Category Archives: Philosophy

Time (II)

Time is a relative, subjective, and elastic concept.

Some say we should put everything on our calendar, from the time we start work to the time to watch a movie with our significant other.

Some say that, on the other hand, it is essential to set apart generous time blocks with nothing in them; that it is from this nothing that comes inspiration, creativity.

I don’t know which of the two approaches is more correct. I suspect that, as in most things, virtue is found in the middle.

But one thing I notice with me is that the phase of my life in which I objectively was the busiest, was also the phase of life in which I somehow found time to do more things.

Relative. Subjective. Elastic.

Secrets Hidden in Plain Sight

In the lastest episode of one of my favorite podcasts, “The Tim Ferriss Show,” the guest tells us – among many other things – of his childhood as an illusionist. This passage that caught my attention:

(I am quoting from memory; these are not his exact words.)

“I don’t want to explain on the air how these tricks are done. It’s considered bad form in the magician community. These are secrets of the trade. Of course, they are secrets, but they are public – it’s all in books! The thing is, no one reads books. ”

This is true. There are many things that seem (and are!) tricky to do and that’s why most people hesitate to take something up, but in reality, almost everything can be learned from two or three good books.

From making friends to building a house; from investing in the stock market to painting a picture; from repairing a car to digging a pond in the backyard. And yes, learning to do magic tricks of the kind that people pay to go see on a weekend night out.

Of course, success comes through practice, training, trial and error… The ability to endure failure and try again. But the roadmap, the plan to get one there, that is in the books.

Just read them.

Photo Credit: Daniel Mennerich Flickr via Compfight cc

The Art of War (II)

“In war the rule is as follows: if our superiority is in the magnitude of ten to one, surround the enemy; if of five to one, attack them; and if it is of two to one, divide the army in two. ”

Sun Tzu, “The Art of War”, Chapter III: Attacking Through Stratagems

Let’s take soldiers as resources; Aaresource does not have to be a person or an object, it can be a personal characteristic: our technical ability, or even willpower.

When our ability is so superior to the task that we are sure to be able to crush it like an insect once the decision to do it is made, there is no hurry. Let it be until absolutely necessary, or save it as a source of motivation, for a time when our energy is low and we can feast on an easy victory.

Tasks that, on the other hand, we feel capable of doing, but not effortlessly, should be tackled as soon as possible, as leaving them pending is giving the enemy time to increase their numbers, or to strengthen their position. A task, a project, an obligation – all of these things tend to take on a life of their own when left alone for too long. They fester like wounds. Take them on while you have the advantage.

And what about challenges? A challenge requires consideration. It takes strategy – should we split the army in two to flank? Or split it in two to attack as a comparable force, and keep a cool half as reserves, ready to move forward in second wave, crushing a tired enemy? Maybe the split is done as a way to enable the use of guerrilla tactics?

For tasks, commitments, projects, obligations – for these we have the simple answers described above. Do it now, or leave it for later, depending on the power differential.

But for a challenge, there are no simple answers; each situation requires its own strategy, its own dose of preparation. There is only one certainty: a disorganised charge will get us nowhere.