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Category: Random Notes Series

The Random Notes Series is a (growing) collection of notes and observations around random topics. My thinking on these issues will evolve and change over time, and this format enables me to add/subtract thoughts as my thinking changes, or new experiences occur…

Random notes on FEAR and CHANGE

  1. What is fear? What causes it? Is it in our DNA? Is there anything we can do to stop it?
  2. Why do we let fear control our lives? For most of us, I think it’s habit. But you can eliminate bad habits, and form new ones!
  3. It might also be a feeling of powerlessness…that we simply do not have the ability to live any other way.
  4. How pervasive is fear in our business life? I don’t know, why don’t we ask management? Usually, they create a culture of top-down (fear-based) leadership that intimidates and rules through fear.
  5. Can you be fearless? No. But you can hone your courage, which is simply being afraid, and moving forward anyway. It’s ok to be afraid. Everyone is. I love the story of the accomplished actor Henry Fonda, that even into his final years, he vomited before going on stage, due to fear. But he went on stage anyway…
  6. How do you develop the skills to not be deterred by fear?
  7. How do we deal with the “easier said than done” problem with fear? Meaning, yeah, easy for you to say that you have to dive straight into that scary thing. Well, for one thing, dealing with this is the difference between success and mediocrity.
  8. What can management do about this? Empower their people, don’t making your response to mistake be a punitive one (for the right things, anyway). Top down managers are why employees feel fear in the work place anyway.
  9. “Mistakes are the portals of discovery.” James Joyce
  10. How does fear prevent us from going after dreams?
  11. How does fear inhibit innovation, creativity, making art, etc…?
  12. Is this a one-time fix? Or is this something that requires ongoing work, focus, and effort?
  13. For me, when I’m hung up on something because of fear, often the best antidote is just to start. It’s amazing to me how the fear melts away when you are just in it, working the problem. Despite knowing this, I still sometimes procrastinate. Can we learn to do better at this? Is this a muscle we can strengthen?
  14. How do we deal with the fear of rejection…this idea that people will respond negatively to our work? Is it as simple as not caring what people think? In that usually people’s reaction is a reflection of their own insecurities? Or jealousy that you shipped your work, and not them?
  15. Are people lazy? Or just afraid? Meaning, are they spending all their free time watching Netflix because they are bums? Or just because they are afraid of failure, and watching TV is safe?
  16. Why do people fear change? We don’t like the first day of school, or a new job, because it is unfamiliar, but the second day is SO much easier, because we know what to expect. Is that all fear is? A lack of familiarity?
  17. “If you want to make enemies, try to change something.” Woodrow Wilson
  18. “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” Albert Einstein
  19. Isn’t it good for the soul to frequently make a decision that “feels like the first day of school?”
  20. You know how when you rearrange a room, and then when you next walk into it, there is that feeling of excitement about the new set-up? It’s that feeling one is trying to generate when you incorporate change into one’s life. Not all change results in fear, it can (and should) lead to excitement.
  21. “Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.” Stephen Hawking
  22. Isn’t there something to be said to the old maxim, “Do something each day that scares the hell out of you…” Honestly, this is the simplest, easiest trick to employ when learning how to combat your fear. You should force yourself to do just this.
  23. Obviously, the more you try spooky stuff, the further you develop the muscle that makes it easier to tackle intimidating projects/things going forward. This is WHY you should do something scary every day…
  24. “You are an animal of nature, fully endowed with hearing, sight, intellect, and dangerous defenses. You are not easy prey, so don’t act like you are.” Gavin de Becker
  25. I sometimes wonder if we are afraid of success. As in, what is the cost to us if this new idea, new product, new movement actually succeeds? Does that change things? Do we fear that change? Are we frightened of the heightened expectations? Or are we retreating to the safety of the status quo?
  26. “Sometimes what you’re most afraid of doing is the very thing that will set you free.”
  27. “True security lies in the unrestrained embrace of insecurity – in the recognition that we never really stand on solid ground, and never can.” Oliver Burkeman
  28. “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.” FDR
  29. People don’t fear change. People fear sudden change. People fear revolutions. People don’t fear evolutions.” Simon Sinek
  30. “I think there’s so much aversion to risk-taking, I don’t think that’s the right direction we should be going. You have to take risks if you want to learn anything about yourself.” (Video, Lhotse)

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Random notes about awareness

  • The big question is WHY are so many people unaware of the world around them?
  • Awareness is a superpower.
  • Because if you are aware, you are way ahead of many around you.
  • This is one of those things that does require near-constant attention and focus. Being aware takes work.
  • Aware (definition): a·ware / əˈwer / adjective: having knowledge or perception of a situation or fact. “Most people are aware of the dangers of sunbathing.” Also: concerned and well-informed about a particular situation or development.
  • Self-awareness (definition): self-a·ware·ness / self əˈwernəs / noun: conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires. “The process can be painful but it leads to greater self-awareness.”
  • “You cannot vent and self-reflect at the same time.” Cy Wakeman
  • Just the other day, my elevator stopped on a floor, the door opened, and some young gun professional was standing there, looking at his iPhone. He was completely unaware that a car, with me impatiently waiting in it, was waiting for him. Naturally, as the door started to close, he noticed and jumped in, getting awkwardly squeezed by the closing doors, making for an embarrassing ruckus. He was unaware of the world around him. Don’t be this guy.
  • It’s being aware that when you walk out of a door, there might be someone in front of it.
  • If you are walking down a sidewalk, and you stop suddenly, not noticing someone is walking right behind you.
  • Or the person who pushes out his chair at a restaurant, not even realizing someone is standing right behind him. Just a quick glance please.
  • Are you aware of the critical trends affecting your world?
  • Are you aware of the history? It does repeat itself. Everyday. If you want a crystal ball, just read some history.
  • Are you aware of the news? Now, I don’t want you to spend hours consuming news, but Lord, be aware of what’s happening in the world.
  • (My trick with the news is to glance at trusted source headlines…)
  • Conversation is so much more interesting when you are aware of the world around you, and can add real commentary, insight, and perspective.
  • There is a fine line between consciously unplugging from the world (which is encouraged from time to time), to being ignorant and clueless to what is happening around you.
  • LISTENING is obviously a key to awareness, and I love this bit from Farnam Street’s Shane Parrish: “Listening is difficult because it involves suppressing your ego long enough to consider what is being said before you respond. In a world where few people listen, good listeners stand out. So what is it so hard? When someone starts talking, our minds listen for: 1. Reasonably guess what they are going to say. (E.g., “I know what you are going to say.”) 2. Identify a pattern. (E.g., “I know where you are going with this.”) 3. Something we disagree with (E.g., “That’s wrong.”) When one of those things happens, we stop listening and our mind starts preparing our response. At the moment, the conversation becomes about us. When the other person does the same, gold becomes lead. Instead of making the conversation about you, work to understand the other person’s perspective as well as they do. You don’t have to agree. You do have an obligation to understand. A conversation is not a race to make a point, but rather an exploration of someone’s mind.”

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Random rules for life

“The trick in life is learning how to deal with it.”

HELEN MIRREN
  1. Do not wear sweatpants or flip flops on an airplane. 
  2. Do not stop suddenly on a sidewalk.  
  3. Don’t stand directly in front of an elevator door. Provide space for people to get out. 
  4. Pause between bites of food. Savor it for chrissakes. 
  5. Read every day. 
  6. Expend more calories than you consume. 
  7. Spend only what you have. 
  8. Keep only what you need and cherish. 
  9. Leave a small footprint. 
  10. Use checklists. 
  11. Be present. 
  12. Get help when you need it. 
  13. Prepare and do your research. 
  14. Do not multitask. 
  15. Or, “To do two things at once is to do neither.” (Publilius Syrus)
  16. Be grateful. Write it down when you can. 
  17. Communicate. Clearly. And often. 
  18. Sit up straight. 
  19. Recognize that the journey is often more important than the destination. Enjoy it. 
  20. Come up with ideas. Try them. 
  21. Be mindful of the people around you. 
  22. You are responsible for your own happiness. 
  23. But serve others too. 
  24. Don’t waste. 
  25. Drink your water. 
  26. Light lots of candles. 
  27. Respect others. 
  28. Don’t waste time on social media. 
  29. Keep learning. 
  30. Say “I don’t know” when true. 
  31. Be aware of your surroundings. 
  32. Learn from history. It’s happened before. 
  33. Follow the rules. Except when they need to be broken. 
  34. Speak your mind. Respectfully. Seek to understand the other side. 
  35. Remember how loud you are eating chips direct from the bag. 
  36. Apologize when necessary. Often when not. 
  37. Spend some of your life looking up from your phone. 
  38. You don’t need that much stuff. But what you do have should be good quality. 
  39. Don’t live with regrets. 
  40. Wash your hands. 
  41. Listen to whatever music you want to. Even if it’s Air Supply. 
  42. Vote. Or stop bitching. 
  43. Identify your creative outlet. And practice it. 
  44. Make lists. 
  45. Stretch. 
  46. Breathe. 
  47. Meditate. 
  48. Practice personal responsibility. 
  49. Practice self-reflection. 
  50. Blow your nose. Don’t snort/sniff. 
  51. Slow down. Take your time. 
  52. Eat your fruits and vegetables. 
  53. Celebrate your victories. But quickly move on to preparing/training for the next one. 
  54. Find joy. You are allowed to be joyful. 
  55. Think long term. Play the long game. 
  56. Practice growth mindset, not fixed mindset. 
  57. Use only one parking space. 
  58. Mind your own business. 
  59. Be nice to staff. You’re not more important than they are. 
  60. Tip generously when deserved. 
  61. Pay more for good, quality food. 
  62. Get a mentor. Or a dozen.
  63. Be a mentor. 
  64. Let ladies out of the elevator first.
  65. Put the toilet seat down. Every. Time.
  66. Change out your hand towels at least a couple times per week.
  67. Learn/practice discipline.
  68. Keep strict control of your calendar.
  69. Learn to say no.
  70. Always be simplifying.
  71. Don’t hope for a better life. Simply BE a better life (inspired by Kant).
  72. Improve the world by improving yourself (also inspired by Kant).
  73. If you are going to drink wine, drink the good stuff.
  74. Every now and then, listen to some classical music, just for some cultural balance in your life.
  75. YOU choose your response to any input (a random Tweet, news article, something your spouse says, etc.). This is your Stoic power, so, choose wisely.
  76. There is NO excuse for a complicated “unsubscribe” process.
  77. Only buy really good quality notebooks and ink pens.
  78. Actively seek out people smarter than you. And learn from them.
  79. Never wear a button-down collar with a suit.
  80. Breathe again.

Check back often. I will continue to add new “rules” as life presents them to me…


“Everyone should tape these to their refrigerator.”

BILL D.

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