5 Morning Tips: an easy way to make your day

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Opportunities are like sunrises. If you wait too long, you miss them.

William Arthur Ward

What makes a good man a good day? What’s the difference between a kick-ass, productive 10 hours of sunshine and boring, mundane and inefficient wasted time?

1. Read it up – think it up!

Reading is a great habit to have by itself. Reading in the morning is an even greater habit to have. Keeping the scientific evidence aside (yes, there’s lots of it) and focusing purely on personal gain, your brain calculating power spikes up in the early morning and in the evening, right before you go to bed. When you wake up, you are deprived of all the external stimuli that usually occupies a significant part of your processing power. So put this time to good use, open up your book and start reading those pages! You’ll be surprised how focused you will be, and how easy it is to soak up the new information.

2. Gas up – sweet is good!

Carbohydrates=energy. And you need energy in the morning. So for all those sweet tooth around there, here’s a perfect fuel for your body in the morning: pour yourself a cup of warm (WARM!) water, add a generous spoon of honey and a lemon wedge, mix it up and bottoms up! Nothing sends your body a good wake-up call than this simple concoction.

3. Make it loud!

Well, not in the windows-shaking way. But please do add some music to your morning routine! Apart from tuning up your mood, it will also allow you to transition throughout the day in a smooth criminal way.

4. Spice it up!

Indulge your sense of smell with some spices. Fruity, nutty, chocolate – there’s plenty of choice. You can add some cinnamon to your coffee, you can add nuts and fruits to your cereal, you can take that sexy round orange, gently press it and put it to your nose, whatever makes you happy!

5. There’s more to tea than you think.

Tea is good. Good tea is great. I highly recommend you to embark on a journey to the wonderful world of pu-erhs and oolongs – satisfaction guaranteed! Depending on your needs, the plethora of tea varieties can either energize, calm or sharpen your mind and body. There’s so much more to that simple paper pocker with weird black powder than you know – just look around for a good tea-shop.

 

I personally believe that the first hour of the day will determine how the rest of it goes. So just try this, and I can guarantee that your life won’t be the same again. In the best way possible.

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5 Morning Tips: an easy way to make your day

The F word. No, the other one.

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You will never reach your destination if you stop

and throw stones at every dog that barks.

Winston Churchill

How many times have you heard the word “multitasking” during the past five years? I could bet you a hundred that the count would be over 9000 a couple thousand. And I think that we’ve been doing it all wrong.

I’ve found a good example to demonstrate this fallacy: birds and flying. When we say that “birds can fly” we usually mean that they flap wings in order to ascend and thrust themselves through the air. But it’s not the flapping that allows them to fly – flapping is just a tool, a pre-requisite to flying. Birds fly because they can manipulate the air currents to their own gain, and they use their bodies for this purpose – some to fly from tree to tree, even branch to branch, and some to cross oceans and travel between continents.

And it’s the same with multitasking. People who are good multitaskers in fact are good in something else. That have developed a far more important and versatile skill. They developed focus.

Let’s set a certain timeframe, in which we have to write an e-mail, cook a meal, make two important phonecalls, organize office procurements and pick up the kids from school. Now, if we were to look at what has happened outside of that timeframe, it would seem like the multitasking is real – and indeed, to make all of this happen , say, before dinner seems like a legitimate feat. But if we were to adjust the scopes and measure the activities not by days, lunches or evenings, it would become clear that we are able to do only one thing at each and every particular moment of time. And it’s the ability to put everything else aside while simultaneously doing one particular thing after another that labels the person a “multitasker”.

So, in fact, multitasking does not exist. What does exist is a combination of correct time management, the inner harmony of a person with the activity being performed at the particular moment and a highly developed “do not distrurb” mechanism used with extreme precision. These are the skills we should all strive to master, and these are the principles we should encourage in those around us. These things are truly worth focusing on.

The F word. No, the other one.

The Word Age

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Raise your words, not voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.

Rumi

Imagine a prosperous, thriving modern city. Buzzing wide streets full of people in a rush under numerous shadows of big green trees in a busy sunny midday. Do you hear the noise? Do you hear different accents with different pitches on different volume? Now, imagine the same picture, but this time try to expunge all the voices. It gets creepy, does it not?

That’s right. Despite the fact that we have developed Snapchat and Facebook, that we use computers and mobile phones on a constant basis, that we read e-books and the retro paper (unfortunately) books, we still can not imagine ourselves in a voiceless world. Human speech is the primary way of communication for our species, and everything else derives from it. And that is why the question I am concerned about is even more striking: why did we stop to encourage good speech?

I have met a lot of people from all walks of life, from scientists to professional athletes, from CEOs of big companies to simple blue-collar workers, and I can honestly say that it were not the ones who achieved a lot that impressed me as human beings (of course, I admired their skills and determination, but this actually told me something about their character than about other things). It were the ones with the silver tongue, who could juggle words and crack smart jokes that left the best impression (of course, sometimes such people can also be full of shit). Sure, some people are better with words than the others, but isn’t it important that we devote our time and efforts to develop the skills of speaking and listening at least with the same level of determination as we develop skills that are considered more practical? After all, is there anything more practical than getting our thoughts and ideas through?

The Word Age

Tricks of the trade: Honesty

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Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.

Thomas Jefferson

Fine print, offshore and tax optimisation. I can bet you a $100 that these words sound familiar, and another $100 that they do not bring up positive associations. Practical? Maybe. But not positive.

In the evershifting world of business, certain practices have been considered both foul and decent during different times (for example, did you know that during the 18th and 19th centuries a merchant in Russia had a legal right to soak for more than a month?). But there are virtues common throughout the world that are still considered to be essential to a model human being, and which are even more defining for those who plot the course for their own USS Enterprise. Among them, honesty stands out like a shining beacon as it is becoming exceedingly rare to hear a combination of “gets things done”, “ambitious”, “knows how to set and reach goals”, “honest” in the same sentence.

Continue reading “Tricks of the trade: Honesty”

Tricks of the trade: Honesty

Can laziness save (y)our time?

Lazy-Seals

I choose a lazy person to do a hard job. Because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.

Bill Gates

Let’s face it: laziness is considered to be a bad trait both in the old world and the new world. In the mind of most people, the word “lazy” brings up anything but positive associations: stupid, uninitiative, fat and many other pleasant words. But can it be that, given the right conditions, laziness can actually be used as an incredibly strong instrument?

If we break it down to the very basis, it is not surpising that laziness has earned a reputation of a bad habit. Indeed, a lazy factory worker or a farmer would never perform to the best of the abilities on a constant basis. And since the vast majority of labor used to be manual it is no wonder that a “lazy person” became synonymous to a “bad person”. Now, things change.

In the modern world, where technology and electronics dominate almost every sphere except for the purely creative and those with a “human face”, allocating resources rather than extracting them becomes more and more important. And as the approaches towards extraction and creation differentiate more and more (to illustrate it properly, one can compare an organizational structure of a mining corporation to any IT company valued over $10m.), so does the evaluation criteria of skills necessary to get the job done shift towards more abstract qualities and character traits. 50 years ago, it would be a bizarre, ludicrous idea for an interviewer to ask himself whether he would like to get stuck in an airport (!) with a potential employee (!!) without taking his or her professional skills (!!!) into account. Nowadays, it is becoming a standard  – to see whether the person “fits in”, he is evaluated as something more than a bearer of certain skillset.

So, where does the lazy part kicks in? Well, let’s jump into an imaginary time machine and take a deep dive into stone age. Let’s imagine a big, brutal, hairy male with the biggest club in the whole tribe who had just killed the biggest mammoth in the entire ravine. He is strong, he knows that he can carry a big chunk of the beast, probably twice as much as an average tribesman would. And there’s a small, skinny guy, a bighead, always toying with things around, occasionally starting fires and sharpening sticks to make spears. He does not bother that much with the quesiton “what can I do”, he is more interested in “what happens if…?”. And so he – unintentioally, most probably – invents the wheel, because he also wants to achieve the same result as the big guy, preferably with as little effort as possible.

How is this principle applied to the world we live in ? It’s simple: those who find ingenious ways to achieve big results with as little resources as possible become the most valuable members of any society since their existence inside those societes make them more efficient in what they do. Even more – the desire of a person to achieve a goal while actually doing as little as possible is the mother lode of skills, as it allows the system in which this particular person exists to allocate the rarest and the most precious of all resources – one that no gold, money, land or property can buy – with a much greater flexibility. The ingenuity of lazy people can, quite literally, save time.

Can laziness save (y)our time?

Singapore and Lee Kuan Yew: afterthoughts

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You take a poll of any people. What is it they want? The right to write an editorial as you like? They want homes, medicine, jobs, schools.

Lee Kuan Yew

I see no coincedence in the fact that I read an interview with Mr. Yew in a magazine right after I finished re-reading Principe by Niccolo Machiavelli. Needless to say that I was shocked that I have never heard of him before, although later I found out the plain simple reason behind that: he was concidered to be more of an enemy than a friend by USSR, and there were little or none of any references to be found about Singapore and himself personally in any historical books or newspapers just because his methods and approaches towards governing and building a better world were drastically different from those of the USSR.

A week ago, I finished reading From Third World to First: The Singapore Story – 1965-2000, a memoir by Mr. Yew in which he describes the hard and long road of Singapore towards economic growth and prosperity. The book describes the events that took place in Singapore after the end of the World War II: the unification and the following separation from Malaysia, the end of age of colonialism and withdrawal of Great Britain from East Asia, the war in Vietnam, the development of complex relationships between Singapore and the USA, Australia, Taiwan, China and Japan. It is indeed a very unique piece of material, as there are not so many books one can find that are both packed by colourful, live descriptions of historical events and that is written from a surprisingly unbiased point of view. Of course, Mr. Yew might exaggerate certain facts, but the book keeps its astonishingly high intellectual value nonetheless – this tale of Singapore is filled with both the painful, sometimes shameful facts and the great successes of a small multicultural bilingual island society, which has managed to find their own path in our complex world in less than 50 years.

But it is not the facts or historical events I was mostly impressed by. The book itself, the construction of the text gives this weird feeling that you are sitting right in front of a living being, that is talking to you in a very relaxed manner. And as it guides you along the unique path of Singapore, you can not help but notice the shadow of something much bigger and greater, that can only be observed from a “Helicopter vision” – its Mr. Yew’s innate ability to see that, at out very core, we are all the same. We all crave the same things: a roof over our heads, a healthy meal on the table, a smile of the loved one and a choice of opportunities ahead. Our ways may be different, though, and this is the second most important lesson that Mr. Yew can teach: there are always numeral ways to replicate success, and more often than not they will be drastically different from the example. 

The other important lesson lies in the nature of mankind itself, and I consider this trait to be the defining aspect that separates great leaders from ruthless dictators: in order to uplift himself, one must first uplift those around him.  The scale does not matter – it works in every system, be that a classroom, a small office, a huge international corporation or a small island city that has put itself in the spearhead of progress. And it resonates perfectly with the next book I have started to read – Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty.

Singapore and Lee Kuan Yew: afterthoughts

Of dots and lines: a tale about people

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There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who believe there are two kinds of people in the world and those who don’t.

Robert Benchley

How many “There are two kinds of people” phrases have you heard? I bet that it’s more than a dozen. Even so, it is a pretty solid model of the world, and there are way too many coincidences for it to be wrong: men and women, day and night, heat and cold. Today, I’d like to explore something else. I’d like to talk about the employer-employee symbiosis, but in a rather unusual way.

Once upon a time, there was a Dot. It was big, it was round, and it just was.

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Then, there was a Line. It was long, it was flat, and it also…was.

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One day, the Line noticed that there was another dot. It was also big, it was also round, but something was…different about it.

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And so the Line decided to reach out to the dot. It did not know – yet – what could come out of it, but it did anyway.

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Something happened that moment. The two dots were no longer separate. They now had a connection. They had a way to communicate, and the Line was happy about it.

The Line saw that there were other dots, and it started thinking: what could happen, if it were to connect those Dots with each other? What could they do together?

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The Green dot said: “Hey, I’ve heard about the Red dot. Let’s try to talk to him!”.

The Line listened to the Green dot, and reached out to the Red dot. The Line told the Red dot that the Green dot wanted to get in touch with it, and the Red dot was happy about it.

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And so now the Green dot and the Red dot were connected by the Line.

Some time has passed, and the Line got bored. “What else can I do?” it thought.

The Line asked the Green and the Red dot: “Hey, what do you think if we gather and do some cool stuff?”.

The dots agreed, and the Line started working.

The Line worked hard, asking the dots to do different things: become small, become big, become bright and become pale. It worked and worked, until one day a Yellow dot appeared.

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“Hey, where did you come from?” asked the Line.

“You tell me!” said the Yellow dot.

The Line saw what it could do. It was not a Line anymore. Now, it has a bigger, higher purpose: to connect as many dots as possible and to create new dots, never seen or heard of before.

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Meanwhile, the Blue dot silently observed the Line as it worked. “Hey, I saw what you did there! I wanna talk with the Red one!” it said.

And the Line went to work again, shifting the dots between each other and giving them purpose. What will come out of this? Who knows. But something never came out of nothing. So either you become the one to connect the dots, or become the one lines would be interested in connecting with.

The world is big enough, and there will always be need in new lines and new dots – ultimately, it does not matter whether you’re a dot or a line.  But are you doing your best to become the biggest, brightest dot or the thickest, longest line out there? That is the question you have to answer yourself. And if you’re not satisfied with who you are – can it be that you’re connecting the wrong dots, or using the wrong lines?

Of dots and lines: a tale about people