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7 Important Lessons You Won’t Learn From Reading

7 Important Lessons You Won’t Learn From Reading
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It is the biggest paradox that I have ever faced, but I found the the most important lessons you can’t learn from reading in a book.

Couple of weeks ago I finished my book from Brian Tracy, No Excuses!: The Power of Self-discipline. There was a clear sentence that stated:

“…life is a test that shows what’s hiding inside of us. Wisdom is grasped by loneliness, learning, and thinking, but the character is built only by connection between people, when we are forced to choose between different opportunities and temptations.”

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1. Wisdom

I experienced a few months of loneliness, and this sentence felt like putting lens on a visually impaired person. It’s an overall statement that proves how the wisest people are the loneliest ones. Being around people all the time can build your character because of opportunities and temptations, but being wise takes time in solitude and makes you wonder and answer all types of questions on various subjects.

My loneliness made me wise. It made me think on various questions so deep that I found the core of the subject I was wondering about. Character, however, is something that can’t be built without the pressure of opportunities.

“The older the wiser” refers to the idea that older people spend more and more time alone, and thus discover rooted core answers to life’s big questions.

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2. Character

Character is defined as “the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.” It’s the “vacuum part” in the brain where we can’t upgrade it alone; we must build our character with support from people and by making choices.

Wisdom and character are both authentic. They take being alone and wise, and being around people and building character. Wisdom is between the lines—learning and thinking—and character is built by people, “The thing that can’t be learned by reading.

Character growth is the most important thing in the world. Our ability to gain the reputation of being a characteristic and authentic person is the biggest attainment in social and business life. Emerson said, “What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.”

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3. Decisions

Our important features, the things that make us the way we are today, are the overall collection of all our previous choices and decisions. Every time we chose wisely and authentically, we strengthened our character and we became better people. It also states the opposite: whenever we compromised, whenever we took the easier way, or when we behaved in a way we knew was inappropriate, we weakened our character and we undermined ourselves.

4. Control the pressure.

Only when we are under pressure, when we need to decide on one possibility from many, to live in accordance with moral values or to comprise them—we present our real character. Emerson said, “Keep your loyalty like something sacred.” There is nothing as sacred as our intellectual loyalty.

5. The ability to choose.

We are the “organism that chose.” We choose all the time, one way or another. With every choice, we show our true values and priorities. In every particular moment, we give attention to the things that are more important and more valuable to us than the things that are less valuable.

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The only way to frame ourselves is to exert the will in every situation when we are tempting to do the things that are easy and currently useful, and not the things that are authentic and essential. It may be hard to push the boundaries to the level that we need to crack the wall of “easy and currently useful” but once we do it, it will throw a rock out of our soul and we are able to strive for authentic and essential things more and more.

It is like a habit. “The more we do it, the less we think about doing it.” Smoking cigarettes is bad example of it.

6. Learn the “street school.”

Authentic would be to go out and build the thing that can’t be read. It’s called the “street school.” Wisdom is inevitable, but wisdom alone is not worth anything without the things learned from people. Wisdom and “the street school” form a perfect creation of human kind. Such examples would be Steve Jobs, Warren Buffet, Bill Gates.

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7. Form the Virtues.

To seal the things that can’t be learned by reading, we must understand the virtues of one person: courage, compassion, generosity, moderation, persistence. Strengthen these virtues and become a man or woman of value.

Featured photo credit: Empty/Anthony via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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