Indiana Jones: The Submissive – Part I

**Wrote this last year when I was India.  Enjoy.  (Indy rarely submits…)**

Without a lesson from my friend’s teammate in Leipzig, my journey in India may have been filled with more stress and anxiety.  Rather than resist,

Allow it.

This small phrase has stuck with me during my time in Goa and Andhra Pradesh.  From lizards scurrying across the walls stopping for a moment to detect any potential threats, to watching Aunt prepare purri pastries with corn flour and deep fry them in refined sunflower seed oil marketed as being high in Vitamin A, D and E.  (According to current contemporary research, seed oils are highly unstable and contain high levels of inflammation-causing omega-6 fatty acids.)  Surely at home I would be extremely tempted to prevent nature from invading the domicile and to use different ingredients to cook with.  But I was kindly welcomed into their home.  Beautiful experiences can open up to you when you cease to resist… when you allow it.  Man, were the purri delicious.

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I’m On A Plane! – Friend’s first time

Eating with only my right hand for the past two weeks has been one of the many customs I have welcomed in my life here.  Quit playing with your food has no meaning here.  Indians ‘play’ with it to thoroughly mix it.  “Do people eat with their left hand?” I once asked.  No only the right was the only response given even when I asked why.  Later in Friend’s Father’s home village of Tuni, I would devise a theory as to why only the right hand.  Rice with curry.  Rice with spicy, red mango pickles aged for a year in a clay pot.  Rice with dhal (lentils).  Rice with sambal.  Curd rice made with homemade yogurt from fresh cow’s ‘milk’ (a few nights ago several stray cows on the streets of Eluru were eating newspaper for lack of food.  According to my friend, they were reatin’ the newspaper).  So much rice.  So little protein and vegetables.  Every cell in my body has enough glycogen stores to provide for itself and all of its neighbors.  

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The reatin’ cows of New Delhi
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Plenty of rice with my Indian family =]

‘Cause we still hungry and when we hungry, we eat. – Julius Hodge 

It’s a simple concept.  But at every single meal there’s been at least a minor tantrum of not wanting to eat.  Not hungry.  Ego’s would fire at each other back and forth, the volume of the conversation rising as would the volume of rice in our bellies.  It didn’t help that the decibel level of the music videos emanating from the TV was something to compete over.  Why did these daily I-don’t-want-to-eat tantrums occur?  Is it because the body is tired of eating rice?  Is the body craving something else to eat?  Is it because we are still full (of rice) from the last meal?  Soon, challu (enough), conchung, (just a little bit) and amo (oh man, I can’t take another bite) became part of my Telugu vocabulary, and I was echoing the cries of my brother and sisters.  A full belly put’s a mother’s mind at ease, but there’s a difference between a belly that’s always full of rice and a belly that is full of a variety of foods.  There comes a point where the body craves other nutrients from sources besides rice.

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3 meals on the concrete floor.  After finishing the meal, you rinse your hand over your plate.

A moment that challenged my expectations was when my friend’s mother, or Ama, proceeded to hand-feed me the top layer of the curd, the best of a batch.  How clean are her hands?  Will I get sick?  Bottled water is the standard for any foreigner traveling inIndia, but while Ama poured tap water into the curd rice mixture I could only wonder if the toilet was going to be my best friend following the meal.  Thankfully, my best friends remained the ones I made in college.

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First meal from Ama in the heat-rash heat of Tadepalligudem

The pollution here in India is scary.  Air, water, ground, noise pollution – you name it, India has it.  I probably drank over 40+ water bottles within my first 3 weeks in India and I wonder if a single one will ever make it to a recycling facility.  It’s OK, leave it on the ground was Friend’s perpetual plea any time I would leave the house with empty water bottles in hand.  My conscience got sick every time I experienced the Indian culture of discarding rubbish to the way side.  A common place for the rubbish is the small moat that flows in front of each house.  Food scraps, wrappers, human urine, animal fecal matter make the water a murky grey.  Any rat would be dumb to tempt itself in crossing the moat and beyond the threshold of someone’s house.  (One day while removing items from a closet space to retrieve an iron, a mouse scurried into another dark room as Friend displaced a large container.  The animals are resourceful.)  Eating with my hand became mundane, but at the train station in Tuni, Aunt doled out curd with semia, a small noodle made of wheat about 1/4 inch in length, onto glossy advertising sections from the local paper.  By the time I was through eating my share, the liquid had seeped through the paper onto my hand.

Like the cows in the street, I was doing my share of reatin.’

No helmets – an idea Indy had to submit to

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Uncle or ‘Nagbabu’, Ammapalem’s Chief Badass
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Kallu – fermented drink made from sugar palm fruit.  Think diluted Sprite-flavored Kombucha to cool the body
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What eating too much sugar palm fruit with your friends looks like

Day by day the pollution extends to the bodies in India.  The filthy water of the dykes that flow throughout the streets will, in some way, find its way into the people.  What’s astonishing though is the vegetation that flourishes on the water’s surface.  Despite the scum and residue of human life that can be skimmed from the water’s surface, the lilies – akin to the one’s that used to flourish in Aunt’s koi pond back in California – thrive giving breeding ground for frogs and salamanders.

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Canal in Mumbai

I wonder what they and the fish that lurk beneath look like.  Do they have three eyes?  Six legs?  What would happen to me if I jumped into the water?  Riding on the back of Uncle’s motorcycle on the dirt roads of Ammapalem Village, we passed a man bathing a herd of water buffalos waist deep in a teenage-mutant-ninja-turtle, fluorescent green lake.  He and the water buffaloes seemed to be content with the habitat.

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Bathtub for the water buffaloes, sprouts for the giants in Ammapalem Village

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Fast: What Do You Have To Lose?

  • Fat
  • Food comas and lethargy
  • Food porn (pictures of food – eat the food while it’s hot, do the food justice by taking the picture after the meal.)
Kaohsiung Food 1
Guo Jia Zongzi, Kaohsiung – pork sticky rice with egg, peanut sticky rice, pork intestine soup, pork feet soup, savory rice pudding
Kaohsiung Food 2
King’s Uen-Jou Wonton, Kaohsiung – beef and wonton noodle, wonton noodle with shredded pork, fried pork cutlet, pickled cucumber, pickled seaweed, sautéd vegetable, pickled vegetable
Kaohsiung Food 3
Jin Cheng Duck, Kaohsiung – Duck with mung bean noodle in thick broth, duck with rice, duck organ soup, duck liver and duck heart, fish ball soup, duck wing, duck blood with rice, sautéd cabbage, sautéd sweet potato leaves

What do you have to gain?

  • Time spent cooking, cleaning, planning, eating and commuting (foraging for food)
  • Mental clarity
  • Productivity
  • Money
  • Longevity

The human body was designed to starve.  Unfortunately, the rat race keeps us tethered to our breakfast cafes, lunch food trucks and dinner restaurants.  How many places would go out of business if people realized their over consumption is limiting their productivity?  Why is society so growth-centric?

Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.  – Edward Abbey

The main source of energy for cancer cells is glucose (sugar).  Positron Emission Tomography scans are used to detect cancer: where there’s a huge uptake of glucose (sugar) there’s cancer.

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/PET-scan/Pages/Introduction.aspx

Vinny Tortorich asked his doctor what was the one thing he could do to prevent cancer:  Stop eating sugar.  

Minute 25:30

Push your limits – become limitless – by limiting your consumption.

In 2010 I fasted for Ramadan with my Lebanese roommate.  I got some backlash from my family – “You’re not Muslim!”  Hands down, one of the best experiences of my life.  Not eating between sunrise and sunset gave me a new perspective on how people structure their life.  I learned we don’t need to eat as often as we eat.  I was more productive at work.

3 meals a day brings the doctor my way.    

Don’t listen to me.  Don’t walk with me down the road – I’m just here to show you there’s a different path.  Do your homework.  Do your research.  Experiment.

But don’t fast and abstain from the things that matter to you. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/dec/22/why-time-management-is-ruining-our-lives

Stay hungry, stay foolish. – Steve Jobs

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Driven

High School – 2004

I lost many friends during the transition from middle school to high school; they turned to alcohol and who knows what else.  High school was a rather lonely time, especially after being quite popular in middle school.  To compensate for my solitude, I spent a lot of time playing computer games.  One could say it was my social outlet.  Counter-Strike, Starcraft and Warcraft 3.  I played so much, I used to skip school to play more.  On days that I did go to school, I would go home for lunch and while the panini sandwich was cooking on the George Foreman (and later the Krups), I’d snag a few frags in a few rounds of CS.  Maybe this was how I developed my dexterity and eye-hand coordination for the mouse surgery I would do 6 years later as a lab technician at Temple University.  Maybe if I hadn’t had this outlet, I wouldn’t have made it to one of the top liberal arts colleges in the nation.

I was a junior in high school when I played far too late into the night one particular Friday.  The next morning I had a soccer game.  Soccer was my other outlet that was a huge driving force in my life.

I’m on the freeway in the middle lane driving myself to the soccer game in Mom’s navy blue Crown Victoria.  If the windows had been tinted, I would have looked like a police officer.  I sure didn’t drive like one that day.

My eyes are heavy with hours of Counter-Strike the night before as I struggle to stay awake.  Alternating between rolling the windows down and blasting the air condition are two techniques I employ to attempt to free myself from the straps of fatigue.  I turn up the music hoping this would keep me from drifting off to sleep.  I learn the hard way that sleep is really important.

I fall asleep at the wheel.  Luckily my foot eases off the gas pedal rather than adds more pressure.  I drift from the middle lane to the fast lane on my left and then over the lane line onto the shoulder.  Just before hitting the median, I wake up without my cat-like reflexes that made me stellar as a Counter-Strike player.  With my hands still on the wheel, Mom’s hand-me-down Crown Victoria bounces off the metal barricade of the freeway median – talk about being brought back to my senses.

I look in the rear view mirror behind me and there are 4 – 5 cars about 30 feet behind me.  They probably noticed me drifting on the road and decided to hang back rather than try to pass me.

Thankfully I don’t hit anyone.  I keep driving to the game as if nothing had happened.  I roll down the window to see and feel the damage I had caused to my Mom’s car.  The adrenaline was flowing.  I curse myself and ask myself, why? why? why?

I get to the game and play the whole soccer game.  It turns out to be one of my worst performances – probably due to the fact that I had no more adrenaline left after the car accident.  After the game, I show my teammate what had happened.

“Dude, you’re in deep shit man.”

Car: totaled.

Lesson: sleep.

Houston – 2014

I’m on the freeway headed home with a crate full of organic fruits and vegetables.  I just finished picking up groceries at Kristina’s Fully Raw organic produce farmer’s market co-op.  Houston is only a year old to me.  I had spent much of that year not driving because I didn’t have a car until Mom and Step-Dad gave me their old Honda CR-V.

Not being too familiar with the network of freeways would be a minor reason why my life would change on February 8.

I chose to take the left fork and as I ascend towards the sky, I look over my right shoulder only to realize I should have taken the right fork.  I drove 1 second too long with my eyes off the road.

When I returned to facing forward the wheels on the left side of the car were already over the line and grinding the gravel and salt that had been strewn onto the freeway because of the wintry-like weather from January.

I slammed on the breaks which only made me lose control of the car.

This is when slow-motion kicks in and I see everything as if I were watching a sloth race a tortoise.  (Who would win?)

The car fish-tailed and I began to slide as if the direction of my car were perpendicular with the direction of the road.  I released the break only to slam into the concrete barrier with the front of my car.  The tiny fragments of shattered windshield fly towards my face as the airbag deploys into my chest.  The cat-like reflexes were there this time to close my eyes just before the glass bounced off my skin.

The car barrel rolled onto its right side and continued for one more turn and stopped rotating when the hood of the car came into contact with the road.  The car slid to a halt.  I was hanging from my seatbelt.  I took a second to assess my body; everything felt fine.  I undid my seat belt without thinking twice only to slam my head and shoulder into the roof of the car.

I climbed out of the driver side window that had shattered in the mayhem as well.  I stood up to reassess my body – no damage.  I’m totally calm.

A guy pulled up in his car and told me he saw the whole thing happen from behind.  He’s shocked at how peaceful I am.

Just like in high school, I didn’t hit anyone.  Just me and the road.

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It was like being inside a Transformer except instead of turning into a crime-stopping action-figure, the automobile crumbled before my eyes.
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Organic cabbage, strawberries and sprouts wasted – look closely and you can see the cabbage

Kind of a miracle if you think about it – how the car didn’t go over the barrier and plummet down the several stories onto the traffic below.

I had work at Whole Foods later that day.  After being towed home, I sat down on the carpet floor of my apartment to finish soaking in what had just happened.

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The only scratch on my body from the accident – or did I even have it before?

I ran to work later that day.  Had to keep life moving forward.

Car: totaled.

Lesson: face forward.


Mom taught me one of the greatest lessons after my first accident in high school.  She made sure I got back on the road as soon as possible and that I didn’t let one accident traumatize me.

“Here, you’re driving.”

“Huh?”

“What are you going to do, not drive anymore for the rest of your life?”

I took the keys and I drove her to do her errands.

… Years after the high school accident it was difficult for me to sleep in any car as a passenger…


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Sitting on the patio of Whole Foods – Kirby on my off day, April 10, 2014

A sign that I had been lucky two months before.

Hero – 2016

It’s Thanksgiving break 2016.  It’s the first time spending time with family after being out  in the world for 7-ish months.  Cleveland, Ohio tends to have a lot of wintry weather at this time of year, but this year we were in a patch of mild weather.

The day Cousin and Bro’s Girlfriend need to be picked up from the airport, it’s drizzling and the temperature is hovering around freezing.  Bro is occupied with work so I offer to make the trip to the airport in front of the family in the kitchen.

“You don’t have the greatest track record for driving.  You probably shouldn’t be the one to pick them up.”  – The-who-must-not-be-named

The fire is lit.  Inside, I’m fuming.  Outside, I’m like I had just stepped out of a Transformer.

There’s a bit of discussion of who should go to pick them up.  No one really offers to drive (family likes comfort, it’s nice being at home where its warm and cozy) which makes me re-nominate myself with more assertiveness.  I ask Bro if I can drive his car to pick them up.  He looks at me for one second as the rest of the family looks at him and gauges his next move.  He hands me the keys to his car.

“I’ll come with you.  I can be your navigator.” – Cousin

As I’m on the freeway to the airport, some thoughts flicker past me: …what if I do get into another accident?… why do people put so much weight on history?… am I my experiences?…  … My family doesn’t know that in April I flew on the Autobahn in Germany or that in May I weaved through traffic on the freeway in India at night (there are no rules on the road) or that in July in Nepal I maneuvered a scooter (again, no rules) or that in October I drove a farmer’s manual pick-up truck regularly…

I’m extra careful with my speed as I drive through the light drizzle.  We talk about Cousin’s plans for the future.  We get to the airport with no problem.  Mission: halfway there.

Once the car is fully loaded, passengers and luggage, we begin the journey home. As I drive, I am calm and cordial while having conversations with a cousin I hadn’t seen in years and a new person in my life.  It’s still drizzling but it is no longer something I’m concerned about.  The only concern I have is getting Bro’s car back onto Aunt’s driveway.

The ride back home is just another day in the park.  I hand back the keys to Bro with a feeling that I had maintained his trust.  I had driven his Acura countless of times before.  Maybe that’s why he had been willing to let me go pick up his girlfriend and our cousin at the airport.  Maybe he was living Mom’s lesson of not letting my past haunt me.

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Enjoying the spotlight of being home, safe and sound

Car: more mileage, less gas.

Lesson: move on.


I stumbled upon this video recently and realized I have my own musecage without even knowing what it was:

Michael Jordan had his musecage too.  What many people don’t realize is that throughout his childhood and his career he had his slough of naysayers.  He had a father that told him to ‘go back inside with the women’ because he didn’t know which tool from the toolbox his father wanted.  He was told that he would be a bench warmer at UNC.  He was fueled by his emotions and he used his emotions to light fires in his teammates and the people around him.  That’s how he knew how to succeed, that’s how he thought he could inspire other people to succeed.  Every negative comment remained in his psyche and drove him to prove people wrong.

The negativity around you can help you achieve just as much as the positive support.  Don’t let it bring you down to their level.  Let the steam from your boiling blood raise elevate you higher than their limiting vision.

I think the same thing happened to me this past Thanksgiving where a negative comment stoked me up for the driving challenge.  I didn’t want to let my poor history of driving dictate my future on the road.  Your history makes you who you are.  I am more careful on the road because of my accidents.  Have a growth-mindset.

I was recently told that, “your standards are too high.  No one is going to reach for the bar you have set.  You can’t expect people to perform at the level you want them to.” After getting fired, I thought about what the level of standards would be without me working there anymore…

A mentor in Houston once told me, “Never lower your standards.  For anything.”

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BitFit City: New Fitness Non-Tracker

Sorry, I don’t have a product to sell you… only some ideas.

First video is kind of long and if you’re short for time, definitely make use of the speed adjustment settings.

Actually, do make use of the faster playing speeds so you can get up from behind your computer and get your butt moving.

Esa = Animal Feed.  Do this 2 hours a day, everyday, and you don’t need to worry about exercise.  …Or push a button on a concrete mixer and it will do the same job for you in 1 minute. =/  In the pursuit of our brains, we lose our bodies.  To build or not build the body. That is the question….  [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oaD6j_iPNc0  STOP EXERCISING – START WORKING  https://www.goodgym.org/]  Where is our culture taking us?

Dumbells are what they’re called: dumb.  Put gravity to use.

Part of the daily wwoofing routine.  After a while, it doesn’t smell so bad. If your immune system is good, you won’t get sick after swallowing a fly. (Keep your mouth closed)  Great for your core – think windshield wipers except you’re being productive with your energy expenditure.  Also great workout for your arms and shoulders.  Looking forward to the day when the word ‘workout’ is removed from Oxford and Merriam-Webster.

More and more people are going off the grid and creating their own little ecosystem of work/life balance.  What they’re actually doing is creating their own grid outside the grid.

A friend of mine spent 2 weeks on a German couple’s isolated farm harvesting olives outside of Granada, Spain.  He got into superb shape and enjoyed the benefits of labor.  This friend is even considering buying his own property in Portugal and becoming 100% self-sustainable.

Maybe there’s a way we can bring these larger farms into the city.

To the environmental designers out there: what if we could have farms like Kiyuna dispersed throughout cities?  If we made cities more walkable we could utilize the super innovative concept of running to these farms and working on them for our daily fitness.  :O

https://www.goodgym.org/

We won’t need self-driving cars if we won’t need cars.  Cool idea, Elon, but I think my idea makes more sense.

Some esa and cowshit for thought.

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Actor: Deceasing

Experience

I just finished running sprints in 中正紀念堂 or Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall here in Taipei.  How does one run sprints there?  Easy.  All you need to run a sprint is 50+ meters of space in front of you and an imagination telling you there’s a lion chasing you on the African Savannah.

It’s the second sunny day in a row.  My body is glistening with sweat while I catch my breath.  During my rest in between sprints I look around me.  There were a few guys shadowboxing and dancing on their toes.  Other than us, almost everyone else in 自由廣場, Freedom Square, had a nifty camera around their neck or smartphone/selfie stick in hand.

Yesterday, I was doing pull-ups next to 中正紀念堂 and there were a ton of people (tourists?) taking pictures of birds, squirrels and the cherry blossoms.  Cherry blossoms are beautiful but they’re nothing mind blowing in my book.  I asked a friend why she thought they were such a sight.  Her hypothesis is that their scarcity makes them a popular attraction.

Moral: make yourself scarce to become more popular.  If you’ve read Robert Greene’s The 48 Laws of Power you might know what I’m talking about.  Remember the story of the white crane?

Last Thursday I was doing pull-ups in the same location and two Korean guys approached me asking if they could have a picture taken with me.  I’m pretty fit with a muscular build but I have this build because I’ve spent time building it.  This was the first time I was approached for a picture while I was working out.  One of the guys was rather slim while his friend, the photographer, was a bit of a pudge.

When people look at me while I workout, I feel like I’m an animal in the zoo, like the gorilla from Ishmael.   I get these longer-than-usual stares from people as they walk by me.  Is it because I have visible muscle tone?  My shirt is off because a) it saves on laundry and b) I needed some vitamin D.

It is only showing off if you watch.  Don’t watch?

Reflection

Yes, 中正紀念堂 is a tourist attraction and the proportion of actors – people doing things – to observers – camera people – may be a bit skewed.  But nonetheless, it brings up an interesting observation.

Think of the millions of people that go to the movie theaters.  The next time you’re on 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica, observe the ratio of observers to street performers.  Think of all the concerts you’ve been to; the plays on Broadway.  Think of all the photos you have in your smartphone or on the memory stick of your Nikon DSLR.

The actor/doer is in demand today because of their scarcity.  And as technology improves and lures more people into buying a smartphone or watching TV, the performer will become more scarce.  There’s a huge supply of observers/watchers and as society insulates people from risk and threat, more and more people will become observers.

Pitch

There’s a whole slough of emotions you get from being an actor that you just don’t get from being an observer.  How can we live a full life if we just watch from behind our screens?

Are you watching life go by?  Taking pictures of squirrels and birds rather than feeding or chasing them for your next meal?  Plant a cherry tree instead of take a picture of cherry blossoms.  Skydive instead of watch people skydive.  Go to an open mic and sing instead of watching your favorite youtube star.

Stars are born because they do after they watch.  Have your idols then be them.

A few weeks ago I went to Red Room with two friends.  I was the first to perform for the night.  I sang John Legend’s All of Me – a song I’ve sung maybe a hundred times.  I was sick at the time and it was not my greatest performance.  I fumbled with the mic in the middle of the performance, repeated/forgot some lyrics, even put my hands in my pockets.  At the end, I received a loud applause and even some hoots and hollers.  They were probably praising the courage more so than the quality of singing, but it was a great experience because now I can go back there and perform without any kind of nerves.  It won’t be hard to top my last performance there.

No sweat.  Feel bad about yourself for a few minutes then move on.

Imagine if there was a performance that was lost to its moment of time.  Think YouAct: this view(performance) had 1,056,019 actors.  … Never to be seen again… :O

It’s one thing to capture a moment with a lens.  It’s another to capture an experience with your soul.

Sorry, no pictures for this post (intentional).

=]

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ONE

Alessia Cara and Alicia Keys (most of the time) don’t do makeup.

Ed Sheeran doesn’t do smartphones.

Donald Trump doesn’t do alcohol.

Zuckerberg and Obama have an extremely simple wardrobe.

A young Jordan chose to experience baldness during the 1983-1984 basketball season at UNC before popularizing the look later in his career with the Chicago Bulls.

He surprised sportswriters in the midst of the winning streak one day in January by showing up with his head nearly bald.  “My dad’s bald, so I figured I might be bald one day,” he told them.  “I wanted to get an advanced look at it and know how it feels.”  They began laughing at his explanation, so he quickly confessed, “Actually, it was just a matter of the barber cutting more than I told him.”  – From Michael Jordan: The Life by Roland Lazenby

Bezos and Nadella don’t have any hair and they seem to be doing just fine.

Having a personal habit is like a ritual that on the outside may look quite restrictive, but on the inside it is quite liberating.  You save a lot of mental energy for doing the things that matter.  These personal rules can eliminate a lot of meaningless choice.  ‘I do not eat fried foods’ or ‘I do not eat sugar.’ Perfect.  You’ll never have to think about fried foods or sweets for the rest of your life.

I remember my days of having a shaved head.  It was nice to wake up and not have to worry about my hairstyle.  I recently shaved after not shaving for 3 months.  It’s OK to look scruffy.  Girls dig facial hair.

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Nothing wrong with being a catfish in the aquarium in Seoul

‘Be confident’ is something we hear often.  But it’s hard to be confident if you have nothing to be confident about.  Confidence comes from a habit of doing something that makes you proud of yourself.

Making it a habit of living without something not only helps you build your willpower and confidence but it also gives you energy and time.

Imagine your life without a smartphone and think of all the time you could focus on your 1 thing.

Let’s get real for a second.  How much in life around us is actually necessary?  Maybe the only necessary action we need to take is to make a statement like one of the public figures above and to hold steady to them.  This allows us to focus on the things that really give our lives meaning.  Loving music.  Loving basketball.  Loving Business.  Loving Leadership.  Loving innovation.

What do you love?

It’s not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential.

Bruce Lee

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