Tuesday, 31 July 2012

The short-term advantages of irrational behaviour


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

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

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

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

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

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

No wonder that, in History, philosophical and social progress are achieved only little by little, by taking infinitesimal steps. Each of those justifications possesses extraordinary appeal on its own. All three combined are almost irresistible. Nevertheless, experience proves that, in the long run, pretence and manipulation inevitably destroy a man's life.

* Social convenience leads people to repress their best ideas. The habit of seeking conformity at all times deprives men of the force to speak out their dreams and stake their claims.

* The financial benefits of lying, although sweet, tend to be short-lived. Schemes that look too profitable to be true lead those who engage in them, more often than not, to heavy monetary losses.

* In industrial societies, the negative consequences of rejection are wildly exaggerated. Nowadays, global markets allow innovators to find their public anywhere in the world even if their ideas are not appreciated by their neighbours.

Thinking for ourselves is difficult in the face of opposition. Taking the golden promises of social convenience always seems, at first sight, the obvious choice, but blind conformity to the world's fantasies destroys man's life. Becoming aware of long-term consequences and acting rationally are hard at times, but they mark the path to real success and happiness.

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

Free e-book download

A free e-book presentation of my work “The 10 Principles of Rational Living” can be downloaded in this link

Free e-book download

A free e-book presentation of my work “The 10 Principles of Rational Living” can be downloaded in this link

Monday, 30 July 2012

Situations from which you cannot walk away

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

Situations from which you cannot walk away

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

Free e-book download

A free e-book presentation of my work “The 10 Principles of Rational Living” can be downloaded in this link

Free e-book download

A free e-book presentation of my work “The 10 Principles of Rational Living” can be downloaded in this link

Dropping all dead weight.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Dropping all dead weight.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Free e-book download

A free e-book presentation of my work “The 10 Principles of Rational Living” can be downloaded in this link

Free e-book download

A free e-book presentation of my work “The 10 Principles of Rational Living” can be downloaded in this link

Sunday, 29 July 2012

You have more opportunities than you think.


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

Substantial skills, like learning a foreign language, require months or years of effort. In life, you have plenty of time to find your own way. If you think that this is not the case, check your priorities and simplify your activities.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Free e-book download

A free e-book presentation of my work “The 10 Principles of Rational Living” can be downloaded in this link

Free e-book download

A free e-book presentation of my work “The 10 Principles of Rational Living” can be downloaded in this link

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Where Casanova failed miserably

We can learn a great deal from History. The details in old stories awake our curiosity. Knowing what has happened in the past gives us perspective. Trying to figure out explanations renders us thoughtful; comparing sources, insightful. Theories unconfirmed by facts prompt a man to stop, not to move. Doubts make us reflect and yearn for proof.

Giacomo Casanova's autobiography is an outstanding literary achievement that has elevated its author to the prototype of perfect seducer. Few novels or essays have equalled his vivid depiction of the best and worst in human nature. His portrayal of vanity and foolishness has remained fresh through the centuries, providing evidence of how little the world has changed.

Does Casanova's romantic advice still apply in the age of instant messaging and on-line dating? Are there practical lessons that we can draw from his experience? Would Casanova (1725-1798) have proven an effective seducer also in the era of mobile phones and blogs?

My answer might surprise you, but I am convinced that on-line dating would have not modified Casanova's results. His story would have been repeated, sequence by sequence, only faster. He would have become extremely successful in the short term, but eventually, as it did happen, he would have ended up in loneliness and financial ruin.

Despite the fact that Casanova was not particularly handsome, we can be sure that, if he lived today, he would have placed a fantastic photo on his internet dating profile. Through clever grooming, lighting, and composition, he would have managed to portray himself as irresistible.

Most people who date on-line don't take the trouble to do that, since they prefer to be themselves. They opt for looking as they usually do even if that makes them less popular.

The text of Casanova's internet dating profile would have been well crafted. Most likely, he would not have mentioned many details about himself. Instead, he would have written what potential romantic partners want to hear. His internet chatting would have consisted of witty and flattering remarks. Empty words are as effective with the foolish today as they were two centuries ago.

We can also be sure that, in his internet dating, Casanova would have remained a relentless liar driven by short-term benefits. In the 18th century, he was a manipulator bent on immediate action. His tactics consisted of assailing preys with flowers and jewellery until the battle was won.

Would he have found contemporary romantic films too slow? Possibly. The real Casanova was as fast in charging as he was in retreating. His objective was to win and deplete the confidence of his victims. His effectiveness was measured in days. His purpose would not accept any delays. Even in the worst of times, few men possess Casanova's callousness.

Finally, we can also assume that Casanova's house of cards would have inevitably collapsed in a contemporary context. Romantic attraction without substance can never be sustained for long. If we trust literature and History, human nature has not fundamentally changed in this respect.

Extreme short-term orientation involves high psychological costs and deprives man of the possibility of attaining real affection. Being focused only on immediate benefits starves the spirit and destroys the soul.

Looking for a life's partner is an exercise in self-knowledge which needs just the time it takes. Remain true to your rational nature and learn from Casanova's mistakes. Discard a short-term approach to human relationships. It generates disproportionate costs and inevitably results in failure.


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

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

Where Casanova failed miserably

We can learn a great deal from History. The details in old stories awake our curiosity. Knowing what has happened in the past gives us perspective. Trying to figure out explanations renders us thoughtful; comparing sources, insightful. Theories unconfirmed by facts prompt a man to stop, not to move. Doubts make us reflect and yearn for proof.

Giacomo Casanova's autobiography is an outstanding literary achievement that has elevated its author to the prototype of perfect seducer. Few novels or essays have equalled his vivid depiction of the best and worst in human nature. His portrayal of vanity and foolishness has remained fresh through the centuries, providing evidence of how little the world has changed.

Does Casanova's romantic advice still apply in the age of instant messaging and on-line dating? Are there practical lessons that we can draw from his experience? Would Casanova (1725-1798) have proven an effective seducer also in the era of mobile phones and blogs?

My answer might surprise you, but I am convinced that on-line dating would have not modified Casanova's results. His story would have been repeated, sequence by sequence, only faster. He would have become extremely successful in the short term, but eventually, as it did happen, he would have ended up in loneliness and financial ruin.

Despite the fact that Casanova was not particularly handsome, we can be sure that, if he lived today, he would have placed a fantastic photo on his internet dating profile. Through clever grooming, lighting, and composition, he would have managed to portray himself as irresistible.

Most people who date on-line don't take the trouble to do that, since they prefer to be themselves. They opt for looking as they usually do even if that makes them less popular.

The text of Casanova's internet dating profile would have been well crafted. Most likely, he would not have mentioned many details about himself. Instead, he would have written what potential romantic partners want to hear. His internet chatting would have consisted of witty and flattering remarks. Empty words are as effective with the foolish today as they were two centuries ago.

We can also be sure that, in his internet dating, Casanova would have remained a relentless liar driven by short-term benefits. In the 18th century, he was a manipulator bent on immediate action. His tactics consisted of assailing preys with flowers and jewellery until the battle was won.

Would he have found contemporary romantic films too slow? Possibly. The real Casanova was as fast in charging as he was in retreating. His objective was to win and deplete the confidence of his victims. His effectiveness was measured in days. His purpose would not accept any delays. Even in the worst of times, few men possess Casanova's callousness.

Finally, we can also assume that Casanova's house of cards would have inevitably collapsed in a contemporary context. Romantic attraction without substance can never be sustained for long. If we trust literature and History, human nature has not fundamentally changed in this respect.

Extreme short-term orientation involves high psychological costs and deprives man of the possibility of attaining real affection. Being focused only on immediate benefits starves the spirit and destroys the soul.

Looking for a life's partner is an exercise in self-knowledge which needs just the time it takes. Remain true to your rational nature and learn from Casanova's mistakes. Discard a short-term approach to human relationships. It generates disproportionate costs and inevitably results in failure.


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

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

Free e-book download

A free e-book presentation of my work “The 10 Principles of Rational Living” can be downloaded in this link

Free e-book download

A free e-book presentation of my work “The 10 Principles of Rational Living” can be downloaded in this link

Friday, 27 July 2012

Knowing where you are going

You cannot drive a car without traffic signs, a map, or at the very least, knowing where you want to go. A sense of direction allows man to make decisions, assess costs, and trade off alternatives. Most people are aware of the importance of setting goals in life, but in order to avoid losing motivation, it is crucial to keep your objectives visible to yourself. There are four reasons for that:

First, long-term thinking requires sustained effort: Without reflection and concentration, human life tends to decay into a succession of events without order nor enjoyment. Using your days wisely and making the best of your life is impossible without long-term thinking. Keeping your major objectives in front of your eyes enables you to steer out of time-wasters.

Second, the most scarce resource is invisible: Time continues to flow whether we have a great life or not. In the end, our days will be gone anyway. The question is how to live them in the best possible way. Happiness is never automatic. It requires thinking, goals, action, and progress. Keeping your dreams visible makes you aware of the passage of time and prompts you to move in your chosen direction.

Third, self-confidence wins over random noise: Daily events are meaningless without perspective. In addition, the random noise of nihilism and nonsense tends to discourage clear thinking. Maintaining a list of your goals in a visible place helps you ignore the noise of the world. Knowing where you are going is a fundamental element of self-confidence. It allows you to discard what cannot work and persist in what will. Only by ignoring noise can we put our energies to good use.

Fourth, steady progress is a major achievement: The term success is frequently attributed only to spectacular victories. On the other hand, one should never forget that, behind every major achievement, there are years of preparation and relentless action. Place your long-term goals where you can see them everyday. That is the best manner to remind yourself that something needs to be done right now in order to keep advancing towards your objectives.

You cannot reach your destination without a plan, a list of actions, and the will to correct mistakes as they happen. Long-term goals allow man to evaluate alternatives, discard wasteful undertakings, and learn from experience. Setting goals in life is essential, but without constant action, little will be achieved. Keeping objectives present in our mind is what enables us to align present reality with future achievement.


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

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

Free e-book download

A free e-book presentation of my work “The 10 Principles of Rational Living” can be downloaded in this link

Free e-book download

A free e-book presentation of my work “The 10 Principles of Rational Living” can be downloaded in this link

Thursday, 26 July 2012

The three pillars of a rational education

Newspapers and other media often paint a dark picture of contemporary education. Studies that compare the knowledge of mathematics of children in different countries add little to the discussion, since many question if teaching algebra to seven-year-old kids makes any sense at all.

The modern school curriculum contains a wide range of subjects and attempts to develop children's talents in all directions. From music to History, from drawing to sports, everything is there to fascinate and entertain the minds of the young.

Since the variety of subjects that are addressed in today's classrooms is mind-boggling, how does one explain that many youths experience boredom at school? Does the number of subjects correspond to a real learning need or is it rather a fashion? Do we really want such complexity? What are the essential elements of a good education?

History gives perspective and, in this particular case, it teaches us a precious lesson. You might be surprised to learn that, for almost two thousand years, since the times of Aristotle until the Renaissance, a good education consisted only of three subjects.

In ancient times and during the Middle Ages, there was no radio, no television, and no internet. Books were expensive and difficult to reproduce. The thoughts of the past were carefully compiled and copied by hand. Education represented a considerable investment and was held in high regard.

Pupils traveled hundreds of kilometres in order to enroll in schools that featured famous speakers. The subjects that students were taught equipped them with the most crucial skills that a man needs in life, whatever his later choice of profession. If you mastered those three subjects, chances were that you would do well in life:

1.- LOGIC. Even during periods of intense religiosity, such as medieval times, the study of Aristotle's essays on logic was considered indispensable. The mark of an educated man was his ability to think consistently, find patterns, and draw conclusions from events. Even though this subject has disappeared from the school curriculum in many countries, anyone can afford to buy a copy of Aristotle's works. When it comes to learning logic, the only barriers to acquiring knowledge are self-inflicted.

2.- GRAMMAR. Communicating your thoughts orally and in writing is the basis of most commercial activities. Without proper syntax, men cannot make themselves understood. Language allows individuals to formulate complex connections between facts. Creativity without grammar frequently turns out to be meaningless. The simple practice of reading good authors will boost your ability to communicate in any field. Access to public libraries is free in most countries. Are you using that possibility to your full advantage?

3.- ETHICS. The science of human choices played a central role in education since the times of the Ancient Greeks. Aristotle himself recognized the importance of learning moral values as milestones in the path to individual happiness. Another benefit of studying ethics is learning from other people's mistakes. Making your own errors will teach you unforgettable lessons, but learning from publications and good speakers is less expensive. In our days, books are cheap and internet access is widespread. If you want to learn, you will find many doors open.

Do not pay attention to those who criticize schools and teachers. Complaining is not going to solve any problem. Realize that you are responsible for your own education. Identify which knowledge you are missing and go for it. The world is full of opportunities for those who want to learn. Make sure that you have your educational basis covered, move on, and pursue your growth.


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

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

Free e-book download

A free e-book presentation of my work “The 10 Principles of Rational Living” can be downloaded in this link

Free e-book download

A free e-book presentation of my work “The 10 Principles of Rational Living” can be downloaded in this link

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Don't let the daily news get you down

Please turn off the radio and TV for a while and let me give you some realistic opinions. Despite all the gloom and doom, there are solid reasons for being optimistic in our times. If we keep our head cool and assess facts objectively, this is what we find:

1.- ECONOMIC RESTRUCTURING IS CREATING WEALTH. As a result of the current crisis, some companies are going bankrupt. In most cases, this means that assets are being taken over by a different management, people with new vision and ambitions. Those companies will stop producing what few want to buy and, instead, focus their efforts on better opportunities. Restructuring can lead to creating new wealth.

2.- MOVING HAS BECOME CHEAPER. It used to be costly to move in order to take a new job, but things are changing. The cost of housing has been reduced in many areas of the world. If you want to move in order to pursue new opportunities, there has never been a better time. Even if you decide to change cities only for a while, you can now rent furnished apartments cheaply in many areas. The cost of moving can hardly prevent anyone from pursuing his dream.

3.- VIOLENCE IS DECREASING. Despite grim news in the media, violence is decreasing around the world. There are still many unresolved problems and dangerous places, but overall, the situation is improving. The reason for this is purely practical: violence is bad for business. Production and commerce get people together. Selling things to each other goes a long a way towards preventing conflict.

4.- MANY ASSETS WILL APPRECIATE. While some businesses and currencies are losing value, other assets are appreciating. Instability creates opportunity. Although it might be uncomfortable and risky, remember that only dead matter is stable. Human beings thrive in change. Look for currencies and assets that are appreciating, invest your savings wisely, and you will be rewarded. Life flows in the direction of opportunity.

5.- TOLERANCE AND GOODWILL ARE INCREASING. There are many different opinions around the world. Some are foolish and unrealistic, but they hardly justify heated debates. Live and let live, people say. Tolerance is carrying the day amongst thinking individuals. As people travel and see the world, tolerance and goodwill increase.

6.- FLEXIBILITY ALLOWS NEW EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES. If your industry faces a shrinking market, it is painful to lose your job, but try to look at it from a different perspective. Economic changes shift resources from low-profit to high-opportunity areas. The speed of that process shows the health of an economy. There can be no progress without change. Be flexible and use your creativity to adapt to the new situation.

7.- EDUCATION COSTS ARE DECREASING. Inexpensive internet access and mp3 players have cleared the way for low-cost transmission of knowledge in all fields. Lectures that were accessible only in universities, can now be downloaded for free or for little money. For those who wish to learn, opportunity is continuously expanding.

8.- BENEFIT FROM ENORMOUS BARGAINS. For a short while, we are living in an environment of decreasing prices and this is something that we all can profit from. Things that used to be hardly affordable have become cheaper for millions of people around the world.

9.- IMMIGRATION CONTINUES TO CREATE JOBS. Frontiers are opening in many countries and millions of people move every year in search of a better life. Immigration continues to create opportunities for many. A promising future in a new environment. Immigrants bring ambition, knowledge, and tolerance to society. Immigration creates wealth for open economies and its positive effect can be felt in many areas around the world.

10.- LOW-COST COMMUNICATIONS ENHANCE TRANSPARENCY. With television cameras and internet access everywhere, it has become increasingly difficult to be evil. Problems are immediately reported and people take action to improve things. When transparency increases, people become more ethical.

Don't let the daily news get you down. Instead, look at the world with rational optimism. Some currencies are losing value and others are appreciating, but opportunities are being created everywhere. Two thousand years ago, Roman philosopher Epictetus said that a wise man focuses his effort on things he can control. That's something that we should keep in mind everyday.


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

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

Don't let the daily news get you down

Please turn off the radio and TV for a while and let me give you some realistic opinions. Despite all the gloom and doom, there are solid reasons for being optimistic in our times. If we keep our head cool and assess facts objectively, this is what we find:

1.- ECONOMIC RESTRUCTURING IS CREATING WEALTH. As a result of the current crisis, some companies are going bankrupt. In most cases, this means that assets are being taken over by a different management, people with new vision and ambitions. Those companies will stop producing what few want to buy and, instead, focus their efforts on better opportunities. Restructuring can lead to creating new wealth.

2.- MOVING HAS BECOME CHEAPER. It used to be costly to move in order to take a new job, but things are changing. The cost of housing has been reduced in many areas of the world. If you want to move in order to pursue new opportunities, there has never been a better time. Even if you decide to change cities only for a while, you can now rent furnished apartments cheaply in many areas. The cost of moving can hardly prevent anyone from pursuing his dream.

3.- VIOLENCE IS DECREASING. Despite grim news in the media, violence is decreasing around the world. There are still many unresolved problems and dangerous places, but overall, the situation is improving. The reason for this is purely practical: violence is bad for business. Production and commerce get people together. Selling things to each other goes a long a way towards preventing conflict.

4.- MANY ASSETS WILL APPRECIATE. While some businesses and currencies are losing value, other assets are appreciating. Instability creates opportunity. Although it might be uncomfortable and risky, remember that only dead matter is stable. Human beings thrive in change. Look for currencies and assets that are appreciating, invest your savings wisely, and you will be rewarded. Life flows in the direction of opportunity.

5.- TOLERANCE AND GOODWILL ARE INCREASING. There are many different opinions around the world. Some are foolish and unrealistic, but they hardly justify heated debates. Live and let live, people say. Tolerance is carrying the day amongst thinking individuals. As people travel and see the world, tolerance and goodwill increase.

6.- FLEXIBILITY ALLOWS NEW EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES. If your industry faces a shrinking market, it is painful to lose your job, but try to look at it from a different perspective. Economic changes shift resources from low-profit to high-opportunity areas. The speed of that process shows the health of an economy. There can be no progress without change. Be flexible and use your creativity to adapt to the new situation.

7.- EDUCATION COSTS ARE DECREASING. Inexpensive internet access and mp3 players have cleared the way for low-cost transmission of knowledge in all fields. Lectures that were accessible only in universities, can now be downloaded for free or for little money. For those who wish to learn, opportunity is continuously expanding.

8.- BENEFIT FROM ENORMOUS BARGAINS. For a short while, we are living in an environment of decreasing prices and this is something that we all can profit from. Things that used to be hardly affordable have become cheaper for millions of people around the world.

9.- IMMIGRATION CONTINUES TO CREATE JOBS. Frontiers are opening in many countries and millions of people move every year in search of a better life. Immigration continues to create opportunities for many. A promising future in a new environment. Immigrants bring ambition, knowledge, and tolerance to society. Immigration creates wealth for open economies and its positive effect can be felt in many areas around the world.

10.- LOW-COST COMMUNICATIONS ENHANCE TRANSPARENCY. With television cameras and internet access everywhere, it has become increasingly difficult to be evil. Problems are immediately reported and people take action to improve things. When transparency increases, people become more ethical.

Don't let the daily news get you down. Instead, look at the world with rational optimism. Some currencies are losing value and others are appreciating, but opportunities are being created everywhere. Two thousand years ago, Roman philosopher Epictetus said that a wise man focuses his effort on things he can control. That's something that we should keep in mind everyday.


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

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

Free e-book download


A free e-book presentation of my work “The 10 Principles of Rational Living” can be downloaded in this link

Free e-book download


A free e-book presentation of my work “The 10 Principles of Rational Living” can be downloaded in this link

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Spread your risks and boost your career

Do not waste your time trying to impress people who do not care for you. Most of the career advice that you will hear comes from ancient times that, actually, never existed. Make a commitment to discard what makes little sense. It is time to reshape your strategy according to reality.

Pick up a pen and piece of paper and write down the names of unsuccessful persons you know. Chances are that your list will be quite long. Look at the names and ask yourself some hard questions. Recall their individual circumstances, assess their challenges, and question their excuses.

Some men and women in your list will be intelligent and educated. From those, a few might deserve being recognized as brilliant. Others will be highly motivated and enthusiastic. How come that they are not progressing in life? The primary reason of their failure might be their belief in false ideas, such as overwork and career planning.

Let me put forward some controversial truths. These are the kind of statements that you might have heard before but that you were too quick to discard. Reality can be disrupting, but you will benefit from acknowledging facts as they are. You might want to sit down before you read this:

1.- MANY MARKETS ARE CLOSED. Ignore the propaganda and examine the facts with a cool head. If you are trying to enter a market dominated by highly entrenched players, the undertaking might require too much effort to be worth it. People might preach openness and fairness to the gallery, while their actions show that outsiders are not welcome. Stay away from those markets. You have better things to do with your life.

2.- SOME PROFESSIONS OFFER LITTLE OPPORTUNITY. College counsellors usually possess good statistics about the employment market. On that basis, they can tell students about the earnings that they can expect on their initial job should they choose, for instance, to become embalmers. The problem with this sort of advice lies in its short-term focus. Instead, go and talk to someone who works in your field of interest and ask how fast people can move upwards from their initial position. If the answer is unconvincing, stay away. There are plenty of professions whose markets are growing. Why on earth would you want to enlist in a losing legion?

3.- THINKING LOCAL IS A RECIPE FOR DISASTER. National economies and international trade are likely to transform the face of our cities in the next twenty years. Currencies fluctuate and importers might become exporters. Present territories of immigration might give rise to waves of emigration. Things are going to change massively in the next decades and nobody is quite sure how cards will be reshuffled. In this environment, thinking locally might bury your professional chances. Spread your risks and boost your career. Learn a foreign language and stay mobile.

Advertisements for jobs and training programmes always fail to tell you the ultimate truth: nobody cares about your career as much as yourself. Those who cheer you up with motivational talk frequently turn out to be exploitative. When it comes to your professional future, as for everything else, you will be much better off if you remain sceptic and think for yourself.


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

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

Spread your risks and boost your career

Do not waste your time trying to impress people who do not care for you. Most of the career advice that you will hear comes from ancient times that, actually, never existed. Make a commitment to discard what makes little sense. It is time to reshape your strategy according to reality.

Pick up a pen and piece of paper and write down the names of unsuccessful persons you know. Chances are that your list will be quite long. Look at the names and ask yourself some hard questions. Recall their individual circumstances, assess their challenges, and question their excuses.

Some men and women in your list will be intelligent and educated. From those, a few might deserve being recognized as brilliant. Others will be highly motivated and enthusiastic. How come that they are not progressing in life? The primary reason of their failure might be their belief in false ideas, such as overwork and career planning.

Let me put forward some controversial truths. These are the kind of statements that you might have heard before but that you were too quick to discard. Reality can be disrupting, but you will benefit from acknowledging facts as they are. You might want to sit down before you read this:

1.- MANY MARKETS ARE CLOSED. Ignore the propaganda and examine the facts with a cool head. If you are trying to enter a market dominated by highly entrenched players, the undertaking might require too much effort to be worth it. People might preach openness and fairness to the gallery, while their actions show that outsiders are not welcome. Stay away from those markets. You have better things to do with your life.

2.- SOME PROFESSIONS OFFER LITTLE OPPORTUNITY. College counsellors usually possess good statistics about the employment market. On that basis, they can tell students about the earnings that they can expect on their initial job should they choose, for instance, to become embalmers. The problem with this sort of advice lies in its short-term focus. Instead, go and talk to someone who works in your field of interest and ask how fast people can move upwards from their initial position. If the answer is unconvincing, stay away. There are plenty of professions whose markets are growing. Why on earth would you want to enlist in a losing legion?

3.- THINKING LOCAL IS A RECIPE FOR DISASTER. National economies and international trade are likely to transform the face of our cities in the next twenty years. Currencies fluctuate and importers might become exporters. Present territories of immigration might give rise to waves of emigration. Things are going to change massively in the next decades and nobody is quite sure how cards will be reshuffled. In this environment, thinking locally might bury your professional chances. Spread your risks and boost your career. Learn a foreign language and stay mobile.

Advertisements for jobs and training programmes always fail to tell you the ultimate truth: nobody cares about your career as much as yourself. Those who cheer you up with motivational talk frequently turn out to be exploitative. When it comes to your professional future, as for everything else, you will be much better off if you remain sceptic and think for yourself.


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

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

Free e-book download

A free e-book presentation of my work “The 10 Principles of Rational Living” can be downloaded in this link

Free e-book download

A free e-book presentation of my work “The 10 Principles of Rational Living” can be downloaded in this link

Sunday, 22 July 2012

650.000 hits John Vespasian's blog in India

My blog at SiliconIndia.com just cumulated 650.000 hits since its inception on January 20th this year.

A hearty thanks to my Indian readers.


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

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

650.000 hits John Vespasian's blog in India

My blog at SiliconIndia.com just cumulated 650.000 hits since its inception on January 20th this year.

A hearty thanks to my Indian readers.


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

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

Free e-book download

A free e-book presentation of my work “The 10 Principles of Rational Living” can be downloaded in this link

Free e-book download

A free e-book presentation of my work “The 10 Principles of Rational Living” can be downloaded in this link

Personal effectiveness begins with clarity of purpose

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

Personal effectiveness begins with clarity of purpose

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

Free e-book download

A free e-book presentation of my work “The 10 Principles of Rational Living” can be downloaded in this link

Free e-book download

A free e-book presentation of my work “The 10 Principles of Rational Living” can be downloaded in this link

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Easy, simple, and cheap to operate

"Their ships are too small and too frail," maintained King Harold in 1065. "England is perfectly safe. There is absolutely no risk of a Norman invasion." Since the king had himself extensive experience as sailor, the barons and dukes of England assumed that he knew what he was talking about. Was King Harold's conclusion based on facts?

Viking or Norman ships are called cogs due to their simple construction technique, whereby pieces of wood are cut so as to fit together without need of nails. Since cogs were equipped with just one mast and one sail, they were easy to handle.

Cogs were ideal to navigate rivers upstream in order to infiltrate foreign territories behind the lines of defence. In those cases, the sail was removed, the crew picked up long oars, and propelled the small ship by rowing.

Horses and other animals travelled on the open deck next to the crew, sharing the little space available. When it rained, there was no cover. On the other hand, the small size of cogs allowed the crew to pull them out easily when they got stranded.

In 1066, King Harald was told that Normans were about to attack England using a flotilla of cogs, but he dismissed it as a rumour. Those ships were too small to transport horses and weapons. Those ships were too frail to sail away from the coast.

As soon as the Normans arrived in England, they disembarked their horses, regrouped near the beach, and began to march quickly towards York. Two weeks later, the invaders crushed the English army in Hastings.

King Harold was captured in battle, mutilated, and dismembered. His death marked the end of Anglo-Saxon rule in England. The Vikings, or Normans, as they came to be called, had taken over the country by means of their small cogs.

Which lessons can we draw from the story? Does it contain wisdom that is still applicable in our electronic times? Yes, it does. Internet blogs are the digital equivalent of Norman cogs.

Like England in 1066, we tend to perceive our culture as a stable constellation of well-established media. TV, radio, newspapers, and magazines resemble King Harold's barons and dukes. Internet blogs, like Norman cogs, seem too small to carry any cultural weight. If you are a writer with an internet blog, how could you best apply the Norman strategy in order to increase your audience? This is my advice.

1. LIMITED SPACE: The Normans did not have a lot of space on their cogs. Internet readers do not have a lot of time to read. Keep your blog to what's important.

2. EASY TO OPERATE: Cogs were easy to operate. Make your blog easy to update by using a simple format. Do not complicate your life.

3. CONSISTENT HIGH QUALITY: Small ships sailing away from the coast do not allow for navigation mistakes. Make sure to publish only texts of the highest quality in your blog.

4. NO DEAD WEIGHT: Invaders coming from the sea could not afford to carry any dead weight. Reduce your blog to the essential. Few people have time for the rest.

5. ALL THAT IS NECESSARY: The Normans carried with them everything they needed. Horses, weapons, warm clothes, and water. Make sure that your blog possesses everything that is absolutely necessary, such as your biographical details.

6. KEEP IT SIMPLE: Cogs could be built quickly due to their simple construction technique. How long does it take you to update your blog? Could you figure out a way to do it faster?

I am convinced that internet blogs are a growing cultural force. Will they ever replace traditional media? That's difficult to tell, but the fact is that the audience of TV, radio, newspapers, and magazines is progressively shrinking.

Let me state for the record that King Harold of England was probably right when he estimated that cogs were too small. His seafaring experience proved to him that cogs were too frail to invade a country and to take over a culture. Unfortunately for him, he forgot to tell the Normans.


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

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


Easy, simple, and cheap to operate

"Their ships are too small and too frail," maintained King Harold in 1065. "England is perfectly safe. There is absolutely no risk of a Norman invasion." Since the king had himself extensive experience as sailor, the barons and dukes of England assumed that he knew what he was talking about. Was King Harold's conclusion based on facts?

Viking or Norman ships are called cogs due to their simple construction technique, whereby pieces of wood are cut so as to fit together without need of nails. Since cogs were equipped with just one mast and one sail, they were easy to handle.

Cogs were ideal to navigate rivers upstream in order to infiltrate foreign territories behind the lines of defence. In those cases, the sail was removed, the crew picked up long oars, and propelled the small ship by rowing.

Horses and other animals travelled on the open deck next to the crew, sharing the little space available. When it rained, there was no cover. On the other hand, the small size of cogs allowed the crew to pull them out easily when they got stranded.

In 1066, King Harald was told that Normans were about to attack England using a flotilla of cogs, but he dismissed it as a rumour. Those ships were too small to transport horses and weapons. Those ships were too frail to sail away from the coast.

As soon as the Normans arrived in England, they disembarked their horses, regrouped near the beach, and began to march quickly towards York. Two weeks later, the invaders crushed the English army in Hastings.

King Harold was captured in battle, mutilated, and dismembered. His death marked the end of Anglo-Saxon rule in England. The Vikings, or Normans, as they came to be called, had taken over the country by means of their small cogs.

Which lessons can we draw from the story? Does it contain wisdom that is still applicable in our electronic times? Yes, it does. Internet blogs are the digital equivalent of Norman cogs.

Like England in 1066, we tend to perceive our culture as a stable constellation of well-established media. TV, radio, newspapers, and magazines resemble King Harold's barons and dukes. Internet blogs, like Norman cogs, seem too small to carry any cultural weight. If you are a writer with an internet blog, how could you best apply the Norman strategy in order to increase your audience? This is my advice.

1. LIMITED SPACE: The Normans did not have a lot of space on their cogs. Internet readers do not have a lot of time to read. Keep your blog to what's important.

2. EASY TO OPERATE: Cogs were easy to operate. Make your blog easy to update by using a simple format. Do not complicate your life.

3. CONSISTENT HIGH QUALITY: Small ships sailing away from the coast do not allow for navigation mistakes. Make sure to publish only texts of the highest quality in your blog.

4. NO DEAD WEIGHT: Invaders coming from the sea could not afford to carry any dead weight. Reduce your blog to the essential. Few people have time for the rest.

5. ALL THAT IS NECESSARY: The Normans carried with them everything they needed. Horses, weapons, warm clothes, and water. Make sure that your blog possesses everything that is absolutely necessary, such as your biographical details.

6. KEEP IT SIMPLE: Cogs could be built quickly due to their simple construction technique. How long does it take you to update your blog? Could you figure out a way to do it faster?

I am convinced that internet blogs are a growing cultural force. Will they ever replace traditional media? That's difficult to tell, but the fact is that the audience of TV, radio, newspapers, and magazines is progressively shrinking.

Let me state for the record that King Harold of England was probably right when he estimated that cogs were too small. His seafaring experience proved to him that cogs were too frail to invade a country and to take over a culture. Unfortunately for him, he forgot to tell the Normans.


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

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


Free e-book for downloading

A free e-book presentation of my work “The 10 Principles of Rational Living” can be downloaded in this link

Free e-book for downloading

A free e-book presentation of my work “The 10 Principles of Rational Living” can be downloaded in this link

Friday, 20 July 2012

How to increase your entrepreneurial reflexes

Aristotle was a great philosopher, but the one thing that he never managed to understand was entrepreneurship. In the "Nicomachean Ethics," his essay on justice and morality, he saw society as a market where human desires are stable and each product possesses a fair price.

One does not need to look long at the world to realize that Aristotle's view of work and commerce was highly unrealistic. The truth is that prices vary incessantly and new products appear daily on the market. Jobs are created by growing ventures and lost by dying industries. Things change, markets move, and money circulates.

Start-up entrepreneurs are deeply conscious of the fact that the driving factor of business success is not money, but time. Any financial advisor will tell you that, for a solid undertaking, money can always be raised or borrowed. Bankers rarely refuse a loan to a company that produces positive cash-flow.

What entrepreneurs do, essentially, is to shift resources through time. They borrow from the slow at 6% interest in order to invest with the fast at a 10% rate. If you learn how to do that repeatedly, with growing sums of money, chances are that you will become very wealthy.

Since Aristotle never grasped the impact of time on resources, he was never able to explain why people pay interest when they borrow money. The different personal needs are what, already a thousand years ago, prompted farmers to exchange cheese for meat and wool for wheat.

Entrepreneurs trade present resources, which are used slowly or not at all, for future results, which are to be produced as fast and efficiently as possible. A company should encounter few obstacles to issue bonds at 7% interest if it can achieve a 20% profit margin in its operations.

A flow of money is, fundamentally, a flow of time. The essence of business activity is to shift resources from slowness to velocity. At school or during their apprenticeship, entrepreneurial minds can be spotted by their extreme impatience and disdain for slow motion. Speed is seen as a synonym of efficiency, progress as a continuous forward movement.

How can one acquire entrepreneurial reflexes? Is it wise to let our irritation run free when we face slowness? Does annoyance automatically make us more alert to opportunity? Here is some practical advice:

1. THE WORLD IS ASYMMETRIC. Commit to seeing the world as a playing ground of time and resources that can be shifted by personal initiative.

2. TARGETS MOVE. Realize that opportunities are continuously created and destroyed by markets.

3. PERSPECTIVE CHANGES PERCEPTION. Your decision to enter a market or profession will immediately affect your attitude towards that field.

4. ENTREPRENEURSHIP IS WIDER THAN BUSINESS. As soon as you start to shift time and resources, you have already become an entrepreneur. In this sense, a medical student is one. The same goes for someone who takes up a modest job in order to learn a trade that will allow him later to set up his own company.

The ability to link present slowness to future speed can be cultivated like any other skill. Taking notes and asking questions are excellent methods to focus your thoughts on what can be done, changed, or contested. At some point, when your impatience begins to drive your imagination, you will be on your way


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

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

Free e-book for downloading

A free e-book presentation of my work “The 10 Principles of Rational Living” can be downloaded in this link

Free e-book for downloading

A free e-book presentation of my work “The 10 Principles of Rational Living” can be downloaded in this link

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Places to go if you are looking for growth

You have known this all the way, but perhaps, you have never dared to verbalize the thought. Your company and your economic future are up for grabs. The safety you have worked to build all these years might not withstand the strong winds of change. Global competition is lurking around the street corner.

Now comes the good news. If the currency of your country is losing value by the day, take heart, shift your paradigm, and join the export trade. If businessmen are no longer filling the rooms of your Florida hotel, take a step back and refocus your marketing on more promising clients, such as Norwegian and Swedish pensioners.

While the economy in some parts of the world is falling apart, there are high-growth markets out there. While many traditional professions are disappearing, new jobs are being created for which proper titles are still being sought.

The seeds of major change are all around us these days, together with the indicators of which markets are posed for massive growth. Statistics and surveys can be helpful to identify long-term trends, but they are too slow for entrepreneurs.

When it comes to identifying opportunities as commercially viable, do not rely on traces of past desires. Instead, choose the proven method validated by venture capitalists. Focus on markets where there is maximum pain, extreme discomfort, or unbearable annoyance.

Opportunities are the largest where problems are the deepest. The high-growth markets of the 21st century are being carved out of the troubles inherited from the previous century. If you open any newspaper, you will face the afflictions of the world, each of them crying for entrepreneurial solutions. These are just four examples:

1.- CHINESE AS FOREIGN LANGUAGE. The upcoming value gain of the Chinese currency will create massive changes in global trade flows. Teaching Chinese as foreign language should experience sustained growth in the coming decades.

2.- PROTECTION OF INDIVIDUALS. For different reasons, public safety is deteriorating in many cities of the world. The market for personal protection, in all its different facets, is bound to pick up. The precise shape of that growth will depend on what is allowed by national laws.

3.- GLOBAL CREDIT INSURANCE. During the last decades, global financial markets have expanded faster than the reliability of credit information. There are tremendous opportunities for insurers to step in and offer cost-efficient coverage of global credit risks, both for individuals and corporations.

4.- FAST READY-MADE HABITATION. Compared to the astounding efficiency of car manufacturers, the building trade offers immense opportunities for improvement. Millions of people around the world can still not afford apartments or houses at present construction prices. The adoption of continuous-flow techniques by real estate developers should change radically the way we build and sell houses.

Massive change is coming, but there is nothing to fear. Global competition is making companies and workers amend their ways in all fields of activity. The only safety you can trust is innovation, the only market signal you can rely on, irritation. When you listen to people complain about this or that, realize that they are only waiting for the next entrepreneur to take the plunge.


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

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

Places to go if you are looking for growth

You have known this all the way, but perhaps, you have never dared to verbalize the thought. Your company and your economic future are up for grabs. The safety you have worked to build all these years might not withstand the strong winds of change. Global competition is lurking around the street corner.

Now comes the good news. If the currency of your country is losing value by the day, take heart, shift your paradigm, and join the export trade. If businessmen are no longer filling the rooms of your Florida hotel, take a step back and refocus your marketing on more promising clients, such as Norwegian and Swedish pensioners.

While the economy in some parts of the world is falling apart, there are high-growth markets out there. While many traditional professions are disappearing, new jobs are being created for which proper titles are still being sought.

The seeds of major change are all around us these days, together with the indicators of which markets are posed for massive growth. Statistics and surveys can be helpful to identify long-term trends, but they are too slow for entrepreneurs.

When it comes to identifying opportunities as commercially viable, do not rely on traces of past desires. Instead, choose the proven method validated by venture capitalists. Focus on markets where there is maximum pain, extreme discomfort, or unbearable annoyance.

Opportunities are the largest where problems are the deepest. The high-growth markets of the 21st century are being carved out of the troubles inherited from the previous century. If you open any newspaper, you will face the afflictions of the world, each of them crying for entrepreneurial solutions. These are just four examples:

1.- CHINESE AS FOREIGN LANGUAGE. The upcoming value gain of the Chinese currency will create massive changes in global trade flows. Teaching Chinese as foreign language should experience sustained growth in the coming decades.

2.- PROTECTION OF INDIVIDUALS. For different reasons, public safety is deteriorating in many cities of the world. The market for personal protection, in all its different facets, is bound to pick up. The precise shape of that growth will depend on what is allowed by national laws.

3.- GLOBAL CREDIT INSURANCE. During the last decades, global financial markets have expanded faster than the reliability of credit information. There are tremendous opportunities for insurers to step in and offer cost-efficient coverage of global credit risks, both for individuals and corporations.

4.- FAST READY-MADE HABITATION. Compared to the astounding efficiency of car manufacturers, the building trade offers immense opportunities for improvement. Millions of people around the world can still not afford apartments or houses at present construction prices. The adoption of continuous-flow techniques by real estate developers should change radically the way we build and sell houses.

Massive change is coming, but there is nothing to fear. Global competition is making companies and workers amend their ways in all fields of activity. The only safety you can trust is innovation, the only market signal you can rely on, irritation. When you listen to people complain about this or that, realize that they are only waiting for the next entrepreneur to take the plunge.


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

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

Free e-book for downloading

A free e-book presentation of my work “The 10 Principles of Rational Living” can be downloaded in this link

Free e-book for downloading

A free e-book presentation of my work “The 10 Principles of Rational Living” can be downloaded in this link

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Are you relying on false stories?

Learning karate has many advantages. The exercises build your muscles and improve your general health. The practice makes your body fit and your movements precise. Those benefits are indisputable and martial arts schools seldom forget to mention them in their advertisements.

However, if you ask experienced judo practitioners about the reason behind their enthusiasm for the sport, you will get a completely different answer. "The best thing about martial arts," they will tell you, "is that you learn to defend yourself in case of an attack."

Nothing could be further from the truth. People with no karate training are often better skilled at detecting trouble before it appears on the scene. Since they know that they are not trained for combat, they avoid physical confrontation. When they experience threats, they retreat. When they see danger, they keep away from it.

On the other hand, how often have you heard stories about some karate expert shot by a criminal in the street for refusing to surrender his wallet? In most cases, if the victim had tried to run away, he might have easily escaped. Realizing that few things are as lethal as a false sense of security has tremendous implications:

1.- WRONG PERCEPTIONS. Strong belief in nonsense leads men to disregard the evidence of their own perceptions. When that happens, thinking becomes pointless, since it is no longer based on reality. Ignoring our own pain or physical discomfort is a recipe for disaster. When sensations contradict conclusions, it is high time to re-examine the latter.

2.- MISTAKEN DECISIONS. Relying on something that is not true is worse that confessing ignorance. Make-believe prevents individuals from acknowledging problems and looking for the right answer. Self-inflicted blindness destroys man's sense of direction and invalidates his ambitions.

Keeping your eyes open is the most effective method to avoid getting into deep trouble in life. When meeting new people, trusting what you see is the only way to form an accurate opinion about their qualities and ethical standards. Judging strangers by what they say or by their appearance is a losing proposition.

The most egregious errors are not committed out of ignorance, but by relying on false stories that we tell to ourselves. Accidents that tear apart families and companies could have been frequently prevented by reading the writing on the wall.

Being brave enough to acknowledge a gap between belief and fact is the foundation of personal integrity. There can be no honesty without courage, no serenity without consistency. Entrepreneurs trust their own perceptions and experience more than anything else. A man's ability to detect opportunities equals his willingness to focus on reality.


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

[Image by dicktay2000 under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]