Monthly Archives: February 2010

There Is Treasure

You’ll Never Know Until You Look

Once there were these two guys that were on this bicycle trip. They didn’t really cycle all that much, but they’d seen a documentary on TV about this particular scenic route through the country where they lived. It was an area that they were both familiar with, as they’d driven through there numerous times. But as I’m sure you know, driving through a place, especially when your mind is on your destination, and you ears are filled with music from your CD player, it can be difficult to really appreciate the scenery as you are traveling through.

I suppose that could be said for any area through which you pass on the way to someplace else. You never know what’s around unless you have a reason to take your eyes of the distant future, and pay attention to what is around at any particular instant.

Once I had a friend who was driving an old VW bus on the way through a particularly large city. He lived in the suburbs, and this particular route took him through some areas that he would never go to. But one day, his VW suddenly started having problems. He just barely pulled off the freeway, when he saw this old VW shop. Luckily, the guy had extended hours, and was able to help him.

This guy had been in business for several years, and was an expert on all things VW. My friend, not being the most astute mechanic, learned quite a bit from this guy, and returned to his shop several times in the future for repairs and fine tuning of his classic van. Had it not been for the engine trouble he had on that day, he likely would never have found that guys shop, and wouldn’t’ still be driving his VW bus to this day. That shop seemed to awaken an interest in engine mechanics in him, and he has been tinkering ever since.

So it was with our two characters of this story. Neither one of them had ever though much about the rolling countryside through which they drove on a regular basis, until they both coincidently saw the same documentary regarding the various farming and mining industries that had been developed over the past several hundred years in this area. The next time they met, they decided to go on a cycling tour through the area. They had discussed the best way to visit, and despite neither of them being avid cyclists, they figured that would be the way to go.

This took quite a bit of planning, as they reckoned it would take about a week to wind their way through all the back roads off the main highway on their bicycles. Since they both had full time jobs that only came with the minimum amount of vacation time, it took a few months to coordinate. But they finally did, and that’s how they came to discover what you’re about to find out.

The area was presently used as various orchard farms, and a couple vineyards. Nothing world famous, but enough for the local farmers to make a decent living. They did produce a really good merlot from time to time. Before being a vineyard, the area was a copper mine for a time. A developer from back east came in and decided to mine for copper, as copper back in those days was worth quite a bit, and technology at the time was heavily dependent on copper. So the developer figured that if he got lucky, and tapped into a large source of copper, then he might become a big player in the realm of precious metals. Who knows, he may even discover oil.

It’s not widely known that most of the early oil tycoons of previous years started out as miners. Gold, silver, copper, these were all extremely profitable metals back in those days. But with the advent of the railroad, and later the gasoline powered automobile, crude oil became huge. And still is, obviously.

However, this particular entrepreneur never quite made enough to break even. For a while, he was mining enough copper to make a tidy profit, and pay all the workers, and keep his family fed, but most of the time it was a struggle. So after a few years, he finally gave up, which left several untended mines in the area.

Later, of course, farmers moved in and found the soil particularly useful for growing citrus and grapes, as they do to this day.

So on their third day out, camping in some places and staying at cozy bed and breakfasts on other days, our two friends were cycling along, when they came across an abandoned copper mine. Naturally, being on vacation, they decided to take a look.

It was a relatively large opening, and easy enough to walk down into. They had a couple flashlights, as their guidebooks suggested for this very occasion. They had walked about a half a kilometer down into the mine when the earthquake hit.

At first they were terrified. Then the shaking stop, and the dust settled, they realize they were still safe. But they noticed a crack in the small excavated room they were standing in. It was a crack that seemed to open up to another natural pocket in the earth. One of them wriggled his head and his arm in, and shone the light around.

Despite the darkness, his friend could read the astonishment on his face.
“What is it?” he asked.
“Take a look.” He looked. What he saw made him gasp audibly. For inside the recently opened natural space deep under the earth, were mounds and mounds of raw gold.

“Yea, but, this isn’t ours, is it?” He asked. Unsure of the property laws and who owned what and whose farm they might be on.
“Check the guide book.” He checked. They were astonished that the copper mines, which had fallen into disrepair, had been passed from owner to owner, and since fifty years had passed since anyone had supported the property with any maintenance (which is required for mines due to some insurance law of antiquity) they had fallen into the public domain.

“So, we can keep all this?” he asked, incredulous.
“I guess so.” They looked at each other, and looked around for left over mining equipment, and got to work.


To find and unleash hidden treasures that you may not be aware of, click on the link below:

Success with NLP

Success with NLP

Don’t Argue With Mother Nature

The Future’s Uncertain And The End Is Always Near

Once, a few years ago, I went on a hiking trip with a couple of friends of mine. We were hiking up this one mountain that supposedly had this great view from the top, at least that’s what the guidebook said. The top was an area that wasn’t a jagged peak, or surrounded by trees, but it was shaped like a large smooth dome, and was free from any obstructions. The way the book described it, it made it sound like you hiked through all these rough switchbacks, and through some fairly dense trees, and then when you got within half a kilometer of the top, the trees disappeared, and it was all flat, and open. Kind of like a giant, curved soccer field, only at about 13,000 feet.

We’d planned the trip for a couple months, as we had to choose a time when it was convenient for the three of us. It was quite a drive, and we had to leave right after work on Friday, drive for a few hours, sleep at the trailhead, and then start hiking Saturday morning. The plan was to find a place to camp about halfway up the mountain, then leave our heavy packs and continue on. If we were lucky, we’d get to the top, have about hour to spend up there, and then get back down to our campsite before dark. Then we’d huff it out and drive home Sunday afternoon.

Unfortunately, the weather didn’t cooperate. Even though we’d planned weeks in advance, and checked the weather reports, we ran into some trouble. We left on Friday, as we’d planned, and got to the trailhead about 10 PM, laid out our sleeping bags on the ground, and started hiking. And as we’d planned, we got to the campsite around noon, giving us plenty of time to get to the top and back down to our campsite before dark. But about halfway to the top, a bunch of huge, black clouds started to roll in. So we figured we may have to cut our time short on top, but getting to the top was the whole reason we’d made the trip, so we pressed on. By the time we got to the top, the clouds were right on top of us. And it started raining pretty hard. Not only that but there was also plenty of lightning and thunder.

Now as a kid, (and even as an adult) I always thought thunder and lightening were pretty cool. But not this time. Every other time I’d seen lightening, and heard thunder, I was safe. Even before when I’d been backpacking and the weather changed, I was far enough away to enjoy it without worry. Not this time.

This time we were at the highest spot with a hundred miles. And the lighting was right on top of us. You know how when you see the flash of the lightning, and then you count to see how many seconds the thunder is behind it? Then it was instantaneous. And the lightning was so bright we knew that it was dangerously close.

They say that you can tell if you are going to get hit by lightning if your hair starts to stand on end. That lightning really isn’t a spontaneous discharge, there is a buildup of static electricity, and as it seeks a place to discharge, it “charges” the path slightly before. And if you happen to be in the vicinity, you will notice that charge as your body is covered in static electricity, much like when you walk around dragging your feet on the carpet before sneaking up on somebody and giving them a shock. With enough static electricity, your hair will stick up, like when somebody rubs a balloon to build up a charge and holds it to your hair.

Only it was pouring down rain by then, and I didn’t think that we’d notice our hair standing up on end, as we were soaked. And running as fast as we could off the top of the mountain.

I remember reading about how the South tried to finance it’s way through the civil war. The sold quite a bit of cotton futures to France. France stood to make quite a lot of money, and a lot of the Southern government, and hence their armies, had quite a bit of up front financing. The French were assured that they would profit, as the South seemed poised to win the war. But as it happened, the South lost, and France lost quite a bit of money on the deal. Despite all their planning and best estimates, things didn’t turn out quite as bad. Of course, the French only had a financial stake in the war. Those that had much more things in involved, like their property or their lives, lost even more. After the south capitulated, the burning of plantations by northern armies was quite common.

Even Hitler’s armies were no match for the unforeseeable. They marched across Europe without many problems, but when they ran into Stalingrad, they stopped dead in their tracks. In large part due to the worst storm in a hundred years.

Sometimes no matter how much you plan for something, no matter how well you use the information at your disposal, your plans can quickly and easily crumble, with horrible results by forces that are just out of your control. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try, that only means that success is never guaranteed, and certainly never inevitable. But life wouldn’t be much fun if there weren’t any risks.

Those that wait until chances are perfect, and success is guaranteed before they take action are going to be waiting long time. As Dale Carnegie said, the sure thing boat never gets very far from shore. There’s always the danger of storm, and the boat sinking.

Fortunately, we got down quick enough, and back under the cover of the trees without getting hit by lightning. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared out of my wits. It’s one thing to see and hear lighting and thunder off in the distance, it’s another to hear it, over and over again, with fifty yard or so from where you stand, or in our case, running away from it. It’s as if Mother Nature wants to remind you that she could kill you in an instant without a second thought. It’s not like humans are in short supply on her planet.

Once we got back down to our camp, the rain had stopped, or maybe it was just raining up on top. We enjoyed evening much more than other nights spent sitting around a campfire after a days hike. Making it through harrowing experiences tends to have that effect on people.


To find the tools that will give you courage to easily face all the challenges of life, click on the link below:

Success with NLP

Success with NLP

The Mechanic

Trust Your Instinct

Once there was this guy that was a well-known mechanic. He was pretty well respected in his community, and people would come to him whenever they needed something fixed. He’d opened his shop many years before, and had slowly gotten a reputation as somebody that could look at pretty much any machine, and within just a few minutes, know exactly what was wrong with it.

He was one of those old school guys who firmly believed in the old adage “measure twice, cut once.” Often he would look at a piece of machinery or equipment, and depending on the size, listen intently to the owner describe the problems they were having, as he turned it over in his hands or walked around it depending on it’s size.

One thing people always found particularly intriguing about this guy was that he seemed to many questions, some that didn’t seem to have anything to do with the piece of equipment or the problems they were having with it.

For example, once this relatively young homeowner brought in a large gas operated lawn mower. The mechanic spent a good twenty minutes asking the homeowner various questions about when and how often he mowed his yard, as well as things like what kind of grass it was, weather it was there when the homeowner moved in or did he plant it himself, and even if he had any plants surrounding the grass, or was it just grass in his yard. The entire time he asked these questions, he examined the lawnmower intently, from several different angles.

Once somebody asked him why he asked so many questions, and he said it helped him to “get a feel” for the particular piece of equipment, that it helped him to “understand its personality.” People didn’t usually complain, because he almost always fixed it within a few minutes, and he usually didn’t charge very much. He wasn’t one of those “five dollars for tapping, and five hundred dollars for knowing where to tap,” kind of repairmen that always seem to figure out a way to convince people to give them a lot more money than they’d expected. This guy was smart, quick, and extremely affordable. He rarely needed to keep a piece of equipment overnight.

Another fascinating thing about this guy was that he had hundreds and hundreds of tools. He was the first to admit that he loved acquiring and using new tools. Some say his income that he generated from fixing things must be nearly completely spent on buying new tools. His workshop was huge, and had tools in every possible place imaginable. What’s even more, because most of the time he got the root of the problem relatively quickly (at least when he finished asking all his seemingly oddball questions) he would use a tool that most people had never seen before? Then with the tool, he would reach in and make a minor adjustment, and the machine would be running smoothly again.

But it wasn’t always that way. When he was younger, much younger, he was under the impression that only a few tools were required to get the job done. Once after he was finished fixing a vintage printing press (in under an hour) that had been inherited by yet another young homeowner, he was asked how he got all of his tools.

He explained that when he was younger, he knew he liked fixing things, but he was very poor. All he could afford was a basic tool kit. His dad would let him play with things in the garage, and before long he knew he had knack for taking things apart and putting them back together again. But whenever he bought tools, he would only buy them in sets. And because sets were so expensive, it took him quite a while to save up enough money.

He was very impressionable, and he would only buy tools that had a specific purpose. Screwdrivers were for driving screws. Hammers were for hammering nails. Saws were for sawing, and so on. In order to fix something, he had to have a tool that was designed to fix that particular problem. As a result, he could only solve problems that other people had already figured out how to solve, and had designed tools specifically for that purpose.

This, of course, limited him in his abilities to solve problems and fix things. Because he could only do things in a way that was already determined by somebody else, there was always somebody that was better than him, with more experience, that could usual get the job done quicker and cheaper. This was always a source of frustration. He didn’t know how those people got to where they were. He supposed it was just the natural course of life. You always learned from others, and then when you were older, others would learn the same things from you. He wasn’t quite sure who and how people came up with new ideas.

Until one day, this fellow brought in a small piece of equipment he’d never seen before. When he asked the fellow who brought it in, he seemed reluctant to explain it’s true purpose. Because the mechanic was so intrigued by the new machine, he kept asking various questions about it, some that were answered, and some that weren’t. After a while, despite not knowing the true purpose of the machine, he got a pretty good idea of what was wrong with it. But it wasn’t a problem that he’d ever seen before, and therefore he didn’t have any tools that were designed for specifically for that problem.

He was puzzled, and then had a thought. Since this was a machine that he’d never seen before, why not use a tool that he’d never used before. He suddenly had a flash of insight, of recognition. Not unlike Edison felt when he finally found a filament that didn’t burn out, or when Einstein imagined himself riding on a beam of light. He had what alcoholics refer to as a “moment of clarity.”

He rushed inside, and got a hole punch and a nail file. The hole punch he’d used only once before, as a gift he’d received. Something about making belts that he was completely uninterested in. The nail file, was a nail file. When he brought the two unrelated tools back into the workshop, the particular customer was immediatley intrigued. While he didn’t know exactly what the mechanic was going to do, he could tell by the look of his face that he did. And only five minutes later, this contraption, whatever it was, was working perfectly. The customer was astounded.

And ever since then, the mechanic refused to be constrained by mainstream logic and accepted methods of doing things. By asking questions, and trusting his instinct, he found that he never failed to fix any piece of equipment presented to him.


To find the right tools to do whatever you want with your life, click on the link below:

Success with NLP

Success with NLP

Deepen Your Relationships And Skyrocket Your Creativity

Feed Your Brain

There’s this Starbucks that I like to go to on the weekends. In order to get there, I have to take a train, and a streetcar. From the station near my apartment to the main station downtown is seven minutes. From the streetcar stop to the stop just in front of Starbucks is about 8 minutes. If I hurry, I usually get off the train, leave the station, cross the big street and catch the streetcar in about three minutes. From my apartment to the station is about two minutes.

So If I time it right, leaving my apartment just in time to catch the train, and going from the train station to the streetcar stop without issue, my door to door time from my apartment to Starbucks is about twenty minutes. Not bad considering my apartment is located in an area that could easily be considered the boonies, as there are several large fields and open areas, and Starbucks is smack in the middle of downtown, surrounded by high rise buildings.

Coming back is a complete different system. From Starbucks back to the main station is about a 30-minute walk, if I take my time, and 20 minutes if I huff it. Huffing it isn’t all that exciting, so I usually leave at least thirty minutes before I want to catch the train. Between Starbucks and the main station is this long, covered, no cars allowed shopping arcade, with all kinds of stores ranging from casinos and video game centers to comic book stores to bars and café’s.

One think I like to do is to waste time in a controlled manner. Obviously, if I lose track of time, and I only have twenty minutes or so, I don’t have time to stop and window shop, or flirt with whatever girls I may see. I have to walk in a straight line, looking straight ahead, with my mind on the time.

But when I leave earlier, I can afford to wander around like a pinball, bouncing back and forth across the road from shop to shop. A kind of planned time of no plans, or planned spontaneity, if you will. I know what time I need to leave, I know what time I need to arrive at the main station, but I have zero plans for what I will do in between. Only that I will slowly move from point A to point B with out any predetermined path.

I was reading this book on relationships once. Actually it was a book on communication in general, but the particular section I was reading was on relationships. One of the complaints that many people have when their relationship gets passed the “honeymoon” stage is that it gets boring and predictable. While certainly not the only cause, being bored in a relationship is reason enough for some to turn an eye elsewhere for excitement.

One thing that the book suggested was to have some planned spontaneity. Many couples, especially couples with kids, recognize the importance of having “date night” where they do something that they used to do before they settled down and have kids. Unfortunately, many times this “date night” is the same boring, predictable thing that they do again and again, like see a movie, or go out to dinner. While it’s good to get away from the kids once in a while, if you are moving out of one boring and predictable situation into another, it sometimes doesn’t really help out that much.

What this book suggested was planning some kind of activity where you don’t know what is going to happen next. You know you’ll leave the house at 6, and come home at 10, but if you can structure your “date night” so that you don’t really know what’s going to happen, it can have a much more positive effect on your relationship. Of course many people are afraid to try this, as they fear they will fall into the “I dunno, what do you want to do?” trap where they oscillate back and forth for two hours before settling on something just to settle on something.

But what this particular book recommended was to purpose give yourself a starting point and an ending point, and a specified amount of time to travel from one end to the other, or in a loop as the case may be. Like up and down a boardwalk, or around a mall you’ve never been to, or through an area of downtown you’ve never been to at night.

The rationale behind these ideas is that the human mind is set up to always crave new experiences. We learn more of our behaviors by either modeling others and trial and error. If the brain wasn’t set up to always crave new experiences, it would be impossible to learn anything. That’s why movies, TV shows, books, and even gossip is so popular. It’s like candy for the brain. If we don’t involve ourselves in new experiences, the brain starts to crave artificially created ones.

And one powerful way to create a relationship, or to strengthen an existing one is to experience new things together. If you think of all the strong friendships you’ve forged throughout your life, it was likely through a common, and new experience. School, clubs, work, armed forces are all places that we naturally form life long friendships, in large part because we share a common and new experience, the emphasis being on the new.

There’s a reason you don’t become friends with that guy you bump into at the donut shop (or wherever) every morning. While buying your morning donut is a common experience, it isn’t new, so that bond isn’t created.

If you can structure new experiences with somebody you’re already in a relationship with, it can have a profound effect. The more new and unique, exciting and emotionally stimulating the experience is, the deeper the bond will be.

While wandering around downtown might not seem that new and exciting, you can do it in a different way, or go a different direction, or even make it a point to try a new restaurant every week. That way you can get into the mindset of exploring something new together, rather than just getting away together.

And even if you’re not in a relationship, doing something new and interesting where you play it by ear for just a little bit can also have a positive impact on your creativity and perspective. Something to think about next time you’re deciding what to do on a Saturday night.

For more ideas on how to take charge of your brain, and your experience for wild success in any area of life, check out the link below.

Success with NLP

Success with NLP

How To Rewrite Your History

What Is Your Reference Point?

I remember this story I read once in a book on communication. The story goes like this:

And old guy was sitting at edge of a small town out in the old west. He saw a horse and wagon, pulling a family of four. They stopped, and greeted the stranger.

“So, tell me, how are the people in this town?” They asked.
“Well, how were the people in your old town?” The stranger replied.
“Oh, they were pretty nice. Friendly, always willing to lend a hand.
The stranger smiled.
“Well, that sounds like the people in this town.” He said. The family thanked him and rode past toward there new home.

A few minutes later he saw another horse and wagon, pulling another family. They two were moving into town.
“So, tell me, how are the people in this town?” They asked.
“Well, how were the people in your old town,” the stranger replied.
“Oh, not so good. Always sticking their noses in where they didn’t belong, gossiping, always waiting for you to make a mistake so they could take advantage of you.”
“Hmm.” The stranger said, shaking his head.
“I’m afraid you’ll find people in this town the same way.” They thanked him, and rode toward their new home.

There’s a powerful method of goal setting, or rather goal getting, called the solutions focus. In it, you take whatever goal you are aiming at, and periodically do an inventory of what you’ve done so far. You rate yourself on a scale of one to ten, ten meaning your goal has already been achieved, and you are enjoying the results, while one is you haven’t even started yet.

Whatever number you give yourself, then you ask yourself why that number, and not a lower number. Even if you gave yourself a 1.5 rather than a 1, ask yourself why. This forces you to come up with all the positive things you’ve done recently that have moved you toward your goal.

The next step is to figure out what small steps you cold take to get you from a 1.5 to 2.

This is called the solutions focus because you force yourself to focus on what you are doing right, rather than what is standing in your way.

In the story above, the family that found the previous town filled with happy friendly people were likely to find the same in the new town, not because an objective measurement would show their previous town as filled with happy, smiling people but because they were the kind of people that seemed to find the good in others.

The second family, by comparison, even though they were going to the same town, would likely find only pettiness and unfriendliness, because that is what they look for. If you look for crap, that’s all you’ll find. But if you look for treasure, you’ll likely find that as well.

There are plenty of good metaphors and stories that illustrate this point.

There’s also a pretty good exercise to give yourself a lot more resources that you think you have. Here’s how.

Think of a skill you’d like to develop, or one that you don’t think that you have. Then relax a bit, put yourself into a comfortable position, and take an inventory of your life history, and look for any evidence of when you’ve already exhibited this skill you are aiming to develop.

For example, if you want to become a good public speaker, just find all the times in your history that you spoke in front of others. Any time since you can remember from your earliest childhood memories are fine. And any public communication is fine. Yelling, screaming, singing, any time you spoke out in public and effectively got any point across.

Now whenever you think to the future, and any potential public speaking engagements you may be involved in, force your mind to those times in the past when you’ve already done what you are planning to do. When you do this enough times, your brain will start to see public speaking as something that’s normal and natural for you, and not something that is strange and terrifying, as it is for most people.

Like it or not, your past does influence your future. But there are so many ways to interpret your past, so many different memories and events that you were part of, that you can literally take any event, and spin it any way you like to support any future you’d like to create. Of course, there are some limits. For example, I’d have hard time finding some past experience that supported my goal of being able to slam dunk a basketball. It just ain’t gonna happen. But I would be able to vastly improve my outside shooting, my free throws, and any other part of the game that wasn’t wholly dependent on my height and my vertical jumping capability.

As much as we’d like to believe, we aren’t psychic. We can’t predict the future. But we can make reasonable assumptions on how things are going to turn out based on what happened in the past. And when you can choose which part of your past to reference, and how to interpret it, you give yourself a lot more flexibility.

To find out more, click on the link below.

Success with NLP

Success with NLP

The Farmer’s Advice

As You Sow, So Shall You Reap

I met a couple of my buddies for lunch the other day. Some guys I hang out with sometimes. We were talking about the recent economic conditions, and how messed up they are for everybody. Our particular industry that we are in is slowly spiraling down the drain. A few years ago, in this one particular niche, there was plenty of demand that would easily support any old shop that decided to open up. You didn’t need much experience, or even business knowledge of savvy. If you just sold this particular product, you could make money.

Things like that happen all throughout a normal business cycle. For any particular product or service that is offered by a bunch of different companies, it can be tough to separate the exceptional services from the mediocre, and even the lucky. Whenever there is a general economic boom, you could swing a dead cat a hit a slew of successful businesses.

Similarly in the stock market. In the roaring nineties (and even as far back as the roaring twenties), anybody with half a brain could, through some real experience, convince themselves they were a savvy investor, as pretty much any tech stock, especially Internet stocks, were doubling every couple months as a matter of course. Of course, then the bubble eventually burst, and wiped out a lot of so-called “savvy” investors.

So it is with any market boom/bust cycle. On the boom side, anybody can set up shop, make tons of cash, and convince themselves they’ve discovered the secrets to a successful market. But the true winners are the ones that survive the bust and continue to make money.

Like the particular industry my friends and I are involved in, ten years ago, any housewife without any education could set up shop and make a decent profit. But with the economy shrinking, as many peoples disposable incomes, making some purchases are no longer no-brainers. People are actually forced to make some hard choices how they spend their money.

We noticed this old guy sitting next to us, and he was kind of going alone with our conversation. He wasn’t eve’s dropping or anything, it was just a quite café without a lot of other people, and he seemed to be nodding along with certain parts of the conversation. Slowly he kind of joined the conversation.

That in and of itself is an interesting thing. There’s the guy who shows up to a few people who are talking, and interjects himself rudely, and tries to hijack the conversation. Perhaps you’ve seen this guy at a party or a bar. Then there’s a guy who happens to be in the area, and slowly over time, your conversation circle slowly expands, like some kind of social amoeba or something.

Anyway, this old guy happened to be a farmer, and he was telling us how farmers every year must make a tough decision on what to grow. Because the planting time to the harvest time is quite a few months, a wrong decision can have some pretty harsh results. If you belong to some kind of system where the government offers some kind of guaranteed protection, where they’ll buy your stuff at a certain price, this isn’t such a big deal. But they only offer a certain price for certain products. And the government price is usually on the low side. So while it’s safe to farm that way, at least in this neck of the woods, it is anything but lucrative.

Which is why many farmers attempt to grow things not on the government approved list of guaranteed purchases. While this is entails a lot more risk, the rewards are much better. The rub is that you have to predict six or eight months ahead of time what the market will be like. Of course, if you grow some kind of product that is always in high demand, then you’ve got yourself a good business. But then again, there’s always competition for that same product ever year.

So you’ve got to not only accurately predict what the market demand will be, bit you’ve got to have a pretty good handle on your competition as well.

There’s much more that goes into farming that just planting seed and waiting for them to grow. This farmer was telling us that they too, experience the same boom/bust cycle. Somebody will start to grow a new crop, and it will do very well. Then the next year they’ll be even more demand, and more farmers growing that same product. But then a few years down the road, the market will be saturated, and they’ll be more supply than demand, and the farmers that joined in too late in the game will be left holding the bag. Literally. A bag of product that they can’t sell.

The secret, he said, (which we listened to intently, as this was some old guy who’d been around the block a few times) was to always be aware of your circumstances, and your abilities. He said a lot of farmers get stuck in growing the same thing year after year, and get dependent on market demand. When market demand turns sour, they have no place to go. But those that are always successful always keep something hidden in their back pocket. Always have an idea in the back of their mind for a new crop or a new product in case the market suddenly turns.

To some people, a field of dirt is a burden that can only produce corn or wheat or whatever you’re used to producing. But to others, a field of dirt is pure magic, and will grow whatever seeds you plant. If you keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities, and choose wisely, and plant the right seeds, you will have an extremely lucrative harvest year after year after year.

To expand your resources in the present and make the best possible choices for the future, click on the link below:

Powerful Metaphysics

Powerful Metaphysics

The Parable of The Trees

Everything Is Eventual

Once there were these two trees. They were regular trees, in a regular forest. But there had been a drought lately, and there wasn’t much water to go around. So the leaves on the trees didn’t become as green as they had in the past. They would still grow, but not as many as before, and they didn’t look as good as before.

The mood of the forest was one of general anxiety. Most of the trees weren’t as happy as they’d been before. They still talked about the same things that they’d talked about before, but their conversations didn’t seem to have the same level of positivism as they did before. And the conversations seemed to be about trivial things, rather than any conversations that easily lent themselves to the future.

These were particularly old trees, several hundred years old, and they had been through several droughts before, but this one seemed a little bit different. None of the ones that came before seemed to have as deep an effect as the current one. Sometimes days would go by and nobody would say anything, they would just let the wind slowly seep through what few leaves they had.

Which is how this story begins, on one of those days when there hadn’t been any conversation to speak of for a few weeks. One tree, who happened to be particularly young, compared to the other trees at least, finally couldn’t take it any more, and decided to break the silence with his nearest neighbor, who was much older.

“I’m thirsty.”
“We’re all thirsty.”
“How much longer do we have to wait?”
“As long as it takes,” the old tree replied, starting to get perturbed. He too, was worried.
“How long does it usually take?”
“Sometimes a few months, maybe even longer than a year.”
“Longer than a year?” the young trees fear was obvious. The other trees pretended not to notice, but somehow they felt the same fear as the young tree despite their age and experience.

“You can’t control the rains. They come when they come. All we can do is wait.”
“But what happens if they don’t come?” The younger tree was almost in tears.

A strong wind blew, as if the angered by the young trees immature demands on the weather.

“Can you control your leaves?” The old tree asked.
“Your leaves. Can you make them any greener? By only your thought?”
The young tree paused, apparently trying this new concept out for the first time.
“No. I can’t.”
“Can you make the water from the earth seep up your roots any faster?”
The young tree didn’t try this time. He just shook his head.

“When the wind blows, do you have any choice but to bend?” he asked again. The other trees were listening with rapt attention.

“No. I just bend. I don’t have to think about it.”

“So it is with the wind, and the sun, the moon, and the rain. They happen when they happen, why we do not know. How we do not know. We only know that they happen, and it helps us.”

“But” the young tree started, but trailed off.

“Do you know what happens when your leaves fall?”


“They turn into dirt. The dirt through which your roots grow to pull up the water that comes from the rains, which comes from the oceans far, far away. So you can grow more leaves. ”

The young tree looked to the ground, and his branches, and the sky, and finally back to the older tree.

“Will I turn into dirt?” He asked.

“All you see around you is part of the same substance. It came from nothing, and shall return to nothing. Some sooner, some later. Everything is eventual.”

The young tree didn’t understand.

“But, what about us, the trees. We will turn into dirt?”

“Yes. But not today.”

The wind blew once more, shifting the branches, blowing off the dry leaves, clearing the forest floor below. Then the skies opened up, and rain began to fall.


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How To Make The Right Choice

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

The other day I was talking to a friend of mine over a cup of coffee. We had met while we were out shopping, not really met, more like bumped into each other. We both had a few minutes to spare, and there happened to be a coffee shop nearby, and so we decided to have a cup of joe and a chat.

We started talking about mistakes, and big mistakes that we’ve made in our lives. I don’t know how we got on that subject; I think she was concerned with her current relationship, that it may not be the right one for her. She is getting close to 30, and some girls feel some pressure, both internal and external to find somebody serious by then. I think she is wondering if she chose him because he was “Mr. Right Now,” instead of “Mr. Right.” I didn’t really want to get into some prolonged discussion about her boyfriend, but since she was veiling her conversation about him through general life mistakes, I was game.

Sometimes you can solve problems by addressing them structurally rather than specifically. If you get too involved in the particulars of a problem, you can lose the forest for the trees. That’s how therapeutic metaphors work. You hear some story that has the same structure to your problem, and by vicariously going through the metaphor, you can figure out a solution to your problem, oftentimes unconsciously.

That’s how Milton Erickson was able to heal people. He was a therapist that invented a strange kind of conversational hypnosis. People would come in and give him their problem, like bed-wetting or fear of elevators. He would them tell them a story that was completely different in content, but similar in structure, that had a happy ending. The people would leave, and discover a couple weeks later that their problem had been solved.

For example, if somebody was afraid of elevators, the traditional approach would be to talk about elevators, how they became scared of elevators, or to try and convince them of how safe they were using statistics. But a metaphorical approach would ignore elevators altogether, and focus on somebody who was afraid of doing something, and then by changing his focus on the positive outcome, rather than the thing he feared, he was able to overcome his fear. And after he overcame his fear of whatever it was, he realized how insignificant his fear really was.

Which is kind of what I suspect my friend was getting at. She wanted to discuss the possibility that she was making a mistake with her current boyfriend, without actually talking about her relationship. Talking about mistakes in general, I got the impression she was trying to find out if there was a general way to tell going into a potentially troublesome situation if you stick it out, and hope everything works out, or eject as soon as possible.

Sometimes you don’t need to make that decision, as certain actions are short lived. If you are playing on a particular golf course for the first time, and you choose a pitching wedge instead of an eight iron, you might come up short. You could consider this to be a mistake, but it is one you can learn from and do better next time. If you ever play this course again, and have the same lie, you’ll know to use your eight iron.

Those that study learning and brain development suspect this is how all learning takes places anyways. We make all kinds of small mistakes, and automatically correct them as we go along. A baby’s way to learn how to speak is to move their tongues around and make a bunch of random sounds until they figure out which ones get the right responses. Same with walking and learning all other motor skills.

However, some choices have much more impact than choosing a club. Like choosing a job or a marriage partner can have horrible results if you don’t choose wisely. And since most of us don’t get married a bunch of times or go through ten or twenty jobs in our lives, it can be tough to “learn” how to get married or choose the right career the same we “learn” how to walk or talk or approach the green.

The question is, and this is what I think my friend was getting at, is how do you know if your intuition is telling you that you’re making a bad decision, and how do you know when you are just nervous? If it were easy, nobody would ever get divorced or find themselves in a job they hate. But many people get divorced, or are stuck in terrible jobs or terrible relationships.

So the topic of the conversation was mistakes we’d made, and how we knew they were mistakes, and how we rectified the situation. One thing I learned, or one concept I was exposed to, was to future pace. If you are in a situation, and you think it may be a mistake, project yourself out into the future a few years, and see how it comes out. Imagine the best possible scenario, and the worst possible scenario, and the likelihood of both coming to pass. This is where intuition can be very powerful. Sometimes it’s impossible to make an accurate prediction of the future, but your intuition can usually do a pretty good job.

Project yourself out in the future and do a “gut check.” Is it an overwhelmingly good feeling a bad, feeling, or a “blech” feeling? If you’re make a decent decision and are just nervous, you’ll usually get a good feeling if you’re honest with yourself. But if you immediately think to feel repulsed at a possible future, the chances are you’re making a huge error in judgment.

This can be difficult, as many times we are afraid to look into the future, and only pay attention to the immediate pleasures of the present. My friend didn’t particularly like the idea of facing 30 and being single, so that was keeping her from facing the future at 35 or 40 having lived with this guy for that many years. But when she did take a peek into the future, her gut told her that it didn’t look good. So she was faced with making a tough decision.
Break up with her boyfriend, and accept an unpleasant present, or get engaged to him, as she suspected this was where her relationship was leading, and face an even worse future.

As emotionally uncomfortable as it is, many times the lesser of two evils is the obvious choice. But sometimes something pretty cool happens. By making a strong choice in the present, however uncomfortable, the future suddenly looks a lot brighter, giving you more resources and peace of mind in the present than you thought you had.


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Love The Plateau

The Juggler

I had this friend once that was really into juggling. He wasn’t that good, but for some reason he had always wanted to become a really good juggler. The kind of guy that would be able to pick up any three or four objects and juggle them for an amount of time without any problem. He’d bought several DVDs on how to juggle, and even took a workshop once at some juggling school. I hadn’t been aware that there even was juggling schools.

He studied for several weeks, and finally he was comfortable enough to start juggling in front of strangers. He usually got a pretty good reception, and for a while he even went downtown where they allowed various performers to do their thing on the street in hopes for a few spare coins. On some nights, he developed a pretty big crowd. But most of the time, there were only a few people that would stay and watch for more than a few minutes.

After a while he noticed the same people would pass by, make a comment like “oh, there’s that juggler, he’s pretty good,’ and then they’d keep walking. It got to the point where most of the people that went downtown on a regular basis got to know him, and acknowledged that he was a highly skilled juggler, but didn’t hang around to watch him. He thought about traveling to neighboring cities, where they hadn’t yet been exposed to his juggling skills, but then he began to question his whole reason for becoming a skilled juggler.

At first he just wanted to juggle, and he had some vague imagination of juggling in front of people. Then when he got a taste of how good it felt to actually do that, he wanted to juggle in front of bigger and bigger crowds. But when it go to the point where he was thinking of actively seeking out bigger and bigger crowds, rather than just spontaneously juggling wherever he happened to be, it became more of a chore, or a job, than fun hobby. Soon he went back to only juggling whenever he happened to think about it, instead of purposely setting out to juggle in front of weekend crowds.

It reminds me a little bit of the law of diminishing returns. When you first put in a little bit of effort, you get a lot of results. But as you start to put in more and more effort, you start to get less and less results. If you’ve ever gone on a diet you know what I’m talking about. It’s pretty easy to lose that first couple of pounds, but after that it just keeps getting harder and harder. Eventually you hit a plateau, and if you keep at it, your successes are really a serious of longer and longer plateaus, with intermittent jumps in success levels.

There’s even been books written about how the plateau is really where all your skills and abilities are forged. If you look at life a series of long plateaus, with intermittent jumps in skill level, it makes I easier to keep on moving forward when it often appears as though you aren’t making any progress.

This structure may have some kind of biological origin. Evolution is thought to be a series of plateaus, with intermittent jumps in mutations that over time significantly change a particular species. Even the evolution of language is thought to follow this same pattern. There are certain points in the growth of a language where it changes significantly in a relatively short amount of time, due to a variety of circumstances.

For example, English underwent a huge change around the 1400’s, known as the great tonal shift. The way English vowels are pronounced changed significantly in a couple generations. It is said that somebody speaking English after this tonal shift would not be able to communicate with someone speaking English before this tonal shift.

Even at the quantum level, the energy levels of electrons don’t change from gradually from one energy state to another. There is huge jump (the word “quantum” simply means “discrete”) from one energy level to the next. There is no in between.

It’s as if the whole basis of physical reality follows the model of plateaus in energy levels or states of matter punctuated by large intermittent changes in state. The reason behind all of this is of course a mystery, to even the smartest theoretical physicists. It just seems completely strange, and pretty cool, how whatever law that makes an electron follow the discreet energy level model lead to somebody being on a plateau punctuated by intermittent successes in weight loss.

They say that the universe is a hologram of itself. If you take any small piece of matter, and look at it, it will be of the same structure and makeup as the whole system. Electrons orbiting atomic nuclei behave the same way as planets orbiting a sun. Just like there are discreet energy levels of electrons in a hydrogen atom, there are discreet elliptical orbital paths of the planets in our solar system.

So next time you feel “stuck” on a plateau, know that you are in good company.


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Virus Of The Mind

Real or Staged?

A few days ago I was at this new bakery downtown. They had hired one of those guys dressed like a clown to stand in front and spin one of those signs around, to try and get traffic to come inside. It had caused quite a commotion, and there were plenty of people there for the grand opening. They had been advertising heavily beforehand, so they were going for a big splash on the first day rather than a slow spread through word of mouth.

I suppose that the slow spread through word of mouth marketing approach is more of a organic method, meaning they don’t really expect to have people running around town talking about their shop, it just kind of happens that way. Depending on word of mouth is a tricky marketing ploy, and I’m sure not too many small businesses rely on it exclusively.

There’s always those “engineered” word of mouth marketing plans, usually for movies, but sometimes for other things, although for movies they are primarily done on the Internet, and are referred to as “viral” marketing. A couple that stand out in my mind are “The Blair Witch Project,” and “Cloverfield.”

“Blair Witch,” although they did have several trailers in the theaters, had quite a big online presence. And “Cloverfield” took it a step further, going so far as to have fictitious myspace and facebook pages for the characters in the movie.

Another example of a “viral” marketing plan is that several million times viewed video “Where the Hell is Matt?” Now before I go bursting your bubble, let me say that the following is only my opinion, I have absolutely no inside information on the subject. Perhaps this has already been debunked in other sources, as the video is a few years old, but let allow me to share my opinion on the subject, despite how obvious it may seem.

The video is presented as a naturally occurring journey by this guy “Matt,” and whoever went along with him to hold the camera. It starts out with him giving directions to some “random” stranger to hold the camera in a specific spot, and then various clips are edited together, and whoever is holding the camera in the various spots is not clearly defined.

In many of the spots, it’s quite obvious it took some hiking to get there, and even in one place he’s underwater. So at the very least he had to enlist the support of a cameraman for more than just a few minutes.

There has been a few theories floated out there that the video is fake, and there are various special effects employed to make it appear he is in place where he really isn’t. While I don’t doubt that this “Matt” character actually went to all these places, I do doubt that it was as spontaneous as we are led to believe. I believe to be just as engineered and corporate financed as any viral movie marketing effort.

I believe this for a couple of reasons. The first is that international travel is not cheap, especially if you are winging it as you go along. It’s one thing to show up in a country and kind of make your way around, deciding each day where to go, but it’s quite different to travel from country to country in the same manner.

For one thing, not too many countries allow for a “landing visa.” This is where all you do is show up, and they stamp your passport with a 30-day visitors visa. Many countries require that you get a visa prior to visiting the country, and this requires a visit to that particular countries consulate, and in many cases an extensive itinerary, and proof of sufficient funds, as well as an air ticket leaving the country. You can’t just hitchhike down to the airport and buy a one-way ticket to some African country, for example. Before selling you a ticket, they’ll ask for to see your passport and visa.

So any trip to as many countries that were visited in that short video would require a huge amount of planning, and a lot of upfront cash to pay for all the airline tickets up front.

The story presented in the video, or about the video was some guy got laid off, had some cash, and decided to travel.

Of course, I could be totally wrong, but having been to a few countries, it’s been my experience that it requires a little bit more effort and planning than just hopping on a plane to some random destination. At the very least I believe that video was some kind of viral marketing effort backed by a big company with big money. For what reason, I have no idea. There is a blurb at the end of the video indicating some kind of sponsorship, but I’m not sure what that actually indicates.

My point in all of this is that word of mouth advertising is a powerful way to spread he word of any business, as it is much more believable and reliable than paid advertising. When we see a paid advertisement, we know they have a stake in whatever they are advertising. But when somebody that we know, or somebody that we suspect has nothing to gain by convincing us to buy some product or service, we are much more likely to believe them.

Because most successful word of mouth advertising plans are completely spontaneous and organic, it can be hard to consciously duplicate them. If you look at some popular Internet “memes” (Corey’s glasses, Chocolate Rain, Star Wars kid, etc.) which have spread over the past years, they don’t have much in common. People have tried to reverse engineer them, and then build new ones, but only with varying and seemingly random degrees of success. Even recent successful memes owe their success in large part to big media corporations picking them up and propagating them.

Even political campaigns, which try very hard to have a “grass roots” feel to them, are completely planned and engineered.

One thing is certain, thought, there are certain “memes” which spread much quicker and more readily than others, and some of the ones that have done so have literally changed the course of human history. Communism is one example. The idea was developed by some nobody in some small library, and then later propagated by a couple of opportunist politicians, and it literally changed the face of Europe within a few decades.

I suppose if it were possible to consistently engineer successful meme after successful meme, that would mean that human nature was completely predictable, and we would be at the mercy of marketers and social engineers who wanted nothing more to make us into obedient servants, like in “The Matrix.”

Luckily, human nature is not so predictable, and those that would control us aren’t always successful in their efforts. So long as videos of laughing babies and sneezing pandas spread around the world and are viewed by millions and millions of people, the human race is safe from exploiting itself into obedient slavery.


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