Category Archives: Efficacy

The perfect you

Everything is perfect and there is always room for improvement.         — Shunryu Suzuki

For those suffering from self-induced pressures of striving to be perfect, here is a reprieve. It doesn’t involve daily affirmations that we are already good enough and should embrace our shortcomings as part of what makes us special. Nor does it reject the idea that perfection is unattainable and reserved only for the divine. These binary options are based on our presupposition that there is something wrong or broken about ourselves and we should either fix it or surrender to it. When we re-frame our definition of what it means to be perfect, we can liberate creative forces that are unconstrained by fear of failure, rejection or loss. This freedom gives us permission to create abundant art and in the process, become more comfortable with our own inherent perfection. Continue reading

The happiness trap

Happiness is so overrated.

Think about it. When we’re happy, we’re content with how things are, which is another way of saying complacent. When we’re complacent, we take things for granted, stop being curious and lose our interest in learning. We forget our appreciation for what it means to be free. We become busy and switched off to our passions, or marginalize them to our spare time. Being busy lets us off the hook for not pursuing the things that make our lives truly meaningful. In Chinese, the character for “busy” translates literally as “dead heart“. Instead of seeking fleeting moments of happiness that we cling to, long for and feel depressed about when they elude us, we can create a much more fulfilling life that revolves around the simple concept of facility. Continue reading

Being there

Almost weekly, I will be mistaken by someone who swears that they know me. This has been going on for many years, and I’ve become used to it. I enjoy the surprised look on people’s faces, and then joking with them, “Well, there are a lot of short bald white guys around.” For those who have never seen me in person, I’m unremarkable looking, though once an elderly group of Japanese tourists thought I might be Bruce Willis. People are always more receptive to what’s familiar, and in those wonderful moments when I forget that I am separate and different from everyone else, the world reminds me that I may be on to something. Continue reading

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Loafing toward salvation

The unbounded life is perfectly content is its pointlessness. It’s not a formula for any kind of traditional measure of success, nor intended to achieve any specific purpose. It’s defined by a spirit of infinite and cheerful uselessness that is found in all forms of play, and born from a desire to avoid the evils of work. When we embrace our laziness, we feel less guilty about the pursuit of leisure. We allow ourselves the time to dream and create versus being consumed by daily practical concerns. The leisurely life is an artful life, one that expresses the curiosity, humor and waywardness of our essential humanity. Continue reading

Every day is like Sunday

My wife and I have this game we play called, “What day is today?” Throughout the week, we periodically ask each other and then challenge the other’s response. So Nam will ask me and I’ll say, “Tuesday?” to which she will reply, “I thought it was Wednesday” and then I’ll second-guess myself and offer, “I’m pretty sure it’s Tuesday…or Monday. Definitely not Wednesday.” Turns out it’s Thursday. I used to be this calendar-driven guy, complete with to-do lists and pop-up reminders on my Palm, but not anymore. I stopped wearing a watch, except when out on my bike, so I know my turnaround time. And yet, without noticing the passage of time, I am getting important things done; certainly more than I ever was working in an office. Continue reading

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The productivity myth

I love sleep. If I am allowed to sleep undisturbed, I’ll snooze for at least 10 hours straight. I’m a night owl and have been since I was a little kid. Sleep experts have been telling us for years that to be more productive, we should be sleeping no more than 8 hours and getting up early. Livestock early. Others swear by polyphasic sleep (think of the Seinfeld episode when Kramer tried a series of short naps instead of sleeping through the night). Rather than try to sort out conflicting data on sleep research or the opinions of productivity experts, I’ve come to this conclusion: the best measure of success is not productivity, it is happiness. Continue reading

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Metaphysical gravity

I recently wrapped up a personal leadership seminar with an American corporate client in Beijing, and during a conversation about values, one of my students asked me, what did I value the most? Before I could think about it, I said, “Mobility.” Like the old SAT strategy, your first answer is usually your best answer, so then I thought, how was it that mobility had beat out core values contenders like family, health, love, compassion and spirituality. Here’s what I came up with… Continue reading

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