I’ve just returned from a few days in Athens, visiting with my daughter. She became a big fan of greek myths and legends from her reading of the Percy Jackson series of books.

As we walked around the Acropolis area, the Parthenon and the ancient Agora of Athens, I reflected upon the elements of civilisation that we still owe to the Ancient Athenians. So much of our politics, our sense of right and wrong, our organising principles of social life come from this small city state that had its peak 2,500 years ago, between 480BC and 320BC.

This video comes from the Acropolis and from the Agora of Ancient Athens.

So much history in this place. Many later cultures copied rather than innovated from the Greek culture. Rome copied the culture, but improved on the military and civil organisation.

Another Greek Video, from Delphi

Earlier in the week we did a day trip up to the ruins of Delphi. Check out the video I made when visiting the location of the ancient Oracle of Delphi.

I am in Athens this week with my daughter. On Friday we drove to Delphi to visit the ancient ruins. For over one thousand years, during the time of the Greek city states, Delphi was the center of the Greek world.

Delphi became famous far and wide between 700BC and 400AD for the Oracle. The Oracle would answer your question. You could bring only one question to ask, and the Oracle would reply. The responses were cryptic. Kings and Emperors came to ask how they would fare in battles.

As we travelled to Delphi, we reflected on what one single question we would bring to be answered.

What would be the question you would bring? If you could get clarity around one single question about your life, what would that question be?

Overcoming challenges and obstacles is what makes life meaningful. I hope your dreams and visions are big enough to be difficult.

“Don’t wish it were easier, wish you were better”

Jim Rohn

This video is about superman. When superman was first developed as a comic book character, he was so strong and powerful that he overcame all obstacles easily. It was only when the authors made him weaker that the stories became interesting.

In our own lives, it is not the easy path that makes for a meaningful life – it is the hard path, and having to become a better, stronger, more resilient, more resourceful person that makes for a meaningful life.

If you liked this post on stories, you will also like What is a Story and 7 Steps to the Perfect story.

David Brooks has career success, but in this TED talk he shares how he found himself empty. 5 years ago, his wife left, his kids had moved out… and he discovered he had nothing to do outside of work. He had mid-week friends, but he had no weekend friends.

Success in career is not success in life.

Individual happiness is transient and empty.

David’s 2 antidotes:

  • Commit to People. Achieving individual freedom is nice, but the our life needs committed connection to others… to not be free.
  • Chase Joy not Happiness. Joy comes when our ego dissolves in the pursuit of something bigger.

“Suffering breaks some people, and breaks some people open”

This post-divorce loneliness crisis led David to explore a deeper way of connecting to others. He began to lose his individual freedom in order to commit to other people.

Our society is in the midst of a social crisis: we’re trapped in a valley of isolation and fragmentation. How do we find our way out?

“Joy is not the expansion of self, it is the dissolution of self.”

Check out David’s full TED talk below:

This video responds to the question: “I want to change career, but I am worried about the risks”.

Rather than worry about the possible mistakes you could make in changing, reflect on the story you want to be able to tell about your life when you are 80 years old. Will you regret not having tried?

The great danger in our lives are not the errors of commission, but the errors of omission… the opportunities we never even spotted along the way. Warren Buffett says he worries far more about the investments that he never spotted rather than the investments that he made that didn’t work out.

Managing Your Own Career

It’s up to you to identify your place in the world and know when to change course.

5 Thoughts on Careers from Peter Drucker:

  1. Success is at best an absence of failure
  2. People outlive organisations
  3. People are mobile and will move
  4. We must manage ourselves, and help others manage themselves
  5. Each worker must think and behave like a CEO

Further Reading

If you enjoyed this article you will also like Purpose and Vision for your Career and Why Business Leaders hire Coaches.

This is a summary of the article on the HBR blog: “If You Want to Use Your Phone Less, First Figure Out Why” by Marcello Russo, Ariane Ollier-Malaterre, Gabriele Morandin

4 Common Reasons People want to Use their Phone less

Many of us would like to spend less time attached to our phones. But to make a real change, you need to understand why you want to use your phone less. You’ll have a better chance of succeeding if you identify exactly what is motivating you.

Here are 4 common reasons people want to unplug and the most effective tip for each:

  1. Improving Work or Home Role Performance – keeping their phones out of sight provided them with the greatest results
  2. Establishing a Personal Digital Philosophy – Setting rules had a tremendous impact for this group. The rules people came up with ranged from no smartphone “outside of business hours” to “no phones at the dinner table.” As one commentator said, “My cellphone is a helpful business tool — I control it, it does not control me.”
  3. Minimizing Undesirable Social Behaviors – disabling push notifications to avoid interruptions during business or social interactions was described as very effective.
  4. Putting Family and Interpersonal Relationships First – Tracking their personal connectivity behaviors was considered an effective way to gain greater self-awareness, which was then used as motivation to change unwanted behaviors. Similarly, reminding themselves of their life priorities was particularly helpful to commentators with a salient family identity. 

Barcelona-based philosopher Eduardo Punset developed a formula for happiness. I forget much of the details, but I always remember his description of “Search” as a fundamental part of the state of being happy. The video below shares a story that Eduard used to demonstrate the importance of the search (it is about his little dog).

This video comes from Manhattan with the help of my daughter. We’re here this week for some classes at IESE NYC and a bit of New York tourism and adventure.

What are you Searching for? I forget that a life without a search is not an easy life, it is an angst-ridden, empty, frustrated life.

I need to get better at designing good summers.

What are your tips?

MIT Endicott House

I was in Boston to teach on the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation EMP (Entrepreneurial Masters Program) this week. MIT Endicott House is one of the most beautiful locations for leadership retreats and programs. I brought my drone to capture the scenery around the main buildings. You’ll see the drone shots right at the beginning of the video below.

Why Do We Need to Clarify our Purpose?

Dandapani in Barcelona, 2016

Dandapani was one of the speakers at the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation Masters Program event this week at MIT Endicott House, outside of Boston. Dandapani spent 10 years as a Hindu monk, meditating with his guru on the purpose of his life.

Dandapani spoke about the importance of consciously deciding what is important and what is not important in your life. Why?

Because life is finite.

More from Dandapani

Dandapani on Instagram (he takes great photos) https://www.instagram.com/dandapanillc

“How to Concentrate”, Dandapani at TEDx

A short story from the mountains about how removing drag can be more effective than increasing power. Many times we could improve our life by cleaning up the things we do that actively damage ourselves: eating poorly, drinking too much, complaining, remaining angry, holding grudges, positioning myself as a victim.

What do you think? What’s your biggest “drag”?

A big part of Vistage group meetings is working through a CEO’s challenges and helping them get clarity about how they can move forward with their business and their life.

We often find that the biggest obstacle to forward progress is not outside of us, but inside of us.

There are 4 fatal fears.

We also call these “Core Self-Limiting Beliefs”. They are learnt. We are not born with these fears. There are only 2 fear that we are born with: fear of falling and fear of loud noises. Every other fear has been learnt. (This does not make them less real or easier to deal with).

These 4 fears will drive a grasping towards something that will never fill me. If I am looking for completion outside of myself, I will never scratch my itch. I need to learn to be able to sit with my fear and anxiety and accept it and accept that I am human and imperfect.

  1. Fear of Failure “I Need Success”
  2. Fear of Rejection “I Need Acceptance”
  3. Fear of Emotional Discomfort “I Need Emotional Comfort”
  4. Fear of Being Wrong “I Need to Be Right”

Each of the fears can be accepted and allowed to exist within me. They will never go away. They will always be there, but I can accept them and not allow them to direct my actions and my words.