Sunday, 27 January 2013

I have never seen times like these. Learning from the economic depression in 15th-century Tuscany. It was difficult to imagine that things could get worse than they were already

"I have never seen times like these," admitted Bernardino. "The pest has wiped out half of the population of Siena." Giovanni Capistrano looked at his friend and shook his head. "We are indeed facing the end of the world," he replied.

"We have run out of salt for the fish, ink for the copyists, and candles for the chapel," enumerated Bernardino. "We don't even have cloth to make robes for the novices!"


Capistrano took in a deep breath 

Capistrano took in a deep breath and, instead of giving an answer, he murmured a prayer. He was convinced that the catastrophes that had happened during the last years were a punishment from God and that no resistance was possible.

In the year 1419, the economic depression ravaging Tuscany had reached gigantic proportions. Bernardino was 39 years old and he had seen with his own eyes land prices go down by 80% in a twenty-year period. It was difficult to imagine that things could get worse than they were already.

Although Bernardino appreciated Giovanni Capistrano highly, he was also conscious that his friend was more gifted for theological disputes than for solving practical problems. Since Bernardino was the prior of Santa Maria Monastery, finding solutions was his job.


He needed to be alone for a while

After the morning prayer, he left the chapel through the back door, crossed the monastery's orchard, and walked into the woods. Like every time he had to make a difficult decision, he needed to be alone for a while.

"We have hardly enough to eat as it is now," Bernardino reflected as he advanced towards the river. "Should I tell novices that our monastery cannot accept new vocations at this time and send them away?"

Suddenly, Bernardino stood still and looked around puzzled. Something had changed since the last time he had been in the woods, but he couldn't tell what. Intrigued, he advanced fifty steps and reached the riverbank. It was only at that moment that Bernardino realized what had interrupted his thoughts. It was the noise! He was so used to long hours of silence in the monastery that he had forgotten the relentless sound of nature.


He sat down on a stone beside the water

Summer had arrived and Bernardino was immersed in a cacophony of cries from birds, cicadas, and tree frogs. He sat down on a stone beside the water and tried to concentrate his mind on the most pressing problems.

Like every year, the summer had made the river water level go down by two feet, uncovering in the middle of the stream a long, narrow island. Bernardino knew it well, since it had served him as playground in his childhood, many years ago.

Bushes that had remained submerged during the winter were now showing deep green colours and had become the ideal basis for swallows to build their mud-nests. Bernardino smiled when two yellow butterflies flew above his shoulders, fearlessly headed towards the island.

He lowered his head and prayed silently for guidance. Nine young men had requested to join the Santa Maria Monastery as novices. Bernardino was the prior and it was up to him to decide on the postulants' admission.

The economic depression had drained the monastery's resources to such an extent that there was no way for Bernardino to feed nine additional monks, let alone provide them with novice's robes. On the other hand, additional help was badly needed to cultivate the monastery's land.


I have found a solution

When Bernardino returned to the monastery one hour later, he found Giovanni Capistrano sitting on a bench in front of the chapel, reading the Bible. "I have found a solution," announced Bernardino approaching his friend. Capistrano lifted his eyes from the book and scrutinized Bernardino's face. "To the economic crisis?" he retorted sceptically. "Or do you mean a solution to the pest that is decimating the population of nearby cities?"

"If we cannot change the whole world," went on Bernardino, "let us at least focus our efforts on doing whatever we can to improve our situation." Giovanni Capistrano closed the Bible and stared at Bernardino, wondering what he was talking about.

"I was sitting by the river thinking about our problems," Bernardino continued, "when I realized that the solution was before my eyes. It is summer now and swallows have built their nests on the island in the middle of the river."


The energy of nature never stops

He turned around and pointed at the cedar tree beside the chapel. "The energy of nature never stops. Season after season, year after year, animals and plants grow and live further. If there is a storm, birds might stand still for a few hours, but only to move on relentlessly as soon as the weather improves."

"Swallows don't sit around paralysed by fear of the end of the world," continued Bernardino. "They pick up whatever materials are available and build their nests, trying to make the best of any given circumstances."

Giovanni Capistrano shrugged his shoulders. "Indeed, birds are always moving, but they are stupid animals that cannot reflect about the future. Otherwise, swallows would not build nests on the island every summer. When the river water level goes up in September, the island will be flooded and the nests will be washed away."


We don't have to repeat our past mistakes

Bernardino nodded. "That's the point, Giovanni. We are men, not birds, and we don't have to repeat our past mistakes. On the other hand, we can learn from animals that life is meant to be lived by relentlessly moving forward, not by complaining that things should be otherwise than they are."

"That's very philosophical, but I can't see how it relates to our current problems" objected Capistrano, laying the Bible on the bench and standing up. "That will not help the Santa Maria Monastery feed nine new novices. Unfortunately, we have to send those postulants away."

"No, let's welcome those new vocations and thank God for sending them to us," answered Bernardino. "Those nine novices are the help that we need to cultivate the monastery's land. If necessary, we will pawn our gold chalice to get us through the next months."

Incredulous, Giovanni Capistrano shook his head. "Even if a pawnbroker in Sienna took the chalice, that wouldn't bring us enough money to purchase nine monk's robes for the novices."

"Follow me," ordered Bernardino, starting to moved towards the chapel. With Giovanni Capistrano on his trail, he entered the chapel, walked past the wooden benches, and stood still in front of the brown drapes that covered the wall. "We'll use those to make monk's robes. When the economy recovers, we'll have new drapes made for the chapel."


A pro-active attitude in difficult times

Indeed, the economy recovered little by little. Six years later, by 1425, the Santa Maria Monastery was restored to its old splendour. Bernardino's pro-active attitude in difficult times earned him a well-deserved reputation and, soon after, Pope Eugene IV offered him a bishop's appointment.

For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my book The 10 Principles of Rational Living

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

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

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Why every chicken must break out of its own shell. Moving too slowly or too fast does not work. How to use perspective to shield yourself from discouragement. Invisible shells are the hardest to break

"Some matters pass off more quietly than anyone could expect," wrote Titus Livius two thousand years ago, "but times of trouble allow to tell apart discerning men. You will see them reflecting on the cause of their problems, rather than on the problems themselves."

How to use perspective to shield yourself from discouragement


These days, when catastrophe and disgrace fill pages of newspapers, we can all use some perspective to shield us from discouragement. Tidal changes have taken place in all ages. Instability and shifting paradigms will befall humanity again and again.

* People have felt trapped in countries and occupations while their world fell apart.

* Established markets have disappeared overnight.

* Systems that were supposed to last forever have revealed themselves as too frail to be trusted.

Why every chicken must break out of its own shell


Egg-shells look deceivingly fragile. The truth is that breaking out presents almost insurmountable problems for chicken. Baby chicken don't even know that they are inside a shell, since their eyes are still closed.

What makes the situation of infant birds even more critical, if that they have very limited time to accomplish their feat. The little oxygen that gets through the shell won't keep them alive for long. At a certain moment, almost by magic, baby chicken begin to move and break out of the egg.

Moving too slowly or
too fast does not work

Experiments have shown that the time needed for hatching varies with each individual bird. Try as you may, if you break the egg-shell yourself in order to help the bird get out, chances are that you will kill it. Do it too soon and the chicken will die. Waiting too long is also a sign of trouble. If the baby bird is unable to hatch on its own efforts, it means that nature has already decided otherwise.

Then why on earth do chicken break out of the shell? The simplicity of the answer will not make it less shocking. Birds hatch for one reason only: because, at a certain point in their development, it becomes too uncomfortable to remain inside the egg. It gets too constrained, too warm, too sticky, too hard to breathe inside the shell.

Invisible shells are the hardest to break


Inevitably, each of us carries around a few. Unlike those of chicken, our shells are not made of calcium, but of fear and indecision. We exaggerate problems and underestimate our resiliency. We cling to continuity even when we know that the old bridge ahead of the road has already collapsed.

If your conclusions don't match reality, re-examine your premises. If History has turned your most precious dreams to dust, maybe they were not meant to be realized.

Every chicken must break out of its own shell. Life will be always fraught with distress and difficulties. Don't you ever let them bring you down. Look at the world with a fresh spirit, choose your path, and move on. As Titus Livius put it so well,"urgent measures are meant to be applied with great dispatch."


For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my book The 10 Principles of Rational Living

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

[Image by JOE M500 under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Friday, 25 January 2013

Don't go looking for jobs where they ain't any. Do not try to sell something where there are no buyers. Do not go to Alaska seeking warm weather. Stay away from barren land

Are you looking for a guaranteed way to waste the rest of your life? Here it is: spend your time searching for things where there aren't. I have also a second formula for squandering your days: spend your time chasing people that are unavailable. The same goes for attempting to travel to places that are not accessible.

Don't go looking for jobs where they ain't any


We all engage in this kind of pursuits occasionally and that's fine, since no one has perfect knowledge. What is terrifying is when someone persists in trying to pull through an impossible trick. Children do that and so do mice trapped in a maze, but why on earth don't adults know better than that?

The reasons for this type of counter-productive behaviour is unpleasantly ordinary: intellectual laziness. Our desire for comfort and ease often makes us blind to obvious truths. If you want cheap oranges, go to Morocco and not to the airport deli. This straightforward principle, if applied consistently, can bring major improvements to your life. Let us consider three examples:

Do not look for a job in the desert


You might get lucky and find the only opening available, but chances are that you won't. If you labour at the only factory in a small town and the factory closes, don't waste your time hanging around waiting for a miracle. Pack your things, get into your car, and drive to a place where businesses are hiring.

Do not try to sell something where there are no buyers


You would be amazed to see the number of empty houses, apartments, and malls in areas where not that many people live. Real estate developers have wasted fortunes putting up buildings on locations where few people are interested in buying or renting.

Why did they not conduct a thorough market research before investing millions? Who knows, maybe they didn't know any better, but the lesson to be drawn is clear. You should focus your sales efforts on places where there are customers.

Do not go to Alaska seeking warm weather


Some people choose to live in places where there is a lousy weather most of the year. There are usually good reasons for doing that, such as cheap housing, low criminality, and abundant job opportunities.

This is not a philosophical issue and you should choose whatever location you like best. My point is that, if you live in a cold area and you happen to love warm weather, your complaining is not going to change anything.

Is a pleasant temperature outside home one of your priorities? If your answer is positive, there are plenty of warm areas on earth to where you can relocate at a reasonable cost. Every minute employed in pursuing the impossible is gone forever, without profit nor joy.

Stay away from
barren land

The world is complicated and problematic enough as it is. Attempting to carry out what is obviously unfeasible is pointless and does not even make a good hobby. Stay away from barren land and focus your efforts on fruitful fields.

For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my book The 10 Principles of Rational Living

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

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

Thursday, 24 January 2013

How curiosity and persistence work in your favour. Walking past the point of maximum discouragement. Entrepreneurs often succeed by following a non-conventional strategy. Personal initiative plays a key role in achievement

If you ever spend a holiday in Egypt, don't forget to visit the place where the barrack of archaeologist Howard Carter used to stand one century ago. When you inquire about the exact location, your guide will point at a promontory in the sand, a small elevation in the Egyptian desert that looks no different from the other dunes.

How curiosity and persistence work in your favour


Tourists who visit the place stand still, examine the spot, and look around, wondering if the guide is telling them truth. Those visitors are actually not interested in looking at the desert. What has brought them there is the story of Howard Carter, a man who, thanks to his curiosity and persistence, became the most famous archaeologist in History.

Despite his modest origins and lack of academic degrees, Carter's profound interest in the history of Ancient Egypt led him to read all available books on the subject and, little by little, he earned a reputation of specialist in Egyptian antiquities. His initiative and hands-on experience in excavations led him to develop the theory that the tomb of one Pharaoh, Tutankhamen, had not yet been found.

Carter's hypothesis conflicted with the prevalent idea at that time, held by professors and specialists alike, who sustained that all tombs in the Valley of Kings had been already found. When Carter was in his early forties, he teamed up with an English wealthy landowner, Lord Carnavon, obtained a concession to excavate the Valley of Kings and began to look for the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamen.

Visit the promontory where Carter's barrack used to stand and you will see that the sand ends abruptly at the riverbank three hundred meters down the slope. The small boats crossing the Nile these days still offer a sight that is not that different from what Howard Carter witnessed at the beginning of the 20th century.
 

Walking past the point of maximum discouragement

In 1922, Carter went through the lowest point in his career and he must have spent many hours pondering his dark future and unsuccessful past, as he contemplated the boats sailing across the river. His sponsor, Lord Carnavon, had announced that he would no longer be funding Carter's excavations beyond the end of that year.

The belief in the existence of Tutankhamen's undiscovered tomb had not earned Carter any professional distinction. On the contrary, his theory, developed out of his own interpretation of fragments found by other archaeologists, was considered marginal and obscure.

During the previous six years, Carter had spent a good part of Lord Carnavon's fortune in excavations in the Valley of Kings. The results had been so disappointing that Carnavon had decided to put an end to the enterprise at the end of that season.

At that time, Carter was already 48 years old and must have been looking back at his life wondering if he had done the right thing by embarking on a risky venture instead of choosing a safer career as antiquities dealer or monuments inspector. He had no money, no wife, no children, and an uncertain future.

Entrepreneurs often succeed by following a non-conventional strategy


Although he had devoted decades to studying Ancient Egypt, he had failed to secure a high-paying position. The dominant view was that Tutankhamen's tomb had been pillaged and forgotten centuries ago. Only Carter was convinced that the tomb could still be found, buried somewhere under the sand.

Carter's hypothesis and initiative had moved Lord Carnavon to entrust him with conducting excavations in the Valley of Kings, but six years of digging had been to no avail. In fact, the determination to search for Tutankhamen's tomb had wasted Carter's own life and a substantial part of Lord Carnavon's fortune. Europe had been ravaged by World War I and Carter knew that, after his long years of failure, his chances of finding another sponsor for his excavations was nil.

Initiative is a virtue that can be taught only by example. Taking calculated risks to pursue your dream, as Howard Carter did, cannot be emphasized enough as the key to a happy and successful life. The level of risk must be assessed and minimized as much as possible, but in the end, a man must remind himself that he is going to live only once. Extraordinary value cannot be achieved by simply following prescribed routines.

Nowadays, when tourists visit the location of Carter's wooden barrack in the Valley of Kings, their guide usually asks them to take a few steps on the sand, turn around, use their hand to shade their eyes from the sun, and look at the sign on the other side of the dune.

It is the sign that points visitors to Tutankhamen's tomb, which Carter finally managed to find in November 1922, just when his last excavation campaign was to end. He had spent years looking for that tomb and had succeeded only a few days before Carnavon's final deadline. Carter's extraordinary initiative and persistence had paid off against all expectations, in direct opposition to the views of official experts and professors.

Personal initiative plays a key role in achievement


History provides countless examples of how entrepreneurship opens the door to striking success. Relentless initiative is far superior to stale knowledge. Those with vision and ambition can always acquire the information they miss. Possessing expertise is not worth much without the willingness to put it to practical use and take the risks associated with innovation.

After discovering Tutankhamen's tomb, Carter lived for another 16 years, enjoying the prestige and financial advantages of being the best known archaeologist in the world. The treasures found in Tutankhamen's tomb have an immense value, but they cannot be compared to the lesson drawn from Howard Carter's initiative and persistence.


For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my book The 10 Principles of Rational Living

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

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

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Don't drink the poison of contradiction. The myths of the single skill and the unique opportunity. Personal effectiveness depends on patterns

The 10 Principles of Rational Living
by John Vespasian 

In order to improve your life, you don't need to place your hopes on a lottery ticket or wait for the world to grant you the perfect opportunity. There is a better way and it is condensed in the principles of rational living, principles such as “think like an entrepreneur, not like a crusader,” “ignore the noise and focus on results,” “stay away from high-risk situations,” “find people who share your values,” and “develop strong long-term passions.” 

This book presents the principles of rational living in great detail, with numerous examples of people who have applied them successfully. The principles of rational living are sound ideas that can dramatically improve your life. Learn all about them and start applying them today.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. Think like an entrepreneur, not like a crusader
A recipe for getting ahead in good and bad times
Debating and arguing are a waste of time
The true believer is the one who preaches by example
Entrepreneurs thrive on trouble and inconvenience
Unlike resources, opportunities are infinite


2. Ignore the noise and focus on results
If one road is blocked, take another
How to keep calm when you are surrounded by nonsense
The effective way to handle work overload
Learning from people who never feel discouraged
A proven strategy against career stagnation


3. Live inexpensively and invest for future income
Why the stock market offers the best opportunities
Common traits of great businessmen and investors
What kind of companies should you invest in?
A simple strategy is all you need
Adopt a realistic and practical approach


4. Choose a simple and healthy lifestyle
Don't just eat well, eat wonderfully
What is healthy, tasty, and easy to cook?
How to reduce everyday risks to your health
Eating healthily when you are travelling
Is it possible to slow down ageing?
Why it is so difficult to lead a simple life


5. Find people who share your values
Why you should ignore most of what you hear
The ugly duckling story repeats itself every day
Overcoming the resistance to changing jobs and relocating
Don't be original, be unique
Proven strategies for building great relationships
Would you recognize yourself in the crowd?


6. Listen to your emotions, but check the facts
Beware of exaggerated romantic tales
In dating and cooking, choose natural ingredients
How far are you willing to go for happiness?
Conflicting values lead to contradictory behaviour
The short distance between infatuation and obfuscation
Do not waste your best years pursuing unworkable ideals


7. Accept the inevitable hassles of life
Putting an end to exaggerated fears
Extreme reactions are foolish and wasteful
In praise of caution and circumspection
Can you remain self-confident in times of trouble?
How impatient people become stoic philosophers
Never grant problems more weight than they deserve


8. Stay away from high-risk situations
Death statistics make great bedtime reading
Tranquillity seldom comes cheap
Do not make an obsession of the perfect profession
Three situations that you should avoid like the pest
Every archer needs more than one arrow
The jungle never sleeps


9. Acquire effective habits
An hour has sixty minutes, a day twenty-four hours
In praise of staying behind
How a proactive attitude helps you overcome difficulties
Let go of the dead weight of prejudice
Smooth operators get more out of life
Personal effectiveness depends on patterns


10. Develop strong long-term passions
Comparing yourself with other people makes no sense
Don't drink the poison of contradiction
What heroes are made of
The myths of the single skill and the unique opportunity
Become tolerant of mistakes, since you will make so many
The link between integrity and passion


The 10 Principles of Rational Living
by John Vespasian 

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Relentless action, the solution to (almost) every problem. Long-term goals are more inspiring than short-term ones. Paralysis only aggravates problems

Does it pay to hire someone to analyse your dreams? Will it make any difference in your present or future life? I must express my scepticism about the psychological and practical returns on such investments.

When a problem of personal nature comes up, do you really believe that talking endlessly about your past is going to change your future? Should you not rather establish a plan of action and push yourself into implementing it?

Paralysis only aggravates problems

The solution to past problems begins with present action. Paralysis only aggravates problems. Relentless action is the best countermeasure. The way forward entails defining goals, making plans, and following them through.

Let me break down my advice in 12 sequential steps:

1. Get a pencil and a piece of paper and draw two vertical lines in the middle, creating three columns.

2. In the first column, write down where you are now, for instance "I live in Detroit and I don't like it."

3. In the second column, write down where you want to be, for example "I want to live in Paris."

4. For the moment, leave the third column blank.

5. Cross from the list all items that are of secondary importance or that you don't wish to address right now.

6. You should be left with no more than six present and future elements. Let those be your priorities, at least for the time being.

7. Classify your six remaining problems and objectives into two groups. One should contain burning short-term issues that need urgent attention, like settling pending bills or avoiding the foreclosure of your home. The second group should encompass your most important long-term goals, like moving to Paris.

Long-term goals are more inspiring than short-term ones


8. The less short-term burning issues and the more long-term goals you have, the better.

9. In the third column, write down specific steps that you can take in order to advance, for each issue, from your present status to your future goal. In the geographical example, the actions could consist of selling your house in Detroit, learning French, looking for a job in Paris, finding a house to rent there, and preparing the removal of your possessions from Detroit to Paris.

10. Begin to implement your actions one by one, pushing yourself everyday into carrying them out.

11. Many of your foreseen undertakings will fail or will reveal themselves impracticable. Never mind. Simply cross failed actions from your list and replace them by new alternatives. The fact that you are doing something is already helping you learn what doesn't work.

12. Step by step, your implementation will become sharper and increase the effectiveness of your results.

Relentless action, the solution to (almost) every problem


Relentless action, in addition to producing practical gains, enhances your psychological well-being. The souls of those who live by action also grow daily in wisdom. Peace of mind does not come from immobility, but from the process of pushing forward. The human brain is not made for wallowing in past mistakes. Rational goals and ambitions bring out the best in human beings. Relentless action elevates men and women beyond the weight of personal history.

For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my book The 10 Principles of Rational Living

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

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

Monday, 21 January 2013

The antidote to disillusionment and cynicism. Moral confusion is the inevitable result of contradictory thinking. The key to emotional stability is ethical consistency

In traditional education, lying is universally abhorred. Children are taught that one should tell the truth under any circumstances. Such paradigm is usually reinforced with morality tales of liars who suffer terrible punishments. However, when children grow up and become adolescents, they realize that some details do not match in the story they've been told.

The antidote to disillusionment and cynicism


The extreme emotionality of teenagers is linked to their moral awakening. At thirteen, they complain that people don't follow the principles they preach. At fourteen, they point out inconsistencies between ideals and facts. At fifteen, they long to see alignment between purpose and means, but where should they find it?

In this context of straight virtues and twisted reality, becoming an adult frequently leads to disillusionment, cynicism, or sectarian self-delusion. As a result, truth is reduced to the realm of talk, actions become unpredictable, and promises unreliable. What an ethical mess, what an intellectual nightmare.

Moral confusion is the inevitable result of contradictory thinking


The moral confusion of our age is the natural consequence of contradictory premises in our thinking. You cannot expect people to tell the truth while you overwhelm them with equivocations and misrepresentations. There is no excuse for eluding the issue. There is no answer to this dilemma except for that provided by logic and evidence:

1. The ethical requirement to tell the truth under any circumstances does not hold water and there is no evidence that it has ever worked. Such requirement lacks solid grounds, since it fails to acknowledge the difference between good and evil.

2. When dealing directly with nature, it is in our own interest to remain faithful to acquired data and confirmed observations. Machines and chemical processes operate according to the laws of identity and causality. In those cases, if you lie, you will simply get different results or none at all.

3. When dealing with other men, truth is morally due to those who are themselves authentic and reliable. The proportion of genuine and benevolent individuals in your life might include, depending on the context, a few or most people. Indisputably, you should be loyal and faithful to those who are honest.

What about the rest of your social contacts? How should one face individuals who are evil or misinformed, in numbers large or small? For those cases, we need to define clear guidelines for ourselves and our children. For instance, when we have a duty to provide accurate information, what we should do in case of doubt, and so on.


The key to emotional stability is ethical consistency

No morality should demand individuals to tell the truth to those who are trying to do them harm. Equally, no ethical system should require people to disclose private details to random strangers. Contradictory ideals lead to random decisions. The key to emotional stability is ethical consistency.

We have seen too often what prejudice has to offer. We have experienced too frequently how chaos arises from contradictions and waste from inconsistencies. Let us place our principles under reason and our actions under logic, for no other approach can ever meet the demands of reality.


For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my book The 10 Principles of Rational Living
 

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

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


Sunday, 20 January 2013

The best 10 blogs about rational living

  • The best blogs about personal development, psychology and philosophy
  • How to be rational, self-improvement techniques
  • Overcoming failure and adversity
  • How to stop worrying and increase your self-confidence
  • Develop your critical thinking skills
  • Keeping your peace of mind in difficult circumstances
  • How to communicate effectively
  • Stop fighting, learn to deal with difficult people
  • How to overcome discouragement
  • Finding serenity through personal growth
  • Self-help techniques that work
  • The effective cure for stress
The best 10 blogs about rational living
  1. John Vespasian
  2. The Albert Ellis Institute
  3. Dr. Hurd - Tools for Rational Living
  4. Dr. Aldo R. Pucci - Rational Thinking Score
  5. The Lazaroff Center
  6. Living Rationally
  7. Rational Philosophy
  8. Center for Rational Living
  9. Rational Living Therapy Institute
  10. National Association of Cognitive Behavioural Therapists

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Learn to disregard the negative bias of the daily news. Stay away from the gloom-and-doom atmosphere. Three reasons for optimism here and now. Stay alert and seize the opportunities

At the time of this writing, newspaper headlines are all tremendously negative. However, if you look beyond the obvious, you will be able to see the seeds of the accelerated economic growth that will take place in the next years.

Learn to disregard the negative bias of the daily news


Indeed, in some areas of the world, the economy is stagnating, inflation is rising and unemployment remains high. As a result, millions of people are seeing their lives disrupted. Those who have recently lost their jobs may have the feeling that finding a new position is going to take extensive efforts and a very long time.

The stock markets are showing daily fluctuations over 3%, an enormous range by historical standards. Some investors have liquidated their holdings in despair and incurred a substantial loss. The current levels of market volatility are testing the faith of the most devoted believers in a better economic future.


Stay away from the gloom-and-doom atmosphere


The psychological pressures that accompany these events are considerable. The gloom-and-doom atmosphere that dominates conversations inevitably influences people's decisions. Purchases are delayed and changes are feared. When the future looks dark, hesitation seems safer than action.

Nevertheless, despite all these threats and uncertainties, I remain massively optimistic about the future of the world economy. I am convinced that growth will soon resume strongly and take us to higher levels of prosperity. On which facts do I base my optimistic conviction? Are my positive expectations justified by statistical trends?

There are lots of positive economic data if you care to look for them


Yes, in fact there are lots of positive economic data out there if you care to look for them, and not only in China, India and Singapore. Freight volumes are growing and the same can be said of the number of new vehicles sold. More car sales means more steel production and more jobs. For every negative newspaper headline, you can find plenty of data that predict an upwards trend.

Even so, my purpose today is not to engage a statistical discussion. Facts can be measured, but opportunities need to be discovered. Improvements are what you get when you apply creativity to problems.

For predicting the future, structural factors are more reliable than isolated details. If you know a man's character, you will be able to foretell his destiny with greater accuracy than if you know everything he did during the last two days.

Human creativity, or rather, the increased opportunity to exercise it, provides us a solid ground for forecasting a bright economic future. Like a man's character, the level of personal initiative and inventiveness in the world changes only slowly, but one it gets as good as it is now, chances are that it will stay this way for many years.

Three reasons for optimism here and now


My overall optimism is based on the following factors, that you will find no difficulty in observing yourself:

[1] Emigration has become easier than at any previous time in history: Millions of people are moving every year from one place to another to take advantage of the expanded opportunities to exercise their talents.

Sometimes, emigration takes place within the same country (between two cities), but very often, it involves crossing the border between countries. As travel costs continue to decrease and regulations become more flexible, companies benefit from the influx of new talent and workers can find jobs that offer improved economic prospects. In addition to the economic advantage, the contact with other cultures also tends to make people more tolerant and open.

[2] Artists can now offer their creations directly to millions of consumers. The tide has turned for creative individuals. If you are a musician, you can now develop your career without having to wait for a record company to give you a break. The same goes for writers, painters, illustrators, composers, and photographers.

Even new film-makers can now make their movies at a fraction of what it used to cost a few years ago. With the help of low-cost digital cameras, free editing software, and internet distribution, many wonderful films are getting made nowadays, films that would have never seen the daylight in previous decades.

[3] The cost of starting a new business has never been so low in history. In some cases, all you need is an innovative idea and the determination to build something from scratch. We live in a world where vision and commitment are more important that the size of your bank account. Money and other resources can always be borrowed if you know how to apply them productively.

The endless possibilities offered by the internet have unleashed human creativity to levels unknown before. You no longer need to relocate in order to have your products designed, manufactured, and sold in other countries. Video-conferences with clients and suppliers all over the world have become virtually free-of-charge. The cost of market intelligence has also been drastically reduced.

What is even better, the time-line for starting a new business has been compressed and shifted. Low-cost software applications will routinely spare new entrepreneurs hundreds of hours of work, and the work that still needs to be done, they can do it during the evenings and weekends.

Stay alert and seize the opportunities


Never before in history have millions of people enjoyed the opportunity of starting their own business while they can still keep their day job. A lower risk for starting new companies means that more companies will be started, making overall economic growth almost inevitable.

For the three reasons above, I believe that the world economy will continue to grow strongly in the next decade. Of course, the situation will not be equally positive in all countries and in all currencies, but so what? Creativity will always flow to places where opportunities exist and this is the way it should be. Stop listening to negative reports and learn to look beyond the headlines. Things will continue to get better overall as entrepreneurs seize the immense economic possibilities of the 21st century.


For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my book The 10 Principles of Rational Living

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

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

Thursday, 17 January 2013

What to do when you are treated unfairly. What is the emotionally healthy response? Viewing mistakes and plain nonsense in the right perspective. Does it make sense to focus on the unfairness of the day?

Unfairness is everywhere and, if you care to look, you will detect more than your equitable share. Some people are born in the right environment, others possess powerful connections, inherit better looks, or simply draw the lucky number in a lottery.

What to do when you are treated unfairly


Occasionally, your valuable work won't be appreciated and, instead, people will praise worthless nonsense. You may at times have to endure discrimination or ostracism, with the accompanying financial drawbacks. Disappointment, self-pity, and envy are frequent reactions to those situations.

Those negative emotions result from complex thought processes, which are as widespread as they are illogical. Imagine, for example, the case of an inexperienced person who is appointed to a high position within a bank thanks to his family connections to the detriment of a much better-qualified candidate.
 

What is the emotionally healthy response?

What will be the feelings of the person who has seen his rightful expectations evaporate in a cloud of unfairness? On the one hand, irritation and perhaps anger. In addition, discouragement or even depression. Finally, envy, together with an overall sensation of futility. Let us examine in detail the thought sequence that generates these feelings:

1. The open position should be filled with the most competent candidate.

2. The people who will make the choice should strive to identify who the best candidate is.

3. The selection should be made exclusively on the basis of rational criteria.

4. People should display extra care when they make such crucial decisions.

5. When someone makes important choices for an organization, he should not let himself be influenced by personal interests and family connections.

6. Since I am the best-qualified candidate, I should obtain the appointment.

7. If a less experienced person is selected for the job, that would constitute a terrible injustice.

The ideas described above seem irrefutable at first sight, but they fall apart if we subject them to rational examination. In reality, we all know that some people carry out their duties in an exemplary manner while others are as negligent as you can be. For every person who possesses a strong sense of justice, how many will you find who prefer to look the other way?

Viewing mistakes and plain nonsense in the right perspective


Even if you happen to be the best-qualified individual for that particular job, how much of that is the result of luck anyway? If you are reading this, I bet that you have not been born in appalling poverty, deprived of access to basic education, and neglected by your parents to the point of near-starvation. Do take a minute to assess if at least part of your success is the result of pure coincidence or good fortune.

My point is not to state that everything is relative, which is not. Equally, I am not trying to tell you that you shouldn't have ambitions, which you should, by all means. What I am arguing is that envy, a deep feeling of misplaced disadvantage, is mostly a logical illusion.

Does it make sense to focus on the unfairness of the day?


In a world where millions of people are ignorant, thoughtless, and driven by nefarious ethics, what sense does it make to focus on the unfairness of the day? Lamentations and wishful thinking can bring about certain psychological relief, but they are essentially a waste of resources.

The rational response to unfairness is not envy, but relentless action. Given sufficient time, intelligent persistence tends to weigh off the influences of inheritance and chance. In our example, the person who has not been chosen for the job would do better to put on a good face and start to look around, discreetly, for a better position for himself at a rival bank.

Your time on earth is limited and should be used promoting your own cause in front of rational, fair individuals. For what concerns other people's mistakes, prejudice, or arbitrariness, you will be better off if you shrug your shoulders and move on. In the long-term, life often has its own funny ways to settle accounts without your intervention.


For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my book The 10 Principles of Rational Living

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

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

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Learning from people who never feel discouraged. The proven strategy against career stagnation. The ugly duckling story repeats itself every day. Never grant problems more weight than they deserve


The 10 Principles of Rational Living
by John Vespasian 

In order to improve your life, you don't need to place your hopes on a lottery ticket or wait for the world to grant you the perfect opportunity. There is a better way and it is condensed in the principles of rational living, principles such as “think like an entrepreneur, not like a crusader,” “ignore the noise and focus on results,” “stay away from high-risk situations,” “find people who share your values,” and “develop strong long-term passions.” 

This book presents the principles of rational living in great detail, with numerous examples of people who have applied them successfully. The principles of rational living are sound ideas that can dramatically improve your life. Learn all about them and start applying them today.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. Think like an entrepreneur, not like a crusader
A recipe for getting ahead in good and bad times
Debating and arguing are a waste of time
The true believer is the one who preaches by example
Entrepreneurs thrive on trouble and inconvenience
Unlike resources, opportunities are infinite


2. Ignore the noise and focus on results
If one road is blocked, take another
How to keep calm when you are surrounded by nonsense
The effective way to handle work overload
Learning from people who never feel discouraged
A proven strategy against career stagnation


3. Live inexpensively and invest for future income
Why the stock market offers the best opportunities
Common traits of great businessmen and investors
What kind of companies should you invest in?
A simple strategy is all you need
Adopt a realistic and practical approach


4. Choose a simple and healthy lifestyle
Don't just eat well, eat wonderfully
What is healthy, tasty, and easy to cook?
How to reduce everyday risks to your health
Eating healthily when you are travelling
Is it possible to slow down ageing?
Why it is so difficult to lead a simple life


5. Find people who share your values
Why you should ignore most of what you hear
The ugly duckling story repeats itself every day
Overcoming the resistance to changing jobs and relocating
Don't be original, be unique
Proven strategies for building great relationships
Would you recognize yourself in the crowd?


6. Listen to your emotions, but check the facts
Beware of exaggerated romantic tales
In dating and cooking, choose natural ingredients
How far are you willing to go for happiness?
Conflicting values lead to contradictory behaviour
The short distance between infatuation and obfuscation
Do not waste your best years pursuing unworkable ideals


7. Accept the inevitable hassles of life
Putting an end to exaggerated fears
Extreme reactions are foolish and wasteful
In praise of caution and circumspection
Can you remain self-confident in times of trouble?
How impatient people become stoic philosophers
Never grant problems more weight than they deserve


8. Stay away from high-risk situations
Death statistics make great bedtime reading
Tranquillity seldom comes cheap
Do not make an obsession of the perfect profession
Three situations that you should avoid like the pest
Every archer needs more than one arrow
The jungle never sleeps


9. Acquire effective habits
An hour has sixty minutes, a day twenty-four hours
In praise of staying behind
How a proactive attitude helps you overcome difficulties
Let go of the dead weight of prejudice
Smooth operators get more out of life
Personal effectiveness depends on patterns


10. Develop strong long-term passions
Comparing yourself with other people makes no sense
Don't drink the poison of contradiction
What heroes are made of
The myths of the single skill and the unique opportunity
Become tolerant of mistakes, since you will make so many
The link between integrity and passion


The 10 Principles of Rational Living
by John Vespasian 

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Fast and cheap mistakes are the cardinal accelerators of human success. Personal growth requires balance as much as it demands passion. Accepting that your days are limited is a precondition for making the best use of your time

It takes a while before a man realizes that he is going to die some day. Some people never become conscious of their mortality and continue to waste their days until the very last moment. Drug consumption, including alcohol, is a failed attempt to appease the anxiety created by the fundamental truth that time moves in only one direction.

Accepting that your days are limited is a precondition for making the best use of your time

With happiness as a long-term goal, personal growth becomes a short-term objective. With longevity as a desirable aim, good nutrition becomes a crucial element of the good life. The trend is given by Nature, but each individual must define his own strategy.

Gaining understanding of the fact that each passing day is irrecoverable exerts enormous pressure on the insecure. They wonder incessantly if they are doing the right thing or enough of it. They speculate about a myriad of other activities that they could be carrying out instead. They terrorize themselves with statistics of who is doing what, how fast, and how well.

Should we let anxiety drive our lives? In the pursuit of our goals, how can we strike the optimal balance between peace of mind and personal growth? An hour always has sixty minutes and every new day offers us another twenty-four hours. Exaggerated time-consciousness and focus on achievement may lead men to a psychological misery not better than the destitution of the idler.

Personal growth requires balance as much as it demands passion


The path to happiness should be first drawn with charcoals and then brought to life with oil colours. We learn as we walk. Mistakes are inescapable as we sometimes take the wrong turn of the road. Nobody possesses the ability to make all the correct choices.

No man can at the same time concentrate all resources on his future and enjoy the hours of the present. Each individual is born and raised in different circumstances. Genetic, family, and personal qualities vary heavily from one person to the next, even within the same family. The philosophical approach to happiness should not deviate from the hard rules of reality.

Imagine a young man who, growing in the most favourable environment, identifies his lifetime ambitions when he is fifteen years old. He may well spend the rest of his life pursuing his goals, but there is no guarantee that he will achieve them. Anyone entering a professional field has to learn the trade and assimilate its written and unwritten rules.

Sooner or later, lack of knowledge, bad luck or misunderstandings will slow down his professional progress or bring it to a complete standstill. Any biography that you may read will provide evidence of the universality of this principle. Trains stop from time to time, careers stall, and fortunes are sometimes lost.

Occasionally, evil forces may play a role in the demise of a great ambition, but those cases are more rare than popular accounts tend to portray. More often than not, discouragement is the visceral response to failure. Summer grows the seeds nourished by spring rain and winter kills the trees weakened by autumn storms. However, when it comes to human beings, our mental versatility allows us to develop extreme resiliency and surmount all disappointments.


The best strategy is to identify your goal, start moving immediately towards it, and correct mistakes along the way

What is the best approach to adapt the rhythm of our personal growth to our own conditions and situations? Can we define a formula that applies to all men, all countries, and all historical periods? Experience has taught me that the best strategy is to identify your goal, start moving immediately towards it, and correct mistakes along the way.

Relentless action will take you farther on any road you choose, but the crucial aspect in the happiness quest might not be motivation but efficiency. Everybody can raise his motivation level, at least for a while, by attending rallies and listening to speeches. You can chant and dance around, you can dream and speak your heart out, but very little will be achieved.

Other people may support your endeavours or oppose your initiatives, but in the long-term, their actions play only a minor role, like the noise of a train running on its track. Indeed, the sound accompanies the train, but what moves the wagons is the engine, not the noise.

Discard motivation and let action drive you to a better life. What you do counts more than what you dream about. Gaining efficiency and speed on your path to happiness are desirable effects connected to the choice and extent of your actions. If you wish, spend some time cultivating your motivation, but do not let it develop into a game of its own. Talking is not tantamount to doing.

Fast and cheap mistakes are the cardinal accelerators of human success


Inexpensive errors are the sweetest way to happiness, in particular when those errors are rapidly admitted and corrected. Learn a lesson from each of them and avoid repeating the cause and effect. This factor alone can compound the positive effects of your work and lead you to levels of achievement that you previously thought beyond your reach.

The experience acquired in a few years of continuous action will teach you more than several decades of exquisite motivational talks. Reality is too complex to be reduced to pure theory. This is why personal growth can be achieved only through experience.

Knowledge is spread in the market like minerals are contained in sea water. If you wish to become a great surfer, you will have to taste the water hundreds of times. Your reflexes will become faster as you learn how to profit from the changing wind. In your search of happiness, let practice take precedence over speculation. From mistakes, you gain insight and a sharper vision, while empty talk will just eat up your limited time. Choose the way of action.


For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my book The 10 Principles of Rational Living 

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

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

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Free e-book download. How to be rational in a chaotic world. Techniques to stop worrying even when you have a thousand problems. How to build your self-esteem in times of adversity.

  • How to be rational in a chaotic world
  • Maintaining psychological strength despite problems and obstacles
  • Techniques to stop worrying even when you have a thousand problems
  • How to get self-confidence when living in a hostile environment
  • Overcoming barriers to personal growth, internal and external
  • How to deal with difficult people in your business and personal life
  • Stress management under difficult circumstances
  • How to build your self-esteem in times of adversity
  • Overcoming anxiety and excessive concern
  • The low-cost approach to self-development
  • How to find peace of mind in a world of non-stop noise
A presentation of my book The 10 Principles of Rational Living:

The rational versus the irrational approach to human relations. We seldom take time to reflect how people become friends. Bromides about personal relations are of little practical use

Every few years, investigative reporters uncover scandals of some religious or social movement which, under the pretence of improving the world, serves only to enrich its leaders. This sort of exploitative phenomena are not new. Abundant examples of similar cases can be found in sources from previous centuries.

The rational versus the irrational approach to human relations


Why do these abusive situations repeat themselves so frequently? What allows those harmful schemes to attract thousands of victims in different countries and historical periods? The response lies before our eyes: individuals feel alone and want to belong to a closely-knit group, even if that entails paying the highest price.

Men and women wish to be part of a community. We all desire to feel needed and appreciated. In a harsh city environment, a polite sentence or gesture may constitute a shocking act of generosity. Even self-serving, abject flattery can work once in a while in situations that have become so dehumanized that people are starving to hear a few nice words.

Isolation creates psychological vulnerability, which, on many occasions, turns into long-term dependence and subservience. Sociologists have come up with sophisticated theories to explain why people fall prey to heartless manipulators, but do we need a long chain of reasoning when direct observation can provide the answer?

We seldom take time to reflect how people become friends


The fundamental cause of such pernicious relationships is a false theory of friendship. It is a fact that, from infancy to retirement, men get together, talk, and cooperate. Although we see friendships begin everyday and fail every hour, in advantageous or disruptive conditions, we seldom take the time to reflect how the process works.

Bromides about personal relations are of little practical use


When it comes to making friends, commonplace advice has become integrated in the dominant culture to such an extent that it reigns uncontested. Traditional guidelines have been recycled and rehashed without much regard to veracity or scientific proof. Here are some bromides that are often served as entrée, main course, and dessert:

1. Smile to random strangers.

2. Do not express unpopular ideas.

3. Avoid making controversial statements.

4. Listen to others and never contest their views openly.

5. Do not attract undue attention.

6. Show interest in whatever stories people choose to tell you.

7. Be flexible and avoid making clear-cut statements.

8. Do not antagonize others by bringing up sensitive subjects.

9. Cultivate small talk and avoid criticizing people.

10. Do not embarrass others by pointing out obvious contradictions.

The list could be extended to comprise a hundred commandments. The issue is to determine whether those recommendations lead to friendship or to something else. What are the results of following such advice?

Exhortations to avoid personal conflict may be meant to protect your career, but they possess a fatal weakness. Their effectiveness in hiding your true opinions becomes, at the same time, the poison that prevents you from developing any kind of deep, satisfying, involved personal relation.

How rational people choose their friends


Rational people do not choose their friends amongst those who avoid firm commitments, appear self-effacing, and sugar-coat their remarks. Playing down your personal views in order to please strangers will certainly minimize the amount of conflict in your life, but it will also render you invisible to potential friends, that is, those who share your values and convictions.

Being yourself is the first step to build satisfactory relationships. If you choose to dissimulate your interests and beliefs for the sake of conformity, you might be accepted by a certain community, but only as an empty human shell. Is it worth it to give up your personality in order to enter a space where you essentially don't belong?

The crucial advantage of having a rational philosophy to guide your actions


From time to time, when a situation so requires, it may be advisable for you to refrain speaking out your mind. Those cases tend to be exceptional in modern society. As a general rule, a man is better off by letting his philosophy inspire his words and gestures so that others can see him the way he is. In practical terms, this is what an open attitude entails:

* Reserve your acts of kindness for people you like.

* Do discuss about ideas, principles, and ethics.

* If you believe that you are objectively right, take a clear position.

* Remain open to examine evidence that contradicts your views.

* When you make a mistake, apologize, and learn for the future.

* Be polite, but if someone tries to force something upon you, just say no.

* By pointing out contradictions to people who are willing to listen, you might prevent a catastrophe from occurring.

* Seek truth and steer clear of insincere people. Liars are the sort of persons that you don't want to have in your life.

* Choose deep, involved conversations over nonsensical, time-wasting trite.

A realistic theory of friendship begins with a commonality of interests and values. A life filled with empty social engagements is tantamount to an endless nightmare from which you never wake up. Seek out people who appreciate profound discussions and share your rational beliefs.

Offer consistency between form and substance and fly high the flag of your convictions. Be yourself and you will not fail to attract your perfect social match. True friendship is what binds those who share the same road and move forward in the same direction.


For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my book The 10 Principles of Rational Living

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

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

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Why we tend to fear failure more than we should. Have you taken the time to define success on your own terms? Ambition without resilience only results in anxiety. Trial and error are essential ingredients of success

When I was a kid, I never really got to believe what I was told about success. Life seemed to have many more tracks that the one that was being officially preached. There were too many interesting destinations and I saw no justification why only one of them should be correct. In fact, I reasoned, how could anyone dare to formulate a model lifestyle that all people were supposed to follow at all times?

Why we tend to fear failure more than we should


The tenets of the success philosophy were simple and have changed little ever since: failure is scary, so work hard and don't fall behind; keep it safe and don't take risks; don't be different and stay with the group; it is better to be warm with the majority than being left alone in the cold; and above all, you should avoid fundamental doubts and never question what everybody else is taking for granted.

Reality, however, soon proved my doubts justified. For starters, I never met anyone who could be considered really successful according to the demanding standards that had been preached to me. Secondly, whenever I met people who called themselves successful, I found them so lacking in wisdom that I felt pity for them.

Have you taken the time to define success on your own terms?


At that point, I began to realize that the kind of people that fascinated me never felt into the standard success category. The artists I liked were usually struggling or just getting by. The philosophers that I appreciated were far from being famous and wealthy. The movies I loved had no violence, no stars, and no special effects. What was that supposed to mean?

The years passed and, reluctantly, I embraced part of the official philosophy of success, although my conversion was uncertain and superficial. It did not take long before the old doubts came back to visit me, in the beginning every week, then every day, and finally, every night.

Whenever I made a pause and took the trouble to look around, the original questions returned to hunt me more strongly than ever. Human life seemed to be made more of dishevelled threads than of steel frames. The people I liked best had managed to strike a balance between their ultimate purpose and their immediate attachments.


Ambition without resilience only results in anxiety

In my eyes, determination without benevolence turns a person into a jerk rather than a success. Motivation without consideration makes people reckless and empty. Ambition without resilience results in anxiety. Engagement without perspective leads to intolerance. Definitely, I told myself, this is not the way to happiness.

Then one day I happened to read a biography of Charles Darwin (1809-1882), the English naturalist that formulated the theory of evolution through slow variation and adaptation of animal species. Since its inception, Darwin's theory has opened more wide-ranging discussions in society than any other idea in history.

Before reading about Darwin's life, I had assumed that he had come up with the theory of evolution at some point during his scientific expedition to the Galapagos, that he had quickly published his results, and that he had enjoyed for many years the prestige and wealth arising from the subsequent controversies.

I was as wrong as you can be. Darwin's life story was much less glorious than I had expected, since it shows a man who had only moved towards success with utmost shyness and insecurity. In Darwin's actions, I found more hesitation than determination; in his doubts, I saw the reflection of my fundamental questions; in the middle decades of his life, I saw more risk aversion than entrepreneurship.


Trial and error are essential ingredients of success


If failure is the equivalent of immobility, I concluded, then a good part of Darwin's life consisted of failure. Believe it or not, the man who is reputed to be one of the greatest scientists in history, procrastinated for fourteen years before publishing his theory. It is believed that Darwin's hesitation came out of his fear of criticism, although other factors may have also played a role.

Whatever the reason, the fact is that Charles Darwin might have died before taking the step to make his theory public. Apparently, by the time he turned 35, he had already put his thoughts in writing, but he only took the initiative to make his conclusions public when he was 49 years old, that is, fourteen years later. I suggest that you stop here for a second and ponder what you are planning to do with the next fourteen years of your life.

What is even more amazing is that Darwin was only prompted to publish his theory out of the fear of seeing another scientist come out first with a book on the subject. Only when Darwin received a letter from Alfred Russell Wallace in 1858 did he realize that, for him, it was going to be now or never.
 

Mistakes are part of the cost of learning

Wallace had come up with the same theory while doing research in the Malay Archipelago and, in his letter, he had presented a summary to Darwin. After fourteen years of paralysing doubts, Darwin swiftly made up his mind, prepared his notes for publication, and took the decisive step. All his fame and success come from that critical step, for which it took him fourteen years to gather enough courage.

Darwin's story made me wonder if failure and hesitation, instead of being the inhibitors of human success, should not be rather viewed as the harbingers, almost the prerequisites of any substantial achievement. Maybe, I thought, although failure is disruptive and scary, we can only appreciate its meaning when we place it in a long-term context.

Failure changes our way of thinking and our future actions, often turning us into wiser and more successful human beings. Indeed, failure is frightening, but only to a certain point. That's the point at which each of us is given one more chance to turn our lives around.


For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my book The 10 Principles of Rational Living

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

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

Friday, 11 January 2013

How to deal effectively with other people's errors. The role that enthusiasm plays in success is massively overrated. Only productive, rational effort can bring you closer to prosperity and happiness

When someone is looking look for a job, he sends his resume around, replies to advertisements, and finally, he gets invited to interviews. Being the employment market what it is, candidates are rejected in nine out of ten cases. A week after the interview, they receive a phone call informing them that another applicant has been chosen to fill the open position.

How to deal effectively with other people's errors

Sometimes, there is a good reason why another person has been selected for that post, but a certain element of randomness influences a large proportion of hiring processes. On many occasions, the choice cannot be rationally justified and one should not waste time trying to figure out mysterious reasons that do not exist.

An element of arbitrariness is not foreign to those cases, as it happens in countless human activities. Why did you buy this make of car and not that one? Would you repeat that purchase today? How did you come to choose your family doctor? Do you remember how you met each of your best friends?

Don't waste your time trying to find logical explanations for stupid mistakes

What is surprising is people's reaction to failure and rejection. Chances are that the candidate who has not been selected for a particular job will get to hear from his family and friends that he should improve his attitude, manners, clothing, hairdo, and who knows how many other aspects.

Salesmen who go through a difficult period also get served a menu of motivational speeches and meetings to discuss their attitude. In other professions, such as sports, acting, or management, the story runs a parallel course. The problem, you will be told, is in how you see the world.

The role that enthusiasm plays in success is massively overrated

Well, luckily, this is not true. Enthusiasm and attitude play a certain role in performance, but their importance should not be overemphasized. If you pause to think for a second, you will realize that the professionals whom you most trust don't seem to be excessively driven or enthusiastic.

What you expect primarily from your doctor, lawyer, plumber, or car mechanic is not that they are greatly inspiring, but that they do a good job and deliver competent service. Action is what we want to see. Service is what we want to receive. Predictable, rational action is one million times more valuable than attitude and motivation.

Action is the essential factor that gets things done, sold, and delivered. The candidate who has not been selected for the job should not spend too much time wallowing in self-recrimination about what he could have done better. If he can draw some useful lesson for the future, so much the better, but in most cases, a failed interview was just a sale that didn't close.

Only productive, rational effort can bring you closer to prosperity and happiness

Don't devote your worthy hours to speculate about undefined psychological factors, arbitrary theories, and nonsensical advice. Professional salesmen know that, given enough time and effort, they will find more customers. Watching, hoping, and talking seldom help. Only productive effort can bring you closer to success.

Athletes are motivated when they compete, but in the end, it is their past training what usually determines who will win the race. Instead of speculative advice, choose the wisdom of rational action. Let others wonder if the world should be this or that way. Move on, redouble your attempts to reach the place you want to be, and let your actions speak for themselves.

 For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my book The 10 Principles of Rational Living

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

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