All posts in “Personal Development for Real People”

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JUNKING FOR SANITY AND CLARITY: THE PURGING SESSION

Often, with inspiration and distractions, which lead to more inspiration and distraction, I find myself with a ton of new ideas written down on scratch paper, napkins, magazines, and digital apps on my phone. I also have pages of magazines with post-it’s, print-outs of pics, and massive amounts of images saved to my iPhone and on a folder on my desktop. Continue Reading…

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Cultivating Selective Ignorance from Others

The summer air in California at 10:30 at night is quite refreshing. When the stars are out it beckons you to dream. Nostalgia enters and I remember all the things I wanted to be when I was younger. All the thing I wanted to make, the things I wanted to do, the places I wanted to travel to.

Reaching up to the sky, palm facing outwards, fingers extended, about to take in a fistful of stars. You clench down on the Big Dipper, that big, bright star that your parents taught you about in the 3rd grade probably because it was also the only one they remembered. “The power is within grasp”, is what I was taught in my years when it was difficult to tie my own shoes.

“You can do anything you put your mind to.” That was THE mantra that echoed through my head during the years Bob Ross, Reading Rainbow, Sesame Street, and Secret City was all I watched. The good days when advice was broad and generally motivating.

“You have to go out there and do what people want.”

This was the unwarranted advice, spewing out of the mouth of a forty-something lady who owns and operates two sandwich shop franchises, about how to make it in the music industry. As we sit outside on her back patio of her seven bedroom estate overlooking a pretty, nicely-trimmed golf course, which is still horrible for putting if you want your ball to go straight, we debate over profits, fans, marketing, genre, sounds, merchandising and whatever else for three-plus hours.

Leave it to the rich to know everything about everything. It seems most wealthy people I’ve met seem to know the secret to everything in life, whether or not they’ve done it themselves. Maybe, it’s the huge pool that distracted me, or the two Benz’ in the driveway, with one Corolla, that distracted me from logic and pushed down what common-sense I had into the deepest depths of my psyche.

Status symbols fool you. They reek of bragging rights and arrogance and I’m not opposed to either one because god-willing, when I get rich, I WILL buy an Aston Martin DB9 with manual transmission and purposely stall in a 4-lane intersection exclaiming I can’t drive stick. Guy buys expensive car and can’t drive it… how obnoxious is that? He,he,he.

And the rich aren’t the only ones who know how to make it. The brokest of the broke will have master plans to being successful in any field. Fat people will give you dieting tips and those pesky network marketing folks will give you fifty principles of truth on financial freedom. Yes, I used to be one of those, and the first few months, you feel like you know everything there is to know about making money, then the long hours of nothingness start… and silence.

This all sounds like a phenomenon simply stated as the Bike-Shed Effect made famous by C. Northcote Parkinson. To sum it up goes like this:

Most people won’t have discussions about building an atomic reactor because of the complex nature of the thing, yet most will have something to say about building a bike-shed because they assume the complexity of building a bike-shed is smaller and will argue vastly on even what color the shed should be.

The simpler something seems, the more opinions there will be on it. This is where we need to learn to cut the noise. Cultivate a little ignorance.

THANKS, BUT NO THANKS

I’m sure everybody is an expert at something. I’m also sure everybody you meet will have a strong opinion on something you care very much about. I have this thing about receiving advice: If it doesn’t feel right to me, I’m not doing it. It’s that simple.

They’ll say things like you need to take a different direction, or you should use this protocol or rant off some clichéd saying like: the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. No offense, Einstein.

I’m assuming you’ve done your homework and already have a path you’re walking right now, so give them an acknowledging nod, maybe thank them, and then be off your merry way. I don’t allow anyone to knock me from my path, especially if it’s a path I’m currently traveling and haven’t had the experience yet to know what works or not.

Allow me to make my own mistakes. I feel like the teenager who just wants to go out there and discovery things on his own. The rebel.

I WILL take advice, if I’m actively searching for it, or if I’m asking, but if I’m set… nah, I’m good, but thank you.

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IMAGE: Wen Cheng Liu

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The Greatest Lesson Learned From Christopher Nolan And His Dark Knight

First off, let me take the time to offer my deepest sympathies to those of the Aurora community in Colorado. I am deeply saddened by this incident and was extremely pissed off about it at the time I found out which was roughly around 5:30 that morning. A thing like this should have never happened. As a human being it disgusts me. As a film maker it makes me feel like crap to know that my work will probably influence the minds of generations to come in positive AND negative directions.

I once heard someone say, “Find out where everyone else is going and go the other way, you have a better chance of success,” and for the life of me I cannot figure out who or where I heard this, but the message stuck with me.

It sounds pretty basic in its approach: if everyone else is doing the same thing, do something else. A simple recipe to a better chance of achieving. This is akin to a business’s USP (Unique Selling Proposition), or the mantra given to the introverts at your local high school to get them to stop playing World of Warcraft for at least a few hours and hopefully find a girlfriend.

Okay, so maybe I didn’t “learn” this lesson, but it’s reassuring to see it in action during the course of your life. This is definitely one of the main principles I live with today and probably always will be until dinosaurs come back for a sequel and make US extinct. It is within this delicious trilogy of comic-to-screen goodness that Christopher Nolan has proven this point.

When Nolan’s Batman Begins (The Intimidation Game as it appeared on the script to keep it secret) first got the green light by Warner Bros. to reboot the franchise, I was pretty excited. Then the images leaked of the new batsuit and I was like, “yummy… gimme more.” Then the images of the Tumbler got around and I was like,

“What the fuck is that?”

I, not alone, felt the movie was going to flop because why would Batman be traveling is this big-ass tank? Not exactly the shiny new toy I was hoping for. But then, as long as I never see bat-nipples ever again… thanks for that Mr. Schumacher.

There were some criticism about that first movie, like Christian Bale’s decision, though logical, to have Batman growl when he speaks, which I still have a problem with no matter how much it makes sense to me. The decision to put Michael Caine in Alfred’s shoes perplexed me a little bit but I ended up loving him in that role.

I slapped myself after watching. The Tumbler was effin’ awesome! In the end, Batman Begins blew me away.

Then there’s The Dark Knight.

My excitement of seeing the Joker again was sky high. Then I learned they cast Heath Ledger… and again,

“What the fuck is that?”

Coming off of Brokeback Mountain, I can’t say I was too excited about it anymore. I scoured the internet to justify that I wasn’t the only one having doubts. I prevailed. It just didn’t seem like an obvious choice, given his previous roles and characters.

I slapped myself silly that night after leaving the theater. Heath Ledger’s performance as The Joker was amazing to say the least (rest in peace good sir).

Now The Dark Knight Rises, I was fully invested to devouring every piece of this fine cinematic cuisine. There were definitely liberties taken on this film, and that was fine and dandy by me. Two movies I’ve already put my heart and soul in, my trust was with Nolan. And I wasn’t disappointed at all.

My biggest concern was with Anne Hathaway. Those concerns quickly diminished in the beginning of the first act. I LOVE ANNE HATHAWAY AS CATWOMAN! And not just because I think she’s hot.

In retrospect, what Christopher Nolan has reiterated (and now cemented in my psyche) is:

  • going a different direction (a grittier retelling of the storyline)
  • making decisions that seem questionable (Heath Ledger)

and all around doing things that not everyone would agree on has a better chance of a favorable outcome.

If I were to break it down in my own words:

If it sounds safe, go somewhere else.

In my opinion. There’s nothing wrong with a detour.

And now, a special review from my special lady, Catherine Reitman over at Revision3.com, I love her show. Enjoy.

QUESTION: WHAT DID YOU GUYS THINK OF CHRISTOPHER NOLAN’S BATMAN TRILOGY?

3 Reasons You Probably Suck At Achieving Goals

Aaaarg... Charlie Brown said that.

Well maybe not you in particular, but a good majority of those I know have a problem with achieving goals… it doesn’t happen.

Our goals always seem like good ideas when we first get into them, whether it’s getting in shape, finishing your doctorate, or finally completing Continue Reading…

Annoyances Of The ‘Just In Case’ Mentality

“Measure twice, cut once.”
“The right tool for the right job.”

These are sound advices. They make sense. They’re logical. I have no qualms about them. Although, it’s the underlying meaning that irks at me. Why do we measure twice when we already have the measurement? Is the right tool for the right job a law? Are there no other tools that can get the job done? I agree that some things call for specificity, such as the case with installing disc brakes to a new mountain bike with their indispensible star-tool (tightening in a star sequence as well). Yes, there’s a reason for that, but not everything that happens around us needs that kind of detail at all times. Continue Reading…

Nothing Wrong With Excess.

Annie has an obsession for Living Dead Dolls

My friend Annie has a slogan:

Live Excessively

She believes in this so much that she’s developing a branding company based on, what else, living excessively.

In most people’s minds, just the word excessive holds a somewhat negative connotation to it. It brings visions of out of control sociopaths, megalomaniacal CEO’s of fortune 500’s, Patrick Bateman brushing his teeth in perfect circles with four rotations per tooth.

I mean, who wants to live in excess? And excess of what? Money, power, fame, women (or men—I don’t judge). Okay, so maybe a lot of people do.

Continue Reading…

14 Unconventional Things To Do With Her On Valentine’s Day

Emily Anne Reed

This is Emily, she's my other "other" valentine.

Prologue
If you aren’t familiar with Emily (Look up, dummy!), you probably don’t watch TV. Hell, I don’t really watch TV. But I did find her by accident whilst taking a break from one of my many musical projects/experiments. Trolloping through the kitchen for my third cup of Nescafe, this sweet voice damn near exploded in my ear. Not because the television was on several decibels louder than normal, but because it’s a voice inspirationally unique among the herd of other (possibly, but not likely) amazing singers on a show, which I am not going to name because you all know what I’m referring to.  Brings back memories of  the day when I tried out for “Making The Band” a few years ago before Puffy took over that show and I threw up in my mouth.

Well that’s my tangent. On with the Show.

Now I don’t normally observe Valentine’s Day mainly because I see it as such an obligatory day for romance; which I may add, you shouldn’t have to wait for a day to tell you to be romantic (I could riff for hours about New Years but that’s a whole ‘nother post). But I figured, I do know something about romance so why not give you guys some things that I’ve done already. And yes I have done ALL of these.

So as my gift to you fellas who can’t think of anything better to do with your woman than dinner plus movies, or cards, stuffed bears, and chocolate… I give you my list of unconventional yet playful or flirty things to do on Valentine’s Day. Continue Reading…