Inattentional Blindness

So have you heard of this term before… “Inattentional Blindness” ?  Don’t feel bad if you haven’t.  I didn’t know about it until a short time ago.

So what does it mean…. well the according to Wikipedia it means this.

And if you want to see it in action, then check this out.

Interesting huh ?

The term came to light for me in a BBC documentary, and I found it astonishing.  The show focused on the fact that many of us believe that we are good at multi-tasking.  Yes, trying to do a multitude of things at the same time.  The documentary also focused on, well “Focus” and “Attention”.

multitaskingWith so much going on in our daily lives, people are being bombarded with sensory input and we are being plagued to do more in less time.  Hence we all are being forced to multi-task.  Most of us think that we are really good at it.  At this point I think that rose-coloured glasses need to come off.  The fact is, due to evolution, we aren’t.  As sophisticated at multi-tasking as we think we are, we just don’t really do it that well.  Kinda like, in much the same way we all think that we are really good drivers.  When in reality the vast majority of us are average drivers at best.  For drivers and you would-be gurus of multi-tasking, I introduce you to… The Bell Curve.  The vast majority are pretty much average, some are really good, and some really suck !  Don’t worry, there is nothing wrong with being part of the average.  I’m ok being an average driver, and I’m ok, not being an Über multi-tasker.

snake oilSo how do we get better at it, Multi-tasking that is.  That my friends I do not have an answer for.  Although I’m sure that there will be the myriad of products/methods that someone will try to sell you on.  Everything from the snake oil remedy to something that may sound a little more reputable.

So why do I bring this concept up ?  Well for starters, the concept that things can happen around you and you can be completely oblivious to them is a fact.  However, there is always a plethora of things going on or happening around you.  You just need to be receptive to the ones that really matter – seeing the important.  So what really matters, what’s important… That my friend is for you to discover.  What I think is important is likely not your idea of what you think is important.  And even the things that I think are important to pay attention to today are vastly different from what I would have thought even a few years back.  Don’t believe me, take up a new hobby.  Then watch what is does to your focus.

I think it goes back to the old adage… Take time to stop and smell the roses.120213105032-roses-lose-scent-story-top


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What motivates you ?

So what makes you get up and out of bed in the morning ?  What makes you do the things you do ?underwater-surfer_52784_990x742

Recently I’ve been reading some material on motivation and the material presented to me  really makes sense.

tom_sawyerIn essence, the material I’ve read says you can be intrinsically motivated or extrinsically motivated to do a task/activity.  Intrinsically motivated is where you do this because you want to.  You have an inherit need to either do the right thing or do it because you want to do it.  Typically in intrinsic motivation, there isn’t a monetary reward for doing something.  Say you have a hobby, such as cooking, or painting or dancing or writing.  You do these things because you gain a personal satisfaction from doing these things.  Now let me introduce you to Extrinsic motivation.  This is where you are motivated by an external factor.  Say, Monetary reward, or you are being told to complete something.   I would say this about your job that you are extrinsically motivated (ie: you’re paid), but some people love their work and would do it even if they weren’t paid.

So try this… apply extrinsic motivation to your hobby now… how would you feel about completing that activity ?   Would you derive the same amount of pleasure from your hobby ?

I’m betting the answer is No.

Or maybe you might, but at some point in time, I don’t think that it will be your hobby any longer.

So with that being said. Let’s define the task.  If you are in my line of work, that means either solving a problem, or completing a deliverable.  In my case, you never want to take you eyes off the prize (aforementioned: problem or deliverable).  In my career, completing the task is extrinsically motivated.  I get paid for completing deliverables and solving problems, and I’m ok with that (in fact sometimes it’s difficult to turn off).  Most of us that work are extrinsically motivated, you get paid to do a job and even get incentives if you do that job well (eg: bonus or other non-monetary rewards).

However, I’m thinking that when you were young, you didn’t say, “Gee, I want to do ____(fill in what you do most often in your work day)  for the rest of my life”. I know I didn’t say “Gee, I want to be a lean, mean,  deliverable producing machine !”  If I did, the school counselors would have been all over me like white on rice. Then I’d be riding the short bus home.

So what is it that you think motivates you…. what is it you want to do most ?

What makes you run….

photo by Elaine Aragon, Europeaupif

photo by Elaine Aragon, Europeaupif.




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The attitude of happiness ?

So recently I was on a vacation and part of the vacation I traveled to Cambodia.

Maybe something you should know about this little country, in the late 70’s and through the 80’s this little country went through a horrific civil war and mass genocide.  Estimates are that nearly half the population was wiped out.  If you read the history, you can interpret a different view on the history and see a bit of a different story, depending on where your political beliefs lie.

There is no question, that at the hands of the Khmer Rouge the largest number of Cambodians were murdered.  However, the Khmer Rouge weren’t the only ones responsible for Cambodian deaths, American bombings, and the Viet Cong both took their toll… However, a dead person is a dead person, regardless what faction killed them, either directly or indirectly.

Today, here in this little country, there is hardly a family alive that is a complete family.  Missing grandparents, uncles/aunts, parents and siblings, murdered.  However, it’s here where you can see something amazing.

Happiness. people1

Don’t believe me ? Then travel there yourself and go see it.

Everyone that we encountered and talked to where happy !

It looks impossible doesn’t it.  Well add to the fact that approximately 30% of Cambodians are living below the poverty level (which was defined at earning less than 75 cents a day – Yes, 75 CENTS ! ). And that the average income is approximately a dollar a day.   Now as you read this, tell me how much you spent the last time you went to a movie, or out for a coffee ?   You lead a very privileged life in the eyes of a average Cambodian.

So where does this happiness come from ?

Well if you think its from earning piles of money I would have to argue with you on that, based on what I just saw.

So let’s try again… I think, that happiness can be an attitude.  That’s right, you may think that attitude has a negative connotation, as in “Don’t give me attitude”, but based on the dictionary description:


  1. A settled way of thinking or feeling, typically reflected in a person’s behavior.
  2. A position of the body proper to or implying an action or mental state: “the boy was standing in an attitude of despair”.

I think that having attitude can be a good thing.  Try this on…

You can choose to have an attitude for being happy.  What do you think ? Let me ask you this… do you know of that one person, where, when they walk into a room, the whole room just gets livelier ?  The opposite could be true too, but I’m more focused on that person that brings a ray of sunshine where ever they go.  Everyone just becomes a bit happier and a bit friendlier.  You know that person.  Why do you think that is ?

_CA38712I’m not saying I know who you are thinking about, but I’m betting that it isn’t because they have loads of cash and are just dripping with wealth.  I’m betting it’s because they choose to be happy and to bring that forward.  They have attitude to being happy, it’s their disposition/behaviour.

Ever heard of Bhutan ?  No, well don’t feel bad.  It’s a very small country between China and India very close to Nepal.  Bhutan has elected a government whose platform was based on “Gross National Happiness”.  I know, it sounds odd but it’s for real.  Read it here.  Their idea is “Improving life in a holistic approach”.  Bhutan is not a resource rich nation whose citizens accumulate great financial wealth; however, instead of focusing on richness in dollars, they have chosen to focus on the richness of life/wellness.  I’m betting that if you invite Bhutan to a party they would liven it up.

Something I wanted you to think about as you go about your day.

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Those roses smell damn fine !

Do you ever stop and smell the roses ?

Ya, I know the old saying, and the message behind the saying is, do you take time out to take notice of the nicer things in life ?

I get, that with our busy lives and the constant draw upon our time to do this or that, or the pressures at work, or whatever it is that occupies you.  There is scant a minute to take thru the day.  At the end of the day, you fall into bed, exhausted, your head hits the pillow and you are immediately in slumber land.  Only to  repeat everything the next day.

Many years ago, it was suggested I read this one book.  The book is called “The Wealthy Barber”.  Ever heard of it ?  David Chilton is the author.  It’s a light read, and can be finished fairly quickly depending on your reading speed.  The book’s main character is a (wait for it…)  Barber.  Huge surprise there… but basically the barber extols lessons on how to become wealthy regardless of what profession you have.  The primary lesson in the book is “Pay yourself first”.  So what does that mean “Pay yourself first” ?  It’s really very simple, when you get your pay cheque, before paying your bills, pay into your savings first.  Your savings can be for anything you want.  The book doesn’t suggest this, but I took that away from it.  The book suggests that you pay into your savings/retirement fund first.  Then that way you have forced yourself to pay for your future.  Now don’t get me wrong, I think this is a great idea.  And you should definitely plan for your future/retirement.  There are a number of other very good points in the book, from how to get yourself out of debt, to how to basically be fiscally/financially responsible.  All in all a very good read and some very valuable points.

Ok, so you’re probably thinking, What does that have to do with stopping to smell the roses.  Simple.  Take the concept of paying yourself first.  Now, instead of applying it to your financial situation, you apply it to your time.  Seriously !  There are 24 hours in a day.  Given the fact that we need anywhere between 6 & 9 hours of sleep, that leaves you with 15-18 hours.  If it’s a week day, you are off to work for say 8 of those hours, plus the time to commute say 1-2 hours, plus getting ready in the morning – say 30 mins to 1 hour.  Now add in the time for getting meals (either cooking/preparing them yourself, or eating out), and you are down to a meagrely 3-5 hours.  Now what you have to do in that remaining time of the day is likely run errands, if you have kids, spend time with them or getting them to their various events… and you are now down to likely a few mins here or there.

What I’m thinking is that we need a fresh perspective.  So take the concept of Pay yourself First.  Apply it to the time you have in the day.  Yes, even a weekday.  Does this mean you still have to go to work ? Unfortunately, yes.  However, If you could parcel out an hour of your day, where you could do what you wanted that would help you smell the roses, what would it be ?  Yes, you only get one hour.  Just like in the Wealthy Barber, you could only pay yourself first a certain percentage.  The time you allocate to you is also only a percentage of your day.  So what would you choose to enrich your life ?  The activity has to be enriching to you… so doing laundry, cleaning the house or sleeping don’t count as activities.

Ok, time to use your imagination… you remember what that is ?  If you are having trouble remembering how to use it… Then maybe your first activity should be going out and staring up at the clouds and looking for shapes.  Maybe an Elephant ? or a Duck?

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Let’s suppose

From out of the blue….

Some will say that you never actually see something until you are ready to see it.  In other base-jumping-in-the-worlds-deepest-cave-shaft_1822words that opportunities will present themselves when you are ready to take advantage or to start to pay attention to those opportunities.  Fate… Karma, or dumb luck… maybe it’s something more logical than that… maybe you’ve reached a certain point where the pieces of the puzzle fit together, and those thoughts you had ruminating about are actually gelling into some rational idea ?

I once worked with a very intelligent gal that said to me… “Change is very difficult for people… most people need to wait until it’s a 9, before doing anything about it.”  If you don’t understand, that’s ok, let me explain.  If you have ever been to a hospital or emergency room, the doctor will ask you, on a scale of 1-10, what is the pain ?  Well, take that same concept and apply it to change.  Most folks would endure nearly an infinite amount of time with something that was slightly uncomfortable than change it.  It’s only when the pain of something becomes something nearly unbearable that change occurs.  Believe me if you want, but I think my prior co-worker was very observant of human behaviour.

I recently came across this wonderful little video with narration by Allan Watts.  You can watch it here.

“…Better to have a short life, that is full of what you like doing, than a long life spent in a miserable way…”

So let’s suppose that you that instead of it being a 9 before we changed, it was a 4, or even less.  Something that was mildly uncomfortable, and we did something about it.  I’m not suggesting that you go quit your job immediately, or that you leave your spouse just because things aren’t going great.  Instead, I think that if you did something about the things in your life.  Let’s say that you make a change that enriches your life and the life of those around you.  A win-win if you like.  For example: you decide that this specific activity that you had always wanted to do, but “couldn’t find the time” to do it, you actually decided to re prioritize the activities in your life to accommodate this new activity.  The pain wasn’t a 9, it was just an idea that you had that you wanted to do something a bit different.

The interesting part of the narrated video is that if you do something that you actually enjoy doing, there is a good possibility that you will be doing this well.  Eventually or in the future there will be a time that you can actually charge a fee for doing something you love doing.

There is something I see most every day.  I see people where they aren’t doing the things they love doing, and instead I hear comments like, “when I retire, I’m going to do ____”.  GREAT ! I say, then why don’t you start doing that today !  Start doing the things you love, trust me, there are people in this world that will pay you to do the thing that you love.  Don’t believe me, then just go do a search on Sustainable Travel.  Yeah, go figure, there are folks out there that are making a living by travelling.

I have a website, I built it myself and I had fun doing it.  Has it generated me any revenue, nope. But I can tell you this… I know there are a ton of folks that read it.  Should I change it and include things like advertising… I’m not sure I want to do that, but could I ?  Of course.   What ever your love is, you can turn it into something that you can charge a fee for.  If you want to that is… Let’s suppose that you could… where would you like to take this new venture ?


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“A fanatic is someone who redoubles his efforts when he has forgotten his aim.”

– Chuck Jones

This is one of my all time favourite quotes.

I see this in real life all the time.  I see people jump through endless hoops, redouble their efforts and for what ?  To get to where ?  or to get what ?  If you have ever watched a Wile E Coyote and Road Runner cartoon, you will see Wile E go through seemingly infinite amounts of Acme products to try to get a skinny little bird.  Honestly Wile E, just order a Pizza for delivery.  Ya, I get it… pizza delivery doesn’t make for good entertainment.  Chuck Jones knew that when he created the Looney Tunes cartoons and his various characters that he animated.  In fact in an interview, he said that Wile E Coyote would never catch Road Runner.

The great part of Wile E was his undying determination.  Nothing would shorten his resolve.  I give the guy full credit for determination, but failing marks on executing it effectively.  Do I see this all the time… you bet your boots I do.  Am I guilty of doing this… oh, very likely.  One thing I don’t feel bad about, is that this happens to much smarter and more highly paid people than me.  In fact I just finished watching a video that so epitomizes this, that it’s actually extremely frightening.   Here’s the video:

Breaking the Taboo (it may be a bit long, but it’s worth watching)

The most frightening part of this video is seeing all the people who have been murdered and the families and communities that have been destroyed along the way, due to the “War on Drugs”.

Ok, let me set the stage here… and don’t get me wrong here… I’m not saying drugs are necessarily a good thing.  And also, this is the part where I do not make any judgement calls on you if you are a drug user, that is your prerogative and your choice.  A drug dealer, well that’s a different story.

The wonderful part of this video is that some very intelligent folks have gotten together and have decided to do something to try to break the cycle of the violence, murders and criminal activities.  Prohibition didn’t work, and the tactics being used today are no different from those used back then.  This my friends is called being Fanatical.  Thinking that throwing more money, more guns, more whatever; and that this will help solve the  problem.  Ultimately the people benefiting from this method of thinking,  are arms makers and funeral homes.

The old mindset is to do more, more money in policing, more arrests, more technology to track shipments…  That spending billions of dollars and the loss of countless lives is acceptable.  This method is basically continuing to do the same thing all the time and expecting a different outcome… that is what Chuck Jones so aptly referred to as “Fanatical”.   The best part of this video is that the message of doing something different, and that different method is finally gaining some traction.

The new mindset is that by doing something different, and approaching the problem differently, then you can expect a different outcome.  I’m not saying all narcotic drugs should be legalized, but I’m not against it if this can be done in a regulated and safe method.

Bill Clinton has a fantastic line in this video and I couldn’t help but quote it here;

The truth is that the war on drugs, is a war fought inside the heart and mind of everybody who thinks of using them, but I know that lives can be saved, that their worth saving, that it’s never too late to start, and as long as you have your personal freedom, the ability to think, you have the chance to do better. Don’t give that freedom up. That’s my message

The quote doesn’t only apply to the War on Drugs.  I think that the most important part of that quote is this.. “ it’s never too late to start, and as long as you have your personal freedom, the ability to think, you have the chance to do better. Don’t give that freedom up.”

It’s never too late to start.  So start !  Be different, think different, don’t let someone else kill your creativity.  Don’t let someone else tell you it can’t be done. Don’t look Down.  You have the chance to do better !  Make a difference, and try not to be Fanatical along the way.

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Checking Out.

Have you heard about this… and no, I’m not talking about checking out of a hotel.  Although the concept in it’s most simplistic form is the same.

I'm Outta HereWhat I’m referring to is checking out of the norm, checking out of the societal expectations, and checking out period.  If you have read the book Atlas Shrugged, you’ll understand this.  The first line of the book is  “Who is John Galt?“.  A question that gets answered, but only once you are about 2/3rds the way through the some 1000 pages.  In effect John Galt checked out.  He saw what the societal/governmental expectations were and he decided to checked out.  He decided that no longer was he going to play by the rules.  Rules he thought made no sense, but also that confined him in such a way that it stifled his creativity and freedoms.  He instead took that energy and those ideas, and he decided to build his own society.  He brought together the brightest minds and those with passion and drive to build a grassroots society one that is not confined by rules that stifle creativity and one that fosters an environment where there is mutual benefit, instead of being taxed for those ideas.

I think you get the picture.  Considering that Atlas Shrugged was written by Ayn Rand in 1957, this is hardly a new concept.  Although, I think that when Atlas Shrugged was written, it likely flew in the face of the general populous and was likely regarded with disdain for the method in which John Galt stopped the motor of society.

That was then… So Fast Forward to today.  Recently a movie has been made from the book (part 1 at least).  And I can’t help but look around and observe.  There are more and more people I know that are either doing it, or thinking about it.  Yes, checking out.  They are tired of the societal expectations, they are tired of the big corporations dictating the schedule of their work lives.  Now I know I said previously I would limit my usage of the word “they”, so let me just say, I know friends and other acquaintances.  These are people that have been contributing members of society.  These folks have families and they are well respected, however these folks have reached a limit.  Don’t believe me ?  Go do a search on it.  I found several examples of this.  Folks that have decided they’ve had enough of living in cubes, or where it didn’t matter how much money, clothes, cars, etc they had… Happiness wasn’t there.  So instead of trying to go for more, the decision was to figure out what enough was, and then live at that level.  And when I say live, I mean changing job/careers/life to be at that level.

Think of it this way… if I took away your financial obligations, what would you do ?financialfreedom_2

Would you still want to work ?  Would you want to pursue other interests ?  Be more creative… paint, play a musical instrument, travel … Ultimately what would you like to do ?  Interesting concept huh ?  Well I’m not taking away your financial obligations, and sorry to burst your bubble on that one… but you have it within you to do exactly that.  I recently came across a website where a couple decided they were going to take a year off.  Yes 365 days.  This couple decided to take 2 years to save for their 1 year off.  A plan was made via spreadsheet, and options of the level of comfort were outlined.  Here is one such example

Trip_spreadsheet1This couple decided that a specific amount per day was going to be budgeted for and they figured they could live within those means.  This couple also felt that they could likely travel for longer than a year, because they felt they could live on less than what was allocated.  To them, every dollar not spent, meant more time away.  I don’t know this couple, I’ve only read their stories from their blog.  One thing, it’s not that difficult to find examples exactly like this. (if you want, this is their website)

Yes, I get that the internet has made information like this readily accessible.  However it makes me think there are some many options out there.  If you aren’t truely happy in what you are doing… then exploring those options is not only something you should investigate and consider.  You owe it to yourself to evaluate the idea…. what would it hurt if you did a trial check out period.  Maybe a year off would be a good start…

I think I’ll open up my spreadsheet.

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