Think Different

31 05 2010

Do what you’ve always done, and you’ll get what you’ve always got.

Could it be time for you to think a little ‘different’?

Don’t be limited by the perception other people have of you – or you have of yourself. You’ll never know if you don’t change – and neither will anyone else!



Iris – The Goo Goo Dolls

31 05 2010

I put my iPod on shuffle for a change this morning, and it decided to play this song first off. One I haven’t heard in a long time – “Iris” by the Goo Goo Dolls. The song is an old one and very familiar, but for once I stopped and listened to the words. The intensity and raw vulnerability in them blew me away. I want to do something different today and write my thoughts on the meaning of the song – or perhaps more simply, what it communicated to me. See what you think.

And I’d give up forever to touch you

Cause I know that you feel me somehow

You’re the closest to heaven that I’ll ever be

And I don’t want to go home right now

And all I can taste is this moment

And all I can breathe is your life

Cause sooner or later it’s over

I just don’t want to miss you tonight

Verses one and two talk about the incredible ecstasy of complete connection with another human being. Not just anyone, but someone who understands you fully. With that comes a complete sense of closeness and security that envelops you in a moment of time – and you would ‘gladly give up forever’ to hold onto that powerful moment of pure intimacy.

And I don’t want the world to see me

Cause I don’t think that they’d understand

When everything’s made to be broken

I just want you to know who I am

The chorus takes you back out of that moment into the reality of the world around you, the people you see every day, and the way we live most of our lives inside layered shells of protection, not allowing our deepest selves to be exposed to the outside world… because we “don’t think that they’d understand”. We present a certain face to the world, to protect ourselves and manage the risk of relationship. Rather than being a bad thing, this is more just a necessary fact of the way we live – vulnerability comes with closeness and trust, and the closer we get to someone the more of those protective layers we strip off as more of our deepest self becomes visible. The last line of the chorus struck me the most – “I just want you to know who I am”. This, if anything, is the deepest longing of the human heart – to be known completely – understood – and accepted as who we are. We can know and accept ourselves, but the power and euphoria of receiving this from someone else, is beyond words, and one of the highest points of the human experience.

And you can’t fight the tears that ain’t coming

Or the moment of truth in your lies

When everything seems like the movies

Yeah you bleed just to know you’re alive

Verse 3… what happens if you lose that connection? Say you experience a breakup, or your loved one dies. Perhaps it is “better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.” With the sudden removal of something so deep and close, it seems like the writer has gone into a kind of emotional numbness – “You can’t fight the tears that ain’t coming”. While he is unable to grieve, he still knows that this was the one thing that made his life feel “real” – that deep experience of relationship is “the moment of truth in your lies”... it was so real and deep that everything else in life “seems like the movies”. He finishes the song weighing up the pain against the chance to experience the deepest and most powerful connection that life can offer: “you bleed just to know you’re alive.”

The song ends with one final repeat of the chorus:

And I don’t want the world to see me

Cause I don’t think that they’d understand

When everything’s made to be broken

I just want you to know who I am

What do you think?

Men Past Forty

27 05 2010

– by Ed Sissman (1928-1976)

Men past forty

Get up nights,

Look out at city lights

And wonder

Where they made the wrong turn

And why life is so long.

Woodsheds & Action, Castles & Dreams

27 05 2010

Excerpt from Self-Culture Through the Vocation by Edward Howard Griggs (1914). Enjoy and be inspired!


Actions Versus Dreams…

Action is always small, compared to the ideal inspiring it. While we dream, we might do anything; when we act, out of the infinity of possibilities, we affirm one poor, insignificant fraction.

That explains many of the paradoxes of life, as, for instance, why our babies are so interesting to us. The parent looks into the eyes of his two-years-old child, and dreams of all the possibilities inherent in that little atom of humanity. That child might think Plato’s thought, write Shakespeare’s Hamlet, or live with the moral magnificence of St. Francis of Assisi. Why not?

“I am the owner of the sphere,

Of the seven stars and the solar year,

Of Caesar’s hand and Plato’s brain,

Of Lord Christ’s heart and Shakespeare’s strain.”

Emerson is right: all these potentialities are in the humblest of us: give us time enough and opportunity enough, and we can develop limitlessly in any direction. Each is a unit part, not a mechanical part, of humanity — a sort of stem cell containing the possibilities of the whole. We may not be able to think Plato’s thought to-day, but we may take one step forward in our intellectual life: give us eternity, and the point will be reached when we may think Plato’s thought. One may be far below the moral magnificence of St. Francis now; but one may climb a little with each step: if the number of possible steps is endless, no mountain summit of life is unattainable.

Infinite time and opportunity, however, are just what never are given in this world, whatever be the truth for worlds to come. We must live this chapter; we have to plan for time as well as eternity. If we spend all the seventy years, more or less — usually less — granted to us here, merely in laying a foundation, we have no temple of life. If we lay a narrow foundation, and build each story out, wider and wider, as the structure grows, it falls to the ground and we have no temple of life. We must somehow both lay the foundation and erect the superstructure — see to it that we get something done, before the curtain falls on the brief chapter we call life.

Thus what the parent forgets, as he looks into the eyes of his little child, is that out of the endless wealth of potentialities, gathered up in this fresh incarnation of humanity, at best only a poor little fragment will be realized in the brief span of life given us in this world. Emerson quotes from Thoreau’s manuscripts:

“The youth gets together his materials to build a bridge to the moon, or, perchance, a palace or temple on the earth, and, at length the middle-aged man concludes to build a woodshed with them.”

That is just about the relation of the world of action to that of dreams; but this, after all, is the important point: it is better to build one honest woodshed that will keep the fuel for the fires of life dry, than it is to go on dreaming forever of impossible castles in Spain; and the wonder is that when you have built the woodshed you own the castle. The ideal is vain and illusory just so long as you dwell in the world of dreams; the whole ideal becomes real when, through your struggle, a mere fragment of it is realized.

Each of us is artist, the world is our mountain of marble, and we own it all. We may choose one block, cast it aside, choose another and another, each more wonderfully veined: the mountain is ours. This, however, is the significant point: unless we do decide upon a single block, and work at it so long and faithfully that in the end we have chipped off all the superfluous marble and released the statue Michael Angelo believed God placed in every block, it means nothing that we own the mountain. Rather, we own the mountain when we have achieved the single statue, and only then.

In every vocation the meaning of the work is less in the thing done than in the growth of the man through the doing.

Why Smart People Go Nowhere

14 05 2010

A fantastic article on the relationship between success and pure ‘intelligence’, from “A Life Beyond Code” by author and cutting edge thinker Rajesh Setty. Enjoy.



You would have met many smart people who live a mediocre life. There are MANY of them. You might be surprised why this is the case. They have the brains to go somewhere, be someone and do remarkable things. When you talk to them, you will realize that even they want to go somewhere, be someone and do remarkable things.

Then, what causes smart people to go nowhere in life? OK, here are a few reasons to start with:

1. They are not lucky (enough): I have to start with a controversial reason first. Yes, luck (and also timing) plays a big role in someone’s success. Luck alone may not get one somewhere special but a little bit of luck will go a long way to get them to a better place. The following tweet from my hero Tom Peters sums this up nicely: Smart + Work hard = Odds are, pretty successful. Roaring success… that’s mostly a matter of luck + right place + right time. Like I said, luck alone won’t take anyone anywhere. It can. But that’s rare. Knowing this, you can do something to start improving your luck. Yes, it is random. And yes, you can improve your chances of meeting luck. It is in your hands. You should remember that fortune favors the brave. More importantly, you should remember that “luck” does not happen if you wish for it and wait. How much ever important luck is, it is not in your control. In other words, you can’t work on “luck” directly. You can work on everything else and improve the chances of getting “lucky.”

2. Life is (quite) different outside the sandbox: It all starts at the school. When people get good grades at school, they are considered smart. Except that school is a “sandbox” environment where the penalty for making mistakes is very low. In some schools and exam systems, memorization is given a huge premium – meaning the person who can memorize the best is considered the smartest. They don’t say it that way but the exams are designed to test someone’s memorization skill rather than testing what they have learned. The marketplace is very different from school. It is nothing close to a sandbox. The rules that work in the marketplace are very different from the rules that work in the sandbox. In fact, there are very few rules that work in the marketplace. It will take a while for many “sandbox smarts” to graduate to “marketplace smarts.” Note: Before you jump to any conclusions, I have to say that I was one of the “sandbox smarts” so I know how it feels. I have nothing against being a “sandbox smart” as long as you know that – that alone will take you nowhere.

3. Their risk appetite may be low: In school, following the rules helped them get great grades. In the marketplace, following the rules to the dot will help them lead a “successful” life at best. In average cases, it will lead them to lead a mediocre life. At the center, you are safe but there is no premium.At the edges, there is less safety but the chances of getting a premium is high. In a “safe” or sandbox environment there was no need to take big risks. In fact, taking risks would not be rewarded.

4. Their past success may become a baggage: They say success begets success. But they never said “sandbox success” will beget “marketplace success.” In fact, success begets success only when you are willing to adapt to the new situations very RAPIDLY. What worked in their past gives them a feeling that following what made them successful in the past will make them successful in the future.

5. Ego -> Entitlement: Early success (even in a sandbox environment) can build up one’s ego. When the person does not keep his or her ego in check, ego slowly transforms into entitlement. When a person feels entitled for something, he or she does not have to act much. There is no entitlement for anyone in the marketplace. Until one reaches a tipping point, the only question a marketplace asks is “What have you done for me lately?”

6. Not acting when there is a need to act: The fear of failure makes some people go for “extreme preparation” – trying to cross all the “t”s and dotting all the “i”s – trying to be “fully” ready before taking the first step. As they prepare more, they realize that there is a need to prepare even more. They end up going into a never-ending loop.

7. Not knowing they need help: In a “sandbox” environment, there was not a big requirement for teamwork. They were able to win the game with a solo act. It worked OK then. Unfortunately, the marketplace requires a bigger push – requiring a larger set of resources to be in play. The first step towards that is to realize that they need “more help” to succeed in the marketplace. Even if they have the skills to complete everything on their own “individually” trying to do everything on their own will be futile. It will have the same effect as an one-man orchestra performance will have.

8. Not getting “good help” when required: They say knowing is not doing but doing is doing. Knowing is not enough. One needs a different level of humility to go and ask for that help. Unfortunately, that wont be sufficient as good people have “enough” opportunities to pursue and their request has to compete with all the available opportunities in front of those people that can offer “good help.”

9. Their relationship with failure: Nobody has the “midas touch” – which means that sooner than later, they will fail and learn. Some smart people don’t want to fail and may think that a failure will expose that they are “inadequate” in some way. Unless that relationship to failure changes, they will keep trying something that has a sure-shot chance of success. This would automatically lead to tried and tested routes – that will lead to very predictable and probably mediocre lives.

Fight the Fear

13 05 2010

Have you ever wondered who’s behind that little voice in your head that tells you, “you’re in this by yourself, one person doesn’t make a difference, so why even try?”

His name is Fear. Fear plays the role of antagonist in the story of your life. You must rid yourself of him using all necessary means.

We’re often impressed by those who appear to be fearless. The people who fly to the moon. Chase tornadoes. Enter dangerous war zones. Skydive. Speak in front of thousands of people. Stand up to cancer. Raise money and adopt a child that isn’t their flesh and blood.

So, why are we so inspired by them? Because deep down, we are them. We all share the same characteristics. We’re all human.

Until Fear is gone, (and realize he may never completely leave) make the decision to be courageous. The world needs your story in order to be complete.

“Permission To Speak Freely: Essays and Art on Fear, Confession and Grace” , Anne Jackson

Quotes on Travel from “The Beach”

13 05 2010

The Beach (2000)

Starring Leonardo di Caprio as “Richard”

This film, adapted from a novel of the same name, centres on a young nicotine-addicted traveller named Richard. While at a hotel in Bangkok, he finds a map left by a strange neighbour. The map supposedly leads to a legendary island paradise where other wayward souls have settled. The film reminded of a thought I once heard – how life has a way of accelerating as we get older. The days get shorter, and the list of promises to ourselves gets longer. One morning, we awaken, and all we have to show for our lives is a litany of ‘I’m going to,’ ‘I plan on, ‘and ‘Someday, when things are settled down a bit.’ We need to seize the moment – Carpe Diem! Enjoy these quotes…


[opening lines]

Richard: My name is Richard. So what else do you need to know? Stuff about my family, or where I’m from? None of that matters. Not once you cross the ocean and cut yourself loose, looking for something more beautiful, something more exciting and yes, I admit, something more dangerous. So after eighteen hours in the back of an airplane, three dumb movies, two plastic meals, six beers and absolutely no sleep, I finally touch down; in Bangkok.

Richard: I told myself spreading news was part of a traveller’s nature, but if I was being completely honest, I was just like everybody else: scared to death of the great unknown. Desperate to take a little piece of home with me.

Richard: The only downer is, everyone’s got the same idea. We all travel thousands of miles just to watch TV and check in to somewhere with all the comforts of home, and you gotta ask yourself, what is the point of that? I just feel like everyone tries to do something different, but you always wind up doing the same damn thing.

Richard: Trust me, it’s paradise. This is where the hungry come to feed. For mine is a generation that circles the globe and searches for something we haven’t tried before. So never refuse an invitation, never resist the unfamiliar, never fail to be polite and never outstay the welcome. Just keep your mind open and suck in the experience. And if it hurts, you know what? It’s probably worth it.

Richard: You hope, and you dream. But you never believe that something’s gonna happen for you. Not like it does in the movies. And when it actually does, you want it to feel different, more visceral, more real. I was waiting for it to hit me, but it just wouldn’t happen.

[last lines]

Richard: And me, I still believe in paradise. But now at least I know it’s not some place you can look for, ’cause it’s not where you go. It’s how you feel for a moment in your life when you’re a part of something, and if you find that moment… it lasts forever.