Posted in Bookish

Make Your Bed

Title:  Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your World And Maybe The World

Author: Admiral William McRaven

Author Nationality: American

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Year Published/ Release:  April 2017

Pages: 130 (paperback)

Book Version:  Kindle Ebook

Insights:

This book was inspired by a speech given at the University of Texas in the same title.  Admiral William McRaven’s speech was based on ten lessons that had helped him complete his training to become a Navy SEAL(Sea, Air &Land)  and carry him through the 37 years of service to the Navy. The speech was so good that it went viral(11 million views).

Here are the 10 lessons from a simple but well-written book.

  1. Start your day with one task completed: If you want to change the world start by making your bed and make sure you do it right as it demonstrates discipline, attention to detail and at the end of the day you will be reminded that you did something well. The simple act of making your bed can give you the lift you need to start the day right and the satisfaction to end it right.
  2. You can’t go it alone: If you want to change the world, find someone to help you paddle.  Learn the value of teamwork and the need to rely on someone else to help you through the difficult tasks. You need people in your life to help you through difficult times. It, therefore, takes a team of good people to get you to your destination in life. You cannot paddle the boat alone. Find someone to share your life with. Make as many friends as possible and never forget that your success depends on others.
  3. Only the size of your heart matters: If you want to change the world measure a person by the size of their heart. It doesn’t matter what size you are, what color, you are, determination and grit are always more important than talent.
  4. Life is not fair-drive on: If you want to change the world get over been a sugar cookie and keep moving forward. It is easy to blame your lot in life on some outside force to stop trying because you believe some fate is against you. It is easy to think that where you were raised, how your parents treated you, or what school you went to is all that determines your future. Nothing could be further from the truth. The common people and the great men and women are all defined by how they deal with life’s unfairness. Don’t complain, don’t blame it on your misfortune,stand tall, look into the future, and drive on.
  5. Failure can make you stronger: If you want to change the world don’t be afraid of the circus. In life, you will face a lot of circuses. You will pay for your failures. But,if you persevere, if you let those failures teach you and strengthen you, then you will be prepared to handle life’s toughest moments. Past failures will strengthen you and teach you that no one is immune to mistakes.
  6. You must dare greatly: If you want to change the world, slide down the obstacle headfirst. Life is a struggle and the potential for failure is ever-present, but those who live in fear of failure , or hardship, or embarrassment will never achieve their potential. Without pushing your limits, without occasionally sliding down the rope headfirst, without daring greatly, you will never know what is truly possible in your life.
  7. Stand up to the bullies: If you want to change the world, don’t back down from the sharks. Bullies are all the same; whether they are in the schoolyard, in the workplace, or ruling a country through terror. They thrive on fear and intimidation. Bullies gain their strength through the timid and faint of heart. They are like sharks that sense fear in the water. They will circle to see if their prey is struggling. They will probe to see if their victim is weak. If you don’t find the courage to stand your ground, they will strike. In life, to achieve your goals, to complete the night swim, you will have to be men and women of great courage.
  8. Rise to the occasion: If you want to change the world be the very best in the darkest moments. At some point, we will all confront a dark moment in life. If not the passing of a loved one, then something else that crushes your spirit and leaves you wondering about your future. In that dark moment, reach deep inside yourself and be your very best.
  9. Give people hope: If you want to change the world start by singing when you are up to your neck in the mud. We will find ourselves neck-deep in mud someday. That is the time to sing loudly, to smile broadly, to lift up those around you, and give them hope that tomorrow will be a better day.
  10. Never ever, quit!: If you want to change the world, don’t ever ring the bell. If you quit, you will regret the rest of your life. Quitting never makes anything easier. Life is full of difficult times. But someone out there always has it worse than you do. If you fill your days with pity, sorrowful for the way you have been treated, bemoaning your lot in life, blaming your circumstances on someone or something else then life will long and hard. If on the other hand, you refuse to give up on your dreams, stand tall and strong against the odds-then life will be what you make of it- and you can make it great. Never, ever ring the bell!

My take:

It a simple book whose lessons remain ageless.

Memorable Quote (s):

“What starts here changes the world.”

 

Posted in Bookish

Finish What You Start

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Title:  Finish What You Start: The Art of Following Through, Taking Action, Executing & Self-Discipline.

Author: Peter Hollins

Author Nationality: American

Website: https://petehollins.com/

Publisher: Createspace Independent

Year Published/ Release:  March 2018

Pages: 207 (paperback)

Book Version:  Kindle Ebook

Insights:

This book mainly addresses a common struggle that we all experience at some point in our lives. Hollins shares the reasons behind starting a task and not finishing it. He has listed the challenges in a way that is easy to understand and provided solutions that are realistic and easy to adopt. Here are some of the insights Hollins came up with to improve one’s efficiency.

  1. We do not finish what we start because of inhibiting tactics such as setting bad goals, procrastination, indulging temptations, distractions, poor time management, and psychological roadblocks such as laziness, lack of discipline, fear of judgment rejection, failure, perfectionism out of insecurity and a lack of awareness.
  2. We are driven by different reasons to finish what we start. This involves external and internal motivators. External motivators are those that drive you to a negative consequence to serve as a way to push yourself to do something after all no one wants to suffer. Part of this involves having accountability partners who hold you accountable to ensure you keep going and accountability groups that are said to be more effective. Then there is self bribery where you promise yourself a reward if you follow through.
  3. Internal motivators are the “why” for taking action and putting in the effort such as how will your life change or benefit? How will your family benefit? what impact will you have on others and what positive emotions will you get?
  4. Create a manifesto that is a set of rules to follow every day; for example, ask yourself “are you acting out of laziness, and is this a characterization you want about yourself?”  Therefore anything we want to accomplish has an associated opportunity cost so we must sacrifice. Rules take the guesswork out of our days and give us guidelines to follow.
  5. Take on three major tasks a day then learn how to differentiate between important, and urgent tasks and simple wasted motion.
  6. Create daily limitations and requirements for yourself to keep you within the bounds of what you know you need to do. These add up to the building blocks of good habits.
  7. Look through the future and identify whether you like what you see when you consider not following through. Following through is 100% mental(mindset) it is all worthwhile if you hold the belief that hard work can lead to improvement. Believe in your own abilities and become comfortable with discomfort-everything you want to do will have elements of discomfort.
  8. Without following through there is no learning-it is only when you finish something that you can evaluate yourself and correct your errors. Embody an information-gathering mindset. Allow learning as it is a way to test and score yourself based on your progress. Giving up is an automatic failure instead ask yourself ” what can I learn from this?”
  9. Poor moods are dangerous to your productivity, beware of them, follow through and take measures to modulate your stress levels.
  10. Tackle procrastination through temptation bundling. This happens by combining unpleasurable tasks with something pleasurable. Start easy and small to make the path to motion and action as easy as possible. Eventually, you can gain momentum.
  11. Minimize distractions in your environment. Out of sight out of mind. Curate and design your work environment in a way that boosts your productivity. Focus on single-tasking to avoid creating attention residue. Develop a Don’t do list.
  12. Adopt the 40-70 rule to beat in-action through the amount of information you seek. i.e if you have less than 40% information, don’t act but if you have 70%   you must act for you will never have 100% and chances are 70% is more than sufficient to proceed.
  13. When you want to do nothing from time to time, it is a time for rest and relaxation additionally, think of it as mental recovery.
  14. False hope syndrome is when you expect that you will be able to change or improve to an unrealistic degree. Overthinking is sneaky because it feels like action and it even feels productive but it’s not. Overthinking is when you fixate and can’t seem to take the first step toward action so focus on what you can do right now and only right now.
  15. Know yourself well enough to know how you work and produce the best e.g time of day, environment, and setting. Knowing yourself is the ability to look at yourself and understand why you may have failed or come up short. it is the ability self diagnose and be self-aware.
  16. Set up daily systems for success i.e a set of daily behaviors. Keep a scoreboard for everything large and trivial this keeps you motivated and striving toward growth and progress.
  17. Manage your time better by understanding how long things will take in reality and accounting for your own inefficiencies.
  18. Gather all the information and materials you need all at once and before you get started. This allows you to work interruption-free and gather momentum.

My take:

Efficiency comes as a result of daily improvement.

While a daily to-do list is important, a not-to-do list is a great reminder of the habits that can easily slow down progress.

When you gather all the resources you need, in essence, you avoid wasted motion and improve your focus on delivery.

This book serves as a great guide to improving efficiency and getting things done.

Memorable Quote (s):

“Self-discipline is what enables you to get your head down and work when you need to, even if you don’t want to. It’s the ability to control yourself so that you retain focus on what needs to be done, despite the temptations and distractions you may encounter. This element is essential to following through  because its what gives you the power to regulate your own thoughts, feelings, and actions toward ends that are meaningful.”

“Persistence is firmly sticking to something for a prolonged period of time, even as you encounter things that try to unstick you.”

“saying no to some tasks is just as important as saying yes to the correct ones.”

 

 

Posted in Bookish

An Attitude of Excellence

Title:  An Attitude of Excellence

Author: Dr. Willie Jolley

Author Nationality: American

Website: https://www.williejolley.com/

Publisher: Willie Jolley Worldwide

Year Published/ Release:  November 2009 & October 2018

Pages: 280 (paperback)

Book Version:  Paperback

Insights:

Dr. Willie Jolley is a great speaker and author. In this book, he writes about developing excellence on an organizational and personal level. He emphasizes that excellence should be a culture. He shares how organizations and individuals can develop that culture to benefit them in the present and the future.  Here are some key pointers:

  1. Focus on the power of creating a reputation for excellence. The brand, or reputation, for excellence is one of the hallmarks of those who succeed in life and business. Developing a reputation for excellence is a way to build our personal brand and increase our personal wealth.
  2. Make a commitment to be a yardstick of quality. Some people are not used to an environment where excellence is expected! You be that example!
  3. Developing a brand, or reputation for excellence is the best insurance for long term wealth and success.
  4. Employers are always looking for talented individuals with a desire for excellence and a great attitude. They are always looking and waiting for excellent people to become available. The key though is to develop a reputation for excellence before you need it. “It is always best to dig your well before you are thirsty.”
  5. Engage in life long learning; who are the people you are meeting? what are you reading? what skillsets are you developing? How are you trying to get better? what are you doing to become a better leader? You must take responsibility for your success and make a commitment to work on yourself and become better! This will get you closer to living the 5-star life which will in turn lead you to being part of a 5-star organization.
  6. The greatest investment you can ever make is the one you can make in yourself because the pennies you invest in your thinking will produce dollars you can place in your wallet.
  7. Stuff will happen and change will happen, but ultimately it is your choice as to how you respond to it. Don’t take stuff personally, and whatever you do, don’t let it stop you. Don’t just go through it, learn through it.
  8. Appetite is the desire for your goals. What level of desire do you possess? what are you willing to do? How badly do you want to win? What are you willing to do to achieve your goal?
  9. If you hang with nine losers, you will probably become number ten, so if you want improved success, improve the success of your closes friends and family.
  10. Setbacks happen to everybody, but a setback is never the end of the road; it is a bend in the road, and the only ones who crash are those who fail to make the turn. It’s all about your attitude. As you turn your setbacks into comebacks, you must understand that you have got to make some tough decisions.
  11. The first decision you have got to make is to decide what you will do when you have a setback. How do you see it, what’s your perspective? Do you see it as a setback period(end of a sentence and no more to be said) or as a setback comma? (meaning pause, transition and more to come.)
  12. Before you can lead many, you must be able to lead yourself
  13. See change as an ally, not as an enemy. Change happens to us all; it is ongoing and never-ending.
  14. Great teams care for each other, cover for each other, and encourage each other.
  15. Embrace customer service. Service is the rent we pay for living on this earth. The more we serve, the more success we will have, and the more our lives will be fulfilled.
  16. Learn to work harder on yourself than you do on your job. If you work hard on your job, you can make a living, if you work hard on yourself you’ll make a fortune-Jim Rohn
  17. Make a commitment to be proactive about your success. Make a commitment to take action today on your dreams and goals. Decide now that your personal success is worth the work.
  18. Ask yourself:  (a)What do I want? (b) What am I doing to get what I want? (c) What more could I be doing to get what I want? (d) What must I stop doing to get what I want?
  19. Start with your dreams. They are the seeds for success and know how to water the dream. (you cannot be what you cannot see. You must have a vision.)
  20. Many of the people who kill our dreams are not enemies or foes, but friends and loved ones who are not trying to be mean-spirited. They just suffer from possibility blindness.

Want to try  The Excellence Test

My take:

Everyone has the power to make themself a winner. Winning is a choice, success is a choice; it all boils down to your attitude and mindset.

If you do the things today that others won’t do, you will have the things tomorrow that others won’t have.

Memorable Quote (s):

“People who are happier at home tend to be happier at work, and people who have drama at home tend to have drama at work.”

“Your attitude is your choice. You must make the choice to stay positive in spite of the challenges of life.”

“Winning is about overcoming our own self-limiting beliefs and making a personal commitment to fight through the challenges in order to achieve a goal.”

“The reason most people do not win is because they are not willing to exert enough consistent effort.”

 

Posted in Bookish

Deep Work

Title:  Deep Work: Rules For Focused Success in a Distracted World

Author: Cal Newport

Author Nationality: American

Website: https://www.calnewport.com

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Year Published/ Release: January 2016

Pages:  296

Book Version:  Paperback

The author defines “Deep Work as the professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.” On the other hand, “Shallow work is the non-cognitively demanding,logistical-style tasks, often performed while distracted. These efforts tend to not create much new value in the world and are easy to replicate. In an age of network tools, in other words, knowledge workers increasingly replace deep work with the shallow alternative-constantly sending and receiving email messages like human network routers, with frequent breaks for quick hits of distraction.”

Key Insights:

  1. Digital devices and social media have created a permanent effect on our attention thus affecting our ability to maintain focus and be present.
  2. Engaging in deep work is not easy; you have to set aside time to work on something or that skill you are seeking to improve and respect that time and attention.
  3. Deliberate practice requires that; your attention is focused tightly on a specific skill you are trying to master and you receive feedback so that you can correct your approach to keeping your attention exactly where it is most productive.
  4. Deliberate practice cannot exist alongside distraction and that it instead requires uninterrupted concentration.
  5. Deep work helps you produce at an elite level.
  6. To learn hard things quickly, you must focus intensely without distraction, which is an act of deep work. If you are comfortable going deep, you will be comfortable mastering the increasingly complex systems and skills needed to thrive in our economy.
  7. People who multi-task will rarely be able to tell the difference between important and non-important information, this means they are chronically distracted and end up doing work that is irrelevant without actually knowing it.
  8. To embrace and engage in Deep work you have to do the following: (a)Schedule time on your calendar to get things done. If it is a demanding task, Newport recommends that you work on it within a 90-minute chunk. Once the time is blocked on your calendar, treat it as an appointment or meeting and be ready to reschedule meetings with others that may fall within your deep work time frame. (b)Embrace boredom: imagine a case scenario where you are lining up in the store waiting your turn, the reflex is to take out your phone! learn to gird yourself for the temporary boredom, and fight through it with only the company of your thoughts. To succeed with deep work you must rewire your brain to be comfortable resisting distracting stimuli.  Training your brain to get bored means improving your ability to focus.(c)Productive meditation: The goal of this is to focus your attention on a single well defined professional problem. You must continue to bring your attention back to the problem at hand when it wanders or stalls. This you can do by taking on an activity that occupies you physically but not mentally such as Walking, jogging, driving, and showering. The aim is to bring your focus back to the problem you are working on. (d)The Craftsman Approach to Tools Selection: This means that tools are ultimately aids to the largest goals of one’s craft. Start by identifying the core factors that determine success and happiness in your professional and personal life. Then adopt a tool only if it’s positive impacts on these factors substantially outweigh its negative impacts. This will help you pick the right tools, define deep work, and enable you to allocate your time in an appropriate manner.
  9. Prepare for Deep work by adopting a healthy routine such as identifying all the resources you need prior to getting your work done, clearing your work station off anything that would distract you, notice your shallow work to better avoid it and create a Do Not Disturb policy during your deep work time.
  10. Identify a small number of ambitious outcomes to pursue within your deep work hours then work on those “wildly important goals”.This way your brain will focus on that task and stay motivated to reach the expected outcomes.

My take:

After reading this book, I was inspired to borrow this concept and see what I could achieve. I realized I could learn almost anything if I put my mind to it and deliberately focused to learn on the subject or skill area.

Simply put, you have to be intentional about what you want to learn, then make time and put in the effort without wavering.

What I did differently:

  • I listed the areas I wanted to learn, improve, and master.
  • Set a time every day (started with two hours daily) for 14 days.
  • The result: 18 articles that I am now working on translating into podcast episodes.
  • I still continue to write, some days are tough but most importantly, I show up.
  • I understood the value of what I was doing, the results I wanted to see, put in the commitment, took responsibility, and tried to remain as consistent as possible.

Deep work is a skill that allows you to master complex information, turn it into a skill, and produce better results within a lesser time. It will make you so good at what you do, creating a sense of fulfillment and confidence.

Leadership is everywhere, take your pick and shine.

Memorable Quote (s):

“To remain valuable in our economy, you must master the art of quickly learning complicated things. This task requires deep work. If you don’t cultivate this ability, you’re likely to fall behind as technology advances.”.”

“if you keep interrupting your evening to check and respond to e-mail, or put aside a few hours after dinner to catch up on an approaching deadline, you’re robbing your directed attention centers of the uninterrupted rest they need for restoration. Even if these work dashes consume only a small amount of time, they prevent you from reaching the levels of deeper relaxation in which attention restoration can occur. Only the confidence that you’re done with work until the next day can convince your brain to downshift to the level where it can begin to recharge for the next day to follow. Put another way, trying to squeeze a little more work out of your evenings might reduce your effectiveness the next day enough that you end up getting less done than if you had instead respected a shutdown.”

We tend to place a lot of emphasis on our circumstances, assuming that what happens to us (or fails to happen) determines how we feel. From this perspective, the small-scale details of how you spend your day aren’t that important, because what matters are the large-scale outcomes, such as whether or not you get a promotion or move to that nicer apartment. According to Gallagher, decades of research contradict this understanding. Our brains instead construct our worldview based on what we pay attention to.”

If you are seeking focused success, this book is a great starting point.