Six Powerful Reasons to Eat Slowly and Mindfully

Six Powerful Reasons to Eat Slowly and Mindfully

Mindfulness is paying attention to whatever is happening in the present moment, with an attitude of forthcoming curiosity and open-minded acceptance. This enhanced awareness not only facilitates insight, but also reveals reality with a heightened sense of clarity.

Mindful eating is one of the oldest practices in mindfulness. Here are a handful of the most important benefits of mindful eating:

  1. You’ll Eat Less. For many people, eating fast entails eating more. Eating slower increases fullness and reduces caloric intake. Additionally, the more you slow down, the fewer calories you’ll consume. Here’s why: it takes twenty minutes for satiety signs to get from your stomach to your brain. Therefore, when you eat slower, you will have consumed less by the time your brain receives your stomach’s internal cues for fullness. At that time, your brain instinctively directs you to discontinue eating.
  2. You’ll Snack Less and Avoid Bingeing Later. Even if you eat slower, you’ll be just as fulfilled with less food as you would with more food. When you feel fulfilled, you are less likely to compensate for eating less by snacking later or eating more at the next meal.
  3. You’ll Enjoy More. When you eat slower and pay close attention, your senses get more time to expand your consciousness of the flavor, aroma, and texture of food. This consecutively offers more overall satisfaction thereby letting you end eating sooner.
  4. Mindfulness Helps You Savor Food and Eat Guilt FreeYou Can Still Enjoy Those Guilty Pleasure Foods. Even when you’re consuming tempting snacks, high-calorie foods, and sugary desserts, eating slower will help de-condition the notion that certain foods are good and certain other foods are bad for you. Overall, if you can stick to a healthy diet, consuming less-healthy foods in moderation is neither good nor bad. When you indulge your food cravings mindfully and savor every bite of pleasure out of them, you can dispose of any remorse about engaging in your guilty pleasures. In any case, what’s the point of eating an enchanting macaron if you’re going to inhale it mindlessly while rushing from one thing to the next? As I’ve written previously, one secret of dieting success is to not deprive yourself of your guilty pleasures. Cut back, do not cut out.
  5. You’ll Digest Better. When you eat slower, you’ll chew your food better. This brings about better digestion. Digestion actually starts in the mouth, so chewing slowly helps break your food down into simpler nutrients that can be used by the cells. Research has shown that the longer you take to chew specific foods (almonds for example,) the more you intensify the bioavailability of certain nutrients so your body absorbs more of them.
  6. You’ll Feel Better. Food can influence your mood. When you spend twenty minutes eating slowly and mindfully—and enjoying a meal—you’ll feel better and perform better.

Cultivate a healthy relationship with food

Mindfulness Helps You Savor Food and Eat Guilt Free

Dedicating time to eat slowly, mindfully, and intentionally—and enjoying the pleasure of food—can make an enormous difference in your diet and health, especially when the rhythm of life is becoming ever faster. Here’s how to introduce mindfulness to your mealtimes:

  • Set aside time to eat. Establish a calm eating environment.
  • Don’t multitask, watch TV, talk on the telephone, or check Facebook and Twitter. Refocus on your food after a distraction or an interruption.
  • Make a conscious effort to take small bites, chew slowly, and pay attention to flavors and textures. If necessary, set a minimum number of chews for every bite.
  • Finish chewing and swallowing each bite before you put more food on your fork.
  • Take sips of water or your favorite beverage after every few bites.

Idea for Impact: Cultivate a healthy relationship with food. Practice mindful eating. Develop awareness, curiosity, and a bit of tenderness about your relationship with food.

Inspirational Quotations by Martin Luther King, Jr. (#667)

Inspirational Quotations by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Today marks the birthday of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. (1929–68,) American leader of the civil rights movement. He was also known for his dedication to ending segregation peacefully and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.

In 1955, when King was only 26 and serving as a priest in Montgomery, Alabama, a seamstress named Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger on a city bus. King took up her cause and led a year-long Montgomery bus boycott during which his house was bombed and he was assaulted and arrested. In 1957, the Supreme Court ruled that the segregation of buses and public facilities was unconstitutional.

The Montgomery bus boycott put King at the vanguard of the civil rights movement. In 1963, he joined other civil rights leaders at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom where he gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to an audience of 200,000.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. And the Voting Rights Act of 1965 ended voter discrimination in many Southern states.

In 1967, King delivered a speech called “Beyond Vietnam / A Time to Break Silence” denouncing America’s involvement in the Vietnam War and the recruitment of poor and minority soldiers. The next year, King was assassinated at age 39 while standing on the balcony of a Memphis motel. He was preparing to lead a protest rally in solidarity with sanitation workers who were on strike. His death sparked riots in sixty cities.

Since 1986, the third Monday of January is observed annually as a US-federal holiday in his honor.

Inspirational Quotations by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Love is the supreme unifying principle of life.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Discover the element of good in your enemy. And as you seek to hate him, find the center of goodness and place your attention there and you will take a new attitude.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

The best way to solve any problem is to remove the cause.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

There is scarcely anything more tragic in human life than a child who is not wanted. That which should be a blessing becomes a curse for parent and child.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Ultimately a genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus, but a molder of consensus.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love. It destroys community and makes brotherhood impossible.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

We are reaching out for the daybreak of freedom and justice and equality.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Some things are right and some things are wrong, no matter if everybody is doing the contrary. Some things in this universe are absolute. The God of the universe has made it so. And so long as we adopt this relative attitude toward right and wrong, we’re revolting against the very laws of God himself.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Nonviolent resistance is not aimed against oppressors, but against oppression.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

No nation can rise to its full moral maturity so long as it subjects a segment of its citizenry on the basis of race or color.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Non-cooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

One of the sure signs of maturity is the ability to rise to the point of self criticism.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Keep moving. Let nothing slow you up. Move on with dignity and honor and respectability.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

The real problem is that through our scientific genius we’ve made of the world a neighborhood, but through our moral and spiritual genius we’ve failed to make of it a brotherhood.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

When people are self-centered, they are self-centered because they are seeking attention, they want to be admired and this is the way they set out to do it. But in the process, because of their self-centeredness, they are not admired; they are mawkish and people don?t want to be bothered with them. And so the very thing they seek, they never get. And they end up frustrated and unhappy and disillusioned.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

The thing that we need in the world today is a group of men and women who will stand up for right and to be opposed to wrong, wherever it is. A group of people who have come to see that some things are wrong, whether they’re never caught up with. And some things are right, whether nobody sees you doing them or not.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Violence ends by defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Find your sense of importance in something outside of the self. And you are then able to live because you have given your life to something outside and something that is meaningful, objectified. You rise above this self-absorption to something outside. This is the way to go through life with a balance, with the proper perspective because you?ve given yourself to something greater than self. Sometimes it?s friends, sometimes it?s family, sometimes it?s a great cause, it?s a great loyalty, but give yourself to that something and life becomes meaningful.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

We must massively assert our dignity and worth. We must stand up amidst a system that still oppresses us and develop an unassailable and majestic sense of values.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

When people get caught up with that which is right and they are willing to sacrifice for it, there is no stopping point short of victory.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Ultimately a great nation is a compassionate nation. No individual or nation can be great if it does not have a concern for “the least of these”.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Life at its best is a creative synthesis of opposites in fruitful harmony.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Life has its beginning and its maturity comes into being when an individual rises above self to something greater.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

It is not enough to know that two and two makes four, but we’ve got to know somehow that it’s right to be honest and just with our brothers. It’s not enough to know all about our philosophical and mathematical disciplines, but we’ve got to know the simple disciplines of being honest and loving and just with all humanity. If we don’t learn it, we will destroy ourselves by the misuse of our own powers.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Justice is love correcting that which revolts against love.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

The basic thing about a man is not his specific but his fundamentum.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

If we are to go forward, we must go back and rediscover these precious values: that all reality hinges on moral foundations and that all reality has spiritual control.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Men often hate each other because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they cannot communicate; they cannot communicate because they are separated.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because conscience tells him it is right.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. Indeed, it is a weapon unique in history, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

The time is always right to do what?s right.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

As long as the mind is enslaved, the body can never be free.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

It is no longer a choice between violence and nonviolence in this world; it’s nonviolence or nonexistence.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

I submit to you that if a man has not discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Science investigates; religion interprets. Science gives man knowledge which is power; religion gives man wisdom which is control. Science deals mainly with facts; religion deals mainly with values. The two are not rivals. They are complementary.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

We must discover the power of love, the power, the redemptive power of love. And when we discover that we will be able to make of this old world a new world. We will be able to make men better. Love is the only way.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

I am not interested in power for power’s sake, but I’m interested in power that is moral, that is right and that is good.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

It is love that will save our world and our civilization, love even for enemies.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

There is little hope for us until we become tough-minded enough to break loose from the shackles of prejudice, half-truths, and downright ignorance.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

An individual has not begun to live until he can rise above the narrow horizons of his particular individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity. And this is one of the big problems of life, that so many people never quite get to the point of rising above self. And so they end up the tragic victims of self-centeredness. They end up the victims of distorted and disrupted personality.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Every genuine expression of love grows out of a consistent and total surrender to God.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

In every age and every generation, men have envisioned a promised land.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Learn from the Great Minds of the Past

Biographies let you to learn about the trials and tribulations in the lives of eminent people, the opportunities and the crises they faced, and the choices they made.

By providing a glimpse into their minds, biographies stimulate self-discovery by allowing you to find new ideas, methods, and mental models on your own through the stories of others.

Reading about the life experiences of someone from a different spatial, temporal, and thematic circumstance than your own can also help you see the world in new ways. This new perspective then allows you to appreciate their actions and accomplishments within the context, conventions, and limitations of their settings.

Idea for Impact: If you wish to succeed in your life, there is no better source of inspiration than in the lives of those who have changed our lives and our world for the better.

Charlie Munger on Reading Biographies and “Making Friends with the Eminent Dead”

'Poor Charlie's Almanack' by Charlie Munger (ISBN 1578645018) Charlie Munger (b. 1924,) Berkshire Hathaway’s Vice-Chairman and a distinguished beacon of rationality, wisdom, and multi-disciplinary thinking, is a voracious reader and occupies himself with books on history, science, biography, and psychology.

From Poor Charlie’s Almanack, a compilation of Munger’s ideas and “latticework of mental models”,

In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn’t read all the time–none, zero. You’d be amazed at how much Warren reads–and at how much I read. My children laugh at me. They think I’m a book with a couple of legs sticking out.

I am a biography nut myself. And I think when you’re trying to teach the great concepts that work, it helps to tie them into the lives and personalities of the people who developed them. I think you learn economics better if you make Adam Smith your friend. That sounds funny, making friends among the eminent dead, but if you go through life making friends with the eminent dead who had the right ideas, I think it will work better in life and work better in education. It’s way better than just being given the basic concepts.

Seneca on Learning from the Great Minds of the Past

'On the Shortness of Life' by Senaca (ISBN 0143036327) From the Roman Stoic philosopher Seneca’s 2,000-year-old discourse On the Shortness of Life: Life Is Long if You Know (trans. C.D.N. Costa,)

…if it is our wish, by greatness of mind, to pass beyond the narrow limits of human weakness, there is a great stretch of time through which we may roam. We may argue with Socrates, we may doubt with Carneades, find peace with Epicurus, overcome human nature with the Stoics, exceed it with the Cynics. … We may fairly say that they alone are engaged in the true duties of life who shall wish to have Zeno, Pythagoras, Democritus, and all the other high priests of liberal studies, and Aristotle and Theophrastus, as their most intimate friends every day. No one of these will be ‘not at home,’ no one of these will fail to have his visitor leave more happy and more devoted to himself than when he came, no one of these will allow anyone to leave him with empty hands; all mortals can meet with them by night or by day.

…No one of these will force you to die, but all will teach you how to die; no one of these will wear out your years, but each will add his own years to yours; conversations with no one of these will bring you peril, the friendship of none will endanger your life, the courting of none will tax your purse. From them you will take whatever you wish; it will be no fault of theirs if you do not draw the utmost that you can desire. What happiness, what a fair old age awaits him who has offered himself as a client to these! He will have friends from whom he may seek counsel on matters great and small, whom he may consult every day about himself, from whom he may hear truth without insult, praise without flattery, and after whose likeness he may fashion himself.

Seneca on Gaining Wisdom from the Distinguished

'Moral letters to Lucilius' by Seneca (ISBN 1536965537) On a related note, here is a passage from Seneca’s Moral Letters to Lucilius (Latin orig. Epistulae morales ad Lucilium):

For this reason, give over hoping that you can skim, by means of epitomes, the wisdom of distinguished men. Look into their wisdom as a whole; study it as a whole. They are working out a plan and weaving together, line upon line, a masterpiece, from which nothing can be taken away without injury to the whole. Examine the separate parts, if you like, provided you examine them as parts of the man himself. She is not a beautiful woman whose ankle or arm is praised, but she whose general appearance makes you forget to admire her single attributes.

Yahoo’s Slide into Irrelevance and Marissa Mayer’s Tenure as CEO [Book Review / Summary]

Over the holidays, I finished reading journalist Nicholas Carlson’s Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo! This interesting book offers an account of Yahoo’s steady slide towards irrelevance and Marissa Mayer’s early tenure as CEO.

“Complex Monstrosity Built Without a Plan”

'Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo!' by Nicholas Carlson (ISBN 1455556610) Carlson devotes the first third of the book to explaining Yahoo’s beleaguered history and how years of mismanagement and strategy negligence got Yahoo into the mess that Mayer inherited as CEO in 2012.

The second third is about Mayer and her brilliant career as employee number twenty at Google. In 2010, her career allegedly stalled because Mayer got sidelined after conflicts with other luminaries within Google. Relying broadly on anonymous sources, Carlson portrays Mayer’s intense nature and her personality contradictions: in public settings, Mayer is brainy, glamorous, confident, articulate, and approachable. However, in one-on-one settings, Mayer is a self-promoting, dismissive, calculating, tardy, inquisitorial individual who avoids eye contact. “There was nothing especially abhorrent or uncommon about Mayer’s behavior as an executive,” Carlson writes. “She was headstrong, confident, dismissive, self-promoting and clueless about how she sometimes hurt other people’s feelings. So were many of the most successful executives in the technology industry.”

The last third is devoted to Mayer’s initial efforts to turn Yahoo around. Within the first year at the helm as CEO, Mayer motivated Yahoo’s beleaguered workforce, launched the redesign of some of Yahoo’s major sites, and made acquisitions to make Yahoo relevant in the mobile, media, and social realms. Carlson also describes Mayer’s bad hiring decisions, habitual tardiness, tendency to micromanage, tone-deaf style of communication, and dogged devotion to establishing the universally-despised practice of tracking goals and stack-ranking employees.

Yahoo: The Fabled Legacy Internet Company on the Slide to Irrelevance

Yahoo: The Fabled Legacy Internet Company on the Slide to Irrelevance

Anybody who follows the internet content industry understands that the principal question regarding the then-37-year-old Mayer’s recruitment as CEO was never whether she could save Yahoo. Rather, the question was whether Yahoo can be saved at all.

Yahoo has been a mess for a long time. For early consumers of the internet, Yahoo’s portal was the internet—from the mid-1990s until the early 2000s, Yahoo was the number-one gateway for early users of the internet who wanted to search, email, or consume news and other information. Then, Yahoo floundered as the likes of Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Twitter, and Microsoft redefined the consumer internet and content consumption. Yahoo’s successive managements struggled to identify Yahoo’s raison d’etre and failed to set it apart from the up-and-coming websites. Yahoo’s management also fumbled on opportunities to harness the popularity of Yahoo Mail, Yahoo Sports, and Yahoo Finance to get advertising revenues growing again.

Mayer’s Arrival Was Too Late for Yahoo

Marissa Mayer could not succeed in reviving YahooMayer came to Yahoo with extraordinary credentials, drive, technical savvy, celebrity, and charisma. Her tenure was centered on answering the single question, “What is Yahoo? What should become of Yahoo?”

The odds of Mayer succeeding to revive Yahoo as an independent internet content company were very bleak right from the beginning, because Mayer took on an increasingly irrelevant business with very little actual or potential operating value—either as an internet content company or as a media company. Carlson appropriately concludes,

Ultimately, Yahoo suffers from the fact that the reason it ever succeeded in the first place was because it solved a global problem that lasted for only a moment. The early Internet was hard to use, and Yahoo made it easier. Yahoo was the Internet. Then the Internet was flooded with capital and infinite solutions for infinite problems, and the need for Yahoo faded. The company hasn’t found its purpose since—the thing it can do that no one else can.

Since the publication of the book in December 2014, Mayer has dedicated her leadership to selling Yahoo’s core internet businesses and its patent portfolio. Yahoo is expected to then convert itself into a shell company for its investments in Alibaba (15.5% economic interest) and Yahoo Japan (35.5%.)

Recommendation: As a fast read, Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo! is great. Beyond Nicholas Carlson’s gossipy narrative and his pejorative depiction of Mayer’s management style, readers of this page-turner will be interested in Yahoo leadership’s strategic and tactical missteps. Particularly fascinating are how Yahoo missed opportunities to buy Google and Facebook when they were mere startups, the rebuffing of an acquisition bid from Microsoft, a lack of strategic focus, the leadership skirmishes with activist investors, the revolving door at the CEO’s office, and an Asian-asset drama.

Inspirational Quotations #666

The great difference between those who succeed and those who fail does not consist in the amount of work done by each but in the amount of intelligent work. Many of those who fail most ignominiously do enough to achieve grand success but they labor haphazardly at whatever they are assigned, building up with one hand to tear down with the other. They do not grasp circumstances and change them into opportunities. They have no faculty for turning honest defeats into telling victories. With ability enough and ample time, the major ingredients of success, they are forever throwing back and forth an empty shuttle and the real web of their life is never woven.
Og Mandino

You don’t become enormously successful without encountering and overcoming a number of extremely challenging problems.
Mark Victor Hansen

Give me health and a day, and I will make the pomp of emperors ridiculous.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

No man or woman can be strong, gentle, pure, and good, without the world being better for it and without someone being helped and comforted by the very existence of that goodness.
Phillips Brooks

If you expect nothing, you’re apt to be surprised. You’ll get it.
Malcolm Forbes

Often it is just lack of imagination that keeps a man from suffering very much.
Marcel Proust

The dignity of man is vindicated as much by the thinker and poet as by the statesman and soldier.
James Bryant Conant

Competition Can Push You to Achieve Greater Results

“A Great Rival is Like a Mirror”

The competition between American tennis stars Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi became the dominant rivalry in tennis during the ’90s. With their remarkably different styles and temperaments, the two produced a great number of remarkable games. Between 1989 and 2002, Sampras won 20 of their 34 head-to-head matches, of which Sampras won four of the five Grand Slam finals they played. Sampras also held the world No. 1 spot for a record 286 weeks whereas Agassi held it for 101 weeks.

'Open: An Autobiography' by Andre Agassi (ISBN 0307388409) Asked how his rivalries helped and hurt him in the October 2015 issue of Harvard Business Review, Agassi (who is married to tennis legend Steffi Graf) recollected:

A great rival is like a mirror. You have to look at yourself, acknowledge where you fall short, make adjustments, and nurture the areas where you overachieve. There were times my rivals brought out the best in me; there were times they brought out the worst. They probably helped me win things I never would have otherwise; they also cost me titles. I don’t know how you quantify what it would have been like without a rival like Pete Sampras. I would have won more. But I think I would have been worse without him.

Idea for Impact: The risk of being outdone by a closely matched rival can push you further

A certain amount of competition can be helpful when it motivates you and doesn’t result in stress or hurt your personal relationships.

Push yourself past the familiarity and safety of your comfort zone by pursuing some healthy competition. Leaving your comfort zone helps you grow, transform, and feel stronger from the experience.

Doing Is Everything

Many people know what they should do: lose weight, start exercising, stop smoking, get serious about managing careers, find a romantic partner, start saving money, and so on. Yet they can’t seem to make themselves do.

Doing is everything / Knowing is nothing

You know what to do, but you don’t do it!

It is told that long ago in China, a reclusive monk climbed up a tree in a forest. He settled comfortably and sat there in deep meditation, undisturbed by the outside world.

That became his everyday routine.

People from hamlets in the vicinity adopted him. They approached him with offerings and discussed their affairs. And he imparted his wisdom.

His fame soon spread everywhere. Visitors from far-flung towns trekked to the forest for his counsel.

Folks started calling him Birdsnest for the reason that he perched high up his tree.

On one occasion, the local king learned of Birdsnest and set forth to see him. After an arduous journey, the king located Birdsnest’s tree.

The king hollered at the monk trying to seek his attention. “O wise one, I have an important question to ask of you.”

The king waited for Birdsnest. No response came.

The king tried repeatedly to evoke Birdsnest, but didn’t succeed.

The king grew impatient waiting for Birdsnest.

Eventually, the king became irritated and shouted out, “I can wait no longer! Here is my question. Say, what is it that all the wise ones taught? What is at the heart of all the teachings of the great masters? What is the most profound thing the Buddha ever said?”

The king lingered around Birdsnest’s tree for a long time.

Finally, Birdsnest summoned the king. Holding a meditative poise, Birdsnest declared, “At all times, do good things. Don’t do bad things. This is all the Buddha said. This is what the wise men instructed.”

The king became infuriated.

Birdsnest continued to meditate with a gentle half smile behind his eyes. He was obviously toning down the power of the Buddha’s wisdoms.

The king screamed, “I can’t believe this impertinence! Is that all you’ve got for me? Do good things and don’t do bad things. I knew that when I was three years old, you blithering fool!”

The afternoon sun filtered in through the trees as Birdsnest looked down from his perch. His compassion and matter-of-factness radiated out from your heart. He sympathetically acknowledged, “Indeed, the three-year-old knows it. Yet the eighty year-old finds it very difficult to do!”

The Knowledge-Action Gap

'The Now Habit' by Neil Fiore (ISBN 1585425524) One of the most insidious obstacles to your success in life is the chasm between knowing and doing—between thinking about something and acting on it, between ideating and implementing.

Your ideas may be impressively simple, but accomplishing them with discipline and steadiness can be very, very difficult indeed. This is the knowing-doing gap.

Ruminate about what stops you from accomplishing the things you need to do, want to do, and know how to do, but can’t get to do. Usually, your alleged obstacles—your boss, parents, spouse, children, colleagues, situations—are but excuses. When you sincerely unearth the reasons for your putting things off, you’ll realize that, by and large, it’s you who are sabotaging yourself.

Yes, occasionally, you may face a few genuine external obstacles. Nevertheless, in the grand scheme of things, you usually have the power to overcome them or work around them.

Transform your thoughts into action

Procrastination is a Breakdown of Self-Discipline

As I have stated in my previous articles, procrastination is weakness of will. Chronic procrastination is a recurrent breakdown of self-discipline.

The overpowering emotion associated with chronic procrastination is guilt. These feelings of guilt are not just specific to the task you’re dodging, even though, at the time of procrastination, your mind may be full of qualms and repentance under the direct influence of your putting off the dreadful task. More accurately, the guilt you feel about your chronic procrastination is the outcome of not living up to your full potential and not authentically engaging in the many possibilities life presents you.

'When Things Fall Apart' by Pema Chodron (ISBN 1611803438) It takes courage to face your anxieties, to forge ahead despite your feelings, and to act. Self-improvement begins with self-reflection. And self-reflection derives from self-compassion. The renowned Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön wrote about self-compassion in her wonderfully reassuring classic When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times, “The most fundamental aggression to ourselves, the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently.”

Don’t hunt for motivation. As I’ve asserted in previous articles, motivation is glorified as a personal trait. While it is beneficial to be motivated, folks who actually manage to get things done are those who find a way to work at whatever they are interested in even when they do not really feel like doing it.

Idea for Impact: Make 2017 the Year of Getting Things Done

Transform your thoughts into action.

Put your ideas into practice.

Don’t let excuses, apologies, indolence, or a lack of motivation get in the way.

Knowing is nothing.

Doing is everything.

Inspirational Quotations by E. M. Forster (#665)

Inspirational Quotations by E. M. Forster

Today marks the birthday of E. M. Forster (1879–1970,) an influential British novelist and short story-writer.

Forster published Where Angels Fear to Tread (1905), The Longest Journey (1907,) and A Room with a View (1908.) He hit literary success with his fourth novel, Howards End (1910,) about the class system in England as exposed through the pursuits of three families.

'A Passage to India' by E. M. Forster (ISBN 0156711427) During World War I, Forster worked for the Red Cross in Egypt and traveled all over the world. During a visit to India, he was inspired to write his masterpiece A Passage to India (1924.) Set during the British colonial rule in India, this best-selling, much-debated novel is about a young British schoolteacher who imagines being sexually assaulted by an Indian-Muslim doctor. She accuses him of attempted rape, but later retracts her charges. Considered one of the great novels of the 20th century, A Passage to India exposed the undercurrent of conflict and prejudice between the British and Indian cultures.

After publishing five novels before age 40, Forster never published any other novels during his lifetime. He subsequently wrote numerous short stories.

Forster wrote his sixth and last novel on the eve of the First World War and considered it among his best writing, but did not want it to be published in his lifetime because of its homosexual themes. Maurice (1971) was published posthumously to great renown.

Inspirational Quotations by E. M. Forster

Creative writers are always greater than the causes that they represent.
E. M. Forster

Failure and success seem to have been allotted to men by their stars. But they retain the power of wriggling, of fighting with their star or against it, and in the whole universe the only really interesting movement is this wriggle.
E. M. Forster

Works of art, in my opinion, are the only objects in the material universe to possess internal order, and that is why, though I don’t believe that only art matters, I do believe in Art for Art’s sake.
E. M. Forster

We are willing enough to praise freedom when she is safely tucked away in the past and cannot be a nuisance. In the present, amidst dangers whose outcome we cannot foresee, we get nervous about her, and admit censorship.
E. M. Forster

Lord I disbelieve—help thou my unbelief.
E. M. Forster

I suggest that the only books that influence us are those for which we are ready, and which have gone a little farther down our particular path than we have yet gone ourselves.
E. M. Forster

There lies at the back of every creed something terrible and hard for which the worshipper may one day be required to suffer.
E. M. Forster

One must be fond of people and trust them if one is not to make a mess of life.
E. M. Forster

Death destroys a man, the idea of Death saves him.
E. M. Forster

Those who prepared for all the emergencies of life beforehand may equip themselves at the expense of joy.
E. M. Forster

One always tends to overpraise a long book, because one has got through it.
E. M. Forster

Art for art’s sake? I should think so, and more so than ever at the present time. It is the one orderly product which our middling race has produced. It is the cry of a thousand sentinels, the echo from a thousand labyrinths, it is the lighthouse which cannot be hidden… it is the best evidence we can have of our dignity.
E. M. Forster

Beauty ought to look a little surprised: it is the emotion that best suits her face. The beauty who does not look surprised, who accepts her position as her due—she reminds us too much of a prima donna.
E. M. Forster

I have only got down on to paper, really, three types of people: the person I think I am, the people who irritate me, and the people I’d like to be.
E. M. Forster

Top Blog Articles of 2016

Here are this year’s most popular articles based on email- and feed-subscribership:

  1. Top Blog Articles of 2016 How Smart Companies Get Smarter. To develop collective intelligence and build smarter organizations, discourage employees from heroically patching up recurring problems—whenever and wherever they occur. Instead, encourage them to find, report, analyze, experiment, and fix systemic problems to prevent their recurrence.
  2. Stop asking “What do you do for a living?” Chatting with somebody in socializing situations should be less about discerning the details of the other’s life to size up the other’s socioeconomic status, and more about building a bit of familiarity to initiate stimulating conversations about topics of mutual interest.
  3. What Will You Regret? A fascinating way of looking at life is to think about your life and your career in the context of future regret-avoidance. Regrets for the things you did are likely to be tempered by the passage of time, but regrets for the things you do not do will be upsetting in retrospect.
  4. Make Decisions Using Bill Hewlett’s “Hat-Wearing Process.” Carefully consider an idea, listen to and mull over facts, collect input from others, develop some perspective that comes only with time, and make sound, thoughtful decisions.
  5. Destroy Your Previous Ideas (Lessons from Charlie Munger.) An important constituent of critical thinking is taking your beliefs and opinions apart methodically, analyzing each part, assessing it for soundness by means of arguments and counterarguments, and then improving it. Challenge your convictions with contradictory evidence to fortify your beliefs.
  6. Be Yourself, Everyone Else Is Taken. You can learn a lot from your heroes, but don’t blatantly pattern your lives after them. Develop your own style. Don’t become second-rate versions of people you admire; instead be a first-rate version of yourself.
  7. Being Underestimated Can Be a Great Thing. Don’t sweat when others think less than you actually are. Don’t let them make you feel small. Embrace their misjudgments with equanimity. Believe in yourself with humble confidence. Then outthink, outsmart, and outperform.
  8. Groupthink—The Curse of Teamwork. Many teams tend to compromise their decisions for the sake of consensus, harmony, and “esprit de corps.” They strive to minimize conflict and value conformity. The result is often a lowest-common-denominator decision upon which everybody in the team agrees.
  9. Beware of Advice from the Superstars. What worked for them won’t work for you. Expose yourself to many success principles and consider what qualities, attributes, mental models, or approaches to life you may want to assimilate into who you are. Don’t expect to blatantly imitate your hero and expect the same outcomes.
  10. You Can’t Know Everything. The wisest people I know are the ones who acknowledge that they don’t know everything and put strategies in place to shield themselves from their own ignorance. Make risk analysis and risk reduction one of the primary goals of your intellectual processes.

And here are articles of yesteryear that continue to be popular:

  1. Reframe Your Thinking, Get Better Answers. By changing or adjusting your perception of an issue, you are likely to reevaluate your intentions and find alternative, acceptable solutions to your situations.
  2. Self-Assessment Quiz: How Stressed are You? The first step to overcome the causes and effects of stress is to acknowledge stress and become aware of its symptoms. By identifying a few telltale signs of stress, you can take steps to manage them.
  3. How to Email Busy People. When you ask something of somebody, make it as convenient as possible for that person to respond to your request. Avoid imposing more busy work on already busy people.
  4. Coaching vs. Feedback. Coaching is about future behavior and feedback is about past (and current) behavior. Coaching is about assisting employees reach their goals for the future. Feedback is about helping employees understand what prevents them from reaching their current goals.
  5. The Opportunities in Customer Pain Points. Many innovative ideas are born of a reliable formula: prudent attention to customer pain points. Customers are usually willing to pay a premium to have their frustrations with a product or a service resolved.
  6. When Delegating, Acknowledge Possible Errors. When delegating, empower your employees by letting them know that they aren’t expected to make optimal decisions every time and you’re not demanding perfection.
  7. How to Earn Others’ Trust. The most important component of being effective at work is earning and upholding others’ trust through our actions, not through our words. Earn trust by making and honoring commitments.
  8. The Truth Can Be Bitterer than a Sweet Illusion. Delaying action and putting off unpleasant confrontations will only make things harder. Especially when dealing with difficulties involving people, there is nothing more insidious than unresolved conflict and inaction.
  9. Your To-Do List Isn’t a Wish List. Most folks can’t seem to complete and cross-off more than half of their to-do lists. Their buildup of tasks is never-ending; for every task they complete, they tend to add a few more. Add to your to-do list selectively; don’t say yes to everything that people ask of you.
  10. How to Write Email Subject Lines that Persuade. By writing persuasive subject lines in emails, you can help your readers identify the importance of your message and the action you’re asking.

Books I Read in 2016 & Recommend

Personal Finance: Thomas Stanley and William Danko’s The Millionaire Next Door summarizes anthropological research from the ’90s on the attributes of unassuming wealthy Americans. The authors discuss the fancy trappings of affluence and the high cost of maintaining social status. They explain that prosperous individuals prioritize financial independence over a high social status. Key takeaway: It’s easy to get rich by living below your means, efficiently allocating funds in ways that build wealth, and ignoring conspicuous consumption. {Read my synopsis in this article.}

'Taking Advice' by Dan Ciampa (ISBN 1591396689) Decision-Making / Problem-Solving: Dan Ciampa’s Taking Advice offers an excellent framework on the kind of advice network you need on strategic, operational, political, and personal elements of your work and your life. Taking Advice offers important insights into a seemingly obvious dimension of success, but one that’s often neglected, poorly understood, or taken for granted. {Read my synopsis in this article.}

Creativity / Decision-Making / Teamwork: Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats describes a powerful problem-solving approach that enriches mental flexibility by encouraging individuals and groups to attack an issue from six independent but complementary perspectives. Key takeaway: The ‘Six Thinking Hats’ method can remove mental blocks, organize ideas and information, foster cross-fertilization, and help conduct thinking sessions more productively than do other brainstorming methods. {Read my synopsis in this article.}

Presentation / Communication: Edward Tufte’s The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint argues that presentations reduce the analytical timbre of communication. In other words, presentation slides lack the resolution to effectively convey context, “weaken verbal and spatial reasoning, and almost always corrupt statistical analysis.” Tufte contends that, by forcibly condensing our ideas into bullet point-statements, phrases, and slides, we break up narrative flow and flatten the information we’re trying to convey. Key takeaway: Well-structured and succinct memos can convey ideas comprehensively, clearly, and meaningfully. {Read my synopsis in this article. Also, learn about Amazon’s ‘Mock Press Release’ discipline and Procter & Gamble’s ‘One-Page Memo’ practice to communicate ideas.}

Happiness / Relationships: Janice Kaplan’s The Gratitude Diaries. For one year, Kaplan maintained a gratitude journal and wrote down three things that she was thankful for each day. She also decided to “find one area to focus on each month—whether husband, family, friends, or work—and … see what happened when I developed an attitude of gratitude.” Key takeaway: A grateful heart is a happy heart. Stop whatever you’re doing, take stock of your blessings, and be grateful for everything you have in life. {Read my synopsis in this article.}

'Man's Search for Meaning' by Victor Frankl (ISBN 1846042844) Psychology: Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. When subject to brutal treatment at Nazi concentration camps in Germany, Frankl changed his initial reaction from ‘Why me?’ and ‘Why is this happening?’ to ‘What is life asking of me?’ Such profound shifts in thinking, Frankl argues, could help you find meaning in life, regardless of what is happening on the outside. Key takeaway: The one power you have at all times is the freedom to choose your response to any given set of circumstances. Uncover a sense of purpose in life and you can survive nearly anything. {Read my synopsis in this article.}

Psychology: John Tierney and Roy Baumeister’s Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength. The book’s central theorem is the much-debated “muscle metaphor” of self-control, which states that willpower is like a muscle that tires out—or runs out of energy—as you use it, but can be replenished and purposely fortified through practice. Key takeaway: Budget your willpower and spend it where and when you need it the most. Eliminate distractions, temptations, and unnecessary choices. {Read my synopsis in this article.}

'Sam Walton: Made In America' by Sam Walton (ISBN 0553562835) Biography / Leadership: Sam Walton’s Made in America is the Walmart founder’s very educational, insightful, and stimulating autobiography. It’s teeming with Walton’s relentless search for better ideas learning from competitors, managing costs and prices to gain competitive advantage, asking incessant questions of day-to-day operations, listening to employees at all levels of Walmart, and inventing creative ways to foster an idea-driven culture. Takeaways: ten rules of management success, learning from failure, cost and price as a competitive advantage, and Walton’s ‘Ten-Foot Rule’ to become more likeable.

Biography / Leadership: Deborrah Himsel’s Beauty Queen: Inside the Reign of Avon’s Andrea Jung offers an insightful tale of the spectacular rise to the top and the tumultuous fall from grace of the former Avon CEO. Jung initially led six consecutive years of double-digit growth and then presided over a series of operational missteps that led to her resignation. “Her story is a cautionary tale, one that suggests the critical importance of being aware of your weaknesses and how they can sabotage you.” Key takeaway: Spectacular success, especially those attributable to external circumstances, can often conceal on organization’s or an individual’s flaws. When the tide turns, the deficiencies are exposed for all to see. {Read my synopsis in this article.}

'The HP Way' by David Packard (ISBN 0060845791) Biography / Leadership: David Packard’s The HP Way recalls how Bill Hewlett and David Packard built a company based on a framework of principles and the simplicity of management methods. In addition to their technical innovations, Bill and David established many progressive management practices that prevail even today. Starting in the initial days, the HP culture that Bill and David engendered was unlike the hierarchical and egalitarian management practices that existed at other corporations of their day. Key takeaway: The essence of the “HP Way” was a strong and clear set of values, and a culture of openness and respect for the individual. {Read my synopsis in this article. Also learn about management by walking around and Bill Hewlett’s ‘Hat-Wearing Process’ for decision-making.}

Leadership: Warren Bennis and Robert Thomas’s Geeks and Geezers. The authors posit that all potential leaders must pass through a “leadership crucible” that provides an intense, transformative experience. Only after they “organize the meaning” and draw significant lessons from their “crucible experiences” can they become leaders. Key takeaway: Find your “leadership voice” by reflecting on transformative experiences in your life and examining what you’ve learned from them. {Read my synopsis in this article.}

Look at my articles on how to process a pile of books that you can’t seem to finish, and on how self-help books bring hope that change is possible.

Also, see a list of books I read in 2015 and 2014 and recommend.