All posts filed under “life

Zen and Happiness

There is no need to start happiness after 20 years. You can be happy right now, even when you are not a Partner or don’t drive a Porsche. Things change to easily. You can get sick. You can get fired. You can burn out (if you follow all these items I guess likeliness is low).

Until these bad things happen, just work as well as you can and have fun with doing it. No reason to look at the gains of the colleagues. No reason to think about the cool new position which you didn’t get.

After all, you will reach something. You’ll end up with nice memories, maybe a good position – and 20 excellent years. Every day is a good day.

Zen Monks are not to shy with their work too. They get up at 4am (sometimes earlier, sometimes later, depends on the convent) and start meditation and work (they even consider work meditation practice). They have stuff to do like cleaning the toilets. Or working in the garden. Or as a Tenzo, they cook. They do it with all the care they can get. What ever they do, they do it without suffering and they are (or should be) happy, because every second, even the second where they are cleaning toilets, is a second of their life.

Even pyramids get lost, after a long time. Do you know the names of the people who build up a pyramid? And if you do, is it important that you know? It’s not. Pyramids are there, or not. Nothing special.

From the The 10 rules of a Zen programmer. A post I’ve read many times as there are so many gems within it.

First things first

I have a small check list of things I aim to do every day. This includes things like meditate, write, vlog, foam roll/stretch etc. The problem is I put off the majority of them until late at night and on most occasions end up skipping them in favour of going to bed. While I get to say I got some of the things done, I’m still treating them as an after thought to the rest of my day. Really what I should be doing is putting first things first and getting these things done before I do anything else. Why am I putting things like browsing the news, Reddit and YouTube first? I tell myself “Well I’m just getting started, I need to ease myself into it”, but really that is just an excuse to put things off. So from now on I’m going to start putting first things first.

Move fast and break things

I was thinking about the “Move fast and break things” approach to projects this morning. A few projects I’m currently working have been moving at a snails pace and the longer projects go on and the bigger they get before being launched fills me a certain kind of dread. I feel really comfortable launching with a few half baked features rather than everything in one big bang. When there are so many moving parts in a launch, no matter how much you test, real users are going to find problems, and trying to keep on top of them can drive you insane. It’s the difference between trying to steer a small sail boat vs a cruise liner. If you start small you can probably respond quickly to change and get to where you want to go than if you launch big and try and change course later on.

Now I don’t condone breaking things, but I do agree with the idea of moving fast and staying agile. So just “Move fast”, that’s all you have to do. Accept that things will break and things will need improving.

“A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” – George S. Patton

Battling Procrastination

It makes no sense to leave the Dark Woods in favor of the Dark Playground—they’re both dark. They both suck to be in, but the big difference is the Dark Woods leads to happiness and the Dark Playground leads only to more misery. But the Instant Gratification Monkey isn’t logical and to him, the Dark Playground seems like much more fun.

An absolutely brilliant two part series on procrastination. My most hated enemy.

Part 1: Why Procrastinators Procrastinate
Part 2: How to Beat Procrastination

When to speak up

“Rooting for your team to fail is as bad as it sounds. Even if you said early and often that this path was a stupid one, that this destination makes no sense–if you’re on the plane, if you’re in the meeting, if you decided to play the game–then once the journey starts, your job is to get us there, safe and sound.”

I’m 100% guilty of this. I will bitch and moan like there’s no tomorrow and often when it’s too late to actually do anything. It’s better to make the most of a bad situation rather than doom everything to failure. It’s not helpful and doesn’t do anyone any favours.

Building a cathedral

Three stone masons in the middle ages were hard at work when a visitor came along and asked them what they were doing.

The first stone mason was hard at work, sweat beading his brow. “I am cutting this stone”, he grumbled.

The second stone mason, though less distraught, responded with a deep sigh, “I’m building a parapet”.

The third stone mason, replied with a radiant face, “I am building a cathedral that will glorify God for centuries to come”.

It’s never as bad as it seems

Nothing is ever as bad as it seems. There are only a handful of situations which are truly terrible. While I sit here and dred not making a shit tonne of money, there are people who have to worry about how they are going to shelter and feed their family, there are people facing certain death for their beliefs and views, there are people with absolutely nothing, with no hope and no prospect of ever changing that.

We should be eternally grateful for the things that we do have, because there is always someone else worse off. So when times seem hard and the road ahead difficult, remember those people worse off than us and let it spur us on to do the best that we can given the opportunities laid before us.

Going through the motions

Going through the motions is easy. It’s easy to go to the gym and move about a bit. It’s easy to turn up for work and put in the minimum neccessary. It’s easy to be busy and not really achieve anything. Day in, day out we go through the motions of life, blinded by the illusion of progress. But just because the wheels are turning it doesn’t mean we’re actually going anywhere. To get big and strong in the gym takes serious dedication constant pushing ourselves to the limit. To be successful at work takes going above and beyond what’s expected of us and delivering excellent work. Progress is the key. Are you better than you were yesterday? Yes? Good. No? Try harder tomorrow. Be aware of your current state and actions and be sure they are moving you forward.

Right now

Right now, somewhere in the world, a child is being born into an uberly rich family. That child will grow up to inherit millions for absolutely no work. He’ll live the good life full of yachts and private jets.

Right now, somewhere in the world, there is a party happening full of gorgeous wealthy people who need not lift a finger to attain the luxuries that they have. Their success is only a matter of genetics and luck.

Right now, somewhere in the world, is an investment banker who is making literally millions after clicking a few buttons and making a few phone calls to a few friends. He knows the right people and is in the right place, and that’s all that matters.

Right now, somewhere in the world, is a 20-some year old guy who is worth billions because of a website he started. He was born into a family that sent him to the right high school. He then went on to one of the best universities in the country, built his website, moved, met the right people, and raised $500+ million in funding. He and likely generations down the line are set for life.

Right now, somewhere in the world, is a 17yr old teenager who started a company with some money from his parents, built a product, with help from friends and family, and got acquired for $30 million.

There’s always someone becoming richer than you for much less work, every second of the day. Look past that and just keep working. I get down about how unfair that is from time to time, but there’s nothing you can really do about it, other than focus on your work.

Love this comment on the Summly acquisition. Burning up inside about what others have achieved won’t get you any closer to your goals. All you can do is make it fuel your desire even more. So get back to work and make it happen.

Today

When working towards an end goal, it’s easy to focus on nothing but the end. How much more do I have to do? How long do I have left? When all that really matters is what we do today. Reaching goals become a lot easier when we free ourselves from focusing on the long road ahead of us. Focus on today and today alone and the end result will take care of itself.

The daily practice

I don’t think in terms of “soon I’ll have this” or “soon I’ll have that.” I think in terms of “I got these points today, and I have these other points yet to win, before I go to sleep at the end of the day.” That’s all it takes to get things happening – Giles Bowkett – My Gamified Life

An excellent way to think about The Daily Practice. I’ve been doing this for a while and it makes an immense difference. I started to drop the ball in July though and still haven’t got around to printing myself a new calendar for August. I’ll post up my previous two months at some point.

Successful people are successful

…always optimise for personal growth, for building your “success pool” that you can leverage to go from smaller successes to bigger successes. Steer away from choices that reduce this personal asset.

Excellent article on what it take to be successful. When we were working on our startups, we always shoot for the stars. Every bet was an all or nothing one, where revenue and profits were problems for the future. A lot of those decisions were out of our hands, while we always believed that first priority should always have been making enough money to keep our heads above water, rather than living on borrowed time.

The only limit, is the one you set yourself

Once you train yourself to seek out the limit in all endeavors, you’ll get better and faster at correcting the inevitable oversteps, and hit that peak performance.

This recent post from 37Signals reminds me a lot of the brilliant post by Derek Sivers on there being no speed limit.

Kimo’s high expectations set a new pace for me. He taught me “the standard pace is for chumps” – that the system is designed so anyone can keep up. If you’re more driven than “just anyone” – you can do so much more than anyone expects. And this applies to ALL of life – not just school.

It can be hard at times to know how hard you should be pushing or how fast you should be going. It’s easier to go with the flow rather than to push ourselves to see what we’re truly capable of.