thoughts on life

The Competence / Incompetence Paradox

One of the great paradoxes of being competent at something is the willingness to be temporarily incompetent at it first. I am often perceived as an expert, teacher or mentor. I find this perception others have of me quite ironic because day-to-day all I ever feel like is a student that’s constantly learning. Anything I’ve [...]

Fatigue & Decision Making

I don’t think I’ve ever made a good decision when I’m exhausted and it’s late at night. Fatigue clouds judgment. Fatigue causes hormones and brain neurotransmitters to fluctuate out of optimal ranges. This in turn causes a cascade of consequences, including excessive pessimism, imbalanced thinking, and lack of clarity. So if you’re up late thinking [...]

Rethinking Failure

What is the opposite of success? If you’re like most people, your instinctive response is “failure.” This success vs. failure paradigm is so ingrained in our academic and work culture. I disagree with it completely. I prefer to think of this issue through a different lens. I think the opposite of success is “non-success.” I [...]

Admiration vs. Envy

When we admire someone, we appreciate and feel inspired by what they’ve accomplished. Admiration is a feeling based in appreciation, joy, and emotional generosity. When we admire someone, we allow our souls to feel nourished by what’s possible for humanity and for ourselves. When we envy someone, we see them as a standard by which [...]

The Horizon Problem

I’ve always been fascinated by the ocean. This was especially the case when I was at Stanford. At the end of every school year, I would drive to my parents’ home in San Diego. One year I decided to take the Pacific Coast Highway, a small two-lane road that hugs the California coastline — with [...]

How Smart People Destroy Their Careers

The #1 way professionals with high IQs destroy their careers is by having low emotional intelligence (or “EQ” for short). The workplace is a place where both logical and emotional interactions take place between you and others. High IQ people tend to overvalue the importance of IQ and undervalue EQ. If you have ever wondered [...]

Don’t Commit Assumicide

One of my writing mentors told me: “Effective writing is CLEAR writing.” If you mean what you write, and you write what you mean, you’re an effective communicator. When it comes to the written word, I’ve spent every day of my career attempting to write CLEARLY. This is especially the case in one-way communication like [...]

Pain vs. Suffering

It has taken me nearly four decades to learn the following distinction between pain versus suffering. At first glance, they seem the same. Pain does not feel good. Suffering does not feel good. The difference is purpose. If you’re enduring pain for a purpose, it tends to become a “growing pain” — the TEMPORARY pain [...]

Relationship Hygiene

Every morning and night, I brush my teeth. I’ve been doing this for most of my life. I know if I stop this practice, I will have dental problems. I do the same with my car. I take my car into to the auto shop for regular maintenance. I follow a similar process with my [...]

Why Smart People do Stupid Things

Consulting firms prize people who are logical, analytical, and rational. However, smart people routinely make “stupid” decisions. Here’s why. Smart people are like Superman. They have superhuman abilities (in this case, intellectual). BUT, also like Superman, they have an Achilles’ heel — a vulnerability and weakness that can bring even the most superhuman of us [...]

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