Crossroads

My friend Tanja from the city of Cacak says she is studying life’s crossroads from different perspectives. I believe this contemplation is important to her – as it is to me.

Crossroads are part of our lives. They happen for one good reason: we are the masters of our lives and we have the freedom of choice. This is not automatically self-understood. Just look at the history of mankind, you’ll know what I mean.

In fact, we have only recently discovered the freedom of choice. There are many people in this world who do not have the freedom to choose when they step onto a crossroad.

Crossroads can be forced upon us. Or they can be self-imposed. Whatever way, crossroads lead to decisions. Crossroads are about choices. Many people are afraid of crossroads, fearing to take the wrong decision. I believe there are no inherently wrong decisions. Crossroads are what they are – just crossroads, and will not determine the rest of our lives. It’s our character, belief, personality and openness to embrace change, what will ultimately determine the course of our lives.

When you reach a crossroad, take the direction you are most comfortable with at that time. Think well, but not too much. Listen to instinct – your gut feeling. There are no wrong decisions. The only thing crossroads do, is determine how fast you will get where you want to be. That is, if you know at all where you want to be.

In my free time, I ride motorcycles. I fill the gas tank, fire up my old Harley and hit the road. No plan, no goal. I hit many crossroads. So what do you think I do? Think at every crossroad what is best? Best for what? I turn into the road I like at the moment and make sure I enjoy it.

Tanja, thanks for inspiring this!

I think crossroads are important and the direction should be chosen wisely. At the same time, let’s not forget the basics: Let’s just enjoy the ride.

Regards and carpe diem.

PS: Many years ago,  Don McLean wrote a great song about Crossroads. Click here to heaer it. To me, it’s one of the most beatiful songs ever written and I dedicate it to Tanja. Chek out Lyrics!

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The Zen of Bits and Pieces

I use a little black paper notebook, 7½ x 12, exactly the size to fit in my upper shirt pocket. Whenever something crosses my mind, I write it down. Literally anything that may be of any future value. Each time I write something down, people give me this strange glance. Some ask why I don’t use a sophisticated digital system to „manage“ my thoughts. Well, truth is, I don’t really think that I can „manage“ my thoughts. They come up, whenever they want, and I have trouble enough just to „catch“ them. So my little notebook is not about managing, it’s about catching. No use managing ideas which are not there. 70% of the stuff I write down is useless at first glance. 20% go on a special list labeled „interesting“ (yes, that one is computer based). The rest is usually stuff that goes right on my action list. Now, let’s take a look at the 70% stuff. Since I can’t make any immediate use of it, I leave it right inside the notebook – no further processing at this time.

However, at some point in the future, I may have another, seemingly unrelated idea. Sometimes it rings a bell: “Wait a minute, didn’t I think about his before? OK, let’s go back and check the little black notebook”. More often than not, when I do this, additional information from other perspectives is revealed. Bits and pieces suddenly relate to each other to form a clear picture. Puzzle pieces fall into place and form the source of a new idea.

So what’s my point? The point is that our thoughts, ideas and creativity don’t visit us in linear fashion. They are not one steady stream. The opposite is true. They call on us in bits and pieces, seemingly unrelated, in different forms and dimensions. They seem unrelated at first glance. However, it pays off to give them a good second look. Creativity is lining up those bits and pieces, relating them to each other and giving them meaning. This is, in my opinion, a powerful source of human intelligence and creative ideas.

The power of good explanation

There is one single thing that will make an astronomical difference between protracted stagnation and open-ended discovery which we call progress. It’s the power of the good explanation. So what is that? Consider this ancient Greek myth:

Hades, God of the Underworld, kidnaps Persephone, the Goddess of Spring, and negotiates a forced marriage contract, requiring her to return regularly, and lets her go. Each year, she is magically compelled to return. Her mother, Demeter, Goddess of the Earth, is sad, and makes it cold and barren. That myth is testable. If winter is caused by Demeter’s sadness, then it must happen everywhere on Earth, simultaneously. So if the ancient Greeks had only known that Australia is at its warmest when Demeter is at her saddest, they’d have known that their theory is false.

If the ancient Greeks had found out about seasons in Australia, they could have easily varied their myth to predict that. They could have changed the entire story around to tell an entirely different myth and still explain the change of seasons. Except, this wouldn’t have gotten them one inch further towards really understanding how seasons change. The story can easily be changed, its elements can be varied and have no merit for themselves outside the story.

This easy variability is the sign of a bad explanation. Without a functional reason to prefer one of countless variants, advocating one of them in preference to the others is irrational.

So, for the essence of what makes the difference to enable progress, seek good explanations, the ones that can’t be easily varied, while still explaining the phenomena. That the truth consists of hard to vary assertions about reality is the most important fact about the physical world. It’s a fact that is, itself, unseen, yet impossible to vary.

Thanks to “brosi” and David Deutsch for inspiring this.

Whatever can be done will be done

In a flat world, whatever can be done will be done. The question is: will it be done by you or to you? Take your pick. Do you want to be in control or do you want to be controlled? If a new technology can be invented, it will be invented. So how do you know what can be done? You’ll never really know unless you go ahead and try it. 99 failures are worth the one big success

Credits go to Thomas L. Friedmann from the NY Times who inspired this.

Solutions and possibilities

There is an answer to every question and there’s a solution for every problem – somewhere out there. Will you take the lead and find it? In my opinion, this has a lot to do with your comfort zone. If you want to make a difference, get out of it. Comfort zones are what they are ment to be – comfortable. Great things do happen, but definitely not within your comfort zone. Get out of there and make a diffrence.

Source quality

Who do you trust? Which people? Which blogs? Which book? Which papers? What about friends? TV-Stations?

OK, stop right there and think for one second.

Do you really know them? Who are they? Are they authentic? Do they deserve your trust?

And now, think again.

The Zen of zooming out

There are unlimited opportunities out there just waiting to be found. And still, few people ever do. Why? I think it’s a question of focus. When we think “focus”, we naturally think of zooming in. We get lost in details, loosing the “big picture”. Zooming is not only about zooming in, it’s also about zooming out. Sometimes we need to zoom out –  to see the big picture so we can discover new opportunities. Looking for mushrooms on one square foot is difficult. Zoom in as much as you like, if there are no mushrooms, you won’t find any. Zoom out and you might find an abundance of mushrooms just a few feet away. If you’re tackling a problem, never forget to zoom out. This applies as much to technology as to anything in life.