What I learned from 1-month rock-climbing challenge

Rock-climbing rocks!

Today I finished my 30 days rock-climbing challenge. Well, not rock-climbing — bouldering to be more technical. I squeezed 19 workouts within 30 days which was pretty intense considering that sometimes I hit the normal gym in the “rest” days.

I fell in love with this sport. And after 1 month I am buying my own shoes and staying for longer to get better at it. I am writing this post because I want you to share the beauty of rock-climbing and maybe inspire you to try it for yourself.

Here are some things that I learned.

Man, it’s hard.

When I saw little girls climbing the walls light and agile as lynxes I thought that a man with several years of experience in fitness will be able to keep up.

I was wrong.

Rock climbing is crazy hard because it requires endurance.

Once again I learned that it doesn’t matter how big your muscles are if they are not functional.

Bouldering became complimentary routine adding up to calisthenics and animal movements in my arsenal on the quest for learning how to control my body.

When you are hanging on the wall holding a boulder (artificial rock) with one hand your other hand rests. Then you change the hands. It teaches you to be very wise with your energy. If you climb to fast or hold the position that is too energy consuming you will burn out. Same is fair in our daily life, isn’t it?

I loved rock climbing because it teaches me resilience.

It’s a workout for the brain.

Most of the boulders are labeled with colored and numbered stickers that show you the path — so-called “puzzle”.

It is a kinetic puzzle indeed. Although the beginner’s courses are quite easy some of the more advanced puzzles require the use of the brain. You need to think. Sometimes you need to think hard enough that the thinking process is physically sensible. You can feel that your brain is “moving” in order to understand what exactly do you need to do with your body to move on.

Rock climbing is a sport of stoics.

It places you in the state of stable discomfort. When you reach your limit you can hear the voice in your head telling you: “Let go.” Resisting the voice, resisting the pain teaches me grit. Sometimes I spend more than an hour to solve a certain puzzle. The satisfaction that comes with it is indescribable.

It’s a workout for mindfulness.

You can’t rock-climb without being present. If you “fly away” you can make a mistake which in real life would cost your life. In the gym, some of the mistakes are still very unpleasant. I wrote a story about a girl in our gym that fell down from the wall. It wasn’t high but the landing was wrong so she broke the bone in her heel. Now she is getting a surgery.

In rock-climbing, you have to be in the state of presence all the time observing if you put your foot in a right position because sometimes the boulder is so small that you can easily slip. You need to always feel what is going on in your body, how long can you go before muscle failure, how much power do you need to channel in your fingers so that the grip would be strong enough not to fall without spending too much energy.

I love rock-climbing for the acute state of presence.

It’s a community.

When I do calisthenics or go to the gym I am often alone. I have no problem with that. I love solitude.

When I came to the rock-climbing gym for me it was unusual to see that all rock-climbers are like family. They support each other and clap when someone pulls off an especially complex move. They cheer up after failures and show genuine joy when you succeed. It is a forgotten feeling since my old street workout days when I used to work out with my team.

It feels good.😏

It’s something you can tell your friends.

When someone would ask you what sport do you do and you say: “I lift weights” everyone is like: “meh…”

When you say: “I rock-climb” there is a spark of interest. People ask questions.

Food for the ego! Nice! 😆

It’s a never-ending challenge.

I come back to the gym, I solve a puzzle that was impossible the day before. The progress is measurable and that’s the beauty of it. But most importantly, the horizon never gets closer instead I can see how the whole new world of what is human body capable of unfolds itself.

I watch Ejin, a slim and fragile 15 y.o. girl. She is rock-climbing for 5 years and her rock-climbing style leaves me speechless. Nothing in her appearance speaks for her immense strength, endurance and a tremendous control of her body. When she climbs there are no useless moves. She “climbs” with her brain.

She makes me feel miserable 😅

It’s an opportunity to give.

Ejin teaches me how to climb and I teach her English. Not only her, actually. After 1 month there are quite many enthusiasts including my coach. We climb and we rest and I use the rest time to give what I have to offer to these radiant, kind people around me — my rock-climbing fam.


Either you are at the beginning of your fitness journey and don’t know which sport to pick up or you are a fitness junkie looking for new ways to challenge yourself I suggest you pick up a 30-days rock-climbing challenge.

Chances are you will never be the same again.

Take a good care of yourself and be healthy!

How Hinduism helped me to understand the nature of human callings

Picture source

The essay about how the concept of Hindu societal castes can be applied to the personal philosophy

As soon I started to investigate myself striving to solve my personal issues and learn how to master my mind I became keen for understanding the human nature and the principles that govern our behavior.

I started to study different religious scriptures and philosophical works assembling my mindset as a puzzle game piece by piece.

At one point I bumped into the concepts of castes in Hinduism that completely changed my perception of the nature of human callings and the way people select their profession.

Today I want to share it with you and hopefully, it will serve you as a food for thought.

Varnas

Varṇa (वर्णः) is a Sanskrit word which means type, order, color or class.

Varna is basically a caste, a layer of societal hierarchy in Hindu communities. In Hindu literature, the society is divided into four castes: ShudraVaishyaKshatriya, and Brahmin.

The community was segregated into these 4 casts based on the profession:

  • Shudra — manual labor, craftsmen, service providers.
  • Vaishya — merchants, traders, agriculturalists (sales and services, businessmen).
  • Kshatriya — rulers, and warriors (managers, supervisors, politicians, CEOs).
  • Brahmin — priests, scholars and teachers (professors, thought leaders, people of knowledge).

I was studying about the ways this system can be applied to our modern lives and precipitated it down to the level of practicality stating three major conclusions.

Bear 🐻 with me:

1️⃣ All people are different but all are equally important.

We are different from the moment we rock up to this planet. Every mother who has more than one child will undoubtedly confirm that her children are different right from the moment they open their eyes. It’s a fact. Buddhists will adduce arguments of the concepts of reincarnation and family karma, scientists will justify it solely by what we know about genetic heritage. Both are irrelevant to the practical implication of it which is

The mindset of acceptance.

I have accepted the fact that all of the people are different. There are people who are destined to do monotonous manual work, there are people who make a fortune chasing the financial abundance, there are people who strive for power, and there are those who harness the knowledge. No one is better or worse than the other. Everyone is equally important comprising the pyramid of society.

Shudras are the legs. They are a strong foundation. No one will be able to do their work if shudras didn’t do theirs. It doesn’t matter if I am a seller, a politician, or a professor, I can’t do my job if my toilet is not working. It is as simple as that.

Vaishyas are the metabolic system. They make sure that everything is moving. The whole organism can survive only if it has food, shelter, and other products that have to be constantly produced, consumed, exchanged and eliminated when they become obsolete.

Kshatriyas are the hands. They protect the whole organism from the external threats. More importantly, they establish the rules for all of the parts of the body so that they do not harm each other accidentally. The absence of governing power causes anarchy and chaos.

Brahmins are the head. They hear things, observe things, “taste” them and make conclusions about what is good for the whole body. They accumulate and transfer knowledge increasing the efficiency of the organism and select the direction beneficial for everyone.

All people are equally important as they have their specific set of functions and responsibilities that ensure the survival of the community as a whole.

The understanding of this is crucial because it has two very important implications that could be applied to the personal philosophy:

It makes you worthy.
Knowing that you have your own defined sector of responsibilities in this world gifts you the understanding that regardless how minor your contribution to the goodness of humanity is, it is important to do your best with what you have, where you are. Your work is always valuable.

It makes you humble.
I became more observant of the moments when I fall into the fallacy of thinking that I have a right to look down on people with professions I would previously call “low”. I harshly scold myself when I become so foolish.

2️⃣ Elevating consciousness is an individual mission of every person.

Although it is true that all castes are equally important in the society, in Hinduism all 4 varnas have ranks. Logically, Shudra is placed on the lowest level, with Vaishya, Kshatriya, and Brahmin building up correspondingly on top. It was a hierarchical system where a person found his place based on his inherent motivation.

Shudras do not have extraordinary ambitions. They can get fulfillment and happiness from simple life, good relationships and do not object addressing routine tasks mainly associated with manual work. Their inherent motivation lies in the perfection of their craft and doing their job well serving the others.

Vaishyas follow the money. Getting rich is what they strive for. They put their financial prosperity as their number one priority and dedicate their work to multiplying their assets and growing their wealth.

Kshatriyas are hungry for power. They want to be in control and govern the processes that involve people’s lives. Constant expansion of their Circle of Influence is chosen by them as a personal objective.

Brahmins dedicate their life to serve as a channel of knowledge. They are lifelong students and teachers. They absorb, accumulate, transform and transfer the knowledge and value it as the highest virtue. Developing the world through the development of intelligence is their inherent motivation.

So what’s the practical implication of these castes? The answer is

The varnas represent the steps in a personal evolution.

You know yourself well and you know what is your inherent motivation. You can instantly analyze and identify your Varna. It is essentially your level of mind.

Of course, there is no one single trait in one person. Most of the time it is a mixture of one or two varnas being dominant. One can have a mind of Shudra and Brahmin and be a brilliant craftsman or an artist confining the deep meaning and knowledge inside his masterpiece, another can be transcending from Vaishya to Kshatriya after selling a successful business and looking for the ways to scale up his influence to change people’s lives.

We can take Arnold Schwarzenegger as a perfect example of the mind evolution. He started with the mind of Shudra focusing all of the work of his spirit on his physical shell and honing it to the level of iconic perfection. When he started his cinematic career he elevated his mind to the level of Vaishya earning a lot of money and learning how to invest. When he exhausted the meaning from that level he excelled on the political arena as a governor developing the mind of Kshatriya. Finally, right now he is a respected old man with a rock solid life philosophy that he’s ready to pass on to younger generations and a legacy that will be remembered for years. He is an author, a philanthropist and a thought leader. He doesn’t crave for money or power anymore. He became Brahmin.

3️⃣ Automation will cause the shift in the planetary consciousness.

AI and robotics. Potential threats or a way to liberate the humanity from mundane routines? I am not here to argue about either scenario. What I know for sure is that automation will keep eradicating the necessity of manual labor at a pace we can’t even imagine. We will witness the scale of the Internet capture and the drop in the price of knowledge that will quake the very essence of our existence.

Having a smartphone and an access to the Internet will allow people with the minds of Shudra to evolve straight to the mind of Brahmin. We will see the rise of minds. Billions of new minds.

The planetary consciousness follows the Compound Effect just like anything else. We will transcend as species when the majority of people will have the access to the majority of information. The global evolution of consciousness is gifted to us by computers and the best part about it is that it has already started.

My essay about meditations was a first small personal victory for me. Hundreds of people from all over the world read it. It was a small stone thrown into the ocean of information but it creates ripples. What if I throw one stone every day? What if I inspire someone to pick up his own stones? What if we all throw a stone at once? How big of a wave can we create?

Meditations will remind us of who we are when the robots will come. As long as we all practice meditations and anchor to our center deep inside we should cherish the technological progress and look forward to the beautiful changes it brings. As a millennial, I anticipate the brave new world that could be just 10 years away and if someone would ask me if I plan to be a part of it I will say: “Hell yeah!

How about you?

Karma. The Universal Law of Cause and Effect

Thoughts about karma and its practicality in today’s life

Karma. When people hear this word they automatically associate it with reincarnation and I should say their arising skepticism associated with the possibility of inheriting something from previous lives is very well justified.

I don’t remember if I already actually died and reincarnated so I am not the most competent person to talk about this aspect of the concept of karma. My objective is to share with you the way I define Karma in order to extract the maximum practicality out of it.

Karma from Sanskrit means action, work or deed. Of course, all actions have an initial intent but the intent alone is harmless if it stays as an intent. It is only when it transforms into action it starts to affect your life and lives around you. The potential energy hidden within becomes kinetic.

Any action becomes a cause of the events that will follow — the effects, and they in their turn become the causes for something else again.

This understanding translates into a very simple formulation of Karma without any flavors of esoterism and religiousness.

Karma is a Law of Causality.

Our thoughts define our actions. All of our actions define who we are bringing up new thoughts that entrench and become our mindsets causing new actions. It’s a loop. The Ouroborous.

The importance of the Law of Causality aka the Law of Cause and Effect lies in the understanding of the concept of freedom. If we do not choose and observe our thoughts carefully constantly eradicating the mental rubbish and watering the seeds of the fruitful mindsets, if we lack mindfulness about our daily actions and reactions, we let the system define us.

“They are the way the world allows them to be” — is that the formulation you would want to apply to yourself? Not me. And this is why I studied karma and learned that the Law of Causality is emotionless, relentless and inexorable.

It’s like gravity. You can’t defy gravity. It just exists. I never heard that anyone succeeded in breaking the law of gravity by jumping from the building. Neither I heard of people who defied karma and didn’t get a reminder of its existence regardless of the popular beliefs. Sometimes the reminder comes in a form of a gentle nudge, sometimes it comes as a fat jingly bitch-slap. One thing I know for sure — it always comes.

Vikarma.

Vikarma is a Bad karma. Those are the actions that destroy your life. Sometimes it happens instantly, sometimes the negative effect is accumulating over the years and could lead to one breakage point.

It can be illustrated with a simple example. A cigarette 🚬. A minute of delusional joy and “stress-relieving” relaxation, one simple action that doesn’t seem to bring much harm appears to be a killer in disguise. A killer of your time.

I was a smoker for 6 years. I can see now that, that one first little cigarette was a step into the abyss. Those little bastards enslaved me for years that I lived weak, sick and depressed. I crawled my way out of this smoking hell but not all of the people find a way to forge their willpower. My Dad is a smoker with 35+ years of smoking record. That one little seemingly harmless action repeated several hundreds of thousands of times determined the course of his life.

In English people say “Today’s seed — Tomorrow’s harvest”. In Russian, this proverb is presented in its unfolded version: “You seed a thought — you’ll harvest a deed. You seed a deed — you’ll harvest a habit. You seed a habit — you’ll harvest principles. You seed principles — you’ll harvest your destiny”.

Akarma.

Akarma is a Good karma. Those are the actions that nurture good qualities and virtues.

Akarma can be best illustrated by the old Vedic parable.

Once upon a time, there lived two brothers — two farmers. They built two houses and two barns next to each other. The older brother was married, he had wife and kids and the younger brother was single. They both worked hard day and night in the field to make a living and shared the grain 50/50.

But during the dinner, they were always arguing about it.

The younger brother had always said: “Brother, you have such a big family, you have kids to take care of. I live alone, I live frugally and I don’t need that much. You need to take more grain than me.”

The older brother always replied: “Brother, you don’t have a family, you don’t have kids. My kids will grow up and take care of me and you — you need to think about your future. Take more grain than me, sell it and make savings.”

In this argument, they never could come to an agreement.

In the night, the older brother would lie in his bed hugging his wife and staring at the ceiling. The idea that his younger brother had less grain than he needs didn’t let him sleep. So he was getting up, going to his barn, filling up the sack of grain and bringing it to his younger brother’s barn and pouring it out there. After that, he came back to his bed and slept with a smile on his face.

The younger brother couldn’t fall asleep too. The idea that his brother had so many kids but took the same share of grain didn’t let him sleep. So he was also getting up, going to his barn, filling the sack with grain and carrying it to his older brother’s barn.

And this is how they were sneaking into each other’s barns until one night they bumped into each other with the sacks of grain behind their backs.

So what is the moral of this story?

The total amount of grain didn’t change. But the Love grew. This is Akarma.

The Balance of the Forces.

The concept of balance of forces was taken by me from the theory of Transurfing of reality.

The idea is simple.

There are some forces in the world that are designed to keep the balance, they follow certain rules. If you think about something in a “wrong” way — the way that doesn’t correspond the objective reality, the Universe will make an adjustment, a correction to your model of the world. The balance can be broken with a negative or low intent fueled by your mental energy.

A little personal story as an example. I got a new shiny new phone and I really liked it. My attachment to it caused what happened next. I was at a private party. There were about 40 people drinking hard, and I was the only one sober guy there. I left my phone on the bar and left for 1 minute to go to the toilet. When I came back my phone was on the same place but there was a long crack along that beautiful infinity display on it. Someone dropped my phone and put it back. Ouch! I hope you agree with me, that was fairly unpleasant. I was disappointed but because I taught my brain to seek for the signs of the Universe I instantly made a correlation. The Universe sent me a reminder — “don’t get attached to material things!” Lesson learned. And it also taught me a karmic lesson — “you are an idiot if you leave your phone with a room full of drunks”.

Bear with me, the karmic sequence was not finished yet. The lesson was ahead.

I showed my phone to two people and instead of showing some compassion they laughed at me and my poker face as I was trying to hide the feeling of disappointment. The following week one of them shattered her new phone and another one got hit destroying the door of her expensive car. Voila! The balancing forces in action.

There are people who believe in coincidences and there are people who will just laugh at my way of interpretation of things. But that is just a single situation among many when I was reassured once again — all events are interconnected. As I toss my phone on the bed as a good old Nokia 3310 I remind myself that a phone is just a tool and the attachment to anything is a direct request to balancing forces to put me down.

Instant Karma.

Have you been watching these instant karma videos on Youtube? I must confess I did and some of them I found very satisfying. I have many examples of instant karma too.

My friend Sasha is a researcher from Vladivostok. He comes to South Korea to do some research for one of the marine science labs in GIST. The amount of alcohol that he can consume shatters my understanding of human’s physiology and anatomy. It is a good tradition for him to drink like a fish on the last day of his business trip.

In one of such farewell parties, he was so drunk that his big Russian soul unfolded in its all-embracing powerful love and he was almost crying by firmly stating out loud multiple times: “I don’t want to leave, Korea!”.

The Universe was listening and executing accordingly.

He called me from the Incheon airport on the other day.

“I lost my passport.”

He had to stay in the airport for a night. He wasn’t smiling when I explained to him my karmic interpretation of his tribulation.

The lesson he got that day lives with him up to date. Every time he comes back to Korea he knows that he should be careful with alcohol and twice as careful with his words.

Delayed Karma.

Sometimes karma is instant, but sometimes it takes days and even months for the Wheels of the Universe to make a circulation. Let me tell you another story.

I met a Korean guy in 2015. He lives near GIST and he happened to live in Moscow for over 5 years so he speaks Russian. I don’t remember his Korean name and it is irrelevant, his Russian name was Petr, like Petr the First — the founder of Saint Petersburg.

We were hanging out a bit. He joined our group of friends. One time we went for a lunch together. After the lunch, we were walking around and suddenly he disappeared in the crowd. I was looking for him for 20 minutes. When I found him it appeared that he ran to pick up a girl. I lost my temper. I was mad. I scolded him for ditching me like that without saying a word, at that time I considered it as a disrespect. He didn’t even say sorry. I stopped contacting him.

After 7 months I was shopping and suddenly I received a message from him: “Where are you? Let’s meet.”

“What’s the matter?” I replied.

“I want to do boxing with you,” he texted in Russian.

I thought: “Oh, ok. He wants to meet to suggest to enroll in a boxing club or something.” It has been 7 months, I completely forgot about how we stopped talking.

When I met him I laughed my ass off. The guy actually wanted to box for real. He wanted to fight!😆

At first, I didn’t know how to react. I was positive and tried to mitigate the conflict. To be honest, I thought he was mentally sick judging his inadequate and not so timely desire to avenge his damaged pride. I was wondering if it actually took him 7 months to process my insult, or he is experiencing a nervous breakdown triggered by something else and using my harsh words as an excuse.

After 30 minutes of my ineffective attempts to appeal to the reason I gave up and wanted to walk away. He grabbed my jacket so I turned around and yelled right into his face: “You want to fight?! Come on. Punch me! See what happens!” He froze. I walked away. I am convinced that the best war is the war that never happened. I did my best to prevent the conflict. But Petr didn’t give up.

After that situation, he started chasing me. He sent me the insults on the phone. He came to my office when I wasn’t there leaving me post-it notes threatening my life: “I will kill you.” So childish.

I talked to my friend E. and he said he will spot me next time Petr shows up.

Petr showed up. He came to the front door of my department building. As he was talking he became more and more aggressive. He grabbed my t-shirt but I was standing right in front of the cameras so he hesitated to throw a punch.

You see, in Korea it is weird. It doesn’t matter who starts the fight. If two guys are fighting both are guilty and both get punished. A fight is a serious crime in Korea. As an international student, I could have been deported if I had responded to the provocation. In Kazakhstan, Petya would go down in seconds.

My friend E. showed up. When he saw Petr grabbing my t-shirt near the neck he didn’t hesitate for a second and intervened. Petr snapped. He threw a punch at E. face. Ladies from the department office saw the bustle and called the police.

When police arrived they forced him to apologize. He left and promised to never contact me again.

That’s funny but this is not how the story ends. After many months again I talked with my friend E. And he revealed me the truth. He said: “I have to confess. I was so mad at him because of that punch that he landed. I decided not to leave it like that. I went to the undergraduate dorm and punched a bag for a couple of weeks recalling my skills (he got trained in hand-to-hand combat) and then I called Petr, I set up a huddle and fucked him up well. Recently, I went to Ansan with my sister and accidentally bumped up into him. You know, he was so nice to us. Ha-ha!”

I guess it is a happy ending. Petr got his fight. I avoided it. My friend E. got his duel satisfaction.

What I learned back then is a precious life lesson. I learned, that the words you throw thoughtlessly may become a “boomerang” that will hit you back many months later.

Karma heritage.

I don’t have any intentions to fall into mysticism with this.

Karma heritage can be explained this way.

Have you watched “Departed” with Leonardo DiCaprio? If not, I recommend it. There is a recruitment scene when Sergeant Dignam and Captain Queenan put the main hero Billy Costigan under the pressure to understand why he wants to be a cop.

The recruit replies: “Families are always rising and falling in America.

This famous saying by Nathaniel Hawthorne perfectly illustrates what exactly is the karma heritage. The principles that you foster in yourself will be instilled in the family you create. Your kids will naturally adopt all of your values and virtues — they will inherit your karma.

This is why it is so important to always excel. I ask myself a thought-provoking question: “How can one give birth to a child if he can’t raise him as a creator?” This always motivates me to self-improve because I know that one day I will be passing on my knowledge. How will I look in the eyes of my child if I have no stories to tell and no wisdom to pass on? I refuse to be one of those parents that struggle with their kids because they failed to understand one simple thing — if you don’t want your son to be Bart Simpson you shouldn’t be a Homer Simpson.

Final words.

All of the ideas described above bring me to one point. Revenge is futile. When people wrong you, you can be sure that the Universe will put them down. But also keep in mind that your own actions can bring a harvest in absolutely unpredictable shape and forms. Let’s be mindful of our thoughts and deeds.

Take care and do something good today for your karma. 

 

 

How to overcome stage fright

Credit to Monica Silvestre

The essay about things to do to nail your next public presentation

As an extrovert kid, I was growing quite audacious. I was always seeking the attention of an audience getting energy from other people and was never afraid of it.

I self-taught myself how to be good at presentations and I want to share you with you some things that you can start doing today to hold yourself better in public.

You will eliminate your stage fright in 4 steps in which you have to: identify, think, execute, analyze.

#1 Identify

The first thing you have to do is to identify what is the nature of your fear. Being able to verbally communicate what frightens you is the first step and the basis of emotional intelligence.

Revise your mindset. Maybe there are some things that simply don’t work.

Most of the stage fright fears are irrational:

  • “The audience will not like my presentation”. Reframe: Why do you need to decide for them? Do your best and let them judge. The audience is genuine and honest. They will let you know if your performance is crap but it shouldn’t discourage you. In the face of constructive criticism, you should use it as a tool for further improvement.
  • “I look silly”. Reframe: Looks don’t matter. In Russian, we say: “Open your mouth so that I could see you.” What you say and how you say it — this is what matters. Of course, keep in mind being well-dressed and well-groomed adds up extra points to your charisma.
  • “They will booo at me and throw rotten tomatoes!” Reframe: in fact most of the times the audience is very supportive. Every single one person who is listening to you had an experience of public speaking. They will understand if you feel nervous and support you because they can deeply relate to the way you feel. No worries.
  • “But I am SO nervous!” Reframe: ok, can’t handle it at all? Say it out loud. Say: “I am sorry. I don’t think I am good at this thing and I feel a tad bit nervous. Let’s clap together so I could feel better and I start.”To discharge an awkward situation one just needs to admit that it is awkward. Same here. Be honest, be genuine and people will love it.

Remember that whatever your worries are prior to presentation, they are just mental constructions. They are not real. No existo! Do not engage with them. Observe your concerns and let them flow. Stay in the present moment. Disassociate yourself from these thoughts. If you have a hard time with that move the focus of your attention to something else —one more rehearsal for example.

#2 Think

This step is setting up your mindset and the action plan in order to improve your presentation skills.

Rewire your mindset in a way that your mind will send you an impetus to take action anytime the opportunity of exposure opens up. When you see an opening that smells like discomfort hop right in and think later. This should be your core mindset.

Remember about the momentum. Small marginal changes will grant you a huge improvement over the long period of time. Don’t rush right in if you feel that it can burn you out. Implement small practices that will accumulate with time.

Take 100% responsibility for your results. Internalize the understanding that confidence of speaking in public doesn’t come from outside. You have to earn it. 10 minutes of firsthand experience may be more valuable than 10 hours of absorbing some external knowledge. With this mindset proceed to the next step.

#3 Execute

Here are the things that you can start doing today.

Engage.

If you are a student participate in school activities and in the class. Always be the first one to step up.

If you need to present at work, same things apply to you. Participate in team buildings, parties, meetings and always step up.

Make a habit of talking to strangers. At first, your body might shake even from the idea of starting a harmless small talk but later as you build up your social skills you will learn how to engage people in more profound and sometimes even philosophical discussions.

The way of seeking rejections is a way of beautiful serendipity. Check out this TED talk and get inspired. This guy went on a rejection marathon and transformed himself.

The following video is his report for the Day 3. This is when the magic happened.

I post it because you are an angel, Jackie. This world needs more people like you.

Find a mentor.

Some people are naturally good at public speaking. Naturals usually are not the best teachers. The best teachers are self-taught naturals. Those who struggled and suffered and built up their confidence from the zero ground. Find such people and surrender to their teaching. You will learn a lot.

Learn a musical instrument and sing.

I picked up a guitar when I was 15. Since then for a couple of years, I was a regular player on the streets of the city singing and collecting some money. On the hindsight, those were the days of punk and there were many moments I am not proud of but that experience became a cornerstone in building up my assertiveness.

You don’t have to go hardcore rebel as I did but a couple of public gigs will significantly boost up your confidence.

Enroll in acting classes.

Theater is an extremely popular entertainment back home in Almaty, Kazakhstan. A lot of people are artistic and a whole lot more need a way of escaping from 9–5 routine. As a result, the whole range of clubs that offer acting classes have emerged and I happened to finish the first stage in one of such clubs.

3 months flew like one day. It was a fun and crazy time and there were no boundaries for expression. If normal people would see what we did there they would have called both ambulance and police. We were dancing on the edge of sanity.

If you can find something like this in the place you are — give it a shot. You won’t regret it.

Enroll in a coaching workshop.

I passed some workshops where I had to do some things that people would consider weird. I was giving away “Free Hugs”, singing on the street collecting donations for the orphanage, reading poems out loud in the park, organizing and participating in flash-mobs.

All of these activities massively exercised my “not-giving-a-shit” muscle and made me immune to external opinions.

Study a foreign language.

A new language will help improve your articulation skills and understand your native language on a deeper level but most importantly it will allow you to work on your inner blocks which pop up every time you start over-thinking your classmates opinions about your language skills. Knowing an extra language adds up to the confidence as your development becomes more and more multi-faceted.

Exercise.

Street workout is the movement that I started back in 2011 in my own city. Today Kazakhstan is the only country in the world where street workout is considered an official national sport.

When we gathered for the training, our outdoor workouts attracted bypassers who were getting interested in what we were doing and asked to teach them a couple of tricks on the bar. In some sense, it was always a public experience.

If you are not a fan of exercising outside then still exercise. Having strong body and being in a great shape is the foundation of the confidence that you will use in your presentation.

Write.

Writing improves your speaking skills and the ability to self- reflect. This will help you in the analysis of your performance and expression of the ways to improve on it. Daily Journal is definitely something to integrate into your routine.

Watch.

Learn from the best. There are many coaching videos on Youtube. But what I find the best is to watch the actual lectures of some of the most confident speakers. Long live the TED talks!

Read.

Read books, read essays like this one dedicated to your topic of interest. Read a lot in general. One can’t be witty without being intelligent. Intelligence is a great basis for the charm and further development of confidence. Stay empty. Stay hungry.

#4 Analyze

Every time after another presentation you go through 3 questions:

  • What did I do well?
  • What did I do badly?
  • What can be done to improve?

These 3 questions can be applied to the aspect of self-improvement. Ask yourself and be honest. Make short notes in your daily journal. Focus your attention on the action plan and your execution.

Tips.

[Before presentation]

Repetition, repetition, repetition.

This is the major key to any presentation. If you know that improvisation is not your strongest trait you should learn your script by heart. You should know where you will stand, how and when will you move, and the precise timing of your delivery. By repetition , you teach your brain to get used to your presentation.

Listen to uplifting music.

Listen to the “Eye of a Tiger” or “We are the champions” or whatever suits you. Go an pump yourself up in the toilet if you don’t want others to see you. If you are more daring you can even put in on at the start of your presentation. Look how Aaron Levie, CEO of Box breaks the ice with this small trick in his talk at Y-Combinator:

Use power posing.

Watch this brilliant talk by Amy Cuddy. This TED talk completely changed the way I think about stance and postures. It will help you to develop a “power mindset” too. You can use this trick both before and during the presentation.

Gain momentum.

Before you start the presentation, start talking to other people — just small talk, nothing serious.Talk to several different people one after another. Talk to a small group. It will help you to turn inside out and switch from self-reflecting “observing the inner” mode to active-listening and participating “observing the outer” mode which is exactly what you need for presenting.

[During the presentation]

Keep the eye contact. 

Avoid wandering your gaze in the audience — it will seem like you are distracted. Choose 2–3 people and watch them in the eye when you deliver your presentation. Don’t stare at them but look friendly and smile. These people will serve as your anchors, your focus points. If you do that your audience will note that you look super focused and even intense during your delivery.

Meta-message.

Hone the voice inside your head when you deliver. Is that a voice of a mentoring strict teacher or a voice of a passionate storyteller? Maybe it is a motivational voice of a preacher? People unconsciously absorb your subliminal message and build their judgment upon it. Your inner voice you sub-communicate should be well thought through and smartly designed.

Body language.

Keep the straight posture. Use your hands. If you wear glasses you can use them by holding them in your hand and even biting one of the temples. Play around with gestures, find what works for you. Use a bottle of water and drink. You can leave it on the table next to your notes and it will be an excuse to take a sip, sneak into your notes and take a meaningful pause.

Be humorous. Be spontaneous.

A good joke is always gold. Remember to stay present not to miss the moment when it is actually appropriate. If you need — prepare something brilliant in advance but be genuine and authentic and people will love it.

Final words.

Stage fright is a fear and as with all fears, the only way to control it is to do things that scare you. Depending on what’s your current level is select the activities that you can implement immediately and gradually progress.

Follow the loop: identify>think>execute>analyze>repeat and you will be constantly improving.

Thank you for reading and I wish you to nail it next time you present in public.

Step into the spotlight!

Don’t follow your passion!

Photo by Kaique Rocha

Don’t follow your passion!

Instead be cool-headed and make smart decisions.

You watched motivational videos on YouTube. You read uplifting articles on Medium. You were listening to hundreds of podcasts with successful people.

How many times did you hear this👇 over-hyped phrase?

Are you anything like me — a person who is bumping now and then into this phrase and starting to cringe involuntarily?

Let me be honest with you. Personally, I had a very hard time removing this pile-of-bullshit mindset from my head.

Pardon me for my French but :

Fuck passion!

And let me tell you why.

The “word” passion implies that you have this strong and uncontrolled emotion, a feeling to do something.

Well here is what I know — emotions fail us and feelings let us down.

Passions are like hang-loose strumpets come and go. We might feel “passionate” about something one day and then suddenly we don’t the other.

As a result, we don’t reach our goals, we feel resentment, we feel a bitter taste of disappointment.

Passion is like an infatuation. You get possessed fast, it burns bright, it fades away unnoticeably.

Passion won’t help you to get through the path of mastery that teems with challenges and frustrations. Passion is a bitch that cuts and runs when you find out that you need to chew glass to get to the next level.

Nothing worth having is easy neither it is supposed to be.

So if passion doesn’t work, then what does?

Making cool-headed experiments in order to understand yourself better, being mindful and analytical about the results and fostering the qualities of self-discipline, willpower, and grit — this is what works. This will get you to great results even if you don’t know where you are going.

Being analytical doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t love what you do. On the contrary, it means exactly the opposite.

Some people compare a love for a woman with the sea. A sea can surge during the storm transforming the waves into an overwhelming tsunami. This is one type of love. It is strong and breathtaking but never long-lasting.

And then there is another type of love — a sea after the storm. Calm and calming, it instills serenity.

The same analogy is applicable to the love for your work, your Mission, your life-long project. Calm deep blue sea — this is the love you would want to seek for. When you are not disturbed by big waves-emotions you are capable of making intelligent decisions.

As you get rid of the passion, you can step back and become more observing. It will help you to understand things like whether you work better alone or with people. Are you a better fit for monotonous repetitive work or you need to frequently change activities in order to stay engaged? What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Answering these questions is crucial when it comes to a choice of the career.

Here is the question that I hear a lot:

“I am __ (👈insert your age) years old. My life is a mess. I don’t know what I want to do with my life and where I want to go.”

This is what I would like to tell you:

If you are 12–19, seek for mentors. Have the following mindset: Education starts after school. There is an inner God in every person — a mini-clone of Creator. Look around yourself and absorb, learn what kinds of different manifestations of human’s creating power exist out there. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Try things. Be bold. Learn from your mistakes. Focus on fundamentals — hard science and hard skills.

  • Read this 👉 essay to learn how to study at the age we live in.
  • Read this 👉 essay to make a wiser major and career choice.
  • Read this 👉essay to learn about the biggest mistake I made in life that you can avoid.

Every free moment of your life — Read, READ, READ! Learn as much as you can about your weaknesses and strengths.

When I was younger I was looking at older guys, especially those who were 30+, and I thought: “Yeah. These men got their shit together.” How naive I was. I will turn 30 this summer and I realize that very few people understand what is all this mess that is going on around us, surely, I am not one of them.

If you are 20, you should self-reflect. By this age, you already know at least something about yourself. As a rule of thumb, move towards improving on your strengths and working on your weaknesses in the meantime. From now on you have 10 years. This is what it takes in order to become an expert in one domain. First of all become an expert life-long learner. Be a master of your craft and a solid generalist. Learn how to distribute your time between the skills and activities that you want to study.

If you are 30, damn bro, who knew we will survive right? 😄 There is one thing I know — it’s only a start. No matter where you are and what you are doing keep pushing. We are strong and we are young, and most importantly we are not so stupid anymore to jump into the traps of this world. You should definitely take time and read these 👉 answers on Quora. Very insightful.

If you are 30+ and reading this, sorry, I didn’t make it to this stage of the game yet.

I am still trying to figure it out myself and I am not sure if panacea to our sickness exists at all but there is one thing in life that I learned and that I am completely certain about:

The process is the goal.

There were many times in my life when I didn’t have any particular goal in mind yet I was possessed by the process. It is in the process where I underwent the transformation and grew up to the person who is capable of doing, seeing and understanding more. I was learning. It is like putting books under your feet to stand taller until the moment you suddenly start to see behind the wall. In the process, I learned that the things that seem impossible become possible if you stay in the game long enough.

It doesn’t really matter how old you are. The principles are always the same.

  • Work your ass off.
  • Study the trends of today and understand that they are the harbingers of the world that will come tomorrow.
  • Help people in their mission and they will help you

That’s it. Pure practicality with no need for “passions”.

I guess this is one of those letters I wish I could send to my past self. I can’t. So I send it to you. Take it easy on yourself. As J.R.R. Tolkien said:

Not all those who wander are lost”.

Keep wandering but make it profound, make it intense, make it challenging.

If there is an intent there will be an insight. Don’t follow your passion. Grind your way up.

 

 

How to use personal rituals to seize the day

Photo source

The essay about the importance of the routine to live a happy and productive life.

It is a matter of shame that in the morning the birds should be awake earlier than you.
~ Abu Bakr

I am in that restless and boisterous team of people advocating for the creation of the morning routine and commitment to it. If you are like me and you read this essay, I salute you! Hoorah!

I personally don’t like the word “routine” because of obvious reason — we tend to associate this word with monotonous and boring work. I believe many creative people will agree that when they hear or pronounce the word “routine” something inside switches off.

The word “ritual”, on the contrary, has an aura of mysticism and implies deep meaning behind it. Our rituals start to have a deep meaning endow it to them. “Ritual”. I love this word. Let’s just stick with it, shall we?

Every single day I start my day with the same set of things:

5:30 am. Uplifting Content

I open my eyes and take my phone. I open Medium and start reading. I spend 15–30 minutes depending on how long are the articles that I choose.

I have the highest appreciation for all those amazing, talented and hard-working people that help me to start my day. They remind me of why I do what I do. They tell me: “Get up and deploy for your Mission.”

6:00 am. Cold shower.

Credit to Benjamin P. Hardy. He has been practicing it for years now and I read it in one of his essays a long time ago. This man is a productivity superman and a brilliant writer. I believe this ritual became an important pillar of his success.

Rapid exposure to cold is the most refreshing practice that will blow away your sleep and charge you with energy.

I can see how my body becomes red after the shower indicating that the blood rushed into every capillary to keep me warm. I feel pumped up like that rabbit from Energizer commercial 🐇. Knowing that it will feel amazing helps me to overcome the initial resistance.

Credit to Tim Ferriss for the mindset. In one of his videos, he mentioned that it really helps to think of it like jumping into the icy pool. It does indeed.

Philip Ghezelbash, a modern stoic who is educating people on integration deliberate discomfort into their daily lives recently released a very informative video on the benefits of the cold shower.

Follow him on Youtube. This man delivers value. Stoicism rocks 💪

6:04 am. Decluttering.

After the shower, I find and I throw out 1 old or useless thing from my house. Thanks to the contribution of my girlfriend who apparently made a decision to dedicate her life to fight my strive for minimalism I make a prediction that I will never run out of the stuff to toss to the trash bin. Hopefully, I am wrong.

Every object in your house is feeding on your energy — energy of your attention. By decluttering the space around you, you purify your mind. Try it. Make some space in your head. Works like a charm.

6:05 am. Protein shake.

Credit to Tim Ferriss. In his book “The Four Hour Body” Tim discusses the importance of consuming 30g of protein in the first 30 minutes of waking. According to the book, it helps to kill the carbs cravings and continue the fat burn that was initiated during the night. Second is not my biggest concern but I admit from my experiences with fasting an empty stomach can be a distraction.

I don’t eat meat so the traditional American bacon breakfast that Tim recommends doesn’t work for me. That is why I prefer a speedy option of 30g soy protein mixed with water. (Not with milk. Milk is bad 🐄 👎Don’t drink it. I am serious.)

I don’t drink coffee too. Not only in the morning, I just don’t drink it. I found out that coffee makes me anxious and I physically feel like I lose my inner balance. I used to think that it is an individual reaction but I discovered that many people report the same adverse effects. Personally, I don’t understand how people cope with it. The clarity of the brain that doesn’t rely on the boost-up substances to stay sharp is incomparable with any doping.

6:10 am. I show up.

I show up in my writing room at approximately 10 A.M. every morning without fail. Sometimes my Muse sees fit to join me there and sometimes she doesn’t, but she always knows where I’ll be. She doesn’t need to go hunting in the taverns or on the beach or drag the boulevard looking for me.
~ Tom Robbins

I read this recently in the article by Susan Brassfield Cogan and I loved it. Every time I sit down, open my laptop and stare at the blank white space I don’t know what I am about to start. But I know only one thing for sure — the Muse will show up only if I do.

I start small.

I write in my “Challenge Me” diary about 100–300 words to warm up where I write about my life and my daily challenges. Then I switch to my drafts. Sometimes I have some freelance to do.

I understand that I started late. I am 29 y.o. and I got myself into writing. I don’t pursue any particular goal, as mostly I am driven by the ambition to master English language and become a real wordsmith who doesn’t have an “impostor’s syndrome” pulling his leg all the time. I will be happy if I could help other people who struggle with the things I succeeded to resolve on the way. I believe that the higher purpose will reveal itself if I stay persistent and consistent.

I read the articles of some very successful writers. They have a bar of 500 words per day. Stephen King is purported to have said that his bar is about 2000 words in the first work session.

I recently watched a great talk between Stephen King and George R.R. Martin. (FYI that’s the guy who wrote “The Game of Thrones just in case you are a caveman like me who never watched or read any of it 😅):

50:07

The whole talk is worth watching but I love the moment at 50:07. Stephen goes: “George, we are going to have to wrap up this pretty soon. Is there anything that you’ve always wanted to ask me? Because, George, I will.

George Martin chuckles: “Yes! Yes, there is something I want to ask you.

Alright,” Stephen leans in.

“How the FUCK do you write so many books so fast?”

(both laugh).

George carries on: “I think: oh! I’ve had a really good 6 months, I’ve written 3 chapters and you’ve…you’ve finished 3 books in that time!

Stephen replies: “Here is the thing, okay? There are books and there are BOOKS. The way that I work, I try to get out there and I try to get 6 pages a day so with the book like “The End of Watch”, and I work. When I am working I work every day, 3–4 hours and I try to get those 6 pages and I try to get them fairly clean. So if the manuscript is, let’s say, 360 pages long that’s basically two months work. It’s concentrated but that’s assuming that it goes well.

6 pages a day 😐That’s insane productivity!

How can Stephen get his writing done? The answer is

Deep work.

Deep work” is the book by Cal Newport which I will probably never get tired to recommend. It appears that Stephen Kind has his 3-4 hours of daily writing only by sessions of intensive dedicated immersion without distractions.

By waking up early and having my 4 hours I gift myself the time that I can dedicate solely to honing my skills.

The question by Peter Thiel keeps ringing in my ears:

How can you achieve your 10-year plan in the next 6 months?

I understand that if truly 1,000,000 is the nominal number of words one must have written in order to get somewhat decent at writing, and if I I set the same bar of 500 words a day it will take me 2000 days of everyday writing or 5.48 years. Damn. No way. I am not willing to wait that long.

Nicolas Cole writes 10,000 words a day. Say what?! 😱 I am not sure how is that possible but he is a living proof that it is physically possible.

By setting up the early morning rituals I am taking the direction that supposedly will get me to the desired place faster. I better keep up with my writing.

10:00 am. The normal day starts.

At this time, my girlfriend wakes up. I will cook her a breakfast. We will eat and prepare for the day. Knowing that I made some good stuff done before everyone started their day is precious. After breakfast, I still hold my vector pointed towards my goals but I am not so focused.

This is what Cal Newport writes in the “Deep work”:

A now voluminous line of inquiry, initiated in a series of pioneering papers also written by Roy Baumeister, has established the following important (and at the time, unexpected) truth about willpower: You have a finite amount of willpower that becomes depleted as you use it.

I understand this and that’s why I allow myself to rest. Somewhere during the day, I will:

  • Meditate
  • Take 20 minutes to clean my house
  • Exercise
  • Take a power nap
  • Do some work that I do for living
  • Watch a TED talk

If you are not a practitioner of rituals already, I hope by this point you wonder:

Why should I start?

Here is the list of benefits you get from the commitment to your rituals.

Rituals are predictable. You know how your day will start and how it will escalate. You decrease the entropy that may intervene in the process of the movement towards your goals.

Your body starts to work like a Swiss watch. By implementing a regime you teach your body to do certain things at a certain time. You wake up without an alarm. You get hungry or (excuse me) go to the toilet at the same time. You get sleepy at the same time. All of that helps to increase the body awareness in general.

You forge your discipline. Here is the natural evolution of any behavioral pattern: I choose a challenge. I overcome the resistance. It becomes a habit. Finally, it becomes my second nature and I can’t live without it. This is how self-discipline is formed. There is no other way.

You build up momentum. As your newly acquired rituals become as automatized as your old habits you don’t have to spend your mental energy on them and your productivity increases naturally.

You get shit done. Please welcome Stephen Duneier. This 👇 is one of those “quake-TED talks”. The guy is a beast! Just watch it.

His message is simple: You implement marginal changes that accumulate after years of practice to become something that people call “overnight” success. The art of integration those marginal changes in the daily life is a great mindset applicable to anything you do.

Night rituals

I recently realized that the rituals before sleep are just as important as the morning ones.

Delicious dinner. Stoics say that food is the means of survival, not a pleasure. But they also say that Moderation is the virtue. As long as I am not consumed by gluttony I think a delicious dinner is a good reward for the day of hard work.

Talking with my partner. Credit to Duncan Riach. Daily 30 minutes when you sit in front of your partner remaining the eye contact and talk. We talk about the events of the day, about our plans and goals. It is important to find time to connect with your loved ones and get recharged with love.

Hot shower. Opposite to morning one, hot shower helps to relax sore muscles and rinse off the energy of the day. An absolute must before sleep.

Reading. It helps to calm the mind and you just might fall asleep with the book in your hands. Alternatively, if your eyes are tired:

Listening to podcasts or audio-books. I listen to some audio-books about spirituality sometimes. It’s up to you. What I do more often is:

Relaxation meditation. I just lie on my back, close my eyes, put in the earplugs and start to move my attention to the different parts of my body observing the sensations and untangling the tension in the muscles. Several minutes in and the Morpheus comes to take me. Not the big black dude from the Matrix movie, I mean the sleep. 😑 Jeez…

What should I do now?

You know what to do.

Deploy.

  1. Identify the aspects of your life that you want to improve on. You may find the Wheel of Life useful. Give it a shot.
  2. Set up the goals in chosen sectors. Try to implement it in the form of a 30-day challenge. See what happens.
  3. Plan out your rituals in accordance with your goal and commit to them.

Your dreams don’t work if you don’t.

Change won’t happen if you don’t make it happen. Take 100% responsibility for everything that happens in your life even the external events that at the first glance don’t have any visible connection with your actions. They do. Stay focused. Rent yourself out to the process. Be a robot who’s life mission is to do the task at hand at the level of maximum performance every individually taken moment of your life. Stay strong.

I wish us luck.

I am not yet in the place where I want to be. But I have an adamant intention to do what it takes to get there. If you are going through the grinder of self-development, know — you are not alone. There is me standing next to you, and there are hundreds of others beside you on a sole mission to become the best versions of themselves and improve this world 🌎

We will succeed. Not because we must, but because we have decided to.

The most important lesson of 2017

What I learned from my Spiritual Teacher and how to start 2018 right

The past year was interesting for me in all senses. Many things have changed. Many things have found their logical ends and I many of them had their inspiring starts.

I know the same is true for you. You’ve been through some serious shit but you survived and you stayed in the game. You’ve had your moments of joy and careless happiness and they made you keep moving.

Lessons from 2017 that made me stronger

And things I refuse to do in 2018

Yesterday my friend Arslan Atajanov helped me to set up my blog. Finally, I got my hands on it giving myself an objective for the upcoming year. I just want to have one place to keep my thoughts neat and organized. Medium, with all my love, is not the best place for organizing things.

www.chengeerlee.com. If that doesn’t sound beyond odd then I don’t know what is. I never thought I would have a personal blog. Right now it is just a WordPress shell but I will work hard to beat it into shape.