A house is supposed to be a place you run to, not a place you run from. However, sometimes things can go a bit out of track and, with time, sail on astray up to a point where one’s house can hardly be considered home anymore. One of the reasons for that is ontological; humans are never quite finished, we are eternally becoming. That means people change with time. Unnoticeably, this change can move foundations of people’s thinking to opposite directions, leading to a point where, inside the same house, the core way in which life is seen and tackled differs so much that a dialog between the worldviews is rendered almost impossible; and when this results in conflicting behaviours, living together is rendered impossible. That’s when home becomes just a house.
The main difference between a Democracy and a Republic is the existence of a Constitution. A Constitution is a document that states inalienable rights of individuals within a society. That means that even if 99% of the population wants to do something, if it infringes the rights of the other 1% they cannot do it. Just as in a state, in private life a house should not be a dictatorship. If many people live in the same place, they all must be able to express their individuality, thus everyone must have a say. Decisions must be made democratically, taking into account everyone’s opinions and preferences. As Mr Marx worded it, “the free development of each is a condition for the free development of all.” However, as in any democracy, majority rule can be oppressive for a minority. And that’s where the constitution comes in. Almost as a declaration of principles and values, a house’s “constitution” will be a guide to behaviour and decision-making, aiming to assure that no one –be it man, woman, visitor, a senior or a junior member of the community– will abuse of anyone’s rights, combating despotism and arbitrariness of conduct, and making sure everyone’s behavioural foundations are clear and firm, keeping home home for everyone.
Because, as I heard somewhere, “when you are hurt and in trouble and you aren’t sure were to go, you go to the place where your heart calls home.”
Having that in mind, here is the “constitution” I would set up; these are my house’s values and rules (still under construction, new clauses are still being added):
Everyone must be treated with respect. The following paragraphs explain what it means to treat people with respect.
People must treat each other as they would like to be treated plus following all clauses of the house’s constitution.
Men and women are intellectually equal and must treat each other as such.
Prejudice of any kind –be it skin colour, nationality, religion, sexuality, social status or any other kind– is recognised to be fruit of ignorance and is unacceptable.
Generalisations are seeing with enormous suspicion, boarding on prejudice, therefore ignorance. Thus, should be avoided.
Justice is understood to be possible only out of forgiveness. If there is no forgiveness it is not justice, it is vengeance.
Correction of any type aims at the establishment of justice. Correction’s goal is rehabilitation, never sheer punishment. The individual being corrected must be made aware of what was done wrongly, why it was wrong and what should have been done instead.
It is understood that actions are physical expressions of mental concepts, therefore corrections are aimed at the thinking process that originated the behaviour and not blinded by case-specific attitudes.
Screaming, verbal aggression and physical aggression are considered despotic means of coercion that rely on fear and authoritarian abuse. They are understood to be a primitive behaviour resorted to in face one’s inability to express oneself logically. This behaviour is a violation of the main idea of respect and is therefore intolerable.
Gossip is unwelcome.
Any action that does harm of refuses to help is considered wrong.
Senior members of the family shall be treated with deference –which means common respect plus acknowledgement of their historical importance in the family.
Polite treatment is part of being respectful. “Please”, “Thank you”, “Good morning” and “Good night” are not optional.
No one is obliged to do anything unless specified in this document.
Children are obliged to obey their parents as long as the parents’ orders do not go against this document.
Amendments to this document must be decided democratically among everyone 16 years old or over that lives in the house, taking into account children’s opinions.
There is no specific distribution of house chores based on sex. Chores are assigned according to one’s ability to perform it. Everyone that lives in the house must contribute in the house chores.
Everyone’s sleep is sacred. Whenever someone is sleeping everyone awake must respect it and make the most not to disturb it.
Sharing is vehemently enforced; however, it must be a personal decision. People have the right to individual non-shared property –except for items of communal use like food, hygiene products, etc.
Once I heard that three things cause depression: loss, injustice and uncertainty. Being uncertain of life, or of your consciousness, is with no doubt scary enough to qualify, but finding out that life is at hand is game changing as not many things can be. Monday night I went out with my church’s medical van to provide minimally invasive medical treatment to London’s homeless. I am not a doctor myself and my knowledge of the human body is pretty much limited to the names of our body parts, but, nonetheless, I play a part on the team. While doctors are taking care of people inside the van, some friends and I are talking to the ones waiting to be seen. My task is to ‘build relationships’. C’mon, I don’t give any medicine, don’t influence in diagnosis, I don’t sign any papers, I don’t even drive the van; I just walk around and talk to people about random stuff. Who are we fooling? I don’t really produce very much. It can be regarded as social work, but while I am there, productive would not be the most suitable adjective to describe me. At least that is what I honestly thought. Until this Monday.
A homeless family of about nine people was being seen, one by one, at the medical van. First a daughter, then the mother, the mother’s boyfriend and then the uncle. The uncle was taking quite long. After some time the van’s door opened and the doctor called the mother over. We could see through the door opening that the uncle had a very sad face and was on the edge of crying. The mother went in, the mother came out, a daughter went in, the daughter came out, the family became agitated, small arguments erupted and were rapidly contained, everyone begun to light their cigarettes. It didn’t take long and the ambulance arrived. They took him to the hospital.
What happened? He was having a heart attack. He went to the van because of a blood circulation problem in his leg due to his excess of weight. While waiting, he commented he had been feeling some chest pains. We asked if he was feeling it at that moment. He said no. He was a man of few words. We spoke a little more until he was called inside the van. By the time he went inside, he already felt confident enough and opened up to the doctors. They checked him, called the ambulance, and saved his life.
He would not have been honest with the doctors had he not felt secure. Being homeless you learn you are on your own and you can trust no one. However, while waiting he met David, Peter, Ajay, Ken and me, the unproductive relationship building team. We spoke to him, listened to him, paid attention to what he said, we did our job, showed him what we are there for. We are there to help; we are there because we care. If it wasn’t for that he would probably be dead by now.
Then that raises the question: were we being productive while doing our social work, or was it just a beautiful casualty worth blogging about that happened while we were doing something to calm our conscience and stroke our ego building up an image of benevolence? I think productivity is the doing things that improve our life. We try to improve our life by working so we get more money and eventually more comfort; we read and study a lot so we are more knowledgeable and cultured; we exercise! No one wants to be fat or ill. Then we spend all this time doing all that so we can live better and have others live better too. It reminds me of my brother when he was very little. He wanted to kick the ball the hardest possible, so he took some distance. Then he took more distance. Then if he could only take a bit more distance, the kick would be even harder. He is already quite far but he is sure that if he gets a little farther it would make a difference. He spent so much energy trying to get more distance he practically forgot about the kick.
We are always doing stuff so we can live better. Very often we forget the living part. Brian had his life saved because he felt we placed value on him. That is something no one had done for him for a long time. He felt like living again. He felt alive, and that saved his life. And there I was, trying to be productive. I forgot Brian was not a number (the fourth, third, fifth person to go on the van). I forgot living is about people. I got distracted taking the distance and forgot about the kick. . Brian was finally living, right there with me, but I wasn’t living along.
“I don’t like drama.” My girlfriend was denying to like the very movie type I regard as the best. It just couldn’t enter my mind how could someone not like drama. Poetry, music, paintings, photography, all arts inspire a sense of condescension and compassion that are, after all, what captivates us. It is when we partake of the emotions disclosed in the verses of an uncorresponded lover, immersing ourselves in his story as if it were our own, that we truly admire the beauty of his composition. All of art share this characteristic, the attempt to convey emotions. And which works are better than those classified as drama? Which are deeper or bear a greater metaphor for our own reality?
I want to watch a movie called Poetry. It is the story of a lady that discovers she has Alzheimer’s and decides to study poetry as her awareness of the world fades away. How sad that is, and how big of an inspiration to make us see the world around us differently. We have the privilege to remember and to move forward whilst she was doomed to move increasingly and relentlessly backwards. No action movie can invite you so strongly for a review of your pre-assumed concepts. It is a mind-changing experience to have someone else’s tears streaming through your eyes. It is more than entertainment, it is the creation of fellowship in the suffering of a person.
“I just don’t like to feel sad.” Absurd! What a preposterous assertion! Sadness is an integrating part of the world, much bigger part for some than for others. Watching a drama we are having the opportunity to get the taste of what the character was going through. And then I stopped. You know, the character probably would rather not to go through the sad situation, then how wrong would it be to not want to take part in something that was wished not to exist? “Oh but we have to be aware of other people’s realities”, you may say. But the tasting of people’s pains is not a requirement for active compassion to come about. Doctors do not need to contract illnesses to be compassionate or willing to help patients. And by all means, drama is still only an entertainment genre, it will entertain the consumer and do nothing to aid those living the dramatic situation shown.
In the end I realised, as usual, that the fool was me. She was right to want her mood lifted up and not brought down by her entertainment, After all, the life we all aspire is a painless one. My girlfriend’s remarks made me realise how curious it is that we enjoy being amused by experiencing the very things we avoid. Dale Carnegie said the thing we love to talk about the most is ourselves. Maybe we are attracted by drama because it is in some way talking about us. Maybe it is because we feel identified. Maybe the tears we are crying are not the character’s but our own.
I was sat on the passenger seat. We would have a serious conversation about what I was about to do. “Some people take what is built and established and want to deconstruct it. They want to take everything out and see if they can build something different out of it. By doing so they completely distort the paramount characteristics of the thing, ending up with something that opposes what it was at first.” I couldn’t disagree more. It is easy to stick to what we are used to doing, but change is sometimes hard to accept — mainly when it is a super radical change.
There is a song in Portuguese that says “I’d rather be this waking metamorphosis, than have that old formed opinion about everything.” Isn’t that great? Isn’t that hard? He says he’d rather change his mind over and over again than have that same old opinion that may be based on stuff that made sense back then, but now do not make all that sense anymore. But he goes on to saying the most daring thing, “I want to say the opposite of what I said before.” As if it was not hard enough to change your mind, but stand up and proclaim the exact opposite of what you previously so surely stated takes a lot of guts.
I invited a friend of mine to write on the blog. I told her, ” posts must have more than 600 words. Preferably, more than a thousand.” She accepted, but three months later she has still written nothing. My blog posts are so large not even I have the patience to proof read what I write. It’s time to change! I want to say the opposite of what I said before. New rule on the blog: From now on no post will ever have more than 500 words! It doesn’t matter how great ,or interesting, or complex, or exciting is the subject, no ultra-long posts anymore —I know no one has half an hour to read posts on random subjects anyway.
Also, there is another new rule. On past posts I tried to say a lot of stuff in one single text, that’s not happening anymore. From now on each post will transmit one simple idea. Dr Mike Murdock always says, “when you are sick and tired of repeating something, then people are beginning to understand.” Nothing personal guys, I don’t think you are dumb — actually, if you read this blog, chances are that you are amongst the most intelligent independent thinkers of all internet — it’s just our human brain doing its information selection process.
Be ready for a new It’s All About Focus. A faster, more flexible and concise website. I’m working out my thinking and doing some 180 degrees change, I don’t know everything and when I discover something new I may have to review some concepts. What about you? Can you say the opposite of what you said before on something?
A hundred times a day, seven days a week, all the weeks of the month and all the months I go through. That’s the frequency at which I think about success and failure.
I was home alone. My parents had gone to Brazil for three weeks and it was July, so I was on holiday. I moved the computer to the living room, by the fireplace, and when I wasn’t there I was in the kitchen, because you just can’t live without eating. If I was awake I was either playing an MMORPG or eating something, just so I don’t die. No supervision, no rules, no tasks, no time-tables. At the time that was my definition of YOLO. Every day I went to sleep a little later, until the day I woke up at 6pm. The sun was setting. It gave me a feeling of depression, a sensation that the day went away and I did nothing out of it. There was I, scruffy and unkempt, waking up when the day was almost over while millions of people had done an unimaginable number of great things with their day. The day wasn’t over yet, in the end there was still 6 hours to go, but at this time I couldn’t do nearly as much as I would be able to had I woken up at 6am.
Then, I decided I didn’t want my life to be like this day. I don’t want to wake up and notice I spent my life sleeping and accomplished nothing. I was unsatisfied, I wanted to change and I wanted to change immediately! Well, that didn’t happened, I still spent some of my days doing nothing, but an attitude towards change is the beginning of the change itself. I already longed for the change, and that’s the first step. If you really want to change you’ve got to be mad at what you are. Then you will take action.
But how can you accomplish something that looks just so big that it s overwhelming? Well, elementary my dear Watson (Sherlock Holmes never really said that). As it is always said, and well said, you do it the same way you eat an elephant! A bite at a time.
I know it can look tedious and slow, but big things just can’t be build overnight. Else everyone would be successful. But if you are indeed passionate about it, it will be worth it.
The single sentence that changed my life, was a sentence that blew my mind and changed the speed at which I move towards my goals — that otherwise would never even be achieved.
It’s a calm and normal day. I’m watching one of Dr. Mike Murdock’s videos on the computer when suddenly he says:
“You are one daily habit away from every future you want”
My head went like “BOOOOM”. It’s just so true! To do something big you have got to do it little by little. Then, why not make it a daily habit to advance a little bit? Do you want to write better? Write every day! Do you want to get in shape? Exercise 40 minutes every day! Do you want to be an expert on something? Study about it every single day, and don’t you dare to miss a day. You do what is possible, and do it every day, then, when you realize, the impossible will be happening.
But a daily habit implies discipline. There is no way around it. If you can’t manage a day you can’t manage your life. You either suffer the pains of discipline or suffer the pains of regret. And if you choose not to be disciplined you will certainly regret it. Because nowadays we live in a world where opportunities are everywhere. If you can come here and read this, it means you have access to an unlimited amount of opportunities. The problem is that you are probably not ready for them. I like a definition of luck that says: Luck is when preparation meets opportunity. The opportunities are out there, but you must be prepared and preparation requires discipline.
What are your goals? What are you doing daily to move closer to achieving them?
I want to accomplish big things. I have my list of goals. I want to build great stuff. Build my company, build relationships, build a network of people. My goals are all written down and placed in a place where I see them daily. Every single day I look at them, read them, and think “that’s where I want to go, I’ve got to do something about it today”.
Your goals must be clear and easily understandable. If you set a clear and specific goal, your mind thinks of a way to reach this goal. If you say “I want to get richer” you are just not being specific. I give you ten pounds and Tchanan! You are richer than before, but I don’t think ten pounds richer was what you had in mind when you set the goal. Do you want a car? What car? What year? What colour? Is it a trip? To where? For how many days? A University degree? On what? … And critically important: When do you want it? Remember this: Goals are dreams with deadlines. If you don’t set a time to accomplish your goal, then it is not a goal — and also, you will probably never really do it.
You must write down the goal, and how you want to achieve this goal. If you say “I want to leave a seven digit patrimony to my kids”, you should also say something like “I want to accumulate this amount selling lollipops”. Well, you will have to be a hell of a lollipop salesman, but at least you can build a plan upon that. The lollipop example can sound funny, but that’s exactly how you accomplish things. You decide what and how, then you go for it! “I want to get rich selling greasy chicken!”, sounded silly some years ago, I don’t think it sounds silly anymore.
But there you are, maybe sitting in chair with a hand on your face thinking “yeah, sounds like a good idea, I hope he can make it”. Come on, I’m here opening my heart and telling you one of the greatest insights I ever heard, is that the best you can do? What I’m telling you is the real deal! Nobody ever told you this before, did they? So, listen! If you do this it will work, and when it works you will be happy, and then you send me an email and make me happy too.
I learnt that if there is something I should try to be good at, it is at making people improve (see How To Be Smarter Than Anyone Else). The other day I woke up and went to check my email. There I found an email of a friend of mine saying he read something in my blog and liked it, and that it was useful to him. I didn’t even know people read my blog! And there was I, seeing a friend saying that what I wrote was of some use to him! It was mindblowing and you just can’t imagine how happy I was.
So, back to the subject: Do it! Think of what you want to accomplish, think of a plan and do something about it. You have to prepare yourself. You are not ready for your future, else you would be there already. Is it hard? Everything of value is, get used to it. Do you know what’s the great insight of physical exercise? It’s summarised in a small sentence “No pain, no gain”. While doing exercises you improve when your body starts to hurt. When your arms can’t lift the weight any more, or your belly aches and you feel like it’s hard to keep running, that’s the moment in which you are expanding your physical capacity. Because if your exercises don’t make you sweat, then they are doing nothing. It is something that is true not only for your body, it is true for life. While you stay in your comfort zone you will not improve at all. I know it hurts to think, and people would do anything to think less. But if you don’t think, you will not advance. You have to become a thinking machine! Every time you see you are just repeating stuff, or that you are not advancing, change something! Because when we do new stuff our brain ignites again. When was the last time you did something for the first time?
I will tell you some of my daily habits, and how they are making me a better me. Perhaps this can make you move your lazy bum to stand up and do something. You don’t have to read this text to the end, if you know your goals and how to get there, stop reading right now and go plan your daily habits! And if you don’t know your goals that’s an even better reason to stop and go think about some targets. And don’t you dare to forget to write them down.
So, these are some of the things I do every day:
Write: I fell in love with the most wonderful person I ever met. There was just one problem: She kind of lived in London and I in Buenos Aires. I just had to go there. But I was studying, I couldn’t leave it all behind and go to live like a hippie there — I won’t say I didn’t think about it, but I’m just too bad with handicrafts. So, one day I woke up, went to take a shower, and, while in the shower, I fell and from above shone a light that came as a train and suddenly I saw it… The Flux Capacitor!!!.. no! But without having to actually fall in the bathroom I had an Idea: Why not study in London? I started a long and dull process to do my application. To apply for UK universities you have to write a Personal Statement — which is nothing more nothing less than a text in which you explain to the universities why you are just the perfect candidate, and you basically have to convince them that it would be folly not to accept you instead of the other better qualified students.
No need to say that I totally panicked. Although I firmly believe I was gifted with a good mind, my teachers often times disagreed with this belief of mine. Hence, given the fact that they would assess me based on my college history and my Personal Statement, if I ever wanted to see my beloved girlfriend’s face again I should better write a hell of a good text. I studied Information Systems Engineering, all my subjects where almost pure mathematics. I wasn’t used to writing words, I was good at writing numbers. I hardly ever wrote a text, much less in English. It hit me as a huge challenge, I had absolutely no idea of where to begin.
After drafts and more drafts, writing and rewriting, wording and rewording, I finally finished it. In the end it was a very edifying experience. All went well and I was accepted by the universities I wanted (YEAHHH). I had put my brain to do some workout. It had to sweat but after all done I look back and see the great value this exercise provided me. It taught me a whole lot of things. One of them was that I didn’t know how to write at all. So, a month ago I decided to do something about it. Now I write every single day on this blog. Some days I write more than others, but I always write a little bit. Sometimes I have no idea of what to write, then I just write whatever is in my mind. I discovered why I should put the title only after I have finished. It is because given that I don’t know what to write, I can change subjects in the middle of the post, and if I put a title that relates to how the post ends you readers don’t even notice that I had no clue where to go in the first paragraph. See, practice leads to perfection.
Read: That’s an easy one. I have to admit some years ago I didn’t have the habit of reading, but when I finally realized the great fountain of knowledge it could be, it became one of the most important and pleasurable parts of my daily routine. It is great the fact that, as opposed to classes and lectures, books can explain any subject at length, and go through all of its nuances with no hurry. I don’t really think that reading by itself has great value, I believe the value is strictly on what you read (see my critic on books in So, What’s The Way To Decide?).
My books allow me to go deep into any subject of my interest. I know what I want to know a lot about, so I study it. If you read about it every day it starts to stick to your brain; you gather knowledge. Now, you don’t want to know about everything. Most of the knowledge on earth is useless to you. It’s great to learn about turtles reproduction, or how candies are packed, but that’s just useless knowledge if what you want to be good at is not related to it. I’m not saying you can’t learn it for fun. I am just saying that without focus it will take much longer to get to the finish line.
The books you read will change you, change your personality, your outlooks; read consciously.
Exercise: It just makes you feel good! I know it can be kind of boring, but you have to do it. I like an allegory Warren Buffet used in one occasion, he said:
“Imagine you get a Cadillac as your 18th birthday present. But there is a little rule, this Cadillac will be the only car you will ever have in your life. You can’t sell it or by another one, you have to use it your whole life. I bet you would treat it very well. Always do the check-ups, and have all the care in the world for it. Well with your body is the same thing, you get just one, and its for your lifetime.”
I will give you some reasons to exercise:
1 – It gives you disposition- When you exercise you have more energy, more disposition. Even your mood gets better.
2 – It is healthy – If you don’t exercise all your chances of having all the diseases in the world raise. It’s scientifically proved by everyone.
3 – You get in shape – Come on, be honest with yourself; it doesn’t matter how detached from society you think you are, it is great to have a healthy body.
4 – It relieves you from the feeling of guilt – You know you should exercise. You know a sedentary lifestyle only does harm to you. And you know that every time you take off your clothes to take a shower you think “it would be good if I did some exercise”. When you actually do them, they take away this feeling of guilt and you feel satisfied, relieved; you feel you accomplished something.
5 – It just feels good! – Is it boring? Go with a friend. Don’t have a friend? Put your ear-buds on and listen to some good music you like and you feel that motivates you, or a funny podcast. I assure you, time will pass and you won’t even notice. And in the end, you will be feeling awesome! Because you did it! At least that’s how I feel.
No money to go to a gym? Run on the street and do some push-ups and sit-ups. No contraindication.
Pray: I am a Christian. I believe there is a God and I believe he listens to us. You can say “but if there was a God, why have he abandoned us? why is there so much hatred, and pain, and suffering around here?”. Well, I believe God does exist, and he hasn’t abandoned us, we have abandoned him. When was the last time you prayed? When was the last time you asked God’s opinion before doing something? If you don’t ask what he thinks about something before you do it, you cannot blame him for the consequences of it later.
But you may say “well but He doesn’t talk to me”. Yeah, maybe He doesn’t, but he talked to some guys about his opinion on things some time ago and said to these guys: “Yo, write it down”. And then, about forty people wrote what He said to them. Some years later, another group of fellows gathered it all together in what we know as the Bible. So, if we want to know God’s opinion on something we can go there and read it. And well, if you read it carefully you will notice that He likes it when we talk to him. He even says we should always do it. So, praying is something I pay a special attention to every day. And if you do it as well, you will see that, in fact, God has very creative ways to answer questions.
Well, I hope this text was of some use for you. I hope you can prepare your daily routine, and don’t give up when it looks hard. If you always choose to endure the pains of discipline and go on, the sky won’t be the limit.
It can be frightful at first, but remember: To change the world start with one step. However small, first step is hardest of all.
Robert Kiyosaki was the first person to make me think about my financial future. I was very young and I didn’t have the habit of reading. In school they always make you read some books to try to make you interested in reading. The main flaw in their approach is that they choose totally inappropriate books. I know they are books that have a social and historical importance, but when you are 13 the last thing in your mind is history and society. If they want to make children interested they should try giving them something really interesting. Teenagers won’t get the depth of complex issues. You have a bunch of 13 year old kids in your class, give them some spaceships, monsters and semi nude woman, that will make them read it to the end. Well, back to the topic. At 15 I had never really got to the end of a single book, not even the school ones. Preparing to go on a 6 hour bus trip and browsing through some comics at a book store, I saw Robert Kiyosaki’s “Rich dad, poor dad”. I saw it and thought “why not?”. Bought the book and read it during the trip. It fascinated me at the time. Now, I don’t know what you think of Kiyosaki, and I know his books present a distorted vision of many things, but I must admit that, at 15, his book gave me an insight that changed everything for me, and I recommend it.
Many books after that I bought Warren Buffet’s biography, “The snowball: Warren Buffett and the business of life”. A magnificent work of art from Alice Schroeder.
As almost anyone who bought it, I wanted to discover how did he get from almost nothing, to richest man in the world. These are some of the things I learnt:
Thrift – Every penny counts. Sometimes it looks like it doesn’t, but in fact it does count. If you can get the best price on something, get it! Don’t be afraid of asking for a discount, it is your money and you probably didn’t get it easily. Now, there is a book called “Economia 3D” from Martin Lousteau, Argentina’s former financial minister, which cites a curious behaviour of ours when we buy stuff. In the biography, sometimes it looks like Warren is excessively tight-fisted, bargaining for a sixteenth of a cent at the price of stocks, an amount that, at the quantity he was buying in this specific occasion, wouldn’t save him more than 100 dollars (out of millions), but he knew it still was 100 dollars. Lousteau says that when you go buy a pair of shoes, and at a store 2 blocks away it is 10 pounds cheaper than the one near you, you would probably walk the 2 blocks. But if you are buying a 50′ TV, and it is 10 pounds cheaper at a store two blocks away, you certainly wouldn’t go there to save the 10 pounds. Why is that? It happens because we see the money as part of a total. So, if 10 pounds represents 1% of the total amount, it doesn’t matter, but if it is 30% of the final price, then it becomes really important. It is an illusion, money is a fungible asset. It means that if I have a 10 pounds note, and you have another 10 pounds note, regardless of the fact that they are two independent notes, they both have the same value. 10 pounds is worth 10 pounds if it is part of a million or part of twenty pounds, learn to save it.
Business people are not heartless evil bastards – The economist Thorstein Veblen, in his book The Theory of the Leisure Class, depicted a gloomy bourgeoisie. At his sight business people were cheaters, liars, dodgers, always trying to take advantage of everyone, people who lacked character and sense of ethics. A view that, as well pointed out by Robert Heilbroner, was in fact true in most of the cases at his time (1899). In late nineteenth century that wasn’t that true anymore. Nowadays business people greatly value good character, honesty and trustworthiness. To be a respectable business person you can’t lack these qualities. Indubitably, there are still lots of cheaters and dodgers gaining lots of money, places like wall street are proof of that, but their number is getting smaller every day.
Warren Buffett and his life are proof of this truth. One of the main factors that led him to better places, bigger deals, and good connections was his honesty. His honesty was witnessed by his partners and passed forward by them. He built a reputation, and by his reputation was recognised and rewarded. No one likes dishonest people. No one likes people who are not trustworthy. Plato in his dialogue The Republic, masterfully demonstrates the advantages of justice, as opposed to injustice. It is stressed that the unjust will act unjustly with both just and unjust, and that if two unjust try to relate to each other, each trying to take advantage of the other, they will reap separation as consequence of their injustice, and separation from everyone will lead to stagnation. It is also shown that even a group of unjust people set out to perform unjust acts, like pirates in their piracy or a country in the attempt to enslave another country, would never have success in their enterprise if there were not justice between themselves. Thus concluding that no goal can be achieved without justice. True in life, true in business.
If you are smart, you can do anything – Warren, the man of simple tastes, often asked his employees for hard things. They maybe didn’t have a clue of where to begin, but he wasn’t bothered by that. As he says, he believes that if you are smart, you can do anything. And that’s completely true. Louis Jacques Fillion has a famous definition for “entrepreneur”, he says “The entrepreneur is a person who creates, develops and accomplishes a vision”. I have a simpler version which I like better, it is “The entrepreneur is a person who makes things happen”. In my short experience trying to set up a micro company and make its business plan, I faced a scenario very unlike those presented to me in high school and university. There was no guideline, I had to go and do stuff, if it wasn’t possible I had to find a way, everything was hard and subjective, I could do things anyway I wanted, but I should have in mind that every single wrong choice I made would cost me a lot. Facing this sight I felt like I was the worst and less prepared person on earth, that I was useless and that there was no way I was going to make it to the end. I was lazy, a bit shy and had no negotiation skills at all, I thought I was doomed and I thought it 10 times a day. But one thing I didn’t think; I never thought I was dumb. If there was anything my family got to stick to my mind, was that I am intelligent. They repeated it so much that I wound up believing it. And here is one of the richest men in the world saying that if I am smart I can do anything. It motivated me, and in the end I really finished the business plan.
If you are smart you will find a way. And you don’t even have to be truly smart, it is enough if you believe you are smart, and you’ll be able to do anything.
Be good at what you do – Buffett bought his hometown newspaper, the Omaha Sun, and with it he won the Pulitzer prize. In one occasion a friend wanted him to manage his company, Warren was reluctant but in the end he accepted to do it in his spare time. The friend was happy anyway, he knew that if Warren was going to do it at all, he would do it well. Be like this! Warren Buffett didn’t get where he are because he was lucky, he got there because he was great on what he did. Let people say they know that if you are going to do something, you are going to do it well. It doesn’t matter if you want to play with puppets, if you do it well you will have success.
People sometimes look at rich people with a certain envy , maybe even stating that they are not worthy of all that. But the fact is that those who got there by the work of their hands are in fact worthy of their achievements. They are people who are good at what they do (of course there are those who are born rich and are good for nothing, but if you want to improve you should stop looking at them and pay more attention to those who built fortune out of nothing. Because in the end, if you are envy you are probably closer to nothing than to rich).
What is that that you do better that anyone else? If you don’t know you should start thinking about that.
Entrepreneurship – “Entrepreneur is a person who makes things happen”. When Warren wanted something, he found a way to do it. In his time he didn’t have internet to search for things, but still he went through the darkest lists to find the more underground companies in a price that was good to him. He found them, he went to their headquarters and talked to people there, he searched and found important information about them, everything without a single computer. Sometimes it was hard, sometimes people didn’t want to pay attention to a weird tight-fisted boy from Nebraska. But still he kept going on and insisting and trying, again and again. That’s entrepreneurship. You don’t have to be a founder of a company or a CEO to be an entrepreneur — In fact Warren Buffett himself never found a company, only investment partnerships. Entrepreneurship is to go and change things, make things better. If you take action and solve a problem, or improve something, without anyone ask you to do it, then you are being an entrepreneur.
Remember, your salary is determined by the problem you solve. If you want a promotion, show your boss you can solve more, or bigger, problems. Or you may want to start a business; starting a company is not for everyone, it is a risky venture. But remember, who takes more risks gets bigger profits. It is completely possible, and certainly easier, to get ahead and have a good money in a normal job, but if you think there is a problem you can solve better than anyone else, if there is a business in your mind that burns in your chest, go for it!
Once in an interview for PBS, Steve Jobs said something that is indeed an ode to entrepreneurship. Amazingly motivational. Deserves to be quoted ipsis-litteris, and here it is:
“When you grow up you tend to get told the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family life, have fun, save a little money.
That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact, and that is – everything around you that you call life, was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.
The minute that you understand that you can poke life and actually something will, you know if you push in, something will pop out the other side, that you can change it, you can mold it. That’s maybe the most important thing. It’s to shake off this erroneous notion that life is there and you’re just gonna live in it, versus embrace it, change it, improve it, make your mark upon it.
I think that’s very important and however you learn that, once you learn it, you’ll want to change life and make it better, cause it’s kind of messed up, in a lot of ways. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.”
Unbending meritocracy – Uoh, this guy can be unbending sometimes. In the book there is a term that is often used — to buffett. To say that someone was buffetted meant that the person had to give in to Warren’s insistence, be it in stock negotiation, child raising or anything. He had strong opinions about money and inheritance, he didn’t agree with dynasties, he believed that everyone should work hard to achieve their goals. He was totally against people who made money and left everything for their children. Children should make their own money. Later on in life he did give in a little bit, settling with the following idea: “Give your children money enough to do anything, but not enough to do nothing”. He did pay his children education, but little more than that. In the end he donated most of his fortune to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
In formal studies, never forget the big picture – Warren graduated on the University of Nebraska–Lincoln but was little worried about his diploma. Afterwords he went to Columbia Business School and got his Master of Science in Economics diploma, but did this just because his admired authors Benjamin Graham and David Dodd gave classes there. He wanted to learn stuff, not to have a paper saying he studied 3 or 4 years somewhere. You see some CEOs and business people who are very successful and don’t have a undergraduate degree, and also see a lot of people with a bunch of degrees unemployed. It happens because people lose focus, they forget that the purpose of a determined course in university is to teach you something, and that what these institutions in fact offer you is a set of information they gathered that they believe are important and could help you to perform a specific office. Let’s give a special attention to the part that says “they believe are important”. Many universities, mainly in very dynamic fields like computation, teach obsolete stuff, that can’t help much and could be learnt much faster and better outside the classroom.
I am not in any way against universities, but I think that the way people look at them should be tweaked a bit. James Altucher has a different opinion, he thinks parents shouldn’t send their kids to university at all. He has a small book called 40 alternatives to college (click to read the ebook).
The early bird catches the worm – The other day on twitter I asked Marco Gomes, a young entrepreneur, founder of a Brazilian publicity company called boo-box, if he woke up every day at a specific time. He said he religiously woke up every single day at 7:30. Another manager of a big company (Which I really don’t remember who. But believe me, it is true) said in an interview that he woke up at 5 every day to read the newspaper before everyone else. Warren also woke up very early in the morning during his whole life. If you want to do stuff, to make things happen, you’ve got to wake up early. You have to be awake before the world’s gears begin to work.
Shepherds don’t think like sheep. If you think like everyone else, the best you can be is like everyone else. Wake up early, be ahead of everyone else when the word open his eyes in the morning.
Simple is better – If you are in charge of people in your company, or if you own a company, or if you want some day to own a company, or if you are just curious, or if you are neither of these things, you should read Jack welch’s book Winning. The content of the book is marvellous, but the way it is written is just enchanting. It looks like a friend of yours is talking to you in a barbecue about things that happen in businesses. He uses informal language, and is very clear and concise in his points. He stresses that candour and clarity are critical to the functioning of every part of a company. I’d like to go further and broaden this idea, stating that candour and clarity are indispensable not only in companies, but in every part of our life. The way he achieved such clarity was saying things in a easily understandable way, trying not to use complicated words or constructions that could be misinterpreted in some way. Warren Buffett did exactly the same during his whole life. Everywhere you see a quote from Warren you will notice that the language he used wasn’t any far from that we use in our day to day. It is very easy to complicate things, but it’s laborious to make it simpler.
As for my financial future, God only knows. One thing is sure, Warren Buffett’s life taught me these and many other things, but I don’t remember all of them now and I don’t have the book in my hands to give it a look and remember everything — and you wouldn’t read a ten thousand words post anyway.
I hope these principles can be of some use to you, just as they were of great use to me, made me improve. We are changing every day, and our future is determined by what we do today.
I open my eyes and there is a knife 5 centimetres away from my throat, it is my brother trying to kill me for the third time.
No! That never happened, that’s not what I am talking about. I believe your family has the various types of people you will find in your life. Some are smart, some are stubborn, some are complicated, some like you a lot, others not so much and yet they are all members of the same family, your family.
My parents divorced when I was little and married their current partners some years later, so, I have four families. There are all kinds of people in my family and I believe that if I can survive them all, if I learn to deal well with each of them I will certainly thrive in my life. Because if I can’t cope with someone who is a kin of mine how will I bear someone who isn’t even that? And I know sometimes there are people who are really hard to deal with. But first, allow me a brief digression.
One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was given to me by Sir Benjamin Franklin, it saved me from a lot of trouble. He said “Speak ill of no man, but speak all the good you know of everybody”, and thinking this way he got to be United States ambassador in France. I just erased half of what I had written in this text. I would use some of the people of my family as examples, wasn’t a wise decision. You gain nothing for saying bad things about people, so don’t do it.
Your family life will teach you skills that you can’t imagine how much would cost you if you had to learn it somewhere else. If you really survive your family you will learn how to deal with emotional blackmailing, how to win an argument, how to show a point of view effectively, how to talk to someone who is not thinking rationally, learn to wait for the right time to ask for things, learn to apologise, to make peace, to share, to give in, learn that just because someone is talking with confidence it doesn’t mean the person is right and many other things. In your work life these are critical abilities, they can be the difference between being the boss or a subordinate.
There are many skills we can learn from our family, but there is a specific one that, I have noticed, haven’t been well taught. It is the ability to admit you are wrong. The worst thing when you are arguing with someone is to notice that you are wrong in the middle of the argument, it is awful. I understand you have your pride and that you want to show superiority, but that doesn’t change the fact that you are wrong. If you go on with the argument pretending you are right you will only make things worse for everyone. For you, for example, it will be bad because you will be lying, you will be defending something you think is wrong and you will be losing your credibility because people will think you are either stupid (for not noticing you are wrong) or crazy for defending such a wrong thing.
All through his dialogues Plato makes use of elenkhós, the refutation method, and condemns the methods used by the sophists (the wannabe philosophers of the epoch). As Plato explains, real philosophers use dialectic to question each other and thus, through refutation, get to the real truth, while sophists had as object of their quest not the real truth, but the appearance of being right. So, acting this way, they could reach to the conclusion that anything they wanted to be right, they could “prove” it to be right, and this way they lost their credibility, because if you really wanted to know if something was right or not you wouldn’t go to a sophist, because instead of the real truth he would rather tell you his opinion — which he would try to prove true.
When you don’t admit you are wrong you are acting just as a sophist, despised by Plato. You make it hard for people to treat with you, because you don’t make sense, you are not being rational. Learn to admit you are wrong, learn to apologise. People will like you better. It won’t make you look stupid, when you admit you are wrong you immediately improve. Now you are better than you were a second ago, because a second ago you thought that something wrong was right but now your thinking is better than that.
Another cool thing you learn with your family is patience. I am a longsuffering man, not easily irritated, but if you try to be funny in waking me up, you are looking for trouble. Today I was sleeping and my 5 years old sister screamed in my ear “WAKE UP TO LIIIFE!”. In this moment God himself descended from his throne in heaven and took my spirit away to a far and calm place, with mild waters and a nice green grass, and I am forever thankful to him for doing that, because if it didn’t happen, now I wouldn’t have a sister anymore. And that’s how you learn to be patient. If no one try to make you mad you are not learning patience, you are just in a peaceful environment. Patience is not important when everything is right and calm, it is needed when you are right in the middle of a huge shitstorm. Remember that in an argument whoever gets angry first, loses.
But that is your family. It is good sometimes, annoying sometimes, you have got to deal with it. And if you survive your family, if you learn to deal well with all of them in all kinds of situations, then you can be sure you will thrive everywhere you go.
I’m moving to another country in three weeks. Everything I accumulated during 20 years will have to fit in two 23 Kg suitcases and a 5 Kg handbag. I will leave a lot of stuff behind. But do you know what is the best thing? The best is that I could use just one of the 23 Kg ones and I would be happy. The most precious things I have are my books, my guitar, my Buzz Lightyear toy, the photos and songs in my hard drive and the picture frame my girlfriend gave me. If I can take that with me I will be satisfied.
I always thought that what gives value to people are qualities they would still have if they were naked in the middle of the desert. Be rich, have good taste for clothes, play well the piano, drive like Speed Racer. These are things that can impress a lot of people, but who are you when there is no wealth backing you up or status drawing a line between you and them, or no audience to regard you as a credible person?
Actually, that’s quite unfair. People have great qualities that can shine only when there’s something else in the scene. Like a good talker, a good negotiator, a good writer or good listener. These are qualities many people, myself included, seek to learn, and they can add value to the bearers lives and to society, but invariably need the presence of things (like other people) to have value.
People very often create a set of expectations over a subject, and then, after that, they create a prejudice. People want to get in shape, they hear they have to do exercises, they see that people sweat when they exercise, and then they think that if they are sweating they are exercising. That may seem like a dumb example, but we actually do that much more often than we think.
When we draw that kind of silly conclusions we are trying to define the content of something by looking at its form. It’s like fever! Fever is not an illness. When you go to the doctor he doesn’t say “yeah man, you got a Fever, take this ice cube”. That’s because fever is the by-product of a real problem. You can almost assure that if someone has some specific illness, then this person will have fever. But it would be foolish to state the opposite.
Well, that’s exactly what we do when we invert form and content. And when a huge group of people, sometimes our whole world, have this wrong perspective, we tend to believe that’s the real deal, the truth (remember your “whole world” is everything and everyone you know, not more than that).
Warren Buffet cites Benjamin Graham’s advice in his biography:
“You’re neither right nor wrong because other people agree with you. You’re right because your facts are right and your reasoning is right”
Based on these prejudices, people often-times look more to the form than to the content of some stuff. Here is my top ten list of form-content inversion and an attempt to explain how it happens.
Relationships – Undoubtedly the most recurrent topic in young minds — and not so young too. People have defined relationships in their heads with what happens in relationships instead of with what really is a relationship. On internet you see a bunch of images of people hugging or kissing, with a sepia effect and a moving phrase; all of them supposedly showing how a relationship should be like. And then, when it’s time to have a relationship, the girl assumes the “role” of the girlfriend and the boy the “role” of the boyfriend. From friends to boyfriend and girlfriend they have a drastic change in behaviour instantly. The girl feels she should ~behave like the girlfriend~.
That’s adopting the form of the thing, Mimic the movements of someone else, someone else’s experience. Relationships should be spontaneous! You don’t have to act like that just because that’s the way couples do, you should act in a way that makes you feel good; not focusing the form of a relationship but its content, its meaning.For example, a form-oriented couple and a content-oriented one walk on the street. Both are walking hand on hands with their respective partner. One couple thinks: “we have to change our facebook status, we have to spend more time together, we have to watch romantic films in the theatre; we ought to do all that cuz that’s what a couple does”. And the other one thinks: “I’d love to tell everyone that I found you, ill change my facebook status so people will know it faster; It was so good being with you, I can barely wait to see you again; Hey Star Wars episode VII is out! how about we see it instead of it’s boring romance competitors?”.
One is guided by what they want to do, and the other one by what they think they should do. Well, not surprisingly, the wrong interpretation brings along problems. This flawed conception creates undue fears like insecurity. A good example of a content and meaning-focused instead of form-focused film, is undoubtedly “When a Man Loves a Woman”. What a great film!
The thing is that some people see relationships as a structured model they should adapt to if they want to partake of its feelings banquet. When in fact, relationship is just a name for what happens when two friends like each other so bad they would like to kiss. If your partner is not your best friend, then that can be a big warning that maybe you are living the form-focused paradigm.
Religion – Needless to say that the conception people have of religion is wrong time and time again. Even religious people sometimes can’t get this one. And the worse thing is when someone tries to explain the subject to someone else and either makes it more confuse, or explains it wrong.
I’m a Christian. With Christianity the idea is simple, there’s a book that states some values, we gotta follow that. Some people ,attempting to bring more people to think alike, build big places and gather great amounts of people. Nothing wrong with that; actually, that’s the idea. But people are used to routines, and when you are dealing with other people there must be order or else you won’t get anywhere.
The problem arises when people are so worried about the routines and customs, and they come from so long ago, that people forget the real purpose for which the habits were adopted. Then they start to think that the customs are the real thing, and forget about the values. And that’s what generates the bunch of controversy we see everywhere. And that’s how they invert form and content.
Formal Studies – I’ll go straight to the point: Formal Studies are overrated.
People go wild when they hear this, but that’s the ugly truth. They get pissed off in front of such a statement because if they did’t go to University they at least want their children to go. And they don’t really think about all the pros and cons of choosing to study or not . But that’s a discussion for another post, let me focus on the inversion.
Nowadays a graduate degree is almost essential. There are specifications on whatever your mind can imagine. That’s very different from 60 years ago, when superior studies were not only uncommon but rare. With the increasing demand, the Universities’ supply augmented but the quality of the new players were not exactly the best.
Once that two people doing the same job have different salaries if one of them has a degree and the other hasn’t , people begun to look at graduate studies as a degree instead of a place to learn to do something. As our world grows more and more capitalistic, people little by little lose sight of the idea of creating something, and replace it with a desired salary.
It is when the degree is regarded as more important than the own knowledge acquired that the content has been substituted by the form.
Advices and Advisors – Who do you listen to? When you hear an advice, what is the criteria of evaluation? Sometimes we get pretty bad advice from respectable people. Sometimes we can be well advised by some atypical people. Sometimes advices come well constructed and beautifully worded, but nonetheless wrong. And sometimes they come clumsy, but worth a listen.
The problem with this discussion is that everything depends on the person. Maybe you think that “Live fast, die young” is a good life philosophy. I’d certainly not agree with you, but we would be stuck in a dead-lock. But there is something in common between the two outlooks, and it is how we decide if a advice is good or bad for us. I’d like to highlight more the “for us”, because an advice is not inherently good or bad. It is good or bad for you. And your goals and your life expectations are the criteria to decide whether the advice is useful or not, for you.
“Don’t ever lie, to anyone” can be an excellent advice, this advice can make your career advance fast as you win a good reputation. But if you want to be an infiltrated agent in a foreign army, you will probably die if you follow this advice.
But we don’t have to go this far to find an example, simple and common sayings like “work a lot” or “get married, have children and buy a house” can be good or not depending on our goals. There are also advices that don’t really favour our goal, but show that perhaps we are treading the wrong path. That change our core ideas. And these are usually the most important ones. Because if you are heading to a cliff it’s better to change the way before you get there.
And here’s where it gets tricky. You are hearing someone saying that what you think is inherently wrong and that you should think differently. How do you decide who is wrong, if it is you or the adviser?
The inversion of form and content enters the scene here. When the way the argument is exposed matters a lot, and it can cloud the real consequences of believing it. Like the little child in a poor neighbourhood who is approached by a gangster, at his eyes a successful guy. And then the gangster conveys distorted values to the kid, and shows the life and the world as they are seen by him, a viewpoint he firmly believes is the only one right, and teaches the kid to behave in a way that leads to a cruel path. How can the kid ever go against such a convincing argument? He will grow and then at some point in his life he will be told the contrary. Maybe by someone who doesn’t look as successful as the gangster, but someone who understands that the values the grown kid now stands for are wrong. And he will have to weigh that. The form might not be pretty, but the content should not be ignored.
But again, that’s just my opinion. I think that a gangster is not qualified to educate someone to live in a fair, just and moral society. Even though our society is not like that, we should act as if it were. Because as long as we behave selfishly we will have a selfish society. But you might think otherwise anyway.
In the end we understand that to weigh advices’ contents we must have not only a set of goals, but a set of values. So, then you are able to separate the form of the message from its content, and are not deceived by its appearance. Now, philosophy has some great theories on that and I won’t go on into this subject now, the purpose here is just to stress the important difference between form and content in advices and advisors, and to point out the inversions that commonly occur.
If you would like to know more about society’s values I strongly recommend this video:
Shelly Kagan in the debate “Is God Necessary for Morality?” with William Lane Craig
Material things – Well, with stuff it is very simple, you pay a lot for something that isn’t really worth that much. And I’m not talking about paying for the design, I’m talking about paying for “reputation”.
Entertainment – I’m deeply disappointed with latin-american TV, the idea of adding value to society and being a mean of conveying information and healthy entertainment is lost. All you see are shows prepared to keep hypnotized fools. They show things that may attract us, but by no means are beneficial to us.
I loved to watch a show called Castelo Rá-tim-bum. It was great, I loved the characters, the people who were invited as special guests, it was a great show. The great thing about it, although at the time I didn’t realised that, was that it showed the reality I, as a Brazilian kid, was used to seeing. It was produced by a channel called Tv Brazil — a far from popular channel. All the other channels with their audience explosions showed fake scenarios with fake people doing fake things. It was always a big and beautiful house with blond kids, and that’s definitely not the reality of 99% of Brazil. Castelo Rá-Tim-Bum showed barefoot kids playing in the street in many of their songs.
Besides showing my country’s reality it also transmitted a very good message. It taught kids the importance of taking a shower, importance of friendship, games to play with your friends and even taught how some things worked. Now I look at the “series” — that in fact are soap operas with teen sluts — that my sister watches on Nickelodeon and everything I can think is: Oh my God, my sister’s brain is being shitwashed. The series teach lies, deceiving, a lot of bad behaviour, stubbornness and selfishness, besides teaching how to be a teen slut too.
All the values are lost in this example. Now, I’m not saying there were anything like the ‘good old times’ were values were important and bla bla bla. No! As I said before, the channel that taught good things was an unpopular channel. Trash is being transmitted by mainstream channels since ever. I am also not saying that today there is nothing that provides good entertainment either. Disney-Pixar films like Toy Story, Nemo, and Brother Bear are here to prove that.
Form and Content – People can even mix up form and content. Let me be clear, form is not bad. It is not bad to look at the form of something, the form is part of the whole. The problem is when a product, or a person, or a situation, or whatever, is accepted just because of the form. And that’s what was happening in most of the situations above. But wouldn’t it also be bad if we chose stuff just because of the content?
The form is the way the content looks like, or the way it is transmitted. Now, imagine if I’m a super genius and I will give you a class. The things I will say will blow your mind, but I will give this class for 19 hours straight. I will have no dynamic at all in my speech, there will be no break and you will have to be standing the whole time.
Will this class be good? You will probably enjoy the first 30 minutes, or even the first hour, but after some time the situation will be unbearable. The content is still great, but the form is bad. So, the class, which is the combination of both, is bad.
Nowadays people think that it’s cool if you have something that no one else has. Some people try to run from the mainstream. “Oh it’s a great band, they are sooo underground, it is just a guy and a recorder, the guy never had a singing lesson in his life and has no talent at all, but he’s sooo deep”. “Oh this film is slow, ugly and has terrible acting but what a good plot!”.
Things are made of form and contend, if one of the two is missing, value is lost.
Books – I have a bit of a controversial opinion on books. You see a bunch of people everywhere bragging about having read a book before seeing it’s film, or bragging about being passionate about reading. That by itself has no sense! It is not because the trash you are consuming is written in a book that it will magically turn into wisdom.
People think that the fact that they read, no matter what, makes them intelligent in some way; not only intelligent, but more intelligent than those who don’t read.
The flaw in this conception is the widely spread prejudice that the form, a book, is by itself enough to make the content valuable. That’s a fallacy. Reading does have inherent benefits; it improves your grammar and — that’s highly dependant on what you’re reading — gives you better text interpretation skills.
Hence, although reading has intrinsic advantages it does not guarantee that you are getting smarter as you read; actually you could get dumber if you read some stuff.
People – This one is easy, you look at the person and judge her right away. It’s not your fault, it is an instinct, everyone has it, and it’s in you for a reason. The reason is protection. For the same reason our mind is set to consider any kind of secretion and excrement as disgusting and nasty, so that we don’t get close. It is set this way because these things can be harmful to us, and if we didn’t think they were nasty we would probably eat, drink, or have some kind of contact with these stuff, and then we would get sick.
Our brain works almost the same way when it comes to people. It’s a defence mechanism. We are programmed to accept people who have more in common with us more easily. That’s why there is racism , that’s why you see poor against rich, women against men, nation against nation, and so on. We are prejudiced by nature. But that’s obviously not an excuse. We are also violent by nature, polygamous by nature and jerks by nature, and that doesn’t mean that we are fated to act like that. We grow in a civilised society and learn to control our instincts. That’s why we are the ones pastoring sheep, not the other way around.
You judge people the moment you see them, but that’s not the problem here — that can even be a good thing, you should use you prejudices to guide you in a first approximation to the person. The problem arises when you think that your first impressions are right. And that’s when you invert form and content.
I’m sad to say that I lied about the top ten, as you can see there’s only nine items in the list. But that can be your homework. What do you think has an inversion of form and content?
As for my trip, I firmly believe that my 23 Kg suitcase, in spite of its clumsy way, will hold a far bigger value to me than its form can reveal.
Today I was preparing to progress in the reading of my first book for this month; I set out to read two books a month this year, that would totalize 24 books at the end of the year. We are in November and I should have read 20 books by now but in my accounts I am three books behind that. The book I am currently reading talks about how to implement Lean Six Sigma processes in you company. Is a book that resembles the one’s I have to read in college and in some parts it gets dull and repetitive. I am making an effort to read every book to the end. So , I was there, sitting in my bed getting ready to some two hours of useful learning and eventual boredom when I decided to check some of my favorite sites. I checked facebook to see if my girlfriend said something , checked twitter, youtube to see if Pomplamoose had anything new and finally, when I was almost ready to leave, James Altucher’s blog came to my mind.
James Altucher always cheers me up and makes me happy because it is not common to find someone who writes well and so simply. Every time I visit his blog I am amazed by how good he chooses his headlines. Titles like “What’s It Like to Date a Super Model” and “How to be the luckiest guy on the planet in 4 easy steps” are easy to be found among his posts. He has a book called “I was blind BUT (in red) now I see”. That’s such a good title! I am dying to read it.
So, there was I, reading Altucher’s thoughts and thinking: “Well he is really good, what a pity he is broke”. Then it downed on me: All through his writings he emphasizes that if you want to be happy you should not base your feelings of importance only on the amount of money you have saved. Warren Buffet, one of the richest men in the world, himself once in a court, responding to charges of breaking SEC laws against Salomon Brothers, said that people who base their happiness solely on the size of their bank accounts sooner or later will have problems. All that looks really beautiful, but when you are a young adult, still in college, and your future can be anything on earth just depending on what you do right now, I assure you it is fairly frightening.
I don’t give in on my wishes of better financial conditions. I’ve carefully analysed both sides and I can guarantee you will prefer being well-off, but I agree that that shouldn’t be the reason for your happiness. If you do what you like you will do it well, and when you do it well done you will soon be paid to do it. So, what I really need right now is not a bundle containing a million dollars, but rather be really good at something I love.
I can tell you that what I love is Entrepreneurship. That is my greatest passion and I am fascinated by it. Entrepreneurship is hard, is advancing by yourself, is thinking different, is more than seeing what others don’t see, is doing what others are too lazy to do. I love it, and it makes me fight my laziness. So, as Altucher, a real entrepreneur victim of the bubble .com, said, you don’t have to be perfect at something to start doing it, in fact you get good while you’re doing it. And you don’t have the unbearable burden of finishing every single thing you start, maybe you start something and you don’t finish it. It is better to start something and then stop than not to start anything. As you may see, English is not my primary language. I am Brazilian and my native language is Portuguese. I also speak Spanish but I chose English exactly to improve my skills, and because I prefer it over Spanish. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about not wasting my time and making it count. Hence, when I am writing in English I feel that I am exercising my brain rather than just venting my thoughts in a senseless blog.
You MUST do something, you can’t go through life doing nothing, accomplishing nothing. Your accomplishments give you the feeling of worth, and the pleasure to look back and say: “I did something”. When you are doing something that really adds value to your life you are progressing, moving forward. The place where you can get to depends on how much you have progressed. You will never get anywhere if you are not qualified. And if you were really qualified to be where you want to be you would already be there. If you want to get somewhere don’t stop. “Work hard and be nice to people” is a good motto. It doesn’t matter what you do, at some point you will have to work hard if you want to reach your goal, but if you get used to working hard (never forgetting to rest) you can reach your goals much faster and then achieve bigger goals…
So, well, that’s why I started this blog. I plan to write something here every day. Of course most texts won’t be long, maybe they won’t even be. I will try to write a list of 10 things every day, or a part of a big post, so I make my brain think a little bit and practice my writing. I want to expose ideas and maybe unburden myself a little bit too.
And that’s all for today, tomorrow there will be more.