Personal Development – Litemind Exploring ways to use our minds efficiently. Mon, 01 Jan 2018 20:43:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Overcome Fear of Failure, Part II — 6 Powerful Strategies You Can Use Wed, 09 Sep 2009 12:46:51 +0000 In the first part of this series, we focused on building an effective mindset for overcoming fear of failure. Now it’s time to get down to action: here are 6 powerful strategies you can use to conquer fear of failure right off the bat.

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Overcome Fear of Failure

In the first part of this series, we focused on building an effective mindset for overcoming fear of failure. Now it’s time to get down to action: here are 6 powerful strategies you can use to conquer fear of failure right off the bat.

1. Acknowledge Your Fear

There’s a good reason why acknowledgement is the first step in every 12-step recovery program: we can’t fight an enemy we can’t see. Unless we can fully acknowledge our fear of failure, the psychological armor we built against it won’t be of any use.

Acknowledging our fear of failure, however, is not always easy. Many times, fear of failure comes disguised in subtle forms like anxiety, procrastination and other forms of resistance.

One great way to expose fears is plain old journaling. Another technique that works wonders is chatting with a rubber duck: many times, verbalizing your problem is all you need to clarify it.

Explore the nature of your fear: What is it that you fear about? Is it what people will say about you? What exactly are you concerned about? Try to unearth as many details as you can: the more precisely you can define the reasons behind your fear of failure the better.

2. Take a (Tiny) Step Now

Once we have acknowledged our fear of failure no other strategy beats simply taking action. Taking action and seeing results is the best motivator there is. The trick here is that we don’t need to take bold, courageous action: tiny action works just fine.

Tiny actions bypass the automatic fear response in our brains. We may get paralyzed when tackling big challenges all at once, but not when concentrating on tiny actions. And as soon as we have our first small success we start building the confidence to go on.

Small actions also serve another very important purpose: they are excellent feedback mechanisms. Each small step can be used to correct your course of action. A plane is slightly off-course most of the time, but since it continually uses its instruments’ feedback to correct its route, it’s able to get to its destination with precision.

So, think of the tiniest action step possible in your project — one that you’re absolutely sure you can accomplish — and do it now. After you’re done with that, just get to the next one… then lather, rinse, repeat. The tinier the steps, the better.

3. Reduce Uncertainty

Uncertainty is a major source of fear and anxiety. Our fear usually manifests itself because there’s at least one aspect of the challenge ahead that is unfamiliar or unknown to us.

The problem is exacerbated as we usually don’t distinguish the known parts of the problem from the unknown ones: we just mix them together into a large blob of fear and anxiety in our minds.

Getting clear about which tasks create the most uncertainty helps boost our mental energy to deal not only with those tasks, but with all tasks in the project.

Many times we tend to reassure ourselves by doing the easy tasks first and putting off the uncertain ones — and that’s fine in the beginning to help us get going — but if you keep postponing the most uncertain tasks, they will not stop haunting you and sapping your energy. So, after we get a little momentum (by taking tiny steps), the most uncertain tasks are the ones we should go after.

Make a list of tasks in your projects identifying the ones that are major sources of uncertainty and then tackle them as soon as possible.

4. Batch Ideas Before Executing Them

Have you considered that fear of failure might be a signal that you may be approaching the problem from the wrong perspective?

If that’s the case, why not have more ideas before jumping into action, then? “Any idea is a bad idea if it’s the only one you’ve got,” someone once said — and I agree.

Having no options is frightening: we start believing ‘success is our only choice’. We believe that the single outcome we envisaged is the only way out, that we must get it right, or else… Obviously, the problem is in the scarcity of alternatives and the terror that this ‘all-or-nothing’ situation elicits.

The way out of this situation is to have many ideas. Lots of them — after all, quantity breeds quality. You’ll not only have plenty of alternatives to make yourself feel safer, but may also solve the problem using a much better idea than the original one.

Refuse to execute an idea if it’s the only one you’ve got. Use any one of the many idea-generation methods available — my favorites are lists of 100 and idea quotas.

5. Plan for Failure

As we discussed in part I of this article, failure is part and parcel of life. What does this mean? In a nutshell, if you are doing things right you wil fail. Often.

I roll my eyes when I see dialogue (especially in war movies) along the lines of “What’s the contingency plan?” and the reply is the clichéd “Failure is not an option here.” Guess what, no matter how important the outcome may be, failure is not only an option — but a very likely one.

Especially when we’re doing innovative work, failure is not an ‘unlikely case we should be aware of’. Quite the opposite, it’s the norm. Expect failure and be prepared for it. Instead of pretending failure won’t happen, be prepared to fail intelligently — and learn from it.

Let’s be clear: this is not the same as setting yourself for failure, but simply not getting caught by (too much) surprise when it happens.

One thing you’ll notice is that — and this may sound counterintuitive at first — when you consider failure as a likely result, your rate of success will drastically increase. You’ll think more thoroughly about your problem and become more prepared and confident.

Before jumping to action and simply hoping that you won’t fail, stop for a moment and plan for what you will do when things won’t come through as expected.

6. Redefine the Game

We all want to be successful, but have you paused for a moment to consider what ‘being successful’ really means?

I could not finish this series without mentioning that we’re free to define success in any way we want. I know this may sound iffy, but the definition of ‘success’ and ‘failure’ are entirely up to you: you don’t need to adhere to any existing standards — really!

What if you measure success not by the usual notion of looking at the outcome per se but, for example, by how much fun you had along the way? What if you’re in for the learning? What about the excitement of trying new things? There are so many ways something can be successful that it’s really a pity to ignore them all and focus solely on how it can fail.

Let go of the idea that there’s only one successful outcome — and that all other alternatives, by exclusion, are failures: each outcome is successful in its own way. You may not have had the outcome you expected, but you may have learned something new about yourself. Or maybe you have developed your resilience. Or maybe you just had a good time all along.

By all means, be honest with yourself — don’t just pretend you don’t care about the outcome at all: this is not an attempt to fool yourself when you fail, but a genuine attempt to change your mindset and release yourself from the limitation of single outcomes.

Closing Thoughts

This ends this two-part series about fear of failure. As long-time Litemind reader ReddyK wisely pointed out, overcoming fear is part courage and part discernment. Hopefully, with the help from the ideas in this article (along with those in the first), you now have tools to better tackle fear of failure whatever the case may be.

Failure has become a dirty word when it shouldn’t be. Make failure your friend: unless you truly embrace failure, you will never really appreciate what it means to succeed.

Now it’s your turn: What strategies do you use to deal with fear of failure? Share in the comments!

(cc) Litemind, some rights reserved. Original post: Overcome Fear of Failure, Part II — 6 Powerful Strategies You Can Use.

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Overcome Fear of Failure, Part I — Building the Right Mindset Wed, 26 Aug 2009 12:18:39 +0000 Does fearing failure paralyze you? Learn how to create a first line of defense — a “psychological armor” — against fear of failure and stop being held back by it.

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Overcome Fear of Failure

Does fearing failure paralyze you? Of all the reasons for inaction, the strongest one is not lack of ideas, tools, time or money. Usually, the enemy is entrenched much deeper inside our minds. Unless we learn to tackle our fear of failure, we’ll never be able to get the most out of our lives.

In this first article of a two-part series, the focus is on how to create a first line of defense — a “psychological armor” — against fear of failure. Here are 6 ideas to help you look at failure from a different perspective and stop being held back by it.

1. Failures are just steppingstones

“There is no failure. Only feedback.” –Robert Allen

We give too much importance to failure, don’t we? We overemphasize it, seeing failure as the final result — as an undesired outcome of something we fought hard for. We miss the point, though, that failure is just part of a larger process — the process of learning and growing.

Have you noticed that some people — contrary to all expectations — seem to only become stronger when they fail? How do they manage?

If you pay close attention, you’ll notice that they have developed a unique mindset: they realize that failing is an intrinsic part of succeeding. They know that every time they fail, they’re learning from their mistakes. A failure is a message that says that something could have been done differently — that there is room for improvement. And that’s why these people don’t seem to care much about failing: they never see the failure as an isolated event — but as part of a much larger process.

In life, failures are not end points: they’re steppingstones. They’re only as permanent as you allow them to be. They’re only final if you accept defeat and stop trying.

2. We can never be a failure

“Failure is an event, never a person.” – William D. Brown

At school we are ridiculed as we fail. As we grow older, the ridicule may become subtler, but it’s always present. That’s one reason fear of failure is so strong in us: failing undermines how we are recognized, accepted and validated by others.

For a long time, we’ve been conditioned to attach our sense of self-worth to the outcome of our actions. Every time one of our ideas fails, it is as though we allow our self-esteem to be eroded. We feel the failure deep inside: it’s almost like we were that idea that flopped.

But you don’t need to think that way. If something you try doesn’t work out, it doesn’t mean you are a failure or a loser. It just means you’re actively experimenting, that you’re trying, and you’re learning as a result. In that regard, the expression to be a failure (or successful) doesn’t make any sense.

If people around you don’t get that and are still critical of you or your failures, it’s probably because they are the ones who do not get the idea about experimenting, trying, and learning. But don’t let yourself down by their negativity. As long as you keep an open mind to experimenting, don’t bother if you keep failing! The people who really care about you will always support you throughout your failures. They’ll never lose sight of the person behind your failures.

3. Failing is the only way to go far enough

“If you hit every time, the target is too near or too big.” –Tom Hirshfield

The only way to know that you’ve gone far enough is to go too far. And going too far is called failing.

That means that if you don’t go far enough — in other words, if you don’t fail — you’ll never know for sure where your limits really are.

Race car drivers know this to the bone. They even have a saying for it: “The one sure way to find out if you’re going fast enough is to crash”.

So if you decide to live a life of “playing it safe” — of avoiding failures altogether — you can be safe in the knowledge that you’ll most likely accomplish your goal — after all, that’s a dead easy target to take aim at. Just bear in mind, however, that you’ll never be able to get the most out of your life acting that way.

4. Failing is part and parcel of innovation

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” –Thomas Edison

As much as I like creative idea generation, if you want to achieve marvelous things, having ideas is seldom the bottleneck. Putting them to action is!

That’s the difference between innovation and creativity: innovators are not just people having great ideas in a room, they are the ones who have the courage to go out and test them! And guess what happens when they put their ideas to action?

Exactly. They fail. Most of the time.

But every time they fail, they take note of the lessons failure taught them, improving their approach to solving the problem in subsequent attempts.

One of 20th century’s most influential books (and one of my favorites), Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, was turned down by 121 publishers before getting published. And that’s only one story of persistence in the face of failure among the many I’m sure you’ve already heard.

Consider this: If you eventually score one success, people will hardly remember your failures. So, even if you have not overcome your ego problem about failing (see point 2 above), you still have a chance: if you just keep trying and score at some point, all your mistakes will magically be gone. 😉

5. Failing is usually not as bad as we picture it

“Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes” —Oscar Wilde

OK, failure may not be so bad after all, but would I be going too far in saying that you can actually enjoy failure?

Seriously, there were times when I was so afraid to fail that when I failed — as expected — I felt immense relief. My biggest threat had been left behind as there was nothing to fear anymore: my mind was clear again. Failing can definitely set you free.

Have you failed before? Was it as terrible as you had anticipated? Well, here you are reading this article, so it seems you survived all right. Truth is, failure is almost never as bad as we imagine. Fear of failure is usually much worse than failure itself.

Too often, people who haven’t failed at anything believe that failing is a disaster. And because they’ve never failed, they believe they know it all. They refuse to learn. Every time you fail, then, look for the lesson behind it and take it as an opportunity to grow stronger, to grow wiser — to be a better person.

6. Everybody is afraid — everybody

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.” –Ambrose Redmoon

Let me tell you a secret: the next guy is as scared as you are. We’re all afraid of failing. Yes, that includes even the most prolific geniuses you can think of — In fact, they seem to be the ones who agonize more about failing.”

There’s nothing wrong about it. Your fear is perfectly normal: if what you’re doing is at least minimally worth it, fear of failure will always be part of the process. It will never go away completely.

Achievers succeed not because they’re not afraid, but because they overcome fear. Every day. Over and over again. They know fear won’t go away, but they refuse to be deterred by it.

And that’s the fight worth fighting. That’s the never-ending practice we must engage on.

Final Thoughts

I first compiled the ideas in this article for my own reference. Although most of them may not be new, this is the kind of stuff I keep forgetting at the times I need them the most — and that’s why I decided to share them here. I hope you find them useful.

The 2nd part of this article is about specific strategies we can use to overcome our fear of failure: check it out!

(cc) Litemind, some rights reserved. Original post: Overcome Fear of Failure, Part I — Building the Right Mindset.

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How to Break Out of Recurring Patterns in Your Life in 5 Easy Steps Mon, 10 Aug 2009 17:20:46 +0000 Do you find yourself caught in certain loops in life? Situations that keep happening which you can’t help but wonder “Not again!” or “Why me”? In this article, I’ll share a technique you can use to break out of these patterns.

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How to Break Out of Recurring Patterns in Your Life in 5 Easy Steps

This is an article by guest writer Celestine Chua of Personal Excellence.

Do you find yourself caught in certain loops in life? Situations that keep happening which you can’t help but wonder “Not again!” or “Why me”? In this article, I’ll share a technique you can use to break out of these patterns.

For most people, whenever something negative happens, their first instinct is to brush it off as just a one-off incident or to blame the environment.

The second time it happens, they may still do the same. Third time, they may think it’s a coincidence, but it’s beginning to trigger some thought that there might be something in them that’s attracting these situations.

Fourth, fifth, sixth time… soon, it becomes clear that this has become an established pattern.

A Personal Example

Throughout my life there have been recurring patterns. For example, one dominant trend that kept emerging when I was in school was that I was almost always late for my lectures and classes. At that time I thought that it was because I lived far away from the university and I would be on time if I lived nearer.

After that, when I started working after graduation, I continued to be late — this time for work and for meetings. This time, I rationalized that it was because there were so many things to do and the schedule was too tight.

Then, when I left my corporate career last year to help others live their best life, I switched to become a full-time coach and personal development blogger. Even then, I would still continue to be late for my appointments. Since my schedule was clearly of my own making now, it became evident that I was late solely because of myself.

There was something inside me or the way I was doing things that needed to be addressed.

Examples of Common Patterns

Here are some common recurring, negative behaviors people deal with in their lives on a day-to-day basis. If any of the incidents below have happened to you at least five times, then it’s likely to be a pattern attributable to you:

  • Being late for appointments
  • Not meeting deadlines
  • Being absent-minded
  • Getting together with the “wrong” guy/girl, resulting in destructive relationships
  • Sleeping late; not being able to wake up early
  • Emotional eating
  • Not exercising even though you planned to
  • Getting into arguments or losing your temper
  • Giving up halfway through whatever you’re doing
  • Staying back late at work; getting burnt out

How to Break Out of Patterns

Some people’s response to these recurring behaviors is to exert external force to prevent the occurrence (i.e., through discipline). For example, if they are not exercising according to their regime, they will just whip themselves to stick to their exercise plan. If they are not sticking to their diet, they will discipline themselves to eat properly.

This usually works… for a short period of time.

The issue with this method is it requires continuous expenditure of your energy to keep up the results. As soon as the external force is removed, you start to revert to your natural habit pattern. In addition, by investing external energy to address a particular area, you are left with less energy to deal with other things in your life.

The reason why that happens is because patterns occur as a result of the internal, fundamental frameworks you live by. These frameworks refer to the inner beliefs and values you hold. To get rid of these repetitive behaviors, you need to look inward, examine what triggers them, uncover the underlying causes and resolve them at the root level. The good thing is that since patterns are a result of our beliefs, we can get out of them by changing our beliefs.

Here’s an exercise which I find very helpful in gaining clarity on the root causes of patterns then addressing them. I regularly use it for self-improvement, and it has allowed me to break out of behaviors which don’t serve me, such as being late, emotional eating and not sticking to my exercise plans. I also use this in my coaching, helping my clients successfully break out of negative patterns and accelerate toward their goals.

Before you start this exercise, write down a list of negative patterns in your life, so you can better choose the one you want to get rid of.

1. List down the past 5–10 times you have been in such a situation

Start off by picking a pattern which you want to break out of. Then, list down the past five times when you were faced with it. Five is a decent sample size which lets us compare the incidents and spot similarities between those patterns. If you like, you can even list down 10 incidents just to be exhaustive!

Let’s take my example of being late for appointments. Not being on time was one of the dominant trends in the past. Whenever I went out to meet someone, it would almost be guaranteed that I would be late for appointments. The lateness would usually range from anywhere between 5 minutes to 20 minutes, or even 30 minutes or more.

2. List down the factors for each situation that led to the outcome

Now, list down as many factors as you can that led to each incident occurring. If you have a pattern of sleeping late, write down what the reason that led you to sleep late. Maybe you had work to do, you were talking on the phone with a friend, you had insomnia, etc. It may be possible that each incident has more than one trigger, so list out as many triggers as possible.

When I examined the incidents when I was late, I found a whole list of factors such as (a) oversleeping, (b) being caught up with work before the appointment, (c) bus was late, (d) unanticipated traffic jam, (e) couldn’t find the location (the place was foreign to me) and (f) something cropped up just before the appointment.

3. Identify the commonalities across the factors

Look at all the factors you have listed. Are there any common factors across the incidents? Circle them. Chances are you will find 1-2 dominant trends across all the factors listed.

In my example, the common factor was that I was always caught up with work before the appointment. While there could have been additional factors in each case, I was almost always running late because I was engrossed in getting my work done.

4. Drill down into the cause of the factors

Now, drill into those common factors. What led to these factors? For each answer that comes up, keep digging deeper to identify the underlying cause. Keep asking “Why is this the case?” or “Why is that so?” until you hit a resonating point.

Looking into why I was getting behind, I realized it was because I wanted to finish the stuff which was supposed to have been done earlier but was not finished yet. As I looked deeper into this, I found:

  • I had planned more than what was realistically achievable. I did not factor in for appropriate breaks and I had underestimated the time needed for each task.
  • Instead of adhering to my work schedule, I was distracted during the work process and would be doing non-peripheral tasks instead.
  • This happened because I overestimated my own capacity.
  • Thus, by setting off for my appointments before I had finished my work, it meant that I wasn’t able to achieve what I had set out to do. I had let myself down by not living up to my envisioned persona. Because I didn’t want to accept that thought, I would keep working away at my tasks until I was already late beyond measure.

It is possible to have several causes behind the factors. As you work on this step, ensure you uncover as many of them as possible.

5. Identify action steps to address the cause

Now that you have uncovered the root causes, how can you address them such that they will not lead to a recurrence of the pattern in the future? Come up with action steps that will address the root causes, as well as any factors which you feel lead to the issue.

In my case, the action steps I came up with were:

  • Create task lists which realistically match my current capacity.
  • Place my schedule in a prominent spot so I’ll be conscious of the time and the tasks that need to be done.
  • In times where I am not able to get the work done, accept that to be the case and create a separate plan to address the unfinished work later on.

As you come up with the steps, it may seem they do not address the patterns directly. For example, with my issue of being late, creating task lists may not seem like the most appropriate solution at first sight. Yet, because it addresses one of the causes (unrealistic planning), it has helped in breaking me away from the pattern. If you (a) correctly nail down the root cause(s), (b) identify the right action steps and (c) act on them, the patterns will start dissolving away in your life.

Additional Notes

  • As you delve into certain patterns, you will often find that their underlying causes are one and the same. Thus, by dealing with that cause, you can get rid of many undesirable behaviors in your life in one fell swoop.
  • Note that some patterns may be interlinked with others — for example, you may find that some causes can also be patterns themselves! Thus, it may not be easy to completely eradicate such patterns in one sitting. Focus on getting as much uncovered each time and progress from there. Subsequently you will come to a point where the root causes are properly addressed and the patterns are eradicated.

Try out the exercise and start breaking away from the negative patterns in your life! Feel free to give me your feedback — I’d love to know how it works for you.

About Celestine Chua

Celestine is a personal excellence coach who writes at her popular Personal Excellence Blog to help others like you achieve excellence. She has been featured frequently in the press and is a highly sought-after coach. Some of her top articles: 50 Ways to Boost Your Productivity, 101 Most Inspiring Quotes of All Time and Cultivate Good Habits in 21 Days.

(cc) Litemind, some rights reserved. Original post: How to Break Out of Recurring Patterns in Your Life in 5 Easy Steps.

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60 Selected Best Famous Quotes II Mon, 08 Jun 2009 13:28:24 +0000 It has been a while since I published my collection of 60 very best quotes, and it still remains one of the most popular pages on this website. This sequel includes great quotes that were left out of the first collection or have been recently discovered. Enjoy!

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Best Famous Quotes

It has been over a year since I published my collection of 60 very best quotes, and it still remains one of the most popular pages on this website. I thought it was time for a sequel, including great quotes that were left out of the first collection or have been recently discovered. Enjoy!

Wisdom and Inspirational Quotes

1. It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.
—Albert Einstein

2. Eighty percent of success is showing up.
—Woody Allen

3. I respect faith, but doubt is what gets you an education.
—Wilson Mizner

4. The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance; it is the illusion of knowledge.
—Daniel J. Boorstin

5. The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
—William Arthur Ward

6. If you don’t make mistakes, you’re not working on hard enough problems. And that’s a big mistake.
—Frank Wilczek

7. You can never get enough of what you don’t really need.
—Eric Hoffer

8. Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
—Albert Einstein

9. Do not confuse motion and progress. A rocking horse keeps moving but does not make any progress.
—Alfred A. Montapert

10. I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.
—Bill Cosby

11. Tomorrow is often the busiest day of the week.
—Spanish Proverb

12. Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.
—Oscar Wilde

13. There is a great difference between worry and concern. A worried person sees a problem, and a concerned person solves a problem.
—Harold Stephens

14. It is easier to fight for one’s principles than to live up to them.
—Alfred Adler

15. I hear: I forget / I see: I remember / I do: I understand
—Chinese Proverb

16. Discipline is just choosing between what you want now and what you want most.
—Unknown Author

17. The very best thing you can do for the whole world is to make the most of yourself.
—Wallace Wattles

18. Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.
—Barry LePatner

19. When I do good, I feel good; when I do bad, I feel bad, and that is my religion.
—Abraham Lincoln

20. Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.
—Winston Churchill

Humor Quotes

21. If it weren’t for my lawyer, I’d still be in prison. It went a lot faster with two people digging.
—Joe Martin

22. Acquaintance, n.: A person whom we know well enough to borrow from, but not well enough to lend to.
—Ambrose Bierce

23. I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me.
—Noel Coward

24. The difference between death and taxes is death doesn’t get worse every time Congress meets.
—Will Rogers

25. You know you’re getting old when you stop to tie your shoelaces and wonder what else you could do while you’re down there.
—George Burns

26. Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.
—Groucho Marx

27. Those are my principles. If you don’t like them I have others.
—Groucho Marx

28. Somewhere on this globe, every ten seconds, there is a woman giving birth to a child. She must be found and stopped.
—Sam Levenson

29. Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum sonatur. (Whatever is said in Latin sounds profound.)
—Unknown Author

30. The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found.
—Calvin Trillin

31. The tooth fairy teaches children that they can sell body parts for money.
—David Richerby

32. My friends tell me I have an intimacy problem. But they don’t really know me.
—Garry Shandling

33. I don’t deserve this award, but I have arthritis and I don’t deserve that either.
—Jack Benny

34. I always wanted to be somebody, but now I realize I should have been more specific.
—Lily Tomlin

35. If God wanted us to fly, He would have given us tickets.
—Mel Brooks

36. If I only had a little humility, I’d be perfect.
—Ted Turner

37. When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading.
—Henny Youngman

38. The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.
—Groucho Marx

39. Hofstadter’s Law: It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law.
—Douglas Hofstadter

40. Honest criticism is hard to take, particularly from a relative, a friend, an acquaintance, or a stranger.
—Franklin P. Jones

Otherwise Interesting Quotes

41. Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.
—Albert Einstein

42. Millions long for immortality who do not know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.
—Susan Erz

43. Computers are useless. They can only give you answers.
—Pablo Picasso

44. A genius! For 37 years I’ve practised fourteen hours a day, and now they call me a genius!
—Pablo Sarasate

45. There is nobody so irritating as somebody with less intelligence and more sense than we have.
—Don Herold

46. The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.
—Michael Althsuler

47. The little I know I owe to my ignorance.
—Orville Mars

48. The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.
—George Bernard Shaw

49. In God we trust; all others bring data.
—Dr. W. Edwards Deming

50. The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.
—Mark Twain

51. Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.
—Mark Twain

52. My definition of a free society is a society where it is safe to be unpopular.
—Adlai E. Stevenson Jr.

53. Simple, clear purpose and principles give rise to complex and intelligent behavior. Complex rules and regulations give rise to simple and stupid behavior.
—Dee Hock

54. Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.
—Albert Einstein

55. In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.
—Dwight D. Eisenhower

56. The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.
—Niels Bohr

57. Before you go and criticize the younger generation, just remember who raised them.
—Unknown Author

58. Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.
—Arthur Schopenhauer

59. It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.
—Harry Truman

60. A conclusion is the place where you got tired thinking.
—Martin H. Fischer

If you enjoyed this collection, check the original selection of 60 very best quotes or browse the full collection (which has just been updated with over 500 quotes).

What are you favorite ones out of the collection above? Do you have a favorite quote of yours that isn’t in this list? I’d love to hear in the comments!

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How to Become an Expert: A Roadmap Tue, 14 Apr 2009 18:55:42 +0000 Wouldn’t you like to intuitively know the right answers? Enter the Dreyfus model of skill acquisition, which shines a light on how we develop and master skills, helping us understand how we progress from novice to expert, including all the steps in between.

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Roadmap for Mastery

Wouldn’t you like to be an expert? To intuitively know the right answers? Enter the Dreyfus model of skill acquisition, which shines a light on how we develop and master skills, helping us understand how we progress from novice to expert, including all the steps in between.

Experts are Not Just Supercharged Novices

There’s much more to mastering a skill than just acquiring more knowledge. Just like adults are not simply bigger children, experts are not only smarter, more knowledgeable or faster than novices. The differences can be found at a more fundamental level, such as in how they perceive the world and approach problems.

Let’s take a familiar example: cooking. The novice cook needs detailed recipes to prepare even the simplest of dishes; the expert chef doesn’t need explicit recipes at all. It’s not that the chef memorized all the recipes. In fact, if he needs to make an unexpected change in how a dish is prepared — even one that was never made before — he can intuitively pull it off. Experienced folks seem to ‘just know’, don’t they?

To understand how that works, let’s turn to the ideas developed by brothers Hubert and Stuart Dreyfus in the early 80s, the Dreyfus model of skill acquisition. Their model breaks down the journey to mastery in five discrete stages, outlining what’s necessary to improve at each of them. Let’s see.

The 5 Skill Levels

1. Novices

The main goal of novices is to accomplish immediate tasks. Since they have little or no previous experience, they’re usually insecure and are focused only on having their first successes. Novices need clear rules and unambiguous instructions, and to concentrate on following them strictly. As such, they commonly don’t feel responsible for anything other than correctly following what was passed to them (“I’m just following orders!”).

To improve, novices usually need close monitoring to bring their actions as close as possible to achieve what is expected by adhering to the rules.

2. Advanced Beginners

Advanced beginners still operate following rules, but they’re able to apply them not only on the exact situations that they were intended for, but also on similar contexts. The once-rigid rules become more like guidelines. Advanced beginners try new things out, but still have difficulty troubleshooting problems. Just like novices, they’re still focused on completing tasks — they don’t want lengthy theorizing and don’t have much interest in the big picture.

To improve, advanced beginners need to gain experience dealing with real situations, preferably in limited and controlled situations (with much of the ‘real-world complexity’ filtered out).

3. Competent

As the rules and guidelines become prohibitively complex, practitioners begin organizing and sorting them by relevance, forming conceptual models. Competent practitioners can troubleshoot problems, and will work based on deliberate planning and past experience. They are willing to make decisions and to accept responsibility for their outcomes.

To improve, competent practitioners need exposure to a wide variety of typical, real-world, ‘whole’ situations. By dealing with those, they better grasp the connections between the isolated conceptual models they already use.

4. Proficient

Proficient practitioners create not only conceptual models, but a conceptual framework around their whole skill. They want the big picture, and become frustrated with oversimplified information. They’re conscious of their performance and can adjust their behaviors accordingly. They can also use and adapt others’ experiences, as well as grasp and apply maxims — which require much more sophisticated interpretation than mere rules or guidelines (as they’re much more generic and context-dependent).

To advance to the fifth and last level, proficient practitioners need even more practice — lots of it. And, as much as possible, they should practice without being hindered by policies or guidelines. The intuition of the expert starts with a vast pool of practical knowledge, and that can only be developed by experimenting freely.

5. Experts

The hallmark of experts is intuition: they just do what works — no explicit analysis or planning is involved. While proficient practitioners can intuitively identify problems, experts can go and intuitively solve them. They tap into their vast pool of knowledge and effortlessly identify patterns, applying solutions in context. Although experts are amazingly intuitive, they are usually rather inarticulate in explaining how they arrived at a conclusion.

Although technically this is the last stage in the model, experts never cease to practice and evolve in subtle ways, incorporating rarer and exceptional cases in their knowledge pool.

Common Themes: What Are the Fundamental Changes?

By looking at the five levels from a higher altitude, we can distill some common themes that emerge as one progresses from novice to expert:

  • Moving away from relying on rules and explicit knowledge to intuition and pattern matching.
  • Better filtering, where problems are no longer a big collection of data but a complete and unique whole where some bits are much more relevant than others.
  • Moving from being a detached observer of the problem to an involved part of the system itself, accepting responsibility for results, not just for carrying out tasks.

Lessons from the Dreyfus Model

How can we use the Dreyfus model in everyday life? Find below some key takeaways and ideas that speak most loudly to me. (I’m sure there are many others — feel free to contribute in the comments!)

  • Make skills acquisition as productive as possible. This is true both for individuals as well as for teams. By having a better idea of your skill level, you’re able to give yourself (or others in your team) exactly what’s needed at that particular level. If you want novices to operate at their best, they will need unambiguous rules. On the other hand, bothering the experts with intricate rules and policies is a recipe for frustration and bringing their performance down. We want to avoid ‘racing sheep and herding horses’.
  • Use it as a standard guidance and assessment framework. The Dreyfus model gives us a no-nonsense way to assess and compare skill levels in many contexts. We could use it to design better learning materials and courses, or salary ladders based strictly on skill level. Granted, the model is not 100% objective, but it’s much better than many ‘fluffy’ assessment tools I’ve seen around.
  • Pair up mentors and apprentices effectively. I’ve seen a big misconception many times, which is that the better you are at a skill the better mentor you’ll be. Not at all! In fact, experts can be the worst possible mentors, as they may lack the language (not to mention the patience) to deal with novices. It’s usually better to pair up people who are not more than two levels apart. That way, the mentor has significantly more experience than the apprentice, and can also hark back to the time he was an apprentice himself.

A Book Recommendation

Pragmatic Thinking and Learning
Most of the ideas in this article were taken from the book Pragmatic Thinking and Learning, which is my new all-time-favorite ‘how-to-use-your-brain’ kind of book.

If you’re interested in more details on the Dreyfus model, as well as many techniques and practical concepts for brain development, I highly recommend you to grab a copy. (Note: The book is marketed for software developers, but I found it’s highly readable and useful for ‘normal people’ as well) 😉

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66 Best Personal Excellence Tips Mon, 01 Dec 2008 10:59:15 +0000 “What’s your very best personal excellence tip?” Sixty-six engaged Litemind readers took the challenge and now share with us advice on what makes the most positive impact on their lives. Enjoy and vote for your favorites! Mistakes are the seeds of evolution and change. It is said that the journey of 1,000 miles begins with […]

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Litemind Personal Excellence Project

“What’s your very best personal excellence tip?” Sixty-six engaged Litemind readers took the challenge and now share with us advice on what makes the most positive impact on their lives. Enjoy and vote for your favorites!

  1. Mistakes are the seeds of evolution and change. It is said that the journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step. And it’s within this single step that lessons are learned, directions are given, and mistakes have already been made a thousand times over. It is in fact this single step that provides us with an opportunity to learn from all those who came before us and to lay down the seeds of personal evolution and change. Learning from another’s experience could be the most important factor towards achieving any kind of success in life. [details] (by Adam Sicinski)
  2. Be careful when comparing yourself to others. You know everything about yourself: your strengths, your weaknesses, your successes, and your failures. All you know about others is what they’ve chosen to show, and that would usually be only their success. List everything good about yourself and say, “Hey, I have a good personal résumé. Look at all I have achieved and what I can learn and achieve.” You can then go out feeling good and prepared for whatever challenge the world presents for you. (by Colleen Dick)
  3. I am grateful for… To ensure that you do not take things for granted, begin a Gratitude Journal. Each day write on a blank piece of paper ‘I am grateful for…’ then write down as many things that you are grateful for. Believe me, you will realize how lucky you really are. Date each sheet, and when you aren’t feeling all that crash hot, look back over what you have written and it will certainly boost your spirits! (by Viki Slough)
  4. Persist until it pays off. Most people give up right before they are about to succeed. Never, never, never give up! (by Jeremy Day)
  5. Eat chocolate. If you’re in a bad mood, or want to become more positive, have some chocolate! When I am unhappy, angry, or feeling negative, I often have a few pieces of chocolate. It helps to calm me down and seems to have a great effect on my mood. Fair Trade chocolate can have an amazing effect, because you know that you are helping to make a difference. (by Andre Livingstone)
  6. Have a personal hero. Mine is the late Nobel prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman. Anytime I am trying to solve a difficult problem, I invoke the pragmatic spirit of Feynman to guide me in the ways of rationality and the scientific method. When writing technical prose, I eschew jargon in favor of clear and precise language to communicate the ideas to my peers. When someone is presenting ideas or theories to me, I think of Feynman to hone my powers of critical thinking and my BS detector. (by Mike Yoke)
  7. Practice meditation regularly. Learn a proven and effective method of meditation, set a manageable routine, and keep to it. The objectivity and clarity of mind produced will help in all aspects of your life, from the mundane to the elevated. [details] (by Reddy Kilowatt)
  8. Use mind maps to quickly review books you’ve read. As I’m reading a book, I populate a mind map that I have started for that book. I jump between the book and the mind map after completing a major section or sometimes a whole chapter. This method has increased my comprehension of the topics covered in books 1000-fold. What’s more, I can look at a mind map of a book and within minutes recall important lessons learned in the book. I also use the mind map to point me to those parts of the book where I want to quickly review a specific topic. (by Llewellyn)
  9. Serve. My personal excellence tip is just that – serve. If in all that I do, I do in a spirit of being of service to the other, I win all the time. This has been my experience and the reason for my very successful life as a professional manager. (by rummuser)
  10. Break the cycle of self-inflicted junk mail. Stop deleting, “marking as read” or archiving newsletters, forwards, and RSS feeds you don’t read. Processing these items wastes valuable time every day. Instead, archive them in a “Self-Inflicted Junk” folder. Once a month, review what is in that folder, and unsubscribe. Use services like to stem the tide of junk from your friends as well. [details] (by Sid Savara)
  11. Practice being selfish. Stand firm behind the airplane/oxygen metaphor and put your own oxygen mask on before helping others. To be able to help others you have to take care of your own needs. When I don’t take care of myself, I can’t take care of other people. So I find time to relax and refuel on a daily basis (alone time), weekly basis (mom’s night out), monthly basis (girl’s night out), and yearly basis (vacation). [details] (by Stacey Hoffer Weckstein)
  12. Your goals: keep your eyes on ’em. Know what your goals are in the important areas of your life such as family and friends, work, spirituality, etc. Then use this knowledge to be sure that your hours, days, weeks, and months are working towards these goals. The minutes of your life support your major purposes in life. This tip is also practical: it prevents you from taking on too much (if something is not working towards a goal, don’t do it!), as well as keeps you in balance (you need to look at goals in different areas of your life). (by How to Cope with Pain)
  13. Discomfort is a prerequisite for success. Trying to stay in your comfort zone and letting fear get the best of you will always choke your creativity and sabotage any chances you might have of succeeding. In order to achieve any worthy goals, you must start realizing that discomfort is a prerequisite for success. [details] (by Andrew Bolis)
  14. Learn one sentence in a foreign language. Whenever my training and experience seem irrelevant, whenever I need to try something new, but I can’t think of a fresh solution, I just stop the task and learn a sentence in a foreign language. The “more foreign”, the better. My theory is that it opens a new pathway into the brain. I discovered this tip when I was invited to sit in on a Hindi class while I had writer’s block. During the class, I actually felt physical movement, a tingling behind my right eye. I went home and finished the writing assignment that had been plaguing me in record time. [details] (by Kate)
  15. Use Google Reader to keep track of websites. Using Google Reader (or a similar service) can help you save hours of time by having all your RSS feeds and updates in one place. You don’t have to constantly keep checking websites – they come to you in one easy place, where you can store or delete items. I check my Google Reader once in the morning and once in the evening. It has saved me hours of time and made me more efficient! [details] (by Glen Loveland)
  16. Put yourself in other people’s shoes. When you are angry or having a bad day it is easy to make a mean comment or tell someone off. Before saying or doing what’s in your mind take a moment to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. How would you feel on the receiving end of that comment you’re about to make or that action you’re about to take? Showing a little compassion often prevents me from saying things I’d otherwise regret or helps me decide what to do (or not do). If you treat people like you want to be treated, you’ll be able to avoid useless arguments and be surprised with all the friendly people around you. (by Anke)
  17. Show up. People say they want to achieve things, but then don’t show up for the things that would help them get there. They want to be writers, but don’t show up at the word processor. They want to own a business, but they don’t show up for the educational seminar. They want to be actors, but then don’t show up for the audition. [details] (by Lyman Reed)
  18. Take 100% responsibility for everything that happens to you. Even if it seems like an accident, you are 100% responsible for everything that happens to you. I got in a car accident that wasn’t my fault according to the law. How do I take responsibility for that? I had forgotten something at home and went to get it on my way to a meeting. If I had a better system for remembering items, then I wouldn’t have been in the accident. If you are not getting what you want, it is because you are not taking responsibility to educate yourself or working hard to achieve it. Will you be 100% responsible or will you take the easy way out and settle for less then you are worth? (by Chris Elliott)
  19. Make personal excellence… personal. Bring a part of yourself into everything you do. The more your work reflects your individuality, the more it will stand out from the crowd, the more people will relate to it (and you) and the more “real” your achievements will seem to be. And when your efforts involve other people, involve them on a personal level as well, so that the project becomes a relationship that brings out the best in everyone involved. [details] (by Tori Deaux)
  20. Spider-map. A spider-map is a scheme where you place the main concept in the center and then, around it, write ideas generated from the central theme. You will end up having a web of linked keywords, great for those who rely on their visual memory more often, like I do. [details] (by Lucia Grosaru)
  21. Health, the neglected point. There will be tons of people writing about how to be more productive or how to excel in time management, etc. Yet the first thing we must remember when we are talking about personal development is taking care of our health. You can have all the fancy techniques to get more done, but neglecting your health does not help to increase productivity in the long term. Exercise regularly and make the conscious effort to eat healthier food. [details] (by Vincent)
  22. Detach from the outcome. Probably best illustrated by the Serenity Prayer: “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.” I find that my life flows much smoother and is less stressful when I can remember to detach from outcomes. (by Lora Adrianse)
  23. Stop expecting bananas from people who have no bananas. If you are not getting what you want, then maybe you are looking in the wrong place… Whenever I feel frustrated or stuck with a situation in my work or personal life, I find that this maxim helps me to see things objectively, take responsibility and move on. (by joy)
  24. Learn to develop a ‘productive mindset’. A productive mindset is one that makes the best use of your resources — your time, your energy and your effort. It’s making the most and best of what you have while enjoying the process. It is a mindset that encompasses curiosity, open-mindedness, desire, critical thinking and a positive outlook among other qualities. [details] (by ZHereford)
  25. Getting realistic. My kids made up this phrase. Every time someone says something like “I wish I had…”, “Why didn’t I…”, or “Why did I…”, my kids always say: “That is in the land of shoulda, coulda, woulda!”. This means that what happened has already happened and you need to choose the way you want things to go from now on. (by Maureen)
  26. Create multiple memory palaces. Memorize multiple settings, or palaces, to categorize your lists. I have one setting I use to remember items to buy, another setting for things to do, and another setting for items I want to communicate with my family. When the visual setting comes to mind, I know whether I’m in action mode, communication mode or list mode. This keeps my lists from getting jumbled and keeps me in the right frame of mind. For me, there is an added benefit of productivity because I feel the need to clear the action items from my memory before the day is done. [details] (by S. Sipes)
  27. Time management is key for huge plans. When it comes to developing a major project — whether it’s a blog, business, or a contest — always plan everything in advance. I always plan my blogging projects almost a month in advance because things can always change at the last minute. If you plan thoroughly enough, changes toward your deadline won’t hinder your plans. Time management is a major key to productivity in anything you do. (by David)
  28. Count your blessings and cheer up! Remember and appreciate all good things in your life that you might have taken for granted, e.g., your ability to see, hear, think, and walk. Many people don’t even have clean drinking water. Think about people who lose everything during natural calamities and then imagine if you were in their shoes. Shifts my focus every time I feel sad and hopeless. [details] (by Pearl)
  29. Don’t presume… ask! How many times in life have we missed an opportunity, created a misunderstanding or just plain got it wrong because we presumed we knew what someone meant, was thinking or their motivation? Don’t presume — just ask! Ask questions that connect: “What’s going on for you around that?”, “What’s important to you in this?”. Ask questions that clarify: “What is it you need me to understand?”, “What did you take from that?”. Ask questions that go to the next level, that is, beyond their current strategy: “Is x,y,z really important to you in this situation?” [details] (by Leona Dawson)
  30. There is no reason to hate anything in life. You are separate from your thoughts and emotions. Once you realize and feel this separation, you will discover that there is absolutely no reason to hate anything (including your job!). Then you will discover that everything in life is awesome. [details] (by Jarrod)
  31. Make your mind your playground. Your mind is your ultimate tool (if everything else fails, you still have it). Making it fit, alert and ready to play is the best approach to make it your greatest asset. So make your brain healthy by providing it healthy food and plenty of sleep, and make it happy providing themes for it to play with. Give your mind a workout (e.g. play chess!) and you’ll see the results immediately! [details] (by Luciano S. Fier)
  32. A chronometer by my side. For me, tasks are challenges. My motivation is to think of them as competitions in which I always want to win. So, for example, if I need to learn something, I set up a clock by my side to 1 hour. I concentrate as hard as I can in that hour — no Internet connection allowed, as it’s totally distracting. If someone asks for a quick task, I do it as fast as I can and then I note down how long it took. That’s a great way to give more excitement to my routine work. (by Tiare Rivera)
  33. Attitude. “I am convinced that life is 10% of what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.” This is a sentence from an essay titled “Attitude” by Charles Swindoll. Since adopting this as my daily mantra I no longer get angry and I’m a calmer, happier and more productive person as a result. A lot has been written about maintaining a positive attitude, but this statement and the essay are the most profound and have had the greatest impact of anything I’ve read. [details] (by Gary J. Hawk)
  34. If you don’t have space for what you want in your life, it will never come to you. Work out what’s currently in your life that takes up the ‘space’ and is preventing something better to slide in. Aim towards cutting it out. This will allow you to jump on new opportunities when they appear. It could be a person, bad habit, job or other commitment; you’ll know what it is for you, and you know it’s stopping you moving on. (by Josie Sawers)
  35. Combine the Law of Attraction with realism. Everyone knows about the Law of Attraction, but many people reject it as supernatural nonsense. They’re missing the point. Don’t take the genie metaphor literally, but simply as a model for improving your awareness and control over your thoughts. As a species, we’re really awful at positive thinking. It’s not meant to be a replacement for action, but the source of inspired, unrelenting persistence through the toughest challenges. [details] (by Hunter Nuttall)
  36. Follow your inner voice. I spent many years trying to follow the voice of others, believing others knew better than me. I would come up short and feel like a failure… Until I started to hear and listen to my own voice. We all have this inner voice / intuition and it is the only place where we will get the answers we are seeking. [details] (by Ellie Walsh)
  37. Paying gratitude. Paying gratitude for what you have shifts your subconscious mind from lack to abundance, allowing for more good to come. I say my gratitude list to myself in the morning and before bed to ensure I recognize what is going right in my life and all that I have. It puts me in a positive state of mind and just as a bad mood can snowball, so can a positive mood when you begin to realize just how fortunate you are. [details] (by Jenny Mannion)
  38. Leverage mind map templates for creativity and productivity. Using templates as starting points for your mind maps — instead of starting from scratch every time — is something I found very useful. Manufacturers of mind mapping software have a wide range of business, educational, and personal productivity mind map templates. These templates give you ideas and structure when creating a mind map. [details] (by Chance Brown)
  39. Think rationally. Think rationally about everything. If something isn’t working for you, whether it’s an aspect of your job, your productivity system or your relationship, think logically about why this is so. For instance, just because you have an emotional attachment to a Moleskine (“It looks really nice!”), it doesn’t mean it’s a good tool for you. Think about what you can change, fix or alter to improve every situation in your life. I’ve seen so many people make the same mistakes because they just don’t stop and think critically. [details] (by James Mallinson)
  40. Tomorrow is another day. All too often, when trying to establish a new habit — or break an old one — I don’t manage to keep on the straight and narrow! When in a diet, I occasionally forget about it and eat something I shouldn’t. But then I remind myself that just because I forgot once, it doesn’t mean I have failed — and that I should just get back to the diet tomorrow. I apply this to every project that I start and, gradually over time, the number of times I fail reduces to a well-established level. (by John Mullarkey)
  41. Gift of attention. Practicing the gift of attention offers the perfect mirror for our self-centered tendencies. As we engage in deep listening, the need to fix or offer opinion is recognized in stark contrast to the mindful presence arising from the practice. Thus, these moments of ego are allowed to pass without resistance. (by Kate Loving Shenk)
  42. Do The Simplest Thing That Could Possibly Work. This is my all-purpose tip from the land of Extreme Programming. Not the easiest, the cheapest or the quickest thing. The simplest. Often, in the everyday rush of pushing tasks out of my queue and into others’, I spend more time making things more refined than necessary. So I ask myself: “What really needs to be produced to keep the project or the day moving forward?”. This goes for menu planning, party planning, gift buying, writing, etc. Plenty of time to make things more complicated later! [details] (by Mike Brown)
  43. Align effort with personal values. Kulia i ka nu’u is my Hawaiian value-alignment for excellence. It means ‘strive to the summit’. Be your best. Don’t settle for less, for there’s no honor or fulfillment in aiming lower than you’re capable of achieving. My tip is to harness competition in this way: Do not compete with, or compare yourself to others; if compete you must, compete with your previous self. [details] (by Rosa Say)
  44. Just do it. Get tasks started and finished quickly: don’t spend too much time planning or perfecting your work beyond what is required. Endless planning or endless revising is just an excuse to procrastinate while feeling like you’re doing work. When you don’t know what to do in the first place, that’s the time to plan. When it’s done, get someone else to check it over, and if they say it’s good enough, don’t waste time trying to make it even better. (by Elena Kelareva)
  45. Internal conflict questions passion. We have both passion and forces that pull us away from that passion. Even when we are passionate about doing something, we often don’t know the true reason why we’re doing it. I know many people who have wanted to write great blogs (including myself). They have two reasons to blog — one is to help others and the other is to make money. And that’s when the internal conflict arises: you must be sure of the reasons behind your acts. Be it one reason or another, be 100% sure of it. (by Praveen Sherman)
  46. Optimize your life with the SWOT matrix. The SWOT matrix is a framework for analyzing your life and finding creative ways to optimize it. The acronym SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. This matrix enables you to focus on your strengths, to minimize weaknesses, and to take advantage of every opportunity. [details] (by Mary Jaksch)
  47. Be more conscious of your goals at every moment. Before taking any action, always ask yourself what you want to accomplish. Why are you doing it? This has made a huge difference in my life. Now I am much more focused when doing something and reach my goals more often. It also helps me to stop doing stuff that is irrelevant or opposed to my goals. Often we are living on autopilot and forget what we are trying to accomplish. (by Jorge Pena)
  48. Listen to your inner voice. We all have intuition that guides us through our lives. That quiet inner voice, that knowing beyond logic. Following your intuition can be scary at times, but I can say from my experience it’s the most effective advice I could ever find. I can recall a number of incidents when I ignored my intuition and regretted later, but had no regrets when following my intuition. So after you read, discuss, brainstorm, take a quiet moment to listen to your intuition. (by Akemi Gaines)
  49. As you think so you are. July 10, 2000. A car accident took me to hospital with an arm, leg and hip crushed. During the months of recovery (one of them motionless), my wife was diagnosed with an incurable illness and my mother died. I was sent back home on a wheelchair. By chance I came to read “As a Man Thinketh” by James Allen. It led me to take charge of myself. In the months ahead, I never gave up until I could walk again. I took an examination to become a high-school counselor and passed it, although I was in my fifties. “Take charge of yourself” is the motto I always say to myself and the students I am counseling. (by Joel Cardigan)
  50. Be real! Rather than trying to figure out what someone else wants in a friend, partner, colleague, lover, boss, employee, then contorting yourself to fit what you believe they’re looking for… just be you. In all your glory. If you’re a dork, be a glorious dork. If you’re a geek, parade around in your geeky radiance. Quiet, outgoing, artistic, analytic, whoever you are, honor that essence and build out your world with people and experiences who support your authentic self (by Jonathan Fields)
  51. Set aside a specific time each week for personal reflection. Having a consistent weekly review is one of the most powerful ways to better focus your attention, realign your priorities, and make sure you’re making progress towards your goals. Block off 30-45 minutes at the end of each week, ask questions, and write down your answers in your system of choice: What did I learn this week? What did I accomplish? What do I still need to focus on for next week? Have I made progress towards my long-term goals? What new ideas do I have? What did I learn this week that inspires me? (by Eric Blue)
  52. Record instantly, process appropriately, execute effectively, document fully. A personal workflow process that I try to make a habit. When a new task/project/issue arises, make sure you record it instantly. Then at an appropriate time, process it, doing your planning and sorting out the tasks involved. Next, execute the task(s) and make sure you document it fully. When I follow this process it makes my life much easier both in the short term and the long run. My biggest challenge personally is to record every issue instantly. The moment you put down the phone, finish a conversation or finish reading that email, record what has arisen instantly. (by Brian Bullen)
  53. Gung Ho Juggernaut vs. Beatific Buddha. Perseverance is two things, and you must befriend them both to get where you are going. I constantly ask myself whether it is time to persist in my efforts, or to be patient and wait for better circumstances. Always ask this question because the persistent juggernaut can destroy, the patient Buddha can stagnate, and only the wise application of both can deliver you to your destination. [details] (by Samir Bharadwaj)
  54. Set ‘Target Zero’ for something you want to avoid, eliminate or improve upon. Basically a Quality Management technique, I use it for my personal development and self-improvement. For example, you can make a list of 10 books you wish to read and set Target Zero for the end of the year, which means “By the end of the year, you will have zero books that remains to be read”. The target needs to be time-bound and result-oriented. Even if you end up not achieving the target, you’ll certainly make a lot of progress. [details] (by Sandeep)
  55. Use your whole brain. Most of us are left-brain oriented. Yet our most creative self is in the right brain. Use the left for understanding the problem and collecting information and use the right to create solutions. Learn to spot which side you are on and then shift to the other side for holistic thinking. Discover your best techniques for shifting to the right brain and practice them. My favorite R-Mode techniques are meditation, copying art upside down and silently playing with Knex and Magz toys. [details] (by Eric Palmer)
  56. Be strict with yourself. This was the factor that made me leave the teenager years behind, turning me into an adult woman. I used to be too nice to myself, rarely admitting my mistakes and often blaming other people for my own problems. Nowadays, I reevaluate my behavior on a regular basis and am not afraid to recognize my wrongdoings. It may be painful sometimes, but there are plenty of rewards to reap from this habit, like continuous self-growth and healthier relationships. (by Karen Zara)
  57. Be human. People sometimes forget they’re human. They overwork and overindulge — and get overwhelmed. Being human means taking care of your body first and foremost. You can’t enjoy life with a congested nose or artery. Being human also means having a purpose in your life. Having a purpose allows you to better do things within your limitations, because you already know what the desired end result is. Lastly, being human means comprehending mortality. Always ask yourself: what would be my legacy after I’m no longer? (by Ismail Fan)
  58. Plot the future. The best predictor of what lies ahead for you is not your past, it’s your future. The personal calendar you maintain might appear to be just a series of days, months, and years, but it’s much more than that. It’s a sneak preview of your life and what is to come. Be deliberate about what you put on it. Make sure it contains what’s most important. Add lots of interesting stuff and schedule fun. Even create blocks of absolutely nothing. But always have something to look forward to! (by Todd Doubleu)
  59. Journaling to Done (JTD). Start journaling! It helps your personal development. It’s useful to de-clutter your problems, process your emotional baggage (such as anxiety and worries), track your thought processes, and identify what actions you can do. You can simply use pen and paper, PostIt notes and a system to get it organized. JTD is journaling with purpose: it ends with the next action you can do right now. Focus on it and you’ll get many things done. [details] (by Robert A. Henru)
  60. Be passionate about getting quality sleep. I have a somewhat nerdy passion: trying to attain the perfect night’s sleep. In the past I have underestimated the importance of quality sleep, but this year I have come to realize that being well rested is vitally important for getting things done and generally just enjoying what life has to offer. If you find yourself getting tired frequently, I suggest jumping on Google and going in search of the numerous resources out there with information to help you to sleep better. (by Peter Clemens)
  61. Learn from the best first. If you want success, learn from how others achieved it and then choose a similar direction and imprint it with your own style. When I thought about start blogging, I subscribed to the biggest blogs about blogging and their equivalents in my chosen niche, and then tried to understand why those bloggers were so successful and what I needed to do to match their achievements. You’ll avoid making mistakes that others have made many times before. You’ll also learn insights that only the elite can give, significantly increasing your chances of becoming one from that elite. (by Jacob Share)
  62. If I could do only three things today… It’s easy to get busy and just react to emails and phone calls all day. After a day like this I’m left feeling like I didn’t accomplish anything. So when I get up in the morning I make sure that I stop and write down the “top three things” I choose to get done today. These are activities that bring me closer to my goals faster than anything else I could be doing. Three things doesn’t sound like much but I find it supercharges me when I get my top three things done before lunch every day! (by Don Campbell)
  63. Getting clear leads to success. Using a contrast versus clarity worksheet helps me get clear, regain my focus and get back on track. I especially use this when I am feeling overwhelmed and wonder what happened to the day, the tasks are piling up and I can’t see the forest for the trees, so to speak. [details] (by Suzie Cheel)
  64. Happiness is a choice. Happy people know that their happiness depends on their state of mind, and that they have the power to choose their response to external events. They avoid ‘if only’ fantasies, are grateful for simple pleasures, figure out their strengths and direct them toward achieving meaningful goals. They’re engaged in their work, look for ways to get more pleasure out of life, and are kind toward others. In the words of Aristotle: ‘Happiness depends upon ourselves.’ [details] (by Marelisa Fabrega)
  65. Write your fears out. All of us have deep-rooted fears inside. Writing them out on a piece of paper gives a strong message to the subconscious mind — which in turn suggests creative ways to overcome them, one by one. This technique helps me concentrate on my fears/weaknesses, so I can strive hard to eliminate them. When I get past one fear, I strike it off — and that makes me feel proud! Sometimes even making a quick sketch illustrating your fears work wonders! (the attached URL shows what I sketched when I was afraid of writing) [details] (by Chinmay Gupta)
  66. The ‘Zen Zone’. When I want to give my all to a project or task, I place it into what I call a ‘Zen Zone’. I do everything to avoid potential distractions: this includes shutting my door, clearing my desk, turning off the phone, and even unplugging the Internet if possible. I play non-vocal music at a low volume (to prevent unwanted noises from reaching my attention threshold). With an absence of all distractions, I find that focus, inspiration and motivation flow freely. It takes commitment to place an item into the Zen Zone, but the results often exceed my expectations. When I leave the Zen Zone, I feel refreshed and proud of the accomplishments made while in it. (by Jim Krenz)

What Are Your Favorite Tips?

Of the tips above, which are the ones that resonate most with you? Do you have any additional tip you don’t see listed here? Don’t be shy — share with us in the comments!

And for the 66 project participants, the time to start voting has come, so we can hand the prizes.

To vote, just post a comment to this posting listing your favorite tips. You must pick at least 5 favorite entries, and as many as you like (no voting for your own entry).

Important: To make sure your vote counts, please comment using the same name and e-mail address you used to sign up for the project. Please start your comment with the word “VOTE” so I can differentiate between “official votes” and regular comments. Also, to make vote counting easier, make sure to include the list numbers used above for each entry with your vote.

You have until Monday, December 8 2008 (end of day, GMT-12) to vote. Remember, to be eligible for the prizes (both for best tip and for the random draw) you must cast your votes before the deadline –– so don’t miss it!

Thanks for your participation and good luck everybody!

Update: Results are in! Check out the winners!

(cc) Litemind, some rights reserved. Original post: 66 Best Personal Excellence Tips.

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How to be Great: Rising Above the Talent Myth Thu, 16 Oct 2008 13:13:20 +0000 Think of the greatest athletes, musicians or artists that inspires you. They were each born with a special gift: wired from birth with talents and abilities that we don't have access to, right? Research shows it’s not that simple.

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How to be Great: Rising Above the Talent Myth

This is an article by guest writer Don Campbell of Expand2Web.

“A genius! For 37 years I’ve practiced fourteen hours a day, and now they call me a genius!” –Pablo Sarasate (Spanish violinist)

Think of the greatest athlete, musician, artist or business professional that inspires you. The amazing talents that really stand out. Michael Jordan. Tiger Woods. Warren Buffett. They were each born with a special gift: wired from birth with talents and abilities that most of us don’t have access to, right?

Research is showing that it’s not that simple. In fact, many child prodigies don’t go on to major success in the area of their early gifts. And many of the greatest performers, athletes and business people never showed any early signs of aptitude.

So, how did they become great at what they do?

A couple of years ago I read an article by Geoffrey Colvin in Fortune, What It Takes To Be Great. The article is fascinating and delves into the question of innate abilities, usually referred as “the talent myth”.

The Research on Great Performance

In 1993, Florida State University professor K. Anders Ericsson and his colleagues published a paper on ‘expert performance’ which, along with the additional studies around the world that it inspired, made some very interesting discoveries:

  • Nobody is “great” without lots of work. Early aptitude is not a predictor for greatness in a given field without consistent practice over a long period of time.
  • The most accomplished people in any field need about 10 years of hard work before they become “world class”. They call this the 10 Year Rule.

Many of these scientists are now saying that “targeted” natural gifts do not exist at all. You are not born a CEO or chess grandmaster. Rather, greatness is achieved by hard, focused work over many years.

Charlie Parker, widely considered one of the most influential of Jazz musicians, showed no sign of musical talent as a child. He started playing saxophone at age 11, and was thrown out of his high school band because he was so bad. But this drove him to practice intensively for many years, for four years up to 15 hours a day. It was many years after that before he was noticed.

Tiger Woods started practicing golf at 18 months, and was encouraged to practice by his father. He had been practicing intensively for 15 years before winning the U.S. Amateur Championship at age 18.

But you and I both know people who work very hard. Many work for decades at a job or hobby without approaching greatness. Why don’t they become “world class”, then?

It turns out that it’s not just hard work that is required. What is required is focused, consistent practice over a long period of time. Something the researchers are calling deliberate practice.

Deliberate Practice

Truly great people in any field devote many hours to deliberate practice. Deliberate practice is an activity that goes beyond repetition. It is consistent practice where the goal is to continually improve performance, reaching beyond your current capabilities, and seeking feedback on results.

The article describes what is my favorite example of deliberate practice:

Simply hitting a bucket of balls is not deliberate practice, which is why most golfers don’t get better. Hitting an eight-iron 300 times with a goal of leaving the ball within 20 feet of the pin 80 percent of the time, continually observing results and making appropriate adjustments, and doing that for hours every day — that’s deliberate practice.

And what’s great about these findings is that we can apply them to all areas of our life. Almost any skill is improvable. Giving presentations. Sports. Negotiating. Whatever it is that you do and have a passion for, you can improve and become truly great — if you are willing to put in the work, that is.

The Deliberate Practice Formula

  1. Approach each critical task with an explicit goal of getting much better at it. Set goals that are just beyond your level of competency.
  2. As you do the task, focus on what’s happening and why you’re doing it the way you are.
  3. After the task, get feedback on your performance from multiple sources. Don’t get emotional about it, and make changes in your behavior as necessary.
  4. Continually build mental models of your situation – of your industry, your company, your career. Expand the models to encompass more factors. (A good book on the concept of mental models is The Power of Impossible Thinking by Yoram Wind and Colin Cook).
  5. Do those steps regularly, not sporadically. Occasional practice does not work. Consistency is the key here.

What Does This All Mean?

We don’t have to be born with a special talent in order to be great at something. We just have to have the desire to constantly work at and improve our skill. This is huge: it means that you can learn to be good, or even great at nearly anything!

Most people won’t go through the long and difficult process of deliberate practice. But this is what can separate you from the pack. This is what makes great performance rare: most people either don’t believe they can do it, or aren’t willing to do the work to become truly great at their passion.

So ask yourself, what is your ‘mastery skill’? What should you work on to improve regularly, practicing, getting feedback, improving and pushing yourself to higher levels of excellence?

Is it your career? Is it a sport? Is it art or music? Now that you know that excellence is a choice, a whole world of possibilities opens up. Are you ready to pursue your dream and become “world class at it”?

Article Mind Map

When I read something that I really want to remember, I create a mind map to help me conceptualize what I’ve read. My mind map summary of the article that inspired this post, What It Takes To Be Great, is included below.

How to be Great: Rising Above the Talent Myth Mind Map

Additional Resources

About Don Campbell

Don is the publisher of, a website devoted to helping small business owners automate their business websites using WordPress, and get a steady stream of new customers from Google and Yahoo. In his leisure time Don enjoys learning to play Jazz piano, skiing, and wake boarding. He lives with his wife and two daughters in the San Jose, California where they enjoy traveling and exploring the Redwoods and the Pacific ocean beaches.

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Topics du Jour: Give Your Life Direction in Less than 10 Minutes a Day Mon, 14 Jul 2008 12:56:50 +0000 Topics du Jour is a powerful journaling technique you can use to review, plan and put your life in perspective within no more than 5 or 10 minutes of your day. Here’s how it works: Number down a page from 1 to 30. Write in each line one aspect of your life that you would […]

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Topics du Jour

Topics du Jour is a powerful journaling technique you can use to review, plan and put your life in perspective within no more than 5 or 10 minutes of your day. Here’s how it works:

Number down a page from 1 to 30. Write in each line one aspect of your life that you would like to monitor. Then, each day of the month, look at the corresponding topic and write a paragraph or two about it.

You may end up writing about your plans, or maybe about a specific problem you’re facing in that area. Or perhaps you will end up just babbling — it doesn’t matter. The important thing is that you’ll be spending those few daily minutes specifically giving attention to what matters in your life. That’s why I like this technique: it’s quick, intuitive and, above all, it gets you into the daily habit of connecting with what’s important in your life.

Here are a few examples of topics you can write about:

  • Career
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Health
  • Money
  • Spiritual Life
  • Learning
  • Leisure
  • Aging
  • Contribution

Bear in mind that the topics don’t need to be limited to the usual notion of ‘life areas’. You can, for example, pick themes such as ‘Successes’, ‘Dreams’, ‘Goals’, ‘Frustrations’, ‘Procrastination’; or anything else you believe would be interesting to revisit regularly.

A note about the number of topics: to be fair, you don’t need to define 30 topics to write about: the only requirement is that you keep a schedule to cycle between your topics, no matter how many of them there are. My schedule, for example, consists of 10 topics rotated biweekly, weekdays only.

Top 3 Benefits of Topics du Jour

1. Touch-Base All Life Areas

We usually don’t need complex tools to find out how to improve our lives. All we need is to get into the habit of connecting with our inner selves and listen. However, this is not as easy as it seems at first, as we tend to get stuck in just one or two dominant aspects of our lives and think only about those.

That’s exactly how Topics du Jour can help: it serves as a framework you can use to regularly connect with yourself and methodically focus on each and every important aspect of your life.

2. Get Instantly Motivated to Action

Facing the different aspects of your life on a daily basis is an act of courage. Bringing long-standing issues to the surface can be scary. Getting to regularly overcome the resistance to face these issues gives you an immediate sense of power and control.

Even more important is the fact that, by consciously bringing those issues to the surface, you can actually do something about them.

And here’s a suggestion, which is the only “rule” I have in my Topics du Jour sessions: once you’re done, look at what you’ve written and define at least one action you can do to move you forward in that area. Think of the smallest step possible you can take and, if at all possible, don’t even write it down: do it immediately! Maybe it’s a phone call; maybe it’s just tidying up your desk or deleting an old file on your computer. The motivating effect of immediate action, no matter how tiny, never ceases to amaze me.

3. Uncover Patterns

Contrary to regular journal entries, which are usually long and digressing, Topics du Jour entries tend to be short and to-the-point, making them perfect to be reviewed at a later time.

You can take, for example, several entries for just one particular topic and read them all in sequence. By doing that, you can get new insights about your advancement in that area, as well as uncover recurrent thinking patterns and struggles.

Another interesting way you can review your entries is by reading the entries in all topics for a certain period of your life. That way, you can find relationships between different aspects of your life (such as how one area impacts others).

How Topics du Jour Complements Getting Things Done (or How I Stopped Worrying About ‘High-Level’ Life Reviews)

Topics du Jour stands on its own as a self-knowledge journaling tool. The surprising discovery I made is that it really shines when used together with productivity systems such as David Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD). For me, Topics du Jour picks up exactly where GTD leaves off. Let me explain.

GTD is a great bottom-up approach to get your life in control. In order to put your life in perspective, you need a certain level of control in your life first. “If your ship is sinking, it doesn’t matter where it’s headed at”, Allen usually says. So, organizing low-level tasks and projects is a great place to start to get your life under control.

But once the organizing part is taken care of, you need to climb up and review your life from ‘higher altitudes’ — otherwise you’ll be trapped in mindless, never-ending micromanagement of tasks. Granted, GTD mentions that you should have those kinds of higher-altitude reviews, but it offers little guidance on how to do them.

In my case, even when trying to adopt other, more top-down oriented approaches — such as Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People — I could never form the proper habits to make these reviews work. After many years of trying, I finally found out why.

Why High-Level Reviews Didn’t Work

The problems with my high-level reviews were twofold:

  • Too analytical. Linear, left-brain thinking may be great for managing to-do lists, but it failed me miserably when doing high-level reviews. For years I struggled trying to find the perfect structure for my high-level reviews: checklists of questions, improvement charts, SWOT matrices — I tried them all. And, no matter how my logical mind told me that these methods should work, I kept struggling. The very structures that I set up were preventing me from gaining access to the abstract thinking that’s required for high-level reviews.
  • Too frightening. The idea of sitting down to define goals and major directions for my life was always dreadful to me. I used to set my goals all at once (New Year’s resolutions, anyone?). No wonder that the mere idea of such big ‘life reviews’ overwhelmed me.

As you already figured out by now, Topics du Jour resolved both problems.

No More High-Level Reviews

After journaling for a while, I noticed that I didn’t need those dreadful, big bang-like reviews. As it happens, I dropped the idea of ‘life reviews’ altogether in favor of Topics du Jour sessions. In a truly kaizen style, my higher-level thinking is now spread daily, and consists of nothing more than the Topics du Jour journaling sessions.

It came as an unexpectedly nice surprise to me how a journaling technique solved, quite by accident, an age-old problem I had. Here’s how:

  • Too analytical? Topics du Jour (as any form of journaling) can be a truly sensorial experience. Put an ambient light on, grab a comfortable pen or a nice and sexy text editor, and just write. Let go of your overly-dominant left-brain and let your intuition speak: no projects list, no estimating, no priorities. It’s refreshing being able to include a ‘soft’ tool like journaling to the highly-structured world of productivity systems.
  • Too frightening? Topics du Jour allows me to review my life one bit a day, splitting up a once huge and frightening task into several smaller, more manageable parts. In fact, I now look forward to my daily journaling sessions. There are no expectations whatsoever about these sessions — and, therefore, no unfulfilled expectations. The directions, the goals, the frustrations: they all just seem to emerge naturally instead of being forced upon me at a particular, pre-defined review date.

Try It

For a long time I’ve been reading about the benefits of keeping a daily journal. However, I always thought it wouldn’t be practical in my life, as it would take too much of my time. With the Topics du Jour technique, I don’t spend more than 10 minutes a day (well, I created a focused time box around it, just in case). And I can say that I actually gained time, as I spend much less time setting goals or worrying about those big, dreadful life reviews.

The Topics du Jour technique — like almost everything else I know about journaling — was learned from the excellent book Journal to the Self, by Kathleen Adams (click here for the book summary).

Give it a try. If you need further topic suggestions, I recommend you check the ones from the book (they can be found in the book’s mind map).

(cc) Litemind, some rights reserved. Original post: Topics du Jour: Give Your Life Direction in Less than 10 Minutes a Day.

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60 Selected Best Famous Quotes Mon, 19 May 2008 12:01:05 +0000 These are the very best 60 quotes, from nearly a decade of collecting them. They range from the profound to the intriguing to the just plain funny.

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Best Famous Quotes

In this posting you will find my selection of the very best 60 quotes, from nearly a decade of collecting them. They range from the profound to the intriguing to the just plain funny.

One way or the other, you’ll surely find many of them to be thought-provoking and entertaining.

This selection is, of course, based solely on my personal taste (and even that varies largely from day to day according to my mood). You are welcome to browse the entire collection and look for your own favorite ones or contribute new quotes from your own personal collection.

Wisdom Quotes

1. You can do anything, but not everything.
—David Allen

2. Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
—Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

3. The richest man is not he who has the most, but he who needs the least.
—Unknown Author

4. You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.
—Wayne Gretzky

5. Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.
—Ambrose Redmoon

6. You must be the change you wish to see in the world.

7. When hungry, eat your rice; when tired, close your eyes. Fools may laugh at me, but wise men will know what I mean.

8. The third-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the majority. The second-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the minority. The first-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking.
—A. A. Milne

9. To the man who only has a hammer, everything he encounters begins to look like a nail.
—Abraham Maslow

10. We are what we repeatedly do; excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.

11. A wise man gets more use from his enemies than a fool from his friends.
—Baltasar Gracian

12. Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the men of old; seek what they sought.

13. Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.

14. Everyone is a genius at least once a year. The real geniuses simply have their bright ideas closer together.
—Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

15. What we think, or what we know, or what we believe is, in the end, of little consequence. The only consequence is what we do.
—John Ruskin

16. The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes.
—Marcel Proust

17. Work like you don’t need money, love like you’ve never been hurt, and dance like no one’s watching
—Unknown Author

18. Try a thing you haven’t done three times. Once, to get over the fear of doing it. Twice, to learn how to do it. And a third time, to figure out whether you like it or not.
—Virgil Garnett Thomson

19. Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.
—Will Rogers

20. People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.
—Zig Ziglar

Funny Quotes

21. Before I got married I had six theories about bringing up children; now I have six children and no theories.
—John Wilmot

22. What the world needs is more geniuses with humility, there are so few of us left.
—Oscar Levant

23. Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.
—Oscar Wilde

24. I’ve gone into hundreds of [fortune-teller’s parlors], and have been told thousands of things, but nobody ever told me I was a policewoman getting ready to arrest her.
—New York City detective

25. When you go into court you are putting your fate into the hands of twelve people who weren’t smart enough to get out of jury duty.
—Norm Crosby

26. Those who believe in telekinetics, raise my hand.
—Kurt Vonnegut

27. Just the fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.
—Carl Sagan

28. My pessimism extends to the point of even suspecting the sincerity of the pessimists.
—Jean Rostand

29. Sometimes I worry about being a success in a mediocre world.
—Lily Tomlin

30. I quit therapy because my analyst was trying to help me behind my back.
—Richard Lewis

31. We’ve heard that a million monkeys at a million keyboards could produce the complete works of Shakespeare; now, thanks to the Internet, we know that is not true.
—Robert Wilensky

32. If there are no stupid questions, then what kind of questions do stupid people ask? Do they get smart just in time to ask questions?
—Scott Adams

33. If the lessons of history teach us anything it is that nobody learns the lessons that history teaches us.

34. When I was a boy I was told that anybody could become President. Now I’m beginning to believe it.
—Clarence Darrow

35. Laughing at our mistakes can lengthen our own life. Laughing at someone else’s can shorten it.
—Cullen Hightower

36. There are many who dare not kill themselves for fear of what the neighbors will say.
—Cyril Connolly

37. There’s so much comedy on television. Does that cause comedy in the streets?
—Dick Cavett

38. All men are frauds. The only difference between them is that some admit it. I myself deny it.
—H. L. Mencken

39. I don’t mind what Congress does, as long as they don’t do it in the streets and frighten the horses.
—Victor Hugo

40. I took a speed reading course and read ‘War and Peace’ in twenty minutes. It involves Russia.
—Woody Allen

Otherwise Intelligent Quotes

41. The person who reads too much and uses his brain too little will fall into lazy habits of thinking.
—Albert Einstein

42. Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it.
—André Gide

43. It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.

44. I’d rather live with a good question than a bad answer.
—Aryeh Frimer

45. We learn something every day, and lots of times it’s that what we learned the day before was wrong.
—Bill Vaughan

46. I have made this letter longer than usual because I lack the time to make it shorter.
—Blaise Pascal

47. Don’t ever wrestle with a pig. You’ll both get dirty, but the pig will enjoy it.
—Cale Yarborough

48. An inventor is simply a fellow who doesn’t take his education too seriously.
—Charles F. Kettering

49. Asking a working writer what he thinks about critics is like asking a lamppost how it feels about dogs.
—Christopher Hampton

50. Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.
—Cyril Connolly

51. Never be afraid to laugh at yourself, after all, you could be missing out on the joke of the century.
—Dame Edna Everage

52. I am patient with stupidity but not with those who are proud of it.
—Edith Sitwell

53. Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for – in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it.
—Ellen Goodman

54. The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.
—Ellen Parr

55. Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn’t.
—Erica Jong

56. Some people like my advice so much that they frame it upon the wall instead of using it.
—Gordon R. Dickson

57. The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat.
—Lily Tomlin

58. Never ascribe to malice, that which can be explained by incompetence.
—Napoleon (Hanlon’s Razor)

59. Imagination was given to man to compensate him for what he is not, and a sense of humor was provided to console him for what he is.
—Oscar Wilde

60. When a person can no longer laugh at himself, it is time for others to laugh at him.
—Thomas Szasz

Help! How to Better Manage my Unwieldy Collection of Quotes?

After I first published my favorite quotes collection (along with its companion article 5 Reasons to Collect Favorite Quotes), it grew faster than ever from 400 to over 500 quotes.

Nowadays, I’m much more demanding about which quotes to add to my collection. However — judging from the number of quotes I find on the web on a daily basis — I can only expect it to grow even faster than before.

Years ago, I faced the same situation with my browser bookmarks. Even being extremely conservative about adding them, after years they inevitably started adding up to the point of being unmanageable. Cleaning and categorizing those bookmarks was both time-consuming and inefficient.

The problem was eventually solved not by tidying them up regularly, but by the smart use of tagging and searching technology. Now my bookmarks are online at, tagged and fully searchable — and I still have ways to own the data. (Call me paranoid, but I don’t feel comfortable relying entirely on a third party to hold years of data, no matter how much I like their service.)

Now I feel I need a similar solution for my quotes — having a long flat list isn’t working very well anymore. At first, Quotiki seemed like a perfect fit. Unfortunately, however, there’s currently no way to export my quotes or otherwise retain ownership of the data.

So, here’s the question to my smart readers: How do you think I should go with my quotes collection? Do you have any suggestions of online services I can use and still retain my collection while making it more useful to myself and to others?

(cc) Litemind, some rights reserved. Original post: 60 Selected Best Famous Quotes.

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Study Matrix Mind Map Showcase Wed, 07 May 2008 14:19:45 +0000 Recently, from a comment in blog, I found Adam Sicinski’s IQ Matrix Blog. What a wonderful surprise! The website has a wealth of amazing, beautifully-crafted mind maps about various topics relevant to personal development. Check it out.

The post Study Matrix Mind Map Showcase appeared first on Litemind.

5 Keys to Improving Your Memory

I usually visit the website of those who leave comments in my postings. Recently, from a comment in the article Journal to the Self, I found Adam Sicinski’s IQ Matrix Blog.

What a wonderful surprise! The website has a wealth of amazing, beautifully-crafted mind maps about various topics relevant to personal development — such as accelerated learning, life success principles, cognitive psychology, memory enhancement, time management and many others.

Mind Map Showcase

Adam Sicinski’s maps are perfectly aligned with Litemind’s mission, so following I present 5 selected mind maps on the topics of: learning, time management, memory, stress management and advanced mind mapping.

Click on the thumbnails to see a larger view of the mind maps. Below each thumbnail is also a link to the original article in Adam’s blog. These articles contain detailed explanations about the mind maps’ contents, as well as links to the full, downloadable maps (in both wide-screen and standard formats). Enjoy!

5 Keys to Improving Your Memory

5 Keys to Improving Your Memory

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6 Keys to Learning

6 Keys to Learning

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5 Keys to Effective Time Management

5 Keys to Effective Time Management

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6 Keys to Stress Management

Keys to Stress Management

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Advanced Mind Mapping Strategies

Study Matrix 101

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Get More

This is not a sales pitch, sponsored post or anything like that — I am posting these links because I was amazed with the detail and the attention that went into creating them, and how they really express the essence of the ideas.

Browse around the IQ Matrix Blog and the companion IQX Shop, and check how Adam is quickly developing many great learning resources. Some are paid (such as study aids recreating Shakespearean literature classics), but most of them are free.

(cc) Litemind, some rights reserved. Original post: Study Matrix Mind Map Showcase.

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