Will to change is not enough

When I read websites dealing with personal development I noticed that often they say how important is the will to change and that it is the most important thing. About two weeks ago I read an article in a journal that stated that in reality people can change only very few. Most things are "written" into our character already very early so that big changes of the character are not really achievable. - I disagree with both. I know from my own life that I have implemented significant changes also.

From my experience the will to change is only one factor - an important indeed - but far not the only one being sufficient to trigger and implement change. Here is a list of the most relevant factors from my point of view in the order of relevance during a change phase:
  1. Suffering
    Yes, it is important that you feel suffering - because otherwise the psychological strain is missing that make you act.
  2. Self-criticism
    You need to understand that you are a - the - major contributor to your suffering and to bad situations. You need to accept that you can at best change yourself and there is only a very slim chance to change others.
  3. Will to change
    The will to improve yourself and the believe that you are able to change yourself. It is the point where you say to yourself: "Things can't continue that way.", "I have to change.", "This road has a dead end." and so on.
  4. Analysis
    You need to analyze the problem, to identify the same problem in different situations (often in several different situations the reason for getting into trouble is often the same). And you need the ability to find the reasons for symptoms and digging for the real sources.
  5. Insight
    When you found reasons you need to understand where the mistake or error initially occurs and that your decisions or automatic responses in those relevant situations are unhealthy. It is the moment when you see alternatives that are more healthy. It is the point where you change your general philosophy in the affected area of your life. This is one of the most important factors: Every change that you are implementing without the appropriate insight then it is forced change that consumes much energy and often cannot be implemented for a longer time and you will suffer relapses more often.
  6. Energy and drive
    You need the appropriate energy (enough rest, food, friends and all other kind of support) and drive (mental power, self-confidence and courage) to implement the change. The will to change can be the energy drink for the "power hour" you also must be in general physically and psychologically healthy enough.
  7. Persistence and practice
    Never give up and practice your implementation whenever adequate and appropriate. When you fail you have to try again or review your insight and maybe continue with point 2 or 4.
Related posts: Finding the root problem, Switch to authentic mode, There is suffering, Analysis and therapy, External success factors.


What to learn from the Borg

The Borg is a species from Star Trek. While this race is quite destructive there are some things that can be learned from them:
  1. They assimilate new technologies and knowledge to improve themselves.
    They assume that foreign species have something that they could benefit of. What it can mean for you: See others as interesting species. You can learn from them. Add the learned strategies and knowledge to your own portfolio increasing your possibilities and choices.
  2. They have a plan but they can adapt quickly to new situations anyway.
    When something happens that causes a significant change of the situation they quickly re-evaluate the situation, choose new goals as well as new strategies. What it can mean for you: Don't stick to goals when the situation and environment changed in a way that make your initial goals obsolete or inadequate. Don't continue to act in manners that do not work (any more).
  3. They do perfectly share their knowledge.
    Whenever one of them is getting new information or experience it is transferred to the collective. What one knows is knowledge of all. What it can mean for you: Get aware of the advantage of sharing your knowledge and exchanging information and experience with others. Everybody can benefit from the interaction improving the overall outcome of the (business) processes.
Related posts: Knowledge is freedom, Television.

When changing the environment does not help

Lately I had a strange experience. A person was frustrated and taking things very personally and serious where it seemed exaggerated to me. The problems of this person were obviously to me.

First I thought that the person simply was not able to see and therefore didn't learn the lessons. So I decided to go for an attempt to help. I tried to explain and give hints for what to change.

I would have expected everything but the clear statement that the person don't want to change because for 20 (or more) the person behaved that way and wants and it worked well. Although I even have some doubts that it always worked well this way, I mentioned that it can be clearly seen that now it does not work any more.

As the discussion continued I could see that this person would take every effort and any cost to change the environment - everything but changing the own way of thinking, way of doing and interpretation of things. I have never seen such a hard "desire" to continue suffering.

When I thought of changing the environment sometimes in the past the first question I asked myself:

Would it really be an efficient step to change the environment or would I just take the problems I have in the current situation with me and face the problems again (and maybe even more)?

In most cases when people change the environment they hope for better environments somewhere else but they forget that they are themselves contributing a lot to the situations and another lot is their interpretation of the things happening.

Often people change the environment to escape from problems but they just take their problems with them instead of solving them and so they never find the environment where they can be happy.

That definitely is not always the case - but you should do a self-check before you carelessly change the environment with wrong expectations.

Related post: Change the environment.


Best wishes to all

The problem: Bad wishes to bad guys
I am sure you already experienced situations in which you felt affected in a negative way by the actions of other people - or you are just worrying about possible negative effects on you.

When people are acting in an irresponsible way on you personally, on particular grouops you belong to or when people are acting antisocial in general then you might wish them bad things (with good reasons). Some people do either create voodoo dolls.

The reason: Reward and punishment thinking style
When we are socialized we get rewarded (sometimes) when we do good and accepted things and we are punished when we act in an antisocial way or if we simply fail doing our services for others.

As we are focused on ourselves in the first line we are often very likely to see a lot of punishment happening to ourselves. So for the sake of fairness and equity we hope (or even trust) that even the others get punished when they are not doing their best. And poor ourselves even often get punished although always doing our best.

Whenever you find yourself wishing other people negative effects then you should be aware of some facts:
  • Wishing the other people bad things does not recover the suffering caused by them already.

  • There is no guarantee that they will learn from the punishment. Often negative effects come with a delay that they either do not really associate them any more with their original actions (and reasons for their actions).

  • Most likely every negative effect that occurs to others might make them angry, anxious or hateful and will again produce negative effects.
The solution: Think realistic and give your best wishes to all.
Wishing bad things to others can be seen in your eyes. Don't evolve that habit because people will feel it and be anxious. And they will fight you because if others have to worry about your bad wishes they also worry that you will punish them for their failures.
  • Help to recover the suffering produced by those people instead of loosing time wishing bad things as there is no guarantee that your wishes come to truth.

  • Help others to learn how healthy things can be done by being a good example.

  • If other people experience love, kindness, helpfulness and cooperation it is more likely that they develop skills like empathy or love themselves. If you hate them they will only respond with hate themselves. Be love and the love will evolve also in the others.
That does not mean that you should show love to people that did harm to other people some minutes ago. The idea is to prevent people from doing harmful things, to help recovering from suffering and to show people how to do healthy actions giving others the opportunity to learn.

Related posts: Inequity, An eye for an eye, Healthy motivation, Stop war by stopping defense, Dissolved aggressiveness, Ethic economy, Importance of collaboration, Best defense.



Again a video about the "credit crunch". It shows again an issue that is not found only in the financial markets: Moral Hazard and Inequity.

The problem: Inequity
In many cases it looks like people can deliver a lot of bad quality without any negative consequences. To give an example: In politics and financial markets bosses receive huge amounts of money even if they withdraw from their jobs after they failed or even after being involved into illegal operations. I also have seen such people invited to TV talks as a sample of successful people after some years it seems nobody is remembering any more what they did.

The reason: Negative consequences often take effect late or never.
If illegal operations are involved and hence the matter is taken to court, it often takes many years until a definite judgement is spoken. Then often the punishments seem not adequate from the moral intuition. In other cases where no court and judge is involved negative effects also often show their impact very late so the people often aren't either able to associate the effects with their earlier actions. And the worst thing is that people enriched themselves (more or less legally) they manage to get out of a lot of trouble with the help of their money.

The solution: Courage, increased efficiency of the court and Empathy.
Increasing the efficiency of the court and general state administrative tasks related to it is just one thing. A lot of litigation is never escalated to the court (not only because everybody knows about the poor efficiency), so civil courage - of you and me - as well as education is needed to reduce inequity around us. Respecting the others and considering their needs is an important social skill. Courage and empathy must be within you and spread out by giving a good model/example. Live those properties you would like to find in other people.

Related posts: The big difference of the how, Little respect, Economy performance and empathy, Guarantees and responsibility, The resource problem.


Hot air

I got a link to a video discussion about the financial crises with the title "Bird and Fortune - Subprime crisis". It is a funny video but anyway shows perfectly the style how business often is done in these days:
  • Acting irresponsible
  • Playing at high risk
  • Absence of any essential value
I want to focus on the last point - "Absence of any essential value" as I can see this as a general problem many times in all imaginable areas:
  • In meetings
  • In advertisements
  • During chats
  • Whole companies selling nothing but stuff
  • Certain relationships
  • News Articles
  • ...
I have lately seen a lot of companies putting a lot of effort into marketing strategies and marketing activities. However, when it becomes concrete - for instance if you want to test some software or start with some concrete planning - then they stop their efforts, keep being very vague in their commitments or keep repeating their marketing slogans.

On the other hand there can be relationships where no content can be found and whenever you meet these people you think that there is no development and no value extracted from talking to these persons.

It is just talking hot air! In so many cases there is nothing behind, no real value to be added, no real information, no real productivity gain.

How to identify such environments and establishments?
  • Try to identify the concrete purpose or benefit (how is productivity increased, can you get closer to your goals, can you be happier) - in many cases just ask (yourself).
  • Ask for concrete next steps.
  • Search for concrete information (dates, values, material things, steps to reproduce, causes and effects, empirical studies, ...) in the information provided.
Just try to focus on concrete information and with a little exercise you are able to skip all the buzzwords and marketing phrases.

Don't waste your time dealing with such companies or people that never (or only very slowly)
  • get to the point and
  • get into action.
Related posts: Crash course, Efficient meetings, Tell not more and not less, Who cares?, Guarantees and responsibility, People and Information.


Hunger and poverty

The problem: Hunger and poverty in the world
Poverty.com and Wikipedia show the dimension of this really big problem in our world. Not mentioning the videos showing bare and naked poverty. I think I do not have to talk more about the problem...

The reason: Overpopulation, insufficient resources and unbalanced distribution of resources.
I think these are three reasons:
  1. Overpopulation
    Let's imagine for a moment that there are only 1000 people living on the planet - let's say in a single group. They could produce a big amount of garbage and just move when the resources got used up. There will be many years passing along until the people get back to the same place and the nature will have recovered completely.
    The only thing I do assume here is that people know how to make fire, how to get fed up, how to make clothes and how to build houses - so some primary skills are required. But that's it - no real further problem and a stress free living.

  2. Insufficient resources
    Let's imagine for a moment that people in general have the resources to leave the planet and find other planets like our earth to settle down. I can't avoid thinking of Star Trek here. It may be more complicated and more effort required - but either can be more interesting - something for adventurers. In relation with this solution is the more efficient usage of the existing resources so that everybody consumes less energy and products.

  3. Unbalanced distribution of resources
    At poverty.com they write, that "Almost all of the deaths from hunger and disease that you see on this site can be stopped. The cost to do this is about $195 billion a year, according to the United Nations".
The solution: Stop population growth, reveal more resources and balance distribution
Well, the solution attempts are basically removing the causes. However, to solve the problem sustained and lasting in any case each single person has to take the responsibility for the own contribution. Everyone has to contribute to the solution.

Some additional thoughts on the different solutions:
  1. Stop/reduce increase of population
    I think, this is the cheapest and most easy (if we could speak of "cheap" and "easy" here) solution to implement. If not done by taken responsibility it could be forced with operations or by finding a once-to-take medicine. Biggest problem: Some people must be kept fully "intact" to avoid extinction. Which people should that be? And who should decide that?

  2. Explore new resources
    When using up the resources we could find new and other resources that can be used to produce energy or we could explore new planets to gain additional resources. Problems with this solution: Exploring new earth-like planets can be expensive because they are probably very far away. Bringing resources from other "dead" planets to the earth I do consider short-term-thinking because then the garbage on our earth will increase and population also. So this is the way also the economy in general wants to go: Grow, grow, grow - But there can't be infinite growth.

  3. Balance distribution of resources
    As written on poverty.com $195 billion a year is enough to stop this suffering and "Twenty-two developed countries below have pledged to work towards each giving 0.7% (a little less than 1%) of their national income in international aid, which would raise the $195 billion".
    This is very good news and I hope it's true. My doubt is that the price will increase with the years passing by. And the paradox thing is: The "developed" countries do exploit poorer countries and then they should pay it back. Why not stopping the exploitation? Fortunately there are attempts to solve this at the root.

Related posts: Finding the proper priorities, Crash course, The resource problem.


Crash course

The problem: The crash
There are many types of crash and many things, systems and organizations that can crash. The current financial crisis is one example and the one that got me to write a post about crashes. Then yesterday I read in the news that one of the main politicians in our country had a deadly crash with his car - another good example of a crash because it is the car that crashed, a person that "crashed" and a crash for a party.

A main thing that comes with a crash is disillusion. Things you got used to are not applicable any more. People you counted on are not reliable any more.

Putting the critical eye on a lot of systems creates a doubt that they are on crash course. Viewing things unemotional we could see that a lot is running on risks.

The reason: Optimism and ignorance
People are often hardliners in optimism and ignorant - they have unbroken positive expectations. Or on the other hand many people are full of fear that they frighten to look at the bare facts. They are running high risks hoping that everything will run fine. Often when I do tell people about possible problems and risks I get told: "Oh, we will solve them somehow if problems arrive". - This is optimistic procrastination.

The solution: Take the secure way
  • Don't run on your limits!
  • Keep the safety distance.
  • Early intervention - fix things when still is time - don't wait to long.
  • The opportunity of high gains mostly include the opportunity of big losses. Don't bet on the uncertain outcome.
  • Watch out and don't drive to fast!
  • Deliver and search for quality.
  • Reduce stress.
  • Don't take anything for granted.
Related posts: Early intervention, Safety distance, Reduce the stress factors.


Highly happy people

While trying to increase productivity to get more done we should not forget that at the end it counts less how much we achieved in our life than it counts how we felt.

I do read a lot about the key skills and key habits of highly productive and successful people. I would like to read more about highly happy people.

It is one of the lessons of the story "David in Diamondonia" at SuccessMakingMachine (see also follow up post "Rich Lessons From David in Diamondonia"), that it is easy to forget about the main goal. We need money to feed us, to keep the house warm in the winter and so on. Often people forget after a while WHY and FOR WHAT the money is really needed and they focus on earning money. Earning money often substitutes the original goals. Earning money should not be your main goal in your life plan - and neither it should be to achieve a lot. Such goals are neither concrete nor the source of happiness.

So when you are trying to improve your productivity and going to get more done don't forget that you might want to be happy in the first place.

Marc Lesser gave a talk "Accomplishing more by doing less" at Google - I ask me now why he didn't rather entitle his talk "Being happier by doing less".

There is nothing wrong with improving productivity, achieving more, being successful. But the main goal to aim for should be to be happy with that.

If you are setting goals and you are convinced that they make you happy then it is important that you feel happy also while on the way! - Living a life full of suffering for having a relaxing death is a bad deal!

So let's watch out to find higly happy people - and get highly happy!

Related posts: In the present moment, The big difference of the How, The tension habit, Reduce the stress factors, Expectation dropping, Being positive, Finding the proper priorities, There is suffering, Between GTD and GHE, How to be happy, The power of intention, Being like a child.