your chosen direction provided that you take the right courses.

Similarly, the labour market offers many different positions; if you obtain suitable employment, you will learn and thrive; on the other hand, if your job is unchallenging, you will not have much fun.

This principle, which seems so obvious and forceful, is extraordinarily difficult to implement. Most people are aware of the desirability of personal growth, but few individuals manage to exploit their talents to the maximum. Is this phenomenon due to lack of ambition? Would the problem be solved if those persons possessed greater determination?

If acquiring a stronger psychology was the answer, obstacles to personal growth would be easier to overcome. Those who wish to further their career would just need to attend a course on motivation or listen to an audio-book on the subject.

Even if there is no shortage of such courses and audio-books, the results speak for themselves. People's lives are affected for a short period of time, a few days or weeks, before they return to previous patterns.

An intense desire for personal growth does not guarantee a positive result. People fail in such endeavours because they lack any of the three indispensable elements: either they have not identified their specific talents, or they fail to develop them, or they cannot figure out how to exploit them commercially.

Those three factors, if applied consistently, can result in phenomenal accomplishments. In contrast, when any of those three ingredients is missing, little will be achieved. If you do not focus on your best qualities, education will hardly increase your effectiveness. If you labour in the wrong field, you will experience boredom.

Readers who live in the United Kingdom have probably heard of Alexander Cruden (1699-1770). His life provides us a compelling example of the results of adopting brilliant and mistaken strategies for personal development.

Like many talented people, Cruden attempted to improve his station in life through personal initiative. However, his well-intended actions did not always produce positive results.

To be continued in Part 2

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

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

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

In praise of productive routines


"Never trade a risk for a lie," is a sound investment principle. Placing our hopes on uncertain possibilities is a better approach than believing apparent truths that rest on false premises and unrealistic promises. If you look around, you will find no lack of recipes for happiness. Here is a list of methods that don't work, never have, and never will:
  • Dubious or unethical practices.
  • Abusing people in any way.
  • Seeking short-term gains that wipe out future progress.
  • Complaining about deficiencies.
  • Trusting luck.
Even under the best circumstances, attaining peace of mind and happiness requires substantial work. Without the right principles, those endowed with prodigious gifts by heredity will just bury themselves in sorrow through mistakes and inconsistencies. You can find evidence of this by opening any newspaper.

What is the essence of happiness? How is it determined? How can we steer our life in its direction? These questions can be answered only by pointing out the main difference between human and animal psychology.

Animals' moods are indissolubly connected to their immediate perceptions. For humans, this link is immeasurably more complex. Since ancient times, philosophers have wondered why different individuals react to the same event with anger, fear, anxiety, or happiness.

Relativism does not explain anything and serves only to obfuscate truth. "Anything can be good or bad," is not a valid proposition, in particular when one faces catastrophe or personal tragedy.

Arbitrary valuations of events are nothing but sophisticated lies aimed at manipulating the naive. What really creates contrasting levels of happiness is how individuals interpret events according to their convictions about the past, present, and future:

1.- ABOUT THE PAST: No matter how painful, past events can often be reinterpreted as learning experiences. When this approach is unfeasible, preceding mistakes or bad luck must be simply accepted stoically. Each human life is unique and must carry its own past, whether positive or negative. From old days, draw lessons if you will, but above all, develop your acceptance skills.

2.- ABOUT THE PRESENT: Difficulties and, in particular, boring or unpleasant work are much better accepted by individuals who link them to their long-term personal objectives. Men and women of high ambitions know that performing daily routines well is a requisite of progress. The contentment of those who look beyond the present remains incomprehensible to short-term mentalities. This is why the same work can be experienced, depending on individual goals, either as dead-end or as a step forward.

3.- ABOUT THE FUTURE: Progress derived from focused routines leads to achievement. The path to success might be irregular, advancement slow, and results below expectations, but you can always find another road that will take you father. Animals cannot assess their actions by linking them to long-term objectives. Human happiness is, to a great extent, the result of making such connection and anticipating those goals.

Routine, progress, and achievement constitute the sequence of happiness. Viewing the unique thread that links our past, present, and future is a fundamental gift of philosophy. Peace of mind and happiness start and end with personal responsibility. May all your present routines fit well your chosen destination.

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

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

In praise of productive routines


"Never trade a risk for a lie," is a sound investment principle. Placing our hopes on uncertain possibilities is a better approach than believing apparent truths that rest on false premises and unrealistic promises. If you look around, you will find no lack of recipes for happiness. Here is a list of methods that don't work, never have, and never will:
  • Dubious or unethical practices.
  • Abusing people in any way.
  • Seeking short-term gains that wipe out future progress.
  • Complaining about deficiencies.
  • Trusting luck.
Even under the best circumstances, attaining peace of mind and happiness requires substantial work. Without the right principles, those endowed with prodigious gifts by heredity will just bury themselves in sorrow through mistakes and inconsistencies. You can find evidence of this by opening any newspaper.

What is the essence of happiness? How is it determined? How can we steer our life in its direction? These questions can be answered only by pointing out the main difference between human and animal psychology.

Animals' moods are indissolubly connected to their immediate perceptions. For humans, this link is immeasurably more complex. Since ancient times, philosophers have wondered why different individuals react to the same event with anger, fear, anxiety, or happiness.

Relativism does not explain anything and serves only to obfuscate truth. "Anything can be good or bad," is not a valid proposition, in particular when one faces catastrophe or personal tragedy.

Arbitrary valuations of events are nothing but sophisticated lies aimed at manipulating the naive. What really creates contrasting levels of happiness is how individuals interpret events according to their convictions about the past, present, and future:

1.- ABOUT THE PAST: No matter how painful, past events can often be reinterpreted as learning experiences. When this approach is unfeasible, preceding mistakes or bad luck must be simply accepted stoically. Each human life is unique and must carry its own past, whether positive or negative. From old days, draw lessons if you will, but above all, develop your acceptance skills.

2.- ABOUT THE PRESENT: Difficulties and, in particular, boring or unpleasant work are much better accepted by individuals who link them to their long-term personal objectives. Men and women of high ambitions know that performing daily routines well is a requisite of progress. The contentment of those who look beyond the present remains incomprehensible to short-term mentalities. This is why the same work can be experienced, depending on individual goals, either as dead-end or as a step forward.

3.- ABOUT THE FUTURE: Progress derived from focused routines leads to achievement. The path to success might be irregular, advancement slow, and results below expectations, but you can always find another road that will take you father. Animals cannot assess their actions by linking them to long-term objectives. Human happiness is, to a great extent, the result of making such connection and anticipating those goals.

Routine, progress, and achievement constitute the sequence of happiness. Viewing the unique thread that links our past, present, and future is a fundamental gift of philosophy. Peace of mind and happiness start and end with personal responsibility. May all your present routines fit well your chosen destination.

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

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

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

The unintended teaching of Confucius


According to the tradition, Confucius resigned his job when he was 55 years old and devoted the next 13 years of his life to preaching his ideals. During those 13 years, he wandered around different provinces of China, accompanied by a few disciples, looking for elevated souls who would appreciate his philosophical ideas.

In this respect, Confucius was following one of his own precepts: "Seek out companions who are honest, truthful, and knowledgeable. Avoid those who are arrogant, lie, or compromise their principles."

In the year 484 B.C., after the long pilgrimage, Confucius returned to his old town. He was tired of travelling and disappointed with the people he had met. His long search for perfect associates had been a failure. In all places he had visited, he had only met scorn, ignorance, and disdain for knowledge.

When Confucius settled down again in his town, he was already 68 years old. Since he knew that he would not live much longer, he asked himself how he should devote the remaining time of his life. A lesser man might have become sorrowful and bitter, but not Confucius. He was honest and clever enough to look at his previous 13 years and recognize that he had made a mistake.

He had been searching for something that did not exist. He had been wandering the desert in pursue of a mirage. "Perfect places and perfect people do not exist," he concluded. "Those are not the result of nature, but of our own making." During the next 5 years, until the day of his death, Confucius changed his strategy.
  • He gave up all attempts to preach to strangers.
  • He decided to focus his efforts on teaching those who were willing to listen to him.
  • He avoided heated arguments with anyone who disagreed with him.
Accepting that many men have no interest in philosophy or truth was not easier for Confucius than for anyone else. "Each man has the right to believe his own foolish ideas, to refuse to face the facts of reality, and to make his own mistakes," is an insight to which many come only after a long series of disappointing experiences.

For Confucius, that process of discovery took 13 years. Luckily, he made up for the wasted time during the remaining 5 years of his life, which he devoted to writing and to teaching a few loyal disciples in his own town. Those followers were the men who would later spread Confucius' teachings across China, setting up the basis for transmitting his writings through the centuries.

None of us needs to repeat Confucius' mistake. The lesson has been taught and should be learned forever. Nobody has to waste 13 years of his life preaching in a desert of ignorance.

If you have something valuable to say or something worthy to sell, there is no point in devoting your energies to convincing those who do not care. Instead, seek out those who can appreciate it and forget about the rest. Life is too short for chasing what cannot be achieved.

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

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

Monday, 24 May 2010

The three elements of extraordinary longevity


"Luck is the result of a previous action," wrote Aristotle in his essay Physics in the year 329 B.C. "In this respect, one can also say that happiness and good fortune are the result of previous good actions." Few would dispute that living to become 100 years old is a particularly appealing sort of good fortune.

Many would be ready to pay a fortune for such privilege, but contemporary medicine still has major difficulties to extend a man's life beyond his eighty-fifth birthday. In the course of the last three decades, scientific studies on longevity have outgrown the status of fringe curiosities.

Today, trying to figure out how human beings could live longer occupies a central place in medical research. "Time is a measure of motion and change," observed Aristotle. "Growing old shows the effect of time on living entities." When researching longevity, the approach taken by the great majority of scientists has been based on the following five steps:
  1. Seek out very old people in different countries.
  2. Talk to them and to their families.
  3. Organize the information in four areas, namely, genetic characteristics, environment, lifestyle, and food.
  4. Compare the details in each area.
  5. Identify patterns that explain why those people live much longer than average.
In the late seventies, a population survey in Okinawa, a group of islands located between Japan and Taiwan, discovered an unusually large population segment that had reached an age beyond ninety years old. The scientific investigation conducted with Okinawan men and women led to the same results as studies carried out in other areas of the world.

No one can modify the genetic characteristics of human beings after their birth, at least for the moment, but researchers agree that we are able to influence the other three factors that determine longevity. These are some of the ways of turning those factors in our favour:
  • ENVIRONMENT: If possible, move to live in an unpolluted area, free of smoke, industrial fallout, and with abundant green areas for relaxation.
  • LIFESTYLE: Try to spend a good part of the day outside, cycling, gardening, or simply walking. Live close to friends and see them often. Pursue long-term interests in fields that require continuous learning, skill development, and intellectual concentration. Follow your passions.
  • FOOD: Eat moderately and seek to maintain a stable weight. Food affects people in various ways and there is no universal formula for youth. In general, it seems that legumes, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and fish tend to further essential biochemical processes at cellular level. Find out which precise diet works best for you by observing how your metabolism reacts to different foods.
"Virtues are actions that move us in the direction of happiness," defined Aristotle. "In order to find out the right direction to follow, a man should think of the likely effects of his actions." Let us learn how to live properly by learning from reality. The more we learn, the longer and happier our life will be.

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

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

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Can you advance faster by zigzagging? - Story of Leonardo da Vinci (Part 5 of 5)


Raphael, who many consider one of the most talented painters in History, only lived 37 years, but authored more than a hundred paintings. In contrast, Leonardo, who lived to become 67 years old, only produced a few dozen works. How many other brilliant paintings could Leonardo have created if he had focused on this line of activity?

We know that Leonardo was perfectly aware of this problem, since he spent his life moving from one project to another. At 28, he interrupted his work on his painting “St. Jerome” and never found time to finish it. At 29, he went off to Milan and abandoned in Florence his half-way completed painting “Adoration of the Magi,” which he never retook.

At 40, Leonardo obtained a commission for an equestrian monument in Milan, but the project also remained uncompleted. Leonardo did manage to produce a horse clay model for the monument, but by the time the horse was ready to be cast in bronze, Leonardo's client decided to use the bronze to manufacture cannons.

Long-term achievement requires stable purpose. Zigzagging can also lead to success, but such success will tend to be of sort duration. Personal efforts, like investments, go farther when they are compounded through time. Each step of a career should consolidate yesterday's accomplishments and prepare the next. Permanent improvement requires psychological stability.

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

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

Can you advance faster by zigzagging? - Story of Leonardo da Vinci (Part 5 of 5)


Raphael, who many consider one of the most talented painters in History, only lived 37 years, but authored more than a hundred paintings. In contrast, Leonardo, who lived to become 67 years old, only produced a few dozen works. How many other brilliant paintings could Leonardo have created if he had focused on this line of activity?

We know that Leonardo was perfectly aware of this problem, since he spent his life moving from one project to another. At 28, he interrupted his work on his painting “St. Jerome” and never found time to finish it. At 29, he went off to Milan and abandoned in Florence his half-way completed painting “Adoration of the Magi,” which he never retook.

At 40, Leonardo obtained a commission for an equestrian monument in Milan, but the project also remained uncompleted. Leonardo did manage to produce a horse clay model for the monument, but by the time the horse was ready to be cast in bronze, Leonardo's client decided to use the bronze to manufacture cannons.

Long-term achievement requires stable purpose. Zigzagging can also lead to success, but such success will tend to be of sort duration. Personal efforts, like investments, go farther when they are compounded through time. Each step of a career should consolidate yesterday's accomplishments and prepare the next. Permanent improvement requires psychological stability.

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

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

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Can you advance faster by zigzagging? - Story of Leonardo da Vinci (Part 4 of 5)


Fair enough, but if you look at all those projects with the cold eye of a tax accountant, you will be forced to classify most of them as “work in progress.” My point is that, if Leonardo da Vinci lived today, he would probably remain unknown or attain only modest success.

In our days, innovation and competition are fierce in every field. As a group, artists, scientists, physicians, and inventors never rest in the age of internet. The global economy guarantees that someone, somewhere is about to overtake your achievements or take over your company.

There is so much to learn in every field that contemporary artists and professionals can rarely afford to engage in unproductive ventures. The market wants perfect products and reliable services. Nobody cares if you are a genius. What counts is whether you are able to deliver extraordinary value to paying customers.

More often than not, zigzagging will slow you down and waste your opportunities. The difference between Leonardo da Vinci and his contemporary Raphael da Urbino (1483-1520) provides a striking illustration of this principle.

To be continued in Part 5

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

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

Can you advance faster by zigzagging? - Story of Leonardo da Vinci (Part 4 of 5)


Fair enough, but if you look at all those projects with the cold eye of a tax accountant, you will be forced to classify most of them as “work in progress.” My point is that, if Leonardo da Vinci lived today, he would probably remain unknown or attain only modest success.

In our days, innovation and competition are fierce in every field. As a group, artists, scientists, physicians, and inventors never rest in the age of internet. The global economy guarantees that someone, somewhere is about to overtake your achievements or take over your company.

There is so much to learn in every field that contemporary artists and professionals can rarely afford to engage in unproductive ventures. The market wants perfect products and reliable services. Nobody cares if you are a genius. What counts is whether you are able to deliver extraordinary value to paying customers.

More often than not, zigzagging will slow you down and waste your opportunities. The difference between Leonardo da Vinci and his contemporary Raphael da Urbino (1483-1520) provides a striking illustration of this principle.

To be continued in Part 5

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

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

Friday, 21 May 2010

Can you advance faster by zigzagging? - Story of Leonardo da Vinci (Part 3 of 5)


Except for a few dozen paintings, the fact is that Leonardo da Vinci almost never finished anything he started. He made copious notes about inventions which never took off the ground. He spent two years making drawings to illustrate an anatomy book that was never published in his lifetime. He also made designs for churches that were never built.

If you have a talented son who leads his life in imitation of Leonardo da Vinci's, your patience might not outlast your disappointments. You will come to regret your son's inability to focus on a specific field and further his career. You will also have to endure the sight of your son's being surpassed in honours and wealth by others who possess less talent but more determination.

Reality is structured in a way that rewards constant work and stable purpose. Zigzagging can be psychologically rewarding, but seldom leads to extraordinary achievement. Even highly talented individuals need time to acquire expertise and establish themselves in the market. Customers pay for products and services, not for unfinished designs.

When you study History, you will hear many great things about Leonardo da Vinci. Art teachers will tell you about Leonardo's genius, physicians about his prodigious knowledge of human anatomy, and engineers about his visionary design of a flying machine.

To be continued in Part 4

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

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

Can you advance faster by zigzagging? - Story of Leonardo da Vinci (Part 3 of 5)


Except for a few dozen paintings, the fact is that Leonardo da Vinci almost never finished anything he started. He made copious notes about inventions which never took off the ground. He spent two years making drawings to illustrate an anatomy book that was never published in his lifetime. He also made designs for churches that were never built.

If you have a talented son who leads his life in imitation of Leonardo da Vinci's, your patience might not outlast your disappointments. You will come to regret your son's inability to focus on a specific field and further his career. You will also have to endure the sight of your son's being surpassed in honours and wealth by others who possess less talent but more determination.

Reality is structured in a way that rewards constant work and stable purpose. Zigzagging can be psychologically rewarding, but seldom leads to extraordinary achievement. Even highly talented individuals need time to acquire expertise and establish themselves in the market. Customers pay for products and services, not for unfinished designs.

When you study History, you will hear many great things about Leonardo da Vinci. Art teachers will tell you about Leonardo's genius, physicians about his prodigious knowledge of human anatomy, and engineers about his visionary design of a flying machine.

To be continued in Part 4

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

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

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Can you advance faster by zigzagging? - Story of Leonardo da Vinci (Part 2 of 5)


Two weeks after your 67th birthday, your time is up. You find yourself terminally ill and look back on your life to see how much you have actually accomplished. When you count your material assets, you realize how little you possess after so many decades of work. When you review your output, you feel shame about how few items you have actually finished.

At that point, you cannot help thinking that you have wasted your life. What will remain of you after you are gone? Why have you squandered your talent in conjecture and speculation? You have started many projects but, on too many occasions, you have abandoned them half-way.

With trembling voice, you dictate your last will. Since you never married nor fathered any children, your possessions are to be divided amongst servants and friends. The house where you are about to die is also not yours. When you close your eyes for the last time, you beg for extra time to complete all works that you have left unfinished, but now, it is too late.

Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) died in a house that the King of France had made available to him. His last will, which was published after his death, names his meagre possessions. His wealth amounted to a few books, a piece of land in Milan, some money, and a few paintings. Not much for someone who many regard as the most talented man who has ever lived.

To be continued in Part 3

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

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

Can you advance faster by zigzagging? - Story of Leonardo da Vinci (Part 2 of 5)


Two weeks after your 67th birthday, your time is up. You find yourself terminally ill and look back on your life to see how much you have actually accomplished. When you count your material assets, you realize how little you possess after so many decades of work. When you review your output, you feel shame about how few items you have actually finished.

At that point, you cannot help thinking that you have wasted your life. What will remain of you after you are gone? Why have you squandered your talent in conjecture and speculation? You have started many projects but, on too many occasions, you have abandoned them half-way.

With trembling voice, you dictate your last will. Since you never married nor fathered any children, your possessions are to be divided amongst servants and friends. The house where you are about to die is also not yours. When you close your eyes for the last time, you beg for extra time to complete all works that you have left unfinished, but now, it is too late.

Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) died in a house that the King of France had made available to him. His last will, which was published after his death, names his meagre possessions. His wealth amounted to a few books, a piece of land in Milan, some money, and a few paintings. Not much for someone who many regard as the most talented man who has ever lived.

To be continued in Part 3

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

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

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Can you advance faster by zigzagging? - Story of Leonardo da Vinci (Part 1 of 5)


Imagine that you have been born with amazing talents that allow you become anything you want. On the one hand, your unparalleled mechanical abilities can serve you to start up an engineering company whose innovations would be sold around the world. On the other hand, your extraordinary knowledge of biology and anatomy can secure you a place amongst the best physicians in the world.

Your talent for drawing and composition can allow you to become an internationally-renowned artist and produce hundreds of paintings that would be avidly purchased by collectors. All doors are open to you and the whole world is at your feet. Powerful men seek your friendship and everybody respects you.

To make things even better, Nature grants you a reasonably long life in order to allow you to accomplish as much as possible. You get to live 67 years and enjoy an overall good health. You are born in a country that offers wide opportunities and your family encourages your initiatives.

How much would you achieve in your lifetime? Would you concentrate your energies on one field? Or would you rather change occupation every few years? Which goals would you set for yourself? Would you choose a profession or business that allows you to accumulate a quick fortune?

To be continued in Part 2

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

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

Can you advance faster by zigzagging? - Story of Leonardo da Vinci (Part 1 of 5)


Imagine that you have been born with amazing talents that allow you become anything you want. On the one hand, your unparalleled mechanical abilities can serve you to start up an engineering company whose innovations would be sold around the world. On the other hand, your extraordinary knowledge of biology and anatomy can secure you a place amongst the best physicians in the world.

Your talent for drawing and composition can allow you to become an internationally-renowned artist and produce hundreds of paintings that would be avidly purchased by collectors. All doors are open to you and the whole world is at your feet. Powerful men seek your friendship and everybody respects you.

To make things even better, Nature grants you a reasonably long life in order to allow you to accomplish as much as possible. You get to live 67 years and enjoy an overall good health. You are born in a country that offers wide opportunities and your family encourages your initiatives.

How much would you achieve in your lifetime? Would you concentrate your energies on one field? Or would you rather change occupation every few years? Which goals would you set for yourself? Would you choose a profession or business that allows you to accumulate a quick fortune?

To be continued in Part 2

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

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

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

This much I have learned about blogging


The first time that you try to install a new computer and it does not work, you tend to believe that you have made a mistake. You read the instructions again and, if it fails a second time, doubt begins to creep in. Is this just an installation problem? After a third unsuccessful attempt, you conclude that there is something seriously wrong with the hardware.

When it comes to blogging, experience follows a similar pattern. If you read books or articles on the subject, you will soon learn about the "principles of successful blogging." Those precepts have been put together by top-ranking bloggers who wish to tell the rest of us what we should and shouldn't do.

Let me save you hours of your precious time. Allow me to tell you the truth and spare you some disappointments. Reality can be hard, but it is still the best learning tool we have. This is the summary of the little knowledge that I have acquired through my own experience in blogging:

1.- NOBODY KNOWS ENOUGH. Few bloggers have been around for long. Can anyone provide insight into what millions of people around the world want to read everyday? Forget about so-called rules and write the sort of content that you love to read yourself. The world is big. There are people like you out there. Let them find you.

2.- IMITATION DOES NOT WORK. Look at the blogs of so-called experts. Do you really like their content? Would you feel proud if that was your own blog? Discard plans of becoming anyone other than yourself. You are an individual. You are special. Write about what you like. Tell your own stories.

3.- THIS IS A WHOLE NEW GAME. If the rules of successful blogging are well established, why are traditional media unable to conquer the field? How come that they have achieved so poor results? Ask yourself why no traditional writer has become a major blogger. If you read blogs, you already know the answer to these questions. Blogging is still unexplored territory. It is a world of total access and total privacy that has little to do with the past.

4.- BLOGGING IS SHOW BUSINESS. It is a show that takes place on the fringe of reality. It is a business that is still searching for successful patterns. You can enter the field for free and you can be ousted by silence. This is the only form of global entertainment that happens in real time and generates immediate response. It is extreme show business where stars fall quick and hard. If you possess an entrepreneurial spirit, you will find blogging irresistible.

Don't tell yourself that you have misunderstood the rules, since there are hardly any. Don't fear being criticized for doing things your own way, since there are no loyalties you can betray. Blogging is the new land of freedom and tolerance. Bring along the best you have, show others what you can, and become the leader of your own clan.

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

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

This much I have learned about blogging


The first time that you try to install a new computer and it does not work, you tend to believe that you have made a mistake. You read the instructions again and, if it fails a second time, doubt begins to creep in. Is this just an installation problem? After a third unsuccessful attempt, you conclude that there is something seriously wrong with the hardware.

When it comes to blogging, experience follows a similar pattern. If you read books or articles on the subject, you will soon learn about the "principles of successful blogging." Those precepts have been put together by top-ranking bloggers who wish to tell the rest of us what we should and shouldn't do.

Let me save you hours of your precious time. Allow me to tell you the truth and spare you some disappointments. Reality can be hard, but it is still the best learning tool we have. This is the summary of the little knowledge that I have acquired through my own experience in blogging:

1.- NOBODY KNOWS ENOUGH. Few bloggers have been around for long. Can anyone provide insight into what millions of people around the world want to read everyday? Forget about so-called rules and write the sort of content that you love to read yourself. The world is big. There are people like you out there. Let them find you.

2.- IMITATION DOES NOT WORK. Look at the blogs of so-called experts. Do you really like their content? Would you feel proud if that was your own blog? Discard plans of becoming anyone other than yourself. You are an individual. You are special. Write about what you like. Tell your own stories.

3.- THIS IS A WHOLE NEW GAME. If the rules of successful blogging are well established, why are traditional media unable to conquer the field? How come that they have achieved so poor results? Ask yourself why no traditional writer has become a major blogger. If you read blogs, you already know the answer to these questions. Blogging is still unexplored territory. It is a world of total access and total privacy that has little to do with the past.

4.- BLOGGING IS SHOW BUSINESS. It is a show that takes place on the fringe of reality. It is a business that is still searching for successful patterns. You can enter the field for free and you can be ousted by silence. This is the only form of global entertainment that happens in real time and generates immediate response. It is extreme show business where stars fall quick and hard. If you possess an entrepreneurial spirit, you will find blogging irresistible.

Don't tell yourself that you have misunderstood the rules, since there are hardly any. Don't fear being criticized for doing things your own way, since there are no loyalties you can betray. Blogging is the new land of freedom and tolerance. Bring along the best you have, show others what you can, and become the leader of your own clan.

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

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

Monday, 17 May 2010

Two thousand years of dating advice, a summary


"If you are looking for love," wrote the Roman poet Ovid (43 BC-17 AD), "you should spend your time in the stadium and the theatre, since it is in public places where you are most likely to find a companion to your taste. Bees know that, for making honey, they need to keep close to the flowers."

Two thousand years have gone by since Ovid composed The Art of Love. The world looks different now, but human beings have remained essentially the same. Ovid's compilation of amorous advice has passed from generation to generation, proving its effectiveness through the ages.

The details to reach the place where you want to be have changed, but not the principles. Today, as in Ancient Rome, personal initiative generates opportunities. The following five points summarize the teachings of The Art of Love. These are the sort of recommendations that each of us can apply. These five steps may improve our relationships in any environment or situation.

[1] Make up your mind about what kind of social life you want to have: Your determination will greatly contribute to your success. In this sense, meeting new people, making friends, or dating are like any other venture. If you have gone through divorce, have you decided that you are going to start looking for a new partner? Make a firm resolution and give it the priority that it deserves.

[2] Ignore negative comments and unfair criticism about your ambitions: You can always find reasons not to do something. If you let people, they will name you more obstacles than you can ever imagine. Life is already difficult enough without paying attention to discouraging remarks, so don't.

Avoid in particular comparing yourself to someone whom you might consider luckier. The world is made of all sorts of persons. If you are looking for love, all you have to do is find one good match for yourself. Shrug your shoulders at comparisons and look for the type of person that suits you best.

Your time on earth is limited. You only have one life to live. Move forward with it and don't get stuck in pointless arguments. Let people have their own opinion, but choose what you consider optimal for yourself. Opt for what is rational, even if that alternative lacks popular support.

[3] Decide how you want to play: When it comes to developing an active social life, our century offers infinite possibilities for meeting people. If you live in a mid-sized town, there are clubs you can join and entertainment locales you can visit. The internet is, of course, the largest venue of all.

Ignore fashion and follow your own values. For your search of companions, select times and places that match your interests and disposition. Your background and constraints are unique. Your present course of action should be in line with your vision of the future. Never rely on chance to solve your problems. Take action from which success can be expected.

[4] Run the race you have chosen: Do not let discouragement hold you back from taking action. Make entrepreneurship a habit in business and personal relationships. Stay alert and seize opportunities as they come along. Change the way you think. View life as a market that offers infinite possibilities.

No matter how you decide to play, you will increase your chances of success if you do it regularly. You might have to invest many hours to develop a satisfactory social life. Meeting people, making friends, and dating are similar to looking for a job. First, you have to detect the opportunity. Then, you have to seize it.

[5] Find a bird that can fly: Entrepreneurs who wish to purchase an existing business often explore dozens of possibilities before they finally make a deal. They are not looking to buy just any company. Their interest is attracted only by businesses with high growth potential which also match their personal taste. They want to catch a bird that can fly.

In the field of personal relationships, you should be willing to discard what doesn't work. Don't hang around someone who is not a good match for you. You are looking for an individual who will make you happier than you already are.

If you are serious about finding a love companion, single-mindedness will move you closer to the place where you want to be. You can never predict the moment when the opportunity for a great relationship will come across your way. Search persistently and keep your eyes open.

In business, love, or friendship, discard speculative advice and choose the wisdom of rational action. Your personal initiative is the decisive factor to enhance your well-being and improve your prospects for the future.

Let others debate if the world should be this or that way. Focus on specific actions that you can carry out to ameliorate your own situation. Make a pause from time to time, assess your progress, and correct your mistakes. Move on and redouble your attempts to reach the place where you want to be. Personal initiative is the key to achieve more in life. Let your actions speak for themselves.

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

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

Sunday, 16 May 2010

The forgotten charms of realism


"Men should avoid the distractions of pretence and delusion," wrote German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer in the year 1842. "Impossible expectations disconnected from reality always result in disappointment and sorrow."

Learning to see the truth is seldom easy and never without cost, but a sharp vision of the world and a clear mind bring man unlimited rewards. Conformity is a bank from which you can borrow short-term convenience after you have secured repayment by means of a mortgage on your soul.

By willingly ignoring facts, we often place ourselves in a fog of ignorance, increasing our likelihood of making expensive mistakes and creating dangerous inconsistencies in our actions. Consider these five examples:

1.- UNHEALTHY FOOD: Despite being aware of long-term negative effects of some foods, we keep on consuming them in the illusion that, somehow, we alone will be immune to the consequences.

2.- DECAYING WORK ENVIRONMENT: We close our eyes to signs of decline in the company we work for, often for years, in order to avoid the nuisance of searching alternative employment or the risk of starting our own business.

3.- WRONG RELATIONSHIPS: We ignore major character flaws and attribute non-existent virtues to someone we find sexually attractive in order to justify an unsustainable choice.

4.- UNRELIABLE FRIENDS: We avoid confronting breach of trust to avoid rocking the boat, preferring to hang around people who do not deserve our friendship instead of making the effort to seek further.

5.- UNSOUND INVESTMENTS: We trust prodigious assurances of reckless money-managers and place our savings at great risk without giving it another thought.

Everybody makes mistakes and, when it comes to learning, there is no substitute for experience. However, if we wish to minimize errors, few habits are as effective as standing still from time to time, questioning aspects that look too good to be true, and checking the consistency of our logic.

"Only an unclouded vision of reality allows man to perceive truth," observed Schopenhauer. "Decisions based on facts render individuals self-supporting, which is the key to happiness." History shows that prejudice and conformity block progress more frequently than ignorance.

All too often, we forget to which extent the acquisition of knowledge is dependent on moral courage. Let us restate at every opportunity our right to discard facts that don't match. Only by allowing reason to thrive will we keep civilization alive.

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

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

The forgotten charms of realism


"Men should avoid the distractions of pretence and delusion," wrote German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer in the year 1842. "Impossible expectations disconnected from reality always result in disappointment and sorrow."

Learning to see the truth is seldom easy and never without cost, but a sharp vision of the world and a clear mind bring man unlimited rewards. Conformity is a bank from which you can borrow short-term convenience after you have secured repayment by means of a mortgage on your soul.

By willingly ignoring facts, we often place ourselves in a fog of ignorance, increasing our likelihood of making expensive mistakes and creating dangerous inconsistencies in our actions. Consider these five examples:

1.- UNHEALTHY FOOD: Despite being aware of long-term negative effects of some foods, we keep on consuming them in the illusion that, somehow, we alone will be immune to the consequences.

2.- DECAYING WORK ENVIRONMENT: We close our eyes to signs of decline in the company we work for, often for years, in order to avoid the nuisance of searching alternative employment or the risk of starting our own business.

3.- WRONG RELATIONSHIPS: We ignore major character flaws and attribute non-existent virtues to someone we find sexually attractive in order to justify an unsustainable choice.

4.- UNRELIABLE FRIENDS: We avoid confronting breach of trust to avoid rocking the boat, preferring to hang around people who do not deserve our friendship instead of making the effort to seek further.

5.- UNSOUND INVESTMENTS: We trust prodigious assurances of reckless money-managers and place our savings at great risk without giving it another thought.

Everybody makes mistakes and, when it comes to learning, there is no substitute for experience. However, if we wish to minimize errors, few habits are as effective as standing still from time to time, questioning aspects that look too good to be true, and checking the consistency of our logic.

"Only an unclouded vision of reality allows man to perceive truth," observed Schopenhauer. "Decisions based on facts render individuals self-supporting, which is the key to happiness." History shows that prejudice and conformity block progress more frequently than ignorance.

All too often, we forget to which extent the acquisition of knowledge is dependent on moral courage. Let us restate at every opportunity our right to discard facts that don't match. Only by allowing reason to thrive will we keep civilization alive.

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

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

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Effective methods for increasing your self-reliance (Part 5 of 5)


[5] Working by numbers: People who have low regard for themselves often expect too much. A man who demands to succeed in every endeavour should be viewed, with good reason, as wildly unrealistic. Such hard-headed attitudes produce high performance anxiety.

Facts and numbers provide us with the necessary perspective to deal with failure. A candidate who is rejected at a job interview might become needlessly enraged or depressed if he contemplates the event as a major injustice that has the potential to damage his career permanently.

In contrast, individuals searching for employment who are aware of the statistical odds against them tend to be more relaxed and resilient. If you acquire a realistic view of the amount of effort that you have to exert in order to find a good job, your temporary lack of success will not diminish your self-reliance.

During an economic downturn, there can be easily two dozen applicants for each worthy vacant position. Working by numbers means realizing that you might need two dozen interviews in order to get a desirable job. Internalizing that knowledge is bound to increase your serenity and render you more effective.

Attaining stability on a higher level of personal effectiveness is the common purpose of the above systems to increase self-reliance. Take some time to decide which method you are going to use, make a decision, and carry out your plan. After you have followed the selected strategy for a few weeks, you will acquire better patterns of thought and become more self-reliant.

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

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

Effective methods for increasing your self-reliance (Part 5 of 5)


[5] Working by numbers: People who have low regard for themselves often expect too much. A man who demands to succeed in every endeavour should be viewed, with good reason, as wildly unrealistic. Such hard-headed attitudes produce high performance anxiety.

Facts and numbers provide us with the necessary perspective to deal with failure. A candidate who is rejected at a job interview might become needlessly enraged or depressed if he contemplates the event as a major injustice that has the potential to damage his career permanently.

In contrast, individuals searching for employment who are aware of the statistical odds against them tend to be more relaxed and resilient. If you acquire a realistic view of the amount of effort that you have to exert in order to find a good job, your temporary lack of success will not diminish your self-reliance.

During an economic downturn, there can be easily two dozen applicants for each worthy vacant position. Working by numbers means realizing that you might need two dozen interviews in order to get a desirable job. Internalizing that knowledge is bound to increase your serenity and render you more effective.

Attaining stability on a higher level of personal effectiveness is the common purpose of the above systems to increase self-reliance. Take some time to decide which method you are going to use, make a decision, and carry out your plan. After you have followed the selected strategy for a few weeks, you will acquire better patterns of thought and become more self-reliant.

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

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

Friday, 14 May 2010

Effective methods for increasing your self-reliance (Part 4 of 5)


[3] Creative persistence: Our self-reliance increases when our accomplishments place us on a higher plateau of performance and satisfaction. Creative persistence demands constant exertion of effort and economy of energy. Our purpose is not to repeat unsuccessful attempts, but to assess failure, introduce variations in our approach, and progressively improve the outcome and reward.

Intelligent perseverance allows us to maintain our overall goal but modify our strategy as needed. A wise man asks himself incessantly how he can do things faster, better, and less expensively. Keep your long-term objectives, but show flexibility in your means and time schedule. Your self-confidence will increase at the same speed as your attempts generate better results.

[4] Build on existing strengths: High achievers seldom possess a well-rounded personality. A person who is able to perform equally well on all areas is a rarity. An even character that is perfectly balanced in all facets should not be elevated to a psychological ideal.

Due to varying background and talents, individuals tend to excel on a few aspects, perform acceptably on many others, and prove deficient in some. If you wish to become more self-reliant, you should concentrate on developing your strengths instead of worrying about your weaknesses.

To be continued in Part 5

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

[Image by Mara 1 under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Effective methods for increasing your self-reliance (Part 4 of 5)


[3] Creative persistence: Our self-reliance increases when our accomplishments place us on a higher plateau of performance and satisfaction. Creative persistence demands constant exertion of effort and economy of energy. Our purpose is not to repeat unsuccessful attempts, but to assess failure, introduce variations in our approach, and progressively improve the outcome and reward.

Intelligent perseverance allows us to maintain our overall goal but modify our strategy as needed. A wise man asks himself incessantly how he can do things faster, better, and less expensively. Keep your long-term objectives, but show flexibility in your means and time schedule. Your self-confidence will increase at the same speed as your attempts generate better results.

[4] Build on existing strengths: High achievers seldom possess a well-rounded personality. A person who is able to perform equally well on all areas is a rarity. An even character that is perfectly balanced in all facets should not be elevated to a psychological ideal.

Due to varying background and talents, individuals tend to excel on a few aspects, perform acceptably on many others, and prove deficient in some. If you wish to become more self-reliant, you should concentrate on developing your strengths instead of worrying about your weaknesses.

To be continued in Part 5

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

[Image by Mara 1 under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Effective methods for increasing your self-reliance (Part 3 of 5)


A progressive loss of sensitivity to danger is the basis of learning to ride a bicycle. At the beginning, you move slowly and hesitatingly. With practice, your body begins to take control by realizing that the situation is much less dangerous than it feels. Desensitization through successive steps is the ideal method to increase self-confidence in situations that allow progressive exposure.

[2] Risk reduction: Although History shows the many advantages of stock market investments, millions of people are terrorized of the idea of placing their savings at risk. Purchasing shares of a corporation is viewed as a disproportionate exposure to chance.

Acquiring knowledge about economics can help you assess the benefits of investing in the stock market. However, it will seldom push to you take the decisive step to overcome your fears. In cases where the problem is to cross the line for the first time, risk reduction proves a more powerful tactic than accumulating theoretical knowledge.

The first-time investor should simply ignore his fears, open a brokerage account, and make a small purchase of some conservative securities. During the following weeks, he might tend to check the price of his stock ten times a day, but as time goes by, the neophyte investor will get comfortable with the level of risk and be willing to purchase shares of other corporations.

To be continued in Part 4

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

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

Effective methods for increasing your self-reliance (Part 3 of 5)


A progressive loss of sensitivity to danger is the basis of learning to ride a bicycle. At the beginning, you move slowly and hesitatingly. With practice, your body begins to take control by realizing that the situation is much less dangerous than it feels. Desensitization through successive steps is the ideal method to increase self-confidence in situations that allow progressive exposure.

[2] Risk reduction: Although History shows the many advantages of stock market investments, millions of people are terrorized of the idea of placing their savings at risk. Purchasing shares of a corporation is viewed as a disproportionate exposure to chance.

Acquiring knowledge about economics can help you assess the benefits of investing in the stock market. However, it will seldom push to you take the decisive step to overcome your fears. In cases where the problem is to cross the line for the first time, risk reduction proves a more powerful tactic than accumulating theoretical knowledge.

The first-time investor should simply ignore his fears, open a brokerage account, and make a small purchase of some conservative securities. During the following weeks, he might tend to check the price of his stock ten times a day, but as time goes by, the neophyte investor will get comfortable with the level of risk and be willing to purchase shares of other corporations.

To be continued in Part 4

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

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

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Effective methods for increasing your self-reliance (Part 2 of 5)


A better future must entail a consolidation of any gains in self-reliance that we may be able to attain. A man cannot become self-confident just for a single day. An isolated incident that provokes major psychological changes contradicts human nature, although it may provide an interesting story for a film.

The main drivers of our personality are incredibly stable. Even minor changes require tremendous effort or sustained external pressure. The only methods that can effectively increase our self-confidence are those that, little by little, realign our thinking patterns according to consistent principles.

The five practices that, in my own experience, have proven to work well are the following: desensitization to danger, risk reduction, creative persistence, building on existing strengths, and working by numbers. Many people instinctively use some of these methods at one time or other. Results can be greatly enhanced by applying them in a conscious and regular manner.

[1] Desensitization to danger: Once you acknowledge that you live in fear of a specific threat, you must decide if you want to invest time to overcome paralysis and anxiety. The answer to this question is far from self-evident, since thousands of individuals accept timidity as a way of life. Becoming more assertive and adventurous is best achieved by taking small steps. Worry is vanquished by means realism, not by self-delusion.

To be continued in Part 3

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

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

Effective methods for increasing your self-reliance (Part 2 of 5)


A better future must entail a consolidation of any gains in self-reliance that we may be able to attain. A man cannot become self-confident just for a single day. An isolated incident that provokes major psychological changes contradicts human nature, although it may provide an interesting story for a film.

The main drivers of our personality are incredibly stable. Even minor changes require tremendous effort or sustained external pressure. The only methods that can effectively increase our self-confidence are those that, little by little, realign our thinking patterns according to consistent principles.

The five practices that, in my own experience, have proven to work well are the following: desensitization to danger, risk reduction, creative persistence, building on existing strengths, and working by numbers. Many people instinctively use some of these methods at one time or other. Results can be greatly enhanced by applying them in a conscious and regular manner.

[1] Desensitization to danger: Once you acknowledge that you live in fear of a specific threat, you must decide if you want to invest time to overcome paralysis and anxiety. The answer to this question is far from self-evident, since thousands of individuals accept timidity as a way of life. Becoming more assertive and adventurous is best achieved by taking small steps. Worry is vanquished by means realism, not by self-delusion.

To be continued in Part 3

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

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

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Effective methods for increasing your self-reliance (Part 1 of 5)


Prosperity and happiness seem to be directly proportional to self-confidence. Individuals with initiative and persistence tend to achieve more than others who, despite possessing larger resources, behave timidly and confusedly.

Childhood experience plays an important role in building a strong personality, but nobody can do anything to change the past. If you wish to increase your level of self-reliance, you are going to have to use your creativity and take action in the present.

Methods that recommend repeating encouraging phrases to yourself seldom produce lasting effects. Monotonous messages, whether positive or negative, dull the mind. Such practices result in boredom, not in a dynamic personality. The systems that work are those that involve our mind and emotions at the same time.

The goal of increased self-assurance should not be pursued for the needs of the moment, but for permanent improvements in our lives. Changes in our fundamental psychological patterns have little worth if they cannot be stabilized and maintained.

To be continued in Part 2

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

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

Effective methods for increasing your self-reliance (Part 1 of 5)


Prosperity and happiness seem to be directly proportional to self-confidence. Individuals with initiative and persistence tend to achieve more than others who, despite possessing larger resources, behave timidly and confusedly.

Childhood experience plays an important role in building a strong personality, but nobody can do anything to change the past. If you wish to increase your level of self-reliance, you are going to have to use your creativity and take action in the present.

Methods that recommend repeating encouraging phrases to yourself seldom produce lasting effects. Monotonous messages, whether positive or negative, dull the mind. Such practices result in boredom, not in a dynamic personality. The systems that work are those that involve our mind and emotions at the same time.

The goal of increased self-assurance should not be pursued for the needs of the moment, but for permanent improvements in our lives. Changes in our fundamental psychological patterns have little worth if they cannot be stabilized and maintained.

To be continued in Part 2

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

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

Monday, 10 May 2010

The link between psychological resilience and dating success


"A wise man should not fear losing anything in life if he is able to preserve his peace of mind," taught the Roman philosopher Epictetus two thousand years ago. When you are out there looking for the right person to share your life with, you should remind yourself that maintaining your balance and self-esteem is going to put you way ahead of the game.

When it comes to dating, each of us can easily make a list of unpleasant situations that we would rather avoid in order to keep our tranquillity. For instance, most men and women would consider themselves happier if they could avoid dealing with nasty people altogether. The same preference applies to averting unwanted criticism. Last but not least, wouldn't our days be easier if we never had to comply with silly rules?

The crucial element in successful dating is rational persistence. The question is how we can sustain our motivation long enough to achieve our romantic goals. Indeed, looking for a soul mate would be less complicated if we could keep away all those inconveniences, but let's face the truth, the world is not going to turn into paradise tomorrow morning.

Negative personal interactions are particularly aggravating during dating, since love seekers who invest themselves heavily in their search often place their egos in the line of fire.

The good news is that you can minimize your dating annoyances if you grow a thick skin, that is, if you become more philosophical about life. Learn to enhance your psychological resilience and this knowledge will serve you well for the rest of your life.

The techniques are not difficult and you can practice them on your own. During your dating adventures, you will have ample opportunity to test the validity of these theories.

One can only wonder why mental resilience is rarely taught at school. Every little elephant in the savannah knows how important it is to grow a healthy thick skin for protection against weather inclemencies, viruses, and infections. In the same way, human beings need to develop a sound psychological armour against the inevitable frictions of social life.

Which techniques can you use to build up a psychological protection layer as thick as the rugged skin of an elephant? In the case of dating, my choice of methods would go towards cultivating deliberate slowness and purposeful indifference. Let us see how these two techniques work in practice.

When you meet new people with romantic purposes in mind, some of your new acquaintances will be great, others will leave you cold, and a few will personify everything that you can possibly dislike in a human being.

If you are attending a social event or have been invited for dinner by friends, you might not wish to leave right way, but on the other side, you really don't want to drag along all evening in conversation with obnoxious strangers.

In those cases, adopting a strategy of deliberate slowness can work wonders. By the way, this is an approach that you can take to defuse many exacerbating social situations. Deliberate slowness is the ideal defence mechanism on those occasions when someone is verbally distressing you or bothering you at a party.

Should you find yourself in that situation, the perfect way to play is not to get angry. Instead of arguing and reacting with indignation, you can pretend that your brain needs hours to absorb the simplest information and stall. Very often, people will succumb to their own impatience, rate you as a hopeless bore, and leave you in peace.

The second technique, purposeful indifference, requires longer training, but its field of application is much wider. Occasionally, during the dating process, you won't be able to escape nasty, unfair criticism, threats, or warnings, either from friends, family, or strangers.

Don't let them ruin your day. Remember that it is great that people are free to express their opinions even if they don't know what they are talking about.

Put on your best poker face, say that you take note of their comments, and walk on. As soon as you are away from the scene, shrug your shoulders and don't let anxiety take control of your mind. Reserve your energies for the next date, where you might meet just the right person for you.

Looking for a soul mate is difficult enough. Let us not allow ourselves to be affected by nonsensical remarks from other people. As Epictetus observed in Ancient Rome, "some men find joy in fishing and others in hunting, but for me, there is no greater pleasure than living my days with measure."

Take advantage of your dating experiences to develop a thick skin. In addition to facilitating your search for love, you will be making yourself an invaluable present.

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

[Image by doug88888 under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]