Adults can learn languages faster than children. This might be surprising to people, but it makes sense when you think about it. Our brains work through association, matching up our actions and experiences over time so that we can adequately respond to the environment around us. A new born baby has a blank slate, no pre-existing associations that can be used to interpret language. So not only does a baby have to learn how to pronounce the word “dad”, she also has to learn the concept of a “dad”; how is “dad” distinct from “mummy”? How is “dad” distinct from all the other men that pass by her gaze?
Fortunately, with age comes a broader wealth of experience and knowledge that we can associate words against. We already understand the concept of a “dad”. In our native tongues, we could probably provide a nuanced description of surrounding concepts such as parenting styles, genealogy, nature versus nurture, and masculinity. All that’s left to learn with a new language is the vocabulary and grammar to express these ideas in a different way. Sounds easy doesn’t it.
Competency. That’s now the word I associate most closely with astronauts. They embark on a long, seemingly never-ending road of training to improve their skills and abilities. All with very limited chances of making it into the space program. And then, once they are in, only a very limited chance to actually make it onto a space-flight. Orbiting at an altitude of 400 km does come with it’s benefits though. For instance, you can do things like this:
A few quick lessons can be learned from the life of an astronaut:
Consistently working hard over an extended period of time can get you places. Extended periods of time are measured in years and decades – not weeks or months.
Always prepare for the worst and ask yourself, “what can kill me next?” When the worst doesn’t happen, you will over-deliver.
When you’re new, just aim not to make things worse. Once you’re contributing positively, don’t get cocky.
Take the time to experience the environment around you.
It’s okay to have big goals. However you won’t always reach them. Give yourself the best shot by continually readjusting course at each major decision point in your life.
My Rating: 8 /10 Title: The Art of Non-conformity: Set your own rules, live the life you want and change the world (Amazon Link) Author: Chris Guillebeau
Have you ever felt a pang of discontent? A sense that there is something more to life. Resolving this requires something unusual. A deliberate choice to think differently and live a remarkable life.
It is easier to ask forgiveness than permission.
There is a pleasure that comes when you do exactly what you want. The things others say you can’t do.
Often people try to bring you to their level. Asking you to justify why you want to do something is a subtle but effective way of bringing you down. Just remember the only person you need to justify your actions to is yourself. Why would you want to climb that mountain? Because it’s there.
“Whatever your dreams are, start taking them very, very seriously.” – Barbara Sher
My Rating: 8 /10
Title: Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers into Friends (Amazon Link)
Author: Seth Godin
Written just prior to Yahoo! acquiring Seth Godin’s company Yoyodyne, Permission Marketing will open your eyes to just how pervasive marketing is around you and provide insights into how money flows across the web.
Say no to “interruption marketing” and find out why permission is required for effective marketing in the 21st Century. Continue reading →
Confessions of a Public Speaker covers a range of topics, but at the core of the book it’s really just the experiences of a person putting themselves out there. Speaking is simple, “It’s just a person with ideas”. By taking us through his own experiences with public speaking, Scott Berkun unearths some underlying truths behind what goes into a good talk. See below for my attempt at organising the lessons I learned from reading the book.