Monday, November 12, 2007

A list of 16 most important life lessons

Following is a list of most important lessons I have learned and I'm internalizing this tumultuous year. Incidentally, it's an excerpt of a short letter to my father, who is abroad, as I wanted to update him on my life today. Undoubtedly, you will recognize some of the concepts from books of my current favorite authors namely: Tony Robbins, Tim Ferriss (4 Hour Work Week), Robert Kiyosaki, and a young, successful and wealthy hypnotist Shafin de Zane who I owe a lot for introducing me to a lot of materials for self-development and self-discovery. And yes, a few of it came from the often-scoffed-by-intellectuals "The Secret" book by Rhonda Byrne.

Ken Wilber and Osho will always remain two of my all-time favorite teachers but at this critical stage in my life, these more worldly authors and their ideas are more applicable for me.

"On the whole I have made so many huge mistakes, personal and career wise, since I graduated. But only this year painfully I am learning a lot about myself and life. Briefly, 16 important things I have recently learned from a handful of books and are slowly being validated by experience:

1.) Prioritize mastering your thoughts/emotions above all as these will affect all secondary priorities such as finances, career, creativity, relationships and even health.

2.) Life is about growth. And you can only grow when you continuously break beyond your expanding comfort zones by seeing things differently and facing problems which must always be seen as challenges. So challenges are required for growth so they must be welcomed. Staying within your comfort zones results in depression and stagnation and loss of meaning.

3.) Stay away from drama. Human beings are hardwired to simulate artificial problems (personal and professional) which just loop back and become self-sabotaging obstacles. Life has enough valid problems/challenges needed for true growth.

4.) Experiment assumptions to prove or disprove them rather than just accept assumptions. Even assumptions based on past experiences and basic logic are not always true in a particular time and place after conducting a solid experiment.

5.) What tasks you do is infinitely more important than how you do, organize or process tasks. So eliminate as many non-important, time consuming things, information, thoughts and tasks.
(Pareto principle) In the same manner, focus 20% on problem and 80% on solution. If it's not part of solution, it's part of the problem.

6.) Master money. Your financial standing is a pretty accurate report of how you deal with the world. The only way to become wealthy is to hugely create/add value to people's lives. Business is personal.

7.) Fully appreciate/have gratitude to everything that is your current situation and all that is coming. Everyday.

8.) Define what you want, believe it possible, plan, execute, adjust/adapt to results and be consistent and persistent. Stick to it. Think big, act small.

9.) Mind and body is a feedback loop. Ex.: If you want to feel great, sit, stand, smile, and breathe accordingly. A relax state is the most efficient state.

10.) Time is useless without attention. Master focus.

11.) Understand people: Beyond habits, everyone is motivated to avoid most pain and seek most pleasure as dictated by their subconscious. People associate every thing to either of the two, so you must be careful how you associate in your subconscious. Everyone wants to feel worthy and feel good about themselves. The emotion of anger is always rooted in feeling of unfairness/injustice.

12.) Delete "should" from vocabulary; replace with "must". Unwittingly, everyone is acting/behaving as they feel they must.

13.) Focus on your strengths for compounded results rather than focusing to fix weaknesses for marginal results .

14.) Have integrity, honesty, creativity and love for quality - these are all in the "invisible world" which does exist.

15.) By default the universe operates efficiently but as people we must be effective - that is to consistently act towards a chosen goal.

16.) Don't sweat the small stuff. Enjoy and have passion.

Yes, some of them are very trite and cliche but as I analyze/test these and similar concepts I am astounded by the truths in them and how they can impact my life. I even find them more important as a way to operate in the world way before navel gazing as I thought before. Goes without saying, I have a long, long way to go. I would be happy to know what you think of these ideas that are shaping my life because again I do need guidance wherever I can find it."

Have a great life, everyone.

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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Impossible Dreams are more Feasible

As I continue to be fascinated with Tim Ferriss' book 4 Hour Work Week, here's another of his ideas I want to delve into - "Doing the Unrealistic is Easier Than Doing the Realistic".

According to Tim, everyone is competing for realistic goals. Hence, there is less competition for higher, impossible goals as everyone thinks they are "impossible". But two things should be kept in mind - people usually overestimate the effort needed to accomplish great things and people usually underestimate their capabilities.

The next reasoning of Tim is this - larger "impossible" goals and dreams give us a more intense drive, passion, and commitment to overcome obstacles involved in achieving what we want as compared to "mediocre" goals and dreams.

"If the potential payoff is mediocre or average, so is your effort."

For example, would an employee likely choose a week of overtime for extra income for a weekend in a nearby so-so beach (Mindoro perhaps). Or would it be more probable that an employee would go at length to demand a raise, more vacation leave, for a higher position, more projects if this would all permit him to spend a month in Boracay or even Hawaii.

The former scenario is not uncommon but would be often put off. But faced with the latter option a person would be really forced to rethink his career and really commit.

After consuming this idea I decided to reevaluate all that I have been doing and planning even if I have thought of myself as ambitious and a risk-taker. Maybe I am still too "realistic" and by this I probably still don't have enough drive to accomplish realistic goals.

Here are my old goals:

  • Quit smoking
  • Exercise everyday
  • Have enough income to cover bills an go out every weekend buy doodads
  • Go to Boracay every year
  • Succeed in an online business
Here are my new dreams:
  • Climb Mount Fuji
  • Buy a souped-up 300C Chrysler
  • Tour Europe and South Africa
  • Buy a hi-end franchise
  • Make 10 thousand dollars monthly through an online business
  • 20,00 push-ups and run in a marathon
Try this simple exercise yourself.

What are your old goals and new "unrealistic" dreams?

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

4 Hour Work Week of Tim Ferriss

Previously, I posted about chasing a thousand rabbit holes, when I spent almost 24 hours on the Internet jumping from one interesting topic and website to another. Whatever I said about it, it was simply about information overload, a sickness best articulated and obliterated by Tim Ferriss's "low information diet", one of the many invaluable concepts from his book "4 Hour Work Week".

Tim is unbelievably successful at such a young age (30, a year older than me). He has the very profitable BrainQuicken company, he travels around the world regularly, he is a Kickboxing champion, his book is a bestseller and on and on...

To save time I'll bullet point some of his most important ideas as I understand them:

Define - what you want to achieve, your dreams and where you are right now
Eliminate - non-essentials, things that waste your time.
Automate - processes for your business and personal life. Delegate.
Liberate - yourself from your comfort zones and from physical, environmental limitations

Refuse unimportant information. Read only what you need to read and act on immediately.

Combine Pareto's 80/20 principle and Parkinson's Law:
a. limit tasks to important to shorten work time
b. shorten work time to limit tasks to the important

Multi-tasking is stupid. Do one thing at a time with full focus.

Identify and do the things you avoid, most probably they are the things you have to face and learn. For me they are talking to strangers, studying accounting and finance, etc. Act outside the box.

Goals that are seemingly "impossible" have more power to inspire you to move and act on than goals that are "achievable, feasible".

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Monday, September 3, 2007

Your Accountant, Your Best Friend

I just finished a long meeting with an accountant who has been handling the paperwork and business permits of one of my companies (a small web development firm) for some time now. Today's meeting was a special one. Basically, I have taken a concrete step regarding Kiyosaki's advice of building a team which consists first and foremost a personal accountant/bookkeeper (Choose to be Rich course). This means I have struck a deal with this accountant that she will, from hereon, keep track of all my finances and help me plan my financial future.

Yep, it's a huge step on my part and a big commitment on hers that I'm entrusting her with information not even my closest relatives and friends know about. And so I was frank with her, she is basically my number 2 now, just next to my spouse in terms of the most important people in my life.

I took this step for many reasons but mainly because my personal goal for financial freedom has been set in stone as a result of a couple of months reevaluating my life. And even before reading up on the need for a personal accountant, I saw the cold logic in it. Someone you trust and has the skills is needed to help a person like me track my finances for financial growth.

It's probably overkill for a normal employee no matter how big his salary is to do the same but for me I think it's essential.

Other reasons:

* I have multiple sources of income (which individually are really small) that need to be put in order.
* I keep educating myself on accounting but I know I would always need a real expert and I would never have time to be a professional accountant myself.
* I have big plans but many small deals.
* I don't have enough time and patience to be very detailed with my own finances.
* I can't help being emotional about my finances so I need an outsider to tell me where I really am and what my mistakes are and what to fix financially.

So I got her commitment to help me. For the fees, this was easy, for the meantime my company will shoulder the expense to start which is the normal retainers fee you would expect. But I assured her as she will be aware of my complete financial growth, she would have leverage to increase her fees. And I think this is fair, although we would still in the near future need to be more specific. I'm also thinking of eventually paying for her mobile phone.

Then, we initially set some terms and scope of her work, particularly that I would need a report twice a month.

My accountant was very willing to take on the task and we immediately started by listing down all my income sources and the minimum I get from them per month. After listing those, we listed all my expenses. And then boom! We immediately saw that I was in negative cash flow - about P4000 a month is eating up my savings. That is very valuable information that I will be working on today to find a solution.

Anyway, reasons why I chose her and maybe useful criteria for others who plan to hire their own personal accountant:

* She has worked with me for some time and I trust her.
* She has a pleasing personality which is important because we will likely talk for hours about this boring subject of accounting.
* She is skilled but willing to learn more about other industries I am in.
* She is good with taxes and can help me lower them (legally).

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Ken Wilber's Integral Vision versus The Secret: Law of Attraction

Like multitudes of people, I was recently attracted to the Law of Attraction a.k.a The Secret. But almost 10 years ago, I got obsessed with Ken Wilber's Integral Vision, so much so it was the center of my college thesis and personal search for knowledge. The passion for it and passion for other stuff died down when I got into the real world.

In the past months though , I have been focusing on The Secret along with any related material, plus Tony Robbins's NLP based-system and Robert Kiyosaki's Rich Dad, Poor Dad texts for wealth seekers. I quit my job and used my savings to start planning things out.

All throughout, I had put Ken Wilber's framework on the shelf but there indeed was in the back of my head a kind of doubt regarding "positive thinking" of The Secret and Wallace Wattle's Science of Getting Rich (which seems like the basis for Rhonda Byrne's work). I also had the feeling, while I didn't want to dwell on it, that any Wilberian, never mind if that person just glossed over Wilber's work, would easily obliterate the whole concept of reality according to the the Law of Attraction. I didn't want to know their opinion because until now The Secret has been giving so much hope in my life.

And then it happened...

Out of curiosity, I googled Ken Wilber and The Secret and I came across his opinion and that of his scholars (among those most vocal is Julian Walker). As can be expected, the all encompassing and practically airtight framework of Wilber, without any effort destroyed with critical thinking and rationalization the reality of The Secret.

The basis is primarily the Pre-Trans fallacy.

From what I studied long before, I have always felt that Ken Wilber's pre-trans fallacy is one of his most important contributions (maybe even more important than his Quadrants and Holons). The pre-trans fallacy, if I understand correctly, states that in the broadest process of complete development of human beings , an individual goes through pre-rational (infancy or perhaps any damage to the brain), rational (usually adulthood) and finally trans-rational (realization or enlightenment) . The crucial thing to note here is the opposite ends of the spectrum of human experiences are non-rational and as such anything that happens in the two can be mistaken for the other.

But the trans-rational stage encompasses and transcends rationality which means this stage has a solid foundation of reason and logic in which the highest level of human potential was able to grow from and finally become aware of the "whole picture" or answer "the Ultimate question".

On the other hand, before reason and logic there was the pre-rational stage and this is the realm of mythical and magical beliefs (pardon me Wilberians if I use some terms loosely but you get the picture) . This is the stage of superstitions, gods big and small and whatnot that are not based on complete facts. This stage is before rationality. But in the same manner, rationality must grow from this pre-rational realm. It cannot be skipped. A baby is not a Buddha because while irrational it can't help but think and feel it is one with all.

Back to the Secret… the argument goes that The Secret is far from being anything spiritual and more of being pathological and narcissistic for promoting beliefs that you are the center of the universe and thinking good thoughts can create matter such as a Ferrari.

This reminds me of one of my favorite books, Heinlien's "Stranger in a Strange Land" where the protagonist's realization and motto was "Thou Art God". Supposedly this is the idea that would improve the whole world if each one thought that way among each other...

Anyway, an intense and interesting discussion where a lot of Wilber fans criticized "The Secret" is found at If you read most of it you will see that
~C4Chaos or coolmel, while he knows much about Wilber's framework, believes that there is still value in "the Secret" in terms of "translation" and I quote:

"So, what's my point? My point is that The Secret (or Law of Attraction) serves as a good “translation” mechanism for people who need it at this point in their lives. If you notice the reaction of the people who have been touched by The Secret, the common theme is that, it changed their attitude from a “poor me victim” consciousness into a more positive outlook in which they now have to take responsibility for their thoughts, intentions, and actions. I say that's a pretty darn good “translation” for coping up with life."

And from here a number of critics among which is Julian Walker basically says it can't be a healthy translation (or view) of the world if there is lack of honesty or if there is a denial to what is real in this translation.

I read other related blogs in which Wilber fans also dominated the discussion. And for a few days it really depressed me. Obliviously it deflated my hopes. So it touched a nerve.

But in the end, I agree completely with ~C4Chaos. What I say is I'm all for "The Law of Attraction" if it helps individuals like me that need an occasional swift smack in the head with a big wooden stick to get out of depression. God knows critical thinking would take a lot longer to push me to get up and do something great.

I really think it's an exaggeration that adopting the reality of the Secret is damaging to the soul or society as a whole or believing it will surely end up in tears. Surely, scholars of Wilber know about slippery slopes and while the behavior of an individual sometimes reflects the behavior of the society, more often an individual can navigate and change courses faster and more consciously than a group of people. A cult of thousands with its members strengthening each others prelogic beliefs with their common symbols and having exact same goals maybe annihilation of a particular race or spread of their religion is more likely to have a damaging effect than an individual who perhaps has a prelogic belief system that he or she has full control of his or her life and everything around it and with positive thinking he or she person can create positive events and things.

Even with my respect to Wilberians, in this issue they serve as a wet blanket and they just have this habit of needing to use critical thinking to break apart something instead of seeing its usefulness. And that's the nature of being an intellectual in the intellectual field, as any would see the amount of critics that tried to dismantle Wilber' work from the beginning. Huge egos in this arena, as such any one would notice how intellectuals (even Wilber) can be vocally violent in defending their views.

In the end, maybe that's why even after reading Ken Wilber's book I was still much more into Osho. He was super rational in any issue or debate but he knew that he had to change levels of rationalizations depending on his audience. This for me explains why Osho seems to contradict himself or change his mind so often and have different opinions in different lectures. Unlike Osho, Wilber's framework or Quadrant system of thought is constant in whatever discussion you are having. In theory, All Level All Quadrant (AQAL) works every time and through it you can probably win any argument or debate but in everyday life, things, thoughts, experiences and people are so organic and dynamic and mysterious that not even an AQAL framework can contain them long enough.

Osho didn't bother with systems of thoughts or signposts, he just says what serves his purpose for a particular time and place and persons involved. And his lectures always had a goal and that is not to simply challenge his listeners but more to help them develop.

On the other hand, it seems a lot of Wilberians are more into the fun game of debating and deconstructing using Wilber's great maybe perfect rationalization tools.

Even if The Secret can easily be seen as revival of New Age B.S. and just a moneymaking scam, the simple value of helping people reevaluate their lives is much more of a contribution at this stage for a lot of people than knowing the Theory of Everything.

Personal experiences tell me glimpses of realization or any original thoughts often come illogically (pre rational or translogical - who cares) from mysterious places in the unconscious. From this, I think proponents of The Secret need not be aware of the colored "memes" and levels of development to create inspiring material that truly changes some people's live for the better.

Lastly, just think how The Secret simply inspires a lot of people the way Adi Da's Dawn Horse inspired Ken Wilber. Surely a lot of us who read it snickered at the stuff in the Dawn Horse (What's with the capitalizations?) but what's important is it had a huge impact on Wilber's personal development.

Also, look at Tony Robbins' Neuro Associative Programming - many psychologists violently disagree with NAP and its basis (from NLP) but most time the NAP techniques just work for a lot of individuals even without decades of study and evidence to back it up compared to let's say Freudian therapy. I know Wilber recognizes Tony Robbins as a real genuine successful person.

Or how about the way Maharshi gained enlightenment at such an early age when, he out of the blue (whatever inspired him), he laid down on his bed and pretended as best he could that he was dead.

My point is , inspiration that can push us to the next levels can come quite mysteriously or from whatever strange unknowable places. And I think Wilber had mentioned it before that you just need enough or minimum foundation in a particular stage of development to suddenly transcend that level. Realizations can be so sudden and become a leap into the next level. What fuels these sudden leaps if not inspiration (from a person, experience or book like the Secret) or simple desperation or frustration in the current situation you are in. If The Secret inspires people or better yet helps people gain control of their emotions and thoughts, then it necessarily deepens awareness and "nowness" - this is the single most important if not the only thing for spiritual development.

In any case, The Secret doesn't tell you to do drugs or sacrifice your child to awaken to reality. It just tells you to mind your thoughts, not unlike (if not exactly) how exercises of modern gurus Anthony De Mello or Eckart Tolle go.

I say, if the secret works for you why not(I know, post-modernism not post-post-modernism).

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Stop chasing a thousand rabbits

This will take some courage and deflating of my ego to say I have been wasting more than two weeks of my life searching what to do next. I love the Internet and know in my heart part of my success would be derived from this medium.

However, I have to admit I have spent too much time following a thousand white rabbits running in all directions throughout this ocean of information. Indeed, I have found a couple of jewels and treasures along the way. But as one of the important advices I have just found, the most significant factor to succeed is take action and focus. This is by far what separates losers from winners.

My difficulty, for one, lies in having read too little of too much but never took time to apply one approach before moving on. I need to focus as much as everyone who needs to succeed and have succeeded.

In my most recent haphazard search and journey, I was very lucky to find a few essential points:

From “Other Side Entrepreneur"
If I want to make real lasting money from the Internet I must get into "Information Publishing and Marketing".

In relation, the important concepts are:

There is already too much information out there.

People want advice not information, advice how to succeed, feel good, be healthy and wealthy.

Any personal hobby and interest, no matter how specialized, can be turned into a million dollar business if it is developed with an "Information Publishing and Marketing" strategy.

In the same manner, any business, however small, can profit hugely by augmenting its business with this strategy.

Make Up Your Mind Already By Rich Schefren found in a "Early to Rise" newsletter:

1. Take action and focus. Crystallize your goals. Organize your thoughts to daily actions and do them daily and consistently. Close the laptop and do what you must do today.

2. Rise above fear and doubt. Its ok to make mistakes but learn from your mistakes.

3. Keep it simple.
Stop mulling and dabbling with thousands of ideas. Learn and master an approach, only then you move to the next.

4. Know where the money is. Open your eyes and learn to take the pulse of your market.

That all for now, I'll close my laptop and decide which rabbit to chase.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Speed Wealth

Another great book. Short and sweet, "Speedwealth: How to make a million in your own business in 3 years or less" by T. Harv Eker summarizes business essentials in clear cut language. Contrary to its title, Eker promotes thinking and habits for a long term financial growth rather than common get rich quick schemes.

He also concludes, which echoes many prosperity books I'm reading, that money is just part of wealth and that you won't get far if you don't address self-development and have a will to be happy .

For more on Eker, check out his company Peak Potentials and other related websites millionairemind and .

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The Blog of Author Tim Ferriss

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