Momentum – The Most Dangerous Thing

Steven Pressfield, author of the inspirational book ‘The War of Art’ (download the free pdf here) tells about how he wrote his first novel. He locked himself away for a year and worked day in and day out – until he finished it. When he told his mentor, he finished the novel, mentor replied: ‘Start your next one tomorrow.’

That’s what I call keeping up the momentum.

The hardest part is getting going, but once you get started there is no stopping you. That’s what Steven’s mentor was hinting upon – start your next one – not next year, not next month or next week, but tomorrow.

It’s the same thing that is happening with me now. With great force and effort, I did get to complete 100 posts by end of 2016. But I lost almost two weeks to get myself back on track to conquer the next objective.

Don’t be a fool like me. Start on your next goal, next initiative now.

Danger of losing Momentum

Tynan from Superhuman by Habit warns about the danger of losing one’s momentum.

“Missing two days of a habit is habit suicide. If missing one day reduces your chances of long-term success by a small amount like five percent, missing two days reduces it by forty percent or so. Three days missed and you may as well be starting over. At that point you have lost your momentum and have made it far too easy to skip in the future.”

Habit suicide. Wow! That was hard.

But haven’t you heard of those who succeeded miraculously in their first endeavor and simply vanished from the pages of History then-after. Beginner’s luck the world would call it. And you could very well be one of them.

John McDonald in his book ‘The Message of a Master’ offers a solution for this:

“When the first objective is reached, what then? Set another one beyond that, immediately.”

Yes, set the next one. Immediately.

Why?
  • Because you are in danger of losing momentum.
  • Because you are one big lazy pauper
  • Because it is a simple law of Physics

You see the entire world is conspiring to slow you back into inertia. An object in motion will continue in motion, as per Newton’s First Law of Motion, in space – where there is lack of friction. But on earth, you have more than enough things conspiring you to stop, to rest. Steven Pressfiled has a name for this – ‘Resistance’.

Value your momentum and cling to it.

Do you know that the space shuttle uses more fuel during the first two minutes of its flight than it does the rest of the entire trip.
Why? Because it has to attain escape velocity – literally to escape, break free from the pull of earth’s gravity. Once it does, it can glide in orbit.

The hard part? Getting off the ground.

No wonder, Aristotle says ‘Well begun is half done!’

‘I was simmering. Emerson brought me to boil’ says Walt Whitman talking about the inspiration he took from Ralph Waldo Emerson. He had Emerson, the Father of the Transcendentalism to help him keep the momentum.

Even Whitman needed someone. We just got each other.

“But once you get momentum,” as Darren Hardy writes in his book ‘Compound Effect’, “you will be hard to stop—virtually unbeatable—even though you’re now putting out considerably less effort while receiving greater results.”

The Next Telephone Pole Wisdom

But sometimes it can feeling daunting.

  • Another 100+ posts in 2017
  • An entire book to write
  • Quite an amount of money to earn and save and invest

Ultraendurace athlete and founder of the Spartan Race, Joe De Sena, offers the “next telephone pole” wisdom in his great book Spartan Up!

“The way to get through anything mentally painful is to take it a little at a time. The mind can’t handle dealing with a massive iceberg of pain in front of it, but it can deal with short nuggets that will come to an end. So instead of thinking, Ugh, I’ve got twenty-four miles to go, focus on making it to the next telephone pole in the distance. Whether you’re running twenty or one hundred and twenty miles at a time, the distance has to be tackled mentally and physically one mile at a time. The ability to compartmentalize pain into these small bite sizes is key.”

The Domino Effect

A domino can, by the law of physics, knock over another domino that is 50% bigger than it.

So, if you line up 13 dominoes, you can start with one that’s about the size of your little pinky fingernail and, by the 13th domino, you have a 3 foot tall, 100 pound domino. Continue that for another 13 or so and you’re looking at the Eifel Tower.

Identify the next domino! Your next goal!

Break your big goal down into micro goals and you can knock it over. And when you do, you’ll have the momentum to knock over the next progressively larger domino.

So, if you have gotten off the ground? Achieved your 2016 goals (at least most of it). Good for you!!!

That was the hardest part.

Now keep on flying! 🙂 Start your next project, tomorrow. You got the entire 2017 ahead of you.

The 3 Dimensions of Time – from PhilosophersNotes

This is a guest post by Brian Johnson of Optimize.me. He is the creator of PhilosophersNotes + Optimal Living 101 + en*theos. He is also the author of the book, A Philosopher’s Notes, was featured in the documentary Finding Joe and have an Optimal Living column in Experience Life magazine. This article is posted with permission from Optimize.me. 

“One-dimensional thinking: ‘Managing your time’ by doing things fast and efficiently in order to try to squeeze more into whatever time you have available. This is like running.

Two-dimensional thinking: ‘Prioritizing your time’ by the Urgent and Important grid to borrow time from one area of your life to focus instead on another. It’s the skill of putting one thing in front of the others.

This is like juggling.

Three-dimensional thinking: ‘Multiplying your time’ by adding in the calculation of Significance. And to specifically give yourself the emotional permission to spend time on those things today that will create more time tomorrow.

This is like planting seeds.”

—Rory Vaden from Procrastinate on Purpose

Rory kicks the book off walking through his thoughts on the three dimensions of how we can relate to time. We want to move from trying to manage our time and/or prioritizing our time to MULTIPLYING our time.

Most of us are familiar with Stephen Covey’s four quadrant model of time management where activities are either Urgent or Not Urgent and either Important or Not Important. See the Notes on The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People for more.

Basic idea: We want to spend more in Quadrant II (Important but Not Urgent) and less time putting out fires in Quadrant I (Important and Urgent). That’s an improvement on the prior model that simply had us work harder and, hopefully, more efficiently.

Rory adds a third dimension: What he calls Significance.

We need to analyze our activities based on the LONG-TERM benefit and, specifically, whether that activity will increase the amount of time we have tomorrow. Helping us identify the next most Significant thing we can do so we can Multiply our time is what this book is all about.

Here’s how Rory puts it:

“Once ultra-performers realize that you can’t manage time, and there is a limit to borrowing time, they intuitively learn how to multiply their time.”

How in the world do you multiply your time?

Simple. And the next sentence is the singular core message of the entire book:

“You multiply your time by spending time on things today that will give you more time tomorrow.”

P.S. Let’s take a quick look at the 5 Permissions that help us do that!

“It really isn’t about time management; it is about self-management. And as I started to research and ask, study and observe exactly how it was that these people were going about spending time on things today to give themselves more time tomorrow, I discovered that the most successful people in the world have all given themselves one big thing that the rest of us have not…

Permission.

Specifically, they have given themselves five permissions that the rest of us have not. It is those five permissions and the frameworks they use to determine when to employ them that enable them to do what no one else can: multiply time.”

The 5 Permissions!

Here they are:

  • Eliminate: The Permission to Ignore.
  • Automate: The Permission to Invest.
  • Delegate: The Permission of Imperfect.
  • Procrastinate: The Permission of Incomplete.
  • Concentrate: The Permission to Protect.

After setting up the three dimensions of time and establishing the importance of learning how to multiply our time, Rory dedicates a chapter to each of the 5 Permissions.

Essentially, we first need to ELIMINATE all the things we shouldn’t be doing in the first place—all the time wasters, low priority tasks that don’t serve us and/or move the ball forward.

Then we need to AUTOMATE all the repetitive tasks that we don’t need to reinvent each time. Then we DELEGATE stuff that doesn’t require our unique set of skills to get it done. Ask: Does this require my unique set of skills to get it done? If not, delegate!! Then we PROCRASTINATE on the activities that are important and require our attention but aren’t quite ripe for action yet. And, finally, after we run a potential task through what Rory calls “The Focus Funnel,” we CONCENTRATE all of our energy on the next most Significant activity that will help us multiply our time and achieve our desired results!

Good stuff.

Here’s to multiplying our time as we optimize and actualize!

Mukti: Sole Purpose of Human Existence

It is the sole purpose of human existence to achieve Mukti. The idea that man had to evolve to next greater being has been part of the Indian psyche for many centuries.

Sadhguru talks about the evolved personality – called Shiva – who taught the secret to attaining Mukti to the 7 disciples whom were later named as Saptarishis (meaning seven sages). Agastya was one among them who roamed the Southern India.

Spirituality and its exercises should become part of living – our life. Consider the idea of using the body and maintaining it and/or replenishing for using it as the tool to help the human being achieve Mukti.

The profound answers to the numerous questions that the modern man has – had been answered in the ancient wisdom literature. I should embody it within my sole and let it not loose sight.

It is a commitment for me in the next year to explore how the age-old wisdom can make practical relevance for their everyday living.

In case, if you haven’t noted it, this is my 100th post on this blog.

Followership: The Other Side of Leadership

These days we have increased interest in Leadership and its development. Almost every organization wants to improve and nurture this capability within its participants.

I believe that there is a more practical truth in the other way around. We can call this idea – ‘Followership’.

A Leader Without Followers

We demand initiative, responsibility from almost everyone. We ask everyone to own it up, to forward – to lead. But who is a leader without the followers? What is the purpose of leadership, without having none to lead?

We do need people who would conform and do the tasks assigned to them. No, we shouldn’t be all blind followers of orders, but I suggest there needs to be level of enough understanding of our tasks and its fitting into the big picture of it before we could resist taking orders. We need to appreciate its existence in the first place and then get a first hand experience of actually accomplishing the task and then take the liberty to reflect upon its outcome.

Here comes that follower.

  • He does his work for the sake of work.
  • He doesn’t over-identify himself with it.
  • He is detached.
  • He knows he is not his job description, but never does he fails to accomplish the tasks given to him.
  • He has the commitment and drive to help him complete the task
  • He is keen on delivering the best quality work.
  • He takes responsibility for the job and could see the big picture of what it could mean.
  • He moves on.*

He doesn’t consider any job as menial; he doesn’t think that he is better than his job or that he deserves better.

He takes his job at hand as a duty to be performed as citizen of the company, as a contributing member of the society. So he gets paid. He does take his pay, so as to take care of his physical needs, to run his household.

But that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t love his job that he is doing it mechanically or he is doing it for the sake of money. He has in fact chosen his job, for the love of it. Agreed it wasn’t a perfect marriage, but he strives on to achieve that perfection. He sharpens himself against the demands of his job. He moves on.

Being a Pro

Steven Pressfield calls this as being a ‘Professional’. The detachment is a magnificent twist in his definition though it’s not implicitly stated by him. I find it resonating with the ancient wisdom of India. He himself refers to Bhagvat Gita,

‘Do your work and there it ends!’

The Eastern mind asks you to give your all for the cause, for that higher goal, but do not expect a success from it. ‘Do your work and it ends there’; ‘Ask nothing, want nothing in return’; ‘Give, do not wait to be given’.

Swami Vivekananda goes on even criticizing that we are having a mind of trader; to buy and to sell; to give and to take. But he asks us to just give, it may come back to us thousand folds greater. But that shouldn’t be our expectation. We should just give our best.

Detachment and Equanimity: A Paradox

This mentality I believe will give us the magnanimity not to feel cheated or have high hopes, rather give us even headedness to accept and treat victory and failure alike. This equanimity itself will give us that necessary detachment from our work and reduce our anxiety towards performing. In fact, Swami Vivekananda actually says that this detachment will in fact make us better performers and increase the quality of our work. Though it sounds like a paradox, it isn’t it.

We need such followers, we need such yogis of work – who get their job done well. In the process, I believe we are making this world a little more better and a little more beautiful.

* – The pronoun ‘he’ is used for convenience than to denote gender bias. Please don’t feel offended by its usage.

Dreams, Doubts and Karma

This post is inspired by a note to myself I wrote some months before – to be exact 23/04/2015. Please don’t mind the rambling of my self-conversation, but cherish the message in the same. Happy reading!

What Dreams May Come!

There is this inner drive, an inner emotion that I am able to easily connect with. It seems to drive me, give me strength, give me a hold of myself. I feel that’s where my altruism stems from, my love for life blooms, my frustration of seeing an imperfect world arises. And so is the energy to do something for that stems from too.

A dream – it’s called.

I hear about that. Those wonderful dreams being accomplished by ordinary men and women.

I wish I was them.

I do realize, here I am writing for myself, that I too can create my own dream, in my own unique way. I have those ideas, I had that vigor before to face the challenges that this world could possibly imagine to throw at me. I had that strength, I thought, to see it through. But lately fear is creeping into me, I fear I’m loosing my strength. I am frightened by the magnitude of the task at hand.

‘Save the world’ – that’s no easy task.

I am taken aback by the mountains of obstacles that I have to break through. Literally with my bare hands. It feels like an one man’s battle, a battle to the end.

But I tell myself. It is exactly in these conditions, in the moments of despair and not in the absence of it, despite the presence of doubt, one needs to act, to persevere and move on.

Am I then facing a situation where I am changing the definition of the how or why to make this world a better place?’

Have you not seen how happy the poorest of the poor are? And have you not seen how denied of love the richest of the rich are?
You have seen both worlds, I tell myself. How the most ambitious have miserably failed to see the meaning in life? I did have seen that. Then where should I aim for?

The Middle Way…

Indian Philosophy has answers. You can have both, it says – a well-meaning professional life and a satisfying personal life.

Enough money so you are master of it and not too much that it drowns you. Earn while you can, dedicate yourself to the work at hand, for you get paid for it. At the same time, remember you are not your job description. You are more than that.

Cherish other dimensions of life too. Besides the professional self – have a spiritual self, a family self, a citizen of the community. Identify yourself with it, with their cause. Work for it, dedicate a share of your life, your effort for those causes. Live yourself in different shoes, different roles. It is that simple slow living that has made that Indian self contentful, discover that and explore that.

It’s called Karma Yoga

A great man, Karma Yogi, seems to have realized that. He moves on. He continues to do his duty, despite the ups and downs, in spite of his limited power and influence. He moves on.

He works hard at perfecting himself and in liberating himself. He believes that it is by perfecting himself that he will be able to manifest a greater change in world than by anything.

May be that is when, Gandhi must have declared,

‘Be the change you want to see in this world!’

It is no use blaming the others for what is happening around. It is up to us to take up that responsibility in trying to do our bit, our contribution in making this world a better and beautiful world.

I wish you on that journey of perfecting oneself, and making this a little more better, a little more beautiful.

For you are a Karma Yogi!

May God bless us all!