The 1000 Hour Rule – by James Altucher

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Crazy or genius? Well, writer/thinker/speaker James Altucher has them both covered in an entertaining way. This is his take on Malcolm Gladwell’s famous 10 000 hour rule. I like it so I quote it in part below and link to his full post here.

THE 1000 HOUR RULE (note: this is NOT the 10,000 hour rule. One less zero).

Everybody knows the 10,000 HOUR RULE. The one popularized by Malcolm Gladwell that basically says if you do dedicated practice for 10,000 hours you can master a field. You can reach your full potential or close to it.

He used the Beatles as an example. They spent 10,000 hours playing music 18 hours a day in German porn clubs for five years and became the best in the world.

It makes sense. If you practice painting water colors for 10,000 hours you will be among the best in the world at water color painting.

Here’s the problem: We don’t just have one passion or love in life. The universe wants us to have fun doing more than one thing in life. That’s how it learns. You don’t have one purpose in life. You have maybe 500 or so.

And 10,000 hours is a lot of time. It’s anywhere from 5-30 years of your life. And then you die. And what do you show for it? That you’re great at watercolor painting. Not everyone is going to be the Beatles. That involves some luck also.

So I prefer the 1000 hour rule.

If you practice ANYTHING for one thousand hours and make sure it’s dedicated practice then you will STILL be among the best in the world.

How come? Because with anything worth learning there is a steep learning curve. In the first 1000 hours your ability goes straight up. Then it starts to even out as you learn more of the subtleties required to be among the best.

Here’s the thing: NOBODY GIVES A SHIT.

Since only the best in the world can really appreciate the subtleties and 99.9999% of the world can’t tell the difference between somebody who has studied for 1000 hours versus someone who has studied for 10,000 hours then you can appear to be the best in the world and get much of the benefits of it by just putting in 1000 hours of dedicated practice.

In fact, if you get good at learning new things, then you can even take another zero off. The 100 hour rule. Or maybe 200 hours. This makes life a LOT better and more fun. You can take that zero off after you get really good at the first thing.

Because then you have learned how to learn. So that saves a lot of energy on the next thing you learn.

Phew! This one rule has saved me decades of time. I can’t be the world champion at chess but I can be a chess master. I can’t be a billionaire but I can perhaps learn enough about a field to make a real contribution to society.

And I can do it more than once. In fact, I can do it every year of my life and learn many things.

Thank god for the 1000 hour rule. (or the 100 hour rule).”

Change Philosophy

Throughout my life I’ve always embraced change. At times it’s been a survival strategy, other times it’s just been a transport from boredom.

I simply think it’s dangerous to get too static, because life isn’t. Life moves, changes, transforms.

It would be stupid not to grow and change with it.

Now we’re (Lenah and I) getting kind of desperate for change. We’ve lived in the same house for more than three years, I’ve been at the same job for more than six years and nothing really major has happened for quite a while. It’s a little bit like being stuck in limbo.

Limbo sucks.

When I was a little boy I used to love getting letters in the post. Since I played chess competitively I always hoped there would be an invite to some international tournament. And it did in fact happen from time to time and got to travel quite a lot. More than most young boys.

Waiting to see what was at the letter box was exciting and now I’m getting into the mood again. The mood for adventure. The mood for change.

I’d like someone to send us a letter in the post with some good news. Something to mix things up. To change things around.

I think we’ve deserved it.

No, I know we have.

But of course, change doesn’t always happen just because you wait for it. You need to go out and grab it by the horns. Now that we haven’t tried, but we’re going to try and do that even more from now on.

Hey change! Come on! We’re ready for ya.

Do you embrace change or does it frighten you? Please comment! And thanks for reading.

Sweden: what the fuck happened

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It’s a strange headline I know. But it’s there simply  because that “Sweden What the fuck happened”  is the entry page for many of my visitors to this blog although it only contains the now almost legendary image of Stellan Skarsgård as a viking and some nightclub kids with 80s hairstyle, androgyne faces and lots of bronzer in their faces.

But it seems to me that Sweden has a bigger issue than the strange appearance of some of the males or the need to add a bronzer to acquire a tan.

To me, and this is of course my subjective, personal opinion as an emigrant, Sweden has become a country in large part obsessed with buying stuff and obeying rules. And by rules I don’t only mean laws, but all kinds of rules – most noticeably social ones. This has resulted in people being afraid to speak their minds and instead talk about nothing but practical stuff like which phone subscription you should have or which LED TV has the best value for money.

Feelings and thoughts around things that really matters, are left unspoken and unattended. They’re better dealt with alone it seems like.

This reservedness creates a society on standby and as a Swede it’s hurting me to see and experience it. You can blame it on the weather maybe, it can’t be easy to experience grey skies and darkness for 70% of the year, but then you look over to Canada or even Norway with a similar climate and where people seem less prone to have a stick up their butt and more often a smile on their face.

Sweden and Swedes: Cheer up and Chin up! (Fanastic song by Ryan Adams).

 

Being in the now

I’ve previously written some posts on how easy it is to lose your focus when there are thousands of things trying to grab your attention: Adapting to the increasing speed of change and Rambling on patience, blogs and the meaning of life, but it seems like a topic I keep coming back to.

The reason is that people seem to have a hard time really being in the now these days. Cellphones, bills, computers, and general worries about a lot of the other things come in the way. Things move so fast these days it has become necessary to always be a step ahead (in your head!). This obviously makes us more stressed and less able to just be in the now and experience life.

This might require you not fiddling with your phone while you’re at that dinner party or waiting for the bus. And for you to realize that you would be better off not thinking about next month’s bills when you’re sunbathing in the park. And you might have to stop stressing over what your life work will be while you’re taking a shower or walking your dog.

The answer is just being.

It’s not as easy as it sounds (although for some people it might be, I can’t imagine the people living on my street in Sliema, Malta, a place called “lazy corner” having a hard time shutting off their brains), because if you’re like me, there’s always something whirring around the old brain.

I know I need to shut it off and just exist, but things keep coming in the way. Life comes in the way.

So how do you shut off your mind? Here are five super simple ideas:

1. Exercise. Take a walk or a jog or preferably some even more high-intense exercise or sport that makes it impossible to think about other things.
2. Kiss your loved one (corny – but if you think about other things then, you have a problem).
3. Talk to someone and really, really listen. Too many people have one eye on their phone during conversations these days.
4. Do something fun with your kid(s) (if you have kids, otherwise borrow one). Their endless energy should hopefully rub off on you.
5. Meditate.

Can you help me come up with more ideas on to shut off our brains and really just be in the now? Please comment.

Have a nice day.

Stuff vs Experiences

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There is nothing better to open up your senses and relax your mind than traveling. Thankfully, Lenah and I are aligned when it comes to where we spend our hard-earned money. We have decided not buy property (can’t really afford it) and lots of stuff. Instead we’re focusing on eating and drinking well, traveling and enjoying life to the max. Because what good is buying lots of stuff really? In fact, we don’t even own a car, we rent one when we need it. It’s cost- and environmentally friendly.

This might sound like we live some kind of extreme lifestyle – we don’t. We just want to make sure we live our lives and not get too bound down to stuff, houses, cars, which usually equals loans, which in turn equals stress and unhappiness. It’s about being able to control that initial desire you can get for a new car, a house, a new computer, etc. We still buy things, obviously. Things that matter to us. Clothes is one of them. Not lots and expensive, but enough to make sure you feel good about yourself. The same thing goes for health and beauty stuff (lotions, gym membership, medicine, massages, treatments, dentists, doctors – what you require to make sure your body is in good shape), if we can extend our lives – then that’s money well spent.

There’s nothing strange about this philosophy. We’ve done the journey (at least partly) around buying, buying, buying, owning, owning, owning – but when the buying and owning starts to interfere with the things you really appreciate, then you need to ask yourself a few questions.

So the main question we’re asking ourselves now is: do we/I really need that? A lot of the time the answer is no.

One step we’ve taken is to clear out a lot of stuff. Things we don’t use that other people might need or have better use for. That stuff we give to charity or sell (it’s damn hard to sell used things so we end up giving most of it away). And it feels really good to do it, not only the giving but also cleaning and clearing up. You not only clear the space around you, but also your mind and soul. You de-clutter your life.

After we made the decision to de-clutter and anti-hoard, we booked two well-needed vacations. First we’re going to Valencia in mid-April (only two nights, but still a nice getaway) and then we’re going back to one of our favorite places in the world, La città eterna, Rome. Because like I wrote in the first paragraph, there is nothing better than traveling to open up your senses and relax your mind. To really experience things and enjoy life.

And that’s what we need right now. Actually, that’s what all of us need more of, at least in my view. More than a new LCD TV, a new car, a bigger house or something else that we feel we need there and then, but lose interest in after only a few days, or maybe weeks.

To summarise, make sure you live your life. Don’t bind yourself to stuff that when you ask yourself, deep down, really doesn’t matter.

Tom Peters Re-imagines Business

I’m soon about to finish Freedom by Jonathan Franzen and I was lusting for something non-fiction. In the end I picked up Business guru Tom Peters book Re-Imagine!: Business Excellence in a Disruptive Age at one of the local bookstores in Sliema. It seems pretty good although after checking back on Amazon I saw that I should probably have bought The Little Big Things: 163 Ways to Pursue EXCELLENCE instead.

So who’s Tom Peters then? I suggest you check out his personal blog where you for example find this short biography:

Tom Peters is co-author of In Search of Excellence—the book that changed the way the world does business, and often tagged as the best business book ever. Sixteen books and almost thirty years later, he’s still at the forefront of the “management guru industry” he single-handedly invented. What’s new? A lot. As CNN said, “While most business gurus milk the same mantra for all its worth, the one-man brand called Tom Peters is still reinventing himself.” His most recent effort, released in March 2010: The Little BIG Things: 163 Ways to Pursue Excellence. Tom’s bedrock belief: “Execution is strategy—it’s all about the people and the doing, not the talking and the theory.” (Keep up with Tom at tompeters.com, ranked #9 among “The Top 150 Management and Leadership Blogs.”)

I will be back on the blog later with a review but from thumbing through it in the store it seems pretty interesting. One thing is for sure, Tom’s communicative style is very American and you’ll find a lot of CAPITAL letters and exclamation marks. It’s a guy burning for business, that’s for sure.

The Daily Carrot Principle

I’m currently reading a book about recognition as a powerful management tool on my Kindle. It’s called the The Daily Carrot Principle and it’s written by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton (where do people get these cool names?).

Quoting from AmazonFrom the authors of the smash bestseller The Carrot Principle comes an inspiring and lively page-a-day guide to harnessing the remarkable power of the carrot—taking yourself and your team to new heights of success in work and life.Based on their twenty years of experience teaching leaders at Fortune 100 companies, as well as one of the largest research studies ever conducted on workplace satisfaction, Gostick and Elton share a wealth of wisdom about simple but amazingly effective ways to boost your productivity and work satisfaction by setting clear goals, communicating effectively, building trust, and offering recognition in ways that make others feel appreciated and motivated.

I really enjoy the book and it’s easy to understand the value of recognition and to be specific, concise, and generous with the feedback to your employees.

I’ve been reading a lot of management books over the years and many of them do trend to drag on and on without really saying anything new. The Daily Carrot Principle focuses on a topic that can be used as much in your daily life as in the business world and does it in a very reader friendly and constructive way. The book truly demonstrates recognition as the accelerator to the four basics of leadership; goal setting, building trust, communication, and accountability.

Recommended.