One Year of Blogging Daily

It’s been one year since I decided to write every single day on this site.

There were a few days I missed… but two days out of 365 is a success for me.

I’ve been writing online since high school, including a crappy Geocities website in 1998, teaming up with author Thomas Jast to create Tommy|Zor from 2004 – 2009, attempts at other blogs including ProductiveGrad and TheDailyWriter and a few Lifehack articles… but this was the first attempt to write online daily.

Inspired by people like Seth Godin, Cory Doctorow and John Scalzi, I thought – why not?

Writing daily has forced two habits: sitting down to write and making observations about the day.

I experimented with different methods, including writing by shorthand in a journal and then transcribing into a computer, and ultimately settled on the fact that when you write, the tool doesn’t matter.

Use whatever gets the job done.

The biggest surprise was never running out of material. By forcing myself to make observations during the day, I have been able to synthesize the musings in my head and clarify my thoughts.

It’s also been a lesson in self-reflection.

This was also the reason I threw on book reviews. In reading so much, I wanted a place to put my thoughts down while the content was still fresh in my head. Based on traffic, others are also finding them helpful.

As the year progressed, the need to write every day has forced it into a habit. From the moment I wake up, I’m already thinking about what I’m going to write.

Over the year, the traffic to the site has trickled… drip by drip… as a year’s worth of content has slowly piled up.

However, I find this daily writing therapeutic and will continue. Even if nobody visits the site anymore, I’ll continue to write.

If you’ve been following along, checking in from time to time, or subscribed to my email list… thank you.

Sincerely, thank you.

In the age of information overload and constant distraction, I appreciate you’re allowing a part of your focus to see what’s happening here.

Here’s to another year!

Re-Learning What You Lost

It can seem like ages ago we were taught something we trying to recall again today.

We’ve learned enough about neuroscience to know the brain likes to shut down pathways that aren’t in use anymore and therefore, it can seem like that information has gone in the trash bin.

Side note: It’s too bad other things we want to go in the trash bin never seem to make their way there…

However, you can re-ignite new pathways to find that information once more.

Your brain is a powerful organ, capable of much more than we give it credit for… and if you’re willing to change your mindset about re-learning something… it will come back.

Nothing is ever lost.

Just One More Thing

There’s always going to be just one more thing to do in life.

One more task to take care of at work.
One more chore to do at home.
One more email to send to someone.
One more article to check.
One more step to take in a career.
One more award to win.
One more dollar to earn.
One more…
One more…

Step away and take a moment to enjoy what’s happening around you right now.

You can always come back to that “one more” later.

The Nerds Have Taken Over

Back in high school, one of the nerdiest games you could play was Dungeons & Dragons.

I remember wanting to play, but absolutely no one wanted to touch that game with a forty foot pole. I did find a few people who enjoyed the game and we gathered every so often to geek out.

Computer classes and clubs were reserved only for the most hardcore nerds. It happened on the periphery while the rest of the school fawned over the athletes.

But something happened in the last twenty years.

As a joke a few years ago, I told students we should start a Dungeons & Dragons club at the school. By the end of the day, 30 students came asking me when it would start.

We started the club… to the tune of 48 members… who showed up consistently every week to play.

Silicon Valley and the high tech world is a beacon for just about anybody with the skills to work in the industry. In fact, it’s become desirable on my accounts.

Comic book conventions are overflowing, cosplayers (people who dress up as characters) has exploded as a scene and randomly quoting Star Wars in a public place will elicit a positive response from someone else.

The nerds have taken over.

I’m okay with that.

Let’s Stop Deconstructing Success

I’m tired of the literature out there right now that explains how a person can be “successful.”

The marker of success for all this literature is being a superstar (i.e. rich and famous)… or something close to it.

It kind of ignores other markers of success like… I don’t know… Gandhi successfully liberating India from the British… Martin Luther King Jr. successfully becoming the voice of justice… Angela Merkel successfully becoming the first female chancellor of Germany and holding that office for three terms… me successfully making it a night without eating a box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts that have been teasing me on my kitchen counter.

These “success” books actually do more damage than harm because they only focus on the superstars and try to deconstruct their methods. Really, it’s just three steps:

1. Working hard
2. Building connections
3. Luck

The focus is always on the first two steps and how they went about it, but luck is always ignored.

Luck plays a part and will show up if steps one and two are taken care of first. No one explains this… and they certainly don’t explain that luck could take many years to appear on your doorstep.

Instead, you’re made to feel inferior because your marker of success (money) could be so much more if you just followed what others are doing

If we really want to build people up, then let’s focus on personal successes.

What is an accomplishment you can work towards today?
This week?
This year?

If you start celebrating those milestones when you hit them, you’ll always feel like a success in life.

The One-Minute Workout Book Review

Author: Dr. Martin Gibala
Book Link

On my way to picking up others book in the library, I came across this one in the Express section. It was carefully placed on the shelf to catch my eye as I walked by — its light blue and white colour beckoning me to pick it up.

“7 days to finish this Vito… that’s a cake-walk for you,” it said.

Intrigued, I picked it up and looked to see who the author was making this bold claim. As an academic at heart, I’m always skeptical of radical claims and people who throw around the phrase “based on science.”

Lo and behold, it’s an actual professor (and chair of kinesiology) at a Canadian University! Not just any University, but McMaster, which is starting to make a stand in the crowded world of Ontario campuses.

As a graduate of Queen’s University, the running joke is you can always tell when a McMaster student changed a light bulb because they’ll loudly proclaim they did it just as well as any Queen’s student.

He’s also speaking about High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), something I was vaguely familiar with after making a bet years ago with friends that I could finish the Insanity Beachbody program (which is kind of like a reverse HIIT – but on a stupid hard scale).

It was brutal, but the results were amazing and I actually liked it as I stuck with it. In fact, outside of my early martial arts training, it was one of the very few programs I stuck with

After reading Gibala’s work, I understood why.

This book boils down to is the following claim:

You can get the same, if not better, results from your workouts in a fraction of the time.

The secret, which Dr. Gibala has been researching for many years, is interval training. You go hard for small bursts of time, followed by cool-down sessions. When your body is about to give up and force you to the floor… the workout is done.

He gives you 12 different types of workouts to achieve this effect — all of which can be done in less than 30 minutes. A few of them last even less than five minutes.

The One-Minute claim from the book title refers to one of the suggested workouts where your sprints last only a minute, but they’re spaced out with periods of rest.

In case you were looking of an actual one-minute workout… not going to happen. However, even a minute sprint throughout the day still has its health benefits.

The book starts with the (actual) science behind his findings before moving on to the practical applications. If you’re not a person who is interested in why your body would respond so well to this type of training regiment, you can skip to the last part of the book.

What I appreciated most is he demonstrates how HIIT is for everyone from the beginner to the high-endurance athlete, showing this method is not just a flash in the pain type of discovery that only works in theory.

If you’re looking to up your exercise game, this book might be for you.

For the person looking to get rid of the excuse they don’t have enough time… or the proper equipment… or any other excuse that could be getting in the way of doing some actual exercise, this book will be helpful.

As for me, my worldview has been completely rocked.

I knew there was a reason I loved Insanity so much. Now I have several programs I can stick with for the long-term.

The Future of Education

All depends on a single locus of focus:

The student.

It’s always been about the student and how their needs can be met.

It’s always been about how to inspire, motivate and challenge them.

Everything else is just dressing.

Are We Really Being Challenged?

Growth happens when we challenge ourselves ourselves to look at something that’s beyond our reach.

Research has shown we learn more from a wrong answer than a right one.

Yet, we hate being confronted by anything that disagrees with our worldview.

We hate asking the hard questions and having to think through them.

Most importantly — we hate being told we were wrong.

Instead, we follow the crowd and listen to the voices that confirm our bias…

and then we wonder why we don’t make progress.

If you really want to be challenged… and really want to grow… listen to what the other person is saying.

When You Have Nothing

When there’s nothing in you to give and nothing left inside of you to offer… that’s when it’s time to let go.

Let go of your ego.

Let go of your doubts.

Let go of your fears.

Let go of your anger.

Let go of your pride.

Just let go.

Then let others in.

The Potential of a New Generation

It seems to be a common game to lambaste every new generation.

“They’re the laziest, entitled, self-centered, narcissistic, etc. etc.” generation ever!

People who say that about this upcoming generation have obviously never met them.

They are the first to ever have the entire world at their fingertips from day one and understand how to use technology at unprecedented levels. They are cooperative and globally aware.

If instead of condemning them, we taught them how to leverage the wisdom of our elders to fuel their natural curiosity…

We will create a whole new world.