"Events don't cause stress. What causes stress are the views you take of events." - Epictetus
The Bass River Beach in Yarmouth, Massachusetts has become one of my new favorite places. A short distance from my house, it’s a peaceful spot any time of year. The island of Martha’s Vineyard is only a few miles away, and acts as a buffer to the currents of the Atlantic Ocean. The silt from the river extends the beach and the shallow water. Even at high tide, the biggest waves are from the boats speeding by the shore.
“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” – Benjamin Franklin
I’m currently reading “Life: The Leading Edge of Evolutionary Biology, Genetics, Anthropology, and Environmental Science” (edited by John Brockman). The book is a collection of essays and conversations by scientists on their understanding of life – from evolution to genetics to the origins of life to the probability of life on other planets.
My favorite chapter is the transcript of a panel discussion on the concept of life. What makes the discussion so interesting is the varied points of views - biologists, geneticists, physicists and evolutionary philosophers. While each scientist had a primary field of study, they were also well-versed in a wide spectrum of topics. The physicist had read papers on genetics, and the biologist had studied chemistry, and so on. Their broad understanding of multiple subjects supplemented their specific fields.
We can learn from their habits. Too often, we allow our focus to become too narrow. Instead of improving our expertise in an area, our self-imposed limits stunt our growth – professionally and personally.
Reading and Books,
“We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.” – John F. Kennedy
Decades ago, my Aunt Jean took me to my first high-end restaurant. She explained the menu and wine list to me, and how to ask for help from the wait staff. After we ate, she went through the bill and demonstrated how to calculate the tip. Since I went to college near her office, my aunt would schedule dinners like this on a regular basis. Those dinners prepared me for the business world as much as my classes did.
It was time to carry on the tradition. Last week, I took two of my nephews out to a nice steakhouse in Boston. I shared what I’d learned from my Aunt Jean, and from the next 35 years of fine dining. We laughed, told stories and promised this would be the first – not the last – time we’d have a night like this.
“The greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions.” – Leonardo da Vinci
I was so sure that I was on the right road. I had mapped out the running route from the hotel the night before, and followed the diagram in my head. Maybe if I went a little bit further, I’d get back to the main street. Then it was just a right turn, up a few blocks, and I’d be back.
I went a little further. Then a little further. And then a little further. I never found the main street. I wasn’t where I thought I was. I finally stopped, in the middle of a crowd of people walking quickly to work. I asked a man if he knew the best way to my hotel. He explained that if I went back 2 blocks, and turned right (which would’ve been on my left earlier), my hotel was only a half mile away.
Taking the time to become informed. Being prepared. Following the plan. Sounds good on paper.
But I made a mistake, and ended up in the wrong place.
"I never met a man I didn’t like.” – Will Rogers
Traveling for business means eating at a lot of restaurants; usually alone. I look for a seat at the counter in diners, or a seat at the bar in restaurants if they aren’t too noisy. Most times, I’m seated at a table for two. I use the extra space for whatever book I’m reading.
Just because I’m alone, doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy some good conversations. In fact, many of my blogs are inspired by what I learn while eating. And listening.
“Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.” - John F. Kennedy
Lately, I’ve been participating in several discussions – in person and online – that have turned into heated debates. What started as a simple question or suggestion became a challenge to a person’s integrity and values. I wasn’t immune to the situation, allowing my own emotions to take over.