Tag Archives: Learning

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 Fall

I hurt a person. And it wasn’t out of spite, but it wasn’t an accident either. It was mathematical, for optimisation’s sake. It was purely rational.

I have a problem trusting people – I assume the worst – and that makes me try to keep a “Plan B” open in case people let me down. In case they turn out not to be who they seem to be.

But when someone really gives of themselves and places their trust in you, discovering that there is a Plan B – that they are essentially replaceable – hurts.

This blog exists for me to share the things I am discovering on my journey to become a better man. This time, I fell short of this ideal.

But I don’t want to fail to document that fact. There are too many reports of success on the internet. Everyone falls, but nobody talks about it.

I’m talking about it because I want the record here – to help me remember that I can and should be better.

Painting: Nebuchadnezzar by William Blake

Not Your Guru

Today I bring you a short recommendation: the documentary “Not Your Guru,” which portrays the experience of participating in the biggest event in Tony Robbins’ personal development catalog.

I make this recommendation because I know that many of my friends and colleagues are skeptical of the world of coaching and personal development. And I understand why.

The truth is that the coaching world has a virtually zero entry cost, so it attracts many people without any talent, preparation, zeal or even willingness to do hard work, who feel that their personal charisma and inflated ego is enough to help seriously troubled people.

I’ve trained to be a coach, I’ve taken courses, and I can see the caliber of people that the area attracts. It’s scary. It made me exit the field in disgust.

But there are a couple of things that set Tony Robbins apart:

  1. I read many biographies and interviews with famous and successful people and a significant percentage of these attributed part of their success to Tony Robbins books/programs/events. This cannot be a coincidence.
  2. I myself have tried (but never completed) some of his programs, and was impressed by the quality of some of the exercises and language tools.

The documentary is not perfect. On the one hand, it focuses too much on Robbins’ interventions using his own method of explosive homebrew psychology, to the detriment of the exercises and tools that will bring true results to most people. I actually think that that stuff would be better handled by a licensed therapist, and find it kinda shady when coaches engage in it.

And on the other hand – and ironically, given the title – it sometimes gives the impression that the people there are almost part of a religious cult.

But I still believe it’s a good way for skeptics to see that there is a certain energy, a certain method in the man’s work, one that might be worth exploring.