The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Thursday, June 30, 2011

"Courage is resistance to fear. Mastery of fear. NOT absence of fear"--Mark Twain

Diamond Hour! Complexity in human excellence
Sat 7/2/11 1:00 PM Pacific (4:00 PM Eastern)
(724) 444-7444

A problem properly defined is half solved.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Where's Steve Been?

Where's Steve Been?

I've had a flood of questions about where I've been and what I've been up to the last few weeks. Well, I've been working on a slew of projects, traveled to Los Angeles to take meetings, work, and see friends. Then back to Atlanta, and then up to Boston to speak at a Complexity conference--3 1/2 hour panel on Science Fiction and Complexity. A chance to hang out with some genuinely brilliant people, as well as get in a bit of play with a martial arts master who is also a consultant for Military Intelligence. What incredible fun.

I'll be diving into this in the days to come, but I just wanted to give you a head's up, and to ask a few questions.

You see, Complexity theory has several aspects, but one way of looking at it is that it deals with

1) Emergent qualities--the way individual pieces combine to create a whole very different from the sum of the parts.

2) Interconnectedness. The various ways organizations and organisms can be considered systems, and understood best by studying individual parts, and their relationships.

Both of the above statements are of course two versions of the same thing, but I find it best to examine something both top-down and bottom up. Or outside-in and inside-out.

Because several of my current projects involve such complexity, both thematically and operationally, I'm going to be maintaining these new relationships and asking lots of questions of people who are, frankly, smarter than yours truly. No false modesty here: I ADORE smart people, and there is no greater pleasure than allowing myself to be stimulated thereby.

So...until next time, here are some questions and thoughts for you:

1) Your web of relationships will determine your success and health in life. If you average the 20% of your friends and associates with whom you spend 80% of your time, what result do you get in terms of emotional health? Financial success? Physical fitness?

2) How would you define the component pieces of your most critical discipline? How do you define and organize them? Do you disassemble (mentally, at least) these pieces, inspect and polish them regularly? Do you analyze the way more successful people organize, define and refine their time, resources, associations, emotions, values, actions, and energies?

Just a little to think about. My head is buzzing right now. More soon!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

If you were a completely excellent person, how would you be different from the person you are today?

The last time you were under killing pressure, what were your actions? The answer reveals your true values.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Cuccess requires: 1) Crystal clear goals. 2) knowing what it will cost to attain them. 3) A willingness to pay that price--in advance.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Musashi #9: Do Nothing Which Is of No Use

Musashi #9: Do Nothing Which Is Of No Use

In other words, DON'T WASTE YOUR


Finally, we're at the end of Musashi's

core principles. If you interpret them

properly, you'll notice that each and

every one of them is merely re-stating

the same idea in a different way.

More importantly, perhaps, each of

them is actually pointing to a principle

that cannot be expressed precisely in

language. If you were to create a circle,

with each of the different principle

pointing toward the center, what

would the center be?

To try to communicate this differently,

think of instances in your life when you

have used each of the nine principles,

or should have used them, or witnessed

someone else using or notably failing to

use them.

Remember the principle to "see those

things that cannot be seen?" Read

between the lines. The deepest truths

about human existence tend to evade

direct definition. Why? Well...words

are symbols, and the most important

things in life are direct expressions or

experiences. No matter what anyone

tells you, nothing can quite prepare

you for the first time you hold your

newborn child, or watching your

mother or father take their last breath.

Doors of perception open at such moments

that are both qualitatively and

quantitatively different from anything

else you have experienced, and they

change you forever. To understand

what Musashi is trying to say, what he

has said to generations of seekers, you

must apply them to your life, and think

back over your life experience, and

delve into the life experiences of others.

Use these memories to help you detect

arenas of your life where you can apply

these principles. All success principles

are merely "fingers pointing to the moon."

Zen Koans do not contain truth, they

point one toward a mode of thought

that contributes to direct perception

and dynamic action. It is in the action

of meditation, combat, creation,

lovemaking, or life itself that the truth

of things is revealed.

Do not read of Musashi's dictates. Live

them. Walk the Thousand Mile Road.

And in action, is truth. Mere speculation

without application is useless. And

please, nothing which is of

no use.



Under promise and over-deliver. There are never any traffic jams on the extra mile.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

"Everybody has Talent, but Ability takes hard work"--
Michael Jordan

Musashi #8: Pay Attention Even To Little Things

In the final analysis, it is both the ability to take the big picture AND the ability to manage the small important details that defines the path of mastery. Whether the arts, sciences, family life, fitness and sports, or the spiritual disciplines, it is critical to develop the capacity to move back and forth between the forest and the trees. Long view...close view.

This is so true in so many arenas, that an entire library could be written just on the small "differences that make the difference." Let's just focus on one.

In goal setting, for instance, it is important to have "long term" goals--five year, ten year, lifetime goals. They help you to see the major paths you must take, the allies you will need, the broad strokes of your actions.

But you also need a daily "to do" list, a structured catalog of the things which must be accomplished by the end of your work day in order to stay on that larger path. Most people make the massive error of thinking that the only value of a goal is achieving it. NO. More valuable is the clarity of creating it, the courage of declaring it, the self-knowledge gained by analyzing failures, the discipline that results from repeated commitment to a difficult path.

Keep a journal, and keep track of what happens as you attempt to reach your goals. And, of course, re-read your goals every day. At the end of the day, what went wrong? At the end of the week? Month? Year? If you keep track of what happened, how you reacted, the obstacles the universe threw at would begin to see the patterns behind the patterns. The way small details add up to major discoveries.

And will be on your way to creating the life you truly desire.




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Unsuccessful people spend their time thinking about problems. Successful people spend THEIR time considering solutions. Which are you?

There is a gigantic difference between doing 99% of a task and doing 100% of a task. Most people never grasp the sheer power of completion.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Honesty and integrity are more than values: they are the values that determine other values.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

I don't believe in lazy. "Laziness" is the result of unclear goals and values, and thinking efforts will bring more pain than pleasure.

Strained Leg

For the last six weeks I'd been nursing a sore leg a bit. Didn't interfere with my working out, but a slight tension along the outer thigh of my left leg told me to be careful. Last Saturday I had a "heavy" day and decided to push a little, the protocol called a "fat ripper" where you alternate running and kettlebells. 60 seconds of running, rest thirty seconds, 30 seconds of KB. In this instance, the rather severe KB series created by Steve Maxwell using double KB clean and jerk (and precursive) movements. Well...felt something "ping" a bit in that leg, and paid for it seriously later in the day. And by Sunday it was sore as hell. Seemed to be the Illiotibial band along the thigh. Nothing torn, but it was as if he Golgi Tendon Organs didn't trust me, and were holding on for dear life, refusing to release any flexibility in the protecting and protected muscle groups.

Leading to awful things like having trouble getting up off the ground, or off the sofa. Arrrgh. It was like trying to figure out which way to lean, or curl, or crawl, to move at times. Walking up stairs was an exercise in torture. I hate doing it, but I finally took a couple of Ibuprofin, and that helped. Hot bath and ice packs also helped, and lots of "Body Rolling" pressure-point release techniques. No working out, but lots of yoga in the mornings. By Tuesday it was feeling pretty good, but then I got upset with Jason yesterday morning (he asked repeatedly if he could break a pencil, I said no repeatedly, he did it anyway) and I had him doing yoga with me to calm him down. My emotional piss-offedness wrecked my calm, and my left leg was back in Sunday mode. Arrgh. I was actually trapped on the couch for about 10 minutes, unable to figure out how to get off. Hate when that happens. So...another Ibuprofin, a cold compress, some body-rolling, and a little extra sleep. Feeling better again this morning. Careful yoga, and if Jason breaks another pencil, I'm gonna smile and hand him a pen.

Sat, June 1, 2011 1:00 PM PDS (4 PM EST)
(724) 444-7444
Subject: Does "Talent" Exist?