June 2021

The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality.

His procedure was simple: on the final day of class, he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the “quantity” group: fifty pounds of pots rated an “A”, forty pounds a “B”, and so on. Those being graded on “quality”, however, needed to produce only one pot – albeit a perfect one – to get an “A”.

Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work – and learning from their mistakes – the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.


Meditation is not engaging in some pleasant or interesting experience in order to generate positive feelings. It’s not about tuning out the world and coming to a place of inner peace.

True meditation is the ability to recognize what your mind is like, prior to being lost in thought. When you’re engaged in meditation, you’re no longer identifying with every thought, reaction, whim, or emotion that comes barreling into your mind.

However, once you know how to practice, it is true to say that any activity can be synonymous with meditation. You can recognize the nature of your mind at any point, in any location, under any circumstance. But this must first be practised in formal sessions.

So, yes. You can meditate while hiking, running, biking or doing anything else a human being can do. But only after you know how to practice.

We all know people who behave very differently depending on who they’re around. Someone who’s polite, deferential, and accommodating with their grandmother can morph into a jerk when speaking with a customer service agent.

Now, it’s easy to judge these people as being two-faced or disingenuous. But it’s instructive to notice that we’re all in this situation to varying degrees.

For instance, who we are on a Zoom call with a client likely feels different than whom we are when speaking with a family member or friend.

The core of whom we take ourselves to seem to remain intact, yet the face we wear seems to change, whether subtly or dramatically. It’s as if we have a collection of masks that we reflexively put on, depending on who’s in front of us.

As you go about your day today, notice how your sense of self changes depending on whom you interact with. Notice the mask you’re wearing in each interaction.

And realize that it’s not who you really are.

What’s something that looks way riskier than it actually is?

Here’s my answer: Asking. For anything!

I would love to know your thoughts.

If you tolerate too much half-heartedness, it’s probably because you’re half-hearted. As in: anxious and ambivalent, looking for reassurance. As in: bored, along for the ride, not really sure about your own feelings and opinions. As in: external locus of control vs internal locus of control. You probably don’t have anything in your life that really tethers you to yourself—you don’t have conviction about what you love, so you’re hoping that someone else will provide you that certainty.

I think that people come alive when they’re serious about what they love—when they choose to pay careful attention to what feeds and sustains them.

“Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.” — Plato

When I say I don’t like your idea, I’m not saying that I don’t like you. And if we’ve been persuaded by marketers and politicians that everything we do and say is our identity, then it gets very difficult to learn, to accept useful feedback and to change. Evolving our choices and our tastes is part of being human. Establishing your identity as someone who is not static, open to change and eager for better makes it far easier to engage in a world where some would prefer us to do precisely the opposite.


We love the idea of being good at something. We deck out our equipment. But then we contend with reality: the idea of being a rockstar is more fun than practising scales for hours every day.

It’s demoralizing to be bad at something, particularly over long stretches of time. People forget that mastery isn’t a linear progression.

Don’t settle for the idea that you have no talent for most things. Schools do a great job labelling us with all sorts of test scores and suggestions of our respective value to society.

There’s a popular phrase by Tim Notke that always felt unfinished. It reads, “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” The phrase that should be added, “And talent doesn’t usually work hard.” Humans can be shockingly lazy, a collective ocean of lost potential.

You generally have much more potential than you give yourself credit for. You just haven’t thought about something and practised it in the right way. Stay consistent and stubbornly glued to the idea of improvement. You’ll surprise yourself — and others.

“We all know that distinctiveness – originality – is valuable … be realistic about how much energy it takes to maintain that distinctiveness. The world wants you to be typical—in a thousand ways, it pulls at you. Don’t let it happen.

You have to pay a price for your distinctiveness, and it’s worth it … Being yourself is worth it, but don’t expect it to be easy or free. You’ll have to put energy into it continuously.” — Jeff Bezos 2020 Letter to Shareholders

Unless you are running a fire force, ambulance, or police, if you are working at 4 am, there is a 90% chance that you have mismanaged things in the day.

The solution is to use your day thoughtfully instead of running around distractedly, submerged in non-stop emails, meetings, and calls.

Instead of slogging at night, fix your day.


You may not believe your life is anything special, but take a moment to think of the millions of people in the world who would happily trade places with you if they only could.

Think of the people currently caught in a war zone. Think of those who must walk miles for clean water. Think of the millions whose daily ration of food is less than what you ate for lunch.

Despite all the things you wish you could fix or improve in your life, the truth is this: If you have the leisure to read this right now, you’re most likely living some version of “the dream life.”

Wake up and see for yourself.

“Beethoven became more original and brilliant as a composer in inverse proportion to his ability to hear his own — and others’ — music. But maybe it isn’t so surprising. As his hearing deteriorated, he was less influenced by the prevailing compositional fashions, and more by the musical structures forming inside his own head.

His early work is pleasantly reminiscent of his early instructor, the hugely popular Josef Haydn. Beethoven’s later work became so original that he was, and is, regarded as the father of music’s romantic period. … Deafness freed Beethoven as a composer because he no longer had society’s soundtrack in his ears..”

You’re free when no one can buy your time.

“All you need are these: certainty of judgment in the present moment; action for the common good in the present moment; and an attitude of gratitude in the present moment for anything that comes your way.”

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

“If you wish to improve, be content to appear clueless or stupid in extraneous matters — don’t wish to seem knowledgeable. And if some regard you as important, distrust yourself.”

“Control your perceptions. Direct your actions properly. Willingly accept what’s outside your control.”

“You must reclaim the ability to abstain because within it is your clarity and self-control.”

“If we can focus on making clear what parts of our day are within our control and what parts are not, we will not only be happier, we will have a distinct advantage over other people who fail to realize they are fighting an unwinnable battle.”


“Man’s mind may be likened to a garden, which may be intelligently cultivated or allowed to run wild.”

“A particular train of thought persisted in, be it good or bad, cannot fail to produce its results on the character and circumstances. A man cannot directly choose his circumstances, but he can choose his thoughts, and so indirectly, yet surely, shape his circumstances.”

“Man is made or unmade by himself; in the armory of thought he forges the weapons by which he destroys himself; he also fashions the tools with which he builds for himself heavenly mansions of joy and strength and peace. By the right choice and true application of thought, man ascends to the Divine Perfection; by the abuse and wrong application of thought, he descends below the level of the beast. Between these two extremes are all the grades of character, and man is their maker and master.”

“Act is the blossom of thought, and joy and suffering are its fruits; thus does a man garner in the sweet and bitter fruitage of his own husbandry”

“The outer conditions of a person’s life will always be found to be harmoniously related to his inner state…Men do not attract that which they want, but that which they are.”

-James Allen

Your contentment and happiness is a state of mind. What may be enough for you may not be enough for somebody else, but how will that help? The lack mindset will always make you feel that you’re in a state of lack, no matter how much you earn.

The abundance mindset can make you realise that there isn’t a deadly competition but there’s space for all of you to succeed. What you produce is what no one else can, it’s what makes you unique. Your Big-Why will get you to your table each day to produce.

Don’t focus too much on the metrics of stats of money, they seldom move by just staring but move by doing. Create, instead.

You are defined by not just the things that you see/experience.

You are defined by all the things that you will never see/experience.

The quickest to be offended are the easiest to manipulate.

Real spirituality is not about being a Hindu or Christian or a Muslim or a Jew …. or anything else.

It’s about cleansing our heart.

It is about awakening the dormant love of God within us and being instruments of that compassion in our lives, in whatever we may do.

“You have to keep a dozen of your favorite problems constantly present in your mind, although by and large they will lay in a dormant state. Every time you hear a new trick or a new result, test it against each of your twelve problems to see whether it helps. Every once in a while there will be a hit, and people will say, ‘How did he do it? He must be a genius!” ~ Richard Feynman

How can I…

Contribute to humanity’s important problems rather than taking the path of least resistance?

Leverage the unique knowledge and skills of those around me and galvanize them towards a worthy and desirable purpose?

Codify the universal principles of personal effectiveness and peak performance?

Develop a holistic model of what it means to be human?

Spend more time on the frontiers and in the deep water where the undiscovered and unsynthesized knowledge lives?

Harvest my subconscious for unique insights rather than repackaging the ideas and beliefs of others, planting trees for the next generation rather than just picking them?

Subvert my ego to share ideas in a way that induces self-reflection and behavioral change rather than resistance? (i.e. being empathetic about the problem rather than insistent upon my solution.)

Reduce my time spent making trivial decisions to improve my speed of implementation?

Develop the focus, discipline, and environment to make action my default state of being?

Avoid the traps of the hedonic treadmill (status signaling, over-consumption, pleasure-seeking behavior)?

Go to bed every night satisfied and wake up every day like it is Christmas morning?

Overcome fears and self-doubt in order to live an authentic and meaningful life?

“Hierarchies serve an important function. They enable complete strangers to know how to treat one another without wasting the time and energy needed to become personally acquainted.”

“One of history’s few iron laws is that luxuries tend to become necessities and to spawn new obligations.”

“Evolution has made Homo sapiens, like other social mammals, a xenophobic creature. Sapiens instinctively divide humanity into two parts, ‘we’ and ‘they’.”

“Money is the most universal and most efficient system of mutual trust ever devised.”

– Sapiens

“If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself.”

“Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.”

“Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.”

“The choice for mankind lies between freedom and happiness and for the great bulk of mankind, happiness is better.”

“Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimetres inside your skull. ”


“Man’s mind may be likened to a garden, which may be intelligently cultivated or allowed to run wild.”

“A particular train of thought persisted in, be it good or bad, cannot fail to produce its results on the character and circumstances. A man cannot directly choose his circumstances, but he can choose his thoughts, and so indirectly, yet surely, shape his circumstances.”

“Act is the blossom of thought, and joy and suffering are its fruits; thus does a man garner in the sweet and bitter fruitage of his own husbandry”

“The outer conditions of a person’s life will always be found to be harmoniously related to his inner state…Men do not attract that which they want, but that which they are.”

–As a Man Thinketh

“All I know is this: nobody’s very big in the first place, and it looks to me like everybody spends their whole life tearing everybody else down.”

“That ain’t me, that ain’t my face. It wasn’t even me when I was trying to be that face. I wasn’t even really me them; I was just being the way I looked, the way people wanted.”

“If you don’t watch it people will force you one way or the other, into doing what they think you should do, or into just being mule-stubborn and doing the opposite out of spite.”

“You had a choice: you could either strain and look at things that appeared in front of you in the fog, painful as it might be, or you could relax and lose yourself”

–One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

“It may be unfair, but what happens in a few days, sometimes even a single day, can change the course of a whole lifetime…”

“There is only one sin. and that is theft… when you tell a lie, you steal someones right to the truth. When you kill a man, you steal a life. You steal his wife’s right to a husband, rob his children of a father. When you cheat, you steal the right to fairness.”

“I’m so afraid. Because I’m so profoundly happy. Happiness like this is frightening…They only let you this happy if they’re preparing to take something from you.”

– The Kite runner


“To fight the good fight is one of the bravest and noblest of life’s experiences. Not the bloodshed and the battle of a man with man, but the grappling with mental and spiritual adversaries that determines the inner calibre of the contestant. It is the quality of the struggle put forth by a man that proclaims to the world what manner of man he is far more than maybe by the termination of the battle.

It matters not nearly so much to a man that he succeeds in winning some long-sought prize as it does that he has worked for it honestly and unfalteringly with all the force and energy there is in him. It is in the effort that the soul grows and asserts itself to the fullest extent of its possibilities, and he that has worked will, persevering in the face of all opposition and apparent failure, fairly and squarely endeavouring to perform his part to the utmost extent of his capabilities, may well look back upon his labour regardless of any seeming defeat in its result and say, ‘I have fought a good fight.’

As you throw the weight of your influence on the side of the good, the true and the beautiful, your life will achieve endless splendour. It will continue in the lives of others, higher, finer, nobler than you can even contemplate.” — Hugh B. Brown

“We can know only that we know nothing. And that is the highest degree of human wisdom.”

“It’s not given to people to judge what’s right or wrong. People have eternally been mistaken and will be mistaken, and in nothing more than in what they consider right and wrong.”

“What is the cause of historical events? Power. What is power? Power is the sum total of wills transferred to one person. On what condition are the wills of the masses transferred to one person? On condition that the person expresses the will of the whole people. That is, power is power. That is, power is a word the meaning of which we do not understand. ”

“A man on a thousand-mile walk has to forget his goal and say to himself every morning, ‘Today I’m going to cover twenty-five miles and then rest up and sleep.”

–War and Peace

In a sermon delivered at the height of World War Two, a period awash in distraction and despair, C.S. Lewis delivered a powerful claim about the cultivation of a deep life:

“We are always falling in love or quarrelling, looking for jobs or fearing to lose them, getting ill and recovering, following public affairs. If we let ourselves, we shall always be waiting for some distraction or other to end before we can really get down to our work. The only people who achieve much are those who want knowledge so badly that they seek it while the conditions are still unfavourable. Favourable conditions never come.”

We all face distractions from the deeper efforts we know are important: the confrontation of something not going right in our lives; an important idea that needs development; more time with those who matter most. But we delay and divert. It’s easier to yell at someone for doing something wrong than to yell in pride about something we did right. It’s easier to seek amusement than to pursue something moving.

At some point, however, there’s nothing left but to embrace Lewis’s call to “get down to our work,” even if the favourable conditions never come.

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done.”

— Steve Jobs