Real Friends Never Grow Apart

Real Friends Never Grow ApartI spent 4 hours chatting with my grandmother in-law last night.  She’s 79 years old and chock full of 79 years worth of wisdom and life stories.  One of the stories she told me really grabbed my attention.  It was about the power of true friendship and why real friends always maintain a unique connection even in each other’s prolonged absence.  The story went something like this…

I grew up in Jamaica Plain, an urban community located on the outskirts of Boston, Massachusetts.  In the 1940’s it was a wholesome, quaint little community.  It was my home and I loved it there, back then I thought I would never leave.  My best friend Rose and I used to collectively dream about raising a family of our own someday.  We had it all planned out to live next door to one another.

Our dream remained alive through grade school, high school, and even beyond.  Rose was my maid of honor when I got married in 1953 to the love of my life, Dick.  Even then she joked that she was just one perfect guy short of being married, thus bringing us closer to our dream.  Meanwhile, Dick aspired to be an Officer in the Marines and I fully supported his ambitions.  I realized that he might be stationed far away from Jamaica Plain, but I told him I would relocate and adjust.  The idea of experiencing new places together seemed somewhat romantic to me.

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Life Lessons from a Brilliant Man Who Faces Death

Professor Randy Pausch of Carnegie Mellon University gave his final farewell lecture to a group of 400+ faculty and students last week after being informed by cancer specialists that he only had a few months left to live.  His attitude is positive, his stories are moving, and his life lessons are priceless. 

I have posted a short Wall Street Journal summary clip followed by the lecture in its entirety.  Watch the whole lecture when you have a chance.  I promise that it is well worth your time.

7 Productive Pieces of Unconventional Wisdom

Never quit, always win, learn to fit in…  Nonsense!  Here are 7 pieces of unconventional wisdom that will hopefully assist you in leading a more productive and rewarding life.

  1. Go Ahead, Quit – Quitting is usually thought of as a negative conclusion.  If someone quits it must be because they are weak or incapable, right?  Wrong!  Some of the most successful businesses were started by entrepreneurs who quit several times before they finally got it right.  Quitting allowed these entrepreneurs to avoid wasting time when the realization or hunch of a dead end drive became clear in their minds.  Their decision to quit the project that they felt wasn’t working gave them the groundwork to execute on the project that eventually led to success.  There is a big difference between quitting and giving up.  Every so often you should quit, but you should never give up. 
  2. Be Lazy Sometimes – There are times when you should be productive and there are times that you should be lazy.  In my relatively short existence on this planet I have noticed a subtle truth about productivity and laziness:  There are thousands of people who seem highly productive and thousands who seem outright lazy, but I’ve only met a select few who successfully balance the two into a lifestyle that seems worthwhile.  It’s important to be productive, but it’s equally important to kick back and relax.  Happiness and success are found between the two extremes.
  3. Disagree and then Lose the Argument – Arguments start when people have opposing viewpoints.  Rarely do people get involved in an augment that they do not intend to win.  The one key point that we tend to overlook in the heat of a dispute is that agreeing to lose can actually lead to winning.  If both people stick to their guns, neither will ever take a breath long enough to seriously consider the other person’s position.  It is only when you agree to step down and except an initial loss that you will be fully capable of comprehending the opposing argument.  Once you understand where the other side is coming from, you can speak their language.  If you don’t understand the language, you can’t communicate effectively.
  4. Forget About the Future for a Second – I know, I know, it’s important to plan for the future.  But you know what?  You are alive right now and time is slowly expiring from your overall life expectancy.  It’s okay to plan ahead, but not at the cost of continually ignoring the present moment.  When I was a kid I was always in a hurry to be somewhere else.  My father used to tell me to “be here now”.  Over time I have come to appreciate the importance of his message.  Pink Floyd once said, “The memories of a man in his old age are the deeds of a man in his prime”.  Make sure you don’t get so consumed with planning for the future that you forget about the life you a living right now.
  5. Learn Less Right Now – Learning is important.  It is the means by which we enrich out minds with an understanding of our surroundings.  You should always be eager to learn, but you should also limit your intake of new information to allow your mind to fully digest one piece of information before feeding it the next.  Too much at once only leads to indigestion and waste.  In a world where multi-tasking is all the rage, information is coming at us faster than ever, creating armies of people who understand a little about a lot.  Instead, take it slow and become an expert.  Learn the material for real.  My father once told me, “Marc, to eat an elephant, you only need to take one bite at a time.”
  6. Use Other People to Your Benefit – There is a big difference between using someone and abusing someone.  The latter is always uncalled for, but the former allows you to work smarter instead of harder.  By using other people as resources you get to sample multiple minds filled with different experiences, ideas, and points of view.  Once you compile and properly analyze all the data you’ve gathered from the other people you will have a great pool of knowledge from which preliminary judgments and decisions can be derived.  Add this pool of knowledge to your own personal intellectual capacity and you begin to experience the truth in the old saying, “two minds are better than one”.  As long as your intentions are good and the other people are aware of it, you should never have to worry about crossing the line from using to abusing.  Most people actually enjoy lending their expertise to a good cause.
  7. Be Weird – The smartest people I know are weird.  Many of the most successful publicly known inventors and entrepreneurs seem kind of weird.  The funniest comedians always seem to be really weird.  My best friends are even a little weird… weird to me just as I am to them.  Don’t limit yourself by trying to fill someone else’s shoes, instead experience life without unwarranted restriction.  You will be most productive in life when you are comfortable in your skin.  Be alive.  Be yourself.  Be free.  Be weird.

If a Woman with No Arms Can Do It…

If she can do it, we can do it.  Let her story be your inspiration the next time you feel overwhelmed.  She has no arms, but she still has a mind filled with passion and purpose.  These qualities have allowed her to overcome her physical limitations.

15 Quick Fixes for Increased Computing Productivity

Computing ProductivityA combination of old and new, each of these quick fixes have one thing in common:  They will increase your computing productivity.  I personally use all of them on a regular basis.  There is nothing groundbreaking about this list, it’s just a short reminder of how simple it is to increase your productivity by enhancing the tools you already use.

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