Documenting The Journey Of A Man On A Quest For Mindfulness, Peace, and Joy

Tag: Self Improvement

On Sabbatical – Week 18: Climbing Aboard the Creative Process Struggle Bus

I’m growing an awareness of how much I covet the morning hours of the day, the time immediately after either a) I’ve dropped the kids off at school, or b) I’ve successfully gotten them out the door for my partner to take them. That first hour of spaciousness in the day feels especially juicy, important, critical. I know it’s when I’m at my freshest, my energy tank at its fullest, that special time of day where I can crank out maximum productivity, creativity, or whatever is calling that day. It is a gift to gain clarity about my body and mind, how it works, its natural rhythm and tendencies. The first hour of space in the day is, usually, when my brain operates at maximum capacity. I’m beginning the practice of planning out my highest priority “thinking tasks” for this time each day, and I cherish the opportunity that I have to delight in this spaciousness. 

One would think that with the freedom of time that comes with removing oneself from the workforce, there would be ample time to pursue several hobbies, tackle all those pesky around-the-house projects, even learn a new language, but as embarrassed as I am about admitting it… it doesn’t feel that way. I don’t feel free. I feel conflicted. Being on a quest of self rediscovery is not a simple, straightforward path. Over the last few months, I have been removing my old behaviors and thought patterns, and giving myself space, space enough to see what surfaces from within. The problem is not that I can’t think of what I want to do; the problem is I have an abundance of ideas. In theory, I have an extra six hours of “free time” without kids every day, but I’ve also essentially stopped buying restaurant food, which means more meal planning, more cooking, and more dishes, which all take time. Plus we have an international move to plan. And there is a decent-sized list of creative projects I’d like to tackle. There is not enough time to master all of these things overnight. Part of the challenge is there is no roadmap I am following; I am a voyager sailing the seas of my inner self with only my concentrated listening to guide me. When you have a job, your weekly structure is more or less dictated for you. While it can feel constricting to not be in absolute control of your time, it is also a challenge to navigate the nebulous abyss of free time. It’s easy to feel like I’m wasting time or that I’m not making the best use of a particular hour because I’m stumbling my way through learning how to use Plug-ins in Garageband, or staring at a blinking cursor in WordPress for ten minutes because I’m hitting a writer’s block. Self doubt creeps in. “Why are you even bothering to write now? Where is this going to get you anyway? Is this really the absolute best thing you could be doing right now to get closer to your vision? What even is your vision?” I’m getting the sense that it will be helpful if I create some sort of weekly structure to prioritize my actions and to align them with my values and vision. And probably figure out that whole vision thing…

As I attempt to learn how to be a creator, I find it particularly challenging to have little structure. No “right way” to go about it. How much structure is a creative person supposed to have? Do I make appointments with myself so that I stay on track with practicing all the things I want to practice? Or do I let it flow and just follow the energy of whatever excites me in that moment? Is there value in “pushing through” a writer’s block (or a songwriter’s block), or do you acknowledge you’ve hit a creative dead end for the time being, get up, and do something else? I think I’d like to have some conversations with my creative friends about this and read more about the creative process (as I go and add Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way to my library queue). 

In other news this week, I did create what some might call my first “song” with my new home studio setup. It’s barely a song, but it has sound, rhythm, and a tiny bit of shape, and you can listen to it on the internet, so I think that clears for my definition of song. You can listen to it here: https://soundcloud.com/kevin-carlow/carlows-first-midi-loop. It was a real treat playing it for my kids. As I loaded it up on our speaker in the family room on an early weekday morning, I watched with delight as my children and partner reacted with genuine, positive interest by shaking their hips and bobbing their heads. The kids wanted to hear it again in the car on the way to school. When the climax of the song hit, when all of the tracks in the early part of the song are layered together and converge (all three of them), my child, with a keen ear for instrumentation and harmony, exclaimed, “Wow Dad, you must’ve been playing some of those instruments with your feet!” How long can I get away with my kids believing I can play drums, bass, and keyboard at the same time before showing them how the sausage gets made? 

My Sabbatical – Week 4 – Prioritizing Pursuits And Accepting The Truth Of My Actions

A sabbatical is glorious in many ways, and it also has its challenges. With the stripping away of a more rigid daily and weekly structure, with a reduction of commitments and obligations, which grants me additional free time to allocate as I choose, comes a challenge. A challenge of variety, of options, of opportunities, of… open-endedness. There are many endeavors I wish to pursue, and all of them require minutes of the day (although some, such as living more mindfully, can be practiced throughout the day). How to prioritize? I have many goals I want to tackle all at once. I want everything to happen now. I want to be fluent in Spanish. I want to have five songs written and produced. I want five boxes to fill themselves of the stuff we don’t need and donate themselves to places and people that will use them. I want this blog to write itself. There are ten different website updates I want to make to this very site, not to mention the three other websites I want to be building, but each little change takes me ages since everything is a first, and firsts have a steep learning curve. And I know this kind of sounds impossible and “woe is me,” but even though I don’t have a day job right now, even with all those extra hours in the week, it’s still hard to make time for all of these things. Or even half of them! What things make the cut and which get left for later? This is the mental battle of my early sabbatical. 

I’ve noticed, though, that I am making time for certain things. I am preparing (and happily eating) home-cooked food daily. I’ve set up an exercise space in the basement and am getting out on the sand volleyball courts regularly. I am saying “yes” to my kids almost whenever they ask to play with me. Perhaps it turns out that the actions I’m making time for are my top priorities. We are what we do. 

Impromptu scooter ride midday on a weekday, because on sabbatical, Dad says, “Yes!”

One of the goals or tasks I keep writing down on my various lists is the project of purging. I’ve been wanting to purge, purge, purge. Strip things down. Declutter our house. Declutter my mind. But with planning for international travel coming up next week and trying to live slowly and not be too “busy,” I haven’t been making room for big purge projects. However, one thing I have been doing is playing with my kids and being present with them. Maybe that’s a fair trade-off? Maybe that’s what this week of sabbatical is supposed to be about. If I had been on a decluttering spree and grinding away at my laundry list of hobbies, I would have missed the following interaction with my kid.

With a delightfully tactful and simply-stating-an-observation tone, I had commented, loud enough for my kid to hear, on how hard it is to see any portion of the actual wood floor in our playroom. Any parent can relate. The kid stopped, eyed the playroom up and down, and turned their head to me and replied, “Daddy, I think we have too many toys.” Oh, I agree, young one. I agree. And so, without any further prodding or encouragement needed, we purged. Now, it was not the poetic, total toyroom overhaul that it could have been, but together, we picked up stuff and agreed whether it should be shelved or binned. 

And so, by letting go of the perceived need to be self-improving and making progress doing my long list of goals, and simply being a present father with my child, I not only got some decluttering done, but I also had a positive, bonding moment with my child. 

Letting go is getting me where I want to go. 

 

TANGENTIAL PARENTING HACK: If your 4-7 year old kid doesn’t enjoy “picking up” the play room or bedroom, suggest “neating” instead. Our kids all out sprint the other way when we mention picking up a room, but if we neat it, carefully replacing items to their homes ever so delicately and neatly like a member of the royal family might, oh, neating is so much fun! 

 

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF SILENCE

Sunday, June 12, 2022

I messed up earlier today. I intervened when I should have done nothing. Or rather, I spoke instead of silence. Silence is tragically underrated. Silence is where magic happens. A silent lake at night divulges a loon’s call from miles away. Silent, tantric stares with your partner can unlock an unknown depth of intimacy. Silence is where you learn. 

My co-parent and our kids were having a calm, strategic bedtime negotiation around the remaining screen time of the night, and since it was a “Mommy Night” (we trade bedtime nights), I was doing my job, which at that point was to stare out the window and do nothing. Be a fly on the wall. Let what happens, happen. And then, all of a sudden, I wasn’t doing my job. During a pause in the mildly tense but perfectly under control negotiation, I commented that, “this conversation is sure taking a long time,” attempting and failing to imply the logic of, “think of all the minutes of screen time we could have gotten by now had we simply agreed on something and started watching.” I just couldn’t help myself from intervening and trying to help the situation. The thing is, the intent of offering assistance doesn’t make all actions right. And the discomfort I felt in that moment is a me problem. 

Upon conversation with my partner and further reflection, many of my missteps in life stem from an underlying tendency toward perfectionism. A sense of editing and revision to live every moment with maximum efficiency, maximum rightness. Why is that instinct there, to always be improving, always be optimizing, maximizing, even if it doesn’t matter? I have a few ideas, and I’m also jotting it down as a future journal prompt for further unpacking. 

Ultimately, I need to trust my partner to live their own parenting journey. And I need to trust my children to have their own journey. From every stumble, at least I can always learn. 

 

REFLECTION FROM A HAMMOCK: BEING OUTDOORS IS BLISS

Sunday, June 12, 2022 continued…

I had been on such a high to come out in the gazebo tonight and write. I got what felt like a huge breakthrough earlier tonight by taking “one teaspoon more” as I embarked on nighttime cleanup duty, which started out with picking up the front yard while it was still light out. 

When it’s a Mommy Night for bedtime, it’s a Daddy Night for cleanup. I ventured out to pick up the day’s toys, chairs, and miscellanea. I left the camping hammock suspended between our two Eastern White Pines for last. It was a gorgeous Minnesota summer night, and the sun was just about to set over the neighbor’s house to the west. But I had cleanup chores to do and a long list of personal hobbies to pursue after that, so I briskly unclipped the hammock from its straps and had it half packed into its stuff-sack when I froze. I looked up and the pink and orange setting sun and thought to myself, “What the heck are you doing right now? You love sunsets and this weather is lush.” And so rather than charge ahead on my task list, I slowed down, reattached the hammock, and sank in to a reflective meditation by sunset. And laying there, ever so gently rocking back and forth, gazing up at the canopy overhead and the drifting clouds above, I had the following epiphany. 

You can sum up one of my truest pleasures in life in two words: being outdoors.

These are phrases transcribed from the 4:22 Voice Memo I captured on my phone while in that hammock meditation: 

  • “I find myself realizing that being outdoors does bring me joy. It’s as simple as those two words. Being outdoors. … Every time. Every time I’m connecting with nature, it brings this overwhelming sense of peace, where I feel like I can actually… touch my soul, feel my soul.”
  • “It feels… indulgent. Like I’m somehow not deserving of just sitting outside and enjoying the sunset, like I should be doing other, more productive, things. For my family. For myself. But… this is nourishing myself. Just, chillin’ horizontally, on a hammock, with my weight suspended, with a gorgeous sunset, underneath a forest canopy, is… one of the best things there is in life! And I just need to remember that in my day to day. When I’m outdoors, my bucket is getting full.”
  •  (Tangential commentary on the benefits of hammocks): “There’s something about the way a hammock works on your body… because you’re horizontal, because your hips are relieved of any pressure, the opposite of when you’re sitting… because you have this anti-gravity posture, it feels like you’re… cheating, like you’ve found the loophole of physics to allow your body to relax. It’s like the same tranquility of floating in water, but without all the work of paddling and holding your breath, not to mention the needing-to-find-a-spot-to-swim bit.”

I can’t get over how cool it is to be experiencing the recurring theme that slowing down and doing less results in more clarity, more joy, and, paradoxically, more progress

 

MUSIC IS MY MUSE

Sunday, June 12, 2022 concluded…

Eventually, the sun did set, and duty called. It was time to put away the dishes away, so I headed inside and popped in my AirPods. I’m washing, listening to this “Wondewall” remix on SoundCloud, and I’m dancing, quite well I might say, and it’s hitting me, that dancing may be a “tier two” passion of mine. If I’m being honest, I’m no Michael Jackson, but I do have rhythm. I started playing piano at 6 and played until middle/high school, where I transitioned to saxophone. I also played drums in the church youth band. I played a few small-town gigs in a jazz combo. I went on to play in Jazz Band at the University of Minnesota. I’m constantly tapping out percussive beats and improvising goofy song lyrics with my kids. And yeah, when it’s dishes time, I drop in the AirPods and get my dance on. Is there any better way to get the dishes done than to dance with them?

It’s good to acknowledge your strengths. I believe there is huge benefit to leaning into one’s strengths. And as vulnerable as I feel writing this, that I will come across as arrogant, I believe that it’s OK to be proud of my skills and that there is power in naming things, and so I will name that I have a skill of shared rhythm with my kids. Shared rhythm is one of the many concepts I’ve learned from Kristyn, and I believe that it’s an area that I often excel in, and I’m connecting just now that it may be in part because I’m a naturally rhythmic person. Shared rhythm is not necessarily percussive, of course; having a back and forth conversation or going for a walk together are also shared rhythm. But in the literal sense, I can feel things click with the young ones. For example, when my kids ask me to do “Run-Unders” with them, they are referring to me dribbling an extra large yoga ball, in our basement, as high as I can without ricocheting back off the ceiling, in a consistent, steady beat, so they can time out a sprint underneath without getting tagged by the ball. It’s wicked fun, and in the game we share the rhythm of the bouncing ball. (Of course, the huge yoga ball does eventually crash into them, but only when they choose the rhythm of silliness and stopping mid-sprint to let it crash into them, at which point I let go of the old game and pivot to align with the rhythm of silliness.) 

Then it was time to do the dishes for real, not just dance to a remix of Oasis’ crowd-pleasing masterpiece from the 90’s, and I switched over to Spotify. Spotify is one of the few apps I happily pay for every month. It’s a rare subscription bill I look at and am 100% at peace with paying. I absolutely love having the world’s music at my fingertips. Of its many delightful features, Spotify’s algorithm customizes a set of six “Daily Mix” playlists tailored to your listening habits and grouped by an overall “feel,” with “Daily Mix 1” typically being more of your frequently played, go-to songs, with Daily Mix 6 being the collection of the 10 random songs of that one obscure genre you secretly like and rarely, but every so often, listen to. I hadn’t used this feature in a while, and today, Spotify curated the most serendipitously customized “Daily Mix 1” to not only my specific, eclectic taste in music, but did so in a series of 8 or 9 songs in a row that perfectly fit the mold of the mood I wanted to be in. First with a couple blood pumping, foot-stomping jams like “LIGHT” by Parcels and Jungle’s “Smile,” then into a more relaxed, but still toe-tappin bass line of Marvin Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up – Pt. 1”, and then slower still with a brand new release from Jacob Collier featuring Lizzy McAlpine and John Mayer, “Never Gonna Be Alone”… and as I’m writing this about music, it is really hitting me that music, rhythm, dance… these also are things that make my soul shine through.

Being outdoors, music, good food, family… what more does a man need?

And yet, even as I’m dancing away, synchronizing my dish scrubs and rinses with the beat of some of my favorite tunes by my favorite artists, allowing the rhythms and melodies to take over my body, in my own house… I’m noticing that it’s hard to truly, truly let go, to truly be the wacky, shirtless dish dancer that my soul wants to be. I think up more outrageous dance moves than I actually allow my body to do, even when no one is watching. It’s like there is this deeply rooted fear of judgment of others, fear of doing things someone might judge me for doing, fear of doing something other than what society expects me to do. 

Above all else, I need to allow me to be myself.

 

FINAL THOUGHT 

Writing is hard. I’ve had different pieces of this post written for a while. Procrastination gets the best of me. Steven Pressfield’s “Resistance” is real. It’s easy to find excuses to do anything but simply opening up a blank page and starting to write. Self-judgment. Perfectionism. Resistance takes many forms, and they all get in the way of doing the work. I suppose I am grateful to have made the first step, which is acknowledging their presence and typing this paragraph anyway.

OK, enough yammering, onward to Week 5 – a week in Costa Rica!

 

There Are No Rules

Things are as they have been not because that’s how they should be, but because you haven’t made them better yet.

There are no rules that say you can’t go for your boss’ boss’ job. The big boss just wants a system that works. Prove to him or her you’re the best person for taking your team to the next level. 

There are no rules that say a prospective client is too big. No one is “out of your league” if you show them an infallible case of how you can help. 

There are no rules about how to do your job. Know a better way? Do it. Prove it. Results always win.  

There are no rules that dictate how much you are able to do in one day. 

There are no rules saying you have to live life a certain way. 

There are no rules about going to college, getting an entry-level job, moving to the suburbs, and settling down. 

There are no rules preventing you from giving generously at every opportunity.

There are no rules when living out your dreams. 

There are no rules other than your rules. 

There are no rules blocking you from happiness. 

There are no rules. 

Self Improvement vs. Self Acceptance – Can You Do Both? (Hint: Yes.)

In the personal development universe of books and blogs, two overarching schools of thought bubble to the surface as the kingpins, yet they seem to be in direct contrast to one another. 
 
On the one hand, you have “following your passion” and all of its variations. Acting on your true calling, the things that make you feel “expansive versus contracted” (as Marie Forleo puts it). Many experts say acting on your inner calling is the key to unlocking happiness. “If you’re truly passionate about what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life,” as they say. 
 
On the other hand, you have gratitude. Acceptance. Some say the key to happiness and inner peace is accepting that what you already have and who you already are is good enough. Dr. Robert Holden says, “No amount of self-improvement can make up for any lack of self-acceptance.” Being authentically happy starts with the realization that you are both the source and the cause of your well-being. 
 
I believe in both of these ideas. But, doesn’t it seem as if they are in competition with one another? I feel pulled to be better, do better, create more things, make a positive dent on the universe, invest more in relationships, and learn more every day. But at the same time, if I meditate or do a gratitude exercise I’m reminded to be thankful for what I already have. 
 
How do you navigate the drive to be better than you were yesterday with acceptance of things as they are? 
 

Self-Acceptance is different from Self-Approval

It’s possible to accept your reality and completely let go of the desire to change your reality, while still not be in approval with yourself about your current trajectory. 
 
Say you have an entry-level job at a company you like just fine, but aren’t head-over-heels in love with. After a few months or years in that role, you may start to yearn for something more or different.
 
You might start thinking things like: 
 
  • “Do I really need this job?”
  • “I don’t believe in my company’s mission with my heart and soul.”
  • “They should have promoted me instead of that other guy.” 
  • “I’m realizing I don’t want my boss’ job.” 
 
These are normal thoughts. You aren’t alone in thinking them.
 
In the case of realizing you don’t want your boss’ job, you are feeling a lack of self-approval of your current trajectoryyou don’t like the idea of where things are going if they play out as-is. This is a great motivator to work on improving this aspect of your life and find a different job and/or employer that better suits your future vision. 
 
But that doesn’t preclude you from also feeling a sense of self-acceptance, focusing your energy on appreciating what you do have. This job you’ve come to not like so much, it’s served you well up until now, hasn’t it? You got your bills paid, forged new relationships, created some happy memories, and learned some things. At the very least, you learned about yourself and uncovered a path you now know you don’t need to go down ever again in your life.
 
There are always things to be grateful for.
 
You made your decisions along the way to the best of your ability with the information you had on-hand at the time. Accept yourself and be confident that your younger self was doing the best it knew how. 
 

Come to Terms With Your Limitations

No one is great at everything; don’t try to be. We all have strengths and weaknesses, and some self-improvers get frustrated when they just don’t seem to be able to make progress on developing a skill. 
 
For example, I am terrible at making any kind of hand-made art. You give me a blank piece of paper to draw something on, and all my brain sees is a blank piece of paper. When I do try to draw something, it looks like a third-grader put in about 40% effort. Now, I could take drawing classes, watch YouTube videos, and practice every day to try to improve this skill, but I have come to accept that this type of creation is just not how my brain and body are wired. It’s not for me. I’m not going to be that kind of artist. I am, however, pretty good with words, so I can work on honing that skill and express myself that way. 
 
Let the improver in you play to your natural affinities. 
 
Let the accepter in you be at peace with your weaknesses. 
 

Conclusion

I’d like to say I’ve come to a conclusion on this topic, but it feels like I’m still writing this chapter in my own improvement/acceptance mental framework. 
 
Suffice it to say… you can do both! 
 
The drive to improve is a good instinct. Nurture it. Get after it. And accept that just because you aren’t where you want to be today, doesn’t mean you are in need of anything. 
 
 
—————————————————————————————————-
 
 
Have you ever struggled with the same mental tug-of-war these two forces play with each other? How else do you make peace with these ideas on your path to self-betterment? It would really help me out to know in the Comments, I could use the tip! 

Tribe of Mentors – Top Takeaways from the Life Advice Masterpiece by Tim Ferriss

I read Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice From the Best in the World. Now you don’t have to! (You still should, though. You can buy it here from Amazon.)

I gained IMMENSE value from this book. So much so that, while reading it, I made a point to glean at least one takeaway from every person in the book and have cataloged the juiciest pearls of wisdom below.

Much of the advice in this book contradicts other advice in the book. This is why it is wise to heed the insight of Japanese poet Matsuo Bashō while reading the advice in this article, or when receiving any advice anywhere:

“Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise; instead, seek what they sought.” 

 

My advice? Focus on one insight that really speaks to you, internalize it, and take action on it. Then move on to the next.

Enjoy! 

 

Most Interesting Recommended Reading List

 

 

Steven Pressfield
  • Get real-world experience. Be a cowboy. Drive a truck. Join the Marine Corps. Get out of the hyper-competitive “life hack” frame of mind. Get out into the real dirt world and start failing. You’ve got ten lifetimes ahead of you. 
  • When hesitating to get into a hard workout, remind yourself that afterward you’ll be able to think, “Nothing I face today will be harder than what I just did.” 
  • The disease of our times is that we live on the surface. We’re like the Platte River, a mile wide and an inch deep. Real work and real satisfaction come from the opposite of what the web provides. They come from going deep into something – the book you’re writing, the album, the movie – and staying there for a long, long time. 

 

Susan Cain
  • Minor key music is elevating and transcendent, not sad like many people think. 
  • Set up your life so that it is as comfortable and happy as possible – and so that it accommodates your creative work. 
  • I love espresso, but I only allow myself one latte a day, and I save it for when I’m doing my creative work because it has trained me, Pavlovian style, to associate writing with the pleasure of coffee. 

 

Kyle Maynard
  • “Not dead, can’t quit.” – Richard Machowicz, former Navy SEAL
  • “Follow your bliss” has become my true north. Thinking about what makes me happy doesn’t give the same clarity as what gives me bliss

 

Terry Crews
  • The more you run from your fears, the bigger they get, but the more you go into them, the more they tend to vanish like a mirage. 
  • Competition is the opposite of creativity. 
  • Life is not a “young man’s game,” it’s an “inspired person’s game.” 

 

Debbie Millman
  • Busy is a decision. 
  • I do not believe in work-life balance. I believe that if you view your work as a calling, it is a labor of love rather than laborious. Your calling can become a life-affirming engagement that can provide its own balance and spiritual nourishment. Ironically, it takes hard work to achieve this. 

 

Naval Ravikant
  • Desire is a contract you make with yourself to be unhappy until you get what you want. Happiness, or at least peace, is the sense that nothing is missing in this moment. No desires running amok. It’s okay to have a desire. But pick a big one and pick it carefully. Drop the small ones. 
  • The genuine love for reading itself, when cultivated, is a superpower. The means of learning are abundant – it’s the desire to learn that’s scarce. Read what you want, not what you’re supposed to. 

 

Matt Ridley
  • Specialize – the great human achievement is to specialize as a producer of goods or services so that you can diversify as a consumer. Self-sufficiency is another word for poverty.
  • Listen to books as you fall asleep. By setting the timer carefully and rewinding a little every time you wake, you can miss almost none of a book. 

 

Bozoma Saint John
  • Be the change you wish to see in the world. 

 

Tim Urban
  • Working as a writer on your own hours, it’s tempting to get into the romantic notion that you don’t play by society’s rules – you work from home in your underwear, you do your most inspired writing at 3 A.M., you never set an alarm, etc. The problem is – it doesn’t work well. Make a schedule for yourself. 
  • Obsess over figuring out the funnest, most exciting, most natural shape of yourself as a writer and start doing that. Imagine you are writing for a stadium full of replicas of yourself – now you know exactly what topics interest your audience, what writing style they like, and what their sense of humor is. By focusing inward on yourself as a writer instead of outward on what you think readers will want to read, you’ll end up creating the best and most original work. 

 

Janna Levin
  • Life is the obstacles. There is no underlying path. Our role here is to get better at navigating those obstacles. Strive to find calm, measured responses and see hindrances as a chance to problem-solve. 

 

Ayaan Hirsi Ali
  • We need a new diversity – not one based on biological characteristics and identity politics but a diversity of opinion and worldviews. 

 

Graham Duncan
  • Dropped off daughter late at school and I was impatient, so she asked me, “Dad, what exactly would be the worst thing about being late?” It completely shifted my mindset.

 

Mike Maples Jr. 
  • Step back, slow down, and ask the five whys. Get five levels deep with “why” to find the root cause of an issue. 

 

Soman Chainani
  • Have something every day you’re looking forward to. 
  • Don’t use “steppingstones” in your career. It says you clearly aren’t invested in what you’re doing. You have one life to live. Time is valuable. If you’re using steppingstones, you’re relying on someone else’s path or definition of success. Make your own. 

 

Dita Von Teese
  • You can be a juicy ripe peach and there’ll still be someone who doesn’t like peaches.

 

Jesse Williams
  • What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

 

Dustin Moskowitz
  • Most people blame others or circumstances in their life for their suffering, but Buddhists believe we are the causes of our own suffering.

 

Richa Chadha
  • Be so good they can’t ignore you. 

 

Max Levchin
  • “The difference between winning and losing is most often not quitting.” – Walt Disney

 

Neil Strauss
  • The secret to change and growth is not willpower, but positive community.
  • The outcome is not the outcome. What we think of as endpoints to a goal are really just forks in a road that is endlessly forking. In the big picture of life, we don’t know whether a particular success or failure is actually helping or hurting us. Think instead: Did I do my best,  given who I was and what I knew at the time? And what can I learn from the outcome to make my best better next time? 
  • Criticism is not failure. If you’re not being criticized, you’re probably not doing anything exceptional. 

 

Veronica Belmont
  • Bad recommendation – take all feedback into consideration. Not all feedback is created equal, and not all ideas from your users are good ones.

 

Patton Oswalt
  • Daily meditation, twice a day. 
  • Don’t try to have a “social antenna” rather than a moral or creative compass. Trying to second-guess what the masses will accept or reject always leads to stagnation. Work from within! 

 

Lewis Cantley
  • Design a life so you don’t need an automobile. 
  • Choose a profession that is easy for you to do and that allows you to be creative. 
  • Sugar is toxic. 

 

Jerzy Gregorek
  • I told one of my clients who blamed her husband for everything to take 100 percent responsibility for her part in their interactions. “This way, you will be free of trying to control him, and you will be able to find constructive solutions in your relationship.” 
  • Hard choices, easy life. Easy choices, hard life.

 

Aniela Gregorek
  • “To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children… to leave the world a bit better… to know even one life has breathed easier because you lived. This is to have succeeded.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • “If I accept you as you are, I make you worse; however, if I treat you as though you are what you are capable of becoming, I help you become that.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  • Say no to negativity. 

 

Amelia Boone
  • No one owes you anything. 
  • For every major event in my life, I assign a song. I keep these songs in a playlist, ordered chronologically. I can go back through and listen and relive major experiences, both highs and lows. 

 

Joel McHale
  • Pursue the dreams that are planted in you already. 
  • Help people who are less fortunate than you.
  • Help the planet. 

 

Ben Stiller
  • Be here now. 
  • People are too aware of trying to figure out what’s “hot” and trying to emulate that. Ultimately, you need to develop your own voice as a creator. 

 

Anna Holmes
  • Follow your curiosity, wherever you can find it. Embracing a curious mind and always trying to learn more – about others, about yourself, about the world and our place within it – is an important way to express yourself. 

 

Andrew Ross Sorkin
  • Persistence matters more than talent. 

 

Joseph Gordon-Levitt
  • Everything’s a remix. Of course, there’s such a thing as being overly derivative, but I tend to value sincerity over originality. I perform better when I focus less on being original and more on being honest. 
  • Write as if it’s for an audience, even if you’ll never show the writing to anyone. By having to explain whatever is vexing you in writing to a “reader” with no prior knowledge, I’m forced to identify and parse all the elements and nuances of what’s really going on. 

 

Vitalik Buterin
  • Be interdisciplinary. 

 

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks
  • Live. Give. Forgive. 
  • Face fear full of hope, knowing that whatever challenge lies ahead, you are equal to it, and just deliver a message that is precisely the opposite of fear and defensiveness. 
  • Remember your ultimate destination every time you feel overwhelmed. Remembering that destination will help you distinguish between an opportunity to be seized and a temptation to be resisted. 

 

Julia Galef
  • Avoid consuming media that’s just telling you things you already know and agree with. Remind yourself how much time you’re wasting by not learning anything. 
  • Uncertainty over Expected Value just gets folded into Expected Value. So, if I know that one of option A or B is going to be great, and the other’s going to be a disaster, but I’m totally unsure which is which, then they have the same expected value. 

 

Turia Pitt
  • Do a gratitude practice every morning, every day. Write down three specific things you’re genuinely grateful for. 

 

Annie Duke
  • Disconnect failure from outcomes. Just because you lose doesn’t mean you failed, and just because you won doesn’t mean you succeeded – not when you define success and failure around making good decisions that will win in the long run. 

 

Jimmy Fallon
  • Go for a walk.
  • Meditate. 

 

Esther Perel
  • It’s the quality of your relationships that will determine the quality of your life.
  • Different parts of me come alive when I switch languages.
  • Other people see you differently than the way you see yourself. That multiplicity of perspectives is essential to making us who we are.

 

Maria Sharapova
  • Losing makes you think in ways victories can’t. You begin asking questions instead of feeling like you have the answers.

 

Adam Robinson
  • If you want to change the world, you have to enroll others in your plans and vision. Not only that, but immense pleasures and satisfactions can be derived from focusing on others. The more you give to others, the more the universe gives you back in return.
  • Meditation is a way to relinquish control of the conscious mind so that the more powerful unconscious mind can take over, and analysis of the world improves. 

 

Josh Waitzkin
  • When dealing with a failure:
    • Find the thematic or psychological lesson hidden in the technical error (which hugely amplifies the ensuing growth)
    • Have a sense of the beauty and potency of how the loss is actively improving you while still in the thick of the pain of the blow. 
  • Do what you love, do it in a way that you love, and pour your heart and soul into every moment of it. Do not be subject to inertia. Challenge your assumptions and the assumptions of those around you as a way of life. 

 

Ann Miura-Ko
  • If you love something enough, it is far easier to really commit. 
  • Develop a philosophy of giving and generosity.
  • The practice of judgment and reasoning found in philosophy, history, and literature are skills we should to continue to hone. 

 

Jason Fried
  • “If you think you are too small to be effective, you have never been in the dark with a mosquito.” – Betty Reese
  • “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” – Theodore Roosevelt
  • “Don’t pay any attention to what they write about you, just measure it in inches.” – Andy Warhol
  • “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” – William Bruce Cameron
  • Focus on your writing skills. It’s the one thing that really helps people stand out. More and more communication is written today. Get great at presenting yourself with words, and words alone, and you’ll be far ahead of most. 

 

Arianna Huffington
  • People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills. There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind… So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself. 
  • Burnout is not the price you have to pay for success. When we prioritize our well-being, our performance goes up across the board. 

 

Gary Vaynerchuk
  • Macro patience, micro speed. 
  • When feeling overwhelmed or unfocused, I pretend my family has died in a horrific accident. It sounds weird, but it’s what drives me. I go to a very dark place, really feel it, feel that pain in my heart, and then realize no matter what I’m dealing with right now, that it’s not even in the same universe of something like that. Then I become grateful for losing that client, missing that opportunity, getting made fun of, etc. 

 

Tim O’Reilly
  • Create more value than you capture
  • Roll out of bed, do a plank for two minutes and a downward dog for two minutes. This gets your metabolism going and makes you much more likely to do a more vigorous bout of exercise. 
  • Listen to your inner voice, which tells you what to choose. It is this ability to wait quietly for the right moment, rather than rushing about aimlessly, that can lead even an ambitious success-hunter to capture the biggest game. 

 

Tom Peters
  • They say “Thing big! Have a compelling vision!” I say: Think small. Do something super cool by the end of the day! Excellence is the next five minutes or nothing at all. It’s the quality of your next five-minute conversation. It’s the quality of your next email. Forget the long term. Make the next five minutes rock! 

 

Bear Grylls
  • Storms make us stronger. Don’t shy away from hard times. Tackle them head-on, move toward the path less trodden, riddled with obstacles, because most other people run at the first sign of battle. The storms give us a chance to define ourselves, to distinguish ourselves, and we always emerge from them stronger. 

 

Brené Brown
  • Problem identification is always a sound investment of time, money, and energy. Einstein said, “If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions.” It feels uncomfortable to spend time and resources trying to figure out exactly what the problem is – we want to jump to fixing way too fast. Most of us are plagued with action bias and struggle to stay in problem identification. Getting clear about what’s wrong and why it’s a problem is the best investment you can make at home or work. 

 

Leo Babatua
  • You are good enough just as you are. Relax, and breathe into the moment.
  • Ask yourself, “What’s the most loving thing I can do for myself and others right now?”

 

Mike D
  • The structural demands of meditation are very doable in the context of our current lives. Twenty minutes when we get up and twenty minutes toward the end of the day. It is a safe place where you can go deeply into your own trauma and drama, free from fear. It decreases being reactive and clears space to be proactive. 

 

Kevin Kelly
  • Don’t try to find your passion. Instead master some skill, interest, or knowledge that others find valuable. You don’t have to love it, you just have to be the best at it. Once you master it, you’ll be rewarded with new opportunities that will allow you to move away from tasks you dislike and toward those that you enjoy. If you continue to optimize your mastery, you’ll eventually arrive at your passion. 

 

Ashton Kutcher
  • Shit or get off the pot. Too many people are waiting to get shit set up just right so they can do the thing they are gonna do. It’s time. 
  • Posting about it isn’t doing anything. It’s just like talk… it’s cheap! Too many people think they are supporting a cause, and the only thing they are doing is posting about it on social media. Doing something is doing something, everything else is just talk. 

 

Brandon Stanton
  • Be very careful with the moral high ground. Everyone has different moral codes, and very few people intentionally make immoral decisions. No matter how egregious the crime, the criminal usually has a reason for viewing it as morally acceptable. 

 

Jérôme Jarre
  • I wish we could all start seeing social media as having a giant billboard for millions of people every day. I know so many people who were against Trump but were talking about him, criticizing, on their social media every day. Would you put up a giant billboard of someone you don’t want to see elected? Probably not. 
  • Make yourself proud. 
  • You are 99 years old, on your deathbed, and you have a chance to come back to right now? What would you do?
  • Before eating, I pray. Not religiously, but more for setting intentions. Feel grateful for the food on your plate, especially if it has an animal product on it. 
  • We are all mini gods. I mean this in the sense of creators, in a way that should not feed our ego but our consciousness. This means the entire universe is not just outside but also within us. 
  • Prioritize connecting with what’s real: nature, your soul, your inner child. 
  • Most of the world is asleep today, playing a small role in a gigantic illusion. You can choose a different life. It’s all within. You will know the answers when you take the time to find yourself and trust yourself. 
  • If you are studying business/PR/marketing, then drop out today. The world is already full of marketers and businessmen. The world doesn’t need more of that. The world needs healers and problem-solvers who use their hearts. Your heart is a million times more powerful than your brain. 

 

Fedor Holz
  • Ask the right questions. Dive deeper and discover someone’s why. Ask how someone feels and why they behaved a certain way.

 

Eric Ripert
  • Being a good human, and the way to true inner happiness, is through altruistic actions, being mindful of others. 
  • Live life in three parts: 1/3 business, 1/3 family, 1/3 self.
  • The more you divide your focus, the more each endeavor can suffer from your lack of attention.

 

Sharon Salzberg
  • You are a person worthy of love.
  • If feeling overwhelmed or unfocused, ask yourself, “What do you need right now in order to be happy? Is it something other than what is happening right now?” 

 

Franklin Leonard
  • He has been described by NBC News as “the man behind Hollywood’s secret screenplay database, ‘The Black List.'” In 2005, Franklin surveyed 100 film industry development executives about their favorite scripts from that year that had not been made into feature films. Since then the voter pool has grown to 500 film executives. Now, more than 300 Black List screenplays have been made as feature films, including Slumdog Millionaire, The King’s Speech, and Argo

 

Peter Guber
  • The great majority of that which gives you angst never happens, so you must evict it. Don’t let it live rent-free in your brain.
  • Reinvent yourself regularly. See your world as an ever-increasing set of realities and seize the day.

 

Greg Norman
  • Your dreams are the blueprint to reality. 
  • Stand on one leg when brushing your teeth. 

 

Daniel Ek
  • If you dare, then you have already gotten further ahead than 99 percent of all the others. 
  • Good things come to those who work their asses off. 

 

Strauss Zelnick
  • Start slowly with working out; develop the habit of doing exercise for about three months and it’s likely to stick. Start with 2-3x/week. 
  • While it can feel embarrassing and uncomfortable to apologize, it’s a sign of maturity and good character. Unfortunately there is no particular magic to saying “I’m sorry.” Just do it. 

 

Steve Jurvetson
  • Having tasted synthetic meat, I believe it will accelerate the development of human morality, much like an economic alternative to slavery helped society acknowledge the horrors of slavery. When we look back 2,000 years, we can see how much we have changed as culture matures. It’s much more difficult to identify something that we do in our current lives and the mainstream considers moral, but our future selves will consider immoral. I believe that in a few years we’ll look back and marvel at the barbarism and stunning environmental waste (water consumption and methane production) of meat harvesting today. 
  • Celebrate the childlike mind. The best scientists and engineers nurture a mind that’s playful, open-minded, and unrestrained by the inner voice of reason, collective cynicism, or fear of failure. 
  • Neural plasticity does not disappear in adults. It just requires mental exercise. Use it or lose it. Bottom line: embrace lifelong learning. Do something new. Physical exercise is repetitive; mental exercise is eclectic. 

 

Tony Hawk
  • Stay present and make yourself available to your loved ones instead of chasing every business opportunity and keeping yourself distracted with work, hobbies, or travel. 
  • Success should not be measured by financial gain; true success is doing something you love for a living. Learn every aspect of your chosen field or craft, as it will give you an advantage over any competitors, and set you up for more – often better – job opportunities. 

 

Liv Boeree
  • The consequences of your actions matter far more than the actions themselves. 
  • Whenever I have to make a prediction about something uncertain, such as “How likely is my partner to get mad about me not doing the dishes?” I know try to assign a numerical percentage to fuzzy words like “maybe,” “sometimes,” “occasionally,” and “probably.” I try to picture exactly what I mean as a number on a sliding scale between 0 to 100. 

 

Anníe Mist Þórisdóttir
  • Try to stop worrying about the future. Focus on making the most out of every single day believing it will get you to where you want to be. 
  • Somewhere behind the athlete you’ve become, and the hours of practice, and the coaches who have pushed you, is a little girl who fell in love with the game and never looked back… play for her.

 

Mark Bell
  • Cut down on nervous tension by going up to people, introducing yourself, and shaking their hand. 
  • The way to get strongest is to lift what is optimal and not what is maximal.
  • You’re either in or you’re in the way. 
  • Ignore what everyone else is doing. Racehorses have blinders for a reason. 

 

Ed Coan
  • Do squats with pauses at the bottom. The only way to get out of the bottom once you stop is for your whole body to push and sync at the right time. 
  • How to devise a training plan you’ll stick to:
    • Write down every day of the week for x weeks
    • Write every set, every rep, and every weight for every single exercise predetermined for each day
    • Stop and look at the routine and ask yourself, “Is every single thing here doable?”
    • If you have to think about it, change it. Make it so that you know 100 percent everything is doable. 
    • When you start that routine, imagine how positive your mental outlook is. 

 

Ray Dalio
  • Think for yourself while being radically open-minded. 
  • Love looking at what you don’t know, your mistakes, and your weaknesses, because understanding them is essential for making the most of your life. 

 

Jacqueline Novogratz
  • Learn to balance and hold the audacity to dream a different world with the humility to start with the world as it has been. 
  • Live the Questions, which is a simple reminder to have the moral courage to live in the gray, sit with uncertainty but not in a passive way. Live the questions so that, one day, you will live yourself into the answers.

 

Brian Koppelman
  • Writers should follow their curiosity, obsessions, and fascinations. Writers should not write based on a marketing calculation of demand potential. 

 

Stewart Brand
  • CrossFit. Swagger in, stagger out. Repeat

 

Sarah Elizabeth Lewis
  • The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. 
  • There is no earth-spinning committee. Relax. We are all part of something larger. We can impact the laws of nature with how we treat the planet, and we can work with the laws of nature to manifest things in our world, but we can’t create these laws or destroy them. We live in a world governed by them. Feeling overwhelmed or unfocused? Get into nature to remind yourself of these systems and laws that govern movements. 

 

Gabor Maté
  • Ultimately, your gift to the world is who you are. It is both your gift and your fulfillment. 
  • Don’t confuse being driven with being authentically animated by an inner calling. One state leaves you depleted and unfulfilled. The other fuels your soul and makes your heart sing. 
  • Is what I’m doing right now aligned with my life’s calling? You have a choice in every moment. 

 

Steve Case
  • Lean into the future. Position yourself for what’s happening next versus what’s happening now. 
  • Be confident in the skills you have. 
  • Be fearless. Babe Ruth was not only the home run king; he was also the strikeout king. 
  • If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, you must go together. 

 

Linda Rottenberg
  • For leaders, rather than strive to be superhuman (“don’t let them see you sweat/cry/etc.”), strive to be less super and more human
  • Not only is crazy a compliment, but if you’re not called crazy when you start somethign new, then you’re not thinking big enough! 
  • (Nicely) stalking people is an underrated startup strategy. Find a little courage and reach out to a mentor you admire. 

 

Tommy Vietor
  • Don’t worry about making money. Don’t stress about having a plan. Try as hard as you can to find something you love. It will never get easier than right now to recklessly pursue your passion. Do it. 
  • I can feel my blood pressure go up as I try to figure out what to focus on. The world will go on if I don’t read/create/do everything. I will always be better off consuming a smaller amount of high-quality information than trying to consume it all. 
  • Stop looking at your phone. 

 

Larry King
  • The secret of this radio business; there is no secret. Be yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask a question. Don’t be afraid to sound stupid. 

 

Muna AbuSulayman
  • Do your best. But also, take it easy. 
  • When I overcommit, I lose focus and desire to do the work at hand. Learn to say no. Loss of focus can be a symptom of not caring about your work. This needs a lot of reflection and discussion with mentors to figure out whether you need a break, a vacation, or a change of career. 
  • The best investment I ever made was investing in my children when they were young. 

 

Sam Harris
  • No society in human history ever suffered because its people became too reasonable. Only a commitment to honest reasoning can allow us to cooperate with billions of strangers in an open-ended way. 
  • Having a podcast has allowed me to connect with a wide range of fascinating people whom I wouldn’t otherwise meet – and our conversations reach a much larger audience than my books ever will. I feel extremely lucky that my career as a writer and speaker has coincided with the birth of this technology. 
  • Don’t worry about what you’re going to do with the rest of your life. Just find a profitable and interesting use for the next three to five years. 

 

Maurice Ashley
  • In order to become a Grandmaster, you must already be one. 
  • I wake up each day with the firm conviction that I am nowhere near my full potential. “Greatness” is a verb. I spend my years desperately looking to improve who I am from year to year. Greatness is not a final destination, but a series of small acts done daily in order to constantly rejuvenate and refresh our skills in a daily effort to become a better version of ourselves. 
  • Strive to be completely open and transparent in relationships. Speak truths that resonate from your soul. 

 

John Arnold
  • Advice is almost always driven by anecdotal experience, and thus has limited value and relevance. There is no universal path to success. 
  • Sitting through an unproductive meeting has huge opportunity costs. People struggle with equilibrating time and money. Many organizations fret over small, direct expenses, yet have no misgivings about keeping superfluous staff tied up in a conference room for hours. 

 

Mr. Money Mustache
  • The real measure of a good life is, “How happy and satisfied am I with my life right now?”
  • Look at every activity as you go through your day and think, “Is this contributing to getting me a better day – today – and if not, is there anybody in the world who has managed to design this activity out of their lives and still success beyond my level?”
  • A high savings rate (or “profit margin on life”) is by far the best strategy for a great and creative life, because it’s your ticket to freedom. Freedom is the fuel for creativity. 

 

David Lynch
  • Practicing Transcendental Meditation regularly will end your suffering and give you happiness and fulfillment in life. 
  • When feeling overwhelmed or unfocused, sit and desire ideas. 

 

Nick Szabo
  • Everybody is striving after social proof – from a close friend’s adulation to online likes and upvotes. The less you need positive feedback on your ideas, the more original design regions you can explore, and the more creative and useful to society you will be. But it could be a very long time before people will love you (or even pay you) for it. The more original your ideas, the less your bosses and peers will understand them, and people fear or at best ignore what they do not understand. But, making progress on your own ideas can be very rewarding in itself. 

 

Jon Call
  • If you can’t laugh at it, you lose. The exceptions to this quote suggest a powerful lesson. You wouldn’t laugh when people die, but that’s because you can’t always win in life. Sometime we do lose! But we better be able to distinguish between real loss and weakness of character. The sooner you can laugh about something, the sooner you can get on with your life. The sooner you can laugh at yourself, the sooner you will really be living life. 
  • When growing my social media, I focused on providing massive value. I curbed my postings to fit what was trending, what was most valuable from the analytics. 
  • To get the most out of stretching, don’t hold stretches for long periods of time, but break the stretching time into sets with rest periods. 
  • Tell your brain “no” when it wants to related to conversation with a “bigger” story. Let the desire go to “one-up” someone’s story with your own. The loss of the opportunity to possibly impress someone is far outweighed by what you learn when you ask more questions. 

 

Dara Torres
  • “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

 

Dan Gable
  • Put a chinning bar up in your house. 
  • Don’t plan on “winning the lottery” right away, because it usually doesn’t happen. Doing a good job and building your assets is winning the lottery, but over time. Work hard every day, make progress every day, and make money every day. 

 

Caroline Paul
  • I encourage people to look up, make sense of the sky, and along the way experience an existential jolt. This may be ridiculous, but I have this belief that as long as we peer at the night sky, feel small, see the universe and say, “Oh, wow, all that mystery,” then we’ll drop some of our nearsighted hubris. Maybe even save the planet before it’s too late. 

 

Darren Aronofsky
  • Most of the game is about persistence. When you get an opportunity, you have to perform and you have to exceed beyond all expectations… but getting that chance is the hardest part. Keep the vision clear in your head and every day refuse all obstacles to get to the goal. 

 

Evan Williams
  • Mindfulness meditation has changed my life more than any other behavior. I feel like it rewired my brain (probably because it did). 
  • Be in a hurry to learn, not in a hurry to get validation. If you resist asking for too much, you will often get more. 

 

Bram Cohen
  • “Minimum viable product” means forgetting about succeeding massively and instead focusing all your efforts on desperately trying to not fail. 
  • Avoid sugar. All other diet advice is noise. 
  • It’s frustrating how there’s a fad of people mostly falsely thinking they’re gluten sensitive, while lactose intolerance isn’t even brought up. Most of the black and Asian people in the U.S. are lactose intolerant, and they’re served food that they’re incapable of digesting as a central part of every one of their school lunches. 

 

Chris Anderson
  • Live for something that’s bigger than you are. 
  • The best way to get things done is to let go. It’s often the case that people want to help you or work with you. But they can’t if you insist on holding on to tight control. The more you let go, the more people will surprise you. 
  • Many of us have bought into the cliché “pursue your passion.” For many, that is terrible advice. In your 20s, you may not really know what your best skills and opportunities are. It’s much better to pursue learning, personal discipline, and growth. And to seek out connections with people across the planet. For a while, it’s just fine to follow and support someone else’s dream. In so doing, you will be building valuable relationships, valuable knowledge. And at some point your passion will come and whisper in your ear, “I’m ready.” 

 

Neil Gaiman
  • If I’m feeling unfocused, I ask myself, “How long has it been since I actually wrote something?” and tell myself, “Stop doing whatever else I am doing because it isn’t actually work, and go write something.”

 

Michael Gervais
  • Every day is an opportunity to create a living masterpiece. We have far more control in our lives than many embrace. We create or co-create our experiences in life, and each day is a new opportunity to be fully engaged in the present moment. It’s the present moment where glimpses of our potential are revealed and expressed. A living masterpiece is not drawn on a canvas or etched in stone or inked by pen. It’s the pursuit and expression of applied insight and wisdom. 
  • It is through the relationships we have that we are able to experience what is true, beautiful, and good. It is through those relationships that high performance is expressed and our potential, meaning, and purpose are revealed. 

 

Temple Grandin
  • “Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal.” – Henry Ford

 

Kelly Slater
  • Think for yourself. Everyone has a unique picture of how things work and function, and yours is as valuable as anyone’s. It’s sometimes the belief in yourself, open-mindedness toward others, and your delivery that allows things to be heard by others. 
  • Invest generously in others. Rewards will come back in unsuspected and abundant ways. 

 

Katrin Tanja Daviosdottir
  • Believe your best is enough. Your absolute best is the best possible outcome. That is a “win.” To do your best may sound easy, but it is anything but. It requires everything you’ve got… and no less. 

 

Matthew Fraser
  • I have realized that I value the results of a process more when I truly apply myself and make myself proud. 

 

Adam Fisher
  • Top down (macro thinking) means I consider the big-picture issues before the small when making decisions, and these big-picture issues dominate my preferences. It does not mean I ignore the small issues, as they are necessary but not dominant. For example, I invest in real estate where smart people want to live. While I could make money in other areas of the country, over the long term, this rule will be quite lucrative. There are other factors, of course, but this one is a requirement. 
  • Practice calendar architecture – designing and implementing a repeatable schedule every day. As an introvert, this requires a lot of alone time, and everyone around me protects this in my day. It is also designed to keep my day from being filled up with “gristle.”

 

Aisha Tyler
  • Live in a space of bravery in every aspect of your life: creative, professional, familial, and in relationships. Being brave means being present and willing to give of yourself regardless of result. 
  • You cannot do anything great without aggressively courting your own limits and the limits of your ideas. There is nothing more powerful than failure to reveal to you what you are truly capable of. Avoiding the risk of failure means avoiding transcendent creative leaps forward. 
  • Say not to everything that doesn’t energize you personally or creatively. 

 

Laura R. Walker
  • Get out of your comfort zone when you graduate. Ask yourself what you are genuinely curious about and explore it. Embrace the ambiguity and contradictions that life invariably will bring. Don’t spend time chasing a right answer or a right path, but instead spend time defining how you are going to approach whatever path you choose. What values most define you? What questions do you want to pursue? 

 

Terry Laughlin
  • Life is not designted to hand us success or satisfaction, but rather to present us with the challenges that make us grow. Mastery is the mysterious process by which those challenges become progressively easier and more satisfying through practice. The key to that satisfaction is to reach the nirvana in which love of practice for its own sake (intrinsic) replaces the original goal (extrinsic) as our grail. 
  • Five steps to mastery:
    • Choose a worthy and meaningful challenge.
    • Seek a sensei to help you establish the right path and priorities.
    • Practice diligently, always striving to hone key skills and to progress incrementally toward new levels of competence.
    • Love the plateau. All worthwhile progress occurs through brief, thrilling leaps forward followed by long stretches of seemingly going nowhere. Learning continues at the cellular level… if you follow good practice principles. 
    • Mastery is a journey, not a destination. There is always more to be learned and greater skill to be developed. 
  • Examine if you are truly driven by an intrinsic motivation or goal? His basic motivations:
    • To continually deepen his understanding of technique and performance. 
    • To have a life-changing positive impact on those he coached
    • To leave an enduring mark on the field, to leave the profession better off than he found it. 

 

Marc Benioff
  • I look at every failure as a learning experience and try to spend time with my failures. I stew on them for a while until I pick out some nugget from them that I can take forward. 
  • Fast one day per week. 

 

Marie Forleo
  • If you’re willing to be relentless, stay nimble, and keep taking action, everything is figure-out-able. 
  • Pursue every project, idea, or industry that genuinely lights you up, regardless of how unrelated each idea is, or how unrealistic a long-term career in that field might now seem. You’ll connect the dots later. 
  • Show up in every moment like you’re meant to be there, because your energy precedes anything you could possibly say. 
  • What are the specific business reasons you’re going to commit time, energy, and resources to regularly creating and engaging in that space? 
  • Whenever I feel unfocused or stuck, I do an intense physical workout. The goal is full sensory immersion. 

 

Drew Houston
  • If I could give my younger self a cheat sheet, I would give him three things: a tennis ball, a circle, and the number 30,000. 
    • Tennis ball: find something you can become obsessed with, like a dog with a ball
    • Circle: you are the average of your five closest friends. 
    • 30,000: people live for about 30,000 days. How many days down are you already? 
  • Think of your time like a jar, your priorities as rocks, and everything else as pebbles or sand. What is the best way to fill your jar? Do your own rocks! 

 

Scott Belsky
  • Great opportunities never have “great opportunity” in the subject line. What makes an opportunity great is upside. If the potential upside were explicitly clear, the opportunity would have already been taken. 
  • Set up a self-reward system for completing a phase of deep work, like a deep work playlist or special snacks. 
  • Don’t ask customers what they want; figure out what they need. 

 

Tim McGraw
  • We all should reassess what we think and believe constantly – in politics, in life, and in our thinking. 
  • Focus is the key to everything. 
  • If I had a billboard, it would say “DAD.” Especially as a dad of daughters, how I talk to them and treat them is crucial to how they see themselves. Reminding myself that I’m a dad makes me want to be the best parent I can be for my kids. 

 

Muneeb Ali
  • Ask yourself this question, “When I’m old, how much would I be willing to pay to travel back in time and relive the moment that I’m experiencing right now?”
  • I can add more value by going deep on a few things rather than engaging with a broad set of activities. 

 

Craig Newmark
  • Seems like all religions recognize the precept that you should “treat others as you want to be treated.” This simple reminder can help people act in a more benevolent way. 

 

Steven Pinker
  • “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?” – Rabbi Hillel

 

Gretchen Rubin
  • Have my children read the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, the Narnia books by C.S. Lewis, and the His Dark Materials books by Philip Pullman

 

Whitney Cummings
  • Fly high. You can only control your reaction and your contribution – choose the high road. Creatively, “fly high” is a reminder to always strive for an A-plus no matter how tired you are or how late it is. 
  • Writing a daily gratitude list in the morning has atrophied my negative thinking. It’s built up the muscle that focuses on what’s going well and how fortunate I am, which helps me be more productive, creative, and focused. 
  • Don’t network, just work. Just get better, and opportunities will naturally present themselves once you deserve them. 

 

Rick Rubin
  • You can’t really lose by dedicating yourself to what you love. 
  • Work tirelessly. I feel lucky and blessed in my life, and I know this is because I totally submerged myself in what I was doing. I spent my every waking hour, every day, enjoying it when I was doing it and truly living it. 
  • When you start something new, it’s good to ask a lot of questions from people in the industry and to learn from them. Remember, though, when people give you advice, they’re giving you advice based on their particular skills, experiences, and perspectives; the advice is from their journey, and every journey is different. Ask yourself “does this advice fit me?”

 

Ryan Shea
  • Three-phase workout.
    • 3-4 sets of bench press, squats, or deadlifts. 6-10 reps of 70-80% of one-rep max. 
    • 3-4 supersets of either
      • 15-20 pull-ups and dips
      • 10 bicep curls and tricep extensions
      • 10 shoulder presses, lateral raises, and front raises
    • Core
      • 4 sets of 1-minute planks alternated with 4 sets of sit-ups and leg raises
      • 1 set each of sit-ups, planks, side planks, and ball knee tucks
  • Instead of New Year Resolution, try a New Month Resolution.
    • April: Daily writing
    • May: No dairy
    • June: Daily meditation
    • July: No news or social media feeds
    • Try either elimination goals or daily behavior goals. 

 

Ben Silbermann
  • Create a chart of boxes representing every year of your life: ten years across and nine rows down. This puts time in a visual format and you can plot things on it. 
  • A lot of professions assume that you’re going to take eight to ten years just to achieve the minimum level of competence necessary to start to get quality work done. 
  • If regular exercise could be bottled, it would be a miracle drug. Everything in your life gets better if you find time to exercise regularly. 
  • The most important stuff in life has to be parallel-processed, like your relationships and your health, because you can’t make up the time by doing more of it later. Figure out a system so the stuff you need to do all the time happens, even while you might be placing disproportionate focus on one thing. 
  • If you have a habit of writing things down you’re grateful for, then your brain is constantly looking for those things, and you feel happier. It’s absurd in its simplicity. 

 

Vlad Zamfir
  • No one is qualified to tell you how you experience the world. 
  • I often decide to do something, or a while pile of somethings, then beat myself up for not doing it. It turns out that I often beat myself up to the point of depression for not doing it. I get depressed because I’m not doing what I think I should be doing. I’ve learned that it can really help to temporarily give up on everything. After giving up on everything, I am immediately relieved of depression. Sometimes this relief is all I need to start working again. Sometimes it isn’t, and I need to spend time doing other things before I’m ready. Often, I end up realizing my “somethings” aren’t important and I forget about them forever. 

 

Zooko Wilcox
  • (On telling people “no”) The realization that helped me was that the kindest and best thing that I can do for people when I get unsolicited requests is to give them a “no” explicitly, quickly, and firmly. 

 

Stephanie McMahon
  • “Do something you’re afraid of every day.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
  • At the first sign of thirst, don’t sip water. CHUG WATER.
  • Before bed, think of three things that made me happy during the day. It’s better than being grateful, because I would feel guilty if I didn’t say certain things I was grateful for, and I wound up saying the same things over and over. Focusing on happiness helps me put aside the day’s baggage and focus on what’s really important. 

 

Peter Attia
  • “For the great enemy of truth is very often not the lie – deliberate, contrived, and dishonest – but the myth – persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Too often we hold fast to the cliches of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.” – John F. Kennedy
  • If you set a goal, it should meet these two conditions: 1) It matters; 2) You can influence the outcome.
  • Don’t give in to the sunk cost fallacy. “You’ve spent X years learning Y, you can’t just up and leave now and do Z.” This is flawed advice because it weighs too heavily the time behind you, which can’t be changed, and largely discounts the time in front of you, which is completely malleable. 

 

Steve Aoki
  • Instead of following the trends, you want to identify them but not follow them. Focus on the energy of what you do. 
  • Music is our tool to engage with our feelings. 

 

Jim Loehr
  • “To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children… to leave the world a bit better… to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived; this is to have succeeded.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • The daily ritual of self-reflected writing has produced priceless personal insights in my life.
  • Anything quantified and tracked on a regular basis will invariably show improvement. 
  • Protection from stress serves only to erode my capacity to handle it. Stress exposure is the stimulus for all growth, and growth actually occurs during episodes of recovery. Avoiding stress will never provide the capacity that life demands. 

 

Daniel Negreanu
  • This exercise helps me to get present to the reality of a situation where I’m feeling unfocused or overwhelmed. I tell my story to myself from the perspective of a victim, then I tell the exact same story from a place of 100 percent responsibility. Victim: “I was late to an important event because my girlfriend took too long to get ready. It’s not my fault.” Responsible: “I acknowledge my breakdown in being late. In the future I am committed to making sure that I do everything I can to ensure that I’m on time.” 

 

Jocko Willink
  • Discipline equals freedom. 
  • Set up a home gym in the garage. It’s one of the most important factors to allow one to work out every day regardless of the chaos and mayhem life delivers. 
  • Work harder than everyone else. Outwork them all. 
  • Prioritize and execute. Pick the biggest issue in front of you with the biggest positive impact and execute on that. 
  • Read and write every day. Free your mind. 

 

Robert Rodriguez
  • When trying to do focused work, use two notepads (or two columns on one notepad): Tasks and Distractions. Write down a few tasks, then start doing the most important, major, even undesirable one. Set a timer for 20 minutes. While doing, if stray thoughts, distractions, or impulses come up, write them down on the Distractions pad. Do not do anything else but the major task until the timer goes off. 
  • Fácil! It’s a Spanish word meaning “easy” or “no big deal!” I like the idea of setting impossible challenges and, with one word, making it sound doable, because then it suddenly is. It’s a reminder that anything can be done, with relative ease and less stress, if you have the right mindset. 

 

Kristen Ulmer
  • When not in crisis, I consider “my life is great” as a cop-out, a stuck place, where learning is no longer available to us. Which is why you shouldn’t wait for crisis to happen before you take steps to go beyond what you’re capable of seeing on your own. Go to marriage counseling when your marriage is going great. Hire a fitness coach when you’re already in the best shape of your life. Bring in a marketing expert when your marketing department is already kicking ass. And watch next-level magic happen. 
  • Instead of a gratitude practice, try a fear practice. Fear is a sense of discomfort in our bodies, not our minds. Locate the feeling in your body, then following these three steps: 1. Affirm it’s natural to feel this discomfort. 2. Be curious about your current relationship with the discomfort. 3. Feel the feeling by spending time with it, like you would with your dog or friend. Turn toward discomfort and have an honest relationship with it. 

 

Yuval Noah Harari
  • When writing, publishing, and trying to sell a book, the DIY method just doesn’t work. Instead of looking for shortcuts, do it the hard and long way and rely on professional help. 
  • Nobody really knows what the world and the job market will look like in 2040, hence nobody knows what to teach young people today. Traditionally, life has been divided into two main parts: a period of learning followed by a period of working. By 2040, this traditional model will become obsolete, and the only way for humans to stay in the game will be to keep learning throughout their lives and to reinvent themselves again and again. 
  • Don’t trust technology too much. Make the tech serve you, instead of you serving it. 

 

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