The importance of “why”

“What” to do, or what it accomplishes, and “how” to do it, or how it does it, are certainly relevant, but most critical is “why”. Why would I buy your product? Why would I buy your service? Why would I believe this or that, or why would I change my mind? Why should I support this or that? Why should I care?

Why, is what defines the purpose and desired outcome, and it’s far more critical to convey the “why” than the “what” and “how”. Why is the thing that inspires and connects with people and motivates and gets others on board. If you don’t have the “why” (or a believable why), then success will be limited, regardless of what you are selling or advocating.

Brian Tracy on the importance of clarity

It all might be easier than you think, and – since no one is born with them therefore they are learned – anyone can learn and develop better habit patterns with practice.

According to Brian Tracy, one of the most important habits is “Clarity”. For maximum success and productivity, determine *clear* goals or objectives, and then focus on the outcomes you have defined as important to you. Without clarity (and decisiveness), it’s predictable that one will flounder.

For more, Brian explains the importance of this superbly well in the comically antiquated video clip embedded on the page. Note: the video clip only covers the first of the 10 “qualities”; for those interested in the rest of the talk, it’s likely that youtube is your answer.

Your passion defines and drives you – find it

What are you passionate about? Whatever it is, do it, talk about it, grow it, share it, seek out collaboration or guidance or mentorship from one or more people who are further along than you or are already an expert.

If or when a passion fades, loses relevance, or is outgrown, consider moving on to the next one. Maybe you dabble in a hobby or interest on the side for years, or maybe you set yourself up to make a very abrupt change into a new field or interest. Whatever you choose; it’s your life and your decision… own it!


“I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings,” is one of the top five regrets of the dying — a sentiment that hints at the fact that people wish they’d spent less time talking about the weather and more time delving into what it is that makes their heart swell.

Nothing wrong with shootin’ the you-know-what every now and then, but sitting down to talk about what makes you tick is a prime practice for feeling good about life. A study published in Psychological Science found that those who take part in more substantive conversation and less trivial chit chat experienced more feelings of satisfaction.

Follow up to yesterday’s Hopkins quote

Your perception of how other people view you is a tool that’s both very useful and useless, depending on the circumstance. It’s not always easy to understand how best to weigh the various perceptions that you are told or that you might observe about yourself.

One close friend’s words might weigh pretty heavily – as long as he/she doesn’t have vested interests at stake – compared to a complete stranger.

Four hundred complete strangers might weigh heavily *as long as* it is not about one event and one set of rumors.

One or a handful of strangers making juvenile, offhand, or baseless comments are weightless and are immediately dismissed.

Strangers or close friends or relatives offering up their pessimism or disapproval of a project/dream/goal/objective you have decided is important and worthwhile, especially if they are raising questions or doubts you’ve already considered and accounted for: probably quite weightless.

In the midst of this, what I feel shouldn’t be ignored is the reality that some surely use the quote to justify whatever behavior they want, oftentimes denying or ignoring any “consequences” for the behavior, even if in fact those effects may be both negative and significant. For instance, it’s clear that those who are the happiest and most successful make a conscious effort to avoid negative, pessimistic, and toxic people, and the result is that some are themselves the cause of their own solitude (they drive others to distance themselves).

But, as always, it’s ultimately your choice – you can do what you want, because you are the leader of your life. You decide where it goes; you decide what you become. Own every decision you make. Own your every action and behavior. Own every word that comes out of your mouth. Own the results that you get. Own it all.

Theodore Roosevelt on the topic of friendship: “If a man has a very decided character, has a strongly accentuated career, it is normally the case that he makes ardent friends and bitter enemies.”

Reminder of why I publish

Just as a reminder, I share what I share “because of me”, not “because of that person” or “because of you”. It’s shared because I have found it interesting or useful, and I’ve decided to put it out there in case anyone else might also find it interesting or useful.

Also, censorship is not an option, particularly because I see it as cowardly and/or controlling.

In other news: “To be completely cured of newspapers, spend a year reading the previous week’s newspapers.” – Nassim N. Taleb

An explanation of cause and effect

Cause and effect can be determined, but they’re not necessarily easy to find. It does require a certain amount of strength to set prejudices and egos aside, dig for answers, and then admit what is found, especially if you are worried that the answer might “make you look bad” or be something you wish weren’t true.

For reference, “karma” is a Sanskrit term commonly used to denote the entire cycle of cause and effect. What might you estimate your level of “karma” to be?

So what’s the point?

Some have trouble accounting for the long-term causes and effects *on themselves* for certain decisions they have made; consequences *for them* for certain beliefs, and also for certain things their beliefs guide them to do and say. Beliefs translate into actions or inaction. To the world at large, these consequences are almost always “dust in the wind”, but to the self they can be quite significant.

Instead of leaving things to luck and circumstance, consider accepting principal responsibility for your outcomes, and take control of your life so that you might better contribute in positive ways to yourself and to those who freely choose to associate with you. Or don’t, but be warned that you might not be happy with what you find in the end!

What can I write about and how can I force myself to write

I stumbled across this Q&A – of which I wrote neither part – and it reminded me of that quote attributed to Ben Franklin about writing something worth reading or doing something worth writing about.

Q: I love writing and I really do try to write as often as I can, but very rarely am I satisfied with my own ideas….I want to be able to find inspiration on my own…what kinds of things should I write about and how can I force myself to keep on writing?

A: Don’t force yourself to write. And when the alarm clock goes off in the morning, don’t get up. And when the bills need to be paid, just pack your stuff and go to the next place. Don’t ask yourself the difficult questions about you. About who you are, or where you come from, or why you are doing this. And when the true sentences strike you, don’t bother to write them down in your phone, or on that napkin, or whatever. Just forget them by the time you’re in the door of your house. And then procrastinate some more on the computer. Don’t examine your bias’s, just post your opinions and waste the best parts of your talents on instant messenger conversations or clever Facebook posts.

Every time you think about putting it off, just imagine never doing it. And dying, and those things, the really important things you had to say, never being said. By anyone. Because no one is you, in your exact shoes in the space time continuum. On a planet of 6+ billion people you may not be the most unique or beautiful snowflake. But you have a story, at the very least. And it’s yours to tell. And it’s your problem if you don’t tell it. No one will miss what they didn’t know about.

As for subjects: challenge your process all the time. If you always write one way, force yourself to do something different. Never be scared of dumb. Be scared of stagnation. Stagnation is worse than stupidity. Write a few pages or a poem made up from the words on the bathroom stall you just sat in. You had time to examine them. Write about a philosophical point you had with your friends, or a sentence that got stuck in your head. Or a person. Write your passion, because other people can feel when you don’t give a shit. The trick isn’t to just write about a few subjects, but to become passionate about life. That’s why you started writing, right? Because you wanted to show someone else how you saw the trees, or the highway or whatever beautiful image. And you had a story to tell. I remember when you had a story to tell man. What happened to that story?

One man’s story how he changed habits and himself

Incredibly inspirational story, focused on weight loss, but applicable to understanding and possibly replacing one or more habits one desires to change.

Clips from the text with some paraphrasing: To get where I am today, I better understand myself and why I do what I do; I’ve identified my motivation; I’ve changed how I perceive myself and think about myself; I’ve begun to see myself as, and make decisions like, the new person I want to be; I stay focused on the present. Goals? When I reach my goals, I will have new goals to aim for….I never want to stop challenging myself in new and exciting ways. And I think that’s the best attitude one can have.

Optimism can make a huge difference

This one is a little bit longer – about 5 pages – but I think the length is not just “filler” and that it covers a very useful concept. ymmv

” ‘Which story do you prefer?’ This question turns out to matter a great deal if you are trying to figure out who grows after trauma and who gets swallowed up by it, a question that each movie addresses and that psychologists have been grappling with for years. Think back to the last time you experienced a loss, setback, or hardship. Did you respond by venting, ruminating, and dwelling on the disappointment, or did you look for a faint flash of meaning through all of the darkness — a silver lining of some sort? How quickly did you bounce back — how resilient are you?

Far from being delusional or faith-based, having a positive outlook in difficult circumstances is not only an important predictor of resilience — how quickly people recover from adversity — but it is the most important predictor of it. People who are resilient tend to be more positive and optimistic compared to less-resilient folks; they are better able to regulate their emotions; and they are able to maintain their optimism through the most trying circumstances.

For many years, psychologists, following Freud, thought that people simply needed to express their anger and anxiety — blow off some steam — to be happier. But this is wrong…. another study found that facing down adversity by venting — hitting a punching bag or being vengeful toward someone who makes you angry — actually leads to people feeling far worse, not better. Actually, doing nothing at all in response to anger was more effective than expressing the anger in these destructive ways.”