Friday, January 25, 2008

Excelling vs Sucking

This post is inspired by Jeffrey Combes book "More Heart Than Talent." In his first chapter he gives a brief overview about Heart vs Talent. Personally, I want to apply more colloquial terminology.

It's better to suck at stuff than to be good at stuff. Most people, most of the time, restrict themselves to only doing stuff they are good at. Unfortunately, most people aren't very good at the things they are good at. People don't get anywhere. They don't learn anything new. They grow only slowly. It's people who were willing to do what they suck at, to do what needs to be done, to reach outside themselves who change the world. A brief example is that for a long time Thomas Edison really sucked at making light bulbs. He tried an incredible number of times to make a light bulb and kept on sucking until he got it right just once, and he changed the world. Warren Buffett is a more modern example of someone who sucked at making a T-Shirt company called Berkshire Hathaway successful at selling t-shirts. The fact that he sucked at making t-shirts led him to change the purpose of Berkshire Hathaway, and he is now one of the top 5 richest men in America.

The challenge now is to constantly find things you suck at and do them anyway. Personally, I draw, play guitar, and write self development articles. Continually trying new things will eventually lead you to something fulfilling.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Never Under Estimate Anyone

I am really finding this journey of writing what I learn when I go to the restroom quite the eye opener. I just never know what I am going to learn next.

Today, as I was headed into a public restroom the custodian was there. He told me, "You gunna have ta wait a minute, cuz we'z all full up in d'er." Now he was pushing a mop and had his wet floor sign up, but that didn't matter at all. He stopped mopping just to say something that was on his mind. So he started with a question:

"You eva think much 'bout physics -n- @^!% ?"
"Sure," I told him as I was eyeballing the stalls hoping one would open up.
"Nah, man I'm talk'n like that stuff they invent'n -n- @^!% ."

The more he insisted to hold a conversation with me the more I was cramping up inside. I really had to go and things were getting intense. Patience was running low. But being cordial I asked him a question in return.

"So you mean to tell me you clean toilets and mop floors and your busy thinking about physics?"
"Of course man," he retorted and whipped out his new iPhone.
"You see d'is @^!% ? D'is @^!% is just scratch'n the surface man. D'is is just the beginn'n. I'm tell'n you that they gunna be making nano bots that gunna take the internet inside our heads man. Just you wait -n- see. The cyborg generation is here man."

Just then a stall was opened up and I anxiously told him to excuse me and dashed to the stall. I'm not really a big fan of sitting on a pre-warmed seat but nature was calling and I quickly set out the paper and sat down to do my business. While I was sitting there, the custodian that I was beginning to think had watched a bit too much sci-fi was talking with some new person that had entered the bathroom when he said something very interesting, and quite profound. He said:

"Excuse me sir did you realize that yo blu toof technology is aktually a destinct representation that man and machine is learn'n to get along wif each otha?" The man chuckled and said that he never thought of it that way. And then the boy continued, "dat's ekactly why I's goin to skoo, so'z I's can learn how to make betta technology to get machines to work betta for us humans. We'z gotta do somethin dat don't pollute and poision us. You know what I'm sayin?" The man mumbled and scuffled off.

I then realized that I had underestimated the youngman in a janitor suit. I had sized him up based on his current job and criticized him in my mind because he was just a custodian. I was so busy thinking about myself, as was the other guy, that I didn't catch how passionate this young man was about doing something to make a difference in the world.

As I thought about it more I knew that I have had jobs that were certainly not the highest calibur where I knew I was better than the job or my manager. But this kid didn't let his job slow him down from dreaming big and shooting for the stars. I don't know if I will ever meet him again. But that sort of ambition will take him far.

I realized today in the stall at a public restroom that to truly be happy no matter where my station in life may be the best place to be happy is now looking towards the future and greater days yet to come. To have gratitude for things we have now, such as his iPhone. That seems to be a great combination: Ambition, Forward Thinking & Gratitude.

So with that here it is:

Wisdom from the John today:

Never Under Estimate Anyone.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Mountains and Attraction

In Alaska you can find the world's biggest mountain, if you measure from base to peak. The Mountain is known as Mt. McKinley or Denali, depending on your cultural loyalties. The Mountain is so big that from hundreds of miles away, it looks like the only mountain in the world. That is, if it will let you see it. Locally, in Utah, south of Salt Lake City, there is a mountain known as Timpanogos. It stands out as being one of the bigger mountains along a chain of mountains. It also sports it's own glacier, and has snow on it more often than it's neighboring mountains do.

What both of these mountains have in common is that each one creates it's own weather. In both cases, you may not have a cloud in the sky otherwise, but a small cluster of clouds near the mountain. The exact weather of these mountains is unpredictable, the mountain will do as it chooses.

The same thing is true of people. Human behavior is somewhat predictable, as is the weather. Every now and then, a great person steps up and changes the weather in unpredictable ways. By choosing to be a great person you will have the tendency to change the weather around you, to create weather even.

What is greatness? I'm still figuring that one out. What I know so far is that the great don't generally worry about the goal of being great. They don't try to be great. Instead, they go out and do great things.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Change vs Evolution

I read a report recently that there has been faster changes in human evolution (as observed in genetic structure) over the past couple of centuries than over the past 10 millennia. When mankind figured out his first simple tools he had no intention to change the world. He didn't envision sky scrapers, printed type, computers, an interstate highway system. He used his tools with an eye to the task to be performed. He evolved and with him so did his tools. For the moment, instead of confronting how modern technology may effect human evolution, I'd like to get back to our evolutionary roots.

In the self development industry, a lot of focus seems to be placed on extending yourself. Most people seem to desire to take the tools of self development and try to change the world. Well, it's not typically feasible. The tools for self development, even the title of the field "Self development" is focused on the internal nature of the tools. I consider goals and their external nature to be separate from self development. However, if you use the internal nature of self development to evolve yourself, the external world will change itself to meet the goals you set.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Movement Along the Probability Axis

One of the dimensions that doesn't get mentioned a whole lot is that of Possibility. Yes, just like height, depth, width, and time, possibility is a dimension. This can be observed through quantum physics. The quintessential axiom describing this is referred to as "Schroedinger's Cat." Schroedinger suggested putting a hypothetical cat in a box. Along with the cat would go a device that, based on random quantum principles, would kill the cat at in an unknown amount of time. As long as you didn't observe the inside of the box the cat would exist both in a state of dead and not dead.

Sounds weird, but it can be demonstrated through other quantum oddities. One of the common quantum problems is light existing as either a wave or a particle. Light will behave as a wave until it is observed, at which point it behaves like a particle. That is because it exists as a wave of possibility. All subatomic particles exist as waves of possibility until the probable collapses the waveform into actual particles.

We as humans only observe the most probable of all possibilities. What is probable is defined by which possibility happens moment to moment, and the waveform continually collapses in front of us. Since the waveform collapses upon observation, the existence of the universe itself is dependent upon being observed. Other quantum experiments have shown a link between the will of the observer and what the waveform will collapse into.

In science fiction this phenomenon is typically described as "parallel universes" where a separate universe exists for every possibility, each universe being separate. Instead, there is one universe with the observer being as if he were on a jet boat. Without any extra input of effort or will, the boat will continually go in a straight line along a probability axis. With concentrated effort and force of will, a rudder can be applied which will shift the direction of movement of the observer's probability axis.

Now, what does this means in every day life? There are an infinite number of possibilities, yet possibilities are also very finite. To change what "parallel universe" you live in, you're best off deciding what universe you want to live in and steer in that direction. You won't arrive there immediately unless it is so very similar to the universe you are in to begin with that it won't matter, but a desired destiny (destination?) can be steered towards. And you don't even have to invent some science fiction-y portal, you just have to will each moment to change.

Saturday, December 8, 2007


In the book "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" by Douglas Adams, the publishers of the guide include a disclaimer I want to include right now. The universe is a big and complicated place (as is the world.) Unexpected things happen. As is The Guide, what is written here is infallible. If anything here conflicts with reality (or even itself), I assure you, reality has it wrong.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Finding What You're Looking For

I recently bought two ferrets. They make great companions, and I'm glad I've got them. When I was considering getting ferrets people kept reinforcing the idea that they smell bad. My own research said that the foul odor is in their waste, so if you keep their litter clean, no problems. Well, I've been doing my best to keep the cage clean. I'm also being more conscious about smells. I'm on the lookout for offensive smells. Well, I'm finding them.

I'm not finding offensive smells as much around the house but in places where I've never looked for offensive smells before. I've been waiting tables at the same restaurant for several years. I've begun interpreting every day smells, even kitchen smells as offensive.

The point is because I am now looking for offensive smells, I'm finding them. Same thing seems to happen with cars... when you think about getting a particular car you seem to see that car on the road everywhere.

So, what if a person starts looking for business opportunities? Or someone with whom to have a healthy relationship? Or enjoyable ways to exercise? Everything anyone could want is available in abundance. If you look for it you'll find it not anywhere, but everywhere.