Know when to cut your losses

Successful managers decide slowly but decisively – they keep persisting with their decision but know when to cut their losses and then change direction rapidly.

Note this is another of those old posts from 1999. My hard disk did not crash two days ago. In reality I would be even less prepared. I have many more computers and plenty of backup devices, but that has made me even less prepared. If I have trouble with my hosting company and I lose this blog I have no backup at all.

I better back up this blog today.

Now for the old post and then a comment:

Those of you who visit us frequently know that a couple of days ago the hard disk, on the computer which I use to write these pieces, crashed. I spent a few hours yesterday attempting to recover as much data as possible. The point came today that it was time to calculate how much more effort I could expend on this project of saving the data…..

I don’t know about you. The way I used to act is that I would become obsessed with the project and then I would forget about writing this piece. I would have a good excuse since I would be recovering the data and programs needed to write these articles.

This is the equivalent of throwing good money after bad. I know in my time I have been conned many a time by people who get you involved just a tiny bit in something and then you become ashamed to admit to yourself that you had made a mistake so you continue getting in deeper and deeper. This gets you into a vicious cycle of lowering your self-esteem, which in turn makes you less capable of taking proactive actions and stopping the hemorrhage.

The best way to stop this vicious cycle is to – STOP – PAUSE – take a deep breath and RECONSIDER. Once you can examine the situation from a different perspective, understanding that the past is unchangeable, you may change directions and move forward in a proactive way. This starts to boost your self-esteem and now you get into a positive cycle…

At the time I had written the above twelve years ago, I may not have studied Chialdini’s seminal work on persuasion. As U was rereading the post I noticed the persuasion technique of getting a small yes and slowly getting bigger and bigger yeses.

Teach whatever you need to learn

We are all public communicators. Most communicate through speaking. Some like Stephen Hawking have to speak with aid of a computer or other form of sign system. The one thing that distinguishes human beings from other animals os that we learn from others and teach others and our total information pool increases from one generation to the next.

Here’s an old post about learning through teaching.

The best way of learning something is to teach it. Since I started writing these series not only my self-esteem has gone up my life has become easier. My health has improved and I have managed to improve my life in many different ways. What I have discovered is that these methods do work if you work at them. They are easy, simple and mostly cost nothing or very little.

Anyway if there is anything you learn and you wish to learn really well, teach it to someone else. Another thing you can do is to volunteer to give a lecture at a club or organization about a subject you would like to know a lot.

Once you commit yourself to give a lecture, seminar, talk gather your information –  use the library, Internet, friends, mentors, and such to learn as much as possible about the subject.  Take notes.

Now comes the time to organize your thought. I use 3X5 inch index cards and put a keyword or phrase on each card signifying a major thought or idea. Then I spread the index cards and draw relationships between the different ideas until I can get the structure and the order of the lecture.

No doubt you may develop your own method. The real point is to do it. To teach someone else. It may be a single person, a few or a whole group. Go ahead teach others in order to learn and boost your self-esteem.

As I edited the above I remembered that most Americans have a fear of speaking in front of a crowd, where a crowd is anywhere from three to three thousand. Some of us on the other hand love to speak before many and give seminars and lectures. I’m one of the latter.

I’l write about something you can do to let ago of fear of public speaking later post.

Continue on in spite of adversity

The following is a post from 1999. I do not remember what the project was. The point is that persistence is one of the most important indicators of success – as Woody Allen says, “Success is 90 percent showing up.”

Talking about persistence it is important to set yourself up for success. I mentioned earlier that I would have a goal of moving all the old posts to the blog in one year rather than on every day.

This in fact means about two a day but allows the flexibility to plan. In fact yesterday I had other projects and did not post anything on this blog. If my goal had been one every day, I would have failed and then slowly would have given up.  So it is important to set up your goals in a way which makes achieving them easier.

No for the old post:

I was going to write about this issue today. Recently a project I was involved in was delayed by no fault of mine. Moreover I was assigned most of the blame even though I was not even involved in the part of the project which was problematic. I had to calm myself (by use of affirmations and removing myself from the room for a couple minutes)and then I could chose to complete the project as best as possible. The issue was to forget about spreading blame but getting the job done.

The Chinese have a saying, “Whatever does not kill me, makes me stronger….”
Another saying which relates is, “The hotter the water the stronger and better the tea….”
Anyway I did not know whether to write this for today or another piece….

I arrived home and discovered that the hard disk of the computer I use to write is dead. I have some little hope I may be able to recover the data. We will see… My first reaction was to say, “Who cares. I gave it a good shot. I managed to get ninety odd days out and it was a wonderful experiment, but it’s time to quit….”

To be honest with you I was already pretty dejected by the fact that very few people visit us – please please if you are reading this recommend us to your friends – and that’s why I had chosen today’s topic. Now with the computer down I had my perfect excuse….

Anyway the point is to feel bad, sad, and fed up if needs be….
Accept these feelings and then continue.
I am borrowing a friend’s computer and for the next few days while I am setting my system up these pieces might end up being early or late. I’ll do my best to write a few and put them up ahead of time if possible….

So bear with us.

We’ll continue no matter how we feel and what happens.

Use waiting time for saying your affirmations

Part of the Hippocratic oath that each physician has to say before becoming a doctor is, “First do no harm.”

Some people swear blind on the positive effect of affirmations. I use them a huge amount.  I know that when repeating a short positive phrase I’ll not be able to keep my mind on any negative thoughts. So they definitely can do no harm.

So here is the old post from 1999:

I had to go the bank today and there was a long line. I was about to become frustrated and feel sorry for myself. At times like this there is a moment of decision. You can chose not to feel angry or frustrated. Once this moment has passed you are under the control of your emotions and it is difficult to change negative emotions to positive ones.

Anyway I started repeating one of my favorite affirmations and immediately I calmed down and the wait actually became fun. Soon instead of being impatient I was actually looking forward to the line lasting as long as was necessary….

I was using this affirmation today:
“I thank God the giver for God The gift.”

When I use the above affirmation the whole world becomes beautiful and loving….

Here are some  affirmations you may use.

Every day in every way, I’m getting better and better

The Christ in me forgives the Christ in you.

The universe is abundant. Therefore I naturally feel abundant. All my needs are met.

I approve of myself.

Today I take full control of my life.

I expect the best from people and I receive the best from all people

Here are some other posts with affirmations:

Do the right thing

This is a true story. A friend of ours who is a published author recently wrote a book proposal and sent it to her agent.

The agent who liked the work presented it to her publisher. The publisher loved the idea. They were very interested in the work, they wanted to publish it.

They just had a minor suggestion. If the author was ready to accept this tiny change, they would send her the advance check with promise of future royalties.

Our friend did the right thing. She told the publishers to get lost.

What was this minor adjustment? What was this thing she refused to do even though she is a very flexible person?

The publishing company told her agent that the author was too old and past it, even though she has a Ph.D. and has published six books. They wanted her to publish the book under the authorship of an attractive 23 year old female.

Our friend did the right thing and in the short term she is suffering.

However, deep down she knows what she did. She understands that she can respect her decision and action.

Please join us and send your love, blessing and great respect to this genuine lady.
In my opinion this is a real American hero.

Thank you for your great example.

That was 1999, I suppose today with the current economic situation things may have been different. Even so, there are still people who do the right thing.

Related Blogs

  • Related Blogs on Do the right thing

Follow your bliss

I wrote the following 1999:

Joseph Campbell used to say follow your bliss.

In a study of the Harvard 1953 graduating class 97 percent of the students chose their careers based on earning as much money as possible. The other 3 percent chose their occupations because they loved the jobs in question. In a follow up twenty years later it was discovered that the 3 percent who chose their profession for the love of it, who followed their bliss, were worth more than the other 97 percent combined.

An old wizened alley cat saw this kitten chasing his own tail. The old cat, let’s call him Fred, asked the kitten,”Why are you chasing your tail?” The kitten replied, “I went to the kitten philosophy school andthey told me that ultimate happiness lies in one’s tail. So I am going to bite my own tail and then I’ll have ultimate happiness for ever.” Fred replied, “I have never been to a philosophy school. But I too have discovered that happiness lies in a cat’s tail. I have discovered that if I do what I like, if I do my own thing, if I follow my bliss, my tail just follows me no matter where I go.”

2011: Soon after I had written the above post I got an email from an artist who was struggling financially asking how following his bliss would work out form him. And that was 1999. In today’s world, many are struggling no matter what. Very educated people have lost their jobs without much hope of ever being employed again.

Given how materialistic our country has become and the huge gap between the middle classes and the super rich, I don’t know how following your bliss helps, unless we just drop out and that becomes our bliss.

I suppose deep down following your bliss must be its own reward. But then I know a seventy year old lady living in a cold leaky trailer.

So all I can say about following your own bliss is:

“I don’t know!”

You are not the target

I wrote this around 1999 and the sentiment is still true:

I was cleaning the pool and ended up making a loud noise near Fred (the mangy cat). Now all I was doing was cleaning the pool and I had absolutely no intention of harming Fred. However, that’s not the way he saw things.

Fred has obviously been much abused by humans, other cats and other animals. So Fred runs away and however much I explain to him that I was not angry at him, he was afraid and would not return anywhere near me until the next morning.

Now, we are much more intelligent than cats and we always understand what’s going on..
Or are we?

So many times we think people are angry at us when in fact they have their own problems. Or we are in the freeway when some kind person cuts in, in front of us and we get mad.. Our fragile egos get hurt.

We take it personally when in fact we are not the target. The driver in question would have done that to anyone..

You are not the target..,

Just understand this fact that you are not the target and your self-esteem will increase to no end.
The other day a colleague came into my cubicle red faced. He was mad as hell and asked me to walk out to the parking lot where he could vent without being overheard.

When we went out he told me about an incident with a coworker which had really bothered him. I listened for a while and then slowly started explaining how he was not the target. He was not convinced easily. I continued explaining how the event in question could be interpreted in a different way and how the person who had made him angry would have treated anyone else the same way.

When he had calmed down a little I told my friend this story by the great Turkish satirist Aziz Nasim (my paraphrase):
“Why the cat was seen running out of the kitchen mewing his head off?”

The morning started fine in the ministry. The Minister was happy and started flirting with his secretary/mistress. The mistress was in a bad mood since the minister had spent too much time with his wife. So she would not flirt back and rushed out of the office pouting.
The minister was now angry and called in the Deputy Minister and told him off for the state of affairs in such and such province.
The Deputy Minister who was totally blameless for the state of affairs in the province, called in the head of the department and made an excuse to tell him off.
This poor guy called in his lieutenant and told him off with no real reason and so it went on.
Near the end of the day the superintendent of the building was told off and he called in the janitor who was the bottom of the totem pole in this ministry.
The janitor rushed home full of rage having got a good talking to for no reason at all. As soon as he arrived home he took his anger on his wife who took the broom and started screaming and chasing the cat out of the kitchen.”

By the time I told this story to my friend he was calmed down and he agreed that he was not in fact the target.

So keep your head high. Enjoy your self-esteem. Enjoy life. Have fun.

You are not..
The Target.

P.S. Since I wrote this about two years ago, Fredie (his proper name rather than Fred the original name I gave him) has adopted us and lives with us with our other companion cats – if anyone imagines that they can own a cat they are fooling themselves. He is so handsome and loving. He is such a blessing, but at times he still thinks he is the target.

January 6th, 2011: Freddie is long gone. There’s another outdoor cat we feed. He has been so traumatized that he will not allow us get anywhere near him. He does come to the door and meows his head off and demands food. Then he runs away. I bring him food and walk away. Then he comes by carefully and eats.

At least he asks for food. How often do we even refuse to ask? How often we imagine we are the target. The sad or happy reality is that we are all extras in the dramas of each others lives. If someone is rude or cuts you off in the freeway do not take it personally. It is his problem. Bless, forgive and let go.

Accept your teachers, wherever you find them

There are lessons in life all over the place – it is a question of noticing and learning – being teachable:

There is an idea among ancient philosophical schools which may be paraphrased as, “Each of us is a teacher to all others and we each are the students of all others.”

In Iran we have a saying: They asked Loghman (Logoman the wisest, most courteous logical person) “from whom did you learn you manners?” He replied, “From the ill mannered.”

Thus we may even learn from the unlearned. Yesterday, Fred (the ugly cat) taught me a wonderful lesson that I’ll write about tomorrow.

For now I want to tell you something about my teacher, Fred. Fred has 12 front toes and limps when he walks. As I have written he is shunned by the other cats and it is obvious that no one used to feed him until he adopted us. Tomorrow’s piece will be about the lesson Fred taught me. It is called, “You are not the target.”

For now consider that there is a lesson in every event. When something moves you (in whichever direction) ask yourself, “What is the learning in this event? What can I learn today which will make the rest of my life better?” The brain being a question answering computer will come up with an appropriate answer and your self-esteem will increase..

Postscript about Freddie, that’s what Fred is called now that he has adopted us and lives with us: Freddie has such a wonderful personality that he looks very good to us. He is no longer ugly but quite beautiful. The same is true about humans. When someone has a great personality, she looks good.

2011, 01,06: I remember a friend of my parents who was extremely plain – and that’s being very kind. However, she had such an angelic soul abd kind personality that she had charisma and as soon as one met her one would appreciate her and see her as a beautiful person.

On the other hand I have seen people who look great from the distance but look plain – dare I say ugly – when one gets to know them.

Celebrate a pagan holiday

Obviously the following post was written for May 1, 1999 or 2000. As I think about it our holidays especially Christmas are so commercialized that they end up being as much a chore and source of sorrow and depression as they are source of laughter and joy.

So returning to a simpler past and just celebrating without eating a ton and a half and drinking a barrel and a half may be a wonderful relief from the modern orgy of consumerism.

The pagan holidays are older than most and are typically seasonal. Most of these have been co-opted by the modern world and renamed. Thus the midwinter celebration of Saturnalia or Sol Invictus is today called Christmas.

We do not really know when Jesus was born and this date (in fact it used to be December 21) has been celebrated as the rebirth of the sun (the days start getting longer) since time immemorial. Thus this date (December 25)is as good as any other to celebrate and today it has become Jesus’ birthday.

The spring festivals we celebrate as Passover and Easter. The autumn harvest festivals have become thanksgiving day.

Mayday is parts of rites of spring. The people would take the day off and go to the country side and dance and rejoice praying for fertility of their fields, cattle, and even themselves.

In a village near Oxford in England I once heard of a village myth that stated that if an infertile couple looked over a certain brook, where watercress grew, on Mayday, they would be with child before the next Spring. It is interesting to note that watercress is a wonderful source of vitamin E, which is prescribed in certain forms of infertility.

So maybe the ancient Druid sages knew a lot which has been lost. Anyway celebrating Mayday can only make you feel good about yourself and your relationship to nature and Mother Earth.

Since this is not a public holiday yet just do whatever it takes to celebrate life today. Jump for joy. Say happy Mayday to someone. They may think you are weird but that too is fun.

Also since Mayday has been celebrated as the day of workers, today do think about all workers around the world. Maybe today is the day to be aware that slavery (indentured labor) still exists in many parts of the world including the sweatshops of US cities like Los Angeles….

Accept what is

Accept whatever is. You cannot do otherwise. You can only imagine that you are resisting what is.

This comes from one of my mentors Dick Sutprhen. He quotes the Buddha when he says that all human problems arise from not accepting whatever is. As the serenity Prayer says, “Lord, grant me the courage to change what I can change, accept what I cannot and the wisdom to tell the difference….”

Even things which may be changed can be changed faster and easier when we first accept what is and then begin to change them.

Today everything started off fine. I left the house early enough. I fed the cats. All was fine. I was on time for my appointment. Then there was the sign on the freeway telling me that there was a jam ahead. As I slowed down, my first reaction was to become anxious and angry. Then I remembered the principle of accepting whatever is and I calmed down and started appreciating the beauty of the trees near the freeway.

We were stuck in the traffic for a while and then we arrived at the site of the accident….
It was obvious that the accident was fatal…. Again it was a moment of accepting whatever is…. As I blessed the poor dead person I thought about the ephemerality and the preciousness of life….

So accept whatever is and boost your self-esteem.

Postscript: This one thing (accepting whatever is) is perhaps the most important thing you can do for yourself to improve your self-esteem and have a healthy attitude to life. Accepting what is does not mean passively allowing your future to be determined by others but is the guttural deep understanding that the past is truly past and cannot be changed.

Through acceptance of the past you free yourself from guilt and allow yourself to actively take action to improve your future. You stop wasting energy over the past events and you can accumulate that life energy (libido, Chi, prana…). Now you can achieve more of your God-given potential which even not infinite is much larger than any of us dare imagine.

If you cannot accept whatever is, start with accepting the fact that you are not accepting whatever is. This starts a cycle of acceptance and slowly you will discover that you can accept everything.

I cannot emphasize enough the danger of “New Age guilt.” Here ideas which are supposed to improve your life (such as accepting whatever is) become shackles which hold you back. If you cannot accept whatever is, be kind to yourself and hold it as a potential goal for the future – as something which would be fun to have but never as an absolute must….

The above is an old post. I would like to add that just about everything you do is what you want to do. Everything is a choice. Actually there are some physiological things that we must do. As far as I know it is impossible to hold your breath until you die. But things like paying taxes are totally voluntary.

And please do not imagine that I’m saying that you will not go to jail if you do not pay your taxes, or taxes are unconstitutional. I’m saying you have the choice to pay your taxes or accept the consequences of not paying them. The choice is yours and so you may as well accept whatever you do and do it lovingly with a peaceful heart.