Saturday, 31 July 2010

The way of the minimalist: throw away what doesn't work and focus on the essentials


A new fashion is sweeping the world. It is reshaping the work of generations and throwing a new light on old certainties. If it gets you, it won't let you go untouched. This agent of change is the idea that you can achieve more with less effort, stress, and resources.

"Men can perish out of excessive endeavours to preserve what has little value," wrote the Chinese philosopher Lao-Tzu twenty-six centuries ago. In our days, it seems that many are indeed willing to waste their lives helping people who refuse to be helped and correcting the same mistake repeatedly instead of eliminating its cause once and for all.

"Major trouble results from complicating simple problems," observed Lao-Tzu. "A wise man prefers to solve problems when they are small, so that they have no chance to grow." Minimalism and disengagement are rational responses to excessive demands on our time, energy, or resources. Welcoming more trouble than you can handle is not a policy conductive to happiness.

When a borrowed weight becomes too heavy to carry, consider returning it to its legitimate owner. If you are working without measure on matters that consume all your time, reassess their importance and reduce them to proper size. Disengage and do less. Discard and minimize.

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

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

The way of the minimalist: throw away what doesn't work and focus on the essentials


A new fashion is sweeping the world. It is reshaping the work of generations and throwing a new light on old certainties. If it gets you, it won't let you go untouched. This agent of change is the idea that you can achieve more with less effort, stress, and resources.

"Men can perish out of excessive endeavours to preserve what has little value," wrote the Chinese philosopher Lao-Tzu twenty-six centuries ago. In our days, it seems that many are indeed willing to waste their lives helping people who refuse to be helped and correcting the same mistake repeatedly instead of eliminating its cause once and for all.

"Major trouble results from complicating simple problems," observed Lao-Tzu. "A wise man prefers to solve problems when they are small, so that they have no chance to grow." Minimalism and disengagement are rational responses to excessive demands on our time, energy, or resources. Welcoming more trouble than you can handle is not a policy conductive to happiness.

When a borrowed weight becomes too heavy to carry, consider returning it to its legitimate owner. If you are working without measure on matters that consume all your time, reassess their importance and reduce them to proper size. Disengage and do less. Discard and minimize.

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

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

Friday, 30 July 2010

In praise of small, but regular steps


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In praise of small, but regular steps


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 29 July 2010

The simple path to personal independence


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The simple path to personal independence


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

The advantages of choosing short-term inconvenience


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Make health your first and cheapest priority - Story of Galen (Part 6 of 6)


[4] Adopt preventive measures against health problems: The need to preserve the natural limits of life is a theme that permeates Galen's books. The best way to maintain our health, he wrote, is to adopt preventive measures to counterbalance excesses.

He warned against lack of moderation and advocated measures against exaggerated eating as well as against insufficient food intake. Similarly, he advised to avoid excessive immobility and immoderate exercise. The purpose of prevention should be to maintain the natural balance in all areas of our lives.

Galen's principles emphasize the importance of preserving health at the same time as the need to do it in a simple and straightforward manner. By all means, do elevate health to your first priority, but make it a cheap and workable one. Your goal should be to develop effective habits that maintain your vitality with minimum effort and expense.

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

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

Make health your first and cheapest priority - Story of Galen (Part 6 of 6)


[4] Adopt preventive measures against health problems: The need to preserve the natural limits of life is a theme that permeates Galen's books. The best way to maintain our health, he wrote, is to adopt preventive measures to counterbalance excesses.

He warned against lack of moderation and advocated measures against exaggerated eating as well as against insufficient food intake. Similarly, he advised to avoid excessive immobility and immoderate exercise. The purpose of prevention should be to maintain the natural balance in all areas of our lives.

Galen's principles emphasize the importance of preserving health at the same time as the need to do it in a simple and straightforward manner. By all means, do elevate health to your first priority, but make it a cheap and workable one. Your goal should be to develop effective habits that maintain your vitality with minimum effort and expense.

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

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

Monday, 26 July 2010

Make health your first and cheapest priority - Story of Galen (Part 5 of 6)


[3] Practise good hygiene: Even though bacteria and viruses had not yet been discovered in antiquity, Galen's books show that he was conscious of the major role that external influences play in human health. The purpose of medicine, he wrote, was to re-establish the patient's health in relation to his environment, taking also the seasons into account.

Galen's early training as physician took place in Greece, which at that time comprised part of the Middle East. Ancient Greeks considered thermal baths salutary and those attracted far-away visitors seeking to cure physical or mental illness.

In those days, a journey to a renowned thermal location involved disproportionately high costs that few individuals could afford. Luckily, modern plumbing, shampoo, and tooth brushes now allow practically everybody to enjoy excellent levels of hygiene inexpensively.

To be continued in Part 6

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

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

Make health your first and cheapest priority - Story of Galen (Part 5 of 6)


[3] Practise good hygiene: Even though bacteria and viruses had not yet been discovered in antiquity, Galen's books show that he was conscious of the major role that external influences play in human health. The purpose of medicine, he wrote, was to re-establish the patient's health in relation to his environment, taking also the seasons into account.

Galen's early training as physician took place in Greece, which at that time comprised part of the Middle East. Ancient Greeks considered thermal baths salutary and those attracted far-away visitors seeking to cure physical or mental illness.

In those days, a journey to a renowned thermal location involved disproportionately high costs that few individuals could afford. Luckily, modern plumbing, shampoo, and tooth brushes now allow practically everybody to enjoy excellent levels of hygiene inexpensively.

To be continued in Part 6

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

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

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Make health your first and cheapest priority - Story of Galen (Part 4 of 6)


[2] Take up moderate exercise: While modern times favour body building and other forms of muscle training, Galen was an advocate of moderation. In his own life, he gave example of this precept by avoiding strenuous assignments. When he was offered a post of physician in the Roman army marching against the barbarians in Northern Europe, he declined and stayed in Rome.

One of Galen's aphorisms says that sickness caused by excessive strain should be cured by rest. In this sense, the inordinate professional stress that many people endure in our age should not be exacerbated by further tensions in their private life.

Spending time with friends, cultivating hobbies, and enjoying art will do more to re-establish balance in your life than watching television or practising demanding sports. Galen also recommended walking as a beneficial form of exercise.

To be continued in Part 5

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

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

Make health your first and cheapest priority - Story of Galen (Part 4 of 6)


[2] Take up moderate exercise: While modern times favour body building and other forms of muscle training, Galen was an advocate of moderation. In his own life, he gave example of this precept by avoiding strenuous assignments. When he was offered a post of physician in the Roman army marching against the barbarians in Northern Europe, he declined and stayed in Rome.

One of Galen's aphorisms says that sickness caused by excessive strain should be cured by rest. In this sense, the inordinate professional stress that many people endure in our age should not be exacerbated by further tensions in their private life.

Spending time with friends, cultivating hobbies, and enjoying art will do more to re-establish balance in your life than watching television or practising demanding sports. Galen also recommended walking as a beneficial form of exercise.

To be continued in Part 5

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

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

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Make health your first and cheapest priority - Story of Galen (Part 3 of 6)


His aphorisms, which condense medical truths in short sentences, reflect fundamental aspects of physical and mental health. One of the threads that runs through his writings is the search of simplicity. His advocacy of straightforward methods to improve man's well-being contrasted with the semi-magical medicine that was still being practised by most of his contemporaries.

Galen maintained that health and philosophy are closely connected. As a consequence, a man who wishes to maintain his vitality will do well to act prudently and respect ethical principles. Galen's four prescriptions for preserving health do not demand large financial resources and can be followed by most individuals. Here is a summary of his four fundamental precepts:

[1] Maintain a balanced diet: At the time of Galen's writings, the biochemical properties of vitamins and minerals had not yet been discovered. Nevertheless, what he had learned from other physicians and his own observations led him to recommend vegetables, fruits, and herbs on many occasions. Nowadays, those are items that most people can afford to purchase without making extraordinary efforts.

Ancient medicine believed that each element in the universe had a purpose. This conviction led Galen to experiment with different dietary treatments in response to sickness. His goal was to find the right combination of elements that fulfilled the purpose of health recovery. A balanced, prudent diet was also advocated in the Middle Ages by Maimonides, a famous physician who was familiar with Galen's work.

To be continued in Part 4

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

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

Make health your first and cheapest priority - Story of Galen (Part 3 of 6)


His aphorisms, which condense medical truths in short sentences, reflect fundamental aspects of physical and mental health. One of the threads that runs through his writings is the search of simplicity. His advocacy of straightforward methods to improve man's well-being contrasted with the semi-magical medicine that was still being practised by most of his contemporaries.

Galen maintained that health and philosophy are closely connected. As a consequence, a man who wishes to maintain his vitality will do well to act prudently and respect ethical principles. Galen's four prescriptions for preserving health do not demand large financial resources and can be followed by most individuals. Here is a summary of his four fundamental precepts:

[1] Maintain a balanced diet: At the time of Galen's writings, the biochemical properties of vitamins and minerals had not yet been discovered. Nevertheless, what he had learned from other physicians and his own observations led him to recommend vegetables, fruits, and herbs on many occasions. Nowadays, those are items that most people can afford to purchase without making extraordinary efforts.

Ancient medicine believed that each element in the universe had a purpose. This conviction led Galen to experiment with different dietary treatments in response to sickness. His goal was to find the right combination of elements that fulfilled the purpose of health recovery. A balanced, prudent diet was also advocated in the Middle Ages by Maimonides, a famous physician who was familiar with Galen's work.

To be continued in Part 4

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

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

Friday, 23 July 2010

Make health your first and cheapest priority - Story of Galen (Part 2 of 6)


Making health your first priority is an excellent choice that works better if you implement it as inexpensively as possible. Are you surprised? Does this sound illogical to you? Before you discard this theory, you might wish to check out longevity statistics around the world. Those who spend the most to preserve their health are not necessarily the people who live the longest.

The Ancient Greek physician Galen (circa 130 – 200 AD) recorded many interesting ideas on this subject, which was later expanded by other medics in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Although many centuries have passed, many discoveries of antiquity are still adhered to by modern medicine.

Galen spent his youth learning about sickness and treatments before he moved to Rome in the year 162. He has gone down into History as much for his medical discoveries as for his tremendous output as a writer. Even though a great part of Galen's work has been lost, what remains fills more than 20 volumes.

To be continued in Part 3

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

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

Make health your first and cheapest priority - Story of Galen (Part 2 of 6)


Making health your first priority is an excellent choice that works better if you implement it as inexpensively as possible. Are you surprised? Does this sound illogical to you? Before you discard this theory, you might wish to check out longevity statistics around the world. Those who spend the most to preserve their health are not necessarily the people who live the longest.

The Ancient Greek physician Galen (circa 130 – 200 AD) recorded many interesting ideas on this subject, which was later expanded by other medics in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Although many centuries have passed, many discoveries of antiquity are still adhered to by modern medicine.

Galen spent his youth learning about sickness and treatments before he moved to Rome in the year 162. He has gone down into History as much for his medical discoveries as for his tremendous output as a writer. Even though a great part of Galen's work has been lost, what remains fills more than 20 volumes.

To be continued in Part 3

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

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

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Make health your first and cheapest priority - Story of Galen (Part 1 of 6)


When people talk about priorities, they usually refer to items on which they spend substantial sums of money. A comfortable car and a large house are on the top of the list of many individuals, together with a well-paying, stable, and interesting job.

Health is also important for the great majority of men and women. Products sold in supermarkets and convenience stores respond to this concern by promoting low-calories drinks, low-fat cookies, sugarless sweets, and cooking magazines.

Organic-food stores represent the last step in the evolution of this trend. Consumers want to buy the best produce, the purest bread, and fresh natural pastries. Even though the cost associated to those choices can be considerable in some cases, customers seem to be willing to pay for it.

The problem with spending additional money to consume so-called healthy products is that it does not seem to make a lot of difference. Those who devote more financial resources to purchasing sophisticated food and to joining health clubs are not necessarily the people who enjoy the best physical condition. Paradoxically, in the field of health, more investments do not always result in additional benefits.

To be continued in Part 2

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

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

Make health your first and cheapest priority - Story of Galen (Part 1 of 6)


When people talk about priorities, they usually refer to items on which they spend substantial sums of money. A comfortable car and a large house are on the top of the list of many individuals, together with a well-paying, stable, and interesting job.

Health is also important for the great majority of men and women. Products sold in supermarkets and convenience stores respond to this concern by promoting low-calories drinks, low-fat cookies, sugarless sweets, and cooking magazines.

Organic-food stores represent the last step in the evolution of this trend. Consumers want to buy the best produce, the purest bread, and fresh natural pastries. Even though the cost associated to those choices can be considerable in some cases, customers seem to be willing to pay for it.

The problem with spending additional money to consume so-called healthy products is that it does not seem to make a lot of difference. Those who devote more financial resources to purchasing sophisticated food and to joining health clubs are not necessarily the people who enjoy the best physical condition. Paradoxically, in the field of health, more investments do not always result in additional benefits.

To be continued in Part 2

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

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

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Nobody has time to wait

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nobody has time to wait

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Keys to self-protection


Most catastrophes are preventable and most tragedies don't come as a surprise. On many occasions, a few minutes of reflection at the right time and a little more opposition when it was uncomfortable to speak up could have saved the day. Nobody is obliged to be a hero, but taking measures to protect ourselves is a primary moral obligation that we should never fail to implement. Here are some ideas.

1.- KEEP AN EYE ON AVAILABLE JOBS. Even if you feel absolutely safe in your present occupation, it pays to know what is going on in the employment market, if only to make sure that you are not being underpaid. What kind of benefits are other companies offering to people with your skills and level of experience? In which area of the country are open vacancies at this time?

2.- DEVELOP YOUR KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS. The simple habit of downloading podcasts in your field of experience and listening to them in the car may already put you ahead of many. Read weekly a few blogs and digital newsletters in your field. If you live in a major urban area, advanced training courses are available in the evening and weekends. Take a look and see if any of them fits your interests and career objectives.

3.- AVOID DERANGED INDIVIDUALS. In any random concentration of people, you will find a few who are deranged and dangerous. In case that you must deal with any of those in your working environment, try to avoid them like the pest. In most cases, there is nothing that you can do to help them. Do not fall into the trap of assuming that everybody is balanced and well-meaning. Once you identify the risk, act accordingly.

4.- EAT SENSIBLY AND WATCH YOUR WEIGHT. You don't need to spend a fortune to enjoy a good nutrition. Fast food is cheap and tasty, but you might pay an enormous price later in life. Learn to cook and choose healthy food. Purchase a scale for your bathroom and check your weight regularly. If you are too heavy, take appropriate action, such as making better nutrition choices and walking more often.

5.- SAVE MONEY EVERY MONTH. A few decades ago, when many people didn't have insurance, putting cash aside for a rainy day was considered essential. Sickness, the loss of a job, or a damaged car might place a heavy strain on your finances. Nobody is immune from bad luck or a downturn in the economy. Prudence today might help you overcome a major crisis down the line.

Protecting your life and possessions is crucial to maintain your well-being. Trust only those who have proven to be worthy of your confidence. Never accept offers that look to good to be true. By paying attention to details and acting with common sense, you can enhance your happiness and, to a good extent, protect your success from misfortune.

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

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

Keys to self-protection


Most catastrophes are preventable and most tragedies don't come as a surprise. On many occasions, a few minutes of reflection at the right time and a little more opposition when it was uncomfortable to speak up could have saved the day. Nobody is obliged to be a hero, but taking measures to protect ourselves is a primary moral obligation that we should never fail to implement. Here are some ideas.

1.- KEEP AN EYE ON AVAILABLE JOBS. Even if you feel absolutely safe in your present occupation, it pays to know what is going on in the employment market, if only to make sure that you are not being underpaid. What kind of benefits are other companies offering to people with your skills and level of experience? In which area of the country are open vacancies at this time?

2.- DEVELOP YOUR KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS. The simple habit of downloading podcasts in your field of experience and listening to them in the car may already put you ahead of many. Read weekly a few blogs and digital newsletters in your field. If you live in a major urban area, advanced training courses are available in the evening and weekends. Take a look and see if any of them fits your interests and career objectives.

3.- AVOID DERANGED INDIVIDUALS. In any random concentration of people, you will find a few who are deranged and dangerous. In case that you must deal with any of those in your working environment, try to avoid them like the pest. In most cases, there is nothing that you can do to help them. Do not fall into the trap of assuming that everybody is balanced and well-meaning. Once you identify the risk, act accordingly.

4.- EAT SENSIBLY AND WATCH YOUR WEIGHT. You don't need to spend a fortune to enjoy a good nutrition. Fast food is cheap and tasty, but you might pay an enormous price later in life. Learn to cook and choose healthy food. Purchase a scale for your bathroom and check your weight regularly. If you are too heavy, take appropriate action, such as making better nutrition choices and walking more often.

5.- SAVE MONEY EVERY MONTH. A few decades ago, when many people didn't have insurance, putting cash aside for a rainy day was considered essential. Sickness, the loss of a job, or a damaged car might place a heavy strain on your finances. Nobody is immune from bad luck or a downturn in the economy. Prudence today might help you overcome a major crisis down the line.

Protecting your life and possessions is crucial to maintain your well-being. Trust only those who have proven to be worthy of your confidence. Never accept offers that look to good to be true. By paying attention to details and acting with common sense, you can enhance your happiness and, to a good extent, protect your success from misfortune.

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

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

Monday, 19 July 2010

Discard what doesn't work


Choosing conformity is tantamount to wasting your life in the middle of a crowd after having rendered yourself unable to communicate anything of substance. The alternatives, however, are tough, since most of us have been brought up to view approval as a requisite of survival.

Proper human life is impossible without dissident behaviour. Whatever rules you are following, how can you be sure that there are no exceptions? Even if you are willing to entrust your life to the wisdom of a leader, how do you make sure that he or she is the right one? The answer is simple: you just can't.

No matter how much a person knows, the ideas in his head represent only a minimal part of the knowledge available in any market at any given time. That knowledge increases by the hour and, for every product or service, there are hundreds of geographical markets.

Individual courage to deviate from the norm is the essence of all progress and happiness. Opportunities are distributed without apparent order in the market and each of us possesses more knowledge than we are aware of. In many cases, we are at first unable to name the reasons behind our convictions, but then, after some reflection, we come up with amazing insights.

Those who think creatively are puzzled when they encounter someone who is psychologically immobilized. "Why don't you cut your losses and move on?" they ask him. The determining factor is not intelligence. If we look around, we can observe self-defeating behaviour in all segments of the population. Paralysing conformity affects the ignorant and the educated, the experienced and the young.

The key element in the solution is that, before you can move forward, you have to get unstuck. Before you can focus your vision, you have to open your eyes. Before you can use your resources productively, you have to set your energies free. Free from what?

* From tasks, chores, and activities that you don't like and that you are doing out of an obscure respect for tradition.

* From people who don't appreciate you, ignore you, or waste your time, with whom you put up out of excessive benevolence.

* From supposed challenges, goals, and objectives that are not really your own, that you have picked up somewhere along the way and that are preventing you from doing what you know you should be doing.

A day comes in everyone's life when we must choose between giving up our dreams or dropping all dead weight. When that time comes in your life, I am sure that you don't need anyone to tell you what to do.

Take heart, I know how difficult it is to get out of the rut. Pick up a sheet of paper and make a list of people to ditch, things to dump, and races that you are no longer willing to run. As you begin to discard all that doesn't work, you will be amazed how resourceful you become in pursuing the few things that count.

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

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

Discard what doesn't work


Choosing conformity is tantamount to wasting your life in the middle of a crowd after having rendered yourself unable to communicate anything of substance. The alternatives, however, are tough, since most of us have been brought up to view approval as a requisite of survival.

Proper human life is impossible without dissident behaviour. Whatever rules you are following, how can you be sure that there are no exceptions? Even if you are willing to entrust your life to the wisdom of a leader, how do you make sure that he or she is the right one? The answer is simple: you just can't.

No matter how much a person knows, the ideas in his head represent only a minimal part of the knowledge available in any market at any given time. That knowledge increases by the hour and, for every product or service, there are hundreds of geographical markets.

Individual courage to deviate from the norm is the essence of all progress and happiness. Opportunities are distributed without apparent order in the market and each of us possesses more knowledge than we are aware of. In many cases, we are at first unable to name the reasons behind our convictions, but then, after some reflection, we come up with amazing insights.

Those who think creatively are puzzled when they encounter someone who is psychologically immobilized. "Why don't you cut your losses and move on?" they ask him. The determining factor is not intelligence. If we look around, we can observe self-defeating behaviour in all segments of the population. Paralysing conformity affects the ignorant and the educated, the experienced and the young.

The key element in the solution is that, before you can move forward, you have to get unstuck. Before you can focus your vision, you have to open your eyes. Before you can use your resources productively, you have to set your energies free. Free from what?

* From tasks, chores, and activities that you don't like and that you are doing out of an obscure respect for tradition.

* From people who don't appreciate you, ignore you, or waste your time, with whom you put up out of excessive benevolence.

* From supposed challenges, goals, and objectives that are not really your own, that you have picked up somewhere along the way and that are preventing you from doing what you know you should be doing.

A day comes in everyone's life when we must choose between giving up our dreams or dropping all dead weight. When that time comes in your life, I am sure that you don't need anyone to tell you what to do.

Take heart, I know how difficult it is to get out of the rut. Pick up a sheet of paper and make a list of people to ditch, things to dump, and races that you are no longer willing to run. As you begin to discard all that doesn't work, you will be amazed how resourceful you become in pursuing the few things that count.

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

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

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Overcoming the constraints of short-term thinking


Undoubtedly, we live in a short-term world. If you work for a company that is listed in the stock market, you will feel the pressure to reach monthly targets. Financial results have to be reported every quarter to shareholders and rightly so. There is no escape.

If you are a movie distributor, you watch the weekly box-office receipts like a hawk. You want to know which kind of movies are doing well these days. Historical romance? Vampire stories? Is there a trend that you can follow? When a film goes into theatrical release, the first weekend is decisive. There is no choice.

Are you opening a retail outlet? You need a powerful campaign in order to make sure that shoppers come to your store on day one. Cash-flow targets must be reached on a weekly basis. If results fall short of expectations, the location might be reconsidered. If the store does not become profitable quickly, it might be shut down. There is no option.

Many jobs are short-term. Products are conceived for maximum attractiveness and minimum durability. Relationships are superficial. Companies sell their brands overnight to total strangers. Clothes lose their colours after a few washings. Books that don't sell within 18 months are shredded. Is there no alternative?

Yes, luckily, there is a better way. It is called long-term thinking and it wins hands-down in every field. Look at your own life and your own preferences. Chances are that you have been wearing the same brand of shoes for a long time. Most people's choices are remarkable stable when it comes to their family doctor, their favourite place to shop for clothes, or to buy groceries.

If you list your greatest achievements in life, those you are most proud of, you will detect in every case the thread of long-term plans. Learning to speak a foreign language or to play piano are remarkable accomplishments that require years of effort. Acquiring professional qualifications and establishing a business on solid ground can demand a decade of your life.

Although we cannot change the short-term orientation of the world we live in, we do not need to constrain our thinking in the same way. Each person is free to make his own decisions. Causes can bring about effects that shape a man's life for years. Refusing to see beyond immediacy leads to spiritual impoverishment.

Effort devoted to connect current events to future consequences will be compensated down the line. Great achievement comes from consistency of purpose sustained through decades. Make your own plans and carry them through with serenity. Days can only be lived to the fullest if we think and act with the perspective of a lifetime.

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

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

Saturday, 17 July 2010

The advantage of having clear objectives


Problems are a nuisance, sometimes easy to detect and solve, often not. On the other hand, they represent a source of opportunity for entrepreneurs. Discrepancies, deviations from the normal, and failure to meet expectations can reveal the existence of profitable markets that, until that moment, had remained invisible.

From the many who notice problems, few actually view them as business opportunities. Complaining is universal, but the talent to devise profitable solutions remains extraordinary. What explains that entrepreneurial skills are present in some people, but not in the rest of the population?

McDonald's founder, Ray Kroc, is the archetype of the entrepreneur who seized an opportunity based on facts that were known to hundreds, if not thousands, of people. Although personal initiative plays an important role in starting up a new venture, nothing will ever happen if profitable business opportunities are not perceived in the first place.

Linking entrepreneurial vision to family background is a theory that explains some entrepreneurial careers, but many others do not follow this pattern. Business founders and talented managers come from all segments of society. In my view, entrepreneurial vision is not the result of a single factor, but a combination of three elements:

1. A CLEAR SENSE OF DIRECTION: Ambition motivates entrepreneurs more than it drives other men and women. Pursuing financial, professional, or artistic achievement with passion creates a constant sense of alertness. Once the direction is established, deficiencies and irritation do not result in paralysis, but in accelerated growth.

2. CURIOSITY AND WILLINGNESS TO LISTEN: Psychological flexibility, more than actual knowledge, frequently avoids man-made catastrophes. Entrepreneurs welcome rational criticism and use inputs to grow. They know that their individual expertise, taken in a global context, is infinitesimal. Entrepreneurs love to ask questions and are willing to listen. This is what allows them to detect opportunities that otherwise remain ignored.

3. DILIGENCE IN ACTION: Speed is an essential constituent of efficiency. In any area of human activity, few are ready to jump immediately from thought to action, from conception to implementation. One reason why entrepreneurs achieve more is simply because they try out a wider array of solutions to a problem. The quicker you are willing to start, the faster you will discover what to keep and what to discard. Action increases efficiency, which in turn breeds opportunity.

A clear sense of direction increases an individual's ability to see beyond irritation, to identify opportunities, and to build profitable solutions. If you detect a deviation from the standard, ask yourself if normality should be redefined. Examine discrepancies with curiosity and, above all, be willing to try out your ideas. If you don't push your boat away from the pier, you will have nothing to steer.

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

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

The advantage of having clear objectives


Problems are a nuisance, sometimes easy to detect and solve, often not. On the other hand, they represent a source of opportunity for entrepreneurs. Discrepancies, deviations from the normal, and failure to meet expectations can reveal the existence of profitable markets that, until that moment, had remained invisible.

From the many who notice problems, few actually view them as business opportunities. Complaining is universal, but the talent to devise profitable solutions remains extraordinary. What explains that entrepreneurial skills are present in some people, but not in the rest of the population?

McDonald's founder, Ray Kroc, is the archetype of the entrepreneur who seized an opportunity based on facts that were known to hundreds, if not thousands, of people. Although personal initiative plays an important role in starting up a new venture, nothing will ever happen if profitable business opportunities are not perceived in the first place.

Linking entrepreneurial vision to family background is a theory that explains some entrepreneurial careers, but many others do not follow this pattern. Business founders and talented managers come from all segments of society. In my view, entrepreneurial vision is not the result of a single factor, but a combination of three elements:

1. A CLEAR SENSE OF DIRECTION: Ambition motivates entrepreneurs more than it drives other men and women. Pursuing financial, professional, or artistic achievement with passion creates a constant sense of alertness. Once the direction is established, deficiencies and irritation do not result in paralysis, but in accelerated growth.

2. CURIOSITY AND WILLINGNESS TO LISTEN: Psychological flexibility, more than actual knowledge, frequently avoids man-made catastrophes. Entrepreneurs welcome rational criticism and use inputs to grow. They know that their individual expertise, taken in a global context, is infinitesimal. Entrepreneurs love to ask questions and are willing to listen. This is what allows them to detect opportunities that otherwise remain ignored.

3. DILIGENCE IN ACTION: Speed is an essential constituent of efficiency. In any area of human activity, few are ready to jump immediately from thought to action, from conception to implementation. One reason why entrepreneurs achieve more is simply because they try out a wider array of solutions to a problem. The quicker you are willing to start, the faster you will discover what to keep and what to discard. Action increases efficiency, which in turn breeds opportunity.

A clear sense of direction increases an individual's ability to see beyond irritation, to identify opportunities, and to build profitable solutions. If you detect a deviation from the standard, ask yourself if normality should be redefined. Examine discrepancies with curiosity and, above all, be willing to try out your ideas. If you don't push your boat away from the pier, you will have nothing to steer.

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

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

Friday, 16 July 2010

Doors open to personal initiative


The perception that achievement should be either immediate or impossible is wrong. Important things frequently demand substantial time, as it is the case of relationships. It makes no sense to put pressure on the wrong places. Some things take as long as they take. The process of reaching our goals is to be enjoyed, not frivolously discarded as a waste of time.

As they say in my home village, "you'd better bake potatoes slowly if you don't want to burn them." Substantial skills, like learning a foreign language, require months or years of effort. In life, you have plenty of time to find your own way. If you think that this is not the case, check your priorities and simplify your activities.

"Some talents are innate and others are acquired through practice," wrote Aristotle in the year 328 B.C. "While the movement of animals is governed by the law of cause and effect, the essential characteristic of human beings, reason, can only be developed by choice."

Centuries of decay followed the fall of the Roman Empire. For generations, fear replaced rational discourse as the primary means of human interaction. In many fields, knowledge remained inaccessible to the great majority of the population. As a result, life expectancy dramatically decreased.

Conditions improved in the 13th century. The transition from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance opened a wide range of opportunities for talented individuals. Towns attracted tradesmen and merchants, who manufactured utensils, made clothes, and built houses.

In Italian cities, like Florence and Venice, the wealth created by entrepreneurs brought into existence a market for artists. Upward social mobility became possible to an important segment of the population in the time of the great Renaissance artists, such as Botticelli and Michelangelo.

In our days, despite problems and difficulties, opportunities for personal development have multiplied in many countries to the extent that they are practically endless, making easier for every individual to explore the fields in which he is interested and find his own path.

Millions of men and women are now enjoying levels of prosperity that would have been unthinkable for the wealthiest prince in the Middle Ages. The advent of the internet and the global economy are tearing down barriers to entrepreneurship. We are living at the beginning of a new period of economic growth that may offer countless opportunities for each person to determine his own future.

The 21st century is the age of the empowered individual. We inhabit an environment where many businesses can be started with negligible upfront investment. Innumerable doors are open to personal initiative and skills, giving each of us almost infinite opportunities to find our own way towards happiness and success.

Business has become international, but the low-cost of internet communication gives us instant access to all corners of the earth. If you feel short-changed in any way, make a pause and look at things with perspective. If you are lucky enough to live in an industrial economy, you will not lack chances for personal development.

In moments of pessimism, remind yourself that the digital media are decreasing educational costs for everyone, that information about job openings is available on line, that inexpensive software applications are readily available, and that the cost of incorporating a company remains low in many jurisdictions. Chances are that you have more opportunities than you think.

"Materials and substances are not enough to produce change," observed Aristotle. "The fact that something can be transformed, does not mean that it will. Without activity, there is no motion." Let us devote our days to turning what we have into something more valuable. Let your willingness to perceive opportunities turn yourself into a motor of change.

If you still hesitate which way to go, why don't you get in touch with people who have similar interests and who are pondering the same questions? The easiest way to do that is to start up an internet blog on the subject that interests you the most.

A blog is deeply marked by the personality and philosophy of its author. One hundred million people go daily on-line and, in the near future, the number might grow to five hundred million. Many of them would gladly read more blogs if they found something that really appealed to them.

Use the internet fully to find your own way in life, since the web is offering you access to the whole world. This is the kind of opportunity that no other generation has enjoyed before our time.

If you decide to begin a blog, write about what you like and let people with the same interests find you. It is often through discussion with people like us that we come to realize that we already know the answer to our most pressing questions.

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

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

Thursday, 15 July 2010

How to protect your serenity against the negative bias of daily news (Part 6 of 6)


For most purposes, a few selected websites and a couple of podcasts will be enough to keep yourself well informed. Make yourself deaf to discouraging nonsense. As a result, you will have more time available for pursuing your fundamental objectives.

A calm spirit goes together with a sound physical condition. Barring major accidents and calamities, your health is primarily under your control. Within the range allowed by your genetic inheritance, your diet and lifestyle determine your vitality. Your serenity and happiness result from your philosophy, which is an element over which you can exert absolute control.

Protect your peace of mind against the negative bias of daily news by transforming risks into numbers, setting limits to damages, transforming problems into action, and above all, using only quality information. Every minute of anxiety that you eliminate will contribute to your well-being.

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

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

How to protect your serenity against the negative bias of daily news (Part 6 of 6)


For most purposes, a few selected websites and a couple of podcasts will be enough to keep yourself well informed. Make yourself deaf to discouraging nonsense. As a result, you will have more time available for pursuing your fundamental objectives.

A calm spirit goes together with a sound physical condition. Barring major accidents and calamities, your health is primarily under your control. Within the range allowed by your genetic inheritance, your diet and lifestyle determine your vitality. Your serenity and happiness result from your philosophy, which is an element over which you can exert absolute control.

Protect your peace of mind against the negative bias of daily news by transforming risks into numbers, setting limits to damages, transforming problems into action, and above all, using only quality information. Every minute of anxiety that you eliminate will contribute to your well-being.

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

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

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

How to protect your serenity against the negative bias of daily news (Part 5 of 6)


If you hear reports that your neighbourhood is becoming increasingly dangerous, you can worry yourself to death or turn your knowledge into action. Assess the risk and see what alternatives you have. Should you install an alarm system at home? Does the situation justify your moving into another area of town?

Once you make a decision, preoccupation levels will drop substantially. People who lead serene and relaxed lives tend to be incredibly organized. Those persons may look somewhat soft on the outside, but in reality, they are the first ones who adopt measures to prevent problems.

[4] Use only quality information: This is a key factor for maintaining your peace of mind. Why do millions of people love reading gloomy articles in newspapers and magazines? Why do they devote hours on end to watching depressing reports on television?

The attraction that dark information exerts on audiences is a malevolent addition. Without a strong will, it is difficult to break the spell. You have to take a stand and stop watching useless, exaggerated news. You have to filter out the noise and focus on quality information.

To be continued in Part 6

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

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

How to protect your serenity against the negative bias of daily news (Part 5 of 6)


If you hear reports that your neighbourhood is becoming increasingly dangerous, you can worry yourself to death or turn your knowledge into action. Assess the risk and see what alternatives you have. Should you install an alarm system at home? Does the situation justify your moving into another area of town?

Once you make a decision, preoccupation levels will drop substantially. People who lead serene and relaxed lives tend to be incredibly organized. Those persons may look somewhat soft on the outside, but in reality, they are the first ones who adopt measures to prevent problems.

[4] Use only quality information: This is a key factor for maintaining your peace of mind. Why do millions of people love reading gloomy articles in newspapers and magazines? Why do they devote hours on end to watching depressing reports on television?

The attraction that dark information exerts on audiences is a malevolent addition. Without a strong will, it is difficult to break the spell. You have to take a stand and stop watching useless, exaggerated news. You have to filter out the noise and focus on quality information.

To be continued in Part 6

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

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

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

How to protect your serenity against the negative bias of daily news (Part 4 of 6)


Businessmen know that no one is exempt from occasional mistakes. This is why civil liability insurance exists. Entrepreneurs who wish to limit their risks only need to purchase an insurance policy. If the worst happens, their financial losses will be limited.

A rational approach to dealing with threats calls for reducing the risk of catastrophic losses. For instance, if you live in an area with elevated risk of floods, you will be well advised to buy insurance against damages caused by water. Could you use the same strategy to protect your peace of mind against gloomy forecasts aired by the media?

When commentators predict a stock market crash, you can protect yourself by converting some of your investments to cash. Can you purchase other assets, such as gold, whose performance tends to be inverse to the price of shares? In order to stop worrying about catastrophes, you need to set a cap on potential losses.

[3] Transform problems into action: Anxiety and fear feed on uncertainty more than on any other factor. The feeling of not knowing what to do can unsettle your routines and lead you to make mistakes. Indecision causes physical tiredness and prevents a good sleep at night. The solution is not to ignore risks, but to transform them into specific actions.

To be continued in Part 5

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

[Image by Reinante El Pintor de Fuego under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

How to protect your serenity against the negative bias of daily news (Part 4 of 6)


Businessmen know that no one is exempt from occasional mistakes. This is why civil liability insurance exists. Entrepreneurs who wish to limit their risks only need to purchase an insurance policy. If the worst happens, their financial losses will be limited.

A rational approach to dealing with threats calls for reducing the risk of catastrophic losses. For instance, if you live in an area with elevated risk of floods, you will be well advised to buy insurance against damages caused by water. Could you use the same strategy to protect your peace of mind against gloomy forecasts aired by the media?

When commentators predict a stock market crash, you can protect yourself by converting some of your investments to cash. Can you purchase other assets, such as gold, whose performance tends to be inverse to the price of shares? In order to stop worrying about catastrophes, you need to set a cap on potential losses.

[3] Transform problems into action: Anxiety and fear feed on uncertainty more than on any other factor. The feeling of not knowing what to do can unsettle your routines and lead you to make mistakes. Indecision causes physical tiredness and prevents a good sleep at night. The solution is not to ignore risks, but to transform them into specific actions.

To be continued in Part 5

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

[Image by Reinante El Pintor de Fuego under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Monday, 12 July 2010

How to protect your serenity against the negative bias of daily news (Part 3 of 6)


How did they achieve such independence in their thinking? What are the keys behind their psychological stability? Do these people possess special genetic characteristics or does their behaviour denote a learned response? How can we protect our serenity against the negative bias of daily news? The following four ideas can help you preserve your peace of mind:

[1] Transform risks into numbers: Most reported threats refer to events that, most likely, will never happen. Every few years, newspapers discuss the possibility of an asteroid hitting the Earth and destroying millions of human lives.

Undoubtedly, such calamity would be terrible, but a wise man does not allow vague menaces to disrupt his tranquillity. Instead of losing sleep over risks, you should transform them into numbers or percentages. What are the actual chances of an asteroid hitting the town where you live? If the result of the calculation is one in a million, how much are you willing to worry?

[2] Set a limit on damages: Companies operating in consumer markets incur incessant risks of civil liability and litigation. If you deliver products to millions of people, an accident will occur sooner or later. At one point, electrical components may burn or mechanical systems fail.

To be continued in Part 4

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

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

How to protect your serenity against the negative bias of daily news (Part 3 of 6)


How did they achieve such independence in their thinking? What are the keys behind their psychological stability? Do these people possess special genetic characteristics or does their behaviour denote a learned response? How can we protect our serenity against the negative bias of daily news? The following four ideas can help you preserve your peace of mind:

[1] Transform risks into numbers: Most reported threats refer to events that, most likely, will never happen. Every few years, newspapers discuss the possibility of an asteroid hitting the Earth and destroying millions of human lives.

Undoubtedly, such calamity would be terrible, but a wise man does not allow vague menaces to disrupt his tranquillity. Instead of losing sleep over risks, you should transform them into numbers or percentages. What are the actual chances of an asteroid hitting the town where you live? If the result of the calculation is one in a million, how much are you willing to worry?

[2] Set a limit on damages: Companies operating in consumer markets incur incessant risks of civil liability and litigation. If you deliver products to millions of people, an accident will occur sooner or later. At one point, electrical components may burn or mechanical systems fail.

To be continued in Part 4

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

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

Sunday, 11 July 2010

How to protect your serenity against the negative bias of daily news (Part 2 of 6)


The media feed bad news to those who are thirsty to receive them. Individuals who believe that man can do little to improve his lot will find their view confirmed by depressing television images. People who are convinced that no one is to be trusted will feel themselves reasserted by acrimonious debates on talk-radio.

In this way, dispiriting messages attain their recipients with laser-like precision. No discouraging word is wasted before reaching its audience. No gloomy prediction remains ignored. The machine of saddening news works to perfection at destroying hope and inspiration.

Those who love dark forecasts won't have any difficulties finding information containing threatening predictions. Those who want to hear about poverty and dereliction have plenty of television stations to choose from. Those who believe that the next crisis is going to wipe out their savings won't have to search long for a talk-radio host that confirms their worst fears.

Nevertheless, despite the massive barrage of depressing messages, many individuals remain unaffected by anxiety and depression. Instead of seeking out alarming news, they read newspapers sparingly; instead of watching calamities on television, they focus their efforts on activities that can improve their lives.

To be continued in Part 3

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

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