“The Alchemist,” by Paulo Coelho. It’s a brilliant, magical, life-changing book that continues to blow my mind with its lessons. I’ve never, ever encountered a book that would so consistently have me read a passage and be so moved and changed that I would just set the book down and think about what I just learned. It’s a remarkable tome. I’m also kind of awed by how it came into my life. I often feel like books find us for reasons, and we read them when we need them the most. Does that make sense? It’s a decidedly odd thing for me to say, given that I’m a magician and skeptic and can find rational reason for almost anything. But one day, at the Century City mall in Los Angeles, I walked into a bookstore, had no idea what I was even looking for, went to the “new fiction” section, held up my arm and just pointed to a book. Just to see what would happen. That book was “The Alchemist.” I’d never heard of it before. Bought it, read it without stopping (except for moments of stunned contemplation), and it was exactly what I needed to read. – Neil Patrick Harris (New York Times)
Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be critical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
© Max Ehrmann 1927
We like to think we’re rational human beings.
“In fact, we are prone to hundreds of proven biases that cause us to think and act irrationally, and even thinking we’re rational despite evidence of irrationality in others is known as blind spot bias. […]
Hoping to clue you — and ourselves — into the biases that frame our decisions, we’ve collected a long list of the most notable ones.”
*Also known as Collee’s Rule.
Yeah that’s right, you heard me… I’m talking to you… I’m calling you out.
I’m looking you in the eyes (OK well, not really since you are probably reading this article, but figuratively, I am burning a cyclops type hole in your face right now) and telling you that you don’t stand a chance.
I’m telling you that if you can read this article, look through this list and not claim it as your own, then you should be a little worried.
Actually, you should be very worried. You should drop everything and immediately question your existence on earth. You should find a mirror, look yourself in the eyes, raise your hand and slap yourself in the face.
Got it? Now repeat that until you come to your senses and continue reading Whenever you’re ready.
This is an extract from an interview with Garret Kramer, author of the book Stillpower: Excellence with Ease in Sports and Life.
I really like the idea of being still and taking a step back when life is getting on top of you. The sporting analogy of being in the Zone is quite appropriate here. When things aren’t working for you and you are feeling something akin to being out of the zone or off your game, taking a step back and being still might be the best thing you can do to re-focus.
“I truly believe the finest competitors in every sport, or in life, play the game with what I call stillpower not with willpower. This understanding is key to success. What I mean is that despite the desire to win, these competitors remain open to all possible outcomes; win or lose, they know they’ll be perfectly okay. What arises out of this is a level of consciousness that let’s them excel. They see opportunities, follow their passions, and feel an ease in their day-to-day lives. They’re simply following their instincts.
Is this the infamous “in the zone” state that we hear so much about?
Let’s be clear about this. The zone is not about trying hard. You can’t force it. The zone feels effortless because you’re operating at a higher state of consciousness. Although athletes in the zone are incredibly locked in, their focus is never forced.
Same thing goes at work. You’ve never had to push hard to find a great insight. If you think on your best performances or purest experiences in life, were you trying to exert a force on it? Most of the athletes I work with tell me that when they find the zone they simply “let go” and just absorb themselves in the present moment. It’s a selfless experience.
The zone is not about trying hard. You can’t force it.
What do you tell them when they fall out of this state?
The answer will always be found in simplicity. The reason athletes (and all of us for that matter) struggle is that the quality of our thinking has declined. When that happens, we revert to the intellect for the answers and the intellect will always overcomplicate things.Now, since we’ve been taught to grind it out, we force it. But, from this low state of mind, we’re not capable of finding answers, so our quality of thought continues to drop down as we struggle. But what if we simply took our foot off the gas pedal? Our thoughts and mood would settle, and we would see the same challenges as opportunities. The insights start to flow again, so answers become obvious.
Once you grasp that fundamental concept you realize that willpower will not help you. You’re not capable in the moment. The more we try to control our effort (or our thoughts about effort), the more we tend to get in our own way – and reduce our odds for success.
So I encourage my clients to step back and use a term I call “stillpower,” which means don’t push ahead but rather be still. The feelings that come will be of ease, clarity, and responsiveness.
It sounds crazy. I mean, do nothing? Yes. Do not make any decisions from a low mindset – just be still.”
Full interview available here.
Garret Kramer’s site is here.