The Lifelong Learner :: Do what you can, with what you have, where you are -Roosevelt ::

My Journal

A lot of self-help books recommend keeping a journal. They also
recommend writing in the journal whenever you find the time.

I’ve kept a journal for over 4 years now.

Has it helped me?

I think my writing has improved. I have converted a few of my journal entries into actual blog posts (like this one). I have resolved a few personal issues. I have come up with a few clever ideas. Just by writing it out!

It helping me see who I really am.

But I want more!

I am not sure how exactly to accomplish that. I think, to really do that,
I need to spend at least 5 minutes and closer to 10 every day. I don’t
write in it on a weekend. I should. I usually rush it before I leave
work. I shouldn’t. I should also write some random notes as they come, throughout the day.

I should also read my journal. More often. I’m thinking… why should I read it since I know what I wrote. It’s still true, to some extent. When I read it a while ago, everything was still “fresh” in my mind. I guess that will change after a few years. We’ll see.

I do see a great value in reading my journal, let’s say, after 10 years.
I’m sure I will think differently. It’s going to be cool to “go back in
time.” That’s the nice thing about a journal. You can “track” your
progress. You can “track” yourself. It’s a beautiful thing. :-)

How do I do it? I have a personal (private) blog. It works best for me but
whether you use a notebook, Word doc, etc, it doesn’t really matter.
The important thing is the actual writing.

Do you keep a journal? What’s your story? How is it helping you?

On my radar: Bible

I thought the bible is way overrated. I never thought I could get myself to read it. It’s an old book. I had a feeling that it belongs to church reading. No longer. I am slowly being attached to it. It’s starting to catch my attention.

How?

Why?

Recently it got referred to quite heavily in Love Life for Every Couple, a book I just finished reading. That book was in turn recommended in The Takeaway, where the author also recommended the Bible.

I have a New Testament Bible at home. It’s written in Polish, but I could not find the passages that were referenced to in the books. So I started searching. I  found an easy to read Bible, The Book. I just saw it at Barnes & Noble yesterday. It’s easy to read as it’s written in a modern language. I should say, translated to the modern, easy to understand language.

But how am I going to use it? Or, how is it going to help me?

I’m not sure. Yet.

It looks like The Book is loaded with great advice. It’s has a lot of great information on how to lead a married life. I think it also has some great information on how to become a better person.

Is it an ultimate self-help book? Could be. I think there is a reason that it’s considered the most influential book of all times. A lot of people recommend it. A lot.

I guess I was never ready for it. I think I’m starting to be ready now. I have that feeling now.

My Top 10 Firefox Extensions

Here are my top 10 Firefox extensions that I use on a daily basis.

1. Morning Coffee
A very simple way to load your “morning” bookmarks.

2. Firebug
If you are a web developer, this is a must.

3. Delicious Bookmarks
I’m utilizing it more and more, and utilizing browser’s favorites less and less.

4. ScribeFire Blog Editor
An easy way to publish to my blogs.

5.  Adblock Plus
Unless you love ads, gotta have this extension.

6. LastTab
Very useful. Pressing Ctr+Tab switches to your previus tab.

7. Xmarks
Synchronizes your bookmarks across all computers. Beats manual synching.

8. Web Developer
Also a must for developers.

9. FireShot
Useful utility to take partial screen shots.

10. Download Status
I don’t like the default download dialog. This extension fixes that shortcoming.

P.S. Not on the list, though I now consider it a must have: Chrome! :-) It’s really a sleek browser! As more and more extensions are being developed for it, maybe I’ll create another Top-10 for Chrome! :-)

Do you have any that you love that are not on the list? Add it as a comment!

Are you a Lawn Mower?

Provocative statement, don’t you think?

Before I expand, remember, choose your friends carefully. Who you hang out with, that’s who you’ll become.

There are a lot of great life tips that I found in the book by Karen Williams. This one has had the biggest impact. I’ve extracted the important excerpts to make this post.

“Walt Disney used to say, there are three kinds of people in this world: Well Poisoners, Lawn Movers, and Life Enhancers. Hang with the Life Enhancers.”

1. Well Poisoners

“They’re the people who have something negative to say about everything. There’s no joy in their lives or in their words. They’re miserable inside, and they want you to be miserable, too.”

2. Life Enhancers

These “are the people who build you up. Everyone loves being around Life Enhancers, and you know it when you’re with one. They glow, they smile, they laugh — there’s a joy that comes from within. They’re quick to hand out compliments because they’re secure in themselves.  These are the people who are always feeding into your life, investing something of themselves in you. You feel good when you hang with Life Enhancers.”

3. Lawn Mowers

They “are tricky. They’re the people who get up every morning, get their mower out, and mow their lawn. They work to maintain their lawn, trimming and mowing only what’s required on their side of the fence — nothing more, nothing less. They don’t bother their neighbors. They’re living their lives, doing only what needs to be done, and leaving everything and everyone else alone. They’re perfectly happy with the status quo.”

Good stuff, right?

Yeah, I thought so too.

Let’s reflect a little.

“There is nothing wrong with hanging out with the Lawn Mowers, except that they don’t enhance your life,” said Pat Williams to Karen in the book.

I learned a lot from these three definitions. Most of all, I now have good names for the different types of people in the world.

Some Questions For You
: Question One
Let’s start with a question about yourself: Which category do you put yourself in?

Think about it for a while.

I think most of us have been all three at some point in our lives. Consciously or not, when you complain a lot, talk bad about your friends behind their back, gossip, etc.: you are a Well Poisoner. At work, you try to do all that’s required of you. You do it well. Same with your families and friends. You just enjoy being around them. You are a Lawn Mower. Whether you like it or not. It’s when you step outside the “circle,” and do something extra that is not required of you; when you inspire others; when you put pressure on others to improve. That’s when you can call yourself a Life Enhancer.

So which one are you now?

Or perhaps a better question: which one of the above actions do you do the most?

OK, you figured out which category you belong to. Are you going to do anything about it? You don’t have to be a Lawn Mover the whole life. There are always ways you can improve. Even if you are a Life Enhancer — but I’m sure you already know that.

We all mow lawns at some point. But do you really want to do that for the rest of your life? Be a lifetime mower?

Hmm… that does not sound good.

Question Two

Let’s move on to the second aspect: Who do you hang out with?

I’m sure we know people in all three categories. But with whom do you like to spend your time with? Who’s your first choice?

Do you remember what I said at the beginning of this post?

“Who you hang out with, that’s who you’ll become.”

My wife tells me that I shouldn’t group people. I think what she really means is that I shouldn’t reject any of them. True. I think we should respect every human being. Even the Well Poisoners. But choosing who you hang out is different. You make a choice.

Tell me what you think about this.

Reference
, Karyn Williams (p. 167-169)

Marriage Test

When reading by Pat Williams, I found a few really good life lessons. One of them is a set of questions that you should answer about the person you are about to marry. Sort of a marriage test.

I think these questions are really interesting.

If you are already married, though, you’re stuck with what you have. There is nothing you can do.

Wrong!

If you are already married, read these questions. Try to do some of the things for your spouse. Try to make him/her better! Have fun together. Loving is hard work. And both of us have to work hard to make it happen!

Here is the marriage test:

Does he/she make you a better person?

Do you make him/her a better person?

Is this person growing in their faith (on their own, without your prompting)?

Are you ready to have 15,000 dinners with this person over a period of fifty years?

Does he/she challenge you physically? Spiritually? Mentally?

Do you have fun together?

Can you drive for ten hours on a trip and talk non-stop?

Does he/she recognise your dreams and give you wings to fly?

Reference
, Pat Williams, page 212

New Frontiers: Emerging Markets Funds

Here are some funds that offer diversified exposure to the emerging markets in Europe, Asia, Africa/Middle East, and Latin America. These are taken from the latest BusinessWeek, Dec 28th edition.

Sorted by 2009 Total Return

98% Europe, 1% Asia, 1% Latin America

70% Africa/Middle East, 30% Europe

100% Africa/Middle East

51% Latin America, 26% Africa/Middle East, 17% Europe, 6% Asia

50% Africa/Middle East, 25% Asia, 22% Europe, 3% Latin America

Pleasing Everybody

Just the other day, on a way from a bookstore, that quote appeared in my mind. Who said that? I’m sure I read it somewhere! A simple search on the web did not bring anything. But I did find something very related by Bill Cosby.

Does this affect me in any way?

Yes it does.

In a big way!

It stops me. It limits me. I don’t do things because of it!

Sometimes I hesitate, or don’t do something because I am not sure of how somebody else will receive it. I wonder, what will somebody think of me. Is this good enough for them?

Is it good enough for me?!

That should be the question I ask myself. If I like it, that’s a good enough reason for doing it.

Try to please yourself. To like yourself. To have faith in yourself.

When I start thinking about others and their reaction to what I do, that limits me, that puts pressure on me that I have to overcome.

I know. I should be stronger. But sometimes I am not. Or sometimes I give in to that “external” influence.

And that’s what’s wrong with trying to please everybody.

Trying to please everybody might stop you from doing anything!

So what’s better?

If something that you do pleases yourself, then that’s enough.

For instance, when you write a blog, this type of thinking comes up a lot. Especially when you gain some readership. What should I write about? What if I write about “something” and this and that is not going to like it. What will they think of me? I am going to look foolish/silly/stupid. Hmm.. Maybe I should write about something else. And on and on.

This loop is very dangerous.

Stop.

You’re not in the business of pleasing others. You want to learn. You want to grow. You want to move ahead.

You see. It’s about YOU!

Why don’t you write about something that you like and you feel satisfied? And if somebody else does not like it? It’s your blog! The power of choice! He or she can choose to read something else!

Plus, if that somebody else will feel strongly about it, or see something really bad, then they will let you know about it.

I think we become too attached to something that we don’t really have. Something that we don’t really control. And that “thing” controls us! Don’t let that happen to you.

But it did.

It did to me.

But you can change it!

You want to be happy, right? You control your actions. Don’t be afraid to be yourself! And try to please yourself. (Others will like it!)

Are you a lifelong learner?

I consider myself a lifelong learner. Hint: I named my blog The Lifelong Learner. :-)

But isn’t everyone a lifelong learner?

Don’t think so.

Here’s a test. Read the statements below. It’s a general summary of what a lifelong learner does. It’s not complete, but it should give you “yes, that’s what I do” or “that’s not me” answer.

…lifelong learning is different. It’s self-initiated and self-directed. A lifelong learner doesn’t need someone to tell him that knowledge is power. He doesn’t need someone to remind him that he needs to expose himself to useful and relevant information regularly. Because he knows that there’s no someone to do that. It has to all come from himself.

So someone who’s into lifelong learning actively seeks out every possible avenue that can satisfy his (or her) thirst for knowledge, even if that means paying out of his own pocket. He sees learning materials and training sessions as investments on himself. He understands that in this uncertain global market, investment in oneself is the safest and highest-yielding investment instruments available.

It’s all about the attitude. Sure, all of us are learning all the time. But are you actively looking to learn? Are you putting a lot of effort into it, or does it “just happen?” I think that’s the difference.

It’s easy to be a lifelong learner: have an open mind and be hungry for knowledge.

You think you can do that for the rest of your life? Easy! I thought so!

Reference
Lifelong Learning: Is Your Knowledge Library Shrinking in Size?
, the conscious life blog

Learning Better

I am beginning to evaluate the way I learn. I am trying to make changes so that the time that I put into learning/reading is more valuable.
It’s probably going to slow me down, but in the end, I will learn more and become more knowledgeable and productive.

What is it?

Do more with less! Yes, I think this is the key for me. I am doing too many things. I read to much. I have too many magazines. But the end
result is that I don’t learn enough. Yes, sounds bad. But that’s really how it is.

Why so?

Because I don’t learn on a level that I can remember. When I read an article for example. Is there anything that I take out of it? What do I mean? Do I extract information that I will actually remember?

Most of the time, I have to say it’s a no!

This is not easy. Not going to be easy.

I know.

But there are ways that I can implement that will allow me to learn more.

How?

I wish I knew.

But I think I know a way. I will try it. If I can share the information that I read/gather, then this will help me remember it. It will help me digest
it in another way. It will make me learn it in a more meaningful way.  Whether it’s twitter, my blog, a wiki page, anything. The point is to extract information that will go into my “long term” memory. Only then I will remember it.

So here it is. One of my goals for this year is to alter my learning. Change it so I focus more on the things that I learn. And that I really learn.

Reading is a lot of fun, but it could be even more fun when I can use it in a way that can help me. What am I going to do with all the knowledge I acquire? :-) A good problem to have.

Every group has a leader

I find this quote really inspiring. One that calls to action. Leadership situations, whether we are aware of them or not, are presented to us in a lot of ways. And more likely than not, we’ve either taken the challenge or passed on it.

Look around. Look around in your workplace. Look around in the clubs you belong (Toastmasters is a great example). You are either a leader in the group or you follow some other leader.

Situations to lead are presented to us in small (sometimes hidden) ways. How we act in these situations can tell you whether you’re interested in being a leader or not. There are a lot of ways we can step up, raise our voice, change the direction of the group. It happens all the time. These are leadership tasks! These build up a leader. This is how we can expose our leadership qualities.

What do you do in these situations? Do you hide or do you look for ways to take action?

It’s really a choice of whether you want to lead or you want to be lead.

Leadership is not just having a title to lead. Sometimes people with a title don’t know how to lead. And like I said, leadership opportunities present themself throughout our lives. Be conciuos of the fact. And remember: If you don’t step up, somebody else will. Start small. Take action. Lead!

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