Feb 062014

Make things happen Mystie’s post, Education is a Life: Fortiter fideliter forsan feliciter, or Repentance, got me thinking about goals and getting things done. She makes the point that results are not in our control. We obey, God rewards (in His own way). This is just as true in all areas of life. We do; stuff happens. If our focus is on goals rather than just being faithful (in all of life) then we will be disappointed.

Then I ran into this article, Forget Setting Goals. Focus on This Instead. which emphasizes systems (faithfulness) over goals.

What’s the difference between goals and systems?

  • If you’re a coach, your goal is to win a championship. Your system is what your team does at practice each day.
  • If you’re a writer, your goal is to write a book. Your system is the writing schedule that you follow each week.
  • If you’re a runner, your goal is to run a marathon. Your system is your training schedule for the month.
  • If you’re an entrepreneur, your goal is to build a million dollar business. Your system is your sales and marketing process.

Now for the really interesting question:
If you completely ignored your goals and focused only on your system, would you still get results?

He even appears to discourage goals with his points:

1. Goals reduce your current happiness.
When you’re working toward a goal, you are essentially saying, “I’m not good enough yet, but I will be when I reach my goal.”

3. Goals suggest that you can control things that you have no control over.
You can’t predict the future. (I know, shocking.)

But he does concede that goals have a place. Just not 1st place.

Goals can provide direction and even push you forward in the short-term, but eventually a well-designed system will always win. Having a system is what matters. Committing to the process is what makes the difference.

Are you focused on goals rather than on being faithful in the little things?

Feb 042014

All Japanese All The Time Following a rabbit trail from another blog, I came across an interesting article at the slightly irreverent “All Japanese All The Time” blog. The post, “Probability Over Certainty, Or: Everything I Ever Needed To Know About Immersion, I Learned from the Miller-Rabin Primality Test“, rambles a bit till he gets to his point that much of our procrastination is due to focusing on accomplishing the end product rather than the intermediate steps that lead you there.

In the GTD (Getting Things Done) universe this is seen as breaking your goals and projects into action items that can be done, that are ‘accomplishable’ (my term). As everyday distractions pop up, you get closer to finishing your project or meeting your goal by working on bite-sized chunks that will, in the end, complete your projects and goals.

Don’t try to get things done. That’s too hard. Too painful. Too annoying. Too prone to failure.

Don’t try to get things done.


Do try to increase the probability that they will get done.

Don’t try to get things done. Do try to increase the probability that they will get done.
Don’t ask if you’re doing the right thing.
Do ask if what you’re doing increases the probability of having what you want to happen, happen.
Do ask if what you’re doing increases the probability of you getting what you want.

Don’t work with the certainties; it hurts too much; it’s too painful. Work on pushing up those probabilities.

Next time you feel so overwhelmed in your quest to become fluent in Japanese, that you just sit there and do nothing, sit there and watch English-language shows on Hulu to try to drown out the guilt you’re tripping on (just like Maddie used to), stop yourself, wake up and smell the probabilistic coffee.

Watching a Japanese anime instead of running off to Hulu may not be as “perfect” as doing your SRS reps, but it demm </SouthAfricanAccent> well increases the probability of your actually learning Japanese, more than some English escapism ever could.

The post concludes with ““Nothing” is the only too little; “Not Now” is the only too late.” Rather than plopping down on the couch after a long day at the office, what little thing can I do to move myself along towards my goals?

Source: Probability Over Certainty, Or: Everything I Ever Needed To Know About Immersion, I Learned from the Miller-Rabin Primality Test
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Jan 262014

The Talent Code.
Daniel Coyle.
Google Books

Not sure what prompted me to add this to my ‘To Read’ list. From my search history I see that a week ago I looked this author up on Google. I remember seeing his other book, The Little Book of Talent, recommended somewhere but this is the book the library has.

Book Posts

  • The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle

  • Book Info

    The Talent Code: Greatness isn't born. It's grown. Here's how.
    by Daniel Coyle
    Publisher: Bantam
    Published: 04/28/2009
    ISBN-10: 055380684X
    ISBN-13: 978-0553806847
    Started: 01/26/2014
    Source: Library
    Format: book

    Publisher Synopsis

    What is the secret of talent? How do we unlock it? In this groundbreaking work, journalist and New York Times bestselling author Daniel Coyle provides parents, teachers, coaches, business people—and everyone else—with tools they can use to maximize potential in themselves and others.

    Whether you’re coaching soccer or teaching a child to play the piano, writing a novel or trying to improve your golf swing, this revolutionary book shows you how to grow talent by tapping into a newly discovered brain mechanism.

    Drawing on cutting-edge neurology and firsthand research gathered on journeys to nine of the world’s talent hotbeds—from the baseball fields of the Caribbean to a classical-music academy in upstate New York—Coyle identifies the three key elements that will allow you to develop your gifts and optimize your performance in sports, art, music, math, or just about anything.

    • Deep Practice–Everyone knows that practice is a key to success. What everyone doesn’t know is that specific kinds of practice can increase skill up to ten times faster than conventional practice.

    • Ignition–We all need a little motivation to get started. But what separates truly high achievers from the rest of the pack? A higher level of commitment—call it passion—born out of our deepest unconscious desires and triggered by certain primal cues. Understanding how these signals work can help you ignite passion and catalyze skill development.

    • Master Coaching–What are the secrets of the world’s most effective teachers, trainers, and coaches? Discover the four virtues that enable these “talent whisperers” to fuel passion, inspire deep practice, and bring out the best in their students.

    These three elements work together within your brain to form myelin, a microscopic neural substance that adds vast amounts of speed and accuracy to your movements and thoughts. Scientists have discovered that myelin might just be the holy grail: the foundation of all forms of greatness, from Michelangelo’s to Michael Jordan’s. The good news about myelin is that it isn’t fixed at birth; to the contrary, it grows, and like anything that grows, it can be cultivated and nourished.

    Combining revelatory analysis with illuminating examples of regular people who have achieved greatness, this book will not only change the way you think about talent, but equip you to reach your own highest potential.

    Author Info
    Daniel Coyle is the New York Times best-selling author of The Secret Race, The Little Book of Talent, The Talent Code, Lance Armstrong's War, Hardball: A Season in the Projects and the novel Waking Samuel. He is a former editor at Outside Magazine and a two-time National Magazine Award finalist, and his work has been featured in The Best American Sports Writing. He lives in Ohio and Alaska with his wife, Jen, and their four children.

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    Jan 262014

    Library Books Had a couple books recommended to me and saw that a number of them were available at my local library. Only one was not checked out, so I put reserves in on all 3. Before I had a chance to get to the library to pick up the one, I got a notice that all 3 were now waiting for me at the library.

    Why is it that when you put a couple books on reserve because others have them checked out, they all become available at the same time? Oh well. Now I have to decide which of the 3 books I will try to get finished before all 3 come due.

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    Jan 252014

    LSM Trikke Ride 2014-01-25

    Numbers mark the miles ridden.

    Today was the first “Last Saturday of the Month” (LSM) Trikke Ride for 2014. I started at the Wye Park and rode north along the Columbia River Trail for 6 miles, reaching Hains Avenue in Richland before turning around and coming back to Wye Park.


    • Distance: 12.76 miles
    • Moving Time: 1 hour 40 min
    • Max Speed: 16.8 mph
    • Moving Avg: 7.5 mph

    Because of the cold weather and the inversion this month I have only been able to get out 10 days this month for a total of 70.2 miles. I envy the folks that I see who live in warmer climates.

    Source: Route on Endomondo
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    Jan 252014

    Neil Gaiman.
    Google Books

    Going back and reading more Neil Gaiman. Soon I may be reading the Sandman series…

    Book Posts

  • Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

  • Book Info

    by Neil Gaiman
    Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
    Published: 09/02/2003
    ISBN-10: 0060557818
    ISBN-13: 978-0060557812
    Started: 01/02/2014
    Finished: 02/04/2014
    Source: Library
    Format: ebook

    Publisher Synopsis

    Under the streets of London there’s a place most people could never even dream of. A city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, knights in armour and pale girls in black velvet. This is the city of the people who have fallen between the cracks.

    Richard Mayhew, a young businessman, is going to find out more than enough about this other London. A single act of kindness catapults him out of his workday existence and into a world that is at once eerily familiar and utterly bizarre. And a strange destiny awaits him down here, beneath his native city: Neverwhere.

    Author Info
    I make things up and write them down. Which takes us from comics (like SANDMAN) to novels (like ANANSI BOYS and AMERICAN GODS) to short stories (some are collected in SMOKE AND MIRRORS) and to occasionally movies (like Dave McKean's MIRRORMASK or the NEVERWHERE TV series, or my own short film A SHORT FILM ABOUT JOHN BOLTON). In my spare time I read and sleep and eat and try to keep the blog at www.neilgaiman.com more or less up to date.
    Twitter: @neilhimself

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    Jan 252014

    (Click to see larger version)

    (Click to see larger version)

    I shared earlier the first two rows of photos on my office wall. The wall is now complete! I really like it in my office. I know my wife would not want it in the house but that is why it is at the office.

    Now, when I get a new “Top 20 Photo” I can swap out photos easily without having to worry about matting and framing etc. Just $1.50 at Costco and I can have the new photo on the wall in an hour.

    The 3/16″ rods do a great job and the little magnetic balls almost look like pushpins but don’t leave a hole in the photo or the wall.

    Jan 232014

    Permanent Gmail Links

    Do you use Gmail? Have you ever needed to save a link to an email? Maybe just to bookmark some important info you will need later. I need links to individual emails that need to be followed-up, for meeting agendas, webinar info, event info, etc. These are all things that you don’t need cluttering your inbox but you do want easy access to them.

    Since I have been working towards “inbox zero”, I want to be able to delete or archive an email as soon as I have read it. If it requires follow-up handling later, I need to be able to create a to-do item with a link to the email. If I need info in the email for a future meeting, webinar, or event, I need to be able to add a link to the email in the calendar item.

    When I was first reading up on how to do this, all the articles mention just being able to copy the URL from the address bar manually or by using a browser bookmark to automate the process. The solution is not so simple. The problem is, Gmail includes the current folder as part of the email’s URL.

    If you copy the URL then archive the email, the original URL will no longer work. If you copy the URL from an email that is in a folder/label and then remove the email from that folder or change the label, the URL for that email will change. And, of course, if you delete an email, the URL changes.

    But each email, even deleted emails while they hang around, have a permanent URL. If you look in the ‘all’ folder, you will find all your mail. This, then, is the URL you need to use but how to find it easily?

    Until someone points out an easier way, I have found you can easily edit the URL the displayed URL to the ‘permanent’ URL. The procedure I follow is just to edit the URL in the address bar then copy it wherever I need it. You could also edit the URL after you paste it where you need it. Then you can archive, delete, remove labels, etc, and still pull up the email anytime until it is permanently removed from your email collection.

    Some examples:

    • Inbox:
    • Label:
      if you change just #label to #all Google will auto-correct your url, removing the label name

    What kind of uses can you think of for these links?

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    Jan 212014

    Suzanne Collins.
    Google Books

    Having listened to the first two volumes of The Hunger Games, I need to see how the story would be wrapped up.

    Book Posts

  • Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

  • Book Info

    by Suzanne Collins
    Publisher: Scholastic Press
    Published: 08/24/2010
    ISBN-10: 0545663261
    ISBN-13: 978-0545663267
    Started: 12/28/2013
    Finished: 01/21/2014
    Source: Library
    Format: Overdrive Audiobook

    Publisher Synopsis

    Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she’s made it out of the bloody arena alive, she’s still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what’s worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss’s family, not her friends, not the people of District 12. Powerful and haunting, this thrilling final installment of Suzanne Collins’s groundbreaking The Hunger Games trilogy promises to be one of the most talked about books of the year.

    Author Info
    Suzanne Collins has had a successful and prolific career writing for children's television. She has worked on the staffs of several Nickelodeon shows, including the Emmy-nominated hit Clarissa Explains It All and The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo. Collins made her mark in children's literature with the New York Times bestselling five-book series for middle-grade readers The Underland Chronicles, which has received numerous accolades in both the United States and abroad. In the award-winning The Hunger Games trilogy, Collins continues to explore the effects of war and violence on those coming of age. Collins lives with her family in Connecticut.

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    Jan 192014

    A Theology of Matthew.
    Charles Quarles.
    Google Books

    NetGalley had this title available for review from P&R Publishing, one of my favorite publishers. I have not read many commentaries lately and this looked to be an interesting one.

    Book Posts

  • A Theology of Matthew by Charles Quarles

  • Book Info

    A Theology of Matthew: Jesus Revealed As Deliverer, King, and Incarnate Creator
    by Charles Quarles
    Publisher: P & R Publishing
    Published: 11/20/2013
    ISBN-10: 1596381671
    ISBN-13: 978-1596381674
    Started: 01/02/2014
    Finished: 01/29/2014
    Source: NetGalley
    Format: e-book

    Publisher Synopsis

    Who is Jesus? Why should we worship him? This book answers those questions by surveying Matthew’s primary theological themes and how they interconnect with the rest of the Bible. Quarles focuses on Matthew’s portrait of Jesus as the Savior of sinners, the King of God’s people, the founder of a new Israel, and the incarnation of the Creator.

    The Explorations in Biblical Theology series addresses the need for quality literature that attracts believing readers to good theology and builds them up in their faith. Each title in the series combines solid content with accessibility and readability—a valuable addition to the library of any college student, thoughtful lay reader, seminarian, or pastor.

    Author Info
    Charles L. Quarles (BA, University of Mississippi; MDiv and PhD, Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary) is vice president for Integration of Faith and Learning, dean of the Louisiana College Caskey School of Divinity, and William Peterson Carter Sr. Research Professor of New Testament and Greek, at Louisiana College's Division of Christian Studies.