Last week, as I was applying for an online contest, I looked at my calendar and realized that I have been blogging for five years. That’s five whole years worth of who I am that has been shared online.
It got me thinking. So much has changed since the day that I decided to start blogging, and yet some things are still exactly the same. I had no idea what today would look like five years ago, and I have no idea what things will look like five years from now. But day in and day out, I find myself doing a lot of work, and putting all my effort into various different things.
What do I really live for?
It’s a question that everyone faces. No matter how certain and confident a person may project themselves in the world, there’s always a deep question in the shadows questioning whether or not you deserve to be there. (tweet that)
Even today, while trying to think of what today’s blog post should be about, I took a deep breath, thought about how jammed pack these past two weeks have been, and asked myself if I’m really making a difference. I had no idea what to write about. Who even cares if I write?
There are so many areas of life where I could put myself down, look at myself like an amateur, and cause my feelings of insecurity to push me into hiding. But that doesn’t get me anywhere.
Your life’s work isn’t going to be easy, and nobody is every a hundred percent certain that they are the best fit or the most appropriate qualifications for the job. You just have to take a deep breath and know that you can do it. Have grit.
Because you are where you are for a reason. Don’t let what you have just fly by.
Words can be confused with communication.
Words are a vehicle for communication, but it is not communication in itself.
Communication is simply sharing my thoughts so that someone else understands my thoughts and where I’m coming from; it’s translating the thoughts from my head into someone else’s head.
People that talk the most aren’t necessarily the best communicators. Talk isn’t necessarily communication.
The best communicators are ones who are able to understand the person they are speaking to. They are able to pick up on their audience’s culture, or frame of reference they are using when processing what they are saying. They are able to address the varying concerns of different audiences depending on who they talk to. Thus, the best communicators are open and understand the backgrounds and cultures of other people. Top communicators understand and transcend culture. (tweet that)
That’s why most of us find it easier to communicate and interact with people who are from similar backgrounds or cultures, because people these people already think and act similarly, saving the need to communicate as much context.
Therefore, the most quick and dirty way to foster effective communication within a team or organization isn’t to talk more, but to focus on creating a unique culture. This phenomenon is seen in practically all the fun and hip companies such as Google, Pinterest, IDEO, Facebook, etc.
The power of building a unique culture is to foster more effective communication, but the danger happens when people in a culture become elitist and closed to becoming a communicator that is effective across cultures.
Building a culture is great, but understanding culture is legendary.
How many times have you heard someone tell you that they wish they could do something without having a plan to accomplish it?
Most people want to master certain skills and become world-class at something, but lack the definiteness and discipline to achieve it. Most people settle on hoping that they’ll get lucky. People hope they will be discovered much like they hope they will win the lottery.
However, people who understand how to systematically and intentionally establish change in their life understand how to make the most of what they have access to, and are therefore able to turn what seems like nothing into something more and more significant. Successful people are specific about the work they do, knowing that there is no way around hard work. (tweet that)
Too many people set goals that seem more like wishes, because they don’t have the plan or discipline to follow through. This can be easily fixed, given that the individual has the desire and will to change it.
Habits are the building blocks of accomplishment, and by understanding how to build and break habits, a person can achieve anything.
Many people overlook the daily things because it doesn’t feel glamorous or incredibly sexy. People see the success of an entrepreneur without seeing journey and difficulty the entrepreneur went through to get there. But by embracing and building the little habits to propel you toward your goal, that is how people become unstoppable.
For most of my life, I’ve never really cooked.
For most of my childhood, cooking was something that my mother did while I played games, did my homework, or surfed the internet. Even my freshman year in college, the convenience of the dining hall and the lack of a kitchen made it difficult for me to cook on a regular basis.
I have finally been able to cook for myself this year. Regularly feeding yourself and maintaining a healthy diet all while keeping to a budget is a challenge, but like any other new skill, it comes with a learning curve.
A friend bought me the Four Hour Chef for Christmas last year, and I have been faithfully attempting the different dishes in the book. I’ve tried the arugula salad, rock ‘n’ eel, harissa crab cakes, coconut curry cauliflower mash, and union square zucchini. Tim Ferriss does an amazing job of breaking down different cooking techniques into a simple and straightforward book that yields healthy and delicious results.
But beyond following recipes, learning to cook is also largely about grocery shopping, understanding flavors, and clean up. It’s a whole new world to learn and get accustomed to, as all the different varieties of consumables out there can be overwhelming.
But as I’ve realized over time, and the four hour chef touches upon, learning a new skill is only overwhelming because you have no clue where to start; it’s a collection of little actions that aggregate into an ability to do something. It’s easy to get daunted and scared away from learning something new.
I’ve realized the value of focusing on one area of development at a time, in order to develop the little pieces of the puzzle before putting it all together.
Ever since I started reading material from Tim Ferriss, I’ve started critically breaking things down and understanding all the little parts that go together to make a whole. I’ve made my mistakes, learned some lessons, and picked myself up.
Next, time to learn how to grow my own food.
Practice is the process to mastery. But not all practice is created equal.
Deliberate practice, a term popularized by Cal Newport of Study Hacks, is the process of using uncomfortable, stretching practice to expand your abilities.
It’s easy to pick up the guitar and play the song that you’ve mastered and have been playing for years. It’s easy to cook the dishes that you’ve been cooking since you were twelve.
But in order to improve a skill, practicing must include what is foreign and unfamiliar. That’s exactly what top performers of various practices have in common, that they are always challenging themselves to do the uncomfortable in order to learn and grow.
Learning a new skill will always be uncomfortable and foreign, but improving a skill that you have already learned requires making the decision to challenge yourself beyond what you are already capable of doing.
Practice doesn’t necessarily make perfect, but practice makes permanent. Therefore, what you practice determines what you become comfortable with.
I’ve shared before that in my younger days, I thought I didn’t like reading.
It wasn’t until I nearly turned 18 that I found my love for reading books about real life situations and perspectives.
This year, I’m going to try to read as many books as I can. Books are pretty much a compilation of a person’s life work and life lessons, and by sitting down for a couple of hours and fifteen dollars, I can get a glimpse into a successful person’s process.
Even if I only get one thing out of a book, it was worth it.
In a casual conversation I had a couple weeks ago, I was sharing some of the books that had completely changed my life, and one of my friends asked me how I had so much time to read so much.
The truth is, I don’t have time not to be reading. By reading the lives of people, I am effectively getting perspective from their lives about the challenges they faced and how they overcame the challenges. By reading books, I am actually helping myself save time. I become more aware of the problems and the questions long before they come up in my personal life.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that I go out and read every single thing that I can find. I’m a big advocate of watching what content you consume. My focus then, is taking the time to figure out what I am learning from each book that I read. Reading reviews is a helpful way to determine whether a book will be helpful for me or not.
In the wise words in Letters from a Stoic by Seneca the Younger,
You must linger among a limited number of master thinkers, and digest their works, if you would derive ideas which shall win firm hold in your mind.
Everywhere means nowhere.
When a person spends all his time in foreign travel, he ends by having many acquaintances, but no friends.
And the same thing must hold true of men who seek intimate acquaintance with no single author, but visit them all in a hasty and hurried manner.
Food does no good and is not assimilated into the body if it leaves the stomach as soon as it is eaten; nothing hinders a cure so much as frequent change of medicine; no wound will heal when one salve is tried after another; a plant which is often moved can never grow strong.
Oh. And follow me on goodreads.