Unchain the wheels of your talent. Little moments of practice. Keep it greasy! Photo from unprofound.com.
Sometimes some skills seem so far away and our lives are so busy that it may seem like it is impossible to attain certain talents. Japanese? French? Arabic? Guitar? Coding? Farfegnoogin? Fuggetaboutit?
But lately I’ve been taking advantage of little opportunities for practice and instead of thinking I’ve got to have it all at once, I’m telling myself, “I’m putting a bookmark here” and then just letting go. I’m still a “private dancer” as far as guitar goes, but the days of staying away from the guitar now seems a little foreign to me. I ain’t makin’ no promises to you, or even myself. I’m just moving the bookmark a little each day and yes, having some fun.
It’s all part of not breaking the neural chain, man. (hippie voice) One of the key components of little moments of practice is that they work with the way the brain works. As books like The Talent Code and The Little Book of Talent point out little moments of practice keep the neural pathways greased. The phrase you practiced yesterday becomes more natural and may even enter long term memory. You want a learning affirmation from me? “Keep it greasy.”
The beauty of it all is that you will either keep a bookmark in that talent until more time opens up or by taking one small action every day realize that the impossible goal is within your reach. In other words those little bookmarks of five minutes will remind you that your targeted area is important and/or will become the opening wedge that will lead you to hours of practice and progress.
Who can eat just one french fry? Keep getting greasier and greasier.
Keeping obligation out of your samurai notebook is about keeping your spirit free. There are other tools for “shoulds” but fly, fight, and love in here.
But there is Boddhidharma, fierce eyes, teeth showing, intent and determined, a free spirit who [will not accept] the propaganda of mediocrity. He challenges you to be free enough of society to transform it for the better. —L. Boldt Zen and the Art of Making a Living
Nurture your minds with great thoughts. To believe in the heroic makes heroes. –“All About The ” Benjamin(z) Disraeli
Sometimes in life you need to battle the “dark forces.” You need a weapon. You need a battle strategy. You need to reexamine your tactics in a world that isn’t necessarily out there to bring out the best in us. You need a de-programming device that helps you center your mind. You need to become a beacon to others by becoming a beacon to yourself. You need your trusty, dusty samurai mind notebook.
As I’ve been playing around with keeping notebooks, I’ve come to rely on them more. A samurai mind notebook is a place where I keep the thoughts and knowledge that I want to have kicking around in my mind. It’s the place where I put snippets of knowledge or forward moving quotes that will be there to lift me up and change my climate of thoughts. They have a longer-lasting impact as I playfully review them on a regular basis. (You can have notebooks to work out problems, complain, etc and that is awesome but the samurai mind notebook works better when it is positive, silly, useful, and fun. Get a “working it out notebook” if you need a space for that.)
I don’t necessarily believe you should become a positive thinking machine. You will have your feelings and you will feel suffering, but what will be out there/in there for you through that and after that? The television news? Keeping a notebook allows you to create your own channel of information of skills, thought, jokes (?), whatever you want to move forward in your life. Read through my different posts about keeping a notebook, but here are some powerful uses for my notebook that I’ve recently discovered:
My notebook is a place where I can re-enjoy the marrow I’ve sucked out of good books and resources. If I buy a $20 book I can multiply the value I get from the book by putting the ideas that make me stop and think into my notebook. As you review, if the knowledge still makes you “tingle” rewrite it in your latest notebook. That forward moving thought or inspiration gets reinforced.
My notebook is a place where I put little mechanical skills that I used to feel would never become a part of me. Sometimes there are little blocks of knowledge or skill that can help you create and play. If you put it in your samurai notebook, in small digestible bits, those bits can become more of you. For example, I am going through a music theory book for guitarists and wrote down some information on compound meter. Do I have that concept nailed? No. But as I come across it more and more, it becomes part of the conversation.
Random Collection of Notebooks. Samurai notebooks help keep me inspired, searching, while at the same time keeping me anchored.
Keep in mind that your notebook is not a place for obligation. Don’t write anything in there that you feel you “have to.” As you review, you can skip over parts that don’t rock your boat. Your samurai mind notebook is your weapon, your tool, your de-programming device. Though it can be physically messy, keep your notebook gleaming and shiny with your love.
This kiddies is a floppy drive with an actual floppy disk. I need a tech guru to help me manage my flow. Yes, I’m getting medieval.
You may read this blog and see the picture of real wasabi being washed in clear water and think—ooh this is so Zen. Or you may actually read my posts and think–err, maybe not. :). It’s spring break and I have a little more time for personal projects with a heap of potential work (planning, grading, thinking) for school to do as well. I am proud to say I have wasted a lot of that time on iDistraction. Here’s how:
I actually did do school work, reading essays and letters students wrote and shared with me on google docs. I noticed my pulse rate increasing after the third time I noticed an un-capitalized “I” pronoun.
I started listening to podcasts about how to improve WordPress blogs and integrate all kinds of plugins, etc. I started to think about all I didn’t know. Great podcasts. Too much information.
Somewhere along the line I got the idea that I could convert a lot of my previous writing to Kindle and try to publish it. I’ve some interesting interviews and I thought it would be great service to people to put it out there. I’m embarrassed to say that a good portion of my writing is on a 2002 Gateway computer that I have held on to. I’ve not only had to figure out how to transfer that material but also figure out how to properly format it for Kindle.
The organization to which I applied for a grant to travel to Japan decided to tweet winning proposals every hour, in addition to mailing out snail mail notifications. I received a grant three years ago, so it’s a long-shot, but that did nothing to settle my iDistraction.
I fired this thirteen year old computer to get at an interview that I think would still help people. Check out the floppy disk on the right.
I finally realized that I had to do something when I realized that I had children in my home. There’s a moment when you realize that they aren’t watching television any more and have moved on to exploring flammable chemicals. Not really but that’s what it felt like. 🙂
It’s a new day and I am not feeling so much iDistraction. The organization is not issuing any tweets and it looks like their website has crashed. I am not making any promises but I am aiming to do a few things that might help this iDistraction:
set time limits on my different efforts. Part of what I learned to do while I was on Silverspoon was do things in little bites throughout the day. Learning Japanese is such a huge project that the idea of it all can swamp me. But I learned to use different “time-boxes” and “chillax” periods to keep persisting without the overwhelm.
re-read or skim Steve Chandler’s Time Warrior and Wealth Warrior. He really writes cogently about the importance of silence, reflection, and non-overwhelm.
Re-investigate a spiritual path, meditation, or at least go back to recording things that I am grateful for at the end of the day. Ironically, the project I was working on was an interview on the interplay between a spiritual practice and money with Jerrold Mundis, author of How to Get Out of Debt, Stay out of Debt, and Live Prosperously. Mundis really emphasizes the importance of operating from a calm center in relationship to money:
And indeed, when we are obsessed with material and wealth, acquisitiveness, craving it’s very hard to lead a spiritual life. One can lead a spiritual life and still have material things, and still have money, but the spiritual life comes first. And, out of that center and calmness one can use money quite healthfully and well.
I’m going to get on all of that. After I check one more tweet.
I celebrated with neighbors and friends in NYC on New Year’s Day. A mix of traditional Japanese osechi and other delicacies for a tasty new year.
I’m not a New Year’s Eve guy. I have nothing against other people’s celebrations. For me, I like to start the new year well rested and not hung over. I went to bed at 9:30. I celebrated New Year’s day at a mid-day party with Japanese New Year’s food. I don’t necessarily have resolutions, but I have some general directions I’m taking. Maybe they’ll help you become a content samurai and help you know more, do more, and play more in 2013:
read the table of contents before and after I read a book
add speed to the game
play/study with the things that intrigue me
turn the things that bother me and seem impossible into a game
honor the vessel aka find ways to get off my derriere
go a little berserk (which I discovered is also a manga while trying to figure out the exact spelling)
Read the table of contents before and after I read a book
I can be a perfectionist and that sometimes prevents me from playing around with really helpful books, in English and Japanese. I feel like I have to read it cover to cover and I get the いやいや attitude about reading. Lately, I’ve been re-reading Study Hacks! and focusing on the table of contents and just having fun with it. Let the content warm the cockles of your heart. More of that, please.
I was looking at my notes from Furuichi’s book ,１日３０分を続けなさい！Each Day 30 Minutes. Learn to Win! and was reminded of his hint to study things while they are hot for you. That is the best time to study. Looking at my notes on Furuichi’s book he seems to do a lot of calculating of how much time you can gain and up your skills or become a better person. But he also emphasizes the joy part of the game and that you never know where it will take you. Follow the rainbow.
Turn the things that bother me and seem impossible into a game
Osechi ryori includes sweet black beans and other foods, some which symbolize health, wealth, and happiness. I say yes to it all!
I bought a guitar tuner and have a guitar strategically placed in a hidden location away from home. Am I going to be Jimi Hendrix? Probably not. But I can take one part of the piece and dip into Jamplay.com. If music is a language, then maybe taking a little piece every day will help me communicate with music. Today power chords. Tomorrow the world.
Go a little berserk!
Steve Chandler, in his book, Wealth Warrior, asks the question: “Are you willing to go berserk? . . . . It’s usually a person’s unwillingness to go crazy (in a good way) that has them stuck with a boring and financially demoralizing life. ” Study and act on your dreams, inside and out. Don’t be afraid to pull out from the crowd and do what you need to do. Read the book backwards. Find ways to serve. Go berserk! Join me.
I don’t watch much television but when I do I make sure it is in another language. Picture from one of my stays at a manga kissa. Battle Royale manga, empty glasses, internet and a remote control. Classic!
Everywhere I go it seems there is someone or something telling me not to watch television. I guess that’s one of the dangers of reading too many books!
Furuichi Yukio in his book 1日３０分を続けなさい！人生勝利の勉強法５５Learn to Win (Every Day Continue for 30 minutes: 55 study methods to Win in Life) asks three simple questions:
If you continue to watch television every day for two hours will you acquire the skills you want?
If you watch television, are you going to become the kind of business person you want 5 or 10 years from now?
Have you gained any skills from watching television for so long?
If you haven’t guessed it from the title of this post, the answer is no. (BTW, AJATT reminds us that Furuichi Yukio learned English in part by watching a lot of episodes of Friends so maybe watching a lot of TV in another language doesn’t count.)
Another book、 テレビは見ていけない, is more blunt. The title means Don’t Watch Television. I’ve skimmed it and I am waiting to read until I finish watching all the episodes of Family Guy! I’m going to lost in translate the Amazon.co.jp summary of the book here. ( I would love more exact translations from any of you out there on the internets:)):
This is the first paperback version of the groundbreaking work of the self-actualization and brain function scholar. 画期的な自己実現法で話題の希代の脳機能学者が初の新書を刊行!
Without knowing it, your brain is being badly influenced [by television]. How can you lead a life without being fooled? あなたの脳は知らぬ間に毒されている! 洗脳のプロフェッショナルが教える「だまされない生き方」とは?
Why are Japanese brainwashed by television?日本人はなぜテレビに洗脳されるのか。
Commercials fascinate with their goods while entertainers wear their marvelous fashions and live in their high class apartments while visiting high fashion stores and eating extravagant food. Is this what you really want? Is this the way to lead a happy life?CMに映し出される魅力的な商品、芸能人が着ている華麗なファッション、著名人が住んでいる高級マンション、有名店の豪勢な料理……それらはホントにあなたが欲しいモノですか?幸福な生き方ですか?
How the values of your heart be overridden by the standardizing values of powerful brainwashing.「空気を読め」と画一的な価値観を強制してくる最強の洗脳装置を前に、知らぬ間に自分の心が書き換えられる原理とは。
Fear, brainwashing, and the media: How visual media is one of the powerful forms of brainwashing. 洗脳メディアの恐怖】視覚情報
James Arthur Ray, author of Harmonic Wealth: The Secret of Attracting the Life You Want, writes about how television undermines our unconscious. He explains how much of television is “soul-sucking programming” and encourages us to create our realities instead of getting caught up in “reality television.” “When your life becomes enthusiastically inspired, the greatest, most exciting, and entertaining reality might just be the reality of your own life.”
Ray also gets a little mathematical on us. A four hour a day television habit equals 1,456 hours a year, which equals two months a year, and adds up to twelve years over an average lifetime. He also drops some “science” on this and explains that television makes your brain waves slow down from beta to alpha and does the following:
affects your ability to learn while watching
puts you in an “alpha-wave trance” that makes you more susceptible to advertising
I know I’ve put a lot of other people’s thoughts in front of you. Kind of like watching television, innit? It’s just strange that all the sudden so many writers are telling me not to watch television. One thing that I have definitely stopped doing is watching the news while we eat or get ready to eat dinner. I don’t know what I was thinking by doing that, especially since I have two young daughters.
Do whatever you want. I am just a motivational speaker who lives in a limited equity co-op down by the Hudson River. If you watch television, watch your mind and your results. What are you accomplishing? How are you feeling and thinking?