How to Follow a 1,000 Day Writing Vow When You Are Sick

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Recently a fellow blogger reached out to me because of my story about my first 1,000 day vow in Chris Guillebeau’s new book “The Happiness of Pursuit.” She asked me about overcoming fears during such a vow. One of the fears that comes up for me when following a 1,000 day vow (like the current one I am on for writing every day) is of getting so sick that I have to skip a day, and start over from one.

Today is a day where I face such a fear. I am fairly sick, and appear to be getting worse. (Doing my best to get better though, upping my water intake, eating healthy food, staying away from sugar, and so on.) So, what is the solution to such a fear? Well my friends, you’re looking at it. I have found that in nearly all cases where fear comes up around failing at a 1,000 day vow, the solution is to do it anyways. As it happens this poetically provides an easy subject to write about, so there’s that.

What I have found over the course of my 2 successful 1,000 day vows so far, and the one I am currently about half way through, is that it is never about doing 1,000 days of something. It’s really always about doing one day. This one. Then you simply repeat that until you are done.

This dove tails into a few things I have been learning recently. I was raised with the idea that the way to succeed is to have a goal, chunk it into smaller portions, make a plan, and then execute until you get it. I’ve had some success with that mode of living. More failures. I’ve learned from the failures, but what has taken me sometime to learn is that the goal oriented way of doing things is not for me.

I am more of a systems man. More of a repetition man. As I mentioned above, the secret I have found to completing a 1,000 day vow is not to complete the goal of 1,000 days. The secret is to complete the vow this day. Tomorrow will be there when I get there. Before I realized that I a systems guy, rather than a goal guy, the way I succeeded at the goal I am most proud of was by following the system of doing the vow one day at a time. That is a systems approach, and it works.

Another thing that has come to light for me recently has to do with a roller coaster I have been on for a lot of my life. I am reading Jeff Olson’sThe Slight Edge” and his first couple of chapters deal with this roller coaster. Jeff describes what he has seen thousands of people do over his decades of being in the personal development field, which he also describes himself doing in his earlier years. It’s a patter I am sad to admit I fall into all too often.

The roller coaster goes something like this: You make a decision about how to get your livelihood taken care of. Then you start taking actions to come up from zero. As you reach the survival level of income, you relax a bit. Your effort wanes, and you start to fall towards the failure line. The fall starts slowly at first, then accelerates. Once you realize what is happening, you buckle down and get back into gear. You start taking your actions again… until you get to the survival line, at which point you taper off. Rinse and repeat. You waffle between failure and survival, and never make it up to success. What Jeff noted, and what I am getting, is that achieving success does not lie in doing something special, or new. Rather it lies in continuing to do the actions that took you from failure, to survival. Rather than tapering off, just keep going. The way to get from survival, to success, is the exact same way you got from being in danger of failure up to a survival level.

When I read this distinction in Jeff Olson’s book, it was a big “duh!” moment for me. It was also a bit embarrassing. However, I saw how much sense it made when I considered my vows. The secret to succeeding at them is simply doing them every day. I am looking forward to putting this distinction into use in my professional life. I find this distinction a great relief. No longer is it a case of working harder, or smarter. Rather it’s a case of working consistently. That I can do.

Well, there you have it. My sick day post. I hope it hasn’t been too rambling, but if it is, I’ll blame it on being ill. ;)

I’d love to hear your thoughts! Leave a comment below if you are so inclined.

Cheers!

Of World’s Ending and Things

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One of my good friends has been on a strong campaign recently to raise awareness of the apparent ecological disaster looming ahead in our near future. I had some thoughts about this, and they ended up going on for a bit, so I’ve decided to make a post about it.

The basic thrust is that we humans have, through runaway use of fossil fuels (and other abuses of the environment) touched off a number of “positive feedback” loops that will inevitably lead to the extinction of the human race. (Note, the use of the term “positive” here is in the cold scientific way, meaning that these processes are additive and self-perpetuating, and not positive as in good for us… ) One such loop has to do directly with the rising of the ocean’s temperatures. As the temperatures have risen, especially in the northern hemisphere, we have been loosing the ice in the Arctic circle. This loss of ice means that the natural reflection of some of the sun’s rays back into space off the white surface of the snow and ice has been decreasing as the amount of snow and ice decreases. The darker color of the exposed sea then pulls in more heat from the sunlight and the cycle builds on itself.

Another such positive feedback loop has to do with the release of sequestered methane into the atmosphere as the permafrost of the Arctic circle thaws. This is releasing millions of tons of methane gas into the atmosphere, which traps more heat from the sun, which in turn thaws more permafrost.

Those are just two examples of the growing number of such self-feeding cycles that scientists are tracking and trying to warn people about.

Firstly, let me say that I think that anyone who does not see global warming and climate change as a real threat, and cause for concern, is being exceptionally foolish.

Secondly, in my opinion, anyone who doesn’t see humanity, and it’s actions, as the primary contributors to this situation is being even more exceptionally foolish.

However, I do take exception to a certain trait that the dire warnings about the coming extinction event seem to share. They all say that it looks like it’s too late, and that it seems like a near mathematical certainty that within a few decades the Earth will not be suitable for human life, and very likely any life at all. What they seem to miss though is a phrase I mentally attach to any such statement. That phrase is, “… at current technological development.”

The pace of technological development, which also means scientific development, on this planet is ever accelerating. The difference between how life is now, and how it was three decades ago is staggering. Further, the way these technologies are relating to each other is ever more deeply and completely. The number of people using internet as I write this is approximately 1.5 billion. Within three years it is estimated to hit 5 billion. I would guess that a few years after that it will be the case that everyone on the planet who wants access to the information on internet will have it.

Increased information means increased innovation. One only needs to peruse the various crowdfunding sites to see what happens when inventive people with good ideas are able to get the word out. Inventions get realized. Change happens. And, it’s going faster and faster every day.

Personally I don’t see this as an excuse to continue the way we have been going. I think the threat to our environment is very real indeed. However, I simply can’t conceive of what life will be like in twenty years, when I think of what it was like twenty years ago. Based on the acceleration factor, I imagine that the world twenty years from now will look as different to us, as our current life would look to someone from a hundred years ago.

One way or the other, I see us coming to a singularity of existence, of some sort. I have no idea which way it will go. I do know that I can have no idea. The definition of “singularity” is a horizon past which you cannot see. The concrescence of technologies, ever accelerating, leads to a place coming very soon that none of us can see past. We have no way of knowing what is on the other side of such a demarcation.

Personally I am grateful for the people who are steadfastly raising the red flag of doom, and raising consciousness about the perils we are facing. What I can’t do though is go along with any declaration of how things will be. Our world is just changing too fast, and I for one will not be surprised if the human will to survive wins out, even if we face the tragedy of a dead planet.

One of my personal favorite thinkers is Terence McKenna. One of the things he said in his talks was something that the beings he contacts through psilocybin once said to him. They said, “this is what it looks like when a species gets ready to leave for the stars.” In his talks he uses the example of child birth. When you are aware of what childbirth is, you can view it from a bit of a detached view and find it something beautiful, a miracle of life unfolding just as it rightly should. However, if you had no idea what birth looked like you might have a very different reaction. If you rounded a corner into an alley and came upon the scene of a woman giving birth you would be justifiably horrified. There are screams (often), blood, tears, heaving, sweat, and a woman being squeezed open from the inside by something trying to force it’s way out. If you didn’t know any better you would be perfectly justified in freaking the fuck out.

It might very well be that the situation on our planet is something like that. With all the terror, and environmental breakage looming, and all the violence, and religious strife. Perhaps we are at a breaking point something like birth.

Of course, not all births are successful. Not all new born children make it. That’s simply a sad fact of the process of life. Still, a lot do make it. Especially as technology advances. That gives me hope.

Eight Year Old Donald Trump

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A decade ago I was in India. I was there with a group of my fellow Aikido students, and our Sensei. We had been bamboozled into going to India for a big Aikido seminar that our Sensei would teach. It was very exciting. Unfortunately we had all bought tickets and made plans with our various employers by the time we realized it was a scam. We decided to go anyways.

As it happens we did end up holding an Aikido seminar, at the US embassy in Dehli. But, that is another story.

This story is about a chance encounter with the single purest example of entrepreneurial spirit I have ever had.

There were twelve of us who made the trip together. We started in Dehli, and visited the Taj Mahal in Agra, and then spent a week in Veranasi. It was in Veranasi that I had this encounter.

I was alone, standing on the shore of the Gangi. This river occupies a place of deep spiritual significance in the Indian mind. It is seen as a manifestation of the mother deity at the heart of the Hindu faith. I was standing on the muddy shore of this manifestation of the divine when I heard a voice.

“Excuse me, sir.”

I’ve trained in the martial arts for over half of my life. When I hear things I don’t just hear the content. I listen for position and intensity. So, I turned and looked down at the speaker. I was face to face with an immaculately dressed seven year old boy. His hair was perfectly arranged. He wore a button down shirt, with a tie, pressed slacks, and loafers. He stood beside me on the muddy shore of the Gangi.

“Yes?”

The boy clasped his hands behind his back. “Pardon my question sir, but are you a tourist?”

I looked down, smiling through my scruff, wearing my Hawaiian shirt and said, “How could you tell?”

The boy nodded. “I didn’t want to presume, sir, but you do have the look of a visitor.”

“Well, yes, I am. I’m from California. What can I do for you?”

The boy squared his shoulders, and faced me directly. “If I may ask, Sir, do you like to keep notes of your travels?”

I smiled and nodded. “Yes, I do. Very much.”

“Very good. Then, I may have something that would interest you.” He turned slightly and waved someone over. It was another boy. Younger. Well dressed, but not in a suit. He pushed over a small wheel barrow. He came up along side the first young man and set the wheel barrow down, then he stepped back and clasped his arms behind his back in imitation of the older boy.

In the old wheel barrow were neat stacks of hand stitched note books. I asked if I could see one. The young entrepreneur nodded. They had painstakingly found sections of discarded newspapers that had enough blank room to serve as a note pad. Each pad was about 3 inches square, cut perfectly on the edges. Along one side, they had been stitch bound with packing twine. The craftsmanship was amazing, and consistent.

“You made these?”

The young man nodded. “Yes. We find usable paper, press it, stack it, cut it, and then bind it.”

I flipped through the pages, admiring the work. “You said we. How many of you work on this?”

The young man squared his shoulders. “I have six employees. My sister, three cousins, and two friends. My sister is in charge of manufacture. One of my cousins is coming along nicely. He’s five now, but I think when he turns six he’ll be ready to handle his own production group. Then we will expand to another neighborhood.”

“And, how old are you?”

“I am eight, sir. I turn nine in three months.”

I smiled. “How much?” I reached into my pocket.

It was his turn to smile. “Ten rupees, sir.” At the time this was about seventeen cents.

As I was fishing through my pocket for the coins, the boy said, “Pardon me again, sir, but do you travel with friends?”

My smirk was wide. “Why yes, I do. Why do you ask?”

The young entrepreneur nodded. “Perhaps they would get some use from our note pads as well?”

The kid was good. Very good. I contemplated all this young man represented as I made my way back to the hotel, ten note pads riding in my shoulder bag.

The drive to produce results, and build a legacy are natural to being human. Anyone can catch the entrepreneurial bug, no matter how young you may be.