Little Respect

Finally our baby is sleeping. Lately he often wakes up already after a few minutes although still very tired. So I might have only a few minutes. And I have to listen carefully to eventually baby crying.

I remember my time in the army. It was similar when we went to bed. There was always the possibility of an alarm (although always practice alerts). So I often listened carefully because for me it was pure horror to get awake by loud alert. And this was only the obligate training service I did. I have never been in real war.

This makes me feeling empathy for army soldiers fighting in wars. I do love peace and I remember well the T-shirt slogan of a friend saying: "Imagine there is war and nobody shows up."

In a war there is no winner, there are only losers. Some loose more, some less. So war does not make sense. But do people always behave in a manner that makes sense? Often it is enough to feel some fear to cause unhealthy actions that lead to big conflicts. Such conflicts may grow fast or slowly over many years and then escalate.

I think the army has not a good image. The army is like the savage guard dog of rich people. They let him out in the night to feel save. In the morning and when visitors arrive they lock him away because they feel some sort of shame or because of the danger they can be. But in the night they let him out again.

We can easily say that we are against war and want to live in peace. But when there are armed forces invading and we have to fear that your children may get harmed then we do want a strong army.

I think similar applies for many other things in our life. When we do currently not need specific things or specific services, we might ignore those or disrespect them. Only when we need them in a sudden we give the appropriate respect and support.

Let's try to give the appropriate respect to everything - and everyone - that is - even if we currently don't care too much because we don't see the need yet.

Related posts: To be important, Stop war by stopping defense, Dissolved aggressiveness, Best defense, The wise talk less.


101 posts or how to improve step by step

I started blogging about a year ago and since then I have written 100 posts. And I have read even a lot more posts on other blogs (I guess more than thousand in the last two years).

So a lot of information and I wonder...
  • ...if life is really so complicated that it needs so much learning about it?
  • ...if I need life-long-learning on how to get the right things done right and to be happy with the success? - Maybe the dead people are not dead but just overwhelmed about all the cool stuff they learned an now meditating about it. ;-)
  • ...when I will have time to review all the helpful information?
  • ...how much of all that helpful information I already implemented yet?
  • ...what are the most important next elements to implement into my life?
Fortunately bloggers do write again about older topics providing abstracts, more details or adding some value another way. So they help me in the reviewing process. By all this information out there we often think about information overflow but if you look at the mass of information it helps you finding the more important things by recurring thoughts and tips. So be attentive to patterns showing up while reading news and other information sources.

But I can imagine you also already read a lot of helpful information on the web, so what's next? Consolidation and implementation can be a next step.

My tip:
  1. Think about your biggest and most often occurring concrete problems (can be different ones).
  2. Then think about your general philosophy (how you want to act in general) - your "big picture".
  3. Turn back to your concrete situation and to the concrete problem and try to solve it from the "bigger point of view" - so that it is compliant to your "big picture".
Related posts: Information overflow, Quickly change a habit, Finding the root problem.


The most important things to know

My 11 month old son is sitting next to me on the floor playing with the door. I am thinking of what I would tell him when I am about to die. What is the most important that I would like to tell him?

Is it that I love him? - I think he knows it already. When I come home I play with him and I hug and cuddle him - and I am there when he needs me.

What is the very most important to know?

I think I would tell him the following:
Beware of the major reasons of suffering:
  • Greed
  • Attachment
  • Missing knowledge
  • Absence of compassion
  • Selfishness
In some book some years ago I read that greed and attachment are the reasons of suffering. I added the other three here above. Maybe you could reduce it to two major reasons. you could either explain attachment with greed. Attachment to something lost is the greed to keep something. - But I think that some suffering can be decoded easier by knowing some other styles that suffering could have. I was about to add "missing patience" also but it is a kind of greed and I don't want also to add too much to this list.

Important message should not be too long because then nobody can remind.

Related posts: There is suffering, Ethic economy, Scoundrel days, Knowledge is freedom, Biggest worries, Needs and meaning, 6 Triggers of bad action, The fool gives way without borders.

Spam thoughts

The problem: There is not only spam information - there are also spam thoughts.
Spam is reducing our productivity and happiness. But there is not only spam mail and spam information - there are also spam thoughts.

The reason: We want to note everything down because our brain tends to forget.
We want to improve and learn from our experiences. Going to work in the morning offers a lot of impressions that triggers thoughts as every impression (as well as information) contains potential issues to learn. GTD tells us to write down everything - although there are also some critics on this.

The solution: Trust your brain and let go.
While on the go or while working on something else there are thoughts coming only loosely related to the topic of your focus. If it is important it will return, come back in the same or similar way on other opportunities. If the same thought returns more often then it is worth more being noted down and reviewed. Don't act immediately on a single thought or let a single thought be the reason for (big) decisions.

Related posts: Information overflow, Who cares?, All Done status, Crying for attention, Analysis and therapy.


To be important

The problem: Being called an idiot or to call other people an idiot.
When somebody is doing something stupid people tend to call the complete person for an idiot. And this although a human being is such a complex being with so many possibilities. A person can give so many good contributions to the world and neighbours.

The reason: Poor self-esteem and fears
It sounds crazy but it is confirmation of self-esteem if others can be seen as stupid. In the relation if others are stupid, do not well perform and do know less than you then you are the hero and you will survive if it comes to confrontation. It is the fear that only a few will survive and life is seen as a daily fight for survive.

The solution: Honesty and compassion
Be honest: Only because you are calling somebody an idiot, the others will not be complete idiots. It is more likely that they will do a lot not to be seen as an idiot. All humans want to be respected and to be loved.

The lone warrior might win in the videos but in the real life you are dependent from the others. Teams and groups can survive a war but not a lonely fighter like Rambo - that is cinema.

If you look at yourself with the critical eye, you will see that you are not perfect - as the others are too. Being tough on somebody else needs also being tough on yourself.

Be tolerant to others and to yourself as nobody can always do everything right.

Develop compassion to see that others are also giving their best to be loved and to survive. Help others and generate win-win situations.

There is nowhere written that you cannot survive both - you and your fellow human being!

And what I heard in a song text: It's nice to be important - it's more important to be nice!

And if you are still concentrated on yourself then remember that if you listen and learn from the others what they can do better than you will bring you further.

Related posts: Healthy motivation, An eye for an eye.


You can't urge the river flowing

The problem: Desire to solve issues immediately.
I know it very well from all around that by accident issues rise and people want to get them solved immediately. Some people are either negating existence of problems. People (me included) get inpatient with the first small obstacle - not talking about solid brick walls that may turn out to be real show stoppers.

The reason: Unrealistic view of the world and unclear situation about personal goals.
Why is it possible that a suddenly upcoming event can have the power to change priorities completely or either cause people close their eyes frightened by what they have seen? - A critical view makes it clear, that there are only a few events having a big impact to the current situation changing priorities immediately - for example car incidents, if something catches fire, getting knowledge of a severe illness and so on. In such shock situations it is either understandable creating a temporary mental barrier.

But there are - in relation to the above - really unimportant events that make us change priorities immediately or - worse - cause us taking big decisions. Such an event is for example when a customer is agitating because of a delay in product delivery. In most cases it does not make a difference if a package arrives one day earlier or later. In most cases when people are having urgent issues the reason is that they did not plan well.

An example: Let's say 1 worker needs 100 days to build a house. You might tend to calculate that 100 workers can build a house in 1 day. But this is simply not true.

Unrealistic view of the world is given by not understanding how involved things work, too high expectations and simply impatience.

The solution: Have goals and accept that nothing can be done in less time that it takes.
Keep cool! - Before taking action immediately, take you a moment of time thinking about the real impact of the latest event to your big long term goals.

If you have some long term goals in mind then you will not loose concept immediately on every incoming news article. And as long term goals are not in reach within a week or two you need to advance step by step.

Trying to solve all problems in an instant (and either the desire) is like trying to urge the river flowing.

If there is action needed plan the necessary steps scheduling sufficient time!

You can't urge the river flowing!

Related posts: There are no problems, All Done status, Reduce the stress factors, Change hype, Why investing enough time rules, Urging to forge at full speed, What is reality?


Healthy motivation

Yesterday I had a discussion with a friend about my last post "There are no problems".

He mentioned that expectations are a motivation to continue taking action, work and trying to overcome obstacles.

I agree with him that expectations can be a motivation although I do not think it's the best choice to have expectations as a main motivation. Anyway in that posts I was only talking about expectations being too high when you experience problems.

And he also stated that there are serious problems where he cannot just screw down his expectations. Sample: Your baby is very ill. If you don't make a problem of it and just do not expect any more survival then this is not a healthy and good mentality.

Let's imagine I would be able to drop all expectations in an instant: I wouldn't let someone die only because I don't have any expectation! Either without any strong desire (greed) I wouldn't let somebody die!

I will help because of love, compassion and the intention to do healthy things (for me, for you and for everybody).

I do think that my friend would bring his baby to hospital more because of love than because of expectations!

I want to quote from an earlier post ("Expectation dropping"):
when you do something you do it out of the current necessity or benefit without having to fear investment loss (because you simple do not invest - at least long term),
Maybe the only expectation I want to keep is that world can be improved. But this is more a believe than an expectation (see also "Being positive").

Related posts: There are no problems, Expectation dropping, Being positive, The power of intention, Ethic economy.


There are no problems

Sometimes I get told to be more positive. I do not want to be pessimistic but life often let me experience problems while trying to achieve something.

That does not mean that I do not continue working on a solution and often I am successful in finding a solution or at least a workaround. But when people ask me about a topic I mostly do point out possible pitfalls and obstacles that might come up while implementing a solution for the particular problem.

I do not really see this as being negative - I always find it realistic considering the most probable hurdles. And often a set of little issues can reduce general feeling of satisfaction. I just want to avoid such issues in the beginning by choosing the solution attempt where less issues are expected to come up (according to experience and feeling in the belly).

But however, most people do not want to hear about (possible) problems. They "simply" want to have everything working - no discussion - they don't accept problems.

Today I discovered that they are right:

There are no problems - just expectations might be too high!

And I am not responsible for other people's high expectations. That is something they have to live with.

Related posts: Expectation dropping, Success with optimism AND pessimism, Positivity barricades, Healthy motivation, When to criticize, Optimist meeting pessimist.


All Done status

The problem: You cannot relax while open work is waiting to be done.
There is so much to do - although we are optimizing and improving efficiency there still remains so much on our to-do lists. We are always in a hurry because we need to do more things and faster.

The reason: Open issues make us staying uncomfortable.
We want to get our head empty, clear everything out to be free for one new thing that we can focus on in tranquility and undisturbed.

Or maybe we simply learned: First the work then the leisure time.

The solution: Stop hunting for the "All Done" status and focus on the things that matter.
The desire to have a single thing you can concentrate on and everything else is in archived status is an unrealistic hope.

And imagine if you would have this status and then get in boredom status and focus on a single thing only: While thinking and working on the single thing, do you really believe that you then will not get a hundred ideas and thoughts that are triggered by working on one particular thing?

So why trying to achieve such an unrealistic status that there is nothing left to do? All you could get then is the feeling of being worthless in a sudden.

Instead focus on the really important things - focus on the things that matter (to you or the world)!

Related posts: Who cares, Information Overflow, Reduce the stress factors, What is reality?, Hurry home ... no more running, Being like a child, Needs and meaning.


Who cares?

There is a famous (although stupid text) song from the muppet show called Mahna Mahna. The text is only "Mahna mahna, düdüü-düdüdü". But why I am telling this is because of the final comments of the two old guys in the box after the song finished:
Old 1: The question is: What is a "Mahna Mahna"?
Old 2: The question is: Who cares?
And this is a very good advice for people who want to improve their productivity! It could be a ZEN koan, if it wouldn't be so easy to understand. ;-)

In the information age there is not only "good" and healthy information that brings us further. No, there is also a lot of spam (by the way there is also a funny video here). There is not only spam e-mail, there is also other types of spam information that just reduces our productivity. This goes so far that they print stupid quotes (intended to be funny) on the toilet papers (at least here in austria). At the toilet I could have really undisturbed time without distractions so I could be productive (physically ;-) ) and mentally. But no, those stupid quotes ruin it... - and from now on I will change the vendor realizing this productivity reducing effect now.

One method to separate spam information from real and helpful information is the very good question "Who cares?" Asking it, will immediately block a lot of information surfing through your mind.

There is a lot of news and a lot of carnival barkers soliciting a lot products and services fading immediately after thinking of who cares.

The question is: Who cares? - And the answer could be:
  • Everybody cares.
  • My family cares (wife, children, parents or other relatives).
  • My friends care.
  • My customers care.
  • My boss cares.
  • My colleagues care.
  • Somebody else cares.
  • Nobody cares.
And then the all-dominant question: Do I care?

If you look at the list above then you could find also that the list order is possibly a good order of priority.

Depending on who cares, the information, thing or either task needs different attention and handling. Priorities are set according to who cares.

Related posts: Information overflow, Change hype, The big difference of the How, In the present moment, Get focused with 3 questions, Crying for attention, One and a half words, The family, The value of rest and review.


Early intervention

The problem: Although planning well there is still too much work and too many problems.
Although you do plan everything that needs to be done and you learned to estimate the needed hours for a particular work quite accurate you still wonder about the big amount of work. David Allen

The reason: Overcommitment in the past and late intervention.
When I heard the first time a talk of David Allen speaking about overcommitment I was not sure if he is right - there was some doubt because with a lot of work I never had the feeling that there is something I could commit or deny. A lot of work somehow falls into my competence and duty and I do not have a real choice.

I realized that overcommitment is a part of the reason but there is also another factor: When work hits me it is often already effects of something that could have been foreseen and avoided earlier or simply taken into consideration when planning. In addition to that there is a lot of unplanned work coming up by accident.

The solution: Early intervention.
As suffering comes from unhealthy actions in the past the key is to solve problems when they are still tiny and can be solved or circumnavigated easily. This does not mean that you should go and try to avoid every possibly negative experience. No, I am talking about "known issues".

To give an example: If your boss is often coming up with unexpected desires then the desires and exact times are not known - but you know that there will be rising some unexpected work. So you could schedule for example 1 hour a day dealing with unexpected work from your boss. If somehow now unexpected work is brought to you then you have an extra hour for other good work.

Another example: Ever needed to get in touch with a partner because of some questions arising while working on a project and noticed that the person is on vacation exactly in that week when you scheduled working on that project? - Just ask people in time about their plans so that you can adapt your schedule.

So, what to do?
  1. Analysis
    Get the scope and identify the problem or possible problems that come up often.
  2. Measuring
    Estimate the average time needed, evaluate available resources etc.
  3. Scheduling
    Schedule time for the unexpected or note down foreign appointments.
Be prepared and you solve the problem in advance.

I do use 4 calendars in my case:
  1. My own commitments
    That calender contains appointments that I have with customers but also commitments with self to get a particular thing done (internally).

  2. Probable upcoming work - listen to the environment, often there are little signs of possible work long before the work actually has to be done.
    For instance when customer calls with ideas for a new project. I can schedule it although the customer has not ordered anything yet. But moving around scheduled pieces of time is much easier than finding free space later.

  3. Foreign schedules
    In this calendar I do mark vacations or out-of-office times of important co-workers, partners and customers. This helps scheduling my own projects because it makes more sense scheduling work on a particular project within a week where I can ask the appropriate other people involved if questions come up.

  4. My wifes appointments
    This is another very good sample of early intervention: My wife was used to call me often in office when trying to fix an appointment with friends, doctors etc. Now she can see my calendar and I can see hers. So when talking with friends to get a free weekend she can look at my calendar and there is no need to call me for that in the office asking whether on that weekend there is IT-system changes at some customer.
Remember that you deal with repetitive problems you already now and which are part of your life. Do not try to solve issues that most probably never arise! You do not necessarily deal only with potential problems you know from your own experience but they should be at least in the category "known issues".

Related posts: Quickly change a habit, Safety distance, Eat the tadpoles, Analysis and therapy.

Take care of you

While trying to develop peace in mind and further peace in relationships, at work and so on, there are those situations where we are loosing patience and get wild.

I have read a related post a few days ago: Are 'Difficult' People Really Difficult?
Are they pushing your buttons — or are you doing it to yourself?

There’s no question that in most every organization (plus home and anywhere else we spend time), we come face to face with folks who push our buttons, antagonize, frustrate, or otherwise annoy us. People who behave in ways that make us want to scream. They’re commonly referred to as ‘difficult’. Some we simply label irritating; some we label rude and some we label “impossible to work or be with”.
This evening I have experienced a set of cases where I honestly cannot put the blame neither on somebody else nor on me. Our power is limited and sometimes we have not any more left, to deal properly with a situation that is difficult for us. - I am talking about difficult situations and not about difficult people! The Dalai Lama says - forces should never be used against a creature in general, only against violent actions - see "An eye for an eye".

When we are balanced and in good mood we have extra energy to absorb bad mood of others or we can develop compassion to support others while they are suffering.

When our power is exhausting then we are the ones others must absorb.

Difficult people are not difficult themselves in their being. They are just full of sufferings and they need help to get out. Depending on our own sufferings and the power left other people's sufferings can cause excessive demand exceeding our capacities.

And it is not limited to particular people - there are several situations which can cause the same effects described at the beginning.

So you should not think of finding somebody guilty for what happens to you - not you and not others. What you should do: Take care of you!

When you get exhausted because of too much work, few sleep, too many interrupts and so on you will get aggressive (apart from the fact that you will get also ill in the long run)!

Only a rested and fresh person can tackle problems and get things done efficiently!

Saying that I can see being late another time... :-(

Related post: An eye for an eye, Getting older.


Information Overflow

The problem: Information overflow.
Information overflow is an intensively discussed topic and many bloggers are giving great help in their posts how to reduce information overflow and deal with it. As I always try to find the root problem I was thinking about the reasons.

Then I stumbled upon an interview that David Allen gave on FastCompany.tv regarding GTD - see the video here. He mentions that it is not information overflow, it is "potential meaning overflow" what is the problem.

Well, I think he is right - but he made me thinking more about this. A few days ago I got an e-mail with the subject "Error starting program ..." and I knew that there was not only potential meaning in this. - There was potential work for me in this! - And either as there was no doubt that I have to figure out what the problem is in that case it was not only potential work - it was work, definitely.

So I was about to replace "potential meaning overflow" with "work overflow" when I noticed an IT news article. As IT changes so fast that it can happen that as soon as you start working on a piece of software there is already new technology and you should start all over using the newer technology. So the information can be relevant for your decisions. Regarding the e-mail mentioned above it was relevant to my other planning. As it is not only important to do things right but also to do the right things, sufficient information is required. So incoming information has "potential influence" - on your decisions, on your workload.

So I was about to replace "work overflow" with "potential influence overflow" when I remembered that the original problem I wanted to write about was "information overflow". I noticed that if I wouldn't have read my e-mail and if I wouldn't have read the news then I wouldn't have experienced any problem (therefore I kept the post title as it is ;-) ). And this is what most other people recommend when experiencing information overflow: Reduce your information intake.

But hell, I can't just overlook tons of informations that could change my life. What, if I am on the wrong way? - I think any of you already desired to be young again keeping the knowledge and experience you got when you are older. I think I would have made a lot of things completely different - maybe not from the long-term goals and alignment - but in the daily life I would deal with several problems completely different. So Information is important and actually there is an information underflow and not overflow (this is by the way also what David Allen says), because there is not only information but also information on the information - for instance the relevance of the information. And depending on the relevance it can have appropriate influence on our decisions and either life plans. What, if Randy Pausch did not know about his disease? Only because of the information about his cancer and about the approximately remaining time (which was initially estimated between 3 and 6 months of good health) he was able to adjust his alignment accordingly.

The reason: Potential relevance of information for survival strategies.
Our daily life is full of potential opportunities as well as potential risks. Our decisions "handle" them based on the information we have. Most of our decisions highly depend on the information they are based on. Our preferences, goals and priorities do also have influence but they are just applied to the information we have. And they are influenced by the information we have. Our complete view of the world is based on the information we have (we could rather still think that the world is flat without the according information). If I didn't know that there are computers I barely would have decided to become a software developer. ;-) - And if I would have known earlier that sitting all the time in front of the computer can have big impacts on health I would have started training earlier.

So it is the potential opportunities and potential risks that drives us taking action and the potential relevance of information makes us collecting information. There wouldn't be that large amount of information if it would not have any relevance. Every knowledge of any type can help being more creative in finding solutions on a completely other type of problems. This makes it either more interesting looking left and right also to completely different areas and domains of life and science.

We could have very different kind of goals and so information could have very different meaning and relevance, so what can be generally said? - Well, at the end there are two kind of goals I think:
  1. Goals that give our life more content, more sense.
  2. Goals that - achieved - promise a longer life.
But the rush for information, the importance that we give to information, let me think more of the general desire to survive or fear of "not making it" as the intention behind it rather than living a life of satisfaction and happiness.

There are a lot of people living on this planet and the population is still increasing. It is clear that not everyone can survive when the limits are reached. So I can understand people's fears. I cannot avoid thinking of the dinosaurs in comparison to humans. What, if in those times it was just increasing the probability to survive if the creature was a little bigger? - I imagine that a rush in size could cause exhausting of the world resources and hence to the extinction of the dinosaurs. - I don't have any scientific proof for this theory. The phrase "size matters" can have two meanings here... ;-) - However, I can see similar patterns in development of human beings, just the definition of "size" is different.

The solution: Look at the costs, quality of information and the relevance in the long run and use time management methods to manage information.
Intake of information is not only benefit, it does also cost something: It costs time and brain resources - and sometimes also money (buying books for instance). Here I remember again the many other bloggers that say: "Reduce your information intake". ;-) - And I think they are right. The problem is to decide what information is really important and learn to decide quickly. It is also a matter of focus to reduce the amount of information you really take into consideration and process. Focus on what really matters!

Before looking back to information itself, let's have a short look on the role of information regarding the desire of survival. There are also other factors relevant here:
  • Physical power (Health and strength)
  • Intelligence
  • Substantial resources
  • Financial resources
  • Tools (either material tools or mental tools and methods)
  • Flexibility
  • Allies (mentors, friends, partners, family and other helpers)
  • Entourage / Leaders (depending if want to lead self or prefer to "escort" others)
  • Speed
  • Derivation / Karma (if you believe in Karma)
  • Accident
  • Information, Knowledge and Experience (last but not least)
Information can be an important factor - but information is not the only factor to success! This important fact reduces the relevance of information in general. The right information can help improving the other factors, but the major part to improve the performance on the factors mentioned above is hard work!

Now, when we look back at the information in detail we can see that the relevance of information depends on it's quality - and here are a few factors:
  • Reliability (of the information source)
  • Accuracy (scientifically proofed or just opinions)
  • Timeliness (actual information, late information or future prediction)
  • Costs (time and money needed for you to get benefit from the information)
  • Relevancy (for your goals, priorities and preferences)
Evaluate the quality of information regarding the factors above and then decide what informations not to consider and which to process. Remember that there can be a whole bunch of information (e.g. a specific news channel) that - as a whole - can cause too much costs to keep reading (if only one out of 30 articles contains really new information for instance).

Depending on your current life stage and current requirements some information can be more relevant than other. Do not consider everything important at the same time - so do not set the focus on too many things within a single year/month/week/day. There might be times when you focus on education and times when you focus on your work or on your family. And there might be a week with focus of optimizing investment and another focusing on your hobby.

You can deal with information arrival as with emotions while in mediation. Just salute them and let them pass. See "There is suffering" for details. Welcome every information but this does not necessarily means that you need to deal with it.

When selecting relevant information think more on the long run than on actual hypes and things of temporary interest. If you change your focus with any new incoming information you will barely bring anything to an end. Prefer the better and lasting solutions against the quick fixes. But also remember that it is better to put a towel on a bleeding wound than searching too long for a better solution. A good solution that is established is better than a perfect one that never gets realized.

I find that several methods useful for time management can also be applied for selection of information intake:
And remember that not every new information is really new. Some of the repetitive information can be useful if it reminds you on important things you keep forgetting but a lot of information is just repackaged old stuff.

And before you begin to take action because of some new information take a moment to think if the new thing is really promising an improvement - because change is only movement - not necessarily in a better direction or to a better future.

Related posts: Hard exercise, There is suffering, Change hype, Setting borderlines, Crying for attention, Tell not more and not less, Razor sharp focus, Analysis and therapy, Knowledge is freedom, Direction over goals, Principles over rules,New year decisions, People and Information, Prejudice vs economization, Team meeting with yourself.