Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Passionate Programmer : Part 2: Investing in your product

This are my notes from part 2 of The Passionate Programmer: Creating a Remarkable Career in Software Development written by Chad Fowler.

Part 2 : Investing in your product

Learn to fish

How does it work ? Why does it have to happen ? You may not even be able to answer the questions, but the very act of asking them will put you into a new frame of mind and will generate a higher level of awareness about your work environment.
Pick one of the most critical but neglected tools in your toolbox to focus on. Allot yourself a small period of time each day to learn one new thing about the tool that will make you more productive or put you in better control of your development environment.

Learn how businesses really work

Get a basic book on business (e.g. "The Ten Day MBA").

Find a mentor

Be a mentor

Look for someone to take under your wing. Help out on an online forum.

Practice, practice, practice : work through the 21 kata's, keep a diary of your experiences with the kata. When finished write your own and share it.

The way that you do it

Pick a software development methodology, and pick up a book, read websites and join a mailinglist. Look at the methodology with a critical eye.

On the shoulders of giants

Studying the work of masters is an essential part of becoming a master. Pick a project and read it like a book. Make notes. Outline the good and bad. Find at least one trick or pattern that you can use from it. Find at least one bad thing that you observed that you will add to your "What not to do" checklist.

Automate yourself into a job

Pick a task your normally do repetitively, and write a code generator for it. Think of a way to raise the level of abstraction of what your generating. Research Model Driven Architecture (MDA).

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Passionate Programmer: Part 1: Choosing Your Market

The next notes I want to publish here are my notes from The Passionate Programmer: Creating a Remarkable Career in Software Development written by Chad Fowler. As the subtitle says this book is all about creating a remarkable career in software development.

It's a nice book with a lot of short chapters with useful advice. Here are my notes from Part 1.

Part 1: Choosing your market

Lead or bleed ?

Make a list of early, middle and late adoption technologies based on todays market. Push yourself to find as many technologies in each part of the spectrum as possible. Mark the ones you consider yourself strong in and the ones you have some experience with. Where are most of your marks. Are there any technologies around the far edges you have some special interest in ?

Supply and demand

Research the current technical skill demand. Use job posting and career sites to find out which skills are in high demand and which in low demand. Find the websites of some offshore companies. Compare the skills available via these companies with the high demand list you compiled.

Coding don't cut it anymore

Know your business. Schedule lunch with a business person. Pick up a trade magazine for your company's industry.

Be the worst

Find a "be the worst" situation for yourself. Check for developer group meetings nearby. Pick an open source project that you admire and whose developers appear to be at the "next level" and create a patch for a bug or a new feature.

Invest in your intelligence

Learn a new programming language that makes you think in a new way? Work through enough code that you truly feel the difference.

Don't listen to your parents

For each career decision : asses how much the decision was driven by fear?

Be a generalist

List the dimensions for which you may or may not be generalizing your knowledge and abilities. For each dimension write your specialty. To the right write one or more topics you should put in your "to learn" list.

Be a specialist

Learn about the internals of how your VM works, study what happens when you compile a source file. Teach a class on some aspect of a technology, teaching is one of the best ways to learn.

Don't put all your eggs in someone else's basket

Try a small project twice, once in your home base technology and the once in a competing technology.

Love it our leave it

Go find a job you're actually passionate about. 2 wees log excitement to go to work (1-10). Next 2 weeks : plan every morning how you're going to make tomorrow great. Each day log yesterdays excitement level. If after 2 weeks things look sad you might consider a major change.

Next: Part 2: Investing

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Art of Learning : Part 3

This my last post with my notes from The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance by Josh Waitzkin.

Part 3 : Bringing It All Together

The better we are at recovering, the greater potential we have to endure and perform under stress. Cardiovascular training can have a profound effect on your ability to quickly release tension and recover from mental exhaustion. When doing interval training (e.g. weightworkouts) monitor precisely how much time to leave between sets so that your muscles have ample time to recover, but are still pushed to improve their recovery time e.g. 3 sets of 15 reps -> 45 s. rest, 3 sets of 12 reps -> 50 s. rest, 3*10 -> 55 s., 3*8 -> 1 min. In time with consistent work, rest periods can be incrementally shortened.

1st step to mastering the zone is to practice the ebb and flow of stress and recovery => interval training. With practice, increase the intensity and duration of your sprints, and gradually condense rest periods. Incorporate the rhythm of stress and recovery into all aspects of your life.

Spend a few minutes a day doing some simple meditation practice in which your mind gathers and releases with the ebb and flow of your breath. Get better at releasing tension and coming back with a full tank of gas in your everyday activities, both physical and mental. Learning how to relax under pressure is a key first step to tapping into the potential of the unconscious mind.

A roadblock to release the tension during breaks of intense competition is the fear of whether we will be able to get it back. Important to relax between two matches. In long tournaments, the ability to sleep at night is one of the most decisive factors.

Simplicity, the everyday is where success, let alone happiness emerges.

Building a trigger for the zone :

  • when are you closest to serene focus ? (e.g. taking a bath, jogging, swimming, listening to music, ...)
  • create a four- or five-step routine that builds up to this activity: e.g.
    1. eat a light consistent snack for 10 min
    2. 15 min of meditation
    3. 10 min of stretching
    4. 10 min of listening to music you like (always the same long song)
    5. perform the activity you chose
  • go through this routine everyday for at least a month
  • after that replace step 5 by an activity for which you want to be in the zone

The result is that a physiological connection is formed between the routine and the activity it precedes. Once the routine is internalized, it can be used before any activity and a similar state of mind will emerge. Determine your personal routine by your individual taste.

Next step is to gradually alter the routine so that it is similar enough so as to have the same physiological effect, but slightly different so as to make the "trigger" both lower maintenance and more flexible. Key is to make the changes incrementally. This type of condensing practice can do wonders to raise our quality of life, once a simple inhalation can trigger a state of tremendous alertness, our moment-to-moment awareness becomes blissful.

Key to nutrition in unpredictable environments is to always be prepared for exertion by being nourished, but never have too full a stomach and thereby dull your senses.

3 steps to resilient, self-sufficient performance :

  1. learn to flow with distraction, like a blade of grass bending in the wind
  2. learn to use distraction, inspire yourself with what initially would have thrown you off your game
  3. learn to re-create the inspiring settings internally
Only way to succeed is to acknowledge reality and funnel it, take the nerves and use them. We must be prepared for imperfection. If we rely on having no nerves, on not being thrown off by a big miss, or on the exact replication of a certain mindset, then when the pressure is high enough, or when the pain is too piercing to ignore, our ideal state will shatter.

Soft zone approach is much more organic and useful than denial. Instead of running from our emotions or being swept away by their initial gusts, we should learn to sit with them, become at piece and with their unique flavors and ultimately discover deep pools of inspiration.

Introspect. Discover what states work best for you and build condensed triggers so you can pull from your deepest reservoirs of inspiration at will.

Once you have found the profound refinement of a skill, no matter how small it may be, we can then use that feeling as a beacon of quality as we expand our focus onto more and more material. The technical afterthoughts of a truly great one can appear to be divine inspiration to the lesser artist. Create a body of theory around a fleeting moment of inspiration.

This where my notes from the last part of The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance by Josh Waitzkin. As in part 1 and part 2 does the last part contain lots of personal stories from Josh with as last chapter a great story about Josh becoming a Push Hands World Champion.

Friday, April 30, 2010

The Art of Learning : Part 2

In this post you will my notes from the second part of The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance by Josh Waitzkin.

Part 2 : My Second Art

Investment in loss is giving yourself to the learning process. Put your ego on the side. Aim to minimize the number of times you make the same mistake, by having an eye for consistent psychological and technical themes of error.
Essential to have a liberating incremental approach that allows for times when you are not in a peak performance state.
Great ones are willing to get burned time and again as they sharpen their swords in the fire.

Have a beginner's mind and invest in losses.

Depth over Breadth

Plunge into the detailed world of the micro in order to understand what makes the macro thick. Our attention deficit culture is an obstacle to this. We are bombarded with more an more information (TV, internet, ...). There is a constant supply of stimulus -> potential to turn us into addicts, always hungering for something new and prefabricated to entertain us.
Then when nothing exciting is going on, we might get bored, distracted, separated from the moment -> so we look for new entertainment.
If caught in this rhythmes, we are like tiny current-bound surface fishes, floating along a two-dimensional world without any sense for the gorgeous abyss below. When these socially induced tendencies translate into the learning process, they have a devastating effect.

Making smaller circles : subtle internalization and refinement is much more important than the quantity of what is learned. Depth beats breadth any day of the week, because it opens a channel for the intangible, unconscious, creative components of our hidden potential.

3 critical steps in a resilient performer's evolving relationship to chaotic situations :

  • 1. learn to be at peace with imperfection.
  • 2. learn to use that imperfection to your advantage.
  • 3. learn to create ripples in your consciousness, little jolts to spur us along, so we are constantly inspired whether or not external conditions are inspiring.

It's important to undulate between external and internal (concrete vs abstract, technical vs abstract) training. If your opponent is temporarily tied down qualitatively or energetically more than your are expending to tie him down, you have a large advantage. You have to make obstacles spur you to new creative angles. You should always come off an injury or a loss better than when you went down.

Intuition is our most valuable compass in this world. It's the bridge between the conscious and unconscious mind.
Road to mastery :

  • start with the fundamentals
  • get a solid foundation fueled by understanding the principles of your discipline
  • expand and refine your repertoire, guided by your individual predipositions while keeping in touch with what you feel abstractly to be the essential core of the art.
The result of this is a network of deeply internalized, interconnected knowledge that expands from a central, personal locus point.

Chunkin : mind's ability to assimilate large amounts of information into a cluster that is bound together by certain patterns or principles.
Carved neural pathways : process of creating chunks and the navigation between chunks.
The conscious mind can only take in and work with a certain limited amount of information in a unit of time. Making networks of chunks by practicing moves huge piles of data to the unconscious. That way your consciousness has less to deal with and can focus on details. The key is practice.

This was part 2. I left out all the personal stories which greatly exemplifies the advices. On to the last part.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Art of Learning : Introduction

The second book I want to talk about here is The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance by Josh Waitzkin. This book is all about the road to excellence and how he managed to first become a chess master and then a World Champion martial artist.

I really enjoy reading this book. Its an easy and entertaining book with examples and stories from his life coupled with the insights he gained throughout all these years of learning. But lets get started with my first notes.

Part 1 : The Foundation

Advice to teachers :

  • first get to know one another
  • don't only tell, but prove it (show it)
  • earn respect, win trust
  • keep balance between personal style of the student and formal training
  • keep love for the field alive, don't let technical material kill it
  • be a guide, discuss instead of lecturing
  • ask questions (about the thought process)
  • help the decision making process, make them think

Deliberate practice is the key. Practice a lot, experiment, try out, take the lessons, repeat.
Take breaks from the intensity of practice.

"Entity" and "incremental" theories of intelligence

enity theorist incremental theorist
intelligence and skill level perceived as a fixed entity with hard work, difficult material can be grasped
more brittle and prone to quit when challenged step by step the novice can become a master
"learned helplessness orientation" "mastery oriented response" when presented challenging situations
It's a parenting responsibility.
Smart boy! Great job !
It's not your thing Study a little harder

It's never too late

The key to pursuing excellence is to embrace an organic long-term learning process, and not to live in a shell of a static, safe mediocrity. Usually growth comes out at the expense of previous comfort or safety.

Successful people shoot for the stars, put their hearts on the line in every battle, and ultimately discover that the lessons learned from the pursuit of excellence mean much more then the immediate trophies and glory.

  • draw wisdom from every experience, "good" or "bad"
  • first focus on the essentials, for example in chess focus on end games instead of openings
  • see losing as an opportunity to grow
  • critical strength of a superior competitor is the ability to dictate the tone of the battle
  • good competitors tend to rise to the game of the opposition

Process-first approach : praise good concentration, a good day's work, ... When winning, spotlight on the road to that moment and beyond opposed to the glory. But when we have worked hard and succeeded at something, we should be allowed to smell the roses. When losing, disappointment is a part of the road to greatness, try to learn the lessons.

As adult we need to put ourselves out there, give it our all, and reap the lesson, win or lose. We learn by pushing ourselves and finding what really lies at the outer reaches of our abilities.

Hard zone vs Soft zone

Learn to flow with whatever comes.
Mental resilience is a critical trait of a world class performer.
Don't avoid discomfort but become at peace with it.

Important to regain presence and clarity of mind after making a serious error (take a deep breath, ...).
Brilliant creations are often born of small errors.

Study form to leave form

Learn the hard from the soft, learn this from that.
In fields of learning and performance:

  • Careful balance of pushing yourself relentlessly, but not so hard that you melt down. Muscles and mind need to stretch to grow, but if stretched too thin, they will snap.
  • Competitor should always look for stronger opponents to spur growth, but also keep winning enough to maintain confidence.
  • Release current ideas to soak in new material, but not so much that we lose touch with our unique natural talents.

This are my notes from the first part of three from The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance. On to the next part.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Personal Development for Smart People: Spirituality

This article is part of my series on Personal Development for Smart People. If you are new here I recommend you to first read my introduction to the book.

What follows are my notes from the last chapter which takes about spirituality.


  • intro
    • spirituality : collection of beliefs about reality and your personal role in the universe
    • highest ideal for your spiritual philosophy is intelligence
    • if a spiritual philosophy succumbs to falsehood, disconnects you from life, weakens you it will only leas you astray
  • & truth
    • each believe system you consider provides another way of viewing the same underlying data
    • view reality through multiple belief systems in order to seek the big picture
    • spiritual sensory equipment
      • 1st, 2nd and 3rd-person viewpoints
      • subjective and objective viewpoints
      • intuition and instincts
      • logic and reason
      • dreams and visions
      • religious and philosophical beliefs
      • cultural, social, political and economic beliefs
      • functional beliefs
      • personal beliefs
    • learn to consider reality from multiple perspectives to overcome many of the limitations of individual belief systels
  • & love
    • gain spiritual lessons from your inner world and your outer world
    • answers will come from stillness and from direct communication
  • & power
    • decouple your spiritual beliefs from your identity
    • your beliefs can never define you
    • a fixed belief system can only limit your ability to grow
    • center your life around service to others in order to balance yourself financially, emotionally and spiritually
    • find others with different belief systems that seem to empower them in some specific way, and learn from them
    • whenever you close your mind to new ideas, you fall out of alignment with power
  • & oneness
    • our personal spirituality has a collective impact
    • abandon beliefs that label other human beings as unworthy, damaged or evil
    • your individual spiritual duty is to ensure that you harbor beliefs that are aligned with the principle of oneness
  • & authority
    • you must be the ultimate authority in your life, not God or some guru, master or teacher
    • beliefs must satisfy the following criteria
      • 1. accurate, consistent with your observations of reality
      • 2. all-inclusive, collectively address your entire field of experience
      • 3. flexible, adapts well to new circumstances
      • 4. ethical, don't encourage violence or dishonesty
      • 5. congruent, internally consistent with each other
      • 6. consciously chosen
      • 7. pleasure-increasing and/or pain-reducing, make you feel good, reduce fear by bringing truth to the unknown
      • 8. empowering, should allow you to experience what is technically possible
    • hidden falsehoods may be revealed by considering the alternatives
  • & courage
    • think for yourself
  • & intelligence
    • don't compartmentalize your spiritual practice

List of all posts in this series:

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Personal Development for Smart People: Relationships

This article is part of my series on Personal Development for Smart People. If you are new here I recommend you to first read my introduction to the book.

This post contains my notes on the chapter about relationships.


  • intro
    • relationships are a huge source of learning and growth
    • there are lots of different types of relationships
  • & truth
    • assessment
      • how do you feel about your current relationships ?
      • what do you contribute to the people closest to you
      • observe the breadth and depth of your current relationships
    • prediction
      • where do you see your current relationships heading ?
      • which one are growing closer or drifting ?
      • make reasonable guesses, honest expectations
    • pay attention to your feelings
    • accept the truth, don't deny it
    • all human relationships are guaranteed to be temporary
    • don't take other people for granted
  • & love
    • building and expanding relationships by connection with people and allow others to connect with you
    • most basic way of connecting is through communication
    • three communication channels truth (facts, info), love (empathy, compassion, affection) and power (action)
    • what is/are your dominant communication channel(s)
    • in order to connect we need a base level of compatibility
    • use your dominant connection strategy to regain closeness with your partner
    • use your differences to intentionally help each other
  • & power
    • best relationships server to increase your power
    • conscious relationship requires effort and commitement on both sides
    • your relationships have a tremendous effect on your self-development
    • use your power to break disempowering relationships
    • improve your alignment with truth, love and power to attract high caliber partners
  • & oneness
    • we are all individual cells in the same body
    • assume a preexisting connection, just have to tune in to it
    • be prepared for fascinating social experiences as your alignment with oneness increases
    • focus on the opportunities to connect
    • rejection is a sign of incompatibility, so it's not a bad outcome
    • be open to receive advances from others
    • if your primary relationship prevents your from connecting with others, you have cage not a conscious partnership
  • & authority
    • you're in charge of your own destiny
    • to improve your relationship skills enlist the help of a mentor
    • identify someone you know who seems to have an easy time connecting with people and ask advice
    • interpersonal skills must be developed through action
    • put your ideas into practice
  • & courage
    • courage to initiate new connections
    • courage to intimately connect with people
    • courage to face the truth about relationships that have gone wrong
    • courage to end those relationships that no longer serve you
    • take the initiative to bring new relationships into your life
    • when discussing problems speak from the first-person (I think, feel, believe,...) and speak your truth (don't hold back)
    • when you end a relationship, be direct, honest, compassionate and strong
  • & intelligence
    • build authentic relationships with other people
    • they won't turn out perfectly but that's not necessary
    • to attract new people focus yourself on your own self-expression

The last post in this series is about Spirituality.

All posts:

Monday, March 22, 2010

Personal Development for Smart People: Health

This article is part of my series on Personal Development for Smart People. If you are new here I recommend you to first read my introduction to the book.

This post is all about health and its relationship with the principles.


  • your body is the channel through which you express yourself in physical form
  • & truth
    • assess your physical body
    • what do you like and dislike
    • predict the future of your health
    • accept where you are right now and what you have to work with
  • & love
    • deepen your connection between your mind and your body
    • connect with the foods that are most naturally attractive to you
    • which ones feel intuitively wrong
    • next tune in with your physical-activity patterns
    • which food and activities are most compatible with who you are
    • better to do something wrong with full awareness than to lower your consciousness and disconnect your intuitive feelings
  • & power
    • your health is your responsibility
    • self-discipline is needed to overcome the drag of social conditioning
    • set physical goals that inspire you, average is still unhealthy so aim higher
    • poor health limits your power, good health increases it
    • make incremental improvements in your health habits
    • use your self-discipline to practice the best habits you can today; then let them run on autopilot
  • & oneness
    • shift your diet in the direction of greater empathy and compassion for all creatures
    • you influence others by your example
    • team with others to work toward good health together
    • treat your social circle as an extension of your own body
    • training with others is far more motivating
  • & authority
    • only true health guru in your life is you
    • only way to learn the truth is to dive in and test it for a while
    • find out what works for you via direct trial and error
    • keep a log of your results
    • consider sharing your records
    • when the results of an experiment are positive, make it a permanent change
  • & courage
    • if a goal doesn't scare you a little, it probably isn't worth pursuing
    • do something physical that inspires you
    • take the initiative to prevent health problems
    • keep your fitness routine simple and direct
  • & intelligence
    • put good health habits on autopilot
    • a collection of healthy habits creates an ongoing sense of positive flow
    • more important to be healthy on the inside than to look like a topmodel on the outside
  • conclusion
    • physical body is primary vehicle of interaction in this world, makes sense to take care of it

Next post in this series is about Relationships.

All posts:

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Personal Development for Smart People: Money

This article is part of my series on Personal Development for Smart People. If you are new here I recommend you to first read my introduction to the book.

My second post with my notes from the second part of the book is all about money.


  • intro
    • no special rules for money, it obeys the principles of truth, love and power
  • & truth
    • money is a social credit, allowing you to extract a certain amount of social value whenever you spent it
    • most common way to earn money is to sell your time
    • the greater your ability to deliver social value, the greater your earning potential becomes
    • not absolute value but social value
    • other way to earn money is to build a system that earns money for you
  • & love
    • 2 basic ways to earn money
      • make a meaningful social contribution, and receive payment commensurate with the social value of your contribution
      • take advantage of market inefficiencies to extract money without contributing any substantial value
    • moocher mind-set
      • extracting more social value than you're contributing
      • moocher mind-set suggests you can always rely on others to pick up your slack
    • contributor mind-set
      • best way to make money is to provide fair value in exchange
      • income depends on the social value of your work, not the personal value
      • wealth can be created from ideas and actions
  • & power
    • you're responsible for your own financial situation
    • don't treat money as end unto itself
    • if you want something badly enough, target it directly
    • the value of money lies in its exchange
  • & oneness
    • best way to earn money is through honest contribution
    • work within the area of overlap between your personal values and social values
    • do what you love while creating value for others
    • social and personal values fluctuate over time, so be prepared to adapt
    • simplest way to create value for others is by sharing what you love to do
    • not easy, but worth the effort
    • fairness
      • fair compensation for the value you produce
      • fairness is better than either greed or self-sacrifice
      • unfair compensation practices have a dehumanizing effect
  • & authority
    • in order to generate significant value, we develop our talents and skills
    • to create substantial value you must commit to being a lifelong student
    • be sure that your self-education is practical
    • to earn money more easily strive to become an authority in the area of overlap between your personal interest and social demand
  • & courage
    • if you know you can contribute genuine value, summon the courage to ask for fair compensation in exchange
    • have the courage to put human beings first, money second
    • never chase soulless profits
  • & intelligence
    • intelligence is the ultimate source of wealth
    • go after the big opportunities, the ones that inspire and challenge you to grow
    • it's intelligent to give more than your receive, this generates growth
  • conclusion
    • best path to wealth is to release your fear of being poor

Next post in this series is about Health.

All posts:

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Personal Development for Smart People: Habits and Career

This article is part of my series on Personal Development for Smart People. If you are new here I recommend you to first read my introduction to the book.

This is my first post about the second part of the book which talks about the application of the principles of truth, love and power to different areas of life. Below are my notes on the two life areas habits and career and their relationships with the 7 principles.


  • intro
    • habits are memorized solutions to get things done
    • sometimes inefficient, inaccurate or ineffective solutions are stored
  • & truth
    • list of positive habits
    • list of negative habits
    • list of new habits
    • bringing truth is important but nothing will change without action
  • & love
    • increase succes by reaching out for help
    • take advantage of the collective wisdom of others (mentors, friends, family, books, ...)
    • consider joining a group of persons with the same goal
    • strong addictions are rarely overcome without outside help
    • make a habit of reaching out and connecting with others
    • break the limiting pattern of trying to do everything solo
  • & power
    • most important for habit change
    • three phases
      • prepare yourself
      • apply the tactics for change
      • change the habit
    • 30-day trials
      • adapt the concept to concept to fit your level of discipline
      • works best with daily actions
      • get started on Day 1 : today
    • stair-stepping (gradually changing habits)
  • & oneness
    • consider the social consequences of your actions
    • make a habit of contributing to others
    • consider doing volunteer work, or find a way to contribute through your career
    • giving money is no substitute for direct involvement
  • & authority
    • you're the commander of your life
    • boost your effectiveness with new habits (list of 66 new habits)
    • simplest way to make an habit more significant and meaningful is to share it with others
  • & courage
    • must take the initiative and create the changes you desire
    • make a habit of doing something that scares you
  • & intelligence
    • consciously cultivate the most authentic habits you can, for each habit ask yourself : Is this really me?
    • ultimate goal is to create a set of mutually supportive habits
    • habits take care of the low-level details
  • conclusion
    • you'll have to invest a lot of time and energy
    • to live more consciously, you must cultivate good habits


  • intro
    • medium
      • how you express yourself
        • e.g. doctor, pilot, blogger,...
      • just a shell, doesn't define you as a person
    • message
      • what you express
      • message is who you are
    • sharing the same medium doesn't mean sharing the same message
  • & truth
    • essential part of career development
    • find the right medium for your message
  • & love
    • finding your true purpose
      • 1. take sheet of paper or open a blank text file where you can type
      • 2. write at the top : What is my true purpose in life ?
      • 3. write down an answer that pops into your mind, a short phrase is fine
      • 4. repeat step 3 until you write the answer that makes you cry, this is your core message
  • & power
    • current situation is result of previous decisions, free to make new decisions
    • go where your talents are appreciated
    • commit fully
    • up to you to develop your knowledge, skills and talents
  • & oneness
    • career is your primary outlet for contribution
    • don't accept work that dehumanizes you or anyone else
  • & authority
    • use your career to do work that truly matters to you
    • work for the ongoing betterment of yourself and others
  • & courage
    • if you aren't doing something that scares you and challenges you the you're playing the game of life to timidly
    • your career path should require courage
    • take calculated career risks, in the long run, you control the odds
    • you have to develop your failure tolerance
  • & intelligence
    • find a path that keeps you aligned with truth, love and power
      • needs : What must I do?
      • abilities : What can I do ?
      • desire : What do I want to do ?
      • contribution : What should I do ?
    • if not on the right career path, start doing what you love
    • there are no substitutes for true happiness
  • conclusion
    • must make conscious career decisions
    • don't compromise, get yourself on a path with a heart as quickly as you can
    • if you can't discover your ideal career, keep making the most conscious decision you can and you will get there eventually

Next post in this series is about Money.

All posts:

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Personal Development for Smart People: Aligning with Oneness, Authority, Courage and Intelligence

This article is part of my series on Personal Development for Smart People. If you are new here I recommend you to first read my introduction to the book.

In this post you will find some of my notes on improving your alignment with the principles of oneness, authority, courage and intelligence.

Experiencing Oneness

  • view the world through the lens of interconnectedness, see yourself as part of a larger body
  • spend time in nature
    • recognize you're part of nature
    • just be among the plants and animals
    • quiet your thoughts and pay as much attention to your senses as possible
  • physical contact
    • put yourself in loving physical contact with another willing person
    • imagine your consciousness expanding to encompass the other person's body
    • know you're one
  • perform an act of kindness for a stranger

Increasing Authority

  • triage
    • only put effort in projects that will have a significant impact when completed in a timely matter
    • Ask yourself : Is this the most important thing for me to do right now ?
    • make a list of these projects and goals and keep it at hand
    • review the list everyday
  • experiment
    • test things to increase you predictive accuracy
    • go out and create your own knowledge
    • find out what works best for you
    • test your ideas, don't dismiss any idea until you've tried them
    • run quick tests and discover the answers for yourself
  • teach someone else how to perform a task you're very good at.

Building Courage

  • education : educate yourself to diminish your fear
  • commit in advance :make a commitment to face your fear
  • identify an opportunity that you know is worthwhile but that you've been afraid to pursue, and go for it anyway
  • do one thing today that scares you

Living Intelligently

  • assess your current alignment with the seven principles, ask yourself relevant questions (see book).
  • cultivate an intelligent microcosm
    • add a new activity where you'll do your best to stay aligned with truth, love and power from the beginning
    • goals is to avoid introducing problems of misalignment
    • don't expect perfection
    • do the best you can, and let that be enough
  • call someone you know, and do your best to communicate as authentically as possible during the entire call

As you might have guessed is this site my new activity to help me align with truth, love and power. At the moment I think it works fairly well although I have some issues with true commitment to changing myself and my life. I feel some internal resistance to commit myself and effectively doing the proposed things to improve my alingment with the principles. I guess it will all take some time but this can't be an excuse for not doing a lot now.

My current alignment assesment

In the book you will find some questions to help you with your current alignment assessment. Below are my answers to most of these questions.

1. Truth

  • I feel compelled to hide things but I force myself to confess things I'd rather hide.
  • I I continue my current course I predict that I will continue my regular life with some bursts of courage, excitement and focus interpersed with periods of wondering what I'm doing here.
  • I think I still deny some parts of my situation, I don't have the courage to really change things so I rather deny it instead of always being confronted with it.
  • I need to learn to focus on my most important task and to continue until its finished. Best way to learn this is to build Power and to connect with myself to uncover my true passions.
  • To become more truthful I'm going to do a media fast to give me time to focus on my truth.
2. Love
  • I take some to connect with myself and others but not enough. Sometimes I feel disconnected, sometimes I feel great.
  • Most of the time I don't project a false image of myself.
  • Unconditional love is hard for me but I believe I'm on the right path.
  • I can excercise and improve my social skills by trying to connect more with people and not turning down opportunities to get to know people. I'm rather shy but I try to overcome it as much as possible.
  • I can become more loving by stopping to judge myself and others.
3. Power
  • I don't accept complete responsibility for everything in my life. I have a tendency to make my girlfriend responsible for my time usage which isn't fair because she gives me a lot of time to do what I want and I waste this time regularly.
  • I really want to contribute something to this world. I already contribute a little bit through my job but this is a very local effort and I would like to contribute more to the rest of the world and make a small but not insignificant contribution towards a better world.
  • Most of the time I distract myself because iI don't have a clear vision of what is most important for me.
  • I lose a lot of time with all those small ideas that I do some research for or start materialising while never finishing them. These experiences have learned me a thing or two but they definitly have uncovered my inherent lack of power to get myself to the finish. Once something becomes a bit more difficult I don't accept the challenge but move on to something else.
  • I can build self-discipline by having clear goals and keep myself from switching to another goal.
  • By continuing to work on this blog and also fighting my habit of surfing all around the world when being bored I believe I'll become more powerful.
4. Oneness
  • We are all connected in this world but like individual cells in a larger body we all only truly connect to the things that are close to us.
  • When I feel good I can tune in to the joys and sorrows of others but I have a tendency to shield myself from the rest of the world.
  • I believe I am a fair and compassionate being.
  • I am not contributing to the world in a meaningful way at this moment. But I am well aware of this now and changing this.
  • The understand the concept of unity but my thinking and actions aren't alinged enough with it. The concept isn't a part of myself yet.
  • To experience more oneness I can try to recognize the interconnectedness of this world, think less from my viewpoint and more from the viewpoint of the world and spend more time in nature.
5. Authority
  • I don't take real command of my life in the sense that I very often ask myself the question: what would the people I know want me to do.
  • My actions are scattered over a lot of stuff. I have a clear need for focus.
  • When I come at the point where something takes to much effort or another interesting thing gets my attention then I change my focus.
  • I'm not confident to achieve my goals because I hardly achieve any of them, except for my exercising goals.
  • To avoid wasting time I can plan what I'm going to focus on for a certain period, and then adjust and replan once this period has elapsed.
  • To increase my authority I should just do what has to be done to achieve my goals.
6. Courage
  • I am not very courageous.
  • I am still looking for a path with more heart. Only thing I can do now is to continue exploring different paths until I find the right one.
  • I noticed how much I lack initiative so my goal is to quit waiting mode and take initiative.
  • On some days I pursue the direct route but on other days it's more like a manipulative one.
  • To train myself to overcome fear I can take more initiative and go out and do things I fear a bit like meeting new people and things like that.
7. Intelligence
  • I don't live in alignment with truth, love, and power yet.
  • My interactions with others are authentic
  • I am still exploring the message and medium for my creative self-expression but I believe I am on the right path.
  • There is no continuous flow towards the fulfillment of my dreams because I keep switching from one goal to another.
  • To improve myself today I answered the of this current alignment assesment.

I still have a lot to do to get myself aligned with truth, love and power but I do believe I will get there in the end.

Next post in this series is about applying the different principles to Habits and career.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Personal Development for Smart People: Building Power

This article is part of my series on Personal Development for Smart People. If you are new here I recommend you to first read my introduction to the book.

Today I'd like to talk about improving your alignment power. Power is the third principle from Personal Development for Smart People. Power can be build in numerous ways some of them can be seen as analogies of sports like progressive training, competition and rest. Others are more about planning and more important doing. Here are my notes from two ways of building power that I learned from the book.

Personal Quotas

  • establish a daily minimum output goal for yourself in some areas of your life
  • output-based quotas or action-based quotas
  • start with small ones and gradually increase them

I essentially apply this for my evenings instead of whole days for example : write a blog post, read a chapter, go excercising for 2 hours. When I don't have a clue about how long something will take I'm more inclined to work with an action-based quota, otherwise I use output-based quotas. Slightly related to this is setting aside one hour or more to work on your single most important task.

Progressive Training

  • develop power by taking on challenges that you can accomplish but push you close to your limits
  • once you succeed increase the challenge
  • don't push yourself too hard
  • look at where you are now, and aim to get stronger as you go forward

I'm still struggling a bit with this one because I have some troubles with defining appropriate challenges. I just have some issues with focussing myself on one challenge/goal, finishing it and then moving on to the next one. Still looking for my life purpose I guess.

Extra power building tip of the day : name something you always wanted to do and that you can accomplish in one day. Then go out and do it.

Next post in this series is about Aligning with Oneness, Authority, Courage and Intelligence.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Personal Development for Smart People: Connecting more Deeply

This article is part of my series on Personal Development for Smart People. If you are new here I recommend you to first read my introduction to the book.

In this post I want to focus on how to enhance your alignment with the principle of love.

In the book you will find two meditations and multiple techniques to help you to connect more deeply. What follows are my notes on two of these techniques.

1. Sharing

  • The easiest way to connect is to share something.
  • Some things you can share are a conversation, stories, laughs, a meal, a game, yourself, ...
  • Take initiative ! When turned down, ask someone else.
  • Sharing builds trust and creates stronger bonds.
I will definitely pay more attention to sharing this week.

2. Gratitude

  • Feel grateful for the other person.
  • Imagine what your life would be like without this person. What would you miss most ?
  • You can apply gratitude on a greater scale (family, community, country, planet, ...)
I am grateful for
my girlfriend because of the wonderful time we spent together and because she kicks my ass when necessary,
my family because I just like to spend time with them,
my community because I don't have any issues with anybody,
my country because it's way better than lots of other countries,
our planet because there are so many beautiful places on it.

On to the principle of Power.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Personal Development for Smart People: Becoming more Truthful

This article is part of my series on Personal Development for Smart People. If you are new here I recommend you to first read my introduction to the book.

In my previous post I introduced you to the seven principles that are at the core of Personal Development for Smart People. In this post I would like to dig deeper into the principle of truth and how to align yourself with it.

Steve suggests in his book journaling , media-fasting and a quick self-assesment as three ways to bring more truth into your life. Here I'll do the quick self-assesment because it's quick.

The first step is to rate different areas of your life.

Habits & daily routine9
Career & work7
Money & finances8
Health & fitness9
Mental development & education8
Social life & relationships7
Home & family10
Character & integrity7
Life purpose & contribution8
Spiritual development6

The next step is to remove everything below 9 by a 1. This basically leaves me with everything but habits & daily routine, health & fitness and home & family. But you shouldn't rate how far you are on the track but you should rate the direction.

Now comes the more difficult step of determining what you truly want. In hindsight I cheated a little and sometimes stated where I'm currently am and what I want to change instead of clearly stating what I want. But this is because it isn't clear to me what I want from some areas of my life.

  • Career & work I love the field I'm working in but I feel like my progress is really stagnating. I don't seem to find a way to make that next big step forward.
  • Money & finances I'm kind of happy with what I earn. Problem is that all the money I earn is fixed income that I get by working for a boss. So I really want to generate some passive source of income.
  • Mental development & education As I noted in the career & work section I'm kind of stuck on my current level of education. This is something I really want to change. I want to become an expert.
  • Social life & relationships I have a wonderful relationship but I want more really good friends to connect with at a deep level.
  • Emotions I want to connect more with my emotions. Feel them clearly while still mastering them.
  • Character & integrity Be an open person and get completely rid of my sneaky tendencies.
  • Life purpose & contribution I already tried the 20-minutes excercise to find your life purpose some time ago but I guess I didn't try hard enough because I didn't find it. At this moment I hardly have a life purpose & contribution vision so making progress won't be hard :-).
  • Spiritual development I'm afraid I'm going to repeat myself but again on this one I am on a big plateau and on the look out for growth. But I'm back on track by reading this book and writing on this blog.

My quick self-assesment of the truth of my life is finished. I am now going to continue reading the book

Next post in this series is about Connecting more deeply.

Personal Development for Smart People: Introduction

The first book I will discuss here is Personal Development for Smart People written by Steve Pavlina.

Personal Development for Smart People is divided in two parts. The first part introduces the seven principles truth, love, power, oneness, authority, courage and intelligence. The second part applies all these principles to the different domains habits, career, money, health, relationships and spirituality. What follows are my short notes on the seven principles.


The aspects of truth are :
  • perception : Recognize where you are and what you like and dislike about your life.
  • prediction : Compare your predicitions with reality.
  • accuracy : Accept the vagueries of life but strive to make it as clear as possible. Don't deny risks but manage them intelligently.
  • acceptance : Fully and completely accept the truth and the consequences of your predictions. Never pretend to yourself.
  • self-awareness : Become aware of your strengths, weaknesses, talents, knowledge, biases, desires, emotions, instincts, habits, ...
Some blocks to truth are :
  • media conditioning : Truth conflicts with profit. Time spent in media consumption is time lost from direct experience.
  • social conditioning : You need to release erronous and inaccurate beliefs. Self-trust more important than social conformity.
  • false beliefs
  • emotional interference : Strong emotions can corrupt your ability to perceive reality accurately
  • addictions : Make it harder to accept reality and reinforce ignorance and denial
  • immaturity : Lack of experience.
  • second gain : Temporarily benefiting from embracing falsehood.

You need to learn to embrace truth and relinquish falsehood. Truth enhances growth, falsehood destroys it.


The essence of love is to decide to connect. You should deliberately decide which connections you'll strengthen and which you'll allow to weaken.

The aspects of love are :
  • connection : Can connect with groups, objects, places, ideas, values and activities. Freedom to connect and disconnect. The initiative is up to you.
  • communication : Mean to express love. Best relationships have enough common ground but are stimulating growth in new directions. Purpose is to create a connection. In person communication creates a deeper connection.
  • communion : Deep sense of bounding. True purpose of relationship is self-exploration. Loving yourself unconditionally is the result of a conscious choice.
Some blocks to love are :
  • disconnected mind-set : Wrong believe in separation. Resolve this by trying to imagine that you're alreay connected to everyone else
  • fear of rejection : Makes minor interactions feel like gigantic threats. Only way to fail is to refuse to try.
  • incompatibility : Allow yourself to let go of anything that no longer resonates with you. Letting go is an essential part of personal development
  • lacks of social skill : Probably a lack of experience. Foster the conditions to allow your natural communication style to emerge. Begin with the most compatible, comfortable, loving group you can find.

Love enables you to discover your true self. This is accomplished by initiaiting connections with others. The purpose of relationships is to teach you how to love yourself.


Power stands for the ability to consciously and deliberately create the world around you.

The aspects of power are :
  • responsibility : Accept total responsibility for your life, it's inescapable. Solve your problems proactively. Be willing to do what is necessary to create the desired outcome.
  • desire : Fuel of power. Never deny that you want what you want. Only true desire summons true power
  • self-determination : You're completely free to decide what you want and you never need to justify it. You're only constraints are your decisions and their consequences.
  • focus : Focus your attention on the current moment, it's the only place you have real power. Set goals that improve your present reality.
  • effort : If you aren't driven to act, means your intentions are weak.
  • self-discipline : Willingness to do what it takes to achieve the results you want regardless of your mood. It keeps you moving when unmotivated, lazy, bored, ...
Some blocks to power are :
  • timidity : God who declares, "let me be powerless".
  • cowardice : Practice of using your power to feed your fears instead of your desires.
  • negative conditioning : Misled to believe that power is bad or evil.

You aren't here to be weak, you're here to shine. Accept responsibility for your life. Problems are there to help you grow.

Oneness = Truth + Love

Being connected is your natural state. Oneness is knowing you're already connected.

The aspects of power are :
  • empathy : You must commit yourself to do good.
  • compassion : You're connected to everyone, no one is undeserving love.
  • honesty : Lying to others is no different from lying to yourself. Hold yourself to the standard of truth.
  • fairness : Fairly balance the individual needs with the needs of the larger whole.
  • contribution
  • unity : Leave thoughts of separation behind. Responsibility for everything in your environment.

Relinquish thoughts of separation. Allow your consciousness to expand beyond the limitations of your ego.

Authority = Truth + Power

Truth without power accomplishes nothing, power without truth generates wasted action. Blend knowledge and action to produce intelligent results.

The aspects of authority are :
  • command : You are in command, you make the decisions, you take the actions. If you fail to claim authority over your life, someone else will surely claim it for you.
  • effectiveness : Correct decisions ? Correct actions ? Experience is the best teacher of effectiveness.Be willing to make decisions that may fail.
  • persistence : Failure is an unavoidable part of succes. An expert is a person who has failed enough to succeed. Efforts will pay off, as log as you keep learning and growing.
  • confidence : Deep believe in your capacities. Deep soulful recognition of the truth that you're a powerful being.
  • significance : Focus on what really matters to you.

You're the final authority of your life. Get in touch with what's most important to you in life. What really matters to you ?

Courage = Love + Power

Power is the action component and love is the motivational force of courage.

The aspects of courage are :
  • heart : Does your path have a heart ? Courage instead of false security.
  • initiative : Wait for nothing, actively create what you want.
  • directness : Don't loose time and energy trying to avoid rejection. Even failure is positive, you faced your fear.
  • honor : Take action to honor your path.

Face your fears. Summon the courage to follow your dreams.

Intelligence = Truth + Love + Power

The aspects of intelligence are :
  • authenticity : Just be yourself.
  • creative self-expression : Tune in to your primary message (truth), connectedness makes you wanting to share (love) and power is necessary to cultivate a medium that suits your message.
  • growth : Most intelligent thing you can possibly do with your life is to grow !
  • flow : Flow results from conscious thought and action in the direction of your dreams.
  • beauty : You'll see the beauty of all personal growth challenges when you see them trough the lenses of truth, love and power.

Truth, love and power form the essence of human intelligence.

So this was for me the essence of the 7 principles from the first part of Personal Development for Smart People. I hope it is useful for you and I welcome any comments.

Next post in this series is about Becoming more truthful.