Category: Book Notes

Book Notes – Tao Te Ching – Lao Tzu

Book Notes – Tao Te Ching – Lao Tzu

NOTES

  • 1: Always without desire we must be found, if its deep mystery we would sound; But if desire always within us be, its outer fringe is all that we shall see.
  • 4: We should blunt our sharp points, and unravel the complications of things; we should attemper our brightness, and bring ourselves into agreement with the obscurity of others.
  • 7: Heaven is long-enduring and earth continues long. The reason why heaven and earth are able to endure and continue thus long is because they do not live of, or for, themselves. This is how they are able to continue and endure.
  • 7: The sage puts his own person last, and yet it is found in the foremost place; he treats his person as if it were foreign to him, and yet that person is preserved. Is it not because he has no personal and private ends, that therefore such ends are realised?
  • 9: It is better to leave a vessel unfilled, than to attempt to carry it when it is full. If you keep feeling a point that has been sharpened, the point cannot long preserve its sharpness. When gold and jade fill the hall, their possessor cannot keep them safe. When wealth and honours lead to arrogancy, this brings its evil on itself.
  • 12: Colour’s five hues from th’ eyes their sight will take; Music’s five notes the ears as deaf can make; The flavours five deprive the mouth of taste; The chariot course, and the wilde hunting waste make mad the mind; and objects rare and strange, sought for, men’s conduct will to evil change. Therefore the sage seeks to satisfy (the craving of) the belly, and not the (insatiable longing of the) eyes. He puts from him the latter, and prefers to seek the former.
  • 13: Favour and disgrace would seem equally to be feared; honour and great calamity, to be regarded as personal conditions (of the same kind). What is meant by speaking thus of favour and disgrace? Disgrace is being in a low position (after the enjoyment of favour). The getting that (favour) leads to the apprehension (of losing it), and the losing it leads to the fear of (still greater calamity):- this is what is meant by saying that favour and disgrace would seem equally to be feared.
  • 16: All things alike go through their processes of activity, and (then) we see them return (to their original state).
  • 16: When things (in the vegetable world) have displayed their luxuriant growth, we see each of them return to its root. This returning to their root is what we call the state of stillness; and that stillness may be called reporting that they have fulfilled their appointed end.
  • 22: The sage holds in his embrace the one thing (of humility), and manifests it to all the world. He is free from self- display, and therefore he shines; from self-assertion, and therefore he is distinguished; from self-boasting, and therefore his merit is acknowledged; from self-complacency, and therefore he acquires superiority. It is because he is thus free from striving that therefore no one in the world is able to strive with him.
  • 23: A violent wind does not last for a whole morning; a sudden rain does not last for the whole day. To whom is it that these (two) things are owing? To Heaven and Earth. If Heaven and Earth cannot make such (spasmodic) actings last long, how much less can man!
  • 25: There was something undefined and complete, coming into existence before Heaven and Earth. How still it was and formless, standing alone, and undergoing no change, reaching everywhere and in no danger (of being exhausted)! It may be regarded as the Mother of all things. I do not know its name, and I give it the designation of the Tao.
  • 26: Gravity is the root of lightness; stillness, the ruler of movement.
  • 29: The course and nature of things is such that what was in front is now behind; What warmed anon we freezing find. Strength is of weakness oft the spoil; The store in ruins mocks our toil. Hence the sage puts away excessive effort, extravagance, and easy indulgence.
  • 37: The Tao in its regular course does nothing (for the sake of doing it), and so there is nothing which it does not do.
  • 38: Those who possessed the highest (sense of) propriety were (always seeking) to show, and when men did not respond to it, they bared the arm and marched up to them.
  • 42: The violent and strong do not die their natural death.
  • 43: The softest thing in the world dashes against and overcomes the hardest; that which has no (substantial) existence enters where there is no crevice. I know hereby what advantage belongs to doing nothing (with a purpose).
  • 48: He who devotes himself to learning (seeks) from day to day to increase (his knowledge); he who devotes himself to the Tao (seeks) from day to day to diminish (his doing). He diminishes it and again diminishes it, till he arrives at doing nothing (on purpose). Having arrived at this point of non-action, there is nothing which he does not do.
  • 49: To those who are good (to me), I am good; and to those who are not good (to me), I am also good;- and thus (all) get to be good.
  • 57: In the kingdom the multiplication of prohibitive enactments increases the poverty of the people; the more implements to add to their profit that the people have, the greater disorder is there in the state and clan; the more acts of crafty dexterity that men possess, the more do strange contrivances appear; the more display there is of legislation, the more thieves and robbers there are.
  • 63: It is the way of the Tao to act without (thinking of) acting; to conduct affairs without (feeling the) trouble of them; to taste without discerning any flavour; to consider what is small as great, and a few as many; and to recompense injury with kindness.
  • 63: The master of it anticipates things that are difficult while they are easy, and does things that would become great while they are small. All difficult things in the world are sure to arise from a previous state in which they were easy, and all great things from one in which they were small.
  • 64: That which is at rest is easily kept hold of; before a thing has given indications of its presence, it is easy to take measures against it; that which is brittle is easily broken; that which is very small is easily dispersed. Action should be taken before a thing has made its appearance; order should be secured before disorder has begun.
  • 67: I have three precious things which I prize and hold fast. The first is gentleness; the second is economy and the third is shrinking from taking precedence of others. With that gentleness I can be bold; with that economy I can be liberal; shrinking from taking precedence of others, I can become a vessel of the highest honour.
  • 76: Man at his birth is supple and weak; at his death, firm and strong. (So it is with) all things. Trees and plants, in their early growth, are soft and brittle; at their death, dry and withered. Thus it is that firmness and strength are the concomitants of death; softness and weakness, the concomitants of life.

It’s been a while since my previous post, but I haven’t been sitting still. I really enjoyed the inspiring nature of the texts in this book. Expect no hands on tools on how to live, but do expect to find wisdom in the collection of age old virtuous texts.  If you liked these notes, you can support my blog by purchasing the full book on:
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Check out this book on Goodreads. I rated it 4 out of 5.
Book Notes – The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck – Mark Manson

Book Notes – The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck – Mark Manson

NOTES

  • The secret to Charles Bukowski’s success: the simple ability to be completely, unflinchingly honest with himself—especially the worst parts of himself—and to share his failings without hesitation or doubt.
  • Conventional life advice—all the positive and happy self-help stuff we hear all the time—is actually fixating on what you lack.
  • “The smallest dog barks the loudest.” A confident man doesn’t feel a need to prove that he’s confident.
  • You are constantly bombarded with messages to give a fuck about everything, all the time. Give a fuck about a new TV. Give a fuck about having a better vacation than your coworkers. Give a fuck about buying that new lawn ornament. Give a fuck about having the right kind of selfie stick.
  • Companies want you to give a fuck: giving a fuck about more stuff is good for business.
  • The problem is that giving too many fucks is bad for your mental health. It causes you to become overly attached to the superficial and fake, to dedicate your life to chasing a mirage of happiness and satisfaction.
  • The key to a good life is not giving a fuck about more; it’s giving a fuck about less, giving a fuck about only what is true and immediate and important.
  • Very few animals on earth have the ability to think cogent thoughts to begin with, but we humans have the luxury of being able to have thoughts about our thoughts.
  • We feel bad about feeling bad. We feel guilty for feeling guilty. We get angry about getting angry. We get anxious about feeling anxious.
  • By not giving a fuck that you feel bad, you short-circuit the Feedback Loop from Hell (feeling bad for feeling bad).
  • Say to yourself, “I feel like shit, but who gives a fuck?” And then, as if sprinkled by magic fuck-giving fairy dust, you stop hating yourself for feeling so bad.
  • We have so much fucking stuff and so many opportunities that we don’t even know what to give a fuck about anymore.
  • Because there’s an infinite amount of things we can now see or know, there are also an infinite number of ways we can discover that we don’t measure up, that we’re not good enough, that things aren’t as great as they could be. And this rips us apart inside.
  • The desire for more positive experience is itself a negative experience. And, paradoxically, the acceptance of one’s negative experience is itself a positive experience.
  • Suffering through your fears and anxieties is what allows you to build courage and perseverance.
  • Everything worthwhile in life is won through surmounting the associated negative experience.
  • To not give a fuck is to stare down life’s most terrifying and difficult challenges and still take action.
  • You and everyone you know are going to be dead soon.
  • In the short amount of time between being born and being dead, you have a limited amount of fucks to give. Very few, in fact. And if you go around giving a fuck about everything and everyone without conscious thought or choice—well, then you’re going to get fucked.
  • Not giving a fuck does not mean being indifferent;
    • It means being comfortable with being different.
    • People who are indifferent are lame and scared.
    • It’s about not caring about pissing some people off to do what he feels is right or important or noble.
  • You can’t be an important and life-changing presence for some people without also being a joke and an embarrassment to others.
  • To not give a fuck about adversity, you must first give a fuck about something more important than adversity.
  • “Life problems” are really just side effects of not having anything more important to worry about.
  • Whether you realize it or not, you are always choosing what to give a fuck about.
  • Most things in life have little lasting impact on our lives.
  • Become comfortable with the idea that some suffering is always inevitable—that no matter what you do, life is comprised of failures, loss, regrets, and even death.
  • Life itself is a form of suffering.
  • The greatest truths in life are usually the most unpleasant to hear.
  • We suffer for the simple reason that suffering is biologically useful. It is nature’s preferred agent for inspiring change.
  • Our brains don’t register much difference between physical pain and psychological pain.
  • Life is essentially an endless series of problems. The solution to one problem is merely the creation of the next one.
  • Happiness comes from solving problems. The keyword here is “solving.” If you’re avoiding your problems or feel like you don’t have any problems, then you’re going to make yourself miserable.
  • Happiness is therefore a form of action; it’s an activity, not something that is passively bestowed upon you.
  • Many people fuck things up in at least one of two ways:
    • Denial, and/or;
    • Victim Mentality
  • If you feel crappy it’s because your brain is telling you that there’s a problem that’s unaddressed or unresolved.
  • Emotions evolved for one specific purpose: to help us live and reproduce a little bit better.
  • Just because something feels good doesn’t mean it is good.
  • The Hedonic Treadmill: the idea that we’re always working hard to change our life situation, but we actually never feel very different.
  • You know who bases their entire lives on their emotions? Three-year-old kids. And dogs. You know what else three-year-olds and dogs do? Shit on the carpet.
  • You don’t REALLY want something if you want the reward and not the struggle, if you want the result and not the process.
  • People who feel entitled view every occurrence in their life as either an affirmation of, or a threat to, their own greatness.
  • If we have problems that are unsolvable, our unconscious figures that we’re either uniquely special or uniquely defective in some way. That we’re somehow unlike everyone else and that the rules must be different for us. Put simply: we become entitled.
  • Entitlement plays out in one of two ways:
    • I’m awesome and the rest of you all suck, so I deserve special treatment.
    • I suck and the rest of you are all awesome, so I deserve special treatment.
  • The more exposed we are to opposing viewpoints, the more we seem to get upset that those other viewpoints exist.
  • The vast majority of life resides in the humdrum middle. The vast majority of life is unextraordinary, indeed quite average.
  • Millennials often get blamed for this cultural shift, but that’s likely because millennials are the most plugged-in and visible generation.
  • This constant stream of unrealistic media dogpiles onto our existing feelings of insecurity, by overexposing us to the unrealistic standards we fail to live up to.
  • Because social media only shows unrealistic standards, it becomes better to be at the extreme low end of the bell curve than to be in the middle, because at least there you’re still special and deserve attention.
  • Your actions actually don’t matter that much in the grand scheme of things.
  • The vast majority of your life will be boring and not noteworthy, and that’s okay.
  • There are a handful of common values that create really poor problems for people—problems that can hardly be solved.
  • Pleasure is the most superficial form of life satisfaction and therefore the easiest to obtain and the easiest to lose. And yet, pleasure is what’s marketed to us, twenty-four/seven.
  • Pleasure is not the cause of happiness; rather, it is the effect.
  • We consistently make poor assumptions, misjudge probabilities, misremember facts, give in to cognitive biases, and make decisions based on our emotional whims. As humans, we’re wrong pretty much constantly.
  • Material Success: Many people measure their self-worth based on how much money they make or what kind of car they drive or whether their front lawn is greener and prettier than the next-door neighbor’s.
  • If your metric for life success is to be right—well, you’re going to have a difficult time rationalizing all of the bullshit to yourself.
  • Sometimes life sucks, and the healthiest thing you can do is admit it.
  • Constant positivity is a form of avoidance.
  • One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful.
  • Good values are:
    • reality-based,
    • socially constructive, and;
    • immediate and controllable.
  • Bad values are:
    • superstitious,
    • socially destructive, and;
    • not immediate or controllable.
  • When we have poor values we are essentially giving fucks about the things that don’t matter.
  • Self-improvement is really about: prioritizing better values, choosing better things to give a fuck about.
  • Often the only difference between a problem being painful or being powerful is a sense that we chose it, and that we are responsible for it.
  • If you’re miserable in your current situation, chances are it’s because you feel like some part of it is outside your control.
  • There is a simple realization from which all personal improvement and growth emerges. This is the realization that we, individually, are responsible for everything in our lives, no matter the external circumstances.
  • We are always taking an active role in what’s occurring to and within us.
  • The point is, we are always choosing, whether we recognize it or not. Always.
  • The real question is, What are we choosing to give a fuck about? What values are we choosing to base our actions on? What metrics are we choosing to use to measure our life?
  • Example of bad values: “a man felt that he was too short, he didn’t often go out and try to meet women. The few times he did, he would home in on the smallest behaviors from any woman he talked with that could possibly indicate he wasn’t attractive enough for her and then convince himself that she didn’t like him, even if she really did. As you can imagine, his dating life sucked.”
  • There are also problems that we aren’t at fault for, yet we are still responsible for them. For example, if you woke up one day and there was a newborn baby on your doorstep, it would not be your fault that the baby had been put there, but the baby would now be your responsibility.
  • Fault is past tense. Responsibility is present tense.
  • Nobody else is ever responsible for your situation but you.
  • One side effect of the Internet and social media is that it’s become easier than ever to push responsibility—for even the tiniest of infractions—onto some other group or person.
  • The moment you change your values, your turnaround will reverberate out through your relationships.
  • Growth is an endlessly iterative process. When we learn something new, we don’t go from “wrong” to “right.” Rather, we go from wrong to slightly less wrong.
  • A certain man works his ass off and believes he deserves a promotion, but he never explicitly says that to his boss. He is therefore never rewarded for his hard work.
  • We don’t actually know what a positive or negative experience is. Some of the most difficult and stressful moments of our lives also end up being the most formative and motivating.
  • We experience something. Then we remember it slightly differently a few days later, as if it had been whispered and misheard. Then we tell somebody about it and have to fill in a couple of the plot holes with our own embellishments.
  • By linking our present experiences with that imagined past, our mind allows us to maintain whatever meaning we already established.
  • Not only is certainty unattainable, but the pursuit of certainty often breeds more (and worse) insecurity, because the more you try to be certain about something, the more uncertain and insecure you will feel.
  • Before we can look at our values and prioritizations and change them into better, healthier ones, we must first become uncertain of our current values.
  • Manson’s Law of Avoidance: “The more something threatens your identity, the more you will avoid it.”
  • Buddhism argues that your idea of who “you” are is an arbitrary mental construction and that you should let go of the idea that “you” exist at all.
  • If you assume that your plane is the one that’s going to crash, or that your project idea is the stupid one everyone is going to laugh at, or that you’re the one everyone is going to choose to mock or ignore, you’re implicitly telling yourself, “I’m the exception; I’m unlike everybody else; I’m different and special.”
  • Aristotle wrote: “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”
  • Would being wrong create a better or a worse problem than my current problem, for both myself and others?
  • If someone is better than you at something, then it’s likely because she has failed at it more than you have.
  • Improvement at anything is based on thousands of tiny failures, and the magnitude of your success is based on how many times you’ve failed at something.
  • If I measure myself by the standard “Make everyone I meet like me,” I will be anxious, because failure is 100 percent defined by the actions of others, not by my own actions. I am not in control.
  • For many of us, our proudest achievements come in the face of the greatest adversity.
  • Just as one must suffer physical pain to build stronger bone and muscle, one must suffer emotional pain to develop greater emotional resilience, a stronger sense of self, increased compassion, and a generally happier life.
  • VCR questions: From the outside, the answer is simple: just shut up and do it. But from the inside, from the perspective of each of these people, these questions feel impossibly complex.
  • Life is about not knowing and then doing something anyway. A series of VCR questions. All of life is like this. It never changes. Even when you’re happy.
  • Don’t just sit there. Do something. The answers will follow.
  • Action isn’t just the effect of motivation; it’s also the cause of it.
  • Trick yourself into action (by Tim Ferriss): Promise yourself to write two hundred crappy words per day, that’s it. The idea was that you force yourself to write two hundred crappy words, more often than not the act of writing will inspire; and before you know it, you’ll have thousands of words down on the page.
  • Do something. That “something” can be the smallest viable action toward something else. It can be anything.
  • Freedom grants the opportunity for greater meaning, but by itself there is nothing necessarily meaningful about it. Ultimately, the only way to achieve meaning and a sense of importance in one’s life is through a rejection of alternatives, a narrowing of freedom, a choice of commitment to one place, one belief, or (gulp) one person.
  • The avoidance of rejection (both giving and receiving it) is often sold to us as a way to make ourselves feel better. But avoiding rejection gives us short-term pleasure by making us rudderless and directionless in the long term.
  • The difference between a healthy and an unhealthy relationship comes down to two things:
    • How well each person in the relationship accepts responsibility, and
    • The willingness of each person to both reject and be rejected by their partner.
  • Wherever there is a healthy and loving relationship, there will be clear boundaries between the two people and their values.
  • People in a healthy relationship with strong boundaries will take responsibility for their own values and problems and not take responsibility for their partner’s values and problems.
  • A healthy relationship is when two people solve their own problems in order to feel good about each other.
  • The setting of proper boundaries doesn’t mean you can’t help or support your partner or be helped and supported yourself.
  • People with strong boundaries are not afraid of a temper tantrum, an argument, or getting hurt.
  • People with strong boundaries understand that it’s unreasonable to expect two people to accommodate each other 100 percent and fulfill every need the other has.
  • People with strong boundaries understand that they may hurt someone’s feelings sometimes, but ultimately they can’t determine how other people feel.
  • There are some experiences that you can have only when you’ve lived in the same place for five years, when you’ve been with the same person for over a decade, when you’ve been working on the same skill or craft for half your lifetime.
  • When you’re pursuing a wide breadth of experience, there are diminishing returns to each new adventure, each new person or thing.
  • If there really is no reason to do anything, then there is also no reason to not do anything.
  • By spending the majority of your short life avoiding what is painful and uncomfortable, You essentially avoid being alive at all.
  • Without death, everything would feel inconsequential, all experience arbitrary, all metrics and values suddenly zero.
  • Humans are unique in that we’re the only animals that can conceptualize and think about ourselves abstractly.
  • Because of this unique mental ability, Becker says, that we all, at some point, become aware of the inevitability of our own death.
  • Death terror: a deep existential anxiety that underlies everything we think or do.
  • We are all aware on some level that our physical self will eventually die, that this death is inevitable, and that its inevitability—on some unconscious level—scares the shit out of us.
  • To compensate for our fear of the inevitable loss of our physical self, we try to construct a conceptual self that will live forever. This is why people try so hard to put their names on buildings, on statues, on spines of books.
  • All of human civilization, he says, is basically a result of immortality projects: the cities and governments and structures and authorities in place today were all immortality projects of men and women who came before us.
  • All the meaning in our life is shaped by this innate desire to never truly die.
  • We’re all driven by fear to give way too many fucks about something, because giving a fuck about something is the only thing that distracts us from the reality and inevitability of our own death.
  • Mark Twain: “The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.”
  • You too are going to die, and that’s because you too were fortunate enough to have lived.

This book contains some serious life lessons, sometimes on the boundary of stoicism.  There is a reason these notes turned out to be over 3.000 words. I highly recommend this book for everyone, especially in this day and age of entitlement and victim mentality, but also this time of unlimited options and infinite possibilities. If you liked these notes, you can support my blog by purchasing the full book on either:
Bol.com: Early Retirement Extreme on Bol.com
Amazon: Early Retirement Extreme on Amazon
Check out this book on Goodreads. I rated it 5 out of 5.
Book Notes – Early Retirement Extreme – Jacob Lund Fisker

Book Notes – Early Retirement Extreme – Jacob Lund Fisker

NOTES

  • Reading a textbook about physics won’t turn a person into a physicist. This only happens when the concepts are constantly applied and one starts “thinking like a physicist.”
  • Looking busy is important because in this culture business is a virtue.
  • Society has made it very easy to spend money. Shopping centers line every street. Many creative means of spending money have been devised. Instead of spending 30 seconds opening a can of tomatoes with a traditional can opener, it’s now possible to spend 30 minutes working to pay for an electric can opener that can open the can in the same amount of time.
  • Is spending the most productive years of your life chained to the job market to collect a lot of rarely used stuff that gathers dust in the closet or takes up space in junkyards a wise choice?
  • Some problems are self-created; one must learn to avoid these. A common solution to problems is to go and buy some product. Too weak to open a lid? Go buy a tool rather than exercise to become stronger. Want to barbecue, but don’t have a grill? Go buy one instead of making a fire pit.
  • Running a marathon is technically easy, but few have the persistence to actually go through with it, and even fewer are already in such a physical condition so as to do it without preparation. Mental blocks are similar. It’s much easier to say that something can’t work than it is to find a way to make it work.
  • There are always excuses. “I don’t want it enough;” “It’d be nice, but I can’t do it,” “Yes, that is interesting and may be fine for you , but I could never…”
  • Why do we still work eight hours a day, 50 weeks a year, when we’re twice as productive as we were 50 years ago?
  • Why do we have children, then send them away for most of the day shortly after they’re born?
  • Being financially independent you can take risks with your time to focus on projects which don’t require an immediate payout to justify your effort.
  • The core of this book: What you want to do with your life given that you don’t have the time to do everything? Do you want to spend most of your life paying off the interest of a 30-year mortgage and working so you can fill increasingly bigger houses with increasingly more stuff while being stuck in your daily commute in increasingly nicer cars? Or are you prepared to give up the stuff so that you can do whatever you want, whenever, and wherever, within reason? What will your legacy be–what you owned or who you were.
  • Runners and other athletes sometimes get the comment that they’re already fit, so they don’t need to exercise. Yet their diligent exercising is exactly what causes their fitness.
  • Change is seen as a personal failure: admitting that an alternative is better is perceived as a personal failure.
  • We have come to a point where spending money is one of the few recognizable signs of success. For instance, spending half an hour in a traffic jam getting from A to B in an expensive car is considered more successful than spending half an hour in a traffic jam getting from A to B in a cheap car. I’m not sure why that is. Even more puzzling, both of these is considered more successful than spending 25 minutes getting from A to B on a train or spending 20 minutes on a bicycle getting from A to B while passing cars in a traffic jam.
  • It’s considered more successful to sit on a couch in your home, if there is an additional unused couch in an additional unused room, compared to a house with no unused couches or no unused rooms.
  • Consumers do not solve their problems. Consumers are used to buying or arguing their way out of problems.
  • Your collection of 20 different cleaning products could all be replaced with vinegar and baking soda. Chop garlic with a knife instead of using one of the many different designs of garlic press.
  • Most career people’s lives are dominated by schedules and procedures. They get up at the same time every day. They take the same route to work and sit at the same desk and do the same things day-in and day-out for many years. At the end of the day, they go back along the same route. They have various chores and activities scheduled until they go to bed at the same time. Maybe they occasionally go to a restaurant, the movies, or a sports event. Weekends are like evenings–structured around chores that didn’t get done during the week, like laundry, cleaning, and sleeping. Vacations are arranged in the same manner–if not taken between job transitions, vacations are spent a few days here and there as people spend one day traveling and then frantically go around and try to see everything they want to see before they head back exhausted. The reward for running on this treadmill occurs not through the satisfaction of doing a good job, but from the semimonthly paycheck.
  • The work system is designed so that most people have been specialized to as far down the production chain as possible. Specialization makes people replaceable either directly through advances in technology or through competition between many others with similar skills. Specialists are like cogs in the system and they tend to have very simple interfaces with it.
  • Pay attention to the number of books on the bookshelves, the tools for the hobby projects, the work in progress spread out on the desk. There are none. What empty lives these people must live.
  • Watch out when buying an expensive shirt, because you will find it needs an expensive suit to match.
  • No matter how much someone earns, expenses tend to match income. This is called lifestyle inflation.
  • On the homefront the growing use of time-saving technology doesn’t result in time saved either. Rather, it results in more being done.
  • Retiring at 50 is still considered early, despite the modern possibility of retiring decades earlier.
  • Reduce waste and live on a quarter of what a normal person spends:
    • Own only what you use.
    • Maintain what you buy.
  • Those with greater control over their income can choose to work less at higher efficiencies and save the money for intermittent periods without income. That way you can start a business without the risk of losing income.
  • Find something meaningful to do (instead of work).
  • A loosely coupled system is less likely to fail. Loosely coupled systems have slack. They’re flexible and resilient. This means that they function within a range of parameters rather than at just a single value.
  • The salary man: (Wage slaves) are free to change their job, but they’re not free to quit their job. Wage slaves are free to choose other products as long as they can afford it, but they’re not capable of creating alternatives to buying products, because they’re too busy working.
  • The business man: makes a living of creating products to solve consumers problems.
  • The renaissance man:
    • Is competent in a wild range of fields instead of a single vocation.
    • Develops all sides of himself to reach his full potential.
    • Uses generalized skills (borrowing, engineering, creativity physical strength) to solve his problems instead of buying a solution.
    • Fixes what is broken himself.
  • To develop into a renaissance man, start self-development activities as hobbies. Start creating your own solutions.
  • Humans with an internal locus of control–the belief that they’re in control and that they’re the masters of their own destiny–possess agency. Agency resists and reduces stress.
  • We have an economic model that is based on pulling resources out of the ground and mostly turning them into unnecessary products, getting people to buy the products by convincing them that they need them, then getting them to throw the products away because they’re obsolete.
  • We are aware of large-scale problems, but most of us believe that we can’t do anything about them. Instead, we believe in a mythical They who will find a solution.
  • When a new field is invented, it’s not the salary men, the businessmen, or the working men who dominate it; it’s the inventors–the Renaissance men.
  • You can be a jack-of-all trades by choosing which areas to master and which to do not.
  • We call people primitive, but they can build their own shelters, find their own food, create their own clothes. But we know about the ficticious lives of TV-characters.
  • Take care of your body: After all, where else are you going to live?
  • Physiological goals:
    • Optimal physical and mental health.
    • Know how the body works.
    • Know which foods promote health and which don’t.
    • Don’t overeat.
    • Be able to perform physically while hungry, exhausted or tired.
    • Know basic first aid.
  • Intellectual goals:
    • Prioritize relevance of information.
    • Have an interest in learning new things.
    • Have general knowledge.
    • Be able to do quick research in multiple areas.
    • Be able to remain independent and critical of models and new ideas.
  • Economic goals:
    • Understand the difference between value (psychological) and price (market).
    • Learn the effect of choices and their opportunity cost.
    • Know how to save.
    • Know how to invest.
    • Make a budget, do your own taxes.
  • Emotional goals:
    • Make your own choices instead of out of fear or because they feel good.
    • Don’t be gullible or subject to manipulation, magical thinking.
    • Be patient and resistant to stress and realize you can’t influence external events.
    • Be empathetic and understand that situations are complex.
  • Social goals:
    • Know people in all different social circles.
    • Learn how to barter, sell, borrow and give things away.
  • Technical goals:
    • Have the knowledge to judge professionals in their service.
    • Understand limits and benefits of technlogy.
    • Select optimal tools and know how to use them.
    • Know how to repair your stuff.
  • Ecological goals:
    • Recognize the foods that are in season.
    • Know how to grow your own food.
    • Don’t waste energy or resources.
  • Tenure and experience are not the same thing.
  • People remember most of what they do, some of what they say, but little of what they see or hear.
  • The main mistake when dealing with an overwhelming amount of data and stuff is to reduce it, rather than relating to it on a more abstract level.
  • Expertise:
    • Copy and compare: define an objective.
    • Compile and compute: set a plan.
    • Skills and coordination will unleash creativity.
  • It’s important to understand that doing the right thing (good strategy) is much more important than doing things right (good tactics).
  • Consumers have become convinced that experts are needed for anything but the simplest task.
  • Self-sufficiency:
    • Mend your clothes.
    • Cook from scratch.
    • Use public transportation, bicycle or walk.
    • Grow your own food.
    • Make your own household agents.
    • Maintain your car. Start with washing it, then changing fluids, then repairing the engine.
  • Consider that almost any work becomes drudgery if you have to do it all day every day.
  • A good strategy solves multiple problems at the same time!
  • There is no such thing as needs and wants: there is no demarcation when a need becomes a want.
  • Happiness does not stem from being surrounded by possessions, being happy because of being surrounded by them is the result of an addictive habit.
  • Buy tools that last a lifetime.
  • When buying parts, tools, as well as new things, always try to get three different prices across markets (new and used) and time (do prices tend to go up or down? are they seasonal?
  • Anything done more than once is worth doing yourself.
  • Measure prosperity by less activity, not more. Do fewer useless things.
  • Focus on developing skills rather than on passive entertainment.
  • The price of stuff is higher than the sticker price, they:
    • Take up space.
    • Require maintenance.
    • Are hard to get rid of.
  • Used something in the last few months? Keep it. Otherwise, dispose of it (sell, give it away).
  • For grocery shopping and other regular purchases, use a maximum price ceiling which is the lowest price you have ever seen. Only buy at that point.
  • Buying a set of, say, screwdrivers to “save” money is rarely worthwhile. You will end up breaking the ones you use constantly and with a collection of ones you never use.
  • Start with cheap tools to see which ones you actually need and use.
  • Learn to be easy to get along with. Be considerate. I’m sure this is a learned skill.
  • Work from home when you can to:
    • Save transportation time and cost.
    • Work flexible hours.
    • Be inaccessable while doing concentrated work.
  • Feeling warm or cold has a lot to do with adaptation. Unfortunately, it’s now normal to live in heated and air-conditioned bubbles which allow for no adaptation at all, except perhaps to the price of those services.
  • Many adults act as if moving is not particularly enjoyable. Given the choice, they’d rather not move around. To them, moving is uncomfortable, exhausting, and even painful.
  • The diet quantity determines how big the body will be and the diet quality determines how healthy it’ll be. The exercise quantity and quality determines its function, form, and health.
  • Running doesn’t get you in shape. Look at the experienced runner: spindly arms and legs, scrawny upper body.
  • The reason that people get weak is not age; it’s a history of disuse.
  • Being hungry is nothing particularly worrisome unless it becomes a permanent condition.
  • If a brand needs advertising, it is probably because it is either difficult to tell the difference between it and another brand or because you would not otherwise want to buy the product in the first place.
  • Clean immediately after using something. It is often easier.
  • A salary is paid when productivity is hard to measure because the effort can’t be directly associated with a specific revenue-generating product or service.
  • This means that productivity has little bearing on how much a person actually gets paid, salary being determined by contract negotiation skills and historical accidents, such as being hired the year before new hires are given a substantially higher starting salary.
  • If investment income matches your expenses, you are financially independent.

The lessons from this book are controversial. The title of the book isn’t Early Retirement EXTREME without a reason. Though sometimes repetitive, it does teach a lot of very applicable principles if you wish to earn more, save more and acquire valuable skills in order to live a simpler life.  If you liked these notes, you can support my blog by purchasing the full book on either:
Bol.com: Early Retirement Extreme on Bol.com
Amazon: Early Retirement Extreme on Amazon
Check out this book on Goodreads. I rated it 4 out of 5.
Book Notes – The Checklist Manifesto – Atul Gawande

Book Notes – The Checklist Manifesto – Atul Gawande

NOTES

  • Know-how and sophistication have increased remarkably across almost all our realms of endeavor, and as a result so has our struggle to deliver on them
  • Our failures remain frequent. They persist despite remarkable individual ability.
  • The volume and complexity of what we know has exceeded our individual ability to deliver its benefits correctly, safely, or reliably. Knowledge has both saved us and burdened us.
  • Multiple fields, in other words, have become too much airplane for one person to fly. Yet it is far from obvious that something as simple as a checklist could be of substantial help.
  • People can lull themselves into skipping steps even when they remember them.
  • The researchers found that simply having the doctors and nurses in the ICU create their own checklists for what they thought should be done each day improved the consistency of care to the point that the average length of patient stay in intensive care dropped by half.
  • Checklists seem able to defend anyone, even the experienced, against failure in many more tasks than we realized. They provide a kind of cognitive net.
  • Simple problems, they [Zimmerman, Glauberman] note, are ones like baking a cake from a mix. There is a recipe. Sometimes there are a few basic techniques to learn. But once these are mastered, following the recipe brings a high likelihood of success.
  • Complicated problems are ones like sending a rocket to the moon. They can sometimes be broken down into a series of simple problems. But there is no straightforward recipe.
  • Complex problems are ones like raising a child. Once you learn how to send a rocket to the moon, you can repeat the process with other rockets and perfect it. One rocket is like another rocket. But not so with raising a child, the professors point out.
  • [In life] we are besieged by simple problems.
  • Checklists can provide protection against such elementary errors.
  • The assumption was that anything could go wrong, anything could get missed. What? Who knows? That’s the nature of complexity.
  • [Hurricane Katrina] had been an “ultra-catastrophe,” a “perfect storm” that “exceeded the foresight of the planners, and maybe anybody’s foresight.” But that’s not an explanation. It’s simply the definition of a complex situation.
  • No, the real lesson is that under conditions of true complexity—where the knowledge required exceeds that of any individual and unpredictability reigns—efforts to dictate every step from the center will fail. People need room to act and adapt.
  • Under conditions of complexity, not only are checklists a help, they are required for success. There must always be room for judgment, but judgment aided—and even enhanced—by procedure.
  • There seemed no field or profession where checklists might not help.
  • Question your seniors: The more familiar and widely dangerous issue is a kind of silent disengagement, the consequence of specialized technicians sticking narrowly to their domains. “That’s not my problem” is possibly the worst thing people can think, whether they are starting an operation, taxiing an airplane full of passengers down a runway, or building a thousand-foot-tall skyscraper.
  • Because we’d worked as a single unit, not as separate technicians, the man survived. We were done with the operation in little more than two hours.
  • Bad checklists are vague and imprecise. They are too long; they are hard to use; they are impractical. They are made by desk jockeys with no awareness of the situations in which they are to be deployed. They treat the people using the tools as dumb.
  • They turn people’s brains off rather than turn them on.
  • Good checklists, on the other hand, are precise. They are efficient, to the point, and easy to use even in the most difficult situations. They do not try to spell out everything—a checklist cannot fly a plane. Instead, they provide reminders of only the most critical and important steps—the ones that even the highly skilled professionals using them could miss. Good checklists are, above all, practical.
  • The wording should be simple and exact, Boorman went on, and use the familiar language of the profession. Even the look of the checklist matters. Ideally, it should fit on one page. It should be free of clutter and unnecessary colors. It should use both uppercase and lowercase text for ease of reading. (He went so far as to recommend using a sans serif type like Helvetica.)
  • But first think about what happens in most lines of professional work when a major failure occurs. To begin with, we rarely investigate our failures.
  • [Anonymous investor] enumerated the errors known to occur at any point in the investment process. He then designed detailed checklists to avoid the errors, complete with clearly identified pause points at which he and his investment team would run through the items.
  • The checklist doesn’t tell him what to do, he explained. It is not a formula. But the checklist helps him be as smart as possible every step of the way, ensuring that he’s got the critical information he needs when he needs it, that he’s systematic about decision making, that he’s talked to everyone he should.
  • Benefits of (good) checklists:
    • They improve outcomes with no increase in skill.
    • The process is more thorough but also faster.
  • It somehow feels beneath us to use a checklist, an embarrassment.
  • A checklist is only an aid. If it doesn’t aid, it’s not right.

The book is a bit pop-psych and not necessarily a game-changer, but it is an easy insightful read for everyone performing complex tasks on the daily. If you liked these notes, you can support my blog by purchasing the full book on either:
Bol.com: The Checklist Manifesto on Bol.com
Amazon: The Checklist Manifesto on Amazon
Check out this book on Goodreads. I rated it 4 out of 5.
Book Notes – Meditations – Marcus Aurelius

Book Notes – Meditations – Marcus Aurelius

NOTES

  • It’s easy to put your own life and death in perspective when you consider them relative to the eternity and vastness of the universe.
  • 1-4: Value of education: spend lavishly on good tutors.
  • 1-6: Write essays from a young age.
  • 1-8: Moral freedom, the certainty to ignore the dice of furtune, and have no other perspective, even for a moment, than that of reason alone. To be always the same man, unchanged in sudden pain.
  • 1-12: Never use: ‘I am too busy’ as an excuse for the constant avoidance of the proprieties inherent in our relations to our fellows and contemporaries.
  • 1-16: Regulate abstinence and enjoyment where many people are too weak-willed to abstain or enjoy too indulgently.
  • 1-17: Marcus is grateful or being able to have found no lack of suitable tutors for his children.
  • 1-17: Express gratitude.
  • 2-1: Morning ritual: say to yourself: ‘Remain unaffected by and cooperate with all the malicious people you will meet during the day.’
  • 2-4: There is a limit circumscribed to your time.
  • 2-5: Every hour of the day give vigorous attention to the performance of the task in hand.
  • 3: Focus on the tasks at hand and do not let yourself get distracted by the casual. Do not make a drama of your life.
  • 3-1: Not only is our time limited, but if we live longer, there is no guarantee our mind will retain all power to comprehend. Have a sense of urgency.
  • 3-12: If you set yourself to your present task along the path of true reason, with all determination, vigour and good will, if you admit no distraction, – then you will live a good life. And nobody is able to stop you.
  • 3-16: Body = sense perceptions
    Soul = impulses
    Mind = judgement
  • 4-2: No action should be undertaken without aim, or other than in conformity with a principle affirming the art of life.
  • 4-3: In faring obstacles, consider the immeasurable time before and after and the whole earth as a minute point in space.
  • 4-3: Instead of seeking external retreat, give yourself the retreat of your own mind.
  • 4-7: Remove the judgement, and you have removed the thought: ‘I am hurt.’ Remove the thought: ‘I am hurt’, and the hurt itself is removed.
  • 4-11: When someone does you wrong, do not judge things as he interprets them or would like you to interpret them. Just see them as they are, in plain truth.
  • 4-18: Look only at your own actions.
  • 4-19: Fame is worthless as it and when it is no longer remembered, but even if it was by some immortal, what does it matter?
  • 4-24: “If you want to be happy, do little” – Democrites
    – Remove the superfluity, all unnecessary action.
  • 4-42: Change: nothing inherently bad in the process, nothing inherently good in the result.
  • 5-2: How easy it is to drive away or obliterate from one’s mind every impression which is troublesome or alien, and then to be immediately in perfect calm.
  • 5-5: Integrity, dignity, hard work, self-denial, contentment, frugality, kindness, independence, simplicity, discretion, magnamity. Do you see how many virtues you can already display without any excuse of lack of talent or aptitude?
  • 5-11: To what use, then, am I now putting my soul? Ask yourself this question on every occassion. Examine yourself.
  • 5-13: Every part of me will be assigned its changed place in some part of the universe, then another part, on to infinity. A similar sequence of change brought me into existence, and my parents, and back so in another infinity of regression.
  • 5-16: Your mind will take on the character ofyour most frequent thoughts.
  • 5-20: “The obstacle becomes the way.”
  • 6-6: The best revenge is not to be like your enemy.
  • 6-13: The practice of showing things naked:
    – Roast meat = dead animal body.
    – Falernian wine = juice of grapes.
    – Sexual intercourse = friction of a membrane and a spurt of mucus ejected.
  • 6-51: How to understand your own good:
    – The lover of glory takes it to be the reactions of others.
    – The lover of pleasure takes it to be his own passive experience.
    – The intelligent man sees it as his own action.
  • 7-7: Do not be ashamed of help. It is your task to achieve your assigned duty.
  • 7-14: Let any external thing that so wishes to happen to those parts of me which can be affected by its happening- and they, if they wish, can complain. I myself am not yet harmed, unless I judge this occurence something bad: and I can refuse to do so.
  • 7-18: It makes no sense to be afraid of change, because NOTHING can happen without it.
  • 7-64: When complaining of drowsiness, oppressive heat, loss of appetite, say to yourself: ‘You are giving in to pain.’
  • 7-73: When you have done good and another has benefited, why do you still look, as fools do, for a third thing besides – credit for good works, or a return.
  • 8-36: Do not let the panorama of your life oppress you, do not dwell on all various troubles which may have occurred in the past or may occur in the future. Just ask yourself in each instance of the present: ‘What is there in this work which I cannot endure or support?’
  • 8-47: If your distress has some external cause, it is not the thing itself that troubles you, but your own judgement of it.
  • 8-50: Deal with minor obstacles immediately:
    – Bitter cucumber? Throw it away.
    – Brambles in a path? Go around them.
  • 9-5: There can be wrongs of omission, as well as commission.
  • 9-12: Work. Don’t work as a miserable drudge, or in any expectation of pity or admiration.
  • 9-27: When someone blames or hates you, see what people they are. You will realize there is no need for anxiety about their opinion about you. (Though be kind to them)
  • 9-33: There are many barriers or impediments in the way. But mind and reason have the power by their nature and at their will, to move through every obstacle.
  • 9-40: Instead of dealing with minute impulses, deal with the judgement of these impulses.
    – One prays: how can I be rid of that man?
    – You pray: how can I stop wanting to be rid of him?
  • 12-10: See things for what they are, analyzing into material, cause and reference.

Even though the content of this book are nearly 2000 years old, it reads as if it was written today. There is a reason this book stood the test of time so well. I provided my favorite outtakes in these book notes, but the book contains an immense amount of wisdom. If you liked these notes, you can support my blog by purchasing the full book on either:
Bol.com: Meditations on Bol.com
Amazon: Meditations on Amazon
Check out this book on Goodreads. I rated it 5 out of 5.
Book Notes – Deep Work – Cal Newport

Book Notes – Deep Work – Cal Newport

NOTES

  • Deep Work: Professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.
  • CEO Bill Gates famously conducted “Think Weeks” twice a year, during which he would isolate himself (often in a lakeside cottage) to do nothing but read and think big thoughts.
  • The reason knowledge workers are losing their familiarity with deep work is well established: network tools.
  • Shallow Work: Noncognitively demanding, logistical-style tasks, often performed while distracted. These efforts tend to not create much new value in the world and are easy to replicate.
  • Spend enough time in a state of frenetic shallowness and you permanently reduce your capacity to perform deep work.
  • Our work culture’s shift toward the shallow (whether you think it’s philosophically good or bad) is exposing a massive economic and personal opportunity for the few who recognize the potential of resisting this trend and prioritizing depth.
  • Evidence you are invaluable in todays economy: the vast majority of your work responsibilities could be automated by a “kludged together” Excel script.
  • Show up early in the morning before anyone else arrives and work without distraction. “On good days, I can get in four hours of focus before the first meeting.”
  • To remain valuable in our economy, therefore, you must master the art of quickly learning complicated things.
  • If you can create something useful, its reachable audience (e.g., employers or customers) is essentially limitless—which greatly magnifies your reward. On the other hand, if what you’re producing is mediocre, then you’re in trouble, as it’s too easy for your audience to find a better alternative online.
  • The Deep Work Hypothesis: The ability to perform deep work is becoming increasingly rare at exactly the same time it is becoming increasingly valuable in our economy. As a consequence, the few who cultivate this skill, and then make it the core of their working life, will thrive.
  • Cal maintained voluminous production while rarely working past five or six p.m. during the workweek. This compressed schedule is possible because Cal has invested significant effort to minimize the shallow in his life while making sure to get the most out of the time this frees up.
  • Cal builds his days around a core of carefully chosen deep work, with the shallow activities he absolutely cannot avoid batched into smaller bursts at the peripheries of my schedule. Three to four hours a day, five days a week, of uninterrupted and carefully directed concentration, it turns out, can produce a lot of valuable output.
  • Our technologies are racing ahead but many of our skills and organizations are lagging behind.
  • Three specific groups will fall on the lucrative side of this divide and reap a disproportionate amount of the benefits of the Intelligent Machine Age:
    • The High-Skilled Workers: The key question will be: are you good at working with intelligent machines or not?
    • The Superstars: who are doing productive work remotely. If you’re in a marketplace where the consumer has access to all performers, and everyone’s q value is clear, the consumer will choose the very best.
    • The Owners: because when else in history could such a small amount of labor be involved in such a large amount of value?
  • Two core abilities to thrive in the new economy:
    • The ability to quickly master hard things.
    • The ability to produce at an elite level, in terms of both quality and speed.
  • To learn requires intense concentration –> deliberate practice: a life-long period of deliberate effort to improve performance in a specific domain.
  • Core components of deliberate practice are usually identified as follows:
    • Your attention is focused tightly on a specific skill you’re trying to improve or an idea you’re trying to master;
    • you receive feedback so you can correct your approach to keep your attention exactly where it’s most productive.
  • New science of performance argues that you get better at a skill as you develop more myelin around the relevant neurons.
  • Low concentration: you’re firing too many circuits simultaneously.
  • To allow deep work: batch hard but important intellectual work into long, uninterrupted stretches.
  • High-Quality Work Produced = (Time Spent) x (Intensity of Focus)
  • When you switch from some Task A to another Task B, your attention doesn’t immediately follow—a residue of your attention remains stuck thinking about the original task.
  • But even if you finish Task A before moving on, your attention remains divided for a while.
  • People experiencing attention residue after switching tasks are likely to demonstrate poor performance on that next task,” and the more intense the residue, the worse the performance.
  • To produce at your peak level you need to work for extended periods with full concentration on a single task free from distraction.
  • Deep work is not the only skill valuable in our economy, and it’s possible to do well without fostering this ability.
  • Open offices might create more opportunities for collaboration, but they do so at the cost of massive distraction.
  • An interruption, even if short, delays the total time required to complete a task by a significant fraction.
  • Big trends in business today actively decrease people’s ability to perform deep work, even though the benefits promised by these trends (e.g., increased serendipity, faster responses to requests, and more exposure) are arguably dwarfed by the benefits that flow from a commitment to deep work (e.g., the ability to learn hard things fast and produce at an elite level)
  • Think about it: 160 e-mails processed at 30 seconds per e-mail still adds up to an hour and a half per day dedicated to moving information around.
  • In the current offices one is expected to read and respond to e-mails (and related communication) quickly.
  • In a test each member of the team was forced to take one day out of the workweek completely off, which led to more enjoyment in their work, better communication among themselves, more learning (as we might have predicted, given the connection between depth and skill development highlighted in the last chapter), and perhaps most important, “a better product delivered to the client.”
  • The Principle of Least Resistance: In a business setting, without clear feedback on the impact of various behaviors to the bottom line, we will tend toward behaviors that are easiest in the moment.
  • If you couldn’t count on this quick response time you’d instead have to do more advance planning for your work, be more organized, and be prepared to put things aside for a while and turn your attention elsewhere while waiting for what you requested feeling satisfyingly productive.
  • Some e-mails take the sender only a handful of seconds to write but can command many minutes (if not hours, in some cases) of time and attention from their recipients to work toward a coherent response.
  • Knowledge workers have no rack of repaired motorcycles to point to as evidence of their worth. Therefore, busyness is seen as a proxy for productivity: In the absence of clear indicators of what it means to be productive and valuable in their jobs, many knowledge workers turn back toward an industrial indicator of productivity: doing lots of stuff in a visible manner.
  • If you send and answer e-mails at all hours, if you schedule and attend meetings constantly, if you weigh in on instant message systems like Hall within seconds when someone poses a new question, or if you roam your open office bouncing ideas off all whom you encounter—all of these behaviors make you seem busy in a public manner.
  • We were, he noted, no longer discussing the trade-offs surrounding new technologies, balancing the new efficiencies against the new problems introduced. If it’s high-tech, we began to instead assume, then it’s good. Case closed.
  • Deep work struggles to compete against the shiny thrum of tweets, likes, tagged photos, walls, posts, and all the other behaviors that we’re now taught are necessary for no other reason than that they exist.
  • The skillful management of attention is the sine qua non of the good life and the key to improving virtually every aspect of your experience.
  • The idle mind is the devil’s workshop’… when you lose focus, your mind tends to fix on what could be wrong with your life instead of what’s right.
  • The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile. This leads to a status of flow.
  • Ironically, jobs are actually easier to enjoy than free time, because like flow activities they have built-in goals, feedback rules, and challenges, all of which encourage one to become involved in one’s work, to concentrate and lose oneself in it. Free time, on the other hand, is unstructured, and requires much greater effort to be shaped into something that can be enjoyed.
  • In a post-Enlightenment world we have tasked ourselves to identify what’s meaningful and what’s not, an exercise that can seem arbitrary and induce a creeping nihilism.
  • Our obsession with the advice to “follow your passion” (the subject of my last book), for example, is motivated by the (flawed) idea that what matters most for your career satisfaction is the specifics of the job you choose.
  • People fight desires all day long. The five most common desires fought include, not surprisingly, eating, sleeping, and sex. But the top five list also included desires for “taking a break from [hard] work… checking e-mail and social networking sites, surfing the web, listening to music, or watching television.
  • You have a finite amount of willpower that becomes depleted as you use it. Distractions drains your finite pool of willpower.
  • The trick is creating habits: add routines and rituals to your working life designed to minimize the amount of your limited willpower.
  • The monastic philosophy of deep work scheduling: This philosophy attempts to maximize deep efforts by eliminating or radically minimizing shallow obligations. The pool of individuals to whom the monastic philosophy applies is limited.
  • If I organize my life in such a way that I get lots of long, consecutive, uninterrupted time-chunks, I can write novels. But as those chunks get separated and fragmented, my productivity as a novelist drops spectacularly.
  • The bimodal philosophy of deep work: This philosophy asks that you divide your time, dedicating some clearly defined stretches to deep pursuits and leaving the rest open to everything else. The biggest obstacle to implementing this philosophy is that even short periods of deep work require a flexibility that many fear they lack in their current positions.
  • The minimum unit of time for deep work in this philosophy tends to be at least one full day. A few hours in the morning, for example, is too short to count as a deep work stretch for an adherent of this approach.
  • People will usually respect your right to become inaccessible if these periods are well defined and well advertised.
  • The chain method: Every day that he writes jokes he crosses out the date on the calendar with a big red X. When you miss a day, you break the chain.
  • Brian Chappell made a rule that he would wake up and start working by five thirty every morning. He would then work until seven thirty, make breakfast, and go to work already done with his dissertation obligations for the day. Pleased by early progress, he soon pushed his wake-up time to four forty-five to squeeze out even more morning depth.
  • You have to start doing something. Waiting for inspiration to strike is a terrible, terrible plan.
  • The four disciplines of execution:
    • The more you try to do, the less you actually accomplish. Execution should be aimed at a small number of wildly important goals.
    • Act on the Lead Measures: Lead measures measure the new behaviors that will drive success on the lag measures.
    • Keep a Compelling Scoreboard: It’s important that they have a public place to record and track their lead measures.
    • Create a Cadence of Accountability: recommend the habit of a weekly review in which you make a plan for the workweek ahead.
  • Execution is more difficult than strategizing.
  • Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets… it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.
  • At the end of the workday, shut down your consideration of work issues until the next morning—no after-dinner e-mail check, no mental replays of conversations, and no scheming about how you’ll handle an upcoming challenge; shut down work thinking completely.
  • Shutdown is profitable because:
    • Downtime Aids Insights: Dutch psychologist Ap Dijksterhuis, set out to prove that some decisions are better left to your unconscious mind to untangle. Your conscious mind, according to this theory, is like a home computer on which you can run carefully written programs that return correct answers to limited problems, whereas your unconscious mind is like Google’s vast data centers, in which statistical algorithms sift through terabytes of unstructured information.
    • Downtime Helps Recharge the Energy Needed to Work Deeply: trying to squeeze a little more work out of your evenings might reduce your effectiveness the next day.
    • The Work That Evening Downtime Replaces Is Usually Not That Important.
  • When walking through nature, you’re freed from having to direct your attention, as there are few challenges to navigate.
  • For a novice, somewhere around an hour a day of intense concentration seems to be a limit, while for experts this number can expand to as many as four hours—but rarely more.
  • The Zeigarnik Effect: Incomplete tasks dominate our attention.
  • When you work, work hard. When you’re done, be done.
  • The ability to concentrate intensely is a skill that must be trained.
  • Constant attention switching online has a lasting negative effect on your brain.
  • The key here is instead to give yourself plenty of opportunities throughout your evening to resist switching to these distractions at the slightest hint of boredom.
  • Identify a deep task (that is, something that requires deep work to complete) that’s high on your priority list. Estimate how long you’d normally put aside for an obligation of this type, then give yourself a hard deadline that drastically reduces this time. Attack the task with every free neuron until it gives way under your unwavering barrage of concentration.
  • The goal of productive meditation is to take a period in which you’re occupied physically but not mentally—walking, jogging, driving, showering—and focus your attention on a single well-defined professional problem.
  • Be Wary of Distractions and Looping.
  • Your ability to concentrate is only as strong as your commitment to train it.
  • Facebook offers benefits to your social life, but none are important enough to what really matters to you in this area to justify giving it access to your time and attention.
  • If you service low-impact activities, you’re taking away time you could be spending on higher-impact activities. It’s a zero-sum game.
  • Stuff accumulates in people’s lives, in part, because when faced with a specific act of elimination it’s easy to worry, “What if I need this one day?”
  • Put more thought into your leisure time. Figure out in advance what you’re going to do with your evenings and weekends.
  • The mental faculties are capable of a continuous hard activity; they do not tire like an arm or a leg. All they want is change.
  • Very few people work even 8 hours a day. You’re lucky if you get a few good hours in between all the meetings, interruptions, web surfing, office politics, and personal business that permeate the typical workday.
  • Fewer official working hours helps squeeze the fat out of the typical workweek. Once everyone has less time to get their stuff done, they respect that time even more. People become stingy with their time and make sure the important stuff continues to get done.
  • For most businesses, if you eliminated significant amounts of this shallowness, their bottom line would likely remain unaffected, but a nontrivial amount of shallow work is needed to maintain most knowledge work jobs.
  • The most adept deep thinker cannot spend more than four of these hours in a state of true depth.
  • We spend much of our day on autopilot—not giving much thought to what we’re doing with our time.
  • Become Hard to Reach.
  • The technologies underlying e-mail are transformative, but the current social conventions guiding how we apply this technology are underdeveloped.
  • For proper e-mails answer: what is the project represented by this message, and what is the most efficient (in terms of messages generated) process for bringing this project to a successful conclusion?
  • Professorial E-mail Sorting: Do not reply to an e-mail message if any of the following applies:
    • It’s ambiguous or otherwise makes it hard for you to generate a reasonable response.
    • It’s not a question or proposal that interests you.
    • Nothing really good would happen if you did respond and nothing really bad would happen if you didn’t.

There is a reason these notes turned out so elaborate. The book is full of useful insights! If you liked these notes, you can support my blog by purchasing the full book on either:
Bol.com: Deep Work on Bol.com
Amazon: Deep Work on Amazon
Check out this book on Goodreads. I rated it 5 out of 5.
Book Notes – Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle – Tom Venuto

Book Notes – Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle – Tom Venuto

NOTES

  • If your goal is to shed fat permanently and safely without losing muscle, it’s truer to say, “Diets never work.”
  • Diets increase hunger and cravings.
  • Diets slow down your metabolism: “adaptive thermogenesis”.
  • When you cut calories, your NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) level drops. Many people already know that low-calorie diets make them lethargic.
  • Without enough fuel coming in, you’ll fatigue faster, your strength will suffer.
  • The odds of you losing fat permanently with traditional low-calorie diets are stacked against you biologically, psychologically, and environmentally.
  • The beginning of a habit is like an invisible thread, but every time we repeat the act we strengthen the strand, add to it another filament, until it becomes a great cable and binds us irrevocably.”
  • The best way to destroy bad habits is to replace them with new ones, rather than trying to overcome them with willpower.
  • Cut calories if necessary as your weekly results dictate. Do it slowly and progressively in stages, not all at once.
  • The fastest way to transform your body is to eat more and burn more.
  • Training (burning more):
    • Raises your metabolic rate
    • Creates a caloric deficit without triggering the starvation response
    • Provides countless health benefits
    • Builds and maintains lean body mass
    • Increases fat-burning hormones
  • Dieting (eating less):
    • Slows down your metabolic rate
    • Triggers the starvation response
    • May be harmful to your health
    • Promotes loss of lean body mass
    • Decreases fat-burning hormones
  • Your body composition is entirely under your own control:
    • How much you eat
    • What you eat
    • When you eat
    • What type of exercise you do
    • How frequently you exercise
    • How long you exercise
    • How hard you exercise
    • Your overall lifestyle
    • Who you socialize with and allow to influence you
    • Your mental attitude
  • Don’t try to become better than someone else; become better than you used to be.
  • Losing weight is the wrong goal. You should forget about your weight and instead concentrate on shedding fat and gaining muscle!
  • ‘Skinny fat’ may be fitness slang, but it’s a real clinical condition: Researchers call it “normal weight obesity.” Where you are lean but carrying excess fat around your frame.
  • John Wooden once said, “Being average means you’re as close to the bottom as you are to the top.”
  • There is no such thing as failure—only feedback, only results.
  • Everything looks like a failure in the middle. You can’t bake a cake without getting the kitchen messy. Halfway through surgery it looks like there’s been a murder in the operating room.”
  • Don’t just follow advice:
    1. Research your own experience.
    2.  Absorb what is useful.
    3. Reject what is useless.
    4. Add what is specifically your own.
  • When gaining/losing weight: Never panic over a one-week fluctuation. The trend over time is much more revealing. Don’t get emotional about short-term results.
  • Each time you make a change, watch carefully for what happens every day during the following week.
  • Performance improves when performance is measured, so always keep score!
  • Another way to penetrate the subconscious (although much slower) is through spaced repetition.
  • By constantly repeating negative commands such as “I can’t lose weight,” your subconscious will see to it that you never lose weight.
  • The instant you notice a negative thought, immediately replace it with a positive thought, affirmation, or question.
  • Most people never reach their full potential because they don’t believe it’s possible, so they don’t even try.
  • He who chases two rabbits catches neither.
  • Whatever idea is fixed in your subconscious will always express itself in physical form: behaviors and results.
  • Experimental and clinical psychologists have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that the human nervous system cannot tell the difference between an actual experience and one imagined vividly and in detail.” – Dr. Maltz
  • When losing weight, use a maximum calorie deficit of 30 percent below maintenance.
  • The people with the best bodies in the world are meticulous about tracking calories.
  • Establish a foundation first (follow a program/diet), then experiment, adjust, and customize.
  • Remember the 80‒20 rule. That’s the efficiency principle, which says that 20 percent of your actions—the vital few—will produce the majority of your results. The other 80 percent—the trivial many—is minutiae.
  • When you see nutrient recommendations for the general population, keep in mind that the average person is not training and that minimum and optimum nutrition needs are two different concepts.
  • Fats to avoid: hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated, and trans-fatty acids.
  • Oils are, by nature, unstable substances that go rancid quickly with exposure to light and air.
  • Potatoes had the highest satiety index score of all the foods tested by far.
  • As you become dehydrated, your body’s core temperature increases.
  • Save the drinking for weekends, or even less often—only for holidays and special occasions (you might enjoy it more that way).
  • Track everything: structure, numbers, and timing develops discipline and attention to detail. I believe these are major factors that separate people with average bodies from people with the best bodies in the world.
  • When you’re disciplined about eating, you become disciplined about training and other areas of life as well.
  • We often use the words “good foods” and “bad foods” as figures of speech, but in reality food doesn’t fall neatly into these two categories.
  • Cook in bulk.
  • Most (the leanest people) have two or three favorite meal plans—a total of 10 to 15 different favorite meals—and they rotate those over and over.
  • Diets can actually make you a smaller version of your old self—weighing less, but still flabby and weak.
  • Paradoxically, it’s often the busiest people who get more done than anyone else, because their schedule forces them to become masters of productivity and because of momentum. – How you do anything is how you do everything.
  • Progressive overload (more volume, more weight, more sets, more reps etc.) is the number one principle of all successful training programs.
  • Sometimes you’ll make fast strength gains and increase the weight every workout. At other times, you must be patient and move up one rep at a time.
  • The bad news about plateaus is that they’re common. In fact, you should expect them. You’re more likely to zigzag your way to your goal, with sticking points and good weeks and bad weeks, than you are to shoot to your goal in a straight line without a hiccup.
  • Your body will forever be adapting to everything you throw at it and you will always be working against your body’s tendency to remain the same.
  • I’ve always found that the more complex you make your training and nutrition, the more confused you get. Simpler is better.

I found the nutrition and strength training advice in this book very applicable to other area’s in life. I therefore recommend this book even to people moderately interested in having an improved physique. If you liked these notes, you can support my blog by purchasing the full book on either:
Bol.com: Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle on Bol.com
Amazon: Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle on Amazon
Check out this book on Goodreads. I rated it 4 out of 5.
Book Notes – The Obstacle Is The Way – Ryan Holiday

Book Notes – The Obstacle Is The Way – Ryan Holiday

NOTES

  • Whatever we face, we have a choice: Will we be blocked by obstacles, or will we advance through and over them?
  • In the face of obstacles, we do nothing because of our attitude and approach.
  • Within an obstacle is the opportunity to improve, learn, test ourselves and try new things.
  • The steps to overcoming obstacles are:
    • Perception
    • Action
    • Will
  • In the face of an obstacle, we must try:
    • To be objective
    • To control emotions and keep an even keel
    • To choose to see the good in a situation
    • To steady our nerves
    • To ignore what disturbs or limits others
    • To place things in perspective
    • To revert to the present moment
    • To focus on what can be controlled
  • “Nothing is either good or bad, but thinking makes it so” – Shakespeare
  • Obstacles make us emotional (panic), but the only way we’ll survive or overcome them is by keeping those emotions in check (apatheia).
  • Perspective determines how an obstacle appears. Take what you are affraid of and break it apart. Reason it away.
  • Accept what can’t be changed and focus only on what you can control (even when odds are low).
  • Don’t waste time on false constructs: It doesn’t matter whether this is the worst time to be alive or the best. What matters is that right now IS right now.
  • Example, your rival at work may be an obstacle, or they:
    • Keep you alert
    • Raise the stakes
    • Motivate you to prove them wrong
    • Harden you
    • Help you appreciate true friends
    • Provide an instructive antilog: an example of whom you don’t want to become.
  • Action creates momentum for success.
  • Obstacles become bigger because of made-up reasons instead of action.
  • If we’re to overcome our obstacles, this is the message to broadcast – internally and externally. We will not be stopped by failure, we will not be rushed or distracted by external noise. We will chisel and peg away at the obstacle until it is gone. Resistance is futile.
  • Persistence: finding the new way through trying all the wrong ways. The solution is never a flash of insight.
  • Failure brings 2 options:
    • Quit
    • Going back to the drawing board (action)
  • Persistence is not insanity (doing the same thing over and over expecting a different outcome).
  • The Process: don’t focus on the ultimate goal, but break it down and do what you need to do right now. Do it well and move on to the next thing.
  • The Process: we are A-Z thinkers:
    • Fretting about A
    • Obsessing over Z
    • Forgetting about B-Y
  • To whatever we face, we respond with:
    • Hard work
    • Honesty
    • Helping others as best we can
    • For it is our job!
  • There are a lot of ways to get from A to B. It doesn’t have to be a straight line, it’s just got to get you where you need to go.
  • Doing more is often doing less.
  • Example of using obstacles against themselves:
    Russia defeating the Nazi’s and Napoleon by retreating and luring the opponent into the fierce winters of Russia.
  • Turn a crisis to your advantage, for example: Obama reframed a scandal into a ‘teachable moment’.
  • Although you have tried your best, you can still fail. Accept that this is an opportunity to practice acceptance and forgiveness.
  • Be patient, because difficult things take time.
  • Some things you can’t control. Be ready for the worst, then be prepared to make the most of it.
  • We can always 100% control our will.
  • In adversity we can always:
    • Prepare ourselves for more diffucult times.
    • Accept what we’re unable to change.
    • Manage our expectations.
    • Persevere.
    • Learn to love our fate and what happens to us.
    • Protect our inner sel, retreat into ourselves.
    • Submit to a greater, larger cause.
    • Remind ourselves of our own mortality.
    • Prepare to start the cycle once more.
  • Are you ready for obstacles, are you prepared?
  • You’ll have far better luck toughening yourself up than you ever will trying to take the teeth out of a world that is at best indifferent to your existence.
  • Sometimes the only answer to “What if…” is: it will suck, but we’ll be okay.
  • Things will go wrong, so anticipate.
  • Acquiescence: accept and move on.
  • Amor fati: whatever happens, love it.
  • Perseverance = persistence. Love the long game.
  • If you can’t make something better for yourself, make it better for others. That way you are drawing purpose from adversity.
  • Everyone is being part of a whole. Contribute your little bit to the universe before it swallows you up.
  • Life is a series of obstacles, when faced will lead to the best version of yourself.
  • The long game is about gathering strength as you go.
  • Philosophy was meant to be in your hands.
    • See things for what they are.
    • Do what you can.
    • Endure and bear what you must.

      “What blocked the path now is the path. What once impeded action advances action. The obstacle is the way.”


This book is by far one of the most accessible books on stoicism and this can all be attributed to the effort Ryan put into this book. If you liked these notes, you can support my blog by purchasing the full book on either:
Bol.com: The Obstacle Is The Way on Bol.com
Amazon: The Obstacle Is The Way on Amazon
Check out this book on Goodreads. I rated it 5 out of 5.
Book Notes – The 48 Laws Of Power – Robert Greene

Book Notes – The 48 Laws Of Power – Robert Greene

NOTES

  • #1: Never outshine the master
    • Make those above you feel comfortably superior
    • Displaying talent may inspire fear/insecurity in others
    • Make your master appear more brilliant than they are and you will attain the heights of power (The Canvas Strategy – Ryan Holiday)
  • #2: Never put too much trust in friends, learn how to use your enemies
    • Friends are the ones who will betray you more quickly due to envy
    • Enemies are more loyal, since they have more to prove
    • Men are more ready to repay an injury than a benefit, because gratitude is a burden and revenge a pleasure.
    • An enemy at our heels sharpens our wits, keeping us focussed and alert
  • #3: Conceal your intentions
    • If people have no clue what you are up to, they cannot prepare a defense
    • Everything in seduction depends on suggestion:
      • You cannot announce your intentions
      • Appear to want things you do not desire
      • Support ideas contrary to your sentiment
      • Do not close yourself off
    • The simplest form of a smoke screen is (a bland) facial expression
    • Create patterns, only to break them when the right moment arrives.
  • #4: Always say less than necessary
    • The more you say, the more common you appear
    • The more you say, the more likely you are to say something foolish
    • Once words are out, you can NEVER take them back
  • #5: Guard reputation with your life
    • Ruin the reputation of others by instilling doubt in the public
    • By not caring how you are perceived, you let others decide how you are perceived for you
  • #6: Everything is judged by its appearance.
    • What is unseen accounts for nothing
    • Never let yourself get lost in the crowd, or buried in oblivion. Stand out, be conspicuous at all cost.
    • Make yourself a magnet of attention by appearing larger, more colorful, more mysterious than the bland and timid masses.
    • Attention – whether positive or negative – is the main ingredient for success
    • People feel superior to those whose actions they can predict
    • There is power in contradiction: remaining mysterious
  • #7: Get others to do the work for you, but always take the credit
    • Never do yourself what others can do for you
  • #8: Make other peopple come to you
    • When you force the other person to act, you are in control
    • Alternatively, force the other by a fast attack
  • #9: Win through actions, never through argument
    • Argument = resentment
  • #10: Avoid the unhappy and unlucky
    • Misery is infectious, though positivity is too
  • #11: Learn to keep people dependent on you
    • Therefore becoming inexpendable
    • To maintain independence, always be needed and wanted
  • #12: Use selective honesty and generosity to disarm your victim
  • #13: When asking for help, appeal to peoples self-interest, never to their mercy or gratitude
    • Gratitude is a burden
    • Though sometimes mercy pays as you paint someone as being more powerful, therefore tickling a peoples desire for power
  • #14: Pose as a friend, work as a spy
    • Ask indirect questions
    • Reveal a fake secret
    • Truth should be attended by a bodyguard of lies
  • #15: Crush your enemy totally
    • Otherwise he will recover
  • #16: Use absense to increase respect and honor
    • Create value through scarcity;
    • But only after creating engagement
  • #17: Keep others in suspended terror: cultivate an air of unpredictability
    • Being predictable = being controlled
    • When you are unpredictable, people make up their own reasons and stories for your behavior
  • #18: Do not build fortresses to protect yourself – isolation is dangerous
    • Don’t be cut off from information
  • #19: Do not offend the wrong person
    • Every person will react differently to your strategies;
      • The arrogant man: will overreact
      • The insecure man: will nibble you to death
      • The suspicious man: sees the worst in people
      • The serpent: will wait and strike
      • The plain man: will not take bait because he will not recognize it
  • #20: Do not commit to anyone
    • Do not choose sides
    • Maintain independence
    • Play people against eachother
    • Everyone wants the virgin queen
    • Let others do the fighting. Be supportive but stay neutral
    • Secure your interests by being a mediator
  • #21: Play a sucker to catch a sucker
    • Seem dumber than your mark
    • People will never suspect your ulterior motives
    • We try to justify people being smarter than us
  • #22: Surrender when you are weaker as a tool of power
    • It gives you time to recover and irritate
    • Surrendering will unsettle the opponent
  • #23: Concentrate your forces
    • Intensity over extensity
    • ‘If you are not in danger, dont fight’ – Sun Tzu
  • #24: Play the perfect courtier
    • Avoid focusing attention on yourself
    • Practice nonchalance
    • Subtly arrange to be noticed
    • Never be the bearer of bad news
    • You are not your masters’ friend
    • Do not criticize those above you directly
    • Be frugal in asking for favors
    • Don’t be the court cynic
    • Be your own mirror
    • Master your emotions
    • Be a source of pleasure
    • Never try to hard to impress, as it is as if you are trying to cover up a deficiency
  • #25: Recreate yourself
    • Be the master of your own image
    • Don’t let others define your image for you as you will be limited to your assigned role
  • #26: Keep your hands clean by using:
    • Scapegoats
    • A cat’s paw
  • #27: Play on people’s need to believe something to create a cultlike following
    • Offer a cause but keep it vague
    • Provide rituals, ask for sacrifices
    • We are in a rush to believe something, that is why silver bullets appeal so much
    • Create an us vs. them dynamic
  • #28: Enter action with boldness
    • Hesitation will infect execution
    • Mistakes are easily corrected by more boldness
    • If boldness does not come natural, neither does timidity. It is an acquired habit
  • #29: Plan all the way to the end
    • The ending is everything
    • Don’t be overwhelmed
  • #30: Make your accomplishments seem effortless
    • Act as if you can easily do much more
    • Teach no one your tricks
  • #31: Get others to play with the cards you deal
    • Provide options that lead to outcomes favorable to you
    • The other party will feel in control
    • When provided with a choice between A and B, we rarely think of the other letters
  • #32: Play to people’s fantasy. Manufacture romance
    • Truth and reality are equal to disenchantment
    • Reality: change is slow and gradual. It requires hard work, a bit of luck, a fair amount of self-sacrifice and a lot fo patience.
    • Fantasy: a sudden transformation will bring total change in ones fortunes, bypassing work, luck, self-sacrifice and time in one fantastic stroke.
  • #33: Everyone has a weakness
  • #34: Act like a king to be treated as one
  • #35: Master the art of timing
    • Never seem to be in a hurry (as it is perceived as a lack of control)
    • Always seem patient
    • Learn to stand back when the time is not yet ripe
    • Time is an artificial concept created to make the limitless of eternity more bearable
    • Success that is built slowly will last
  • #36: Ignore the things you cannot have
    • Sometimes it is better to leave a small mistake than to try and fix it
    • You choose to let things bother you
  • #37: Create compelling spectacles
    • Dazzled by appearances, nobody will notice what you are really doing
    • Words put you on the defensive
  • #38: Think as you like, but behave like others
    • Unconventional ideas as a cry for attention
    • Blend in and show yourself only to tolerant friends
  • #39: Make your enemies angry while staying calm yourself
    • The cause of anger is oten larger than what seems to be its instigator
  • #40: Despise the free lunch
    • It usually involves a hidden obligation
    • Stay clear of gratitude, guilt and deceit
    • Be generous
    • The value of something increases irrationaly due to sentiment and emotion
  • #41: Avoid stepping in a great man’s shoes
    • It comes with expectations
    • Create your own name and identity
  • #42: Strike the shepherd and the sheep will scatter
    • Within a group, trouble almost always has a single source
  • #43: Work on the hearts and minds of others
    • The key to persuasion is softening people up and then breaking them down.
    • The keyhole analogy: “People build walls to keep you out; never orce your way in – you will find only more walls within walls. There are doors in these walls, doors to the heart and mind, and they have tiny keyholes. Peer through the keyhole, find the key that opens the door, and you have access to their will with no ugly signs of forced entry”
  • #44: Disarm and infuriate with the mirror effect
    • Seduce the enemy into thinking you share the same values
    • Narcissus effect: mirror others to appeal to their self love
    • Avoid being negatively associated to someone
  • #45: Preach the need for change, but never reform too much at once
    • Make change feel gentle
  • #46: Never appear too perfect
    • Envy creates silent enemies
  • #47: Do not get overconfident by victory. Learn when to stop
    • Past results are no guarantee for the future
  • #48: Assume formlessness
    • Become unable to grasp by your enemies
    • Never show defensiveness

Each law in in itself is a complete life lesson. Robert explains each law by observances, transgressions and reversals of each law, denoting the key points to power. I therefore highly recommend this book for anyone in a corporate setting, however the advice is very relevant for (romantic) relationships in general. If you liked these notes, you can support my blog by purchasing the full book on either:
Bol.com: The 48 Laws Of Power on Bol.com
Amazon: The 48 Laws Of Power on Amazon
Check out this book on Goodreads. I rated it 5 out of 5.
Book Notes – Starting Strength – Mark Rippetoe

Book Notes – Starting Strength – Mark Rippetoe

NOTES

  • “exercise is substitute cave-man activity, the thing we need to make our bodies, and in fact our minds, normal in the 21st century. And merely normal, for most worthwhile humans, is not good enough.”
  • “Our strength, more than any other thing we
    possess, still determines the quality and the quantity of our time here in these bodies.”
  • “Properly performed, full-range-of-motion barbell exercises are essentially the functional expression of human skeletal and muscular anatomy under a load.”
  • “A straight vertical line is also the most efficient bar path for a barbell moving through space in a gravitational framework.”
  • For the squat and the deadlift that means: “Weight is moved most efficiently directly over midfoot”.
  • “There is simply no other exercise, and certainly no machine, that produces the level of central nervous system activity, improved balance and coordination, skeletal loading and bone density enhancement, muscular stimulation and growth, connective tissue stress and strength, psychological demand and toughness, and overall systemic conditioning than the correctly performed full squat.”
  • Lower position of the squat:
    • The spine will be held rigid in lumbar and thoracic extension.
    • The bar will be directly over the middle of the foot.
    • The feet will be flat on the ground at the correct angle for the stance width.
    • The thighs will be parallel to the feet.
    • The hip joint will be in a position lower than the top of the patella
  • Use your hips! “The complete concept of the correct use of the hips in the squat is best understood as the use of both an actively locked lumbar extension and actively shoved-out knees, resulting in a below-parallel squat that incorporates a stretch reflex, using all the muscles of the posterior chain in the most optimal way possible. This movement pattern gets the thighs out of the way of the pelvis so that good depth can be more easily obtained. At the same time, it makes the squat stronger because the active use of the external rotators holds the femurs in a position that enables both the external rotators and the adductors to contribute to hip extension. This hip extension produces a more effective use of more muscles over a wider range of motion.”
  • “For example, if you are tall with very long femurs and relatively narrow shoulders, you need a wider stance than is usually recommended.”
  • “A mirror is a bad tool because it provides information about only one plane of the three: the frontal, the one that gives you the least information about your position and your balance. The most important reason to squat without a mirror in front of you is that you should be developing your kinesthetic sense while you squat.”
  • “As a general rule, the more of the body involved in an exercise, the better the exercise. The press produces strength in the trunk muscles – the abs, obliques, costals, and back – as well as in the shoulders and arms. It trains the whole body to balance while standing and pressing with a heavy weight in the hands and overhead. It uses more muscles and more central nervous system activity than any other upper-body exercise.”
  • In the (shoulder) press: “Lean back slightly by pushing your hips forward. This slight movement must not be produced by bending the knees or the lumbar spine. Rather, the movement is a function of only the hips. Without the bar and with your hands on your hips, push your pelvis forward and back a few times, keeping your knees and your low back locked in position.”
  • “You will have to take a new breath before each rep, at least for a while, or you risk a “blackout” at heavier weights.” – Unfortunately I have experienced this once in the form of an exertion headache.
  • “For the vast majority of lifters, the deadlift should be an essential part of training. It is the primary back strength exercise, and it is an important assistance exercise for the squat and especially for the clean (for which it is an important introductory lesson in position and pulling mechanics). The deadlift also serves as a way to train the mind to do things that are hard.”
  • “The deadlift starts at the mechanically hardest part of the movement and requires the lifter to generate the entire explosion necessary to break the bar off of the floor and get it moving up, without any help from a negative or anything else.”
  • Deadlift grip: grip the bar in the hook of the fingers, not in the meat of the palm. Otherwise the bar will slide down.
  • “In the squat and deadlift: The back muscles and the hamstrings are in a war for control over your pelvic position, and the lower back must win.”
  • The five steps for a perfect deadlift.
    1) Take the correct stance.
    2) Take your grip on the bar.
    3) Drop your shins forward to touch the bar, pushing your knees out slightly and without dropping your hips.
    4) Squeeze your chest up, with your weight on the mid-foot.
    5) Drag the bar up the legs.
  • “Because our muscles can contract only a small percentage of their length, our skeletal system is composed of levers that multiply the distance of their contraction at the expense of an increased force production requirement.”
  • “The arms are not plumb in a deadlift because the lats do not attach to the arms at 90 degrees when the arms are plumb. The arms must slant back to achieve a position of stability as they hang from the shoulders.”
  • “If the back rounds during the pull, some of the force that would have gone to the bar gets eaten up by the lengthening erectors. If the weight is sufficiently heavy, the rounded back cannot be re-straightened and the deadlift cannot be locked out.”
  • “People with long femurs, long tibias, and relatively short torsos will have a more horizontal back angle and a more closed hip angle. Long arms produce a more vertical back angle. Long arms tend to mitigate the effects of a short torso.”
  • “The use of the full range of motion is therefore important for two very good reasons. First, it allows you to quantify the amount of work you do: if you hold the range of motion of an exercise constant, you are holding constant the distance variable in your work equation.”
  • “Second, full-range-of-motion exercises ensure that strength is developed in every position in which the joints can operate. Strength development is extremely specific: muscles get strong in the positions they are made to be strong in, and in precisely the way they are trained.”
  • Bench press: “Correct use of the legs and hips involves only the maintenance of chest and back position, with the force directed horizontally along the bench and not vertically up off of the bench.”
  • Bench press: “The proper position for the feet is flat against the floor so that the heels can be used as the base of the drive up the legs. As with most of the things in the weight room, your heels need to be nailed down to the floor.”
  • “The best assistance exercises are those that directly contribute to the performance of the basic movements that produce the most benefit.”
  • “Assistance exercises fall into three categories. These exercises 1) strengthen a part of a movement, as with a partial deadlift (either a rack pull or a halting deadlift); 2) are variations on the basic exercise, as with a stiff-legged deadlift; or 3) are ancillary exercises, which strengthen a portion of the muscle mass involved in the movement in a way that the basic exercise does not, as with the chin-up.”
  • “Your bench press strength doesn’t adapt to the total number of times you’ve been to the gym to bench or to your sincerest hope that it will get stronger. It adapts to the stress imposed on it by the work done with the barbell. Furthermore, it adapts to exactly the kind of stress imposed on it. If you do sets of 20, you get good at doing 20s. If you do heavy singles, you get better at doing those. But singles and 20s are very different; the muscles and nervous system function differently when doing these two things, and they require two different sets of physiological capacities, and thus cause the body to adapt differently.”
  • “Exercise follows exactly the same principle as getting a tan – a stress is imposed on the body and it adapts to the stress, but only if the stress is designed properly. You wouldn’t lay out for 2 minutes and assume that it would make you brown, because 2 minutes isn’t enough stress to cause an adaptation.”
  • “As a general rule, you need to try to add weight to the work sets of the exercise every time you train, until you can’t do this anymore. This is the basic tenet of “progressive resistance training,” and setting up the program this way is what makes it different from exercise. For as long as possible, make sure that you lift a little more weight each time.”
  • Exercise is specific: training a lift for one set will make you better at lifting one set. Sets of 20 will make you better able to do sets of 20.

These were my personal notes, which I wrote down based on my own strength training needs. The book contains far more information on the power clean and assistance exercises. If you liked these notes, you can support my blog by purchasing the full book on:
Amazon: Starting Strength on Amazon
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