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Posts Tagged ‘The Slight Edge’

From the Tiny Acorn Grows

There is an old saying. You’ve probably heard it. ‘From a tiny acorn, the mighty oak tree grows.’ It is a truism, oak trees grow from acorns; ‘acorn’ being the name given to the oak tree seed. This old saying is used as an analogy to demonstrate growth, or growing into. It is most often applied in my culture to give heart to children feeling diminutive, and insignificant.

This is a good saying to encourage children to look forward, to hope, and to dream about what they may turn out to be. However, there is much more wisdom in this saying than is commonly gleaned. It demonstrates much more than the potential for growth and greatness.

The acorn already knows what it’s going to be. It doesn’t even think about it, it is genetically programmed to become an oak tree. The acorn is not distracted by the glories of becoming a fireman, nor an astronaut. An oak tree is what it will become, come Hell or high water.

The acorn is focused on becoming an oak tree. It is genetically programmed to be so. In every moment of every day its every action is taken to become an oak tree. It doesn’t care about the weather, nor the Stock Market, nor its neighbors opinion. It will become an oak tree.

The acorn gathers to it all the resources at its disposal, and applies them to becoming an oak tree. It is genetically programmed to do so. It doesn’t bother with what it doesn’t need, nor does it waste the resources it has. If an acorn doesn’t need a second blender, it doesn’t buy one, no matter how shiny it is, nor how much it’s on sale.

Humans are not like acorns. Humans have so many things from which to choose, from what to become, from what to own, from what to do. While it is impossible for the acorn to become distracted in any way from its end result, it is difficult for the Human not to.

Conversely, the acorn can only become an oak tree. It can not become an astronaut, nor a fireman, nor a butcher, nor a baker, nor a candle stick maker. It will never be able to calculate a trajectory to the Moon, nor Mars, nor the Crab Nebula. It will never be able to write a book on stamp collecting, nor playing marbles. It will never be able to look up in the night sky and wonder of what the stars are made, nor how much force it would take to throw a rock from the Earth to the edge of the Cosmos, nor even question whether there is an edge to the Cosmos or not.

What can humans become that an acorn can not! The choices are theoretically endless. However, we need to make those choices if we are to become our own oak tree. We need to be our own type of acorn. We need to take a dream we have, and say ‘This is the one.’ We need to turn that dream into a goal. We need to stay focused on that goal, no matter what anyone says, and no matter what else is going on around us. We should apply our resources toward that goal, and not be wasteful of them. We may admire other endeavors, but we should stay diligent toward our own.

We should also remember, the acorn does not turn into an oak tree over night. It takes around 30 years for an acorn to become an oak tree; and even then, it’s still considered to be in its youth. It takes time to become an oak tree, but not to worry. The oak trees growth is marked in stages. It’s an acorn, and then it’s a sprout. Then it becomes a sapling, then a little tree, then a bigger tree, then a bigger tree still, and then, a dominating, prolific, majestic oak tree.

Dream a dream. Turn that dream into a goal. Plan to reach that goal. Work on that goal, stay with it, do not become distracted. You are spectacular, and how much more than an oak tree?

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Wrestling the Muse

I took a writing course once. It wasn’t very expensive. It was a distance learning course, mostly conducted over the internet. One of the features of the course was periodic on-line chat sessions with the instructor. For all the course cost, the instructor had to have been dedicated to producing writers … she couldn’t have been earning much for her efforts.

During one of the chat sessions, the subject of writers block was breached.

“I keep getting writers block.” one of the students chatted, “What can I do about it.”

“When you get writers block,” the instructor advised, “sit down and start writing.”

That didn’t make a lot of sense. How can one write something when they’re writers blocked?

“Ya, but,” the student continued, “shouldn’t I go traipsing through the daisies, or something like that?”

“You can do that.” the instructor responded. “You do need to harvest experiences, relax, and find inspiration. However, when it’s time to write, put your fingers on the keyboard, and start writing.”

The young Bill Stewart was the line coach for my High School football team some 30 odd years ago. One hot, humid late August day we were out there in a pre season practice on the field along the banks of the beautiful Ohio River. We weren’t having a good practice, very apparently. At the end of the practice, Coach Stewart had the linemen form up in a school circle, and he gave us a pep talk.

“When you don’t feel like practicing,” Coach Stewart advised animatedly, “that’s when you need it most!”

If you’re going to write, you need to write, even if you don’t feel like it. If you’re going to paint, you need to paint, even if you don’t feel like it. If you’re going to play football, you need to play football, even if you don’t feel like it. If you’re going to study, you need to study, even if you don’t feel like it. If you’re going to chop wood, you need to chop wood, even if you don’t feel like it. Get in there, and do it anyhow.

Practice makes perfect, and sometimes you have to wrestle the muse. If you don’t, she might just wander off, forgetting about you and your dreams, and aspirations entirely.

Till next time, stay in there. Keep at it. Whatever it is you do, I need you doing it.

Plant the Seed and Read

Plant the seed of knowledge and wisdom in your brain. Read.

Pick a subject. Any subject, whatever you like. Botany, Psychology, General Literature, Basket Weaving. Go to the store and buy a book, an authoritative book on your chosen subject. Turn off the TV, sit under a lamp, and read 10 pages of that book. Put the book away, turn back on the TV. The next day, do the same thing, read 10 pages. Read 10 pages the next day, and the next day, and the next. Assuming the book you are reading is 300 pages long, it will take you a month to read that book. Not very impressive.

However, before you finish that book, have another one ready to read on the subject you’ve written. When you’re finished with the first book, pick up the second, and read 10 pages. The next day, read 10 pages. Take this book also in 10 page increments till you’re finished.  Don’t forget to have another standing by. At the end of two months, you wouldn’t be an expert, but you could probably keep pace listening to a couple of experts discussing the subject.

At the end of a year, you would have read 12 books on the subject of your choice, assuming the average volume is 300 pages long. Some may be longer, and some may be shorter. At the end of a year, you would be able to hold up your end of a conversation on your subject with just about anyone.

Do this a second year, and a third, and a fourth. At the end of 5 years you will have read just over 60 authoritative volumes on the subject of your choice. By this time you are more than likely able to have deep, intricate discussion on the subject of your choice, and probably have been for a while. You have gained this ability by burning the time it takes to read 10 pages in a day.

10 years. Read 10 pages a day on a subject about which you love to read. In 10 years you will have read 121 authoritative books, 36,500 pages, on the subject of your choice. Here is an amazing thing. This boggled my mind when I first heard the concept. At the end of 10 years, reading just 10 pages per day, each and every day, on the subject of your choice, you will be a high ranking expert on that subject. You will have been exposed to more information on your chosen subject than 95% of the World population. Even if all you want to read are Dime Romance or Sci – Fi stories with only recreational merit, you can become an expert in those genres.

Jeff Olson tells us in his book The Slight Edge that little things, done consistently over time, bring about phenomenal results. The problem Jeff proposes, however, is that these things are generally so easy to do they’re easy not to do.

Take a little bit of time, and work on you yourself the way you want yourself to be. What is it you want to do? Don’t miss a day. Nobody will do it for you the way you want it to be done. You’re already spectacular. Put a spit shine on your shoes so you can watch yourself walking in the steps of the path on which you want to be.

Resolutions

We’re coming up on the New Year fast and furious right about now.  This is a time people project their thoughts and aspirations into the coming year.  New Years resolutions have been a fad for so long they are now a tradition.  Sadly, failed New Years resolutions are epidemic, to the point of being a cliché.

People promise themselves that they will quit smoking, or lose weight, or read through the Bible, or keep their checkbook balanced, or learn to tap dance.  By January 3rd we are still feverishly perusing our resolution.  By the second week of January we have been making excuses not to be so diligent for several days.  By the first week of February, the resolution is usually forgotten till the end of December, when the resolution is reaffirmed.

Why?  Mind you, I am not pointing fingers; I am as guilty of dropping resolutions as anyone else … which makes me doubly guilty because I have an understanding of the dynamics of thought and action underlying the process of personal change.  Why do people make New Years resolutions, then frustraitedly find themselves making the same resolution at the end of the next year as well?

The first thing we have to understand is that we didn’t just fall off the turnip truck fully the person we now are.  During you age you have spent each and every one of your moments sculpting yourself.  However old you are is how many years you’ve spent developing yourself, your psyche, your habits, your physique, your relationships.  Under these conditions, change takes more than wishful thinking.

Jeff Olson tells us that little things, done consistently over time, lead us to our failures as well as our successes.  Furthermore, seed a thought, grow an action, reap a habit; seed an action, grow a habit, reap a lifestyle; seed a habit, grow a lifestyle, reap a legacy.

Get a piece of paper and write five paragraphs.  In the first paragraph, write what it is you want to do, and why.  Be brief, you’re going to carry this piece of paper around with you.  In the second paragraph, describe the end result you want to bring about … this is the pie in the sky paragraph.  In the third paragraph, write what obstacles you may encounter, and possible ways to work around them.  In the fourth paragraph, describe the actions you intend to take in order to bring about the end result you desire.  In the fifth paragraph, outline who is responsible for what, when, where, why, and how.

Fold this piece of paper neatly, and put it in your pocket.  Take it out of your pocket and read it at least once a day, preferably more.  Then, rethink, revise, and rewrite.

Till next time, remember, you can do anything you want to do.  However, it helps a lot if you have a plan.  It helps even more if you have that plan written, and refered to often.

Thank you for reading.  You’re spectacular.

Get on the Bus

If you step out into the street in front of a speeding bus, you will get hit by a speeding bus.  You will experience a sudden, very dramatic, life changing event resulting from your own actions.  It will also result in a very negative experience.  Unfortunately, most actions intended to bring about sudden, dramatic changes in life style have negative outcomes.  Most participants in get rich schemes, of whom I’ve ever heard, at least, only wind up helping make the planner of the scheme rich; the planner having evolved the scheme diligently over time.  Most lottery winners usually wind up deeper in debt than they ever could have imagined possible within five years after the big win.

“Good things come to those who wait.”  In my observation this saying is more a dynamic than an old, irritating adage to persuade children into eating their broccoli before eating sweets.  The cake must be baked before it is eaten.  The farmer must plant the seeds and tend the field before reaping the harvest.  The baby must gestate before it is borne.

“Good things come to those who wait.”  Good things seem to evolve from optimistic attention and fostering of growth.  Bad things seem to spring from impetuous actions, the lunging at brass rings aboard the carousel.  Pick your destination, and get on the bus.  More than likely you’ll have an interesting conversation or two with fellow travelers, and enjoy the scenery along the way.  When you get there, you’ll get there, but you will have been all along the way.

Thank you for reading my blog, and remember, it’s the little things you do consistently, each and every day,  compounded over time, that make you spectacular.

Plus 16 to Minus 1

Jeff Olson, author of The Slight Edge, tells us something alarming about the ratio of 16 to 1.  Jeff tells us that it takes 16 instances of hearing positive input to counteract the effects of 1 instance of hearing negative input.

Not an easy ratio to overcome.  Throughout our lives we can really have a hard time keeping positive in the lead.  Here’s a factor that compounds the problem.  Your subconscious mind only knows you tangibly, it has no contact with the outside world except through your conscious mind.  Your subconscious mind exists like one of the prisoners in Platos Cave.  If you’re walking down the street, and some guy yells ‘You dumb-ass!’ at another guy across the street, your subconscious tends to register you as the addressee.

You can’t avoid negativity completely.  Sometimes it’s actually a good thing to hear.  A fellow needs to know if his pants are ripped, or his hair is on fire.  Likewise, you need to tell a fellow if his pants are ripped, or his hair is on fire.  With a ratio of 16 to 1, we should consciously limit our exposure to negative input.  Here, again, we should revisit the The Nobel Eightfold Path prescribed by The Great Buddha, Prince  Siddhartha Gautama.

Avoid people who bask in negativity.  Avoid other sources of negativity … yes, the TV, the radio, and the news paper are notorious sources of negativity (HINT: read a good book for entertainment, and find another source for the News).  Count your blessings … really, sit down and name them; I usually tell people at least 50 each and every day.  If you can’t say something good about someone or some thing, or you can’t put what you want to say in positive terms, don’t say anything.  Don’t do anything that compromises your moral standards.  Don’t think negative things, do think positive things.  Be, yourself, a beacon of positivity.  Like forgiveness, these things are more for your own health and hygiene than for anyone elses, although these things will ultimately benefit others in the long run.

Cut back on sources of exposure to negative input.

Till next time, keep it positive, because you are spectacular.

Little Things

Jeff Olson is a billionaire.  His life story is one of those rags to riches tales common among the very wealthy here in the United States.  Basically, Mr. Olsen was a beach bum who woke up one morning and said to himself, ‘I ain’t living like this no more!’  The rest is business history.

In his book The Slight Edge Jeff tells a story about a woman working in an airport out of which he frequently flew.  She operated a shoe shine stand in the lobby of the air port.  She was bright, and congenial, and always eager to take care of her customers.  Jeff noticed that she always had a book handy to read when she wasn’t busy.  He also noticed that the books she always had handy to read when she wasn’t busy were romance novels.

I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with romance novels, except for the fact that like Gilligans Island, or The Love Boat, they are strictly entertainment.  They are fictitious people doing fictitious things in fictitious places during fictitious times.

Though apparently happy, and apparently well adjusted, the woman was also apparently not very well off.  That is to say, she wasn’t affording herself nor the World at Large the better part of her potential.

The woman didn’t ask Jeff for his counsel so what she did with herself was none of Jeffs business.  However, like the archetypes in romance novels, Jeff pondered the woman archetypically.

What if the woman chose a field of interest to study outside of absolute entertainment … philosophy, literature, psychology, anthropology.  What if she sat down her romance novel, picked up a book on her selected subject, read 10 pages from that book, closed it, sat it back down, and picked back up her romance novel to read?  What would happen if she just read 10 pages of substantial materiel per day on a selected subject.

Here’s what would happen.  In just under a month, she would have finished a 250 page volume on her subject.  Nice, but I don’t think it would qualify her for going on a speaking tour.  In one year, reading just 10 pages per day, she would have read fourteen 250 page volumes on her selected subject, and be just over halfway through a fifteenth volume.  At this point, she would be well on her way to becoming an expert on the subject.  At the end of ten years the woman would have read one hundred and forty six 250 page volumes on her subject.  At this point she would statistically be among the top 5% of those knowledgeable and learned on her selected subject … and, I’d venture to say more valuable than minimum wage.

What do you read?  What do you watch?  What do you listen to?  You don’t’ have to be a slave to personal development to develop personally.  However, like Mr. Olsen preaches, little things, easy to do, so easy to do they are easy not to do, done consistently over time, ultimately bring about phenomenal results.