Perseverance: Keep on Keeping On

21 11 2011


Choose Your Own Adventure: The Underrated Power of Personal Choice

18 11 2011

If you grew up in the 80’s or 90’s and read any books, you’ll probably remember those “Choose Your Own Adventure” novels you could get from the school library. You would start reading, and after the first three or four pages, you would get to a point where YOU could decide how the main character in the story would react to an event or choice he had. If you decide to follow the shady man with the grey hat, turn to page 12. If you decide to stay at the bar and keep an eye on the mysterious waitress, turn to page 16. Once you made that choice, you would read another few pages then have to make another choice. Each book had 10-20 different endings, depending on the choices you made for the main character! How cool were those books.

Life is very much the same. We all start on pretty much the same first 2-3 pages (years?), with the exception of the extremely underprivileged. It’s then not too long before we start having to make choices – about the things we do, what we say, and the way we respond to our people and circumstances. All of those choices out together, have made you the person you are today, and created the circumstances you are in.

The downside of this can be recognising the significance of your own responsibility for the negatives in your life right now. The upside however is realising that you have had a huge part to play in most of the good things in your life right now.


Most of us have a tendency to lean too far to one extreme in our views of our own responsibility for our circumstances. Half of us blame ourselves for all the bad things, but fail to recognise the good things we’ve achieved. The other half of us blame everything negative on our circumstances or other people, and give ourselves complete credit for everything good that’s happened. Neither of these are correct or healthy. The key is to recognise that life and people around us DO throw us plenty of opportunities as well as difficulties; yet the challenge lies in making the most of the opportunities, and overcoming the difficulties. Some things are beyond our control, but what we DO have control over is our own response and the choices we make. And in the long run, the choices WE make have much more impact than external factors, in creating the life we end up with.

In  the incredible book Man’s Search for Meaning, Nazi concentration camp survivor Victor Frankl talks of this responsibility being one of the deep realisations he experienced while enduring some of the worst circumstances known to mankind. This quote from his book sums it up better than anything I could say:

“We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way…  And there were always choices to make. Every day, every hour, offered the opportunity to make a decision, a decision which determined whether you would or would not submit to those powers which threatened to rob you of your very self, your inner freedom; which determined whether or not you would become the plaything of circumstance, renouncing freedom and dignity to become molded into the form of the typical inmate.”

 So where does all this leave us?

1. You are ultimately responsible for where you are – and WHO you are, today. Circumstance has its part, but your responses & choices have led you to the good & bad in your life today.

2. That realisation can be tough, but it’s also liberating, because it opens up the realisation that the shape of your future is up to nothing else and no-one else but YOU. What are you going to decide?

YOU create your life every day. In the small things… YOU decide whether or not you’re going to get up when the alarm goes off, what to wear, what to eat for breakfast, and how to get to work. And as YOU run into people throughout the day, YOU decide how to respond to them, how to treat them, and who to avoid. YOUR intentions for the day affect what YOU do, what YOU experience, and how YOU experience it. In the same way, on a bigger scale, the whole trajectory of YOUR life is created by YOUR choices.

“All I have are the choices that I make.” – Matt Damon, The Adjustment Bureau

“If you only had one shot, one opportunity, to seize everything you ever wanted …one moment.. Would you capture it or just let it slip?” – Eminem

Donate to Movember and Fight Men’s Cancer

16 11 2011

Mid last year, my invincible, always-healthy dad was sat down by another dad who happened to be wearing a white doctor’s coat. That man told my dad that he had cancer.

Cut to a year later, and my dad has made it through and is doing well. Having had an emergency-speed operation, subsequent scans have given him the all-clear. It wasn’t a minor one either – he had to have an entire kidney completely removed, and we were all very, very fortunate it hadn’t gone any further.

The reason my dad is still living today, and able to laugh with me and joke around (and hug my Mum), is because of medical research, early detection and technology. Research takes MONEY to fund and government support is nowhere near enough to fund the research that needs to be funded. In in 1999, an aspiring group of young men in Adelaide came up with the idea of growing moustaches to raise funds for men’s health charity. MOVEMBER was born.

I am raising funds for Movember this year (for the first time ever) by growing a mo until the end of the month. As you can see, I do NOT look good with  a mo’. So please make it worth my while, and if you have the time or inclination, make a small ($5 or $10) donation here to Movember:

Some quick stats about Movember.

  • Year started: 2004.
  • The Cause: fight prostate cancer (70%) & male depression (30%) by supporting brave sufferers & funding research.
  • Total funds raised to date: $178m by over 1.1m participants globally.
  • Funds raised last year: $72m by 447,808 participants.
  • How much gets sucked up in admin/fundraising costs? ONLY 6%. For every $100 you give, $61 goes to Prostate Cancer Research Foundation of Australia & BeyondBlue depression initiative, and $30 to Movember Foundation prostate cancer research & support programs. $3 is retained to ensure the Foundation will stick around in the long term (a damn good idea I think).

Last year 3,300 men were told they had prostate cancer. None of them expected to hear that. The next one could be your dad, brother, husband or even you. I’ve kickstarted donations with $50 but if you can donate even $5 will help! Donate HERE:

Thanks all!!

– Quinton

Tired of Being Tired?

16 11 2011

This is a fantastic post written by Leo Babauta on the popular blog Zen Habits, which focuses on ways to simplify life and in doing so enjoy it more. I wanted to share this, though don’t have a lot more to add as the post pretty much says everything perfectly. It certainly made me think, and perhaps it will for you too. Lifestyle change, anyone?

–          Quinton

Tired of Being Tired

‘A man grows most tired while standing still.’ ~Chinese proverb

It’s tough being tired all day. I’ve had days like this, when I’m struggling through the day and don’t have the energy to tackle anything that matters. Hell, I’ve had years like this. When you’re tired, not much seems appealing. Life is dulled, and you don’t get much accomplished. Worst, you don’t have the energy to change the situation. These days I don’t have many days like this, but when I do, I rest. We have gotten good at ignoring our body’s signals — much of our lives is training our minds to pretend our bodies aren’t tired, so we can be more productive. This is wrong. It ends up in burnout and less production, because we inevitably run out of energy. Listen to your body — your long-term health and sanity depend on it.

Why We’re Tired

Mostly we’re tired because we don’t rest enough. Yeah, I know: duh, Leo. But if it’s so obvious, why do we ignore it? The Spanish famously have siestas. When I get tired, so do I. It’s a luxury not everyone can afford, but even when I had a day job I would find ways to sneak into a back room and take a power nap of 20 minutes. We don’t rest enough. It’s not as important as other things: waking early, getting stuff done, attending to a thousand meetings, being sucked into the world of online connections and reading, god-forsaken television. So we cut rest in favor of these other things that are much more important, and then wonder why our energy levels are low.

But there’s more. If you’re like me, you drink coffee in the morning. You might drink more later in the morning, to keep yourself energized. By the time afternoon rolls around, you’re in caffeine withdrawal. This is often why people are sapped by mid-afternoon.

We also run ourselves too fast, like a sprint, when life is much longer than a sprint. Try it: go outside and sprint all-out for two minutes. Stop, breathe for a sec, then sprint again. See how long you can keep that up — most can’t go very long. Our days are like a series of sprints. Note: Sometimes chronic fatigue can be a sign of deeper problems. For athletes, it’s often a sign of overtraining. For others, it could be a sign of depression or other medical issues. If it’s a continuing problem, I’d recommend getting checked out, just in case.

How to Get Started When You’re Too Tired to Start

My first suggestion is to take a nap. If you’re too tired to take other steps, taking a nap is easy. If you can’t take a nap, at the very least disconnect from digital devices. Computers and smartphones are powerful tools, but being on them for too long tires us out. Disconnect, get outside, take a walk. Cancel an appointment or two if you can. Stretch. Massage your shoulders. Close your eyes for a few minutes. Breathe. These are small things you can do right away, and they will help you become more rested. Once you’ve taken the first steps, you’ll be a bit more rested and can take a few more steps:

1. Sleep more at night. If you’re not getting at least 7 hours of sleep, you’re probably getting too little. Lots of people need a full 8 hours, and some need more. Go to bed earlier — the Internet will be fine without you. I like to read before bed (a book, not websites) as a ritual that helps me sleep. It takes awhile before your sleeping patterns change. If you have insomnia, try my simple cure.

2. Take stretch breaks. We sit for too long at the computer, sapping energy. Get up, stretch, every 20-25 minutes. Walk around for a minute or five. Move in any way you can — do pushups, squats, lunges, jump up and down, do a dance. Get the blood circulating.

3. Exercise regularly. You needed me to tell you to exercise, I’m sure. But it’s amazing how even a little exercise can help you to feel more energized throughout the day. A huge workout session can leave you exhausted — in which case you should rest — but shorter workouts leave you physically just a bit tired, but mentally you feel amazing.

4. Cut back the caffeine. If you go cold turkey with caffeine, you’ll really have no energy. But cutting back a little at a time, while doing some of the things mentioned here, won’t be bad. And you’ll skip the afternoon withdrawal, which can ruin half your day. If you feel tired from drinking less caffeine, take a short nap.

5. Be less busy. Seriously, we’re too busy these days. Cut back on commitments, put space between things, allow yourself to have a slower pace. Your energy levels will thank you.

6. Focus. While most people multitask, in truth that’s mental juggling. And there’s only so much you can do in a day. As most of you know, I advocate single-tasking — it’s basically doing one thing at a time, and being fully present while doing that task. This really transforms anything you do, from work tasks to conversations to chores like washing the dishes. It’s less tiring, mentally, and it can make anything you do more enjoyable. Life is less tiring when you single-task.

7. Hydrate. This is actually a huge factor that most people don’t realize is making them tired. Drink water throughout the day. You don’t really need 8 glasses of water (we get some in food and other drinks), but drinking more water doesn’t hurt. Your pee should be a light yellow if you’re well hydrated (not clear, definitely not dark yellow).

8. Freshen up. Sometimes a quick, cold shower in the afternoon or evening can be refreshing. Or change your socks. If you’re sweaty, a fresh outfit also helps. Wash your face. You’ll feel brand-new.

9. Work on something you’re excited about. If you’re passionate about something, you’ll feel energized. If you don’t really care about your work, you’ll be dragging. Read this if you need help.

10. Work with interesting people. If you work with other people who are passionate about something, you’ll feel more excited about the work you do. It’s incredible to work with a partner or group of people who care about what they’re doing, who are fired up. If you don’t have that, seek it out.

11. Learn what makes life effortless. We thrash about in the water all day, making the swim exhausting. Instead of working against the world, learn to glide. I write about this more in my new book, The Effortless Life, which comes out next week. More soon!

‘A lot of people are tired around here, but I’m not sure they’re ready to lie down, stretch out and fall asleep.’ ~Jim Jones

How to Win Friends & Influence People – A Summary

14 11 2011

EVERYONE WHO has read the book “How to Win Friends & Influence People”, by Dale Carnegie, seems to swear on it. I recently found a good summary of the main points made in the book, and would like to share it here.

My thoughts: Despite the cheesy/sales-ish title, the book is one of the best ever written on good etiquette, manners and decent behaviour that if studied and followed will make you a better person to be around, and will take you far in life and in business.

Simple good manners, etiquette and genuine consideration for others is sadly fast becoming a lost art in the 21st century. The reality is, handing your business card around like a flyer and using fast-moving, high pressure spin tactics will get you nowhere, no matter how ambitious you are. Conversely, when you DO make a genuine concern and consideration for others your your primary goal, and make true “win win” outcomes your target, not only will others be better off, but YOU will be too. Being nice doesn’t mean you stay in the background and be walked over. It’s about being smart and looking out for those around you – and the person who does that will ALWAYS finish at the top in the long run.

“How to Win Friends & Influence People” contains truths that are just as relevant and powerful today as they were when Dale Carnegie sat down in his dusty study to write. Because no matter what era (1900s, 2000’s), people are essentially the same and we all are driven by the same internal factors.

Here is the summary of the main points this book makes. This is edited from the summary I found written by Frederick Giasson who runs the IT industry blog

–          Quinton

How to Win Friends and Influence People: The Essential 8

  1. Do not criticize. “Criticism is futile because it puts a man on the defensive, and usually makes him strive to justify himself. Criticism is dangerous, because it wounds a man’s precious pride, hurts his sense of importance, and arouses his resentment.”
  2. Give honest, sincere appreciation. “the deepest urge in human nature is ‘the desire to be important.’”.
  3. Get the other person’s point of view and see things from his angle. The thing here is to give to the other person what he wants, and not what you want.
  4. Become genuinely interested in other people.
  5. Smile. It speaks volumes and you actually smile less than you think you do.
  6. Remember names. “Remember that a man’s name is to him the sweetest and most important sound in the English language.”
  7. Be a good listener. “Encourage others to talk about themselves”.
  8. Make the other person feel important. “And do it sincerely”.


9 Ways to… Win someone to your way of thinking:

    1. Begin in a friendly way –aggression will get you nowhere and will only put someone on the defensive.
    2. Don’t let a negotiation become a fight. The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it
    3. Show respect for the other person’s opinions
    4. If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically
    5. Get the other person saying “yes, yes” as soon as you can; work to create a sense that you are on the same page.
    6. Let the other person do a lot of the talking; let them feel that the idea is theirs
    7. Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view; be sympathetic with their ideas and desires
    8. Appeal to the other person’s nobler motives – everyone wants to do some good or be seen to do so.
    9. Dramatize your ideas – paint a picture, capture their imagination and watch their buy-in skyrocket.

4 Ways to… Correct/change someone without creating resentment/offence:

  1. Begin with praise, encouragement and honest appreciation. Praise even the smallest improvements. Be “hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.” In doing this you are giving the other person a fine reputation to live up to, which no-one can resist!
  2. If you need to call attention to someone’s mistakes, do it indirectly, not directly or bluntly  – let the other person save face and they will appreciate it. Also make the fault seem easy to correct, not a dramatic problem.
  3. Ask the right questions to lead others to come up with the right answers, instead of giving direct orders
  4. Make the other person feel happy about doing the thing you suggest.

Planning vs ACTION: The Challenge of Implementing Change

11 11 2011

I have just read a fascinating (if not a bit confronting) piece written by Martin Osborn, a London-based entrepreneur and writer of the popular Marketing blog Finch Sells. The article reminds me of two quotes:

“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.” – Leonardo da Vinci, 1452-1519

“Contemplation often makes life miserable. We should act more, think less, and stop watching ourselves live.” – Chamfort (French playwright, 1741-1794)

The key point I take from the article is not that planning is bad – because nothing significant or worthwhile ever happens without being intentional and planning to do it (and working out how). But planning without acting on it and implementing it, is far too easy to do.

Usually when we reach a point when we realise something needs to change, we have a kind of internal frustration at the way something is happening in our lives. It’s built into our psychology that we need to DO something in response to it. Almost like an animal’s “fight or flight” response to an unwanted situation (a lion turning up at the water hole).

The problem lies in the fact that our brains often fail to differentiate between the action of writing out a to-do (or to-change) list, and the action of actually IMPLEMENTING it. You’ve been frustrated at your poor state of health & fitness; or your bad financial situation; so you sit down and write a plan to fix it. You feel better having got it off your chest. Your brain then registers it as having been ‘dealt with’ and emotionally you feel better about the situation. Two weeks later you find yourself facing the same situation (and feelings) again, when your brain finally realises that nothing actually ocurred to solve the problem.

The solution? Don’t just express your desire to change and then feel better for a while and forget about it; when you want to change something, start doing it NOW. Do ONE thing, no matter how small, to begin momentum and get things moving. If you’ve ever roll-started a car with  a dead battery, you’ll know that it’s far easier to keep pushing a car that is already rolling, than to start it moving from standstill.

Read the article below, and let it challenge you. Remember: knowledge in itself is not power; knowledge gives us the POTENTIAL for power. The power is in the actions we take.

– Quinton


SETTING TARGETS FOR THE FUTURE is pointless if you can’t fulfill your targets for today. The only way to achieve something great is to stop daydreaming about it over Starbucks and start taking action when it matters. Now. This is a belief that defines how I set my goals. We have a habit of overestimating what we can achieve in a day, and underestimating what we can achieve in a year. It’s an unfortunate trait, and one that has scuppered many perfectly realisable ambitions.

How often have you found that your short term doing is no match for the long term planning? Are your notepads full of projections for the life you’ll be living in six months? Is there a plan that fits around your schedule to get you there? Notepads are a trademark accessory of the daydreamer who likes to look busy. It’s easier to scribble our intentions than to take the first step towards realising them. How many trees have been hacked down for you reiterate the same objectives over and over again? Writing them down does not bring them to fruition. The next time you commit your masterplan to pen and paper, make sure the last thing you write is the first step you will be taking. Better yet, make sure that first step is crossed off your list before you go to bed. Sleep is the great killer of plans that haven’t been put in to action.

Some people have their futures mapped to the finest detail. They decide one day that enough is enough, and promptly draw up manifestos of change that leave no part of their lives untouched. This approach to achieving big is well-intentioned, but likely to fail. We simply don’t respond well to snap re-programming unless it’s triggered by truly life changing events. And I hope you’ll agree, a moody trip to Starbucks with journal in hand doesn’t quite fit that bill for most individuals.

I have to come back to the concept of overestimating what we can achieve in a day. There’s no doubt. We can achieve a lot in 24 hours, in the literal sense. However, most of the long-term goals we set hinge on our ability to make lifestyle changes. You can’t alter your behavioural traits in 24 hours. I’ve never known a smoking addict to give up the drug on Day One, and to have forgotten about his commitment by Day Two – unless he’s failed the task!

The trouble with overestimating what can be achieved in a day is that it typically deflates our hunger to keep going. There’s no greater thievery of motivation than waking up to yesterday’s failure. It makes your goals seem further and further away. In reality, they’re still perfectly attainable. It’s equally true, and even more important to remember, that we chronically underestimate what can be achieved with sustained effort over time. We may fail in 24 hours, it’s quite likely. However, this is where your character needs to shine through. Sustained action is the big brother to your hopes and ambitions. Many of the world’s greatest inventors and innovators only succeeded on the back of a thousand failures. I doubt they needed many notepads telling them what they needed to do, just lots of hours spent actually doing.

It’s better to set yourself a million baby steps than one goal that you’ll do everything in your power to put off for another day. The real secret to long term planning is a simple acknowledgement that the time for taking action is always now. This is what separates the achievers from the believers, and those who do, from those who plan to.

Your Thoughts Make You Happy – Not Events

9 11 2011

The following post is an edited compilation of various articles by speaker and brand consultant Richard Sauerman. Enjoy, and let it cHaLLeNgE you!!

– Quinton

AN EVENT is one thing. Your reality of that event is another thing. Events are created by conditions and occurrences outside you. Reality is created by conditions and occurrences inside you. It is in your mind that events are turned into data; which are turned into truths; which are turned into thoughts; which are turned into emotions; which are turned into experiences; which then form your reality.

 It isn’t what you have, or who you are, or where you are, or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It’s what you think about. It’s not what’s happening around you that determines your health, wealth, attractiveness, popularity or success, but what’s happening inside of you – exclusively. You ARE your thoughts.

Think back to when you were 7,12 and 18. Remember the dreams you had then for yourself, and for your life? And then somewhere along the way to becoming an adult you stopped listening to your heart. One day the tape recorder in your mind said “my dreams are childish fantasies”. Well perhaps it’s time to turn off the tape recorder that’s saying “no”. Because anything is possible, if you believe it. And wonder, as you read this, whether the universe might just be brought back from the brink of destruction, every time you smile 🙂

Here is an extract from the book Oh, the Places You’ll Go, by none other than the legendary Dr. Seuss.

The Waiting Place

Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No or waiting for their hair to grow.

Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite or waiting around for Friday night or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil, or a Better Break or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.

Everyone is just waiting.

No! That’s not for you! Somehow you’ll escape all that waiting and staying. You’ll find the bright places where Boom Bands are playing. With banner flip-flapping, once more you’ll ride high! Ready for anything under the sky. Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!