See you again

An idea of the Zen philosophy is that you should leave a place in a better condition than you found it when you arrived.

When you need to leave good friends or communities where people relied on you, it is of course difficult to go without hurting anybody. And people might be angry with you because they feel sold out.

Despite the difficulties, try to leave in peace!

You never know, you might meet people again later in your life. Leave behind friends - or at least - don't leave behind enemies.

Related post: Prudential innovation.


People and Information

A lot of problems are closely related to information or (to point more directly to the reason of this post) - the lack of information is a primary cause for a lot of information.

But such a lack has to be defined more detailed. When something goes wrong, it could be that:

  1. Information has not been (well) researched.
    This includes: People not enough interested to gather the required or helpful information, people not getting enough into detail.
  2. (Wrong) assumptions and interpretations about the existing information.
    This includes: People reading more from the information as given as well as leaving out details that seem to be irrelevant.
  3. Information not well distributed (in time).
    This includes: People do not well know or forget to distribute researched or received information to the right people who need to deal with it, people have outdated contact details of other persons (e.g. wrong address), technical problems in information delivery (delayed emails, emails moved to spam), information distributed too late, people replying only to sender and do not reply to all when several people on the original recipient list, inadequate systems used (email instead of forums for multi-player-projects, forums used although a Wiki would do better or would be required in addition etc etc), information arriving at the wrong people.
  4. Information not read/listened (carefully).
    Yes, in many cases, people simply do not read (well) their e-mails or stop after a few lines when facing longer messages. By tendency the longer a letter/email/document the more likely is it that it is not read (carefully/until the end).
  5. Information is not understood.
    In many cases information has to cross several borders (e.g. from customer to sales to project manager to technical staff and back all the way) and during this information flow the information also has to be somewhat translated, because on different levels there are different "languages" being spoken. - And this brings us to the more important point: In many cases people speaking different languages are involved or at least not having the same mother tongue.
Whenever something starts getting wrong, examine the points above and check your situation. I notice that in many cases, the organization (of a company for instance) may be a big factor that decides whether information is taking the right paths or not.

Related posts: Information overflow, Tell not more and not less, Hot air, Prudential innovation, Prejudice vs economization.


Know your options

I had a discussion this evening whether it is always good to tell everything or to always offer help.

The strongest argument against was, that you can cause people getting hurt - telling the truth or imposing help on somebody who is not ready, can cause emotional suffering.

I remember, that my grandma told me about big lies that have been told in the family during the war to reduce emotional suffering. I have also experienced some lies being told or some details were hold back during my childhood - to avoid unnecessary worries.

On the other hand, missing some - maybe important - details may lead me setting completely different priorities. I agree in the way that nobody should be urged to take your orders.

But: You should people offer your helping hand - people should know their options! And there is no obligation to deliver - so being on the other side, get the available information to know your options!

Building know-how, finding contacts and partners, collecting your own experience - this all helps in getting a more complete view of the situation and the possibilities you can choose from.

Related post: Knowledge is freedom, Total cost of commitment.


The family

I know that not all people have a good relationship with their parents and other family members. I think, I am quite lucky having a very good family - not only from my own roots. Even the relatives of my wife got an important part of my family.

But even in less luckier situations I think that there is always a "strong" relationship between family members - where I would not consider using "intensive" as a synonyme for "strong" here for example.

When everything is crumbeling down, when everybody is abandoning you - I think, the family members are the ones who leave you alone with your problems last.

Treat well your family members and have time for them - they are worth the investment! Even if they sometimes can step on your nerves...

Related posts: Who cares, The golden rule, Bigges worries, Total cost of commitment, Stop the service, Spam critics, Many hands.


Recharging the batteries

Yesterday we have been 8 hours without electrical power at home. I took that chance to enjoy the evening with candles, open fire and without computer.

My experience was, that the environment and the atmosphere contributes a lot to feeling well. And it was very quiet, a situation I experience seldom. It was sooo relaxing.

And of course the situation revealed a big dependency on electrical power. Even while brushing my teeth I noticed that is a battery driven one - that after some time needs to be recharged.

Maybe now, I understand, what people mean, when they decide to plug off sometimes - to recharge the batteries...


One and a half words

I am reading more than 100 blogs and news sites using RSS news feeds (well differently I could not handle it). Certainly I only rush through the titles and read only a very few articles. Many of them could be shorter without loosing content.

A friend of mine often says when he wants to explain something:
One word is not sufficient, but two are already too much.

I really like Zen koans and I have a book of 101 zen koans - I think it is this set. What I like is that the wise men mostly response with just one sentence.

When talking with people I notice that when I talk much, they anyway might remember just a few sentences - but which ones?

Try to say it with less sentences - being those that are remembered...

Related post: Who cares?


2 major mistakes

One can make two major mistakes in life:
  1. Choosing the wrong (wo)man.
  2. Choosing the wrong profession.
So when you do your life plan you should put the appropriate attention to selecting the proper partner and the proper profession.

For choosing the proper partner it is important (beside a lot of other things of course) that you can rely on her/him and you get sustained even in your bad times.

For choosing the proper profession, remember that you will spend a LOT of time with the work so it should be something you like. Many make the mistake choosing a profession that currently tends to bring a lot of money - which is subject to change. Lurking for the money is not enough to aim for - it needs devotion, not just commitment, to be outstanding in your job. And being outstanding is the only way of earning good money in your job.

Related posts: How to be happy, Between GTD and GHE, Get focused with 3 questions, One-Way ticket.


Replace constraint with freedom

I spent a week with my wife, children and a very nice group of people. They had a topic for the week and it was freedom.

I had a short but precious talk with somebody from the group and the conclusion was:

Replace constraint and control with freedom and motivation wherever you can.

This applies for yourself but also for your employees or co-workers you need to cope with. Basically when you want people to act or behave in a particular manner and you force and control them, you tend to fail or at least loose a lot of possible power.

It is much better to hear them, communicate with them, tell them about the general goals and leave it up to them how to achieve those goals. And motivate them to listen (to you and to colleagues) and to introduce their own thoughts.

That way, you get real teamwork and the power that is within people working really together.

Related posts: Direction over goals, Principles over rules, The golden rule, Be united.


The golden rule

I remember that when I was about 20 and had a philosophical crisis, one of the most asked questions to myself (and others) were:
What should I do?
How should I treat my neighbors?
How should I do this or that?
You could spend ages answering these questions and there are plenty of books written trying to answer these questions, but there is a simple rule of thumb:
Behave the same way as you would enjoy to see everyone else behaving.
Or (in other words):
Treat others as you would like to be treated.
This applies to:
  • How you treat your family, friends, neighbors and foreigners,
  • How you do your work,
  • How you treat your environment,
  • and more
  1. Don't kill others if you don't want to be killed.
  2. Don't drop waste in front of your neighbors house.
  3. Don't lie to people.
  4. ...
Instead of thinking too much before you do, just feel, what is best.

More information on the golden rule on Wikipedia.

Related posts: The main purpose, Something more important, Focus by direction, Razor sharp focus, Direction over goals, Principles over rules, The value of experience, Replace constraint with freedom, The family, Considerations on decisions.


The value of experience

A few months ago at a local conference a talk was introduced with the quote
"Good judgment comes from experience.
Experience comes from bad judgment.
~ Jim Horning
In the meantime I noticed a lot of cases where the importance of experience was simply ignored - e.g. with hire and fire or outsourcing strategies of companies.

And today I stumbled again over this quote at 3 secrets to Financial Success.

Along with the ignorance of experience often comes the ignorance of how important knowhow in general is.

The importance of experience comes from the fact that in most cases experience is something gained over a long time with a lot of effort involved!

You can learn only to some extent from the experience of somebody else.

Related posts: People's history, Transferable knowhow, Fool me once..., Know better and act on it, Information and experience, The golden rule.


The resource problem

I got a lot of my moral education from Star Trek. I often thought that they give a good example on how people in the real world should treat each other. - And I wondered why it is so hard to implement and evolve similar constructions in the real world. In (at least) one episode it was mentioned that people like to work for self esteem and other higher interests than "just" money or only because they are forced to work.

While being on the way to implement some core ideas there is an important thing that the whole trilogy and series are leaving out: The resource problem.

I thought of the resource problem several times and always it came down to be a population problem. If there would only be 100 humans on this earth environmental pollution would not be a problem. 100 humans could hardly produce a critical amount of pollution even if they do take a hot bath for 5 hours each day and drop metal cans wherever they stand. They could move on to another place and not return for the next thousand years and then everything of the waste will be gone anyway.

But this is a non-realistic situation from current point of view. The resource problem is getting more and more critical as we are not only exhausting our planet - no, we are destroying at the same time to make sure that while consuming one resource others are ruined too.

While the resource problem is a major problem that causes war and litigation it also can help avoiding wars or bring them to a faster or "better" end. This, because global playing companies are interested in making money from the resources which usually means that the country where the resources are need to have a government and population that is stable and in peace. That said, the war is then not fighted out with weapons but with money.

Economic (money) war is still war somehow and poverty is the slow death of those who got shot out of the game.

The fear of personal or economic death let people focus on their personal revenue to ensure their survival. There must be a really big change in a lot of realms to get an overall common peaceful and cooperative attitude! - Solving the resource problem is one of them!

That also implies, that if you want to have long term peace and people really working together (in the way that they really help out each other), you have to ensure that all the members (of the world, your team, your company, ...) have the chance to get enough resources to make their living.

What applies to the world also applies in the small - for your family, your team, employees etc! So think big, start small and be humble!

Related posts: Finding the proper priorities, Ethic economy, An eye for an eye, The power of intention, Scotty - beam me up..., Inequity, Hunger and poverty, Television.


Root of responsibility

A while ago I have seen the video of Eckhart Tolle about responsibility. He says that responsibility is not what we do, it is who we are.

I am not sure if he is 100% right, I would rather say: The basic disposition of responsibility is founded in the who we are. We could also be urged by others to take responsibility. If somebody breaks a Window he could be forced to repair it (or pay somebody who repairs it) - so there can be an action of taking responsibility without the appropriate state in mind that wants to proactive contribute good stuff to this world.

But there is no doubt that the most effective way of positive contribution to our world is the appropriate change in our core being. It is always better to solve problems at their root and not trying to close thirty leaks that all spring from the same source.

These thoughts do apply not only to responsibility and it goes further. For example if we want to be loved by others we should love the others and the best way to achieve this is BE a loving person. And meant is having the positive wish for others in mind. This may include a force to hold somebody back doing harmful things...

Nowadays many people fear about saying their opinions officially (on the web) or stand up against obvious wrong decisions (by government for example). Falling into fear and avoiding action is clearly not a way to turn the world into good and not a way to develop responsibility.

Related post: Guarantees and responsibility.


Guarantees and responsibility

Yesterday evening I watched a TV discussion about the crisis in Greece and regarding the Euro currency.

I was really wondering how they can talk about guarantees given on financial dept with amounts like billions of Euros when in reality the countries do not have that money. It is impossible that the whole European Union has that amount of money. If the EU or single countries would have such amounts of money, it would mean that they robbed the people living there or that they robbed other countries.

Or could it be, that they have a guilty conscience because they robbed the poorer countries in the past?

However, it seems that nearly every european country has big depts. While being in big dept, giving guarantees in huge amounts of money to me seems extremely weird.

When I remember the last company affairs that were in the news, appropriate responsibility often was just that the just managers stepped back. Or look at the oil leak at Gulf of Mexico. I can hardly believe that anybody really can take the responsibility (if somebody really would). People try to attach amounts of money to such damage, but I think that nobody in the world can really repair what happens there.

In the same way I have problems with the imagination that years and years of misgovernment and maladministration can be repaired by giving guarantees of fantastic amounts of money.

The irresponsible behavior of people must be stopped and prevented in its roots! The huge collateral damage can't be healed years after.

That would prevent from huge damage in the future but still does not repair the pile of broken glass we already sit on.

What I learned from the TV show yesterday is that I have to analyze carefully, if somebody gives me a guarantee on anything.

Nowadays guarantees are given so fast and easy, sometimes it looks like bare fraud.

Related posts: Inequity, Hot air, Root of responsibility.


Minimum effort

I remember that my most creative times were when I had much time available for thinking, trying something out and philosophying about the future and experiences from the past (BTW: these were the days prior to having a family and especially those times where the relationship with my wife was a long-distance relationship because I had plenty of "free" time I could dedicate to my work ;-) ). Later on, when I was already married it happened that I had to travel a lot in car with colleagues. The communication / discussions we had there also lead to a lot of creative solutions.

These times are definitely gone for me. There is productivity pressure. More has to be achieved with less effort/time/money. And I can see similar at a lot of other places. People want to make more cash with less effort or people want to get more for less money.

One thing I wonder is, why pressure is not just happening due to bad planning but also continously used as a strategy to get the most out of the working crew. I already wrote about parkinson's law several times what I think of it - basically causing impact on quality. The only positive aspect that probably has been the original intention is to cause productivity optimization in the way that the workers find the easiest implementable solution that shows the biggest effect.

But guess what: Working always with the minimum possible effort in mind, you can't achieve really outstanding and big success. I don't mean that for each step in a big project you shouldn't search for the most efficient way to solve the problem. Applying this principle to a project as a whole you end up finding the easiest and not the best solution - and there might be a huge difference in the overall benefit and even in the return of investment. I think, when building the pyramids, they didn't thought of the easiest solution but for the best quality solution.

And with trying only the quickest and easiest approaches companies either might not win big advantages over competitive vendors...

Related posts: Parkinson's law and quality, High quality needs time, Economy forecast, Urging to forge at full speed.


Productivity limits

In the last weeks I have worked at 100% - I have slept not more than 3 to 5 hours but needed to fully concentrate during the day and nights. In between I was on full speed handling children or parts or other work in the household or somehow related. - A reason why I did not post here for a while.

This works for some weeks but then it comes to an end. The last days it was already very difficult to concentrate and be productive. Fortunately I had a deadline to be kept so I did know exactly how long my energy must last.

So my important advice for employees: If you need to work extra hours, make sure that it is for a limited time only. Know the goal, mission and see the end. Example: If a colleague has left the company and your boss is not going to fill the gap expecting you to do the work from now on working more then this is not such a situation (assuming that your normal work is not reduced at the same time)! - Effect: You will loose power and at the final end although working more hours your boss will complain about less productivity.

Important advice for companies: Know, that your employees have not everlasting batteries. Massive extra hours should be reserved for emergency! This should not be a normal situation! The power of your employees will get less and hence productivity, creativity and they/you will have no more flexibility to adapt in emergency cases. Even if you try to hide it, somehow your customer will notice due to reduced quality, slower response times etc.

Related posts: Parkinson's law and quality, Stop the service, Reduce the stress factors.


Living your opportunities

The problem: The gap between what you are and what you would like to be.
When I was a little boy, I was day dreaming quite a lot. This was paired with optimism (my father told me that I was a very open and positive child) and lead to expectations a lot of times. The final effect often was a lot of suffering after disappointment. Especially last year I read so much about living your dreams and how you could be the most successful beast ever existed. A very common delusion is that everything is feasible. The reality shows that
  • only a very few people do have really big success,
  • very successful people are not always final winners at the end (some even end up in jail),
  • success (not only in form of money) often comes with the fear to loose it (if material success) or with the fear to get obsolete (invention, knowhow etc) and
  • people tend to never get enough of success (however they define it - it is subject to change).
Everybody wants to be successful and happy but only a few really get it.

The reason: Misuse and misunderstanding of success, hope, confidence, positivity and the like.
Success can be defined in many particular ways and often people dream something and are optimistic to achieve everything if they just want it strongly enough. And they are "doers" first. At the final end (or earlier) on the other hand they tend to redefine success of being that what they could achieve during their life. So at the beginning there was the dream and at the end there was reality. What needs to be developed is the control instance separating dreams and hope from reality and opportunities.

After failing a lot of times because of those mistakes I started switching to a pessimistic view. To save me from suffering when coming down to reality. I expected the worst to experience positive surprises rather than disappointments. Effectively this was the other extreme I could go without proper separation of those terms. But the root mistake was basically putting too many terms and elements of life into the same pot.

The solution: Be happy and choose opportunities.
A first thing is to redefine success as "being happy" (in long-term view). Don't accept others defining success or happiness for you. Look deep into your heart and personality. You might prefer looking after children over inventing a cool gadget or you might want to show others the world or you might want to contribute with good music to this world.

Second you need separation of terms: Love (for yourself and all your peers) is a base requirement for a positive life. Hope is a difficult word and I usually don't use it. But as used in many contexts I found it is best to see hope as an overall confidence that universe is evolving in the way it should after you did your contributing duty to make everything better. You should know that nothing tends to change in a direction you desire without you taking action to contribute appropriately. Faith can be the self-confidence, drive, energy and trust to get appropriate help where needed and asked for. Expectation can be the patience to wait for the results of your work (done with pure conscience) taking effect (whatever that will be) and the willingness to learn from it. Using these terms wisely leads to balanced positivity.

Last but not least: Keep your eyes and ears open. See the opportunities in your life but be aware that you can't choose them all. So select wisely your path and know that right and wrong cannot be seen absolutely - it depends on what can bring happiness into your life. Success is not necessarily being well-known or earning a lot of money.

Related posts: In the present moment, Success with optimism AND pessimism, How to be happy, Direction over goals, Principles over rules, The main purpose, Your situation does not suck.


Best defense

I am thinking myself of being a peaceful guy. At the same time I believe to be a sincere person.

I realize that by being sincere it is hard to completely avoid creating aggression within others. But anyway, even if I try to avoid creating aggression at any cost, I can't. People are way too creative in seeing threats anywhere.

So solving the problem in the very beginning - by not creating aggression - is quite impossible. So one has to think about defense.

And the best defense is ... not be there (said by Myagi in Karate Kid).

I am quite sure that this is not always a convenient solution - not always feasible. But imagine people attacking you personally and imagine you are getting your self-confidence from somewhere else so the attack is not going to hurt you. Or imagine another company that is fighting you by producing cheaper than you. If you are innovative and can offer additional services or already newer, improved product then you moved to higher quality and the weapon of your opponent is simply obsolete.

Your first emotional action might be to defense yourself, your properties or your ideas even. Already the words "resistance" or "defense" come along with the feeling of effort and struggle. Getting yourself out of the fireline with a small step to side is often much more efficient and effective. Keep this in mind, before arming up for defense. However, when you know how to move out of the fireline you will also know when to stand up and fight - sometimes it can be necessary.

Related posts: An eye for an eye, Stop war by stopping defense, Little respect, Best wishes to all, Dissolved aggressiveness, The wise talk less.


The productivity trap

The problem: Attempts to increase productivity and efficiency finally do not bring the big success.
When starting or pushing your personal development, strategies to increase productivity and efficiency are usually some essential parts. While it is important to find out where you waste time something is missing.

The reason: It is not the amount of work or the amount of results that counts.
It is not the amount (however you are trying to get your results into numbers) and neither the quality of the results that make things or people successful. Some people seem to do just one thing and have success.

The solution: WHAT to do and HOW to do is more important than the amount of things you achieve.
Imagine a person working hard to develop a new method to produce candles more efficiently and then the electric light bulb is invented and the candle sales go down drastically. This is the reason why industrial spying is undertaken by companies for example (at least I think this is a major reason). Because it is extremely important that you are doing the right things the right way!

And this means:
  1. Do good analysis
  2. Decide wisely on what to do
  3. Do it the right way (in the means of how it creates the best benefit for the user/customer)

Related posts: Razor sharp focus, Dynamic activity, Speed, High quality needs time, Get focused with 3 questions.