Saturday, 30 June 2012

A few things to keep in mind every day

Every morning, it pays to remind ourselves that there is no future in repeating the past. After some time of doing this, the message sinks in and we become more adept to drawing lessons from past mistakes, lessons such as:

* Never expect someone else to solve your problems
* Concentrate on work you love.
* Ignore silly rules and preposterous expectations
* Don't waste your resources

* Mix fun and productivity in every task
* View mistakes as learning experiences
* Drop false ideas that keep you paralysed
* Design your own future and paint your own dreams

* Avoid nasty and deranged individuals
* Delegate as much as you can
* Devote more time to your close friends
* Seek creative alternatives in every situation

* Turn off the news (which are always pretty much the same as the day before)
* Learn to see everything in perspective
* Read your favourite books more frequently
* Park your car and take a long walk


* Spend more time thinking about what's important
* Never expect magic

* Mistrust first impressions and, instead, go for substance
* Pursue your goals relentlessly, despite short-term difficulties

* Prevent problems so that they never happen
* Cook often at home and enjoy wonderful food

* Escape noise, conflict, and nonsense
* Remind yourself that, in the end, time is all you have


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

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

Friday, 29 June 2012

Putting yourself ahead of the game

A man can live the soft way or the hard way. Provoking unnecessary conflict and behaving aggressively are not symptoms of a strong personality, but of serious psychological trouble. To make headway when matters get complicated, thinking is a thousand times more valuable than shouting.

Unfortunately, on many occasions, knowing what to do is not the difficult part. What is hard is actually taking action. Have you realized how good children are at devising excuses for not doing what they know to be correct? Breaching the distance between ideas and implementation is a universal problem.

Habits represent the most visible and stable part of our personality. They can play against us, if they are destructive, or they can push us in the right direction, when they favour our goals. Even in our days of cultural relativism, many still regard the acquisition of beneficial habits as the central purpose of education.

Those who have incorporated good routines into their daily life enjoy enormous advantages over the rest of the population. Not only will they advance faster on the professional track, but they will also tend to live happier, healthier, and longer. Here are three habits that are uncomfortable to develop, but which pay huge dividends down the road:

1.- MAKE LISTS REGULARLY. The most common notes that we make for ourselves are to-do lists. Why not compile as well a list of long-term objectives, books that you intend to read, places you want to visit, or companies in which you would like to invest? Writing down ideas by hand on a piece of paper is often faster than typing them into a laptop or cell phone.

2.- PERFORM BORING TASKS FIRST. Setting priorities is as important in our private life as it is in business. We all tend to procrastinate when the moment comes to carry out chores we dislike. In those cases, human beings love to invent reasons to postpone activities that should be performed right away. The discipline of forcing ourselves to do unpleasant tasks first is as hard to acquire as it is invaluable.

3.- AVOID DANGEROUS SITUATIONS. It is regrettable to witness how frequently movies, television, and magazines portray reckless adventurers as heroes. Professionals who work in hazardous environments go to great lengths to adopt all sorts of precautions. Even those who possess combat training are reluctant to engage when they lack knowledge of the territory and enemy forces. Never place yourself in explosive situations unless you have indisputable reasons to do so.

When things get tough, don't allow problems to get you off the track. Doing the right things properly and consistently, day after day, is a simple and effective way to develop your potential. 


Make the effort to cultivate the correct habits and let them move your life forward on automatic pilot. Ambition might take you places, but its ports of call always remain uncertain. Routine, on the other hand, will show you regular progress and establish the foundations of unbreakable self-confidence.

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

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


Putting yourself ahead of the game

A man can live the soft way or the hard way. Provoking unnecessary conflict and behaving aggressively are not symptoms of a strong personality, but of serious psychological trouble. To make headway when matters get complicated, thinking is a thousand times more valuable than shouting.

Unfortunately, on many occasions, knowing what to do is not the difficult part. What is hard is actually taking action. Have you realized how good children are at devising excuses for not doing what they know to be correct? Breaching the distance between ideas and implementation is a universal problem.

Habits represent the most visible and stable part of our personality. They can play against us, if they are destructive, or they can push us in the right direction, when they favour our goals. Even in our days of cultural relativism, many still regard the acquisition of beneficial habits as the central purpose of education.

Those who have incorporated good routines into their daily life enjoy enormous advantages over the rest of the population. Not only will they advance faster on the professional track, but they will also tend to live happier, healthier, and longer. Here are three habits that are uncomfortable to develop, but which pay huge dividends down the road:

1.- MAKE LISTS REGULARLY. The most common notes that we make for ourselves are to-do lists. Why not compile as well a list of long-term objectives, books that you intend to read, places you want to visit, or companies in which you would like to invest? Writing down ideas by hand on a piece of paper is often faster than typing them into a laptop or cell phone.

2.- PERFORM BORING TASKS FIRST. Setting priorities is as important in our private life as it is in business. We all tend to procrastinate when the moment comes to carry out chores we dislike. In those cases, human beings love to invent reasons to postpone activities that should be performed right away. The discipline of forcing ourselves to do unpleasant tasks first is as hard to acquire as it is invaluable.

3.- AVOID DANGEROUS SITUATIONS. It is regrettable to witness how frequently movies, television, and magazines portray reckless adventurers as heroes. Professionals who work in hazardous environments go to great lengths to adopt all sorts of precautions. Even those who possess combat training are reluctant to engage when they lack knowledge of the territory and enemy forces. Never place yourself in explosive situations unless you have indisputable reasons to do so.

When things get tough, don't allow problems to get you off the track. Doing the right things properly and consistently, day after day, is a simple and effective way to develop your potential. 


Make the effort to cultivate the correct habits and let them move your life forward on automatic pilot. Ambition might take you places, but its ports of call always remain uncertain. Routine, on the other hand, will show you regular progress and establish the foundations of unbreakable self-confidence.

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

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


Thursday, 28 June 2012

The key advantages of rational living

Contrary to what is commonly predicated, individuals can extract massive advantages from telling lies and pretending to be convinced by them. Even if a large number of people are perfectly conscious of the falsehood of many social conventions, those practices continue to be 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 because:

      [1] 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.

      [2] 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.

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

        Wednesday, 27 June 2012

        Two essential steps towards 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 BigTallGuy under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

        Two essential steps towards 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 BigTallGuy under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

        Tuesday, 26 June 2012

        Making stride on good and bad days

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

        Making stride on good and bad days

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

        Monday, 25 June 2012

        Prune your trees, cull your herds, and release the paradise birds

        There is a cure for stress. It is not a drug and it is not a fantasy. It won't cost you money, but it is not for free. From those who try it out, some feel born again, others rejuvenated. Experience has shown however that many cannot cope with the freedom that the medicine brings.

        The remedy is known under many different names. You may call it simplification or reduction, downsizing or streamlining, selection or choice, reshuffling, refocusing, elimination, or termination. In any case, the concept will be much easier to name than to implement.

        In order to be able to concentrate our energies on the essential areas of our lives, we must first establish clear priorities. The latter, of course, is what makes some people shun simplification. What they dread, like mice running in circles, is to stand still for a minute and question their contradictions.

        Rational decisions are impossible for those whose life lacks a sense of direction. Overloading one's days with senseless activities is a psychological defence mechanism against the terror of taking responsibility. Too much to do is an excuse to avoid facing indecision. A hundred random acquaintances cannot replace conversation with one true friend.

        Newspapers often report of companies that collapse due to excessive debt. Stress is heavier for the soul than indebtedness for a business. Efficiency begins with clarity. Selection enhances results. Resources are limited in all endeavours, but the time of our lives is the most scarce resource of all.

        * LESS COMPLEXITY RESULTS IN MORE ENERGY. Fruit growers prune their trees once per year in order to reinforce the vigour of the healthiest branches of each plant. Lean trees will produce more fruit than those whose moribund branches have not been cut off.

        * CONCENTRATION IMPROVES RESULTS. Shepherds cull their herds at regular intervals to prevent contagious sickness to spread. We all are naturally reluctant to give up possessions accumulated in the past, but frequently, liquidating non-performing assets and reinvesting the proceeds is the best strategy.

        * SELECTION FREES SPACE FOR PRIORITIES. Retailers put slow-moving items on sale or give them away for free in order to make space on the shelves for more popular goods. Are you investing endless efforts in a dead-end career? How can you reinvent your past and aim at a future that is spectacularly better than your present?

        Productivity experts who advise manufacturers always start by asking workers to clear up the factory floor. It is only when misplaced tools and obsolete inventory are removed from the work space that people begin to see their own mistakes. Without visibility, there can be no transformation.

        A cluttered agenda is a cage that houses paradise birds waiting to be released. Those birds are your best ideas, the ones that you have not formulated yet. It is high time to simplify your life and sharpen your ambitions. The birds are ready to fly. Open the cage and set them free.


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

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

        Prune your trees, cull your herds, and release the paradise birds

        There is a cure for stress. It is not a drug and it is not a fantasy. It won't cost you money, but it is not for free. From those who try it out, some feel born again, others rejuvenated. Experience has shown however that many cannot cope with the freedom that the medicine brings.

        The remedy is known under many different names. You may call it simplification or reduction, downsizing or streamlining, selection or choice, reshuffling, refocusing, elimination, or termination. In any case, the concept will be much easier to name than to implement.

        In order to be able to concentrate our energies on the essential areas of our lives, we must first establish clear priorities. The latter, of course, is what makes some people shun simplification. What they dread, like mice running in circles, is to stand still for a minute and question their contradictions.

        Rational decisions are impossible for those whose life lacks a sense of direction. Overloading one's days with senseless activities is a psychological defence mechanism against the terror of taking responsibility. Too much to do is an excuse to avoid facing indecision. A hundred random acquaintances cannot replace conversation with one true friend.

        Newspapers often report of companies that collapse due to excessive debt. Stress is heavier for the soul than indebtedness for a business. Efficiency begins with clarity. Selection enhances results. Resources are limited in all endeavours, but the time of our lives is the most scarce resource of all.

        * LESS COMPLEXITY RESULTS IN MORE ENERGY. Fruit growers prune their trees once per year in order to reinforce the vigour of the healthiest branches of each plant. Lean trees will produce more fruit than those whose moribund branches have not been cut off.

        * CONCENTRATION IMPROVES RESULTS. Shepherds cull their herds at regular intervals to prevent contagious sickness to spread. We all are naturally reluctant to give up possessions accumulated in the past, but frequently, liquidating non-performing assets and reinvesting the proceeds is the best strategy.

        * SELECTION FREES SPACE FOR PRIORITIES. Retailers put slow-moving items on sale or give them away for free in order to make space on the shelves for more popular goods. Are you investing endless efforts in a dead-end career? How can you reinvent your past and aim at a future that is spectacularly better than your present?

        Productivity experts who advise manufacturers always start by asking workers to clear up the factory floor. It is only when misplaced tools and obsolete inventory are removed from the work space that people begin to see their own mistakes. Without visibility, there can be no transformation.

        A cluttered agenda is a cage that houses paradise birds waiting to be released. Those birds are your best ideas, the ones that you have not formulated yet. It is high time to simplify your life and sharpen your ambitions. The birds are ready to fly. Open the cage and set them free.


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

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

        Sunday, 24 June 2012

        Read this before you quit your job

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        1. For succeeding in art, like in any other field, persistence plays a much bigger role than talent. A little every day amounts to a lot in the long term.
        2. Extraordinary skill and expertise are the result of learning from a long series of failures. Take your time to make mistakes.
        3. Giving up something in exchange of nothing is counter-productive. Advance slowly and make each step worthwhile.
        4. Innovation in art, business, or philosophy needs a long time to catch the public's attention. You need to be both relentless and realistic.
        5. Instead of wasting time complaining, devote your efforts to promoting your work. Flawless marketing comes no easier that perfect art.
        Be patient. Build your pyramid stone by stone. One day, your monument will be so high that no one will be able to ignore it. Forget questionable ideas that lead to uncertain results.

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


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

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

        Saturday, 23 June 2012

        Why it is often advisable to give up minor claims

        I have a friend who is continuously involved in claims and litigation. He follows every case with passion, spending what I consider a disproportionate amount of time, money, and effort in making his rights prevail.

        Since I am almost never involved myself in any court case, he recently asked me for advice about how to avoid getting constantly caught in the legal maze. "There is no magic in this," I replied, "and I believe that luck plays only a minor role."

        My approach is based on two simple principles that have rarely failed me:

        • Be ready to give up minor claims, even if you are right, since the effort required to obtain compensation is out of proportion. Being alive involves making decisions and taking risks every day. If you lose a bit now and then, take it as a side effect of playing the game. It is usually better to waive a small claim than to get caught into legal entanglements.
        • Work at improving your judgement of people. The better you are at assessing dangers and strangers, the easier you can avoid them. It rarely pays to devote your energies at trying to change people. If you have serious doubts about someone's honesty, you can save yourself a lot of trouble by not doing business with that person (let alone marrying him or her).
        Anyway, if you do wish to seek compensation for damages, see if you can reach an agreement. Settling your grievance out of court will usually be most effective than going through expensive litigation.

        [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]

        Why it is often advisable to give up minor claims

        I have a friend who is continuously involved in claims and litigation. He follows every case with passion, spending what I consider a disproportionate amount of time, money, and effort in making his rights prevail.

        Since I am almost never involved myself in any court case, he recently asked me for advice about how to avoid getting constantly caught in the legal maze. "There is no magic in this," I replied, "and I believe that luck plays only a minor role."

        My approach is based on two simple principles that have rarely failed me:

        • Be ready to give up minor claims, even if you are right, since the effort required to obtain compensation is out of proportion. Being alive involves making decisions and taking risks every day. If you lose a bit now and then, take it as a side effect of playing the game. It is usually better to waive a small claim than to get caught into legal entanglements.
        • Work at improving your judgement of people. The better you are at assessing dangers and strangers, the easier you can avoid them. It rarely pays to devote your energies at trying to change people. If you have serious doubts about someone's honesty, you can save yourself a lot of trouble by not doing business with that person (let alone marrying him or her).
        Anyway, if you do wish to seek compensation for damages, see if you can reach an agreement. Settling your grievance out of court will usually be most effective than going through expensive litigation.

        [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]

        Friday, 22 June 2012

        The best way to deliver maximum value

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

        The best way to deliver maximum value

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

        Thursday, 21 June 2012

        How I prepare myself for living with high inflation

        The upcoming inflation is written on the wall. Nobody knows when consumer prices will begin to go up across the board, but it might be a matter of months.

        Investing in times of inflation requires a shift in our mental patterns, since prices no longer serve as reference of value. If you have lived during the last decade in a country with 3% annual inflation, are you ready to cope with 10% price increases per year? What would you do if currency depreciation accelerates to 15% or even 20%? Here are some ideas:

        1.- REDUCE YOUR CASH AND BOND HOLDINGS. When prices rise at a high speed, fixed-rate debt loses value equally fast. If you buy a treasury bond at 2% and interest rates go up to 4%, you will incur a substantial loss when you sell your bond. Cash is the worst possible holding during inflationary periods, since it loses purchasing power by the day. You will do better if you buy assets or products as soon as you receive money, since those items will be worth more tomorrow.

        2.- SPREAD YOUR INVESTMENTS INTERNATIONALLY. Do not trap yourself into artificial restrictions. Nowadays, in most countries, citizens are allowed to invest their savings internationally. If you have doubts about the applicable rules, check with your lawyer or investment advisor. Even in the case of global inflation, currencies and assets do not depreciate at the same rate. You will be much better off if you diversify your risks amongst different territories.

        3.- FOCUS ON SHARES OF GOOD COMPANIES. Traditionally, real estate is the investment of choice in periods of sharp currency depreciation. That is perfectly fine if you can cope with a situation of lack of liquidity, since in some areas, it takes several months to sell a house. Shares of good companies, spread in different geographical markets, offer the multiple advantages of liquidity, dividends, and risk diversification.

        4.- COLLECT DIVIDENDS IN A STRONG CURRENCY. If you live in a country that is likely to experience high inflation during the next years, it might be a good idea to invest your savings in foreign shares that pay dividends in a hard currency. The Swiss Frank has maintained its purchasing power for years much better than other currencies, but it is not the only choice. Ask your investment advisor about the relative strength of different currencies and make an informed decision.

        Do not build your future on the moving sand of inflation. There are plenty of choices available to ensure that the value of your savings will be maintained. Rapidly rising prices have many disadvantages, but they also represent opportunity. Instability brings about change. It is up to you to take the necessary measures so that change affects your investments in the right direction.


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

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

        How I prepare myself for living with high inflation

        The upcoming inflation is written on the wall. Nobody knows when consumer prices will begin to go up across the board, but it might be a matter of months.

        Investing in times of inflation requires a shift in our mental patterns, since prices no longer serve as reference of value. If you have lived during the last decade in a country with 3% annual inflation, are you ready to cope with 10% price increases per year? What would you do if currency depreciation accelerates to 15% or even 20%? Here are some ideas:

        1.- REDUCE YOUR CASH AND BOND HOLDINGS. When prices rise at a high speed, fixed-rate debt loses value equally fast. If you buy a treasury bond at 2% and interest rates go up to 4%, you will incur a substantial loss when you sell your bond. Cash is the worst possible holding during inflationary periods, since it loses purchasing power by the day. You will do better if you buy assets or products as soon as you receive money, since those items will be worth more tomorrow.

        2.- SPREAD YOUR INVESTMENTS INTERNATIONALLY. Do not trap yourself into artificial restrictions. Nowadays, in most countries, citizens are allowed to invest their savings internationally. If you have doubts about the applicable rules, check with your lawyer or investment advisor. Even in the case of global inflation, currencies and assets do not depreciate at the same rate. You will be much better off if you diversify your risks amongst different territories.

        3.- FOCUS ON SHARES OF GOOD COMPANIES. Traditionally, real estate is the investment of choice in periods of sharp currency depreciation. That is perfectly fine if you can cope with a situation of lack of liquidity, since in some areas, it takes several months to sell a house. Shares of good companies, spread in different geographical markets, offer the multiple advantages of liquidity, dividends, and risk diversification.

        4.- COLLECT DIVIDENDS IN A STRONG CURRENCY. If you live in a country that is likely to experience high inflation during the next years, it might be a good idea to invest your savings in foreign shares that pay dividends in a hard currency. The Swiss Frank has maintained its purchasing power for years much better than other currencies, but it is not the only choice. Ask your investment advisor about the relative strength of different currencies and make an informed decision.

        Do not build your future on the moving sand of inflation. There are plenty of choices available to ensure that the value of your savings will be maintained. Rapidly rising prices have many disadvantages, but they also represent opportunity. Instability brings about change. It is up to you to take the necessary measures so that change affects your investments in the right direction.


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

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

        Wednesday, 20 June 2012

        Rational Living: How to deal with personal deficiencies

        Few are able to keep a cool head when facing insurmountable obstacles. Frustration derived from hardship leads many to despair. When misfortune and tragedy strike, empty promises won't help. What advice can be given to those who suffer from physical deficiencies or find themselves discriminated on the basis of their origin, background, or personal history?

        Television and magazines are full of recommendations for disadvantaged individuals. "Be positive and have confidence," they are told. "Better times are coming." On many occasions, such bromides are dispensed by those who have never encountered serious problems in life or who have inherited most of what they possess.

        No wonder that envy and discouragement are rampant in contemporary society, possibly more than in any previous era of humanity. Already in the year 326 B.C., Aristotle emphasized the importance of seeking virtue as a way to attain happiness. Unfortunately, the voice of the philosopher seems long forgotten.

        Nowadays, many of those affected by personal deficiencies, instead of seeking out a rational response, turn to nihilism, obsession, or revenge. None of those approaches works, none of them has ever improved anything. What is the reason of their popularity? Why do people follow those paths?

        * Nihilism will deprive your life of direction, replacing ambition by neglect and dereliction. Your vision will become blurred and you will be reduced to perceiving, from everything, the worst. Purpose will be buried by random decisions, convictions will turn into derision.

        * Obsession will narrow your range to the minimum, pushing you to devote every hour to senseless goals, such as acquiring fame and power. History tells of many small men who became murderers to enhance their feeling of self-importance. This is not the way.

        * Revenge will waste your life by focusing your attention on past misfortune. Getting even seldom solves problems and frequently results in additional harm. Revenge will consume your efforts and resources, leaving you empty-handed, sad, and mad at yourself.

        The rational approach to dealing with personal deficiencies and bad luck starts and ends with reality. Cards are not evenly distributed in the game of life. Expecting others to compensate you for present or past trouble is unlikely to improve your situation. If anything, pity and compassion will paralyse you. What to do then? In my view, these four are the steps that one should follow:

        1.- UNIQUENESS: You are unique in your genetic characteristics and personal circumstances. Do not compare yourself with others. It is irrational and brings nothing but misery.

        2.- ACTION: Discard unrealistic expectations and decide to make the best of your situation. Look for practical solutions. Assess different alternatives. Make a plan and implement it.

        3.-PERSISTENCE: Realize that, more often than not, focused long-term activity is able to counterbalance personal deficiencies, major obstacles, and even tragedy. Keep on advancing on your chosen path and don't look back.

        4.- SERENITY: If you look around, you will find plenty of examples of people who have succeeded despite overwhelming burdens. Maintain your serenity and trust the principle of cause and effect. There is no guarantee of success, but intelligent persistence has proven many times to work.

        "Wisdom is the most general of sciences," observed Aristotle, "since it requires man to know principles and to follow them. Prudence, on the other hand, is a virtue concerned with the particulars of human action. Prudent is the man who can tell, at the same time, what is the best and what is feasible for him."


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

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

        Rational Living: How to deal with personal deficiencies

        Few are able to keep a cool head when facing insurmountable obstacles. Frustration derived from hardship leads many to despair. When misfortune and tragedy strike, empty promises won't help. What advice can be given to those who suffer from physical deficiencies or find themselves discriminated on the basis of their origin, background, or personal history?

        Television and magazines are full of recommendations for disadvantaged individuals. "Be positive and have confidence," they are told. "Better times are coming." On many occasions, such bromides are dispensed by those who have never encountered serious problems in life or who have inherited most of what they possess.

        No wonder that envy and discouragement are rampant in contemporary society, possibly more than in any previous era of humanity. Already in the year 326 B.C., Aristotle emphasized the importance of seeking virtue as a way to attain happiness. Unfortunately, the voice of the philosopher seems long forgotten.

        Nowadays, many of those affected by personal deficiencies, instead of seeking out a rational response, turn to nihilism, obsession, or revenge. None of those approaches works, none of them has ever improved anything. What is the reason of their popularity? Why do people follow those paths?

        * Nihilism will deprive your life of direction, replacing ambition by neglect and dereliction. Your vision will become blurred and you will be reduced to perceiving, from everything, the worst. Purpose will be buried by random decisions, convictions will turn into derision.

        * Obsession will narrow your range to the minimum, pushing you to devote every hour to senseless goals, such as acquiring fame and power. History tells of many small men who became murderers to enhance their feeling of self-importance. This is not the way.

        * Revenge will waste your life by focusing your attention on past misfortune. Getting even seldom solves problems and frequently results in additional harm. Revenge will consume your efforts and resources, leaving you empty-handed, sad, and mad at yourself.

        The rational approach to dealing with personal deficiencies and bad luck starts and ends with reality. Cards are not evenly distributed in the game of life. Expecting others to compensate you for present or past trouble is unlikely to improve your situation. If anything, pity and compassion will paralyse you. What to do then? In my view, these four are the steps that one should follow:

        1.- UNIQUENESS: You are unique in your genetic characteristics and personal circumstances. Do not compare yourself with others. It is irrational and brings nothing but misery.

        2.- ACTION: Discard unrealistic expectations and decide to make the best of your situation. Look for practical solutions. Assess different alternatives. Make a plan and implement it.

        3.-PERSISTENCE: Realize that, more often than not, focused long-term activity is able to counterbalance personal deficiencies, major obstacles, and even tragedy. Keep on advancing on your chosen path and don't look back.

        4.- SERENITY: If you look around, you will find plenty of examples of people who have succeeded despite overwhelming burdens. Maintain your serenity and trust the principle of cause and effect. There is no guarantee of success, but intelligent persistence has proven many times to work.

        "Wisdom is the most general of sciences," observed Aristotle, "since it requires man to know principles and to follow them. Prudence, on the other hand, is a virtue concerned with the particulars of human action. Prudent is the man who can tell, at the same time, what is the best and what is feasible for him."


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

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

        Tuesday, 19 June 2012

        Story of Krishna and the hat

        When Krishna, prince of Shurasena, announced that he would be visiting Vrindavana on the first day of spring, the news created great commotion. Seventy-seven years had passed since the last time a prince had set foot in Vrindavana and nobody remembered anything at all.

        In tearooms, men argued about what rules of protocol had to be followed; at the food market, women discussed about what preparations had to be made; at the local school, teachers drew the genealogy chart of the royal family on the chalkboard, but in reality, nobody had a clue of what to do.

        The Mayor of Vrindavana called an urgent meeting of the Elders Council, listened politely to different opinions, and made a dozen objections against every suggestion. After a long debate, when the elders were tired and wanted to go home, the Mayor put forward his own plan.

        They would not organize a banquet, he explained, to prevent the prince from becoming overweight; and they would not hold a beauty contest either, since the prince already had seven hundred wives; instead, the citizens of Vrindavana would walk in procession before Prince Krishna, all wearing their ceremonial hats.

        Since boring proposals that fit the tradition tend to be quickly endorsed, the Mayor's plan was no exception.
        The inhabitants of Vrindavana enjoyed wearing hats on formal occasions, although  since time immemorial they were divided in two opposing groups according to their allegiance to the morning and evening philosophies.

        "Warmth gives life," was the essential tenet of the morning philosophy, which was highly popular amongst cloth manufacturers. The adherents to this conviction
        always wore an orange hat on weddings and birthday parties. 

        The evening philosophy, which professed that "light gives warmth," was the favourite of candle-makers. People who subscribed to the evening philosophy never failed to wear a yellow hat on funerals and anniversaries.

        The Elders Council issued directives, the Mayor wrote instructions, and the citizens
        of Vrindavana received orders. On the first day of spring, every man and woman without exception was to join the procession. Besides, each one was to wear an orange or a yellow hat, with no other choice than that.

        When the day arrived, citizens filled the streets, some wearing orange hats, other yellow ones, but all with equal pride. The Mayor inspected the crowd satisfied, but he froze
        horrified when he discovered a little boy wearing a hat of a colour that was not authorized.

        "What on earth is this?" shouted the Mayor, pointing at the kid. "Take him to jail and put him to death so that justice can prevail!" While the crowd was echoing the Mayor's command, Prince Krishna arrived, stopped the procession, and asked for an explanation.

        "The boy has disobeyed the orders and must die," the Mayor gave as reply. "Our tradition provides two philosophies for everybody's guidance and no one can remain outside." Krishna looked at the crowd, inquired if anyone had talked to the kid, and obtained a negative response.

        "Let me speak to him, so that we can hear out his reasons," said Krishna. He advanced amongst the orange and yellow factions, walked up to the boy, examined the colour of his hat, and asked him why he had chosen it.

        At first, no answer was forthcoming, but Krishna bent over and the kid whispered something in his ear. Krishna smiled, nodded, and turned around. "This is just what I had thought," he announced, raising his voice and presenting the boy's hat to the crowd. "This is the third colour allowed by the tradition."

        "What third colour? No third colour is permitted," retorted the Mayor irritated. "Yes, this one," answered Krishna calmly, "the colour of happiness." A long silence ensued, while the crowd seized the meaning of Krishna's words. Then, one by one, the citizens of Vrindavana took off their orange and yellow hats, shook their heads, and began to walk home.

        In our days, tourists who go to Vrindavana are surprised to see that people there never wear hats at all. Those who ask for the reason are told with a smile that while warmth gives life and light gives warmth, happiness combines them both.


        [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]

        Story of Krishna and the hat

        When Krishna, prince of Shurasena, announced that he would be visiting Vrindavana on the first day of spring, the news created great commotion. Seventy-seven years had passed since the last time a prince had set foot in Vrindavana and nobody remembered anything at all.

        In tearooms, men argued about what rules of protocol had to be followed; at the food market, women discussed about what preparations had to be made; at the local school, teachers drew the genealogy chart of the royal family on the chalkboard, but in reality, nobody had a clue of what to do.

        The Mayor of Vrindavana called an urgent meeting of the Elders Council, listened politely to different opinions, and made a dozen objections against every suggestion. After a long debate, when the elders were tired and wanted to go home, the Mayor put forward his own plan.

        They would not organize a banquet, he explained, to prevent the prince from becoming overweight; and they would not hold a beauty contest either, since the prince already had seven hundred wives; instead, the citizens of Vrindavana would walk in procession before Prince Krishna, all wearing their ceremonial hats.

        Since boring proposals that fit the tradition tend to be quickly endorsed, the Mayor's plan was no exception.
        The inhabitants of Vrindavana enjoyed wearing hats on formal occasions, although  since time immemorial they were divided in two opposing groups according to their allegiance to the morning and evening philosophies.

        "Warmth gives life," was the essential tenet of the morning philosophy, which was highly popular amongst cloth manufacturers. The adherents to this conviction
        always wore an orange hat on weddings and birthday parties. 

        The evening philosophy, which professed that "light gives warmth," was the favourite of candle-makers. People who subscribed to the evening philosophy never failed to wear a yellow hat on funerals and anniversaries.

        The Elders Council issued directives, the Mayor wrote instructions, and the citizens
        of Vrindavana received orders. On the first day of spring, every man and woman without exception was to join the procession. Besides, each one was to wear an orange or a yellow hat, with no other choice than that.

        When the day arrived, citizens filled the streets, some wearing orange hats, other yellow ones, but all with equal pride. The Mayor inspected the crowd satisfied, but he froze
        horrified when he discovered a little boy wearing a hat of a colour that was not authorized.

        "What on earth is this?" shouted the Mayor, pointing at the kid. "Take him to jail and put him to death so that justice can prevail!" While the crowd was echoing the Mayor's command, Prince Krishna arrived, stopped the procession, and asked for an explanation.

        "The boy has disobeyed the orders and must die," the Mayor gave as reply. "Our tradition provides two philosophies for everybody's guidance and no one can remain outside." Krishna looked at the crowd, inquired if anyone had talked to the kid, and obtained a negative response.

        "Let me speak to him, so that we can hear out his reasons," said Krishna. He advanced amongst the orange and yellow factions, walked up to the boy, examined the colour of his hat, and asked him why he had chosen it.

        At first, no answer was forthcoming, but Krishna bent over and the kid whispered something in his ear. Krishna smiled, nodded, and turned around. "This is just what I had thought," he announced, raising his voice and presenting the boy's hat to the crowd. "This is the third colour allowed by the tradition."

        "What third colour? No third colour is permitted," retorted the Mayor irritated. "Yes, this one," answered Krishna calmly, "the colour of happiness." A long silence ensued, while the crowd seized the meaning of Krishna's words. Then, one by one, the citizens of Vrindavana took off their orange and yellow hats, shook their heads, and began to walk home.

        In our days, tourists who go to Vrindavana are surprised to see that people there never wear hats at all. Those who ask for the reason are told with a smile that while warmth gives life and light gives warmth, happiness combines them both.


        [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, 18 June 2012

        Self-protection is an essential moral responsibility

        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. Taking measures to protect ourselves is an essential moral responsibility that we should never fail to implement. Here are some ideas.

        1. KEEP AN EYE ON THE MARKET. 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? Similarly, if you are an investor, you owe to yourself to keep an eye on the market.

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

        Self-protection is an essential moral responsibility

        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. Taking measures to protect ourselves is an essential moral responsibility that we should never fail to implement. Here are some ideas.

        1. KEEP AN EYE ON THE MARKET. 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? Similarly, if you are an investor, you owe to yourself to keep an eye on the market.

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

        Saturday, 16 June 2012

        Why debating seldom pays

        It doesn't pay to engage in verbal fights with irrational people. They will dismiss your well-thought arguments. They will ignore facts and figures. They will wear you down and, in extreme cases, they might make you doubt your senses. Most of us would be already millionaires if we had been paid for all the hours that we have wasted in useless discussions.

        Nevertheless, no matter what business you are in, you probably make part of your money through your dealings with irrational customers, colleagues, or employees. The world being what it is, there are few ways to make a living without having to deal with some overbearing individuals. Your efficiency and happiness will depend to a great extent on your ability to deal with this kind of persons.

        Avoiding nonsense altogether is hardly a feasible approach, since no one can remake the world according to his personal preferences. Getting angry doesn't work either, since you would only create stress for yourself without improving anything.

        A workable system to put an end to a pointless debate consists of admitting that you don't know. Saying words such "maybe" or "possibly" in a polite tone has the same effect. This approach is not a compromise with irrationality, but a necessary method of self-protection. Let me show you a few examples of what happens when you use this strategy against everyday nonsense.

        [1] When someone tells you that the world is coming to an end and that you should be anxious and depressed, you can admit that possibility and indicate that you will start worrying when you actually see civilization fall apart.

        [2] Should you get to hear that saving is useless and that you would be better off by living in the moment, thank that person for the advice and reply that you will stop saving when you have tangible guarantees that your financial future is properly taken care of.

        [3] A similar approach can be used against someone exhorting you to read the newspaper every day, warning you that, without constant new information, you will soon lose your competitive edge. Remain serene and refrain from giving a snappy reply. Say that you take note of the remark but that you are satisfied with the effectiveness of your limited-information approach.

        [4] From time to time, you might also be told that eating healthy food is a waste of time, since cancer can hit anybody any time and that there is nothing you can do to prevent it. Do not allow such comments to affect your tranquillity. Respond that you will think about it, but that your good nutrition habits have kept your healthy so far.

        [5] Scaremongers will tell you that markets are going down and that opportunity is shrinking. Should you be concerned and depressed? Should you engage in a pointless debate? Not at all, not for a single moment. Admit that the overall economic situation is difficult and that, precisely for that reason, you prefer to pursue whatever opportunities remain available.

        [6] Some people will scorn you for thinking long-term, arguing that there is no point in looking beyond the next quarter. You can confirm that this is true in some areas, but that on the other hand, a long-term vision has always helped you in the past to make good decisions. Keep your statements short and polite. Do not waste time in worthless duels and go quietly your own way.

        [7] Occasionally, you will have to face people who sustain that all attempts at happiness are doomed because, in life, everybody has to endure frustration. A good response to such statement is to acknowledge life's difficulties and let it go at that. Do not become agitated and engage in endless discussions, since you have better things to do. Let reality restate the truth. You know that nothing prevents you from looking for solutions to your problems and achieving as much happiness as you can.

        [8] Those with a pessimistic view of human nature tend to love long debates. They will tell you that society is hard and mean. They will complain that, nowadays, you rarely find good people any more. When you hear such remarks, don't get upset and don't get into a debate. Simply admit that there may be a lot of bad persons in the world and use that as an extra incentive to seek out rational and honest people.

        Avoiding pointless discussions is not an endorsement of nonsense. Staying out of useless debates does not evade logic nor supports mistakes. On the contrary, your keeping away from irrationality is an essential aspect of your right to act according to your own rational interests.

        Don't waste time debating with people who are not listening. Silly ideas and unrealistic projects always fall apart on their own. Never engage in heated disputes where your opinion is not going make any difference. Choose the path of reason and let the foolish go their own way.


        [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]

        Why debating seldom pays

        It doesn't pay to engage in verbal fights with irrational people. They will dismiss your well-thought arguments. They will ignore facts and figures. They will wear you down and, in extreme cases, they might make you doubt your senses. Most of us would be already millionaires if we had been paid for all the hours that we have wasted in useless discussions.

        Nevertheless, no matter what business you are in, you probably make part of your money through your dealings with irrational customers, colleagues, or employees. The world being what it is, there are few ways to make a living without having to deal with some overbearing individuals. Your efficiency and happiness will depend to a great extent on your ability to deal with this kind of persons.

        Avoiding nonsense altogether is hardly a feasible approach, since no one can remake the world according to his personal preferences. Getting angry doesn't work either, since you would only create stress for yourself without improving anything.

        A workable system to put an end to a pointless debate consists of admitting that you don't know. Saying words such "maybe" or "possibly" in a polite tone has the same effect. This approach is not a compromise with irrationality, but a necessary method of self-protection. Let me show you a few examples of what happens when you use this strategy against everyday nonsense.

        [1] When someone tells you that the world is coming to an end and that you should be anxious and depressed, you can admit that possibility and indicate that you will start worrying when you actually see civilization fall apart.

        [2] Should you get to hear that saving is useless and that you would be better off by living in the moment, thank that person for the advice and reply that you will stop saving when you have tangible guarantees that your financial future is properly taken care of.

        [3] A similar approach can be used against someone exhorting you to read the newspaper every day, warning you that, without constant new information, you will soon lose your competitive edge. Remain serene and refrain from giving a snappy reply. Say that you take note of the remark but that you are satisfied with the effectiveness of your limited-information approach.

        [4] From time to time, you might also be told that eating healthy food is a waste of time, since cancer can hit anybody any time and that there is nothing you can do to prevent it. Do not allow such comments to affect your tranquillity. Respond that you will think about it, but that your good nutrition habits have kept your healthy so far.

        [5] Scaremongers will tell you that markets are going down and that opportunity is shrinking. Should you be concerned and depressed? Should you engage in a pointless debate? Not at all, not for a single moment. Admit that the overall economic situation is difficult and that, precisely for that reason, you prefer to pursue whatever opportunities remain available.

        [6] Some people will scorn you for thinking long-term, arguing that there is no point in looking beyond the next quarter. You can confirm that this is true in some areas, but that on the other hand, a long-term vision has always helped you in the past to make good decisions. Keep your statements short and polite. Do not waste time in worthless duels and go quietly your own way.

        [7] Occasionally, you will have to face people who sustain that all attempts at happiness are doomed because, in life, everybody has to endure frustration. A good response to such statement is to acknowledge life's difficulties and let it go at that. Do not become agitated and engage in endless discussions, since you have better things to do. Let reality restate the truth. You know that nothing prevents you from looking for solutions to your problems and achieving as much happiness as you can.

        [8] Those with a pessimistic view of human nature tend to love long debates. They will tell you that society is hard and mean. They will complain that, nowadays, you rarely find good people any more. When you hear such remarks, don't get upset and don't get into a debate. Simply admit that there may be a lot of bad persons in the world and use that as an extra incentive to seek out rational and honest people.

        Avoiding pointless discussions is not an endorsement of nonsense. Staying out of useless debates does not evade logic nor supports mistakes. On the contrary, your keeping away from irrationality is an essential aspect of your right to act according to your own rational interests.

        Don't waste time debating with people who are not listening. Silly ideas and unrealistic projects always fall apart on their own. Never engage in heated disputes where your opinion is not going make any difference. Choose the path of reason and let the foolish go their own way.


        [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]

        Why losses and mistakes mean little in the long term

        Soldiers died like flies during the First World War. If you were sent to the front, there was no place to hide. If shrapnel, bullets, gas, and dynamite did not take care of you, army doctors did. 

        Although doctors tried their best to save the life of wounded soldiers, amputations and other surgery took place under appalling sanitary conditions. There was little hygiene amongst eviscerated corpses. When the German army ran out of aesthetics, wounded soldiers endured such deep pain during surgery, that many died from the shock.

        German doctors shrugged their shoulders, disposed of the dead bodies, and let it go at that. Since no further medical supplies were to be expected, a young German doctor began to experiment with natural anaesthetics. His name was Max Gerson.

        After the First World War, he continued to try out organic treatments based on fruit and vegetable juices. During the next twenty years, Max Gerson did more and more research. He reached the highest point in his career when his experimental therapy led to cure several terminal cancer patients. In the Second World War, Max Gerson lost everything and had to emigrate to America.

        He was 55 years old when he arrived in New York, a destitute immigrant. Without a US medical license, Max Gerson was not allowed to practise medicine in New York, so he began to learn English. That took him some effort, but then he enrolled for the exam to obtain his medical accreditation in the US. He began a new life on his 57th birthday, when he opened a modest medical practice in New York.

        During the remaining twenty years of his life, Gerson's revolutionary organic-food treatments helped many patients recover their health. Many of those patients had been considered incurable and sent home to die. Next time you lose everything, you know what to do.


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

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