How We Should Commit to Liking What We Do

Seth Godin in this blog post – that is straight to the point – ‘We like what we choose’ explains how most of us and most personal development gurus have it backwards. We don’t choose what we like, we like what we choose.

The post refers to scientific research on toddlers quoted in Science daily ‘Babies’ random choices become their preferences‘: “People assume they choose things that they like. But research suggests that’s sometimes backwards: We like things because we choose them. And, we dislike things that we don’t choose.”

In general, we may or may not have much choice in where we grow up, live or what we do. The thing is, it may not be worthwhile exhausting ourselves to find what we’d like to do. It is much better and apparently much more satisfying to just make sure we like what we do.

And anyway, at some stage, even if that was between two sub-optimal alternatives, we have made choices and this should make us prefer what we have chosen.

So, let’s focus on liking, developing and making the best of what we do, because at some stage we have chosen to do it.


How Collaboration is a Competition Against Ourselves

I like this quote I noted from Gapingvoid: “Collaboration is a competition — of us against ourselves“. Collaboration is an absolute requirement nowadays to achieve the best results, and if it works properly, it should stretch ourselves.

Here’s the full quote: “Competition, against ourselves or against others, is what gets the best results from us. But so does collaboration. How does that work? Let’s reframe the discussion. Collaboration is a competition — of us against ourselves. To get the best results, we need to push ourselves past the point of ourselves“.

In productive collaboration we have the opportunity to show the best of ourselves in the areas we are the best. Collaboration allows to complement those skills and talents with different skills and talents of others to build something unique. Positive collaboration obliges us to give our best at what we are the best at.

The caveat of course is that we are addressing here the best situation of positive collaboration in an effective team, which do not happen so often. It does not prevent us to always give out the best we can of ourselves. But it requires a good dose of personal discipline.

Effective collaboration is an opportunity to provide our best from our talents and what we know to do best. That’s how we identify positive collaboration.


How California Fires Show How Nature Plays Catch-Up

I obviously like unconventional viewpoints and here is one on the 2020 California forest fires: ‘This is Not Fine‘ by Alex Tabarrok which mentions a study showing that those fires were just a catch-up by nature compared to the normal natural fire rate in California.

Academics believe that between 4.4 million and 11.8 million acres burned each year in prehistoric California. Between 1982 and 1998, California’s agency land managers burned, on average, about 30,000 acres a year. Between 1999 and 2017, that number dropped to an annual 13,000 acres.” In addition when I visited California I got explained that the Giant Sequoias could only reproduce if there were fires, because it is what triggers the seed to start growing. So, obviously, we have tried to convince ourselves that fire is not normal whereas it is a normal behaviour of the ecosystem.

The post goes on to state various reasons why there is not more controlled burning every year, but what is really important here to note is that ecosystems won’t always bend to the wishes of humans, and at some time there will be a catchup. And that we should be able to foresee this situation rather than complain.

Listening to the century-old rhythm of nature and ecosystems is certainly a good way to start when it comes to deciding where and how we live.


How Changing Ourselves and Be Happy Is Our Responsibility

In her book ‘What I know for sure‘, Oprah Winfrey makes the point that changing ourselves, overcoming our wounds and overcoming our internal program are things for which we need to take total responsibility.

Like me , you might have experienced things that caused you to deem yourself unworthy . I know for sure that healing the wounds of the past is one of the biggest and most worthwhile challenges of life. It’s important to know when and how you were programmed, so you can change the program. And doing so is your responsibility, no one else’s. There is one irrefutable law of the universe: We are each responsible for our own life.”

This responsibility can be tough to carry and we may need some help with it, but it certainly remains ours. And, “If you’re holding anyone else accountable for your happiness, you’re wasting your time.

What I like in this quote is that first, it presumes that all of us can change and even recover from deep wounds, if we are willing to do so. And it squarely puts the responsibility on us for our happiness. Stop looking for excuses outside and do the work!


How Self-Help Approaches Can Be Summarized

I liked this quite ambitious post ‘Every self-help book ever, boiled down to 11 simple rules‘. And as we speak of apparently a $11 billion self-help industry, that’s even more ambitious!

Here’s a summary of those eleven points reworded by me

  • take a small step at a time – change should come in small chunks
  • visualize where you want to get to
  • struggle is good because you need to get out of your comfort zone. It will necessarily be scary
  • be emphatic and take some time to judge people
  • contemplate your mortal nature to act with a sense of urgency
  • be playful in change, cultivate your specificities
  • help others and be useful in life
  • avoid perfectionism, which leads to procrastination. Just ship to the world
  • accept human limitations and play the long game recharging your batteries when needed
  • write down objectives and do lists
  • don’t just read, go out in the world and try

I am not sure this summarizes all self-help books around but it is certainly a good try. And like me you’ll find probably a pair of points that are worth remembering now because we may not have been sufficiently careful about them in the recent past.


How to Identify Clues That the Universe Points Us to a New Direction

One nugget from the book ‘What I Know for Sure‘ by Oprah Winfrey: “One of my greatest lessons has been to fully understand that what looks like a dark patch in the quest for success is the universe pointing you in a new direction . Anything can be a miracle , a blessing , an opportunity if you choose to see it that way.”

What I find interesting in this quote compared to the usual ‘the universe is pointing you to where you should go, just pay attention’, is the concept of the “what looks like a dark patch“. It is interesting because it highlights how the difficulties, or possibly the failure areas, can be also seen as signs that we need to change the way we do things or the way we look at things.

How often do we identify a difficulty and try to find a way around it. Maybe we should pause for a while and wonder whether this is not a clue to something we should do differently.


How You Should Start By Being Cheerful

This excellent post by Gapingvoid makes an essential point about cheerfulness and success. Successful people are cheerful, but actually they were probably cheerful and optimistic quite before being successful.

The research at the origin of this HBR article ‘The Financial Upside of Being an Optimist‘ “found that when it comes to money, optimists are more likely to make smart moves and reap the benefits“. This translates into much more successful financial situations.

Now an important point here is that in this research optimism is not just naive. It is more rational optimism. “We define optimism as the expectation of good things to happen, and the belief that behavior matters, especially in the face of challenges. A rational optimist is able to see reality for what it is, while maintaining the belief that actions can improve the situation

As the Gapingvoid post summarizes: “Simply put, our ability to stay cheerful and optimistic helps us go the extra mile.” Become cheerful, and stay cheerful and rationally optimistic!


What Would You Do If You Were Not Afraid

I read recently this excellent little book by Oprah Winfrey ‘What I Know for Sure‘. Not living in the US I am not fully familiar with her work on TV but her book is certainly the expression of a very spiritual person.

One of the points she makes is about facing a difficult decision. “Whenever I’m faced with a difficult decision , I ask myself : What would I do if I weren’t afraid of making a mistake , feeling rejected , looking foolish , or being alone ? I know for sure that when you remove the fear , the answer you’ve been searching for comes into focus

And, more powerful even “And as you walk into what you fear , you should know for sure that your deepest struggle can , if you’re willing and open , produce your greatest strength”

That’s it – always ask the question, what would I do if I was not afraid? And this is certainly a powerful question that can create enormous strength.

I need to remember this more often!


How to Rebuild Your Missing Best Friend with AI

I found this post inspiring: ‘SPEAK, MEMORY – When her best friend died, she rebuilt him using artificial intelligence‘. The approach is quite easy: build a bot with AI, feed all the messages and interactions with your past best friend, and let AI work out its miracle to provide you with interaction.

I find the idea exciting and unsettling at the same time. This solution offers a kind of immortality (at least on the basis of past expression), but also poses questions about what AI will really produce with its limitations.

In the post it seems that this approach has helped the person overcome its grief, but it may also create a situation where grieving will be suspended because of the impression to have your friend still there with you.

Therefore, this is an idea to be handled with caution. At the same time, we can expect that the concept will become more prevalent with an increased performance of AI and also an increased amount of data generated digitally during our lifetimes.

We are moving further toward a digital world inhabited by multiple versions of ourselves, some of them will survive our death. Interesting world!


How to Use Modern Mantras in the Modern World

I like this article ‘To get better at life, try this modern mantra‘. Mantras are short sentences that can be repeated and are used extensively by meditation practitioners, among others. And “modern mantras [are] simple sayings that you can call upon at any time to foster equanimity, compassion, insight, or whatever the moment calls for.”

The suggested mantra suitable to the modern world is “Right now, it’s like this” (the article was written in 2019 but this works quite well even during the Covid-19 crisis!). This mantra helps accept reality as it is.

And repeating the mantra seems to have quite some soothing effect on one’s brains and moods. The practice is this – repeat often in a reflective mode, and particularly when you become upset by something.

Repeat after me: “Right now, it’s like this“! And breathe…


How We Need to Remember that Extreme Stress Creates Diamonds

I love this quote “In times of extreme stress, just remember that pressure makes diamonds.” I’m not sure who to attribute it to, but it’s quite inspiring.

This serves to remind us that we are often mainly shaped by hard times rather than smooth times. Therefore albeit difficult in the present moment, highly stressful situations will transform us.

Hopefully, of course, this transformation will be for the better (extreme stress and pressure can also create stuff that is less nice than diamonds!).

Still it is a good reminder that we can get positively transformed by periods of intense pressure and stress. Keep it up!


How Being Benevolent Is Not Being Naive

I tend to be rather the benevolent type in business, for example linking often people together without seeking any kind of compensation when I believe this could create value, or providing free advice based on my experience. Recently someone make the reflection that I was being naive. I thus pondered: does being benevolent make me naive in this supposedly shark-infested life?

My conclusion is that no, being benevolent is not being naive, at least up to a certain point. While it is important to protect your core and make sure there is no trespassing of certain limits, I deeply believe that being benevolent is rather positive. Of course this is all based on the consideration that we don’t live in a scarce world but rather in an abundant one. Therefore, creating value for others or supporting them in periods of difficulties is not necessary detrimental to me; and rather creates additional possibilities in the future. They may or not materialize, but at least in the short term I’ll feel good to have supported others.

Of course some limits need to be put there, and there are definitely some people that would be keen to take advantage, but I find that they are relatively easy to identify (not so easy to get rid of sometimes though!).

So, benevolent is definitely not being naive. It is even sometime being courageous; in any case, it is what we should do to create new opportunities for others – and possibly for us in the long term too.