Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Passion Party #280 - Instant Gratification

If B. F. Skinner had wanted to create a tool to test his behavioral theories on people, he would have invented the "smart phone".
Skinner, you may remember from psychology class, was the guy who believed that animals (and people) could be conditioned to perform a task over and over again if there was a strong enough reward.

The task with a smart phone, more often than not, is to push a button to check your email. The reward you get is a change of information on a screen that gives you a sense that you are connected to society, that you are wanted, that you are important.

So why not check your smart phone when you get in the elevator, despite having checked it, say, 45 seconds ago?

This human desire for instant gratification from a stimulus-response mechanism is not all that different from alcohol or cigarettes - it is an addiction, one that keeps us from being where we are.

Today when I get in the elevator, I will say hello to the people around me.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Passion Party #279 - Two Big Excuses

There have been two big excuses in my life that for years stopped me from pursuing my passions and desires:
1) I don't have enough time to do (fill in the blank)
2) I don't have enough money to do (fill in the blank).

It is just a mental exercise to say,
"If Time and Money were no longer excuses, how would you envision your life?" The problem with the question is that Time and Money are both limited commodities in every person's life.

So it becomes a matter of allocation and setting priorities.
We are each given the same 24 hours every day.
I need to become wise with time, just as much as I need to become wise with money.

Here's an addition to an old saying, which rings true:

Time is money,
Spend it wisely.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Passion Party #278 - Our Spontaneous Universe

New books written by Stephen Hawking

and cosmologist Lawrence Krauss

are turning much of what was once metaphysics into physics. The more we study the universe, the more we discover that it is a mysterious place filled not just with energy and matter, but with dark energy, dark matter and possible alternative universes, things that exist but our eyes cannot see.

One of my favorite parlor games is to guess how the universe will end. Albert Einstein explained that space is curved, and therefore our universe can exist in one of three geometries: open, closed or flat.

A closed universe whose energy density is dominated by matter will one day re-collapse (like a big rubber band that stretches until taut and then contracts into the opposite of the "big bang").
An open universe will continue to expand forever at a finite rate.
A flat universe is just at the boundary - slowing down but never quite stopping.

Krauss says that recent observations of the cosmic microwave background from the Big Bang have confirmed that we live in a flat universe. In addition, the discovery of dark energy, energy that actually fills the empty space of the universe, is leading cosmologists to believe that the sum of "positive" and "negative" energy in the universe is zero, once again supporting the "flat universe" concept. Could it actually be that our universe is "in balance" on a cosmic level?

The belief that our universe will not end with a bang, or a whimper; and that it perhaps began from spontaneous creation is not bad. To me it does not make the Earth any less miraculous.
It helps me put into perspective this little dot of a rock we live on
in this solar system
in this galaxy
in this universe.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Passion Party #277 - What Was Old Is New

As the school schedule kicks in
and new classes start up
the days shorten
to give me a sense of urgency
but it is just another season
we start once more
all over again
but in a different place and time
once again
what was old is new.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Passion Party #276 - Envisioning The Impossible

In 1974 Ed Catmull received his PhD in Computer Science.
He had this idea that computers could be used, not just to make images, but to make animation: moving images created completely on the computer screen that could recreate what was now being done by artists with ink on paper.
There was no software yet written to make this possible. There were no computers fast enough (or with enough memory) to create the images.
In 1979 George Lucas hired Ed Catmull and about a dozen other like-minded folks and created the Lucas Film Computer Division. One of their missions was to get computer animation to the point where it could be used for visual effects.
In 1980 Catmull had a brainstorming session with his team. The software they were using could handle images with 500,000 polygons (the element that all computer graphics consist of). They realized that would need to be able to generate 80 MILLION polygons to compete with the level of detail offered by film.
Instead of deciding this was impossible, they set this as an absurd goal - to get to the point where the computers were fast enough and the software powerful enough to handle this level of complexity.
Fast forward: In 1986 Catmull, John Lassiter and others formed Pixar, with $5,000,000 in funding from Steve Jobs. In 1991 Pixar signed a contract with Disney to produce "Toy Story". In 1995 Toy Story was released.
And it all came from an idea that Ed Catmull and a few like-minded people had, 20 years earlier, that was truly impossible at the time.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Passion Party #275 - Money, Part 15: Learn More to Earn More

As my job becomes a commodity
the only way to differentiate myself
is through knowledge
and communication skills.

Constant learning
never-ending improvement
These simple ideas combat
the faster-better-cheaper mentality
of the McDonalds of the world.
One size does not fit all
and you can't get fries with that.

This is why it is so important
to have a business coach,
to read or listen to a new book once a month,
to pick a new skill and learn it.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Passion Party #274 - Money, Part 14: Give More to Get More

When you lead with a giving hand, people are attracted to you.
When people are attracted to you, you have more opportunities for success.

There is that moment of fear and doubt,
when I feel like I am being used by people, or even used up.

But then I remember: The best way to be inspired
is to be an inspiration to others.
And if I really really really want to make more money
I need to give more to others.
When I am in that "flow of abundance"
the giving and getting
becomes both spiritually and financially rewarding.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Passion Party #273 - At-one-ment

Tonight is the night
I get to call friends and acquaintances and say,
"I am sorry if I hurt or offended you during the last year.
Please forgive me."

There is so much power in asking for forgiveness.
That must be why it is so hard to do.
And it brings me so much closer
to my higher self
and to you.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Passion Party #272 - Act As If

I spent many years working at companies with bad management.
Places where on any given day I would say to myself, "I can do a better job than THAT guy!"
Then one day I was hired to work at a new bank, and a week after being hired the manager who hired me quit.

This was in 1995, in the depths of the previous housing market "crash".
People were leaving the mortgage and real estate business in droves.
I had thought seriously of finding a new career.
Instead, at that moment, I thought "Here's my chance".
I always felt that I could manage an office better than anyone I had worked under, and I was being handed an opportunity.

I walked in the next day and I told the Operations Manager that I wanted to apply for the job of Sales Manager.
And that day I started to act as if I already had the job.
I remember the change that came over me,suddenly owning my job and taking responsibility.
A month later, after much negotiation, the job was mine.
But by then the shift had already taken place.
I acted as if
until reality connected with my belief.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Passion Party #271 - A Moving Experience

I am moving to a new office in my company today.
It is a "lateral move"
not really more space, but
a better location,newly refurbished -
new paint, new carpet, new furniture.

What it is doing, as I move across the hall,
is making me touch every file,
dust every surface.
I discovered a box of things that had become a table,
sitting under a stack of artwork and brochures
from when I moved into this space 19 months ago.
Here is a box of stuff I clearly don't need.

The business is changing so fast
and we carry so much excess baggage.
Today I get to
throw things away or put into storage
anything that remains untouched since 2009.
For this alone,
it is worth moving offices.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Passion Party #270 - A Simple Prayer

The Jewish prayerbook is filled with stories and prayers.
This year there is one simple prayer that jumped out at me.

Sometimes the simplest prayer is the most powerful:

This day remember us for well-being. Amen
This day bless us with your nearness. Amen
This day help us to live. Amen

Friday, September 10, 2010

Passion Party #269 - Words of Hope

From The Words of Hope (Divrei Tikvah)
Temple Isaiah, Los Angeles

On Rosh Hashanah it is written. On Yom Kippur it is sealed.
Who shall be pierced by envy
And who shall be torn by resentment
Who shall be tormented by the fire of ambition
And whose hopes shall be quenched by the waters of failure
Who shall hunger for approval
and Who shall be stuffed with selfishness
Who shall be poor in her own eyes
and Who shall be rich in good deeds
Who shall study Torah
and Who shall grind for grades
Who shall be open-minded
and Who shall be tight-fisted
Who shall be truly alive
and Who shall merely exist
Who shall burn with the fire of greed
and Who shall drown in the waters of despair
Whose tongue shall be a thrusting sword
And whose words shall make for peace
Who shall be plagued by fear of the world
and Who shall strangle for lack of friends
Who shall go forth in the quest for truth
and Who shall be locked in the prison of self
Who shall be serene in every storm
and Who shall be troubled by the passing breeze
Who shall be poor in the midst of possessions
and Who shall be rich, content with their lot.

But Rosh Hashanah has just begun...
We can annul the decrees
We can re-open the future
We can reclaim our lives
We can change the future by changing ourselves.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Passion Party #268 - Servant or Master

Given the choice, would you want to be servant or master?
"Master of the house"
"Master of your own destiny"
These are ideas
many people wish to achieve.

But as Bob Dylan said,
"Might be a rock'n' roll addict prancing on the stage
Might have money and drugs at your command, women in a cage
You may be a business man or some high degree thief
They may call you Doctor or they may call you Chief.

But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You're gonna have to serve somebody..."

My art is best when it is of service
My job is most successful when I am serving my client's needs.

Like washing the feet of your guru,
being the servant to the right master
can be the greatest gift.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Passion Party #267 - Inverse Paranoid

What if you spent every day,
instead of feeling like "the world is out to get me",
having the thought, "the world is out to help me"?
Instead of seeing every problem in the day as a negative
you saw it as a means to enrich, empower and advance what you could become?
W. Clement Stone was the ultimate inverse paranoid.
Instead of believing that the world was plotting to harm him,
he chose to believe the world was plotting to do him good.
Napoleon Hill also shared this belief:
"Every negative event contains within it
the seed of an equal or greater benefit".

I spent years "fumbling about".
It wasn't until many years later that,
looking back,
I could see that all those elements of my life
were preparing me for
what I have become.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Passion Party #266 - Labor Day

It's funny that we call this holiday Labor Day
and the only people that have to work are the people in retail, whose job is to sell us stuff we may or may not need.

I guess that is the American Way, to honor those that work for a living by giving them an extra day a year to shop.

I will celebrate today by sitting in my backyard,
enjoying the late summer roses and the cool air
thinking about the change of seasons and
the sense of new beginnings that arrive
every September.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Passion Party #265 - Immerse Yourself In What You Love

Some people say "I love my job"
But very few people, on their deathbed, say
"My one regret is that I didn't spend enough time at the office".

Why do you love you job?
What aspects attract you?
Where is the challenge? Where is the fulfillment?
Take a weekend
and immerse yourself in what you love
about what you do.

Whether it is helping people,
solving puzzles,
collecting, or dismantling, or hunting, or acting, or learning,
there is bound to be a place
where I can surround myself with like-minded people
doing what they love.