Life is not hard, it is easy.  That is the problem.

Why do we stop chasing our dreams? Because it is so easy to wake up, do the minimum, eat, sleep and repeat. Meet someone, bring up kids, drift and die…

It is easy to live.

That is the curse.

It is easy to look at a dream as something far off in the future, a thing.

It is also a verb, it has to be chased.  A dream is all the steps.

This is a wake up call.  We are all dying, but if you are not chasing your dream, you are already dead.

I’m dying to…..

Most people didn’t know what to write.  We let people off the hook with small, short term dreams “I’m dying to have a drink”  “I’m dying to have more friends”

If you don’t know the answer, don’t wait until someday to answer this question.  When you do figure it out, you will sleep like a kid again.  You will sleep with a dream and wake up with a dream as well.

Inspired by Steve Mazen’s TEDx talk:

You can follow Steve’s adventures on twitter:

 

Will Smith (photo from Esquire)
Will Smith (photo from Esquire)
Reading an interview with Will Smith (he is deep and a keen observer of the human condition), I came across this statement from him:

“Put somebody on a treadmill and I’ll tell you how good they are at any other thing they do in life.” Will Smith

Harsh.

Brutal.

but… is it True?

I think he’s right.  Verne Harnish thinks he’s right – he says “How you do anything is how you do everything

And Will on Resilience…

“Don’t let success go to your head and failure go to your heart”? Daphne Maxwell Reid, Aunt Viv on Fresh Prince.

Will shares his experience of failure:

“After Earth comes out, I get the box-office numbers on Monday and I was devastated for about twenty-four minutes, and then my phone rang and I found out my father had cancer. That put it in perspective—viciously. And I went right downstairs and got on the treadmill. And I was on the treadmill for about ninety minutes. And that Monday started the new phase of my life, a new concept: Only love is going to fill that hole. You can’t win enough, you can’t have enough money, you can’t succeed enough. There is not enough. The only thing that will ever satiate that existential thirst is love. And I just remember that day I made the shift from wanting to be a winner to wanting to have the most powerful, deep, and beautiful relationships I could possibly have.”

Will says that in his house they have this quote up on the wall:

“Only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible be found in us.” Pema Chödrön

Will summarises the meaning of these words for his family:

“We call it leaning into the sharp parts. Something hurts, lean in. You just lean into that point until it loses its power over you. There’s a certain amount of suffering that you have to be willing to sustain if you want to have a good life.”

pablo (23)I often use an exercise called The Lifeline in my teaching.  I found a good summary of the exercise here.  In the exercise people reflect on the important positive and negative experiences of their life.

Something that has struck me after all these years of watching groups work on the exercise – it is the hard times in life and how we dealt with them that most inspires.  We are inspired by the struggle more than the end point.

“Life is a series of experiences, each one of which makes us bigger, even though sometimes it is hard to realize this. For the world was built to develop character, and we must learn that the setbacks and grieves which we endure help us in our marching onward.” Henry Ford

I guess if an inspirational speaker came and gave a speech that went: “I had this idea to climb a big mountain, so I went there and I climbed it.  It wasn’t too hard and the view from the top was lovely.” – it wouldn’t be too inspirational.  It is what she had to overcome, the unexpected obstacles, the discovery of previously hidden strength – that I want.

This reminds me of rule number 6 from Kurt Vonnegut on rules for telling a story: “Be a Sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them—in order that the reader may see what they are made of.”

“All life demands struggle. Those who have everything given to them become lazy, selfish, and insensitive to the real values of life. The very striving and hard work that we so constantly try to avoid is the major building block in the person we are today.”  Pope Paul VI

Photo Credit: Grant MacDonald via Compfight cc
A worthy struggle? Photo: Grant MacDonald

The Opposite of Fragile

What is the opposite of fragile?  I hear you saying “robust”, “strong”, “durable”, “flexible” or even “unbreakable”…  but these words are not the opposite, they are the zero point on the line from breaks under pressure to grows under pressure.

A wine glass when dropped on the concrete floor will smash.  It is fragile.  A plastic glass when dropped on the concrete floor will not smash.  It is “flexible and robust”.  However, there are some systems that when dropped, they come back even stronger.

Nasim Taleb coined the term “Antifragile” for things that grow under stress.  Evolution is a process by which species become stronger when stressed.  When I go to the gym, I actually damage my muscles – but they grow stronger as they repair.  A broken bone will heal stronger than the surrounding bone.

“When we long for life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure.” Peter Marshall

We humans are “antifragile”.  We learn and grow faster in the struggle than in the garden.

This is a humorous but impactful video that will help remind you forever that people want to feel understood, not to have their problems solved.

I was at Entrepreneurs’ Organisation Global Leadership Conference last week in Athens.  One of the closing speakers was Hedy Schliefer.  She spoke on the art of deeply connecting with another person.

The 3 Parts of Deep Connection

Her TED talk is a wonderfully passionate description of the 3 pieces of deep connection. I can tell you that the passion and the joy that she shares in the 18 minutes of TED is the same as she lives each day.  When I was waiting behind the stage getting ready for my own speech, she cared more about connecting to me than stressing about her “performance”.  I was more stressed about my own upcoming performance and not giving anyone else any real empathy or attention.

 

 

feynman
Richard Feynman

“If you know the name of a bird in all of the human languages, you will still know absolutely nothing about the bird.  My father taught me the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing about that something.” Richard Feynman

Earlier this week, my father sent me 2 short video interviews of Nobel Physicist Richard Feynman.  Feynman speaks of his intense dislike of “honours”.  He speaks about valuing his work for the intrinsic value of his work: “I enjoyed physics because I used to play with it, I do it for the fun of it”.  He speaks of the need to “disrespect the respectable”.

Disrespect for the Respectable

What’s the difference between the king and the subjects?  The difference is epaulets, uniform, position:  it has nothing to do with something intrinsic of that person.

Science in 1 Minute

Richard Feynman explains science in under 60 seconds:

  • Step 1) Guess…
  • Step 2) Check if your guess can predict nature,
  • Step 3) If not, your guess is wrong.

It doesn’t matter who made the guess, the beauty of the guess, how much you would like the guess to be right, the simplicity of the equations…  it only matters whether it can predict nature.

More like this?

Do you know any other great minds that we can find their interviews on youtube?  I would welcome ideas in the comments below 😉

More from Richard Feynman:

A few weeks ago I was in the audience with my friend Manuel listening to Kilian Jornet share his life story.  At the age of 26, Kilian projects the profound wisdom of a Zen sage.  The mountains are a powerful teacher.

Kilian will run up and down Everest in 2015.  Yep, run up it.  He has already set the world records for running up and down 3 of the highest mountains in the world.

Everest is not the most dangerous mountain in the world (that is probably K2 – 1 climber death for every 4 who have reached the summit).  Everest is not the most difficult mountain in the world.  It is the highest.  It is dangerous – if you climb it today there are approximately 200 dead bodies along the route (source).

There is a saying that an alpine climber is not a true alpine climber until he could turn back at 10 meters from a summit because the weather is not right.  I certainly do not have that discipline in my climbing of mountains.  I don’t have that discipline in my other field of endeavour: entrepreneurship.

photo credit: e-nfocs
View of Mount Pedraforca, photo credit: e-nfocs

5 years ago I was with my friend Jordi on Mount Pedraforca.  We reached 300m from the summit when the weather really began to change.  Dark clouds moved in, thunder and lightning surrounded us – many of the lightening flashes visible not above us, but down in the clouds below where we were resting.  We discussed heading back and not achieving the summit, but the call of the summit was too much.  We climbed up.

We made it back down.  However, it was a case of the emotional desire to reach summit being stronger than a completely objective analysis of our options.

What does it take to reach this level of objective detachment in my decision making?  When do you know that the best decision is to walk away and let the business fail?  When do you know that the right decision is to keep waiting for another opportunity?

  • “In nature there are no rewards or punishments, there are consequences.” Mick Halligan (Tweet This)
  • “Mountains have a way of dealing with overconfidence.” Hermann Buhl (Tweet This)
  • “Mountains are not fair or unfair, they are just dangerous.” Reinhold Messner (Tweet This)
  • “It’s a round trip. Getting to the summit is optional, getting down is mandatory.” Ed Viesturs (Tweet This)

My Professor of Decision Analysis during my MBA at IESE Business School was Manel Baucells.  He said that you must define the criteria for walking away from a project before you begin and you must commit to walking away when those criteria are met.  I know he is right, but we need to work on the emotional attachment that we will gain because of our nature as human beings.  Microsoft Excel can clearly see “sunk costs”, but human being me is not so good at discounting them from the decision.

I’ll finish with a beautiful quote on how mountains clarify: 

“Climbing is the lazy man’s way to enlightenment. It forces you to pay attention, because if you don’t, you won’t succeed, which is minor — or you may get hurt, which is major. Instead of years of meditation, you have this activity that forces you to relax and monitor your breathing and tread that line between living and dying. When you climb, you always are confronted with the edge. Hey, if it was just like climbing a ladder, we all would have quit a long time ago.” Duncan Ferguson.

What have you done to detach emotionally from decisions?

Quotes taken from http://www.gdargaud.net/Humor/QuotesClimbingSerious.html

Miracle doesn’t mean it doesn’t work, it means we don’t understand how it works.

pablo (16)

There are plenty of things I don’t understand, but I know they work.

Plant a seed, grow a tree.  I don’t understand all that happens in the growing of a tree, but I do know that planting an acorn, watering and feeding it: I will get an oak tree.

I help someone out today.  I don’t know exactly how it will come back, but it just always seems to come back to me in some good way.

Goose photo from The Guardian
Goose photo from The Guardian

My friend Florian commented in a seminar recently “persuasion is like a black box: you don’t have to understand why we ask you to put these ingredients in, why they should be in this order: but if you do it, the result is persuasion.”

If you could plant a seed, if you should plant a seed, but: you don’t plant a seed: the miracle process does not start.  I can chant oak tree creation songs, I can toss salt over my right shoulder; but it is the planting of the seed that is the creation of the miracle of the living tree.

The farmer of the goose who laid the golden eggs?  He couldn’t let the miracle “just be”.  He had to break the goose to find how it works, and this broke the miracle.  The impulsive urge to understand everything can break the miracle process.

If you could help someone, should help someone, but don’t: the miracle does not have a chance.

Sculpture garden at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
Sculpture garden at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art

In 2001 I spent a weekend in Denmark with 3 friends. We spent Sunday morning in the sunshine visiting the Louisiana modern art museum 40 kms north of Copenhagen. The setting was beautiful, right on the coast with views over the water to Sweden. One of my friends said “this place is beautiful, its a pity most of the art is so crap.”

I understood her point.  We had walked through room after room of “art” that my 6 year old daughter could have produced.  There were a few pieces that were inspirational, but on the whole, the collection was childish scribbles.

The four of us ended up taking 2 different positions.  2 of my friends were of the opinion that art had to be “difficult to produce”.  One should see the piece and marvel at the talent and the hard work of the artist.  Works of Turner, Michelangelo, Caravagglio, Van Gogh are art.  Childish scribbles are not.  Advertising is not.

Myself and the third friend had a different view.  “Art makes you reflect”.  Anything can be art, but it must make you stop and think.

The Collection at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
The Collection at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art

Coomaraswamy says that “art is the making of things well”.  This is independent of category.  The factory worker is capable of art, the technology consultant can create art, the woodworker can create art, the painter can create art.  It is the intent to make things well that makes them art.

James Joyce divided art into two categories: “Proper art” and “Improper art”.  In A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Joyce says that “proper art” is static: it holds the observer in a moment of awe and wonder.  Improper art is kinetic: it induces an urge into the observer, either of desire for the object (a sexy body) or what the object represents (status, power), or of fear of the object (Satan) or what it represents (going to hell, losing my health, losing my money).

Proper and Improper Art

All advertising is improper art – it is specifically designed to induce an urge that will lead to the purchase of a product.

An object that I want to have because it is beautiful, because it is rare, because it is highly valued by society – is improper art.

An object that makes me feel ashamed because I do not have the talent of the original creator – is improper art.

An object that depicts a beautiful family and I want to have a family like that – is improper art.

This week my friend John described how, as a child, he would take a battery-powered torch and point it into the night sky.  He would switch it on, then off.  He would stop in awe and wonder as he contemplated the idea that the light he sent out would travel out into space, for ever and ever.  In this moment of contemplation, he would open up to awe of the universe and wonder at its vastness.

When I first listened to Pachelbel’s canon (here is a wonderful orchestral version conducted by Sir Neville Mariner on spotify) it has the effect on me that the torch had on John.  I remember putting my father’s massive headphones on when I was 9 years old and hearing this tune for the first time.  I was entranced by its utter perfection.  I could imagine no improvement or no change that could possibly make it more powerful.  It just held me still (yes, it held a 9 year-old still for 6 minutes) with a sense of gratitude that I had found it.

What is your Proper art?

What stops you in a moment of awe and wonder?  What object, what experience, what person gives you this opening up of perception?

References

 

I had an opportunity to give a talk at TEDx University of Navarra.  You will find here the video and a transcript of my speech.

Now over 700K views of this talk

November 2017

If you had 1000€ and you could invest that money in someone’s future, who would you bet on? Is it yourself?

Here is a wonderful 1 page summary of the TEDx talk from @in.sight.out

tedx-who-would-you-bet-on-visual

Social Media

Thanks to Sara Navarro Cuesta for being the first to share: Thanks to IESE Business School for a widely-read tweet

Transcript

Who would you bet on?

Imagine you had the two hundred people you know best in the world sat in this room and i gave you this deal:

you come, today, come up here to me, you give me a thousand euros and you give me a name, and for the rest of that person’s life I will pay you ten percent of everything they make, every month, month after month, month after month.

Ten percent.

Who would you choose?

Imagine that. Here in the room, if you look around the faces you see in this room -some good faces to bet on in this room- but if you put the two hundred people you know best from school, from university, through family connections,… Who of all the people you know, will be the one person that you would put on my paper and bring to me? Who would you bet on? I was asked this question seven years ago. The man in the picture is Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett, at times the richest man in the world.

Warren Buffett doesn’t invent things;

Warren Buffett doesn’t sell things;

Warren Buffett doesn’t manage a company.

Warren Buffet takes one decision every day:

Would I bet on this person?

And the results would seem that he does this quite well. But seven years ago when he asked this question to a hundred and fifty MBAs. In my mind, three or four faces came to my mind…

Three or four faces…

And I hope as you’re thinking about this now

-Who would you bet on?- Some faces come to your mind. Some faces come to mind. People you know,

if you have this bet to make you choose them.

So let’s work a little bit on this.

If we’re gonna do this properly which we put together a process.

The question:

What criteria will you use in making this decision?

What criteria is your mind already using when it puts up a couple of faces in your mind’s eye?

What are you looking for when you see in someone the capacity have a massive impact in the world? I’m assuming you wanna do this bet well, because you do it well you can use that money for a lot of good causes.

What criteria would you use?

One idea -let’s go through some ideas- one idea: let’s get the two hundred people present in the room to bring their grades from school and university and we put them in order from the best to the worst grade and we choose number one.

Good idea?

The really scary thing is if I asked a group of twelve-year-olds they would laugh at the idea. Twelve-year-old already see the grades in school is not the criteria.

What are the criteria we’re using?

What about best friends? Patxi, I’ll choose you if you choose me! Best friends! Wonderful for friendship but a very dumb-way to take this decision.

What criteria would you use?

What criteria is your mind already using when it starts to put some ideas in your mind?

Who would you bet on?

So if grades from school isn’t it; best friends isn’t it; What would you use?

Now Warren Buffett takes this decision everyday, and Warren Buffett has three criteria.

But before I get into these three criteria of Warren Buffett

I wanna move to the world of psychology -I studied psychology- and to this day, from the beginning of psychology, there’s one test that above any other tests in life predicts future success on every measure: wealth, quality of relationships, grades in school, length of relationships, happiness, measured on every scale wether qualitated or quantitated

And the test is called the Marshmallow Test.

This here is a marshmallow.

The marshmallow test can be conducted on children three or four years old: the psychologist brings the child into the room and says “this is yours, this is yours to eat. I need to leave the room for a couple of minutes, when I come back if it’s still there you get two”.

And the psychologist leaves the room.

And the kid looks at the marshmallow: its his marshmallow! you can use it in any way you want.

So fifty percent eat the marshmallow; fifty percent don’t eat the marshmallow.

And the fifty percent that don’t eat the marshmallow go on to live lives that are qualitative and quantitatively better than the kids that do eat the marshmallow.

But you can go and look at this on Youtube.

You can go and see this experiment being carried out. And what is most illustrative is what the children do that don’t eat the marshmallow.

The kids that eat the marshmallow do something similar:

they stare at the marshmallow, they look at it.

The kids that don’t eat the marshmallow -can you imagine three-year-olds, four-year-olds? it’s kind of obvious- the kids that don’t eat the marshmallow: they put their head on their hands, they get up and stare at the wall, they look at their shoes.

Because at the age of three they’ve already realized how little power they have over themselves, over their own nature.

The lesson:

the diet fails in the supermarket, not at home. If I go to the supermarket and I buy chocolate, and that chocolate gets to my house, my willpower might get me through one day, it might be getting through the end of the week, it might get me to the end of the month, I might last a year…

But one day something bad will happen: I’ll come home tired my willpower will not be there and I will eat that chocolate.

The marshmallow test: the most powerful tool, on three or four-year-old children, to determine the quality of their lives the rest of their life.

Now, marshmallows don’t work on grown adults, so I wouldn’t recommend we use the marshmallow test to make your decision of who’d you bet on.

Let’s go back to Warren Buffett and his three criteria:

the three criteria of Warren Buffett.

And Warren Buffett makes this decision pretty damn well: sixty billion dollars of Net worth through deciding “would I bet on this person or not?”. And if you look at the structure of a lot of his deals he takes ten percent of all the future income of this person, of this team, of this company, on these three criteria.

The second criteria of Warren Buffett:

Energy.

Energy is health and a bias to action:

healthy people, people who don’t get ill often, people when they get a cold there back to work tomorrow cuz they recover quick, they sleep well.

Bias to action: people have a tendency to take action over thinking about action.

Energy is about vitality and a bias to action.

The third criteria of Warren Buffett:

Intelligence.

But not chess intelligence, not business school intelligence, not sitting in a room for four years designing a strategy intelligence.

He’s talking about adaptive intelligence: when you’re running down the street and a lamp post is coming towards you, adaptive intelligence is the intelligence to see the pattern, see the lamp post coming and change your course just enough but instead of taking it in the forehead you take the blow on the shoulder and you keep moving.

So number two: energy.

Number three: intelligence.

But without number one Warren Buffett and I would rather you were dumb and lazy.

Without number one you’ll be a danger to yourself.

Without number one you’ll be danger to your family and to society.

Number one, Warren Buffett’s number one criteria…

Number two is energy. Number three, intelligence. But without this those two are dangerous.

Number one is integrity.

But integrity is that you say no to most things.

Integrity is really about an alignment between what your calendar says you do and what you say you. And if you say yes to most requests, if you can’t think of the time you said no in the last day, in the last week, your life has been divided into thousands of little pieces and spread amongst the priorities of other people.

So to live an integral life, to live a life true to your own values means that you say no very often.

Integrity, energy and intelligence.

Do they seem like good criteria?

Do they seem like good criteria?

They worked for Warren Buffett… They seem like good criteria?

Did you use these criteria in taking this decision? in choosing the one person to own ten percent of all their future income?

These three seem like good criteria for me, I use them, I often use them.

They seem like good criteria. Now, there’s a person in this room that without paying me a thousand Euros, without doing anything different, without raising your hand, without moving, you owe more than ten percent: you own one hundred percent.

The person in this room that you don’t have to pay money, you don’t have to go to me, you don’t have to speak to anyone, and you will own one hundred percent of everything, month after month, after month.

So I very much hope that you each day work very hard to maximize integrity, maximize energy maximize intelligence.

Because if you bet on someone else for ten percent, I damn well hope, you put everything you can into maximizing these three in your own life.

And given that we got a few minutes, How about some tools?

I’ll leave you with some tools: one tool to maximize your intelligence, one tool to maximize your energy, one tool to maximize your integrity. And you can put these into action right now.

Intelligence: write stuff down.

If you write down ideas you’ve had today, if you write down people you’ve met, describe things that are going on, six months from now you won’t be the intelligence of one moment: you’ll be the accumulated intelligence of six months of ideas, six months of things written down, six months of people’s quotes.

When I was fourteen years old my biology teacher made us write down five minutes everyday, whatever we wanted. I remember day one. Pen touched paper: “This is stupid, What are we doing?”

Day two, again: “This is stupid. What are we doing?” Day three: “He’s still doing this!”

Day four: “Strange thing happened to me on the way to school today…”.

Day five: “My brother said something to me this morning…”.

I’ve written everyday of my life since I was fourteen years old. I know where I was every day of my life since I was fourteen: I know what I was thinking, I know what I felt like, I know who I was with.

Start writing down your life, it’s the most valuable resource you have: your own life. But so few people take the time to document it. Write your life down, describe the marshmallow.

Energy: high-performance athletes. I’ve spent a lot of time over the last five years interviewing the high-performance athletes of Spain: Josef Ajram, Kilian Jornet, Miquel Suñer.

Josef Ajram: ten times he’s competed in the Marathon des Sables. Two marathons a day, six days across the Sahara.

And Josef tells me: he finishes because he never thinks about more than fifteen minutes ahead. He runs for fifteen minutes he stops, has a drink, another fifteen minutes, another fifteen minutes, his mind never goes beyond fifteen minutes.

He says “anybody can run for fifteen minutes”.

He’s run the Marathon des Sables because he’s never, ever, let his mind see more than the next fifteen minutes.

Miquel Suñer swims open water, without a wetsuit, across the english channel. No wetsuit! Forty two thousand strokes to leave the english coast over to france.

Fourteen, fifteen-degree water; the cold seeping in with every stroke. How does he do it?

Because his mind is never further than stroke, stroke, breath; stroke, stroke, breath. Hour after hour, swimming, but he’s never allowing is mind to go anywhere beyond: stroke, stroke, breath.

With the marshmallow: deal with one marshmallow at a time, one marshmallow at a time.

What’s the next step? Do not let your mind jump forward and see the biggest thing. Alpine climbers see the next inch.

Ranulf Fiennes, oldest man from europe to climb Everest: failed three times; on his last attempt his wife said “Ranulf, climb it like the horses”.

He looked at her: “What you mean like the horses?”.

She’s an animal trainer: “A horse has no concept of the finish, a horse runs until it collapses. Climb everest one step at a time. Ask yourself one question: “can I take one more step?” “Yes!” take it. “No!” pause. “Yes!” take it, “Yes!” take it.

And on one of those steps he stood on the summit.

Energy: deal with next unit, one marshmallow at a time, one marshmallow at a time.

Integrity: Do you know how a child spells love?

How does a child spell love?

T-I-M-E

This world is full of good intention… But, the way you see if an executive really is behind an initiative you open their diary and you count the hours.

If you say your parents are important to you, open the diary and show me the hours.

The coherence between a diary and your values is where integrity begins.

And it’s kind of horrific when you start to count, when you start to look and start to become aware of where your time goes… So little of my time really goes to the things that I know and I mean to do. So often I slip off into facebook and what was supposed to be a minute, is an hour, and then lunch comes.

But those minutes, once you start to get the minutes dedicated things that matter…

And the truly important thing to remember about the marshmallow test is that there’s hundreds, and thousands, and millions of marshmallows in your life: hundreds of little decisions, minutes after minute, day after day that all sum up.

And success in life is not one massive good decision, not one marshmallow not eaten;

and failure, is not one marshmallow eaten, or one poor decision.

Failure is repeated bad decisions;

success, is repeated, consistent, good habits.

We so underestimate what we can achieve in a year and so overestimate what we can achieve in a day. A page a day and you have a book in a year: you’ll never write a book in one day.

But this time, once you started dedicate the time right, I had the privilege is spending a day with Kilian Jornet -probably Spain’s top athlete, ultra man- when I met him he just finished running the Lake Tahoe Rim Run: 288 kilometers, 19 kilometers of vertical ascent and he run it in 36 hours.

What the hell goes through a man’s mind as he runs for 36 hours?

But when he runs, do you know what the other competitors say about Kilian?

“He looks like he’s enjoying it”.

The other runners are suffering and they’re looking down:

Killian is running touching the leaves as he runs past, smelling the smell of the forest, feeling at the end of the track beneath his feet.

He runs for thirty six hours because he’s absolutely there, his mind is nowhere else but in the run, in the path, in the forests, feeling completely alive.

But when you do get your diary too much up to your values, getting your life one hundred percent present, and experiencing every little piece,is what took Killian to be #1 in the world in the hardest sport in the world.

So the lesson, rule #1 for success -and I brought a few for all of you to see if you can achieve it- the rule for success: when you have a marshmallow don’t stare at it.

The diet doesn’t fail because of weakness of will, the diet fails because the chocolate is there.

If you want to stop watching television take the batteries out of the remote.

If you want to do more exercise, put your running shoes next to the door.

It’s small, small changes…

And when I come back five years from now, and I ask: “Who did you bet on?

the answer that I want:

Yo mismo! (Spanish for myself)

When I come back ten years from now, the answer that I want is “Yo mismo!”

And twenty years from now, I want you to have written stuff down;

I want you have dealt with one step at a time;

I want you to make sure your diary aligns completely, you say “no” to the things that don’t fit with what’s important to you.

And twenty five years when I come back here I will look out on the most successful group of people, because they’ve lives their lives fully.

Who would you bet on?

Can we understand a region’s culture by looking at the main cereal crop of five thousands years ago?  This is a little thought experiment.  This has no basis in science or fact and is merely a little story I am telling today…  I very much welcome reflections and comments.

  • Asia – rice
  • Northern Europe – oats and apples
  • Mediterranean – wheat and olives



What is a culture of rice farming?
Rice FarmerIn most regions of Asia, the food source of the last thousand years has been rice.  Rice is a plant that requires backbreaking constant work to produce a crop.  If a farmer and his family works 10 hour days, he gets a full crop.  If he works 5 hour days, he gets much less.  If he does not work each day, he gets no crop.

First the farmer and his family must build walls to allow an area to be flooded.  River water must be  channeled into the paddys.  The farmers replant the rice plants multiple times to ensure that each has the space it needs.  All of this work is done with feet underwater and back bent at 90 degrees.

Rice = The harder you work, the better your crop.

Oat Crop in DeltaWhat is a culture of oats and apples?
In the north of Europe, the food sources have been orchards, oats and barley.  These require a daily effort, but only in maintaining some order in the fields and orchards.  If you work 2 hours a day, you get a full crop.  If you work more, you don’t get any extra benefit.  If you don’t work, you don’t lose everything, but your crop will suffer.

Oats = It is important to work, but there is nothing to be gained by over -working.

What is a culture of wheat and olives?
wheat_field_rows
In the areas around the mediterranean, the crops are wheat and olives.  A farmer plants wheat and then returns 5 months later to harvest his crop.  There is nothing he can do to improve the yield.  There is no gain to be had by working once the wheat is planted.  If the rains come and the sun shines, you get a crop.

Wheat = There is little a human farmer can do to increase the yield except hope for sun and rain.





Is this an interesting analysis of Culture?
Our cultures of today: habits, style of eating, urban architecture, songs, languages, buildings arise out of cultures that were built around these core activities of food production.

A more serious analysis of Culture… (very much worth a read)
One of the best resources on cultural understanding is the framework of Geert Hofstede.  He identified power distance, individualism vs collectivism, masculinity vs femininity, uncertainty avoidance, time horizon and indulgence vs restraint as components that differ, and are important to understand if you are dealing with people from another culture.

Photo credits: ImageMDRaeA, David Bradbeer