Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Jeet Kune Do

Posted: June 7, 2018 in Uncategorized

As a strength athlete I am no stranger to people who appear larger than life. Stand next to Worlds Strongest Man Brian Shaw for a moment if you ever find yourself needing to be brought back down to Earth in a hurry. The man is massive and powerful in every sense of the word. Born a few decades earlier a man of his dimensions would be traveling with the circus as regular employment being anything other than a plow horse would not be logistically possible. However when I was growing up there was one person that I found time and time again as powerful and impactful as any other that had come before him. He was a mighty little game changer going by the name Bruce Lee. His seminal work, the Tao of Jeet Kune Do is an amazing masterpiece that I am pleased to take a dive into today.

First order of business is to clarify that this book is in many ways an homage to Lee more than a work directly attributed to him. It is a compilation that was compiled and edited after his death. The profundity of the work speaks to the intensity of the man but the biggest take away for me is the fact that this amount of insight and enlightenment was attained by such a young man. One could be forgiven for attributing the work to someone of a much more advanced age. I am left to wonder what impact this man could have had on society had he been among us longer than 32 short years. He was empowering, inspiring, and progressive. Far beyond being a performer he had incredible gravitas, a commanding presence, and contagious energy that made him the consummate teacher sought by elite martial artists and celebrities alike. You will be hard pressed to find a more quotable person, always focused, deliberate, and engaging. “Be like water” “Using no way as the way, and no limitation as the limitation”. That’s good shit right there!!!! The ultimate inward locus of control!! These philosophies are so inspiring that they have seeded the Bruce Lee Foundation. The foundation uses the philosophies of self-expression and empowerment to engage with the youth and underprivileged. The Foundations website says that through his philosophies and inspiration “we can impact the world by giving people permission to follow their dreams, in harmony with their community”.  How powerful is that? PERMISSION! Not from the context that permission is being granted to the individual, it is from the perspective that we are the arbiters of our empowerment, and the our own guides to enlightenment.

At a time when the self-improvement genre was still at the fringes, the Tao of Jeet Kune Do was relegated to the bookstore under how-to Karate.

Mentor is a buzzword that permeates the self-improvement world these days, and while there is no denying the power of mentorship on the path to success the value of ultimate self-expression can not be overlooked. A true teacher or mentor has failed if they simply reproduce themselves in an effort to carry on a legacy. A true legacy that will stand the test of time is one of empowering the self with confidence to be an individual. Inspiration not replication. When a teacher empowers a student to achieve a fulfillment of the self, and achieve things that no one else has ever achieved before, that is true mentorship. If one was to try to illustrate the influence Bruce Lee has had it would be quite exponential. The fact that martial arts studios are commonplace across the entire country and that the martial arts film genre is one that has become deeply embedded in American culture are both just testaments to the ripple effect this man had on our culture. He was the original MMA pioneer.

Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.

-Bruce Lee

This is the hallmark of the MMA philosophy and a powerful tactic to deploy in pursuit of self  betterment. Another observation that validates the impact Bruce Lee had culturally is that you see people crediting him with influence from sports and industries that could not be more detached from martial arts. His philosophy is inclusive and universal. It can be applied to any domain and be as impactful as it has been on the martial arts world. The term “kung fu” itself is often misappropriated to the martial arts. The true nature of the term is simply referring to a high level of mastery achieved through dedicated effort. When concepts are distilled to their underlying principles it is often the case that a certain universality emerges. The same dedicated effort and self-confidence that makes a proficient fighter also makes a funny comedian, a great chef, and a master artisan. These principles hold the same value for the martial artist as they do artists from any genre. An elite ballerina is as much a kung fu master as is an elite martial artist. But the most powerful thread connecting all of his principles are that we are all complete just as we are. Self actualization needs no additional ingredients. You are everything you need and will ever need to become your ultimate self-expression.

 

On Being Articulate

Posted: May 25, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

ar·tic·u·late
adjective
ärˈtikyələt/
  1. 1.
    (of a person or a person’s words) having or showing the ability to speak fluently and coherently.

A topic I have been giving thought to lately is the skill of being articulate.

This is one of the most individualized abilities among humans and has impact far beyond what is often considered. Someones ability to use language effectively is not easily measurable, and that makes it impossible to compare with any precision. The ability to articulate feelings can be the difference between a relationship working out or not. It can be the difference between an altercation and a peaceful resolution. It can be the difference between getting a job or not. It impacts temperament. It can be the difference between a successful life and one of struggle. In extreme situations it can be the difference between life and death.

As a writer the words I choose to use, the combinations of them, and my ability to have those words invoke their intended purpose is paramount.

An example of people who often suffer from the inability to communicate their thoughts and feelings are people on the autism spectrum. It is really easy to understand the tendency for outbursts when someone cannot make themselves understood. Imagine just wanting to ask for comfort or to express affection towards someone and not being able to. To reach for words to say where there are none. Constantly being misunderstood and the impact that has on how one is perceived and how they understand themselves.

Opportunities lie on the other side of articulation. It can affect everything from who best pitches themselves for a promotion, to the sentence someone receives for an offense they have committed. If two people are charged with the exact same crime, and are both equally remorseful for their actions and equally likely to respond well to a lenient sentence, but one of them is able to express their remorse and a desire to take responsibility for their actions, then that person is far more likely to receive a more compassionate sentence.

Being able to express yourself accurately and effectively manifests options where there otherwise would be none. How many great ideas went unfunded because the creator could not express them well enough to the gatekeepers? How many discoveries were lost because the inspiration could not be shared with peers? When someone is articulate they can be more genuine. They can be inspiring and motivating. They can exude confidence and authenticity. They are better at finding common ground with others.

Is our ability to be articulate able to be improved?  Every strategy that improves the ability for someone to communicate will see huge benefits. It is actually one of the most malleable traits that we possess, but no different than attempting to improve any skill it takes work. These efforts will have different results depending on certain things, some of which we can control, others we cannot. As far as the things we can control the most important is to read and listen. Read books beyond your comprehension level and do it with a phone or dictionary next to you. When you read words you do not understand look them up. Look at the examples provided in the dictionary as alternate ways the word may be used and compare that to the way it was used in your reading.

Kindles are amazing because any time you come across a new word you can simply tap it and there are dictionary and thesaurus capabilities built in. If you are listening to a powerful speaker and the person uses words you do not understand write them down and apply the same strategy afterwards. If this happens in conversation ask the person to define or explain the word they used. If they are wise and knowledgeable they will welcome the interaction, otherwise you will have called someone out for using words they were not articulate enough to use appropriately, and hopefully they will be more authentic in the future.

I remember hearing Stan Lee of Marvel comics fame talking about the decision to use college level vocabulary in their comics. It has been observed that children who read comic books like this see benefits in the form of conversational ability and vocabulary.

With self improvement being so popular I was surprised to find such a void of conversation around this topic. Forming habits and self-confidence are hot topics. Nutrition and exercise are commonly explored. Mindfulness and productivity have a pretty solid position in the public awareness, but not too much in regards to being articulate. Even if you are not a fan of the subject matter I would highly recommend listening to Sam Harris. Even Neil Degrasse Tyson has observed the artistry behind Harris’s conversational skill. He has a profound vocabulary and uses it with surgical precision. It is difficult to focus on how great speakers speak without focusing on the subject matter. A powerful tool to improve your articulation is to listen to HOW great speakers speak instead of what they are saying. I challenge you to read books intentionally beyond your current comprehension level. Listen to articulate speakers. Look for patterns and things that stand out. The pace and rhythm that they speak with. Look for techniques that seem to add value and texture to what they are saying by how they are saying it. Humans have a talent for mimicry. See how increasing your exposure and awareness for articulation improves your ability to communicate your thoughts and feelings.

As always any feedback and conversation is always welcome.

Here’s to your empowerment

Is AI going to be the piece of the puzzle that finally allows us to understand consciousness? Maybe. The score at this point of the game is AI-0 humans-1 in the game of self-awareness. I am very excited to see this game play out. Certain people like Sam Harris raise valid concerns regarding the implications of what may happen if/when we crack the code of consciousness and more specifically if we do so unwittingly, without acknowledging the possibility that we may stumble upon a self-aware system in tandem with creating functional AI. As monumental of an AH HA moment as that would be it could leave us at a significant disadvantage in dealing with unforeseen repercussions of the discovery.

I am at a loss to envision another for of experiment that would identify the boundaries, causes, and necessary ingredients to consciousness other than replicating ourselves and seeing at which point self-awareness emerges (or if it even would). As much as it seems like we have the fundamental understanding of the human brain necessary to exclude the likeliness of certain possibilities, until we identify the flash point of consciousness we cannot completely dismiss the possibility that there may be more to it than we can currently account for.

My personal hypotheses aside, history has shown us the dangers of aggressively pursuing knowledge and discovery in the absence of an equivalently serious exploration of contingency planning for the fallout (literally in the case of the atomic bomb). These possibilities are endlessly explored throughout the sci-fi genre. Skynet is an unfamiliar term to very few people, particularly those who are prone to exposure to this subject matter. Even in a best case scenario it would be psychotically irresponsible to continue to create something on par with AI, which the CEO of Google just likened to a discovery more significant than mans discovery of fire, without as mature and sober of a discussion as humanly possible.

To avoid voyaging down previously blazed trails I would like to explore one specific possibility that could emerge from functional artificial intelligence being created without it resulting in a fully sentient being. If there is some currently unknown component to consciousness that will prevent it from spontaneously emerging during the creation of general intelligence, then the possibility exists that the creation of AI will still find humanity in the role of arbiter. What will the best application of this technology be? Solving our biggest problems and asking the questions we have not yet thought to ask seems like a noble task to set the AI to. How do we cure our diseases? End our social shortcomings like war, wealth disparity, and world hunger! Create optimum strategies for advancement of all of humanities best ideals. The legal and political systems would be great candidates for massive rethinks, as would any traditional process that is as prone to error and corruption as those are. Imagine an impartial superintelligence acting as mediator for global conflicts. Coming up with forward thinking strategies to end wars in ways that are best possible outcomes for all, and implementing these strategies without the parties involved even realizing that the strategies deployed for resolution were not their own.

teens-robot-future-science-39349.jpeg

If AI reaches these levels of capabilities without becoming self-aware then it will be even more critical to funnel the deployment of this technology with the most extreme ethical considerations possible. Every major player in the AI game would have to make an unbreakable commitment to an ethical agreement (which would best be drafted by an AI ironically) that would confine the use and implementation of AI to only those arenas that would be mutually agreeable as beneficial for all. If this agreement does not restrict use to an appropriate degree then we will begin to see the potential of weaponized AI. Incidents of fraud and misinformation would be the most trite offenses compared to a worst case scenario. Since humans achieved self-awareness our intelligence has been our superpower. Our collective knowledge has been our finishing move against every threat we have faced as a species. What will our defense be against our own creation that came into being with the sole purpose of surpassing our cognitive limitations?

To end on a positive note I am truly excited for the possibilities that will emerge from a synthesis of AI with our inherited consciousness. I enjoy the current state of this situation every day. I feel like a kid with a toy from the future every time I ask Alexa to play a song or answer a question and she does so accurately with some level of personality. I am well aware that her quips in response to my questions and comments are pre-programmed and are not able to be associated with a true personality… yet.

 

Time will tell if we will ultimately be the arbiters of AI or simply a predecessor to its emergence. If we end up the latter I can only imagine that it will be the result of recklessness on our part. Ideally if we succeed in creating our successor it will embody the best of us. Humans tend to become more compassionate in the presence of knowledge and familiarity. Our worst characteristics are amplified in moments of fear and ignorance. My hope is that because of the prerequisite intellect that will be required to ultimately succeed in creating AI that we will imbue our best traits into it. My hope is that Sundar Pichai is correct, and not only will this be the most significant progression humanity has made to this point, but that it will serve as a guiding light as to how we can be the best possible version of ourselves

 

 

 

 

 

Einstein Moment

Posted: November 29, 2017 in Uncategorized

“A planned division of labor is becoming more and more of a crying necessity and this division will lead to the material security of the individual. This security and the spare time and energy which the individual will have at his disposal can be turned to the development of his personality. in this way the community may regain its health and we will hope that future historians will explain the morbid symptoms of present day society as the childhood ailments of an aspiring humanity, due entirely to the excessive speed at which civilization was advancing.”  Albert Einstein (pg. 15, ideas and opinions)

Image result for universal basic income

 

I should know better anytime I believe to be the creator of some level of original thought. Came across this little gem from Einstein from 1934. So my article about how Universal Basic Income will be what frees up the workforce and resources necessary to repair the damage done from our industrial awakening is far from original. I guess there are worse people to find out beat me to the punch. This is an exciting proposition. Consumerism has fallowed the path of the shiny new Christmas gift that no longer invokes excitement. Society is quickly leveling out with technology lowering the minimum cost of living to a level that is sustainable and able to effect major change. Poverty is not going to be solved by increasing wages, it is going to be solved by demonetizing basic needs. Food, shelter, clothing, and basic necessities will essentially be free. Technology will unshackle us from these chains and allow people to pursue passion and purpose with the majority of their time. What world problems could be solved with 100 billion man hours available to focus on the solution?

 

 

 

A bridge to abundance

Posted: August 11, 2017 in Uncategorized

In a recent email to entrepreneurs interested in his Abundance 360 program, Peter Diamandis posed some questions: How do we deal with the coming challenges of technological unemployment? How will we tame the social unrest that will potentially ensue? Who will we blame?

Concern over the rise of robots and computers emerged in the 80’s—just to be clear, that’s the 1980’s, since century turns always reveal unease about social and technological advances. The auto industry in particular braced for a mass expulsion of its human work force; this industry has always rapidly integrated technological advances. Now, almost forty years later, if you tour the floor of any auto manufacturing plant, you see that the heavy lifting is indeed carried out by robotics. The major concern stemming from these integrations is the large number of people forecast to be displaced and the rate that this shift will occur.

Most industries currently require an ever-increasing amount of training and continuing education for their rank-and-file employees because the alternative is human resources wasted in irrelevance and obsolescence. Despite these efforts, though, the need for personnel continues to decrease as technology improves efficiency. Certain positions become unnecessary, resulting in trained, skilled, and educated members of the workforce desperate to find employment outside of the manufacturing sector.

Diamantis explains that this employment void will not necessarily need to be filled with people working in traditional occupations, like manufacturing, because he projects that technological progress will make it possible for a family to survive on less monetary income. The time commitment to meet financial obligations will no longer determine how people live their lives. Occupations and similar obligations will only consume a few hours per month. So what will we do with all of that free time at our disposal? There is only so much Netflix a person can watch! So where will people find purpose?

As technology displaces portions of the workforce, the search for purpose and validation is potentially going to be a serious issue. I believe that we can draw insight from recovery programs designed to guide people suffering from depression and/or addiction. One of the most effective components of many programs is service work. People in recovery experience significant impact as they fulfill a valuable role in helping others. These people use their own experiences to help others in similar situations, and the result is often a dramatic decrease in recurrence of symptoms or relapse. The feeling of usefulness and significance that accompanies taking a role in the life of another person, especially when that role has a positive impact, is one of the most fulfilling experiences a person can have. People treat themselves better, and hold themselves more accountable, when they know that others are relying on them.

It makes sense to me that we will see the progression from paid occupation to vocational service work a natural social evolution, similar to that of humans progressing from hunter-gatherers living in tribes to individuals contributing to the survival and comfort of the species only in exchange for pay. Thousands and thousands of people with substantial time available to commit to unpaid service work will be able to facilitate progress on a scale that is currently unthinkable. Service work will no longer be enacted by skeleton crews, doing their best with limited funding and small bits of spare time to make an impact.

Imagine if, when Hurricane Katrina hit, there had been tens of thousands of people available, with significant technological and monetary resources to come to the rescue. Imagine advanced transportation options to help get to people and get them out of danger without putting additional people at risk. Imagine being able to transfer precise amounts of food, medicine, and other life-saving goods to the displaced at 100 times the speed currently readily available. Imagine advanced computing power capable of implementing efficient and effective strategies to address all of the needs of the people affected, providing access to medical records, accounting missing persons in real time. Imagine AI and drone tech doing search and rescue with minimal risk of human collateral damage. You get the picture. Not only would this type of volunteer work force be available to offer aid, its resources would not significantly draw from resources deployed elsewhere. Advances in land and air travel would allow for rapid movement of people and resources anywhere in the world in a fraction of the time.

In the process of this transition from occupational paid work to vocational service work, a huge discrepancy will arise across the globe between struggle and abundance. Certain populations will achieve liberation from the occupational culture long before others have even risen above finding balance with their natural environment. But ultimately, the goal of the global workforce will be to bring the entire world into sustainable abundance, where people’s biggest choice will be how they can be of the utmost value to the world as a whole. People will be able to provide value—based purely on their willingness to be of value to the world.

This opportunity to spend a significant amount of time being of service to fellow humans, animals, or the environment will be one possible bridge to abundance.

 

 

 

Know What You Want To Know

Posted: September 8, 2016 in Uncategorized

One of the major principles that I try to embed into these articles is that every day is a never-to-be-had-again opportunity to improve, progress, learn, and achieve. Learning is the single most powerful tool to facilitate your progress in any endeavor. One thing that I have been experiencing lately is that I did not actually know what I wanted to know. I mean that I knew what my goals were, but once I became more knowledgeable, my goals became clearer and my progress toward them became more efficient. It may seem like common sense, but this awareness has had a significant impact as of late. Here are some of the things that have helped me clarify what it is I want to know.

  • Listening to the people around me more: I’ve started putting myself around good people and openly listening to them—without the rebutting and challenging that I’m used to doing. I’m learning to disengage from the power dance that conversations can become, where I do no more than bide my time until it’s my polite turn to talk again. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of always asserting myself and my opinion, but it deprives me of the opportunity to learn the lessons I need. And, believe me, it is hard for me to listen. But when I push myself to listen openly, I definitely find that I experience a higher level of communication.
  • Listening to myself less: In the 7 Habits Book, Stephen Covey talks about beginning with the end in mind. This tactic is very effective in many situations. However, not all tools are appropriate for all tasks—just as a drill will not cut wood, there are some situations where it is counterproductive to begin with the end in mind. When in conversation with someone, even if he or she is not a mentor, just let go and absorb the knowledge and energy being offered. Try to remember that everyone has something to teach you because everyone has had different experiences than you have. In the worst case, you learn something trivial; in the best case, you find inspiration and a new perspective to pursue new knowledge.
  • Listening to podcasts: Yes, I am old, but I am addicted to podcasts. A lot of the really good podcasts refer to subjects outside of the cast. Podcasts have been the source of references for most of the new books that I have read. Tim Ferriss is amazing at just bringing a massive variety of concepts and resources into one podcast. I kind of hate how amazing he is. I do not always agree with him (and, really, who gives a shit whether I agree or not?), but I always learn from him.

Going through each day carries with it a simple guarantee: You are going to learn. You will see things and hear things, and—chances are—some of those things will be things that you have never seen or heard before. Poof! You have just learned. Whether that knowledge is useful or will impact your life bears little importance. You have still learned it. Some of those things will have impact on your life. Many things that you learn are intentionally presented to you—a consumer—through targeted marketing, to influence your decisions about where you shop, what you buy, and what you know. Marketing is simply the strategy that businesses use in order to position what they want you to hear in proximity to the things that you know you want to know, or see, or hear. By predicting what you want to know, they can position information intended to influence you alongside that which you want to know. My point is that it may behoove (yes, behoove!!) you to put more effort into deciding what it is that you are learning and letting influence you than others do.

The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho, has an amazing line in it that has served as focus for my meditations for a while now. Although the entire book is incredible and full of great insights, I especially appreciate the following interaction—The Alchemist is speaking to a monk, who implies that he is being too generous, to which The Alchemist replies, “Don’t say that again. Life might be listening, and give you less the next time.” Always appreciate exactly what Life serves you by making the most of it.

the_alchemist

Leave any comment, question, or suggestion here on the blog or email me at jbrandonhall78@gmail.com if you want to continue this discussion or pursue my online coaching. I would love to hear from you.

Optimizing Diet

Posted: June 27, 2016 in Uncategorized

In these posts, especially when addressing training, I try not to beat a dead horse but rather address issues that I see slipping through the cracks. In previous posts, I have identified many goldmines of information readily available online from various sources. If you have not already digested as much info as you can from other sources, then this blog is probably not for you anyway.

calories

One concept of nutrition that I feel is often overlooked is optimization. What I mean by that is that there is a range of macros for every individual that I would refer to as a “sweet spot.” Only though self-examination and experimentation will you get a feel for what that optimal zone is. On the caloric deficit side of the equation, I feel that people are very aware of the risks of nutrient, performance, and result loss that can arise. However, a lot of times in the strength game, people will get a little lazy when eating for size and strength, believing that a calorie surplus will cover all bases—but this is not always the case. There is a point of diminishing returns. Excess calories can provide the building blocks and fuel for repairing and building muscle and maintaining optimal strength, but too many calories will tax the body as it tries to deal with the excess, ultimately causing excess blood lipids, blood pressure, cholesterol, cortisol, and a slew of other things. Big picture, these issues are obviously detrimental to one’s health, but, even on a micro scale, they will be counterproductive. Scale weight and strength may go up, but I promise when diet is dialed in to an optimum range of calorie surplus, there is no other feeling like it. Recovery, growth, and strength progress at a much more rapid rate, and these gains are sustainable. Don’t cut corners. Do what it takes to dial in your diet and find that optimal range. NOTHING, and I mean NOTHING, will bring progress faster than the foundation provided by optimal nutrition.

Please feel free to respond and discuss. Email me at jbrandonhall78@gmail.com or hit me up on the social medias. LOL!!  Till next time.