Less Decisions, More Freedom

I made the decision a few months back to get rid of most of my wardrobe.

I’m down to five “work outfits,” a few casual outfits and some shirts. It’s a take on the capsule wardrobe, which I wanted to take it to its end.

On the outset, this seems like a nonsensical idea to some for two reasons:
1. My clothes will wear out faster.
2. I will have to do laundry more often.

To combat number one, I stuck with my higher quality clothing that doesn’t wear as fast.

As for number two, I’m still doing laundry once a week, but there’s less of it to do. Same goes for the ironing… and I hate ironing… really hate it.

The benefits, on the other hand, have been tremendous. I don’t spend any time thinking about what to wear for the day. There are less decisions for me to make in the morning, which frees me up to move on with my life.

I have a ton more space in my closet and my dresser and at this point, I could probably merge the two together and call it a day.

It’s freeing to have to make less decisions in the day. We often think more decisions are better for us, but they end up being paralyzing. For instance, just go to the grocery store and look at the selection of bread crumbs. The fact there even is a wide array to choose from is baffling.

When you are in charge of your own decisions, you might find freedom in trying to make less of them.

It seems counter-intuitive, but it works.

All Hope is Lost Moment

It’s the most climactic part of any book, television show, or movie.

It’s the scene where the hero has lost everything and everything that has gone wrong, did.

There’s no way out – it’s just impossible.

Then, by sheer will and genius thinking, a breakthrough happens. Luck finally comes the hero’s way, or they remember a skill that could be useful, or they manage to exploit a weakness that has just come to light.

If only our lives were like this, right?

The reason we don’t experience this is because we’ve rarely been in a situation where all hope is lost in the world.

Our lives may seem that way at times, but the world is still cheering you on.

You are the hero of the story.

Find a way.

When Life Starts Nudging

Every so often, life nudges at you to move in a certain direction. It tends to avoid overt signs or gestures in favour of gentle whispers.

It starts with a comment by someone, then by another, then some thoughts on your own and it will coalesce with something out of the blue.

Then it will go away.

Life isn’t pushy when it comes to living out your path. It’ll prod you for a bit and then leave you alone to make your own decisions.

Sometimes your window of opportunity is small, so the signs will come rapidly.

Pay extra attention when this happens because it could be something that will get you to where you’ve always needed to be.

Listen for the whispers and respond with full surrender.

Deep Thinking Book Review

Author: Garry Kasparov
Book Link

Garry Kasparov — one of the highest rated Grandmasters in Chess history and the first to defeat an AI supercomputer. However, he’s best known as the guy who lost to a different iteration of that supercomputer in 1997.

This book is a telling of his thoughts on the future of humans and artificial intelligence and for once… it’s refreshing. He’s put away the doom and gloom that some analysts speak from and looked at it from a positive and critical angle. It’s a neat approach because… you know… he would be on the front lines to know what it would be like to have AI take your job.

In his words:
“Romanticizing the loss of jobs to technology is little better than
complaining that antibiotics put too many grave diggers out of work. The transfer of labor from humans to our inventions is nothing less than the history of civilization.

There is no back, only forward.

Most of this book looks at his personal history with chess and its marriage with computers. Specifically, he gets into details of how weak it was when it started and how long it took before they actually became a threat on the chess board.

Yes, he gives an an in-depth analysis, from his own perspective this time, of that fated match with IBMs “Deep Blue.”

Interwoven within this narrative are his thoughts on the progression and consequences of artificial intelligence in this world.

It was an addicting read and I found myself slowing down just to soak up every word Kasparov was saying. Having an interest in chess helped, but his voice is so clear and full of wisdom that it doesn’t matter how much you really know about the game. You just want to hear what he has to say.

In the end, he challenges us to use this new cusp of technology as an opportunity to make leaps towards other cognitive horizons that we’re not even imagining yet.

“We haven’t lost free will; we have gained time that we just don’t know what to do with. We have gained incredible powers, virtual omniscience, but still lack the sense of purpose to apply them in ways that satisfy us.”

Maybe this next smartphone addicted generation we keep complaining about will be the ones to make that leap.

What’s Really Going On?

It’s one thing to assume you know what’s going on with a person, but it’s different when you get in their head.

The simple word for this is empathy.

When you reach that point, the way forward isn’t to merely re-state what the person is feeling… that’s the beginning… the connection point… and a critical step.

It shines a light on the blind spots in your own perceptions.

The next step is to begin to shine a light on their blind spots that will help them in a way they cannot see.

Following this route, you will see what’s really going on and both of you can be changed by the experience.

No One Wants the Real Answer

If you ask someone how they got to where they are… whether it be for money, career, health, or otherwise, it’s rare they will tell you the real answer.

It’s not because they’re withholding it because people are more than willing to help those seeking it.

The problem is no one wants to hear it.

It’s easier to digest, “I worked hard and took advantage of opportunities,” rather than, “I spent my every day, including weekends, immersing myself until it became an obsession. I gave up my social life and every other distraction that kept me from my goal… etc.”

We expect to hear, “I watched what I ate and worked out a few times a week,” because if the person were to tell the whole truth about their training and diet regiment — we would shut down.

The real answer is out there if you’re willing to hear it…

and do the work.

Reference Point Book Review

Author: Michael Hurd
Book Link

The follow-up and direct sequel to his first book, Enter the Witness, Hurd delivers mind bending realities in Reference Point.

At its heart, this book is about an awakening in all of us. It’s an invitation to lift the veil of reality for what we see and peer into the heart of what the universe really wants to show us.

Hands down, it’s a stunning description of a spiritual journey.

The realm of describing a spiritual journey belonged to the mystics, who did their best to describe something that cannot be explained. It’s like trying to tell someone what it’s like to love another person. The best you can deliver is metaphors.

It’s for this reason, the study of mysticism is relegated to those who are willing to decipher the language. As someone who has spent many years deep in that study, I can assure you it’s not an easy task.

Hurd has done a tremendous job at describing it in a way that is accessible and summarizes the last fifteen years of my studies.

I found myself highlighting and taking notes, page after page. He packed so much into this without once feeling like it’s too heavy. Everything about it just flowed.

You actually feel yourself moving with the text towards what he calls, The Revealing. You are following along, but at the same time, you are also feeling summoned. It just grips you.

While you could dive right into this book without having read his first one, they do build on each other… but wow… do they ever build into something that will have you deep in thought.

Where Our Focus of Worry Lies

We can’t seem to find a target for our worry.

Everything seems equal and we place equal emphasis on all of it without considering what just isn’t worth our energy. The end of the world won’t happen with most things we like to worry about in our daily lives.

Sure, it gives us something to do, but it won’t get us anywhere.

If you think back on your own life about what you worried about, much of it would seem laughable. Other things, however, was where the focus should have been.

How do we focus our worry in this world?

We focus on the most vulnerable among us. If we worry about them and take action when needed, two things happen:

Our own worries diminish and the bigger problems of the world move closer to a solution.

Ditch That Homework Book Review

Authors: Matt Miller, Alice Keeler
Book Link

A colleague of mine recommended this book with the promise it would completely change the way I think about the classroom.

I picked it up with some skepticism. My personal stance has always been that great teachers cannot be replicated and are great for different reasons.

I’m happy to say this book really got me thinking about how I approach work in the classroom.

It starts with centering on the needs of students, all of whom are different, and demonstrates… with real-world examples… how much more effective a teacher can be by leveraging the right tools.

Any book that gets me to make notes, highlight passages and put it down to think is an instant five-star for me. This book had me doing that on several occasions.

While many pages were bookmarked, here are a few choice highlights:

“Just because students make poor choices doesn’t mean we should remove that responsibility altogether.”

“As teachers, we tend to want class to run smoothly. We like things to be neat and tidy. Students are still learning how to live life, and the way they think and operate creates a hot mess in our classrooms. Instead of avoiding those messes, we’ve got to pull on our rubber boots and wade through the mess with them. Yes, it requires time and patience, but it’s also how we can help them learn to make better decisions in the future.”

I love the fact the authors don’t just offer a tool or method and say, “This is all you need.” Instead, they look at the realities of the modern classroom and offer steps to get to a better place.

This book will get a teacher to re-think what their idea of useful work for students is… regardless of whether they assign it for homework or not.

When Your Wheels Won’t Stop Spinning

It’s late at night and something happened that is still bothering you.

You can’t get to bed. Your wheels are spinning.

You take those thoughts onto multiple tangents and 3am comes around without a wink of sleep. The initial thing that bothered you has now transformed into an even bigger monster.

Despite your best attempts to “forget about it for now,” it just won’t happen.

How do you work through it?

What can be done that will at least get you to bed?

Get up, go to your calendar and set a date when you can come back to your issue. Physically put on that at a certain date, you will sit down with yourself and have a conversation with the issue.

On that date, the issue can come back to fester within you once more.

Make an appointment and mark it as busy. Make it real.

Then go to bed.