On timeless books and reading habits

Around a year ago I decided to read more books that would directly impact my life in some way; through insights, past and present, that have been thought of by people who have spent more time on it and are quite frankly, a lot smarter than me. They have been kind enough to put their ideas in words, for the world to read and absorb. I figured these books were the ones worth reading. Tools of Titans, by Tim Ferriss, has a list of books most gifted or received by world class performers. Spurred on by this and other lists, I ordered a whole bunch of them. They include ancient Chinese books on warfare and sci-fi classics from the 70s. It was a good way to get back into reading and the promise I made myself to simply read more. The books on personal development I read paved the way for an increased interest and active search for more knowledge, which I found in abundance in these new set of titles.

Where did the motivation go?

I did wonder how I got to the point where I had to motivate myself to read more, even though I knew I’d enjoy it. It’s strange how an interest in reading can change over time. I’ve asked a few people who I know are into books and most say that they always enjoyed reading but generally lost interest in high school or in uni when they were ‘forced’ to read stuff. I feel the same. I read a lot when I was a kid, starting with comic books (Calvin and Hobbes, yay!), Goosebumps and the Carry Slee children’s novels.  Then high school came along (and we got rid of dial-up internet) and I lost interest. I’d still occasionally read before bed but I rarely properly sat down with a book anymore. Especially when it came to school projects, you were handed a list of books to choose from (if you were lucky) and assigned to write a report on it. That just took all the fun out of it for me. While I couldn’t pick the books or projects, I did copy a way of making them bearable to write.

Being crafty

Findings ways to not to read them but to still write a kick-ass report became somewhat of an art. Oftentimes I put more effort into making stuff up for the report than actually taking the time to read the book and dissecting its lessons or takeaways. Like reading other people’s summaries and taking bits and pieces from several different ones. If I had been asked to write a book report on a book I actually liked or found interesting, rather than ‘a classic I was supposed to read because the generation before me had’, I’d have made the effort willingly. I’m not saying I was a saint in this, far from it. While I started out as an eager-to-learn student, I had a tendency to be incredibly lazy at times as well. Let’s just say it was a combination of the two. Nevertheless I think things could’ve been handled differently by both sides.

Little changes down the road

Things didn’t really change at uni, where I was supposed to read marketing and finance books of ~1000 pages and go through hundreds of pages a week. Ever hear that quality beats quantity? Well they obviously hadn’t. So I powered through a few books but quickly learned a different approach: reading bits and pieces and hoping I’d get through the exam OK. It’s not that I didn’t want to study it, but the sheer volume was too daunting. Present people with too many options and they fail to focus on the things that matter. Not everyone, mind, but I definitely fit into this category. I didn’t know how to handle it and simply managed with minimal effort and.. minimal results. (Not to say the newly discovered student lifestyle didn’t take up any of my time though)

Reading = invaluable 

I digress. The point I was trying to make is that the habit and pleasure of reading was lost along the way and I know I am not the only one. I think everyone should read, period. Types of books are personal, the ability to read and obtain information is universal and invaluable. I have found this out with the recent list, specifically the Tao te Ching by Lao Tzu, which is “The most widely translated work in world literature after the Bible. From the China of the fourth century BC.” With a description like that I just had to read it. More on that later. Happy reading!

Advertisements

The last video you have to watch in 2017

Catchy title right? (It’s not mine so imagine this (™) behind it) The title is actually from a Gary Vaynerchuk (GaryVee) video I saw recently. Gary is an entrepreneur, author, author and more. He can be pretty intense but he sure knows what he’s doing and is therefore, an interesting fella. He features on many ‘top people lists’ on topics of motivation, personal development and entrepreneurship. The more I read and see about him the more interesting he gets, and he has a nice way of putting some real truths out there too.  There’s little sugarcoating involved but as is true of many great names in this field, sometimes the ‘hard approach’ works, with verbal guns blazing.

Now this video is exactly that. A hard approach to the way people are handling their lives, goals and plans, and what Gary thinks of that. It’s been a few days since it was posted and they have since censored the swearing so younger audiences can watch it as well without being restricted by YouTube. Well done but I would prefer the uncensored version. Just gets the message across more properly.

It’s 11 minutes long, so take a seat or make sure you don’t have to switch trains or something halfway through. It’s worth the watch.

Take from it what you will. Obviously it won’t mean the same to everyone else, or you might not even like it at all. Side note: learn from that experience as well. Not liking something is fine, taking the time to consider why you don’t like a certain thing is better. Opinions are based on something, they have roots you might not know. Figuring these out can be just as interesting as something you do like. Accepting your own opinion is key.

Gary ends on an interesting note. He is basically saying he doesn’t want to be a motivational speaker or have people need him for that. He’d rather people do it on their, or use one or two sources (of his) to kick-start their own motivation and make it their own. “I genuinely want you to never watch me again.” he says.  I feel like I fit in the category of ‘people who constantly look for ways to motivate themselves without acting upon that drive’. Even motivated I tend to procrastinate which I then hope to combat with even more motivational nourishment. Yet I find myself putting things off anyway. It’s something I really should work on. I’ve taken some steps already to do just that and this video definitely helps a great deal.

So that is an example of what I got out of it (and much more). Again, to each their own. I just hope you can take something positive from the video. Perhaps an old or new year’s resolution or two 😉 Still two weeks left so make them count!

Have a good one and enjoy the holidays!

Sharing a Stallone success story

Sharing someone else’s story that is being told by yet another person seems a bit redundant. The story got to me however, and I wanted to do something with it, so here we are. Besides, stories are meant to be told and shared anyway.

It’s about the starting years of Sylvester Stallone’s career, specifically how he kick-started it himself. You can listen to the whole story, being told by Tony Robbins, here:

You can listen to it and/or read the following:

In the seventies Sly Stallone was trying to make a name for himself in the movie business but kept failing, with his facial features and slightly slurred speech not helping either. Yet, the man was driven by an idea, with a clear goal in mind. Continue reading

There and back again

Oh hi! I imagine every blog on the net will at some point have a post that starts with “So it’s been a while”, and so it has and will be again.

The past year (!) I’ve still been writing a lot, yet not so much on here. Someone gifted me a booklet which I’ve been filling with thoughts, experiences and ideas. It has proven very fruitful and useful, but they were stories for me, not for this blog. The process of it though, has led to me sitting here once more, squinting at my screen in the summer sun, writing an actual blog post. Continue reading

Guest blog: “Why I started Control & Motivate”

The following is a reblog from controlandmotivate.nl. In this post my good friend Louis talks about why he started his blog and business. (He even wrote most of it while on a plane from Budapest to Rotterdam). Here we go!

Why I started Control and Motivate

20160426_113210

I’m going home. As I return after two weeks in Budapest I would like to share my thoughts on my journey. The journey started at the end of 2015, when I realized that I wasn’t happy with my job. People told me that young people are too demanding (generation Y), that they quit jobs too quickly. “You should be lucky you have a job.” Something I can imagine after a financial crisis from 2008 until 2014 (I was studying economics at that time). As always I questioned things, just like such pieces of advice. Were they advising me or themselves? Does this say more about them or about me?

What was holding me back from doing what I wanted to do? Fear… fear of the unknown?
Continue reading

Power of the Peergroup

Last Saturday I attended the ‘Power of the Peergroup’ seminar in The Hague, Netherlands. It spanned the full day and featured six enthusiastic speakers, seven including the equally energetic host, who happens to be one of my closest friends :-).

The ’Power of the Peergroup’ (PotP) is a personal development group led by a handful of young fellas excited and ready to happily share their knowledge on what they have learned over the years. They all have different backgrounds and stories, what they have in common is that they all began a journey a few years ago. A journey to find themselves, to truly make something of their lives and to become better people. A valuable process for each of them and they are now working hard to show people their own potential and the possibilities.

I won’t tell you about the day in full detail, the sincerity and enthusiasm of their words would lose value in text. Nevertheless, I’d like to share some of the lessons. The first coming from one of the most naturally excited people I have ever met. He has three rules he lives by:

  1. Do exactly what you feel like doing.
  2. Be honest.
  3. Be relaxed.

“The world is your playground! Go out, do things and talk to everyone. As long as you stay within reason, these rules will take you places.”

He spoke for around 40 minutes, after which I – the whole atrium – felt an enormous buzz of excitement. You can tell the rules work for him, they describe him and his talk perfectly. An excellent way to start the day!

The day was filled with inspiring talks such as these. Topics were, among others:

  • Feeling more awesome about yourself.
  • Learning to talk more (to the opposite sex).
  • Masculine and Feminine energies
  • Finding what’s important to you.
  • What truths and values you hold dear and ways to find them.

I just want to land on the last one and put it in a bit more detail. The theory states that we are like an iceberg, with our surroundings and behaviour being the tip (above sea level, thus visible). This is what everyone knows and sees, the rest lies under water and is not yet visible. These are our skills, convictions, values, identity and mission. The point is: that part of us is so much bigger and more important than we realise, and through discovering them you will be more true to yourself and able to present this to others.

Obviously these theories and talks stem from somewhere. The speakers get their inspiration from own experiences and many different sources, an important of which is the book by David Deida, also featured in a previous post ‘the way of the superior –. Perhaps the most important source however, is the inspiration they give each other, pushing each other to new limits. This is the power of the peergroup. Wherever you get your inspiration from, know that sharing it with your peers and with people who are equally excited helps more than anything. Just think of anything you like, isn’t it more fun when you share that with someone else? A new movie, result of your favourite sports team or even a new crush. Now, personal development is a lot bigger than a mere hobby or interest, but the shared excitement is far greater.

“There is no bigger life hack in the history of the world from getting where you are today to where you want to be, than the people you choose to put in your corner” -Scott Dinsmore.

So many people, including the men from the PotP, have found out just how important it is to surround yourself with the right [passionate] people. To push you – and you them – towards greater heights, to accomplish things you thought were impossible or simply for tips and tricks of the trade. For instance, a friend of mine (the host) wanted to write a book on personal development but wasn’t sure how to do it and if it would work at all. He started working on the project together with a friend and now they’ve landed a book deal!

Surround yourself with passionate people that inspire you and reap the benefits. Just from going to this seminar (filled with passionate people), I’ve thought of new ways to deal with things in life. It has had a positive influence and brings positive change. Thanks guys!

Meet Henrik:

Meet Henrik Edberg from Sweden, his ‘Positivity Blog‘ is simple, inspiring and right up my alley. In many ways he beat me to the punch. Luckily, in the world of people sharing their positivity and excitement for personal development and happiness, there are no competitors.

Henrik writes “practical articles and newsletters each week about simplifying life, reducing stress, social skills, self-esteem and improving your happiness and awesomeness.” Sign up for his newsletter in order to receive the same updates I do. They’re generally short and concise. Sometimes one has a major impact, sometimes it’s just the little pick-me-up you need.

Today Henrik shared the following post: 21 small ways to make life simpler.

The reason I want to share it here is because I recognise a lot of the steps, from personal experience and reading/hearing about it elsewhere. Timothy Ferriss (from the New Rich) also recommends some of the steps in his work. For instance their take on emails and time management are similar in a lot of ways, and rightly so.

It’s a short read, so read it carefully, take in the information and use what you feel is useful to you. (and more)

As our mutual friend Seneca once said:

“Philosophy calls for simple living, not for doing penance, and the simple way of life need not be a crude one.”

The New Rich (NR)

A friend of mine bought me a book recently, called ‘A 4-Hour Work Week’ written by Timothy Ferris. If you don’t know Tim, he’s an American entrepreneur who reinvented his own way of living, and is now free, successful and happy, working just four hours a week.

I had never heard of the book before but I had seen some of his work, such as:

How to feel like the incredible Hulk
How to master any skill by deconstructing it
 How to triple your reading speed

In these videos he talks about how he taught himself things simply by taking a different approach, looking at the core values of the lessons and how to apply this to other experiences. For instance learning a new language, improving his swimming performances drastically and becoming National Kickboxing Champion in China.

After doing some research I mainly wondered how I had never really got to know his work up until now. It’s like finding hidden treasure!

What this man has done with his life is amazing and inspirational. Just as many aspire to be like him, he aspires to make people think along his lines and pursue their dreams in similar fashion. He fully believes that anyone can join the ‘New Rich’, if you are motivated enough and have a passion for what you do. In his book and his many talks he will tell you how to achieve this lifestyle for yourself.

If you feel like you’re stuck in your current lifestyle or you have too many negative routine things that you can’t wait to be rid of, even for just a week or so, then you are not yet free. This is just one of the many scenarios and whether this is the case or not for you, I highly recommend this book and his other work. It’ll change the way you think.

You can buy the book here (opens in new tab) The 4-Hour Work Week

Take the hits

On Monday morning I woke up at 7.30, a decent time you might say, yet it was 2.5 hours past my alarm. I had an important job interview at 7 in the morning, located an hour drive away. The early hour of the meeting was set up as a sort of test, which they apparently they do to all new potential recruits. I wasn’t too bothered, I can get up early easily when I have to. I prepared well and set my alarm well on time, but alas, life had a different plan.

How I managed to wake up that late, I’m still not sure. What I do know, is that I was bummed out all day. After talking to the person handling the meeting, and asking to reschedule, I was told it was very unlikely I’d get to try again. Fair play, that was the test wasn’t it? Continue reading