Tuesday, 31 January 2012

The 10 advantages of motivational consistency


Ideas are precious and constitute the basis of civilization. Without the concepts of free trade, freedom of speech, and human rights, our standard of living would rapidly fall to medieval levels. Personal goals shape a sustained vision that transforms our talents into valuable products of services.

Closed doors reflect fear of change. Rational objectives will take you forward, but it is essential that those are compatible. Inconsistent principles rob each other's force and deplete each other's resources. Keep you door open to new concepts and ideas, but make sure that those are logically integrated.

When you discover that some of your goals are wrong, you should discard them. On the other hand, if your ambitions are annoying but consistent, keep them, since they might lead you to a breakthrough improvement.

Integrated goals will take you far, but inconsistent ambitions will wear you down. Pursuing compatible goals increases personal effectiveness and enhances creativity. Consistent ideals also improve man's reasoning capacity. Modern life requires instantaneous choices. Individuals who possess well-integrated goals can deal with complexity in the most effective manner.

Rational men ensure the consistency of their actions by defining clear objectives for the remaining decades of their life. Effective living requires that our choices, minor or fundamental, are aligned with our overriding goals. Individuals who follow this principle tend to become an outstanding success.

People who lack consistent goals often sabotage their own efforts. Pursuing integrated objectives requires sustained focus and can bring spectacularly positive results.

Few persons establish a definite direction for their life, but those who do, can reap enormous benefits. Motivational consistency brings, amongst others, the following advantages:

1. Financial resources can be used with a minimum of waste by avoiding random decisions and useless purchases

2. A clear vision of the future feeds the motivation to develop specialized skills and accumulate intellectual capital.

3. Consistent objectives build perseverance and credibility. On the other hand, random behaviour tends to damage a man's reputation and destroy his assets.

4. Rational goals lead men to entertainment that reinforces values and involves aspects of learning.

5. Compatible, long-term objectives provide the energy needed to undertake ambitious projects that make a difference in one's living conditions.

6. Logic and ambition supply the resilience needed to undertake boring maintenance tasks that bring substantial long-term benefits.

7. A stable vision and a lifetime perspective lead man to avert excessive risks, lotteries and other forms of gambling.

8. Consistent objectives render man's mind active and willing to explore innovative options. In contrast, contradictory goals lead to mistakes, waste, and paralysis.

9. Long-term ambitions enable man to accept mistakes as part of a learning process. The opposite phenomenon, intolerance, frequently arises out of pursuing contradictory targets. Individuals torn apart by diverging goals find difficult to explain their own actions.

10. Convictions in line with reality allow man to connect deeply with other human beings. Irrational objectives prevent individuals from communicating clearly, leading to irritation, confusion, misunderstandings, and errors.

Human beings can guide their lives properly only by reason. Dogs and cats perceive a narrow part of reality, but man is aware of hundreds of interconnected details, past and present, that are relevant in each situation. Our mind calls for logic and consistency. Happiness becomes impossible if we ignore our rational nature.

Workable, compatible, long-term goals render man truly human. Leading an effective life requires individuals to select rational objectives that comprise their whole lifetime. A consistent vision that reaches into the next decades is the most reliable tool for making optimal choices in the present.

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

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

The 10 advantages of motivational consistency


Ideas are precious and constitute the basis of civilization. Without the concepts of free trade, freedom of speech, and human rights, our standard of living would rapidly fall to medieval levels. Personal goals shape a sustained vision that transforms our talents into valuable products of services.

Closed doors reflect fear of change. Rational objectives will take you forward, but it is essential that those are compatible. Inconsistent principles rob each other's force and deplete each other's resources. Keep you door open to new concepts and ideas, but make sure that those are logically integrated.

When you discover that some of your goals are wrong, you should discard them. On the other hand, if your ambitions are annoying but consistent, keep them, since they might lead you to a breakthrough improvement.

Integrated goals will take you far, but inconsistent ambitions will wear you down. Pursuing compatible goals increases personal effectiveness and enhances creativity. Consistent ideals also improve man's reasoning capacity. Modern life requires instantaneous choices. Individuals who possess well-integrated goals can deal with complexity in the most effective manner.

Rational men ensure the consistency of their actions by defining clear objectives for the remaining decades of their life. Effective living requires that our choices, minor or fundamental, are aligned with our overriding goals. Individuals who follow this principle tend to become an outstanding success.

People who lack consistent goals often sabotage their own efforts. Pursuing integrated objectives requires sustained focus and can bring spectacularly positive results.

Few persons establish a definite direction for their life, but those who do, can reap enormous benefits. Motivational consistency brings, amongst others, the following advantages:

1. Financial resources can be used with a minimum of waste by avoiding random decisions and useless purchases

2. A clear vision of the future feeds the motivation to develop specialized skills and accumulate intellectual capital.

3. Consistent objectives build perseverance and credibility. On the other hand, random behaviour tends to damage a man's reputation and destroy his assets.

4. Rational goals lead men to entertainment that reinforces values and involves aspects of learning.

5. Compatible, long-term objectives provide the energy needed to undertake ambitious projects that make a difference in one's living conditions.

6. Logic and ambition supply the resilience needed to undertake boring maintenance tasks that bring substantial long-term benefits.

7. A stable vision and a lifetime perspective lead man to avert excessive risks, lotteries and other forms of gambling.

8. Consistent objectives render man's mind active and willing to explore innovative options. In contrast, contradictory goals lead to mistakes, waste, and paralysis.

9. Long-term ambitions enable man to accept mistakes as part of a learning process. The opposite phenomenon, intolerance, frequently arises out of pursuing contradictory targets. Individuals torn apart by diverging goals find difficult to explain their own actions.

10. Convictions in line with reality allow man to connect deeply with other human beings. Irrational objectives prevent individuals from communicating clearly, leading to irritation, confusion, misunderstandings, and errors.

Human beings can guide their lives properly only by reason. Dogs and cats perceive a narrow part of reality, but man is aware of hundreds of interconnected details, past and present, that are relevant in each situation. Our mind calls for logic and consistency. Happiness becomes impossible if we ignore our rational nature.

Workable, compatible, long-term goals render man truly human. Leading an effective life requires individuals to select rational objectives that comprise their whole lifetime. A consistent vision that reaches into the next decades is the most reliable tool for making optimal choices in the present.

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

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

Monday, 30 January 2012

Where I am investing my savings


"Does the future look as black as they paint it?" I ask myself when I see some stock market analysts recommend getting out of US shares and investing in foreign companies. Today the prevalent opinion is a mixture of distrust and hesitation.

I have a different view and I am acting on it in my own investments. If I am right, the present days might be remembered as the best period in modern History to invest in US shares. If I am wrong, I am risking my own money and I will take the consequences.

In investments, like in most things in life, it all boils down to using the right methodology. How can we determine what is true? What facts are relevant? Which predictions make sense? Can we figure out the future by applying principles extracted from experience?

Investment analysts who take stand against US stocks are basing their forecast on a likely loss of value of the US dollar. They say that they are expecting high inflation in the US within the next two years. To which extent is their anticipation in line with facts?

Forecasting a US dollar decline agrees with fundamental economic theory. "The high levels of US debt are unsustainable in the long term," argue those who predict a drastic loss of value of the US dollar. Indeed, it is logical to assume that printing dollars to pay off US debt would result in diminished purchasing power for each banknote, but is this really true?

There is valid logic in this analysis, but we should also ask ourselves if the premises are complete. Yes, it seems likely that dollars will have to be printed to pay off US debt, but on the other hand, global demand for US bank notes is increasing. How come?

The answer lies in Central and South America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, where millions of individuals have adopted the US dollar as everyday currency in their transactions. Daily utilization of US banknotes for business and private needs is no longer privy to North American citizens.

Why are millions of people all over the world using US dollars in their sales and purchases? Because in their eyes, the American currency stands for political stability, an overall reliable legal system, protection of intellectual property, entrepreneurial companies, hard-working executives and employees, and rapid innovation. This perception, I submit, is not going to change in the near future.

Printing additional dollars may well lead to inflation, possibly between 5% and 15%, but is it reasonable to expect a collapse of the US currency? To which extent should one act according to that expectation? When it rains heavily, rivers do carry additional water, but do they raise the sea level?

For my own investments, I am assuming that some inflation will take place, but frankly, I don't see that as the end of the world. A weaker dollar will increase US manufacturing exports and boost the impact of overseas profits for US multinationals. Both aspects would play in favour of a rising US stock market.

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

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

Where I am investing my savings


"Does the future look as black as they paint it?" I ask myself when I see some stock market analysts recommend getting out of US shares and investing in foreign companies. Today the prevalent opinion is a mixture of distrust and hesitation.

I have a different view and I am acting on it in my own investments. If I am right, the present days might be remembered as the best period in modern History to invest in US shares. If I am wrong, I am risking my own money and I will take the consequences.

In investments, like in most things in life, it all boils down to using the right methodology. How can we determine what is true? What facts are relevant? Which predictions make sense? Can we figure out the future by applying principles extracted from experience?

Investment analysts who take stand against US stocks are basing their forecast on a likely loss of value of the US dollar. They say that they are expecting high inflation in the US within the next two years. To which extent is their anticipation in line with facts?

Forecasting a US dollar decline agrees with fundamental economic theory. "The high levels of US debt are unsustainable in the long term," argue those who predict a drastic loss of value of the US dollar. Indeed, it is logical to assume that printing dollars to pay off US debt would result in diminished purchasing power for each banknote, but is this really true?

There is valid logic in this analysis, but we should also ask ourselves if the premises are complete. Yes, it seems likely that dollars will have to be printed to pay off US debt, but on the other hand, global demand for US bank notes is increasing. How come?

The answer lies in Central and South America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, where millions of individuals have adopted the US dollar as everyday currency in their transactions. Daily utilization of US banknotes for business and private needs is no longer privy to North American citizens.

Why are millions of people all over the world using US dollars in their sales and purchases? Because in their eyes, the American currency stands for political stability, an overall reliable legal system, protection of intellectual property, entrepreneurial companies, hard-working executives and employees, and rapid innovation. This perception, I submit, is not going to change in the near future.

Printing additional dollars may well lead to inflation, possibly between 5% and 15%, but is it reasonable to expect a collapse of the US currency? To which extent should one act according to that expectation? When it rains heavily, rivers do carry additional water, but do they raise the sea level?

For my own investments, I am assuming that some inflation will take place, but frankly, I don't see that as the end of the world. A weaker dollar will increase US manufacturing exports and boost the impact of overseas profits for US multinationals. Both aspects would play in favour of a rising US stock market.

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

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

Sunday, 29 January 2012

The advantages of having a realistic vision of the future


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

A clear perception of the world brings man unlimited rewards, but learning to see the truth is seldom easy and never without cost. Only by developing an ambitious and realistic vision of the future can man escape the trap of paralysis. Without sharply-defined objectives, we tend to fall into conformity, a bank from which we can borrow short-term convenience in exchange for a mortgage on our soul.

Take the time to reflect about what you want to achieve in life and try to condense your dreams in one sentence. Without self-starting motivation, man is easily blinded by a fog of contradictions that lead to expensive mistakes.

Only a self-image of health can permanently prevent individuals from consuming unhealthy food. People who have not established self-preservation as a goal, keep on consuming damaging substances despite being aware of their long-term negative effects, in the illusion that, somehow, they alone will be immune to the consequences.

The same principle applies to decaying work environments. Men and women who have not determined ambitious long-term objectives for themselves, tend to close their eyes to signs of decline in the company they work for in order to avoid the nuisance of searching alternative employment.

Write down your own vision of the future and keep it where you can see it. Defining your destination will help you avoid wrong relationships and avert people who drag you down. Men who lack firm ethical values tend to ignore character flaws in people they meet and often go as far as attributing non-existent virtues to whomever they find sexually attractive, even if that person is manifestly keeping them away from the path of achievement.

Defining your goals in life will not render you immune to errors, but will help you minimize them. When it comes to choosing the right alternative, few habits are as effective as standing still, questioning what looks too good to be true, and checking its consistency with your established objectives.

"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 of happiness." History shows that lack of rational values, more than ignorance, constitutes the main block to progress. A man should never forget that his advancement towards success and happiness depends on his loyalty to his own rational objectives.

Write down your fundamental goals and summarize them in one sentence. Restate your vision of the future at every opportunity and discard options that don't match it. Only by our achieving philosophical clarity can our actions be consistent and effective. Moving continuously in the direction of your goals will maximize your chances of success and happiness.

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

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

The advantages of having a realistic vision of the future


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

A clear perception of the world brings man unlimited rewards, but learning to see the truth is seldom easy and never without cost. Only by developing an ambitious and realistic vision of the future can man escape the trap of paralysis. Without sharply-defined objectives, we tend to fall into conformity, a bank from which we can borrow short-term convenience in exchange for a mortgage on our soul.

Take the time to reflect about what you want to achieve in life and try to condense your dreams in one sentence. Without self-starting motivation, man is easily blinded by a fog of contradictions that lead to expensive mistakes.

Only a self-image of health can permanently prevent individuals from consuming unhealthy food. People who have not established self-preservation as a goal, keep on consuming damaging substances despite being aware of their long-term negative effects, in the illusion that, somehow, they alone will be immune to the consequences.

The same principle applies to decaying work environments. Men and women who have not determined ambitious long-term objectives for themselves, tend to close their eyes to signs of decline in the company they work for in order to avoid the nuisance of searching alternative employment.

Write down your own vision of the future and keep it where you can see it. Defining your destination will help you avoid wrong relationships and avert people who drag you down. Men who lack firm ethical values tend to ignore character flaws in people they meet and often go as far as attributing non-existent virtues to whomever they find sexually attractive, even if that person is manifestly keeping them away from the path of achievement.

Defining your goals in life will not render you immune to errors, but will help you minimize them. When it comes to choosing the right alternative, few habits are as effective as standing still, questioning what looks too good to be true, and checking its consistency with your established objectives.

"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 of happiness." History shows that lack of rational values, more than ignorance, constitutes the main block to progress. A man should never forget that his advancement towards success and happiness depends on his loyalty to his own rational objectives.

Write down your fundamental goals and summarize them in one sentence. Restate your vision of the future at every opportunity and discard options that don't match it. Only by our achieving philosophical clarity can our actions be consistent and effective. Moving continuously in the direction of your goals will maximize your chances of success and happiness.

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

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

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Cool reasoning and passionate logic


"You are not one of us, Aristotle, and you will never be," sentenced Plato. "This is why I have to ask you to leave the Academy." Plato made a pause expecting to hear bitter recriminations from his student, but none were forthcoming. Aristotle stared at Plato silently, almost with indifference, and shrugged his shoulders.

"Haven't you realized how much your questions irritate other students?" continued Plato, his voice tainted with anger. "Can't you see that nobody likes you?" Without saying a word, Aristotle turned around and faced the class.

They were all there. All of Plato's students at the Academy. Sippus, Xenocrates, and the rest. None of them had wanted to miss the spectacle of Aristotle's public humiliation. All of them had wanted to savour the vindication of their timidity and conformity. Aristotle was an outcast. Aristotle didn't belong. Aristotle had to go.

Sippus stood up, walked to the front of the room, and stood still facing Aristotle, the Macedonian. Sippus had disliked Aristotle since the first day they met. He hated Aristotle's cool reasoning and passionate logic. He would have liked nothing better than to see Aristotle condemned for contempt of the gods and sold as a slave.

"I have refrained myself for too long," began Sippus, turning to his fellow students. "Have we not all learned that there is no higher purpose than unity? That the goal of a philosopher's life is to share the common opinion?"

The other students nodded. Sippus was neither brilliant nor well-spoken, but he could be trusted when it came to echoing Plato's teachings in a righteous tone. Many regarded him as the most likely to succeed Plato at the head of the Academy. Sippus was also Plato's nephew, although that was a coincidence.

Aristotle smiled and looked at Plato. It was such smile of Aristotle that all students at the Academy had learned to fear. It was the smile that always preceded powerful arguments put forward softly, arguments that would tear any fallacy to shreds.

"Since when is the common opinion worth more than the truth?" asked Aristotle without raising his voice. Plato took in a deep breath, but did not respond. Sippus searched frantically in his mind for a good answer or, at least, for a sophism that he could use to confound the odious Macedonian.

That winter, in the year 347 B.C., was going to be Plato's last. Aristotle would soon leave Athens, only to return 13 years later, in his early fifties, to start up a competing school, the Lyceum, and write 40 essays that would change the course of History.

When Sippus finally managed to put together a reply, he pointed his finger theatrically at the other students. "Do you dispute, Aristotle, that the highest honour in life is the good opinion of your fellow citizens?"

"An honest man would do better to strive for a more tangible and immediate reward," answered Aristotle calmly. Then he walked to what had been his place at the Academy during the last ten years, bent over, picked up his roll of manuscripts, and headed for the door.

"What reward are you talking about?" retorted Sippus infuriated. Aristotle's response came as he crossed the doorway, without bothering to look back. "Immortality," he said.

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

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

Cool reasoning and passionate logic


"You are not one of us, Aristotle, and you will never be," sentenced Plato. "This is why I have to ask you to leave the Academy." Plato made a pause expecting to hear bitter recriminations from his student, but none were forthcoming. Aristotle stared at Plato silently, almost with indifference, and shrugged his shoulders.

"Haven't you realized how much your questions irritate other students?" continued Plato, his voice tainted with anger. "Can't you see that nobody likes you?" Without saying a word, Aristotle turned around and faced the class.

They were all there. All of Plato's students at the Academy. Sippus, Xenocrates, and the rest. None of them had wanted to miss the spectacle of Aristotle's public humiliation. All of them had wanted to savour the vindication of their timidity and conformity. Aristotle was an outcast. Aristotle didn't belong. Aristotle had to go.

Sippus stood up, walked to the front of the room, and stood still facing Aristotle, the Macedonian. Sippus had disliked Aristotle since the first day they met. He hated Aristotle's cool reasoning and passionate logic. He would have liked nothing better than to see Aristotle condemned for contempt of the gods and sold as a slave.

"I have refrained myself for too long," began Sippus, turning to his fellow students. "Have we not all learned that there is no higher purpose than unity? That the goal of a philosopher's life is to share the common opinion?"

The other students nodded. Sippus was neither brilliant nor well-spoken, but he could be trusted when it came to echoing Plato's teachings in a righteous tone. Many regarded him as the most likely to succeed Plato at the head of the Academy. Sippus was also Plato's nephew, although that was a coincidence.

Aristotle smiled and looked at Plato. It was such smile of Aristotle that all students at the Academy had learned to fear. It was the smile that always preceded powerful arguments put forward softly, arguments that would tear any fallacy to shreds.

"Since when is the common opinion worth more than the truth?" asked Aristotle without raising his voice. Plato took in a deep breath, but did not respond. Sippus searched frantically in his mind for a good answer or, at least, for a sophism that he could use to confound the odious Macedonian.

That winter, in the year 347 B.C., was going to be Plato's last. Aristotle would soon leave Athens, only to return 13 years later, in his early fifties, to start up a competing school, the Lyceum, and write 40 essays that would change the course of History.

When Sippus finally managed to put together a reply, he pointed his finger theatrically at the other students. "Do you dispute, Aristotle, that the highest honour in life is the good opinion of your fellow citizens?"

"An honest man would do better to strive for a more tangible and immediate reward," answered Aristotle calmly. Then he walked to what had been his place at the Academy during the last ten years, bent over, picked up his roll of manuscripts, and headed for the door.

"What reward are you talking about?" retorted Sippus infuriated. Aristotle's response came as he crossed the doorway, without bothering to look back. "Immortality," he said.

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

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

Friday, 27 January 2012

How to choose the right alternative in difficult times


Do you have lots of problems? I am talking about serious troubles, not small stuff. Have you lost more than 80% of your assets in the stock market crash? Are you going through divorce? Did you just lose a great job? Sometimes, it seems that all dikes break simultaneously in order to make sure that your home is flooded beyond repair.

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

A second possibility consists of wailing and crying yourself deaf. Make a list of your problems, from major to minor, call up a friend, and start sharing your lamentations. A close friend will put up with your complaints for a while, but eventually, he might decide to become an ex-friend of yours. Have I ever gone on a wailing binge myself? You bet. Did it ever work? To this question, I believe that you already know the answer. Complaining doesn't work. Which other paths can you take?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to choose the right alternative in difficult times


Do you have lots of problems? I am talking about serious troubles, not small stuff. Have you lost more than 80% of your assets in the stock market crash? Are you going through divorce? Did you just lose a great job? Sometimes, it seems that all dikes break simultaneously in order to make sure that your home is flooded beyond repair.

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

A second possibility consists of wailing and crying yourself deaf. Make a list of your problems, from major to minor, call up a friend, and start sharing your lamentations. A close friend will put up with your complaints for a while, but eventually, he might decide to become an ex-friend of yours. Have I ever gone on a wailing binge myself? You bet. Did it ever work? To this question, I believe that you already know the answer. Complaining doesn't work. Which other paths can you take?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 26 January 2012

How to make fast and consistent decisions


Publishers love biographies because they usually sell well for many years. People enjoy reading about the shattering mistakes made by illustrious individuals, such as a great actor who accepts a role in a trash film that ruins his career, a successful investment manager who makes a bad decision and suffers enormous losses, or a millionaire who marries the wrong woman and ends up in devastating divorce.

Biographies provide details about how eminent persons waste opportunities and turn themselves into fools. On some occasions, errors are made out of insufficient knowledge, but frequently, vanity and greed play a major role in self-destruction. What readers of biographies seek to learn above all is how to overcome feelings of sadness and guilt after having made a gigantic blunder.

As soon as we realize the full extent of a major mistake, emotional misery arises from comparing our present to a parallel universe that would have existed if we had not wasted our opportunities. Such negative reactions overlook that errors and waste are the result of the knowledge available to a person at a certain moment. In essence, what an individual knows and feels are the only relevant factors in his decisions.

A man should strive to discard waste as matter of principle, but after making a dreadful mistake and suffering major losses, he should avoid comparing himself with someone else. It makes little sense to lament how well you could be doing if you had made wiser choices. The only thing you can do is to learn from the situation so that you can perform better next time.

Each human being is born in different circumstances, each life is unique. Individuals grow at their own pace and learn their own lessons. Errors and waste provide us with painful but irreplaceable experience.

Do not linger on illogical comparisons that bring nothing but misery. Stand up and look ahead. Your next achievement will bring you farther. Mistakes will make you a better human being and show you the way to happiness if you acquire rational habits. When it comes to avoiding waste, no other habit is as powerful as frugality.

Suffering a major loss has few benefits other than rekindling personal ambition and making people realistic about how the world works. Whatever your level of income, frugality constitutes a significant virtue. Even if contemporary society rarely promotes temperance and thrift, individual prosperity is the consequence of savings and investment.

The law of cause and effect governs the world. Nothing escapes its reach, no one can circumvent its application. What you do today determines the level of tomorrow's pay. In addition to economic advantages, frugality also brings psychological benefits. Stress, anxiety, discouragement, and fear will not haunt the house of the austere.

Discarding waste and embracing frugality lead to peace of mind. Worries won't keep awake at night those who live with measure. Leading a rational life spares man the effort of following the latest fashion. When we dismiss artificial alternatives, we are left with the fundamental. Serenity is the result of simplification.

Choosing frugality instead of waste will allow you to make fast and consistent decisions. When you trust your own judgement more than external opinion, you learn from mistakes and develop your skills. Frugality, which is based on stable values, leads to decisiveness. A man who possesses clear priorities can reject inconsistency without need of long discussions.

A prudent conduct brings the added benefit of risk reduction. A judicious man protects himself when at risk and tries to avert threats whenever possible. The tension of complex choices can wear out even the most balanced mind. On the other hand, a straightforward and consistent approach reduces errors of oversight. Shunning unnecessary cost keeps risk exposure low.

Resisting the allure of short-sighted decisions leads to more enjoyment of life. Ignoring the noise of false opinions liberates resources. Frugality enables man to breathe free of encumbrances and focus his efforts on what really counts. Happiness is not the result of accumulating tasks, but of a few essential activities that make a difference.

Discarding waste brings man wealth, but the material advantages of frugality go hand in hand with its psychological benefits. Disregard the unnecessary and pay attention to the crucial elements of a good life. Realizing that most things possess little relevance is what enables man to make wise choices.

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

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

How to make fast and consistent decisions


Publishers love biographies because they usually sell well for many years. People enjoy reading about the shattering mistakes made by illustrious individuals, such as a great actor who accepts a role in a trash film that ruins his career, a successful investment manager who makes a bad decision and suffers enormous losses, or a millionaire who marries the wrong woman and ends up in devastating divorce.

Biographies provide details about how eminent persons waste opportunities and turn themselves into fools. On some occasions, errors are made out of insufficient knowledge, but frequently, vanity and greed play a major role in self-destruction. What readers of biographies seek to learn above all is how to overcome feelings of sadness and guilt after having made a gigantic blunder.

As soon as we realize the full extent of a major mistake, emotional misery arises from comparing our present to a parallel universe that would have existed if we had not wasted our opportunities. Such negative reactions overlook that errors and waste are the result of the knowledge available to a person at a certain moment. In essence, what an individual knows and feels are the only relevant factors in his decisions.

A man should strive to discard waste as matter of principle, but after making a dreadful mistake and suffering major losses, he should avoid comparing himself with someone else. It makes little sense to lament how well you could be doing if you had made wiser choices. The only thing you can do is to learn from the situation so that you can perform better next time.

Each human being is born in different circumstances, each life is unique. Individuals grow at their own pace and learn their own lessons. Errors and waste provide us with painful but irreplaceable experience.

Do not linger on illogical comparisons that bring nothing but misery. Stand up and look ahead. Your next achievement will bring you farther. Mistakes will make you a better human being and show you the way to happiness if you acquire rational habits. When it comes to avoiding waste, no other habit is as powerful as frugality.

Suffering a major loss has few benefits other than rekindling personal ambition and making people realistic about how the world works. Whatever your level of income, frugality constitutes a significant virtue. Even if contemporary society rarely promotes temperance and thrift, individual prosperity is the consequence of savings and investment.

The law of cause and effect governs the world. Nothing escapes its reach, no one can circumvent its application. What you do today determines the level of tomorrow's pay. In addition to economic advantages, frugality also brings psychological benefits. Stress, anxiety, discouragement, and fear will not haunt the house of the austere.

Discarding waste and embracing frugality lead to peace of mind. Worries won't keep awake at night those who live with measure. Leading a rational life spares man the effort of following the latest fashion. When we dismiss artificial alternatives, we are left with the fundamental. Serenity is the result of simplification.

Choosing frugality instead of waste will allow you to make fast and consistent decisions. When you trust your own judgement more than external opinion, you learn from mistakes and develop your skills. Frugality, which is based on stable values, leads to decisiveness. A man who possesses clear priorities can reject inconsistency without need of long discussions.

A prudent conduct brings the added benefit of risk reduction. A judicious man protects himself when at risk and tries to avert threats whenever possible. The tension of complex choices can wear out even the most balanced mind. On the other hand, a straightforward and consistent approach reduces errors of oversight. Shunning unnecessary cost keeps risk exposure low.

Resisting the allure of short-sighted decisions leads to more enjoyment of life. Ignoring the noise of false opinions liberates resources. Frugality enables man to breathe free of encumbrances and focus his efforts on what really counts. Happiness is not the result of accumulating tasks, but of a few essential activities that make a difference.

Discarding waste brings man wealth, but the material advantages of frugality go hand in hand with its psychological benefits. Disregard the unnecessary and pay attention to the crucial elements of a good life. Realizing that most things possess little relevance is what enables man to make wise choices.

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

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

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

How to move to the next station


I was once a kid who turned around to ask strangers in the crowd, what should I choose, where should I go, but wrong directions got me lost in the snow. Someone must know, someone should tell every chicken when to break the shell. Maybe a wise old man in Tibet or Brazil, I sought long and far, but I found nil. Time passed and I grew tall but insecure, since for my curiosity, there was no cure, always on the look for a sign I could trust, to determine what I should and what I must.

Please, Sir, may I, under conditions, work day and night and hold some ambitions? I posed my question, found no audition, never got a chance to ask for permission. "Without credentials, all doors are closed," I was told repeatedly by friends and foes, but since we live in times of transition, I shrugged my shoulders and forgot tradition.

"Without contacts, you cannot succeed," I was told by experienced men of every breed, but since I was too busy to submit a petition, I just moved on to the next position. From all the people that I've left behind, I have never seen one who was able to find the strength and passion to go on a mission for which there was no clear price of admission.

On some occasions, I have really wondered if I was on my way to make a huge blunder, but both my feelings and my volition tell me that now it's too late to ask for permission. So here I am, so close to the top, after turning every doubt into an early crop. Would I have pushed my dreams to fruition if I had waited for the right disposition?

It is through your mistakes that you will learn that nothing is more precious than what you earn. It is what you do that deserves recognition, not what you give up due to imposition. It is through your actions that you will see if your goals are worth paying the fee. Are you ready to let go of inhibition, willing to stand up and face opposition?

Wake up, drop your hesitations and move, never questioning what you are unable to prove, for permissions that you don't request, won't reduce the number of endorsements of your quest. Don't hang around at the station, jump on the train to your destination. Take this cue and wait no longer, grow stronger through what you do, since present and future belong both to you.

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

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

How to move to the next station


I was once a kid who turned around to ask strangers in the crowd, what should I choose, where should I go, but wrong directions got me lost in the snow. Someone must know, someone should tell every chicken when to break the shell. Maybe a wise old man in Tibet or Brazil, I sought long and far, but I found nil. Time passed and I grew tall but insecure, since for my curiosity, there was no cure, always on the look for a sign I could trust, to determine what I should and what I must.

Please, Sir, may I, under conditions, work day and night and hold some ambitions? I posed my question, found no audition, never got a chance to ask for permission. "Without credentials, all doors are closed," I was told repeatedly by friends and foes, but since we live in times of transition, I shrugged my shoulders and forgot tradition.

"Without contacts, you cannot succeed," I was told by experienced men of every breed, but since I was too busy to submit a petition, I just moved on to the next position. From all the people that I've left behind, I have never seen one who was able to find the strength and passion to go on a mission for which there was no clear price of admission.

On some occasions, I have really wondered if I was on my way to make a huge blunder, but both my feelings and my volition tell me that now it's too late to ask for permission. So here I am, so close to the top, after turning every doubt into an early crop. Would I have pushed my dreams to fruition if I had waited for the right disposition?

It is through your mistakes that you will learn that nothing is more precious than what you earn. It is what you do that deserves recognition, not what you give up due to imposition. It is through your actions that you will see if your goals are worth paying the fee. Are you ready to let go of inhibition, willing to stand up and face opposition?

Wake up, drop your hesitations and move, never questioning what you are unable to prove, for permissions that you don't request, won't reduce the number of endorsements of your quest. Don't hang around at the station, jump on the train to your destination. Take this cue and wait no longer, grow stronger through what you do, since present and future belong both to you.

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

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

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Overcoming great challenges with limited resources


Reading History is the ideal remedy to discouragement and dissatisfaction. During difficult periods, man can gain perspective by learning how his ancestors turned problems into opportunities. Past centuries have repeatedly shown how individuals with limited resources can face life's challenges and overcome extraordinary obstacles.

Hesiod, an Ancient Greek poet, recounted in the year 770 B.C. that "the world did not welcome me when I was born and each season brought nothing but problems and difficulties." The reason for such lamentations was that a court decision in favour of his brother, Perses, had deprived Hesiod of his inheritance at an early age, forcing him to earn his subsistence by working in other people's fields.

As a result of adversity, Hesiod soon acquired first-hand experience in all kind of farm labours and gained expertise in breeding goats and sheep. "Watching the sheep kindled my ambition," he recorded. "I realized that, unlike sheep, I had the capacity to take control of my future."

During the winter, Hesiod witnessed how the cold temperature in the mountains of northern Greece often culled herds by half. Later on, he would write that the destiny of animals, unlike that of human beings, is fully dependent on the weather. The young shepherd spent a long time preparing himself in the solitude of the mountains until, one spring, he walked to Chalces, a nearby village, and enrolled in the annual poetry contest.

In Ancient Greece, winning a poetry contest was a ticket to fame and opened the door to a political career. That year, competition was particularly fierce since Homer, the most famous poet of the time, had come to Chalces to take part in the contest.

On the eve of the competition, Perses asked his brother to which God he would be devoting his poem, as it was customary to do on such occasions. Hesiod smiled and shook his head. "My poem is not about Gods, it's about sheep." Perses stared at his brother incredulously, but did not make any comment.

At the beginning of the contest, the jury separated the participants in two groups, one for the morning session and the other for the afternoon. After that, the winners from both groups would face each other in the evening finale.

Homer achieved an easy victory in the morning competition, but the jury deliberated long before picking the afternoon winner. Who was this youngster Hesiod? It was the first time that anyone had ever heard a poem about sheep in the mountain.

Amiphidamas, who was the mayor of Chalces and the president of the jury said that he liked Hesiod's poem. "That shepherd has interesting ideas," he told the other judges of the contest. In a way, Amiphidamas' view was not surprising, since he owned the largest herd of the village.

In the evening, torches were lighted to illuminate the theatre. Peasants from surrounding villages had come to Chalces to see the poetry finale, which featured Homer against an unknown shepherd called Hesiod. The result of the contest was predictable and Perses bet heavily against his brother.

Homer recited a poem recounting the Trojan war and his performance galvanized the young. His strong voice and impeccable speech brought the audience memories of long-forgotten Gods and glories. When he finished his declamation, the jury nodded satisfied. Nobody doubted that Homer would come out winner.

Then the young shepherd Hesiod came to stand before the public. "How hard life is," he started, "and how recurrent our miseries." Puzzled by the unusual beginning, the audience held their breath to be able to hear better. What was this poem all about?

It was the story of a farmer who lost half of his herd every winter due to extreme cold. In his poem, Hesiod noted the scarcity of sheep in the winter, their over-abundance in the summer, and how sheep prices oscillated with the change of seasons.

"I asked the oracle for an answer," recited Hesiod, "but he told me to look for it myself." At that point, part of the audience murmured their disapproval. Undaunted, the young poet questioned his public. "What to do in face of winter scarcity? Should man suffer passively the caprice of the Gods?"

Hesiod's poem was called "Work and Days." His conclusion was unmistakable. A wise man should buy sheep in the summer at a low price and wait for the winter's cold weather to bring back high prices and the opportunity of a profitable sale.

When Hesiod finished his performance, the audience remained silent. Half of the jury members were in favour of Homer, but Amiphidamas' preference allowed the young shepherd to carry the day. Hesiod's rhyme had been awkward and his presence on stage unexciting, but the judges had found his poem "highly instructive for ourselves and future generations."

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

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

Overcoming great challenges with limited resources


Reading History is the ideal remedy to discouragement and dissatisfaction. During difficult periods, man can gain perspective by learning how his ancestors turned problems into opportunities. Past centuries have repeatedly shown how individuals with limited resources can face life's challenges and overcome extraordinary obstacles.

Hesiod, an Ancient Greek poet, recounted in the year 770 B.C. that "the world did not welcome me when I was born and each season brought nothing but problems and difficulties." The reason for such lamentations was that a court decision in favour of his brother, Perses, had deprived Hesiod of his inheritance at an early age, forcing him to earn his subsistence by working in other people's fields.

As a result of adversity, Hesiod soon acquired first-hand experience in all kind of farm labours and gained expertise in breeding goats and sheep. "Watching the sheep kindled my ambition," he recorded. "I realized that, unlike sheep, I had the capacity to take control of my future."

During the winter, Hesiod witnessed how the cold temperature in the mountains of northern Greece often culled herds by half. Later on, he would write that the destiny of animals, unlike that of human beings, is fully dependent on the weather. The young shepherd spent a long time preparing himself in the solitude of the mountains until, one spring, he walked to Chalces, a nearby village, and enrolled in the annual poetry contest.

In Ancient Greece, winning a poetry contest was a ticket to fame and opened the door to a political career. That year, competition was particularly fierce since Homer, the most famous poet of the time, had come to Chalces to take part in the contest.

On the eve of the competition, Perses asked his brother to which God he would be devoting his poem, as it was customary to do on such occasions. Hesiod smiled and shook his head. "My poem is not about Gods, it's about sheep." Perses stared at his brother incredulously, but did not make any comment.

At the beginning of the contest, the jury separated the participants in two groups, one for the morning session and the other for the afternoon. After that, the winners from both groups would face each other in the evening finale.

Homer achieved an easy victory in the morning competition, but the jury deliberated long before picking the afternoon winner. Who was this youngster Hesiod? It was the first time that anyone had ever heard a poem about sheep in the mountain.

Amiphidamas, who was the mayor of Chalces and the president of the jury said that he liked Hesiod's poem. "That shepherd has interesting ideas," he told the other judges of the contest. In a way, Amiphidamas' view was not surprising, since he owned the largest herd of the village.

In the evening, torches were lighted to illuminate the theatre. Peasants from surrounding villages had come to Chalces to see the poetry finale, which featured Homer against an unknown shepherd called Hesiod. The result of the contest was predictable and Perses bet heavily against his brother.

Homer recited a poem recounting the Trojan war and his performance galvanized the young. His strong voice and impeccable speech brought the audience memories of long-forgotten Gods and glories. When he finished his declamation, the jury nodded satisfied. Nobody doubted that Homer would come out winner.

Then the young shepherd Hesiod came to stand before the public. "How hard life is," he started, "and how recurrent our miseries." Puzzled by the unusual beginning, the audience held their breath to be able to hear better. What was this poem all about?

It was the story of a farmer who lost half of his herd every winter due to extreme cold. In his poem, Hesiod noted the scarcity of sheep in the winter, their over-abundance in the summer, and how sheep prices oscillated with the change of seasons.

"I asked the oracle for an answer," recited Hesiod, "but he told me to look for it myself." At that point, part of the audience murmured their disapproval. Undaunted, the young poet questioned his public. "What to do in face of winter scarcity? Should man suffer passively the caprice of the Gods?"

Hesiod's poem was called "Work and Days." His conclusion was unmistakable. A wise man should buy sheep in the summer at a low price and wait for the winter's cold weather to bring back high prices and the opportunity of a profitable sale.

When Hesiod finished his performance, the audience remained silent. Half of the jury members were in favour of Homer, but Amiphidamas' preference allowed the young shepherd to carry the day. Hesiod's rhyme had been awkward and his presence on stage unexciting, but the judges had found his poem "highly instructive for ourselves and future generations."

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

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

Monday, 23 January 2012

How to find a great job during an economic crisis


"I need time to think," said Martin Sonner. "I'm going away for a week." Martin's boss looked at his best salesman with understanding. "If you are going to take a holiday, this is the best time," he replied. That was true, since no customer had set foot in the car dealership during the last ten days.

It was as though the desire to buy a new car had been suddenly erased from the memory of millions of people. Due to the economic crisis, car sales had dropped catastrophically. If the situation did not improve during the next months, Martin's boss might be forced to shut down the business. The car dealership was not generating enough cash even to pay the rent.

Martin told his wife that he had to travel to a sales conference, packed a small suitcase, went to the airport, and took the first flight to Cairo. The plane landed in Egypt eight hours later and Martin took a room in a hotel near the pyramids.

The next day, he walked around the pyramids, climbed to the top, descended, and climbed again. On his second day, he went inside the Great Pyramid, where he found only empty rooms and rarefied air. He woke up in the middle of the second night and was unable to fall asleep again.

It was too warm in his hotel room and, besides, a question was bothering him. He got dressed, went out of the hotel, and walked towards the pyramids. Then he left the road, took off his shoes, and walked on the desert sand.

Even at night, the sand was still warm from the previous day's sunshine. Martin stood still in front of the Great Pyramid and took in a deep breath. The problems of the car dealership were now far away from his mind.

A different subject was troubling Martin. What was the point of building pyramids? Why had ancient Egyptians not devoted their efforts to more useful things? Indeed, it had taken five thousand years for the pyramids to bring tourists to Egypt in substantial numbers.

Martin stared at the stone blocks for several hours, as the night came to an end. The first light of dawn made him close his eyes. There has never been any good reason to build pyramids, he concluded. Pyramids are useless; they are a reminder that you should not spend your life piling up stone blocks for no useful purpose.

When Martin returned to the car dealership at the end of the week, his boss welcomed him warmly. He was glad to have his best salesman back. "Did you come up with a brilliant sales strategy while you were in Egypt?" Martin's boss asked, half-jokingly, half-desperately. "Did you get any idea about how to turn around the situation?"

Martin nodded and handed in his resignation. "As a matter of fact, I did," he replied. "I have learned that you can wait a long time for pyramids to pay off. Too long." A few days later, Martin found a sales job in a growing field. It was a company that sold turn-key factories in the Middle-East. A booming business.

[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, 22 January 2012

Turning the worst times into the best times


When everything is lost is the best time to try the impossible. History contains many examples of individuals taking bold action and turning around desperate situations. You have more resources than you think. There are more possibilities around than it is apparent to the eye.

Take the case of Venice in the year 1314, with interest rates at 20% that made almost impossible for anyone to borrow money. Since the King of France had forbidden Flemish merchants to take part in the Fairs of Champagne, imports of cloth into Venice had stopped altogether. Without Flemish cloth, Venetian dyers had been forced to fire hundreds of workers, pushing the economy into a deep recession.

Pietro Alvise, the son of a Venetian merchant, did not allow the situation to bring him down. Instead, he made a bold proposal to his father, Luigi Alvise. "What you are proposing is impossible, Pietro," admonished the old man, shaking his head. "Many have tried it before and no one has succeeded. It's better if we wait until the market recovers."

Pietro Alvise looked at his father and took in a deep breath. It was imperative that he found the right words. If he could not convince his own family, how would he be able to convince anyone else? "That's the point, father," he emphasized. "The market is not going to recover. Don't you see the rising interest rates? Aren't our friends going bankrupt one after the other?"

Undecided, the old Alvise stared at his son. Who could deny that the economic situation was catastrophic? "I know that it can be done, father," insisted Pietro. "We don't need the Fairs of Champagne. We can build larger ships, galleys able to sail around Spain and France. We will take leather, spices, and glassware to Bruges and return with a full cargo of cloth."

During the next weeks, Luigi and Pietro Alvise called relentlessly on other merchants in Venice until they managed to line up 100 investors ready to fund the construction of a double-deck galley. The new ship had two masts and weighed 500 tons, something unheard of at that time. Traditional Venetian galleys possessed only one deck and rarely exceeded 200 tons.

Pietro Alvise's double-deck galley was financed, designed, and built in the middle of the worst economic recession that Venice had ever experienced. In June of 1314, the ship sailed away from the Venetian lagoon, arriving two months later in Bruges. The trade expedition was a resounding success, turned around the economy of the area, and served as a basis for Venetian domination of world commerce during the following decades.

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

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

Turning the worst times into the best times


When everything is lost is the best time to try the impossible. History contains many examples of individuals taking bold action and turning around desperate situations. You have more resources than you think. There are more possibilities around than it is apparent to the eye.

Take the case of Venice in the year 1314, with interest rates at 20% that made almost impossible for anyone to borrow money. Since the King of France had forbidden Flemish merchants to take part in the Fairs of Champagne, imports of cloth into Venice had stopped altogether. Without Flemish cloth, Venetian dyers had been forced to fire hundreds of workers, pushing the economy into a deep recession.

Pietro Alvise, the son of a Venetian merchant, did not allow the situation to bring him down. Instead, he made a bold proposal to his father, Luigi Alvise. "What you are proposing is impossible, Pietro," admonished the old man, shaking his head. "Many have tried it before and no one has succeeded. It's better if we wait until the market recovers."

Pietro Alvise looked at his father and took in a deep breath. It was imperative that he found the right words. If he could not convince his own family, how would he be able to convince anyone else? "That's the point, father," he emphasized. "The market is not going to recover. Don't you see the rising interest rates? Aren't our friends going bankrupt one after the other?"

Undecided, the old Alvise stared at his son. Who could deny that the economic situation was catastrophic? "I know that it can be done, father," insisted Pietro. "We don't need the Fairs of Champagne. We can build larger ships, galleys able to sail around Spain and France. We will take leather, spices, and glassware to Bruges and return with a full cargo of cloth."

During the next weeks, Luigi and Pietro Alvise called relentlessly on other merchants in Venice until they managed to line up 100 investors ready to fund the construction of a double-deck galley. The new ship had two masts and weighed 500 tons, something unheard of at that time. Traditional Venetian galleys possessed only one deck and rarely exceeded 200 tons.

Pietro Alvise's double-deck galley was financed, designed, and built in the middle of the worst economic recession that Venice had ever experienced. In June of 1314, the ship sailed away from the Venetian lagoon, arriving two months later in Bruges. The trade expedition was a resounding success, turned around the economy of the area, and served as a basis for Venetian domination of world commerce during the following decades.

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

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

Saturday, 21 January 2012

How to turn around catastrophic situations


"We will all be dead soon," predicted centurion Millius, looking over the ramparts at the barbarian army surrounding Rome in the year 536 C.E. He had good reasons to feel discouraged, since Romans were outnumbered 30 to 1 by the attackers.

General Belisarius shook his head. "If we use our forces cleverly, we will prevail," he replied. History tells us that the General was right, since he succeeded in defending Rome with 5,000 veteran Roman legionnaires against the attack of 150,000 barbarians.

The heavy losses inflicted by Belisarius on the attackers made them give up the siege of Rome three weeks later. 90.000 barbarians lost their life during their failed attempt to conquer Rome. When they retreated, Belisarius pursued them across Italy and finished off most of the survivors.

How did the General manage to turn a desperate situation into a resounding victory? Belisarius' strategy has been profusely studied by historians. The principles of action applied by the Romans in 536 C.E. can be recommended to anyone facing a major crisis.

First, Belisarius took immediate measures to stabilise the situation. When he heard that attackers were approaching, his legionnaires worked day and night to reinforce battlements and dig deep ditches to protect the foot of the ramparts. In addition, a thick chain was drawn across the river in order to prevent enemy ships from entering the city.

Second, he allocated minimum resources to cover essential necessities. The General assigned each of his lieutenants with a small group of legionnaires to defend a particular area of the ramparts, giving instructions that no man should ever leave his post under any circumstances. Belisarius knew that he had to maintain his line of defence intact, since otherwise, Rome would fall into the attackers' hands.

Third, the General concentrated his forces on fighting the most urgent danger. He picked up an arch himself, drew the first arrow, and ordered the Romans to aim at the closest attackers. The rain of arrows soon decimated the barbarians, making them retreat and allowing Belisarius to focus on the next problem.

Fourth, Belisarius maintained his calm, shifting his limited resources from one pressing emergency to the next. He kept his presence of mind in the middle of the dead and wounded, identifying the most urgent problem to be addressed at each moment. By moving his remaining forces quickly from one critical point to the next, the General multiplied their effectiveness.

Fifth, as soon as he perceived an opportunity, he took the initiative. Each time that Roman archers repelled an attack making enemies flee, Belisarius ordered to open the gates and had his cavalry pursue the barbarians, causing heavy losses amongst them.

During 1400 years, Belisarius' strategy has proved its effectiveness on innumerable occasions. Stabilising your situation, addressing your most pressing problems, keeping calm, shifting your resources as needed, and taking initiative are the key principles to turn around difficult situations. Belisarius' wisdom contains lessons that we all can apply in our own lives.

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

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

How to turn around catastrophic situations


"We will all be dead soon," predicted centurion Millius, looking over the ramparts at the barbarian army surrounding Rome in the year 536 C.E. He had good reasons to feel discouraged, since Romans were outnumbered 30 to 1 by the attackers.

General Belisarius shook his head. "If we use our forces cleverly, we will prevail," he replied. History tells us that the General was right, since he succeeded in defending Rome with 5,000 veteran Roman legionnaires against the attack of 150,000 barbarians.

The heavy losses inflicted by Belisarius on the attackers made them give up the siege of Rome three weeks later. 90.000 barbarians lost their life during their failed attempt to conquer Rome. When they retreated, Belisarius pursued them across Italy and finished off most of the survivors.

How did the General manage to turn a desperate situation into a resounding victory? Belisarius' strategy has been profusely studied by historians. The principles of action applied by the Romans in 536 C.E. can be recommended to anyone facing a major crisis.

First, Belisarius took immediate measures to stabilise the situation. When he heard that attackers were approaching, his legionnaires worked day and night to reinforce battlements and dig deep ditches to protect the foot of the ramparts. In addition, a thick chain was drawn across the river in order to prevent enemy ships from entering the city.

Second, he allocated minimum resources to cover essential necessities. The General assigned each of his lieutenants with a small group of legionnaires to defend a particular area of the ramparts, giving instructions that no man should ever leave his post under any circumstances. Belisarius knew that he had to maintain his line of defence intact, since otherwise, Rome would fall into the attackers' hands.

Third, the General concentrated his forces on fighting the most urgent danger. He picked up an arch himself, drew the first arrow, and ordered the Romans to aim at the closest attackers. The rain of arrows soon decimated the barbarians, making them retreat and allowing Belisarius to focus on the next problem.

Fourth, Belisarius maintained his calm, shifting his limited resources from one pressing emergency to the next. He kept his presence of mind in the middle of the dead and wounded, identifying the most urgent problem to be addressed at each moment. By moving his remaining forces quickly from one critical point to the next, the General multiplied their effectiveness.

Fifth, as soon as he perceived an opportunity, he took the initiative. Each time that Roman archers repelled an attack making enemies flee, Belisarius ordered to open the gates and had his cavalry pursue the barbarians, causing heavy losses amongst them.

During 1400 years, Belisarius' strategy has proved its effectiveness on innumerable occasions. Stabilising your situation, addressing your most pressing problems, keeping calm, shifting your resources as needed, and taking initiative are the key principles to turn around difficult situations. Belisarius' wisdom contains lessons that we all can apply in our own lives.

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

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

Friday, 20 January 2012

Important lessons about how to lead a rational life


The great period of Ancient Roman prosperity lasted only two centuries, until the death of Marcus Aurelius in 180 C.E. Nevertheless, the physical and intellectual assets accumulated during those years have allowed Roman civilization to exert its influence until our day. The teachings of the past should never be forgotten, since the principles of how to achieve happiness and success are immutable. We don't need to waste resources making mistakes that can easily be avoided if we pay attention to History.

From the best times of Ancient Rome, we can learn important lessons about how to lead a rational life. Although technology and social context have evolved, we should still pay attention to recommendations of wise individuals who have learned from their errors, frequently after paying a heavy price. The following principles summarize essential elements of how to lead a rational life and enhance our chances of attaining happiness.

[1] You should aim at becoming an entrepreneur, irrespective of your social origin, since individual initiative has repeatedly proven to be the ideal tool to create wealth, independence, and psychological well-being. During the golden age of Ancient Rome, the number of self-employed people grew faster than in any previous time in History, as large parcels of uncultivated land were put to agricultural use for the first time. In the 21st century, the same phenomenon is taking place on the internet, which has become the great liberator of entrepreneurial energies without distinction of sex, race, age, or personal history.

[2] Devote your efforts only to feasible projects. There are more good ideas around that there is capital to fund them. Although the economy of Ancient Rome experienced sustained growth in the second century C.E., writings from that period show that it was not easy to obtain a loan. Contemporary financial institutions are thousands of times more efficient than the modest mortgage markets of Ancient Rome, but the number of individuals looking to borrow money has also grown exponentially. At any given time, there are always many more people in the world willing to borrow money than there are funds available. Do not waste your energy on projects that have no real chance of obtaining financial backing. Focus only on workable ventures.

[3] Look for alternative ways to achieve your goals. In Ancient Rome, individuals with vision faced similar obstacles as nowadays. How do you fund trade expeditions? Which goods should you import and export? Entrepreneurial men in ancient times quickly realized that the traditional Roman approach to business finance, a mortgage on a piece of land, was inadequate to conduct commercial enterprises. Through trial and error, they created different types of partnership contracts that have evolved through the centuries into our modern venture capital funds. Do not give up when traditional methods prove unsuitable to carry out your ideas. Seek further until you find a practicable solution.

[4] Salesmanship opens the door to tolerance and friendship. Ancient Romans learned the hard way that a commercial attitude was the only way to maintain a high standard of living. The first and the second century C.E. led to massive wealth creation due to an expansion of tolerance and entrepreneurship across Europe and the Middle East. Conflicts, although frequent, were limited in range. In the present context, when millions of individuals across the world are devoting their creativity to international commercial ventures, rationality is respected as the cardinal virtue of those who achieve business success. Effective salesmanship is nothing but logic applied to commerce.

Living in accordance to Nature marks the path to happiness today as it did it in Ancient Rome. Logic and consistency remain the pillars of personal growth. If you doubt that rationality is the best way to conduct your life, read History and study the dire consequences of prejudice and abuse. The events of past centuries prescribe that each of us should become entrepreneurial instead of expecting free help to come to us.

Instead of imitating others, let us learn the lessons of ancient wisdom and keep away deceitful theories that contradict the facts of History. We need to develop enough resiliency to avoid being overwhelmed by other people's opinion or lack of it. Studying Ancient Rome is a very effective method of reinforcing the idea that we should not waste our time trying to establish paradise on earth.

Discarding new proposals that do not work and favouring proven systems is a sign of wisdom. The same logic applies to walking away from situations where people tell us that rationality doesn't count. Let us avoid repeating the faults of the past and do what is right, even if it happens to be unpopular.

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

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

Important lessons about how to lead a rational life


The great period of Ancient Roman prosperity lasted only two centuries, until the death of Marcus Aurelius in 180 C.E. Nevertheless, the physical and intellectual assets accumulated during those years have allowed Roman civilization to exert its influence until our day. The teachings of the past should never be forgotten, since the principles of how to achieve happiness and success are immutable. We don't need to waste resources making mistakes that can easily be avoided if we pay attention to History.

From the best times of Ancient Rome, we can learn important lessons about how to lead a rational life. Although technology and social context have evolved, we should still pay attention to recommendations of wise individuals who have learned from their errors, frequently after paying a heavy price. The following principles summarize essential elements of how to lead a rational life and enhance our chances of attaining happiness.

[1] You should aim at becoming an entrepreneur, irrespective of your social origin, since individual initiative has repeatedly proven to be the ideal tool to create wealth, independence, and psychological well-being. During the golden age of Ancient Rome, the number of self-employed people grew faster than in any previous time in History, as large parcels of uncultivated land were put to agricultural use for the first time. In the 21st century, the same phenomenon is taking place on the internet, which has become the great liberator of entrepreneurial energies without distinction of sex, race, age, or personal history.

[2] Devote your efforts only to feasible projects. There are more good ideas around that there is capital to fund them. Although the economy of Ancient Rome experienced sustained growth in the second century C.E., writings from that period show that it was not easy to obtain a loan. Contemporary financial institutions are thousands of times more efficient than the modest mortgage markets of Ancient Rome, but the number of individuals looking to borrow money has also grown exponentially. At any given time, there are always many more people in the world willing to borrow money than there are funds available. Do not waste your energy on projects that have no real chance of obtaining financial backing. Focus only on workable ventures.

[3] Look for alternative ways to achieve your goals. In Ancient Rome, individuals with vision faced similar obstacles as nowadays. How do you fund trade expeditions? Which goods should you import and export? Entrepreneurial men in ancient times quickly realized that the traditional Roman approach to business finance, a mortgage on a piece of land, was inadequate to conduct commercial enterprises. Through trial and error, they created different types of partnership contracts that have evolved through the centuries into our modern venture capital funds. Do not give up when traditional methods prove unsuitable to carry out your ideas. Seek further until you find a practicable solution.

[4] Salesmanship opens the door to tolerance and friendship. Ancient Romans learned the hard way that a commercial attitude was the only way to maintain a high standard of living. The first and the second century C.E. led to massive wealth creation due to an expansion of tolerance and entrepreneurship across Europe and the Middle East. Conflicts, although frequent, were limited in range. In the present context, when millions of individuals across the world are devoting their creativity to international commercial ventures, rationality is respected as the cardinal virtue of those who achieve business success. Effective salesmanship is nothing but logic applied to commerce.

Living in accordance to Nature marks the path to happiness today as it did it in Ancient Rome. Logic and consistency remain the pillars of personal growth. If you doubt that rationality is the best way to conduct your life, read History and study the dire consequences of prejudice and abuse. The events of past centuries prescribe that each of us should become entrepreneurial instead of expecting free help to come to us.

Instead of imitating others, let us learn the lessons of ancient wisdom and keep away deceitful theories that contradict the facts of History. We need to develop enough resiliency to avoid being overwhelmed by other people's opinion or lack of it. Studying Ancient Rome is a very effective method of reinforcing the idea that we should not waste our time trying to establish paradise on earth.

Discarding new proposals that do not work and favouring proven systems is a sign of wisdom. The same logic applies to walking away from situations where people tell us that rationality doesn't count. Let us avoid repeating the faults of the past and do what is right, even if it happens to be unpopular.

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

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