The Time You Put In Adds Up

How you spent your time adds up

Game of Thrones the TV series has ended. The total hours needed to watch the whole series is about 80 hours. To get the private pilot certification requires about 60 hours of flight time.

By the time you finish season 6 of the series, the other person would have completed the private pilot certification and would have embarked on a new journey in her life. I am not saying whoever watch Game of Thrones has wasted their life. Rather, I would like the reader to think about the time that they have to spend that is not on creating or learning but consuming.

There are many excuses for us not to pursue our dreams. One of them is not having the time. Author Peter Brett wrote his first book while on his daily commute inside the New York subway. Every day he would write about 400 words. Over two years, he has written 100,000 words. After published his first novel, he soon quit his job and become a full-time writer. If he did not write his novel during his daily commute, he would not have been established writer.

How you spent your time, actually adds up. If you improve 1% a day, in 72 days you would have doubled your capability.

However, many of us are not willing to even give themselves a chance to improve 1% a day. To improve, takes effort, commitment and time. Ask yourself, are you willing to put in the time to improve 1% a day?

Do the most important task first. Brian Tracy says is well, “Eat the frog”. Do the most important task of the day. By doing it, it eases up your mind without having to think about it. The more we think about the task, the more we procrastinate then less likely we will get it done.

Find pockets of time. If you are on a long commute, find something to do. When I drive, I listen to Podcast and audio books. I improve by listening. What are you going to do while waiting in life? Blindly scroll through social media? Or pull out a book to read?

Set a standard. Pockets of time of five minutes and 15 minutes are different. As for how you will spend the time is different. Here is how I spent pockets of my time.

Less than five minutes. I would reach out to some friends on my chat application whom I have not contacted for more than 1 month.

More than five minutes. I would read some e-books on my phone. The topics are social media marketing, machine learning and leadership.

Time to relax? Then relax. We are not machine Setting a time to relax is important. Do something that you enjoy and do not feel guilty about it. Set a time, stop when the time is up. Maintain the discipline and fight the resistance of procrastination. Yes. You can watch Game of Thrones.

Everyone is given 24 hours a day. It is up to you how to spend it. How you spend your day is how you spend your life. And it all adds up. Go and get some.

Improve by Having a Beginner’s Mindset

Beginner’s mindset Shoshin

Once there is a student seeking wisdom from a famous Zen Master of his time. The Zen Master invited the student for tea. As the Zen Master poured tea into the cup, the tea started to overflow as the cup is full. The student pleaded the master to stop and asked why he kept pouring as the cup is already full? The master answered if your mind is already full how can you hold new wisdom?

We should see the world with a beginner’s mind. Sometimes our problem can be solved by seeing the problem from a different perspective. The beginner’s mind – Shoshin brings us an entirely different perspective. Sometimes children ask the strangest question. Questions that is so simple but we can never find an answer that is satisfying. They ask questions without being burdened with old assumptions

To quote Zen Master Shunryu Suzuki, “in the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.”

Let go of the old assumptions. Imagine you are an alien from space and is sent to earth to observe the human race. You will be awed by what you have seen and experience. Speak less and question more.

Take note and reflect. Leonard Da Vinci is a meticulous note taker. He carries a notebook with him and takes down his observation. It is through astute observation that he is able to take note of the human anatomy and how birds take flight. Leonardo sees things as it is and has demonstrated his skills of observation in many of his work.

Be ready to have setbacks. To learn anything new, you have to go through a period of setbacks and frustrations. There are more wrongs than rights. Only through being wrong, you will get to the right. Imagine a child stumbling while learning how to walk. It is only through stumbling and falling, she learns how to walk. The same applies to anything in life. Failure does not define you. Success also does not define you. You are forever learning and improving

May you have the strength and wisdom to see life as it is. Learn and study every day.


Do Not be a Slave to Your Own Things

Slave to Luxury

There is a beautiful Mercedes Benz parked outside of the place where I live. It is a Mercedes SLR. One of my dream car which I hope to own one day.
Every week I would see the owner working on the car regardless of the weather. The car is always perfectly clean. I feel awful if the car is dirty especially after heavy rain.

I am not sure this car brings any joy to the owner. If I own that car, I know I would be perpetually miserable. I would be worried about something bad may happen to the car. The car would have owned my life.

“The things you own end up owning you”
Tyler Durden, Fight Club

This is not what I want. Owning something nice no doubt bring some smile to my face. But how long? I remember buying my first luxury watch. It is a beautiful diving mechanical watch. Now I complain about the inaccuracy of the watch, how much it cost me to service and it lacks function compared to other modern digital watches. Has the watch changed? No! My mindset has changed. When I got the watch, I thought I have found happiness. It was not happiness but only a hit of dopamine. Now I am looking for my next hit and stuck with a watch that keeps time no better than a cheap watch.

All of us been through it. The joy and happiness of owning something never last. And we are burdened by its ownership and parting our hard money. The more we have the more we are a slave to our debts and things.

I have wasted much time thinking about the things that I own and the things that I want to own. With those time spend, I could have been far more productive and creative.

I am not asking you to give up everything that you have.

Is this a need or a want? When you buy something, ask whether it is a need for your survival or a something that you want? It is a want, it is probably something that is not necessary. You do not need to buy it.

One in one out. You probably have more than enough. When I buy something, I would make sure I get rid of another thing. If I buy a new t-shirt, I have to give away one of my old t-shirt. The intention is to reduce the clutter.

Does it bring you joy? Use the Marie Kondo way. Touch and feel your old pieces of stuff, ask yourself whether it still brings you joy? If no, get rid of it. If yes, keep it. Do this every six months.

This is not easy, especially we are all measured by the number of things that we have accumulated. Measure your life through happiness and not by the things that you own. I shall only admire the Mercedes SLR from afar.

You Can be in Your Own Hero’s Journey

You can be your own hero.

What is the common theme in movies such as Die Hard, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Rocky, Captain America: First Avengers?

It is all about a hero’s journey.

A hero’s journey is about someone who is ordinary overcome massive setbacks and obstacles to achieve success. I have always imagined being the hero, beating all the bad guy and win the day.

Obviously, I have never starred in any productions. But it does not stop me from wanting to be my own hero. Can we all have our own hero’s journey? We all can. The better question is, are we willing to take the path of a hero’s journey?

Embrace the suck. The hero in the movie does not run away from setbacks and challenges. They all embrace the suck. To be your own hero, you have to embrace the suck. Wanting to learn something new? Accept that your first few attempts will be terrible. Want that job promotion? You have to prepare to accept many rejections.

Put in the hard work. I love watching Rocky movies, especially the workout montage. The montage would show Rocky Balboa struggle to do the simplest exercise and become fighting fit. Everyone has to put in the hard work.

Trust yourself. Believe that you will be successful. When Yoda first raised the X-Wing from the swamp in Empires Strike Back. Luke Skywalker remarked that he could not believe it. And Yoda said, “That’s why you fail”. What you want to do may seem impossible or difficult. Believe in yourself that you can do it and you can achieve it.

Get a mentor. Tony Stark would not have become Iron Man without Ho YinSen who is his mentor and co-builder of Iron Man suit Mark One. A good athlete will always need a good coach. Find yourself a good mentor. It does not need to be someone who is alive. Read the biography of someone that you admire. Let their life lesson be your lesson as well.

Never give up. Before Steve Rogers receive his Super Soldier Serum, he was weak and thin. When he got beat up in the back alley, all he tells his bully is “I can do this all day”. Do not give up. When bad things happen to you. You have to do things that are not comfortable, tell yourself, “I can do this all day”.

Celebrate small wins. Heroes all celebrate their victories. Life is not all about work and struggle. There should be downtime to relax and get moving again. One of my favourite scene in Avengers Age of Ultron is the Avengers’ party scene where everyone was chilling and tried to lift Thor’s hammer. If Avengers can chill and celebrate. You should too.

Winning by losing. Let’s be realistic here. In real life, it is impossible to win all the time. Many times, there is no light at the end of the tunnel. We have no choice but to get used to the darkness and see in the darkness. But that is okay. When others are complaining about the darkness. You have gotten used to it and you will find your way out. Rocky did not win his first match with Appolo Creed. But he won the hearts of the audience. You may not win but you can still walk away feeling proud of yourself.

Let your imagination be the fuel for your hero’s journey. Start today. Start now.

What Can You Learn from Marvel Cinematic Universe

What can you learn from MCU?

Marvel movie Avengers Endgame has broken box-office around the world. In the first weekend of opening, the movie has made 357 million USD. And obviously, the box office sales will continue to charge ahead.

What can we learn from Avengers Endgame?

The success is not an overnight success. This so-called The Infinity Saga is made up of 22 movies with its first movie Iron Man released in 2008. In a nutshell, it was an 11 years journey. This has never been done where various movies and characters merge into a bigger story arc.

In my opinion, the person that we should thank and learn from is Kevin Feige who produced all 22 movies.

Long Term Vision and Planning. We hear business leaders say they have long term vision and planning for their company. How many can see through the plans? Or willing to put their career on the line? Kevin has personally walk through the journey. Not all movies are good, but he still made it through.

Courage. A 22 movie story arc is a moon shot and has never been done. The largest story arc in movies are the trilogies such as Back to the Future, Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. Kevin could have taken the easier path with a trilogy. Instead, he took a more difficult journey. His career would have ended if any of the movies fail.

Assemble a good team and trust them. Kevin did not do it alone. He assembled a group of talented and committed individuals. He works with talented directors such as Jon Favreau, Joss Whedon Russo brothers and much more.

There is no shortcut. DC tried to short cut the process by releasing Justice League ahead of their character’s solo film such as Aquaman. Moviegoers of Justice League were not given sufficient time to know the characters. The movie did well but not as well as Marvels.

Less known could be an advantage. Iron Man is the first movie in the series. Besides hardcore Marvel fans, not many know who is Iron Man. Audiences gladly accepted the Iron Man as portrayed. Similarly to Captain America or Thor, many may have heard of these characters, but not well understood. As for DC, well-known characters such as Superman or Batman could be a burden. A slight tweak or a different interpretation of these characters would have created an uproar by both fans and the audience. For Marvel, they do not have this burden.

There is no true and tried formula to success. Depending on the circumstances, the formula of success is different. Nevertheless, the main ingredients are still hard work, teamwork and tenacity.

The Infinity War Saga in Marvel Cinematic Universe has come a close. Besides entertainment, we should also take away something that we can learn from the movies. As for myself, when the going gets tough, I quote Captain America, “I can do this all day”.