The YOLO guide to survive the apocalypse (6/7):

Appreciate it when things go wrong

 

Nothing went wrong while taking this picture. But this photo indeed fits the title. Photo of Steven Gloyd taken by Bonnie Wood.

Nothing went wrong while taking this picture. But this photo indeed fits the title.
Photo of Steven Gloyd taken by Bonnie Wood.

 

“How wonderful is the affair of the believer, for his affairs are all good, and this applies to no one but the believer. If something good happens to him, he is thankful for it and that is good for him. If something bad happens to him, he bears it with patience and that is good for him.”

- Prophet Mohammad

 

 

Secularly speaking, a person of a long term vision usually succeeds in seeing the light in the end of the tunnel. And hence is more likely to succeed getting out of the tunnel, not to dwell over obstacles and hurtles in her way. She is bears them with patients. And indeed she is a thankful person for whatever helps her through the journey. If Islam, among other religions out there, gave its followers a good life habit. I would count the habit of “appreciating it when things goes wrong” among one of the greatly useful ones they teach. And that doesn’t happen without a strong belief. Not necessarily a spiritual or religious belief in after death life or in a caring creator who’s planning good things for us at the end of the tunnel. In general, it is the belief that your journey worth it. It worths the rough times that we all go through. You would have some kind of sort of reward. It could be a spiritual reward, or a reward that you set for yourself personally. It is all about how you measure your life (Link the book). If you know how you measure your life, then those things that go wrong doesn’t really bother you to be bear patient in order to reach your end goal. And if there is anything to get out of it, it could be a learning experience that worths appreciation.

I was driving a solar car several times last year, onetime I used Google Glass (a wearable device that record videos along with doing other things), It felt great to have a Glass over my head, I was recording and talking to the video about the car and what’s happening.

But when the batteries died and I didn’t have anything to say, I felt having interesting moments of solitude driving around the small town of Corvallis in a rainy day. I was just driving, just listening to the lead car in the convoy for directions, taking care of traffic and safety and thinking of nothing else.

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A similar feeling I had when we raced with the same car at the Circuit of The Americas and the computer screen turned off. I felt that I’m disconnected from everything around me. I had to focus over my driving remember our mentor’s instructions on what to do when that happens.  Luckily Hai-Yue prepared me for the surprise, so I went just driving with most of the systems down. Such patience to things going wrong prepared me to the final day of a road challange this summer in our way on the road to the finish line of a +1700 miles challange. I had similar failures in several car systems. Some of them I was able to detect right away, some took me sometime to realize and took my team more time to do so. Some of these problems were solvable while I was continuing my drive, and some other ones could’ve stopped us in the middle of the road if not managed well. We appreciated our experiences when things went wrong. And the tolerance to having a car that is not perfect made it easier journey. And the not taking the car as a whole for granted to do what it is supposed to do, made me realize, this is life.

Indeed, believers are those who will survive the apocalypse, and I mean by believers, those who believe that things go wrong and they would as long as they live and go through new experiences. They believe strongly that with appreciation and patience, they will survive, succeed, and fulfill their journey in life.

Those are the surviving believers regardless of their religion. Which reminds me to a question I’ve been asked by an old lady while visiting a small conservative town. “Are you a believer ?” She asked. “Sure, I am”, I replied, “but what do you mean ?”. ” I mean are you Christian?” She clarified. I said, “No but I am a Muslim who believes in Jesus”. Recalling that now, I should’ve added: “And I prophesize that all believers will survive the apocalypse”. That will surely add to her surprise and wonder.

So if you end up seeing things going wrong, think about it critically. Is there something out of this you could take away ? Are you able to change things ? is it under your control ? or at least your influence ? or should you give up the desire to control the situation and appreciate what you are getting out of this experience ?

Tell me what stories you have experienced of things going wrong in your life, and did you appreciate something out of it ?

Wither the zombies are coming or not, this skill is quite handy. And it prepares you for the final step …. To be continued.

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The YOLO guide to survive the apocalypse (5/7)

In the previous post I started this guide with four steps to survive the apocalypse. Check it out if you still haven’t. Because the next three steps are mentally demanding. So let’s get started.

 

5- Experience mindfulness : Remember these three words :Need, stimulus, solution.

 

We tend not to deeply think about our everyday activities as we should !

“We tend not to deeply think about our everyday activities as we should !”

 

 

In the fourth step  (Understand what a mindful life means to you by embracing YOLO) you were able to identify, as an example, that Facebook is a waste of my time except for knowing your friends birthdays and parties events (or whatever legitimate social reasons), . You truly realize what the technology is adding to you and what it is sucking out of you. You know that sharing a photo of your meal would be an awesome idea if you are a chef. Or if you are doing marketing for a restaurant. Other than that, that photo is just fulfilling your instincts to feel appreciated or recognized by others that you are eating a meal. (I know, it sucks).

So to help you experiencing mindfulness, with each activity of any significance, try to reveal the three key revelations about it :

Need : What is the need for this activity , let’s say you are driving a car and using the GPS to guide you from point A to point B. What’s the need for it ? To tell you the route. Good enough. That’s quite great revelation. Believe me, it is !

Stimulus: What are the stimulus that are there from this damn thing ? it gives you sound commands for every single turn. Sometimes too late and sometime too early. Always, it disturb your conversation with your ride partner. Uh yeah, and it is getting your attention (visually and audibly) from the road.

Solution: What is the solution you are applying for the need? And is it the only solution?

For the GPS example, the traditional solutions is: just listen to the directions and go along with it. But there might be many other solutions. One another solution could be is to browse the whole route and register the path in your head and then never look back into the navigator screen (which is doable). Another solutions would include playing around with the navigator settings and your sensory settings and figure out if you can tweak them to best serve your need. That includes your settings to listen and look into the navigator every single turn, or just do a visual skim when stopping at red lights for the next portion of the route. You would decide if you will leave the sound level of the navigator as high as it is or would you lower it down to a level that doesn’t disturb your conversation with other passengers. With this thought process you are not taking technology for granted, and you are enslaving it to serve you rather enslaving yourself to it.

 When thinking about the adopted solution people usually fail in identifying different solutions or seeing the options that they can take. We tend to take the easy route even if it is too costly for what it is. This needs quite basic combination of creative and critical thinking that you really should train yourself on. Even if you are not an engineer, only creative and critical thinkers will survive zombies, so you better evolve fast !

Probably the GPS navigation-driving multitasking is not quite challenging activity to think about. But we have many other examples ! Facebook. Why we use it ? … There is a need for it, to connect for parties, birthday greetings. What else ? messaging ? cool.  Now when you think about the stimulus, there are many of them, notifications and invites and a timeline or news feed that makes it a very noisy environment. Solution : get what you wanted to do and get it done and then move on, focus on the stimulus that you need to focus on. If you want to message that person then do. And that’s it, don’t worry about that notification or get distracted by that silly cat and funny baby laugh pictures. Someday you will have one of your own if you will shut down the unnecessary stimulus and focus on those that solve your need.

 

Do you have an activity (other than peeing or facebooking) that you want to share ? Share it with me. I’ll be back soon with the next step along with some interesting stories !

Be well,

Sami

—–

Want to keep reading ?

The YOLO guide to survive the apocalypse (6/7): Appreciate it when things go wrong

 

 

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The YOLO guide to survive the apocalypse (1-4/7): Start enjoying a mindful life !

 

Only smart people will survive the zombie apocalypse, since you are on the internet reading this, let’s start this brief summary on what the internet is doing to our brains :


 

Your guide to mindful life is summarized in 99 steps. I know it is hard to digest. So to increase your motivation I will show you how this would make you survive the apocalypse. And just to make you consider to read it for real. I condensed it into 7 steps.

You can go to a Yoga class. It’s actually helpful. But good luck with that when you are attacked by zombies ! Did I get your attention ? … good, let’s get starting with the YOLO guide:

 

  1. Observe: Notice at how kids and many adults would burst in anger when TV, Wifi and electricity Shutdown !

 

Riverwalk-12-4-12

“Television for a child creates such a high bar of stimulus that nothing else competes. A beautiful day is absolute crap to a kid who watches tv.” Louis C.K.

 

 

Louis C.K. statement from his show ‘Hilarious’ is related very much to how we can help ourselves to enjoy mindful life that isn’t only influenced by high bar stimulus.

Kids are not enjoying life at all as ‘we used to’. It’s not really hard to realize it. They would scream if you close the TV, or unplug the internet connection, from their attention. As I was driving to downtown river walk and listening to Louis C.K. on the car radio I decided to stay in my car for a little bit and enjoy listening to him. The little bit turned into around 10 minutes. Then I realized, I’m empowered by a pair of tennis shoes, paved river walk , internet connection, ear buds and a smart phone. So I decided to continue listening to the talk and run. That was way better than just staying in the car !

Checkpoint: In order to successfully complete this stage/step, you need to be a master over stimulus that trigger your attention, not a slave to it.

 

2- Listen to both nature and technology,  not just one of them !

In an audible article I listened to, while doing my laundry, the writer suggested that listening to music while jogging might not be the best thing to do. She mentioned that she started to enjoy nature, listening to her breath and heartbeat as she runs. And surely you could be more aware of your surroundings if you don’t have these earbuds on.

However, I totally enjoyed listening to Louis C.K this morning while jogging. His quote I first mentioned inspired me actually ! Probably, I wouldn’t have the inspiration to write anything like this if I wasn’t listening to him ( Except if an apple tree decided to drop one of its fruits over my head , then that might got me to an unprecedented Eureka moment that would make me write about it all day long ! ).

So I figured out that the point is: To listen to technology if you want to, but don’t let that blind you from noticing the falling apples of inspiration.

Checkpoint: In order to successfully complete this stage/step : When multitasking, be careful of what tasks you are doing. Listening to nature shouldn’t be impeded by multitasking using the vast amount of technologies. Nature is always richer.

3- Increase your focused attention; Don’t let high bar stimulus blind you !

A lady started her introduction in a ’dating website’ with .. “ I’m naked, don’t look .. Since I got your attention now, let’s get into business” and then she proceeded with a summary about herself. Despite that this lady is very likely to be a respectful person for herself and others, and who didn’t post any nudity photos about herself by the way, she needed to pull the attention and create such a stimulus to introduce herself to potential mates. That’s quite understandable, and might be effective for some guys. Or is it really ? I’m not really sure ! But clearly she wanted to create a high bar of stimulus that nothing else competes with.

Train your self to carefully know what stimulus to pay attention to. And what to turn off even if it was a useless squeaking wheel.

Checkpoint: In order to successfully complete this stage/step : Don’t fall for the strongest stimulus. Couple of Zombies might scream in front of you you just to lead you to run to the back where tons of them are waiting. Loudest doesn’t mean most valuable and important.

 

 

4- Understand what a mindful life means to you by embracing YOLO

Technology bridges gaps and folds distances. Though, it shouldn’t create a gap by itself between us and our mindful life.

What is mindful life

If you meditate, know how to relax, or hike you might have experienced the state of flow. Let me not get too philosophical or phycological here. But in a nutshell, let’s think about mindful life as a life that helps you be a better person. You deeply enjoy what you do with full immersion in it to the extent that you would loose feeling of time. You would feel something beyond instantaneous impulse of happiness that you get when you see the red colored notification alert with a double digit number of likes on your Facebook posts. It’s something you would not regret spending your time on after being done with. That is a mindful time.

Remember YOLO ( You Only Live Once), so you better not waste yourself on things that you aren’t mindful of.

Checkpoint: In order to successfully complete this stage/step : Identify what are those wastes and distractors of a mindful life you want to live. Are you free from cognitive dissonance that falsely justifies such useless activities for you despite their bad impact ? If so, you are ready to go.

 

If you like this, let me know … so I complete the guide for you. Probably these four steps are enough to start working on.

 

Do you want to keep reading ?

The YOLO guide to survive the apocalypse (5/7) Experience mindfulness : Remember these three words :Need, stimulus, solution.

 

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You are not a cat ! Be curious !

 

When was the last time you ever said ‘Interesting !!‘ In the way that you express great astonishment and genuine interest in a new piece of information or experience.

So before I proceed selling you my life one word motto : Curiosity , let’s make this straight clear: curiosity did not kill the cat ! Yes, it did not. The origin of the metaphor was ‘Care killed the Catsince the Shakespearian days . It wasn’t until the last two centuries this awful phrase came to life : ‘ Curiosity killed the cat’. But luckily, and given the 6 lives left in that a cat the author Stephen King did a smart extension to the idiom: Curiosity killed the cat, satisfaction brought him back.

 

I’ve been called ‘Mr. Interesting’ many times, in summer camps, college, and among some of my colleagues when I used to work at GE. ‘Interesting’ is a word of amusement and interest I use when being exposed to something new. And let me tell you, life is full of new stuff ! Even routine has the potential of introducing new learning experiences. No wonder I started my career in the automation industry, where dull, Difficult, and dangerous jobs are being automated and delegated to machines and robots.

Today, I enjoy working and volunteering with others in projects that might seem dull or I might be a little bit more experienced in doing. What a huge potential to kill my curiosity right ? Wrong ! It’s where I start exploring my mentoring, coaching , and observation skills.

 

Consider again when your kid start crying for the 100th time. Would it be a new experience that might help you explore doing something new with her ? O.K. that might be a bad example, it looks like I have no idea what is it like to have a child. Well, now I’m curious wither when I have a kid I’ll have access to an automated dipper changer … hmm ! See curiosity works on any example ! … Guess what key word I’m googling now in Google Patents ? Open it up on your own responsibility ! Interesting, right ?

 

Curiosity helped me explore new research areas I never thought they would help me out with my mission in life. I got interested in engineering after exploring electronics and instrumentation in high school. I got curious to learn how big corporations work and how could I add a value to what a corporation do, so I did. I found productivity tools are more relevant to what I would like to do in that company more than the detailed programing and configuration main work that was assigned to me, so I focused on that. I wanted to do my masters degree in engineering management degree, yet while exploring that I found human systems engineering is interesting to explore, so I did. Today, I’m researching a human systems engineering topic that relates to engineering management concepts and focuses on productivity and efficiency in critical situations like emergencies. It’s hard to describe how all of this fits together in one paragraph. But this journey of 12 years , since I did my first electronics circuit in 9th grade, fits together into one purpose. The verity of experiences added a lot to me. Such verity I would attribute to two things: My curiosity and the ‘American approach’ into higher education that encourages width over depth in what you study.

If you would like to learn more about more personal stories about curiosity. And how curiosity would grow a whole society, check out one of my latest talk at Ignite Corvallis 5:


YouTube Direct

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An Adventure of Discovery … Remembering the man who saved HomoSapiens

Feb 27th, 2014

“Whatever the context and whatever the audience, he was clear, he was committed, he was compassionate, and, far more often than most, he was right — or if not, at least on the side of the angels.”

-Derek A. Davenport, The Many Lives of Linus Pauling: A Review of Reviews.

 

 

The human race have gone so far in what they have discovered during the last century. On February 28th 1901 Linus Pauling (1901 – 1994) was born in Portland, Oregon to give humanity a strong push and a critical ‘slow down’. I’ll leave his greatest discovery until the end. Though his discoveries in understanding the structure of the protein and the impact of the vitamins in our nutrition were some of the great contributions. However, in a very short piece of article I can’t attribute his favor to humanity on a single discovery. Fair enough that the Nobel prize committee gave him his first award in Chemistry for all of his life contributions in chemistry combined rather than a single discovery as it is usually the case.

 

Science cannot be stopped. Man will gather knowledge no matter what the consequences – and we cannot predict what they will be.Science will go on — whether we are pessimistic, or are optimistic, as I am. I know that great, interesting, and valuable discoveries can be made and will be made… But I know also that still more interesting discoveries will be made that I have not the imagination to describe — and I am awaiting them, full of curiosity and enthusiasm”

Linus Pauling, 1949

Pauling gave the human race a great ‘slow down’ that very likely did save earth creatures from extinction. His activism against nuclear bombs testing helped to create a huge alliance of scientists who showed their clear opposition to such massively destructive tool. The humanity truly owes him and those courageous men and women in the white coat uniform who carried the power of wisdom to stop or at least slow down the most dangerous and unwise tests since the existence of the very first Homo sapiens ! … Speaking of such word , Homo Sapiens means in Latin : ( Wise Man ). Let’s hope we are still living up to the definition of our evolutionary status !

Celebrating Linus Pauling's birthday, Benny and I hold 2 medals peace and chemistry Nobel Prize awards. The only unshared awards by a single man in different fields.

Celebrating Linus Pauling’s birthday, Benny and I hold 2 medals peace and chemistry Nobel Prize awards. The only unshared awards by a single man in different fields. This beaver arms are so big that the medal in his hand was out of the frame !

 

I don’t share the magnitude of any of the wisdom, courage, creativity of Linus Pauling. I barely share with him the campus he once studied and taught at.  And once met his greatest discovery. I know I’m going to talk about ‘it’ soon ! Caltech would have the honer of his later discoveries and accomplishments. I do hope we could encourage kids to take risks as he used to in his childhood. I wish to have our graduate students, scholars and researchers to have the courage and wisdom to be selective in their pursuit for knowledge that adds the most to humanity. Thinking of that, it is not the magnitude of what Linus did, it is the direction. Choosing the right direction is of a higher priority than the magnitude.

 ”I have always wanted to know as much as possible about the world.”

     -Linus Pauling In His Own Words (1995) by Barbara Marinacci

Cover of How to Live Longer and Feel Better by Linus Pauling to illustrate article on him and on Vitamin C mega dosage.

 

Linus Pauling is a legendary person. However, despite his discovery of the chemical structure of the active component of of all living tissues; the protein, he failed in his attempt to propose a structure for the DNA ( read more about this blunder and other ones ). He had multiple careers in his life with very honorable aims.

 

 

 

 

 

 

” I have something that I call my Golden Rule. It goes something like this: (Do unto others twenty-five percent better than you expect them to do unto you.) … The twenty-five percent is for error. ”

- Pauling’s reply to an audience question about his ethical system, following his lecture circa 1961 at Monterey Peninsula College, in Monterey, California.

 

Wandering at his office placed at the Special collections in the fifth floor of the Valley Library in Oregon State University I find a love letter to his dedicated and faithful beloved one, Ava Helen. A lady who he met in one of the classes he was teaching. She amused him with her answers and did not stop there. She influenced his social conscious development and supported him in his scientific and activism journey. A partner who made this talented guy a great influencer in the 21st Century. No wonder, when Linus Pauling was asked about his greatest discovery, He would always say: “My wife”.

 

Praying for his soul rest in peace, I keep praying to soon discover my greatest discovery too ! But now it is time to get back to my research !!

Sami

 

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An Apple, a Bathtub, a Pretty Blond in a Bar ,And a Dancing Homeless Wise Man

 

 

 

An Apple, a Bathtub, a Pretty Blond in a Bar ,And a Dancing Homeless Wise Man

Today’s Daily Barometer editorial ( Oregon State University’s newspaper) was titled Science! That’s how we spell it. Science! with a capital S and an exclamation mark. They proved the point that Science! should be nurtured and celebrated across the whole spectrum of a society. Having pride in OSU’s scientific discoveries is unescapable from someone who sees how our research is producing Science! that is enhancing quality of lives. I’m content about seeing non-science majored editorials finding a new way to define this fascinating thing: ‘Science!’. It is beyond what you study in school or observe in a textbook, it is all what nurture your curiosity, excites your passion to understand nature and technology. It is wherever you learn something that enables you to live an honorable life that adds a value to you and your society.

My own version of defining Science! …  Crispy Science

Four years ago, I decided to focus my engineering skills that I learned in a formal engineering school into informal learning of science and technology as a business that helps kids and youth to nurture their curiosity . My dear friend Samar Hamdan helped me to give it a great name. We called it Crispy Science ! With the help of excited and highly motivated college and high school colleagues who worked at my startup, we reached  out to more than 100,000 curious in Saudi Arabia alone in just 3 years. We called our end users curious because they are, our products or services doesn’t work unless you are a curious person. Today, Crispy Science is based in Corvallis, Oregon as well as in Al-Khubar, Saudi. Our purpose is to make Crispy Science aka. ‘Science!’ empowering our schools, teachers, companies to help the public understand knowledge, develop wisdom and be critical and productive in their lives.

 

I’ve been asked lately, “What is your aim in this life ?” my aim is to have efficient and productive quality of life for populations that my products, services or teams interact with. It is a tough and never-ending vision. But that what should keep me going everyday with my work. And that is not really an easy straight foreword job. While leading the Crispy Science team, I’ve been challenged by my ability to understand my teammates needs and capacity to grow. I’ve been told: Sami don’t expect everyone to think or behave like you, what works for you doesn’t work for others ! it is fallibility that I aim to reduce, We all need to understand others needs and personalities before we put them onboard. In order to help populations, well let’s say my team members for now! , to be more efficient and productive I better understand their ethical system, motivation, perceptions over their environments to be able to serve them and lead them toward a common goal. It is a tough job, yet I just found a starting point to work on ! A special kind of sabbatical !

 A sabbatical .. in college !

Lately, aside from my startup work, I’ve been focusing in my Master’s research on an evolving theory that attempts to understand peoples response to disasters and emergencies. Usually I’m pretty good in philosophical arguments. But necessity of life and engineering education led me to focus on products and services that put the bread over the table. But my first steps in the philosophical and theoretical journey gave me something much more valuable than a bread on a table; openly observant wisdom !

 

What could openly observant wisdom give you ?

Openly Observant Wisdom is the ability to derive a theory from an apple, a bathtub, a pretty blond in a bar ,or a dancing homeless wise man. You surely might be aware of the prejudices that our society carry. Our government awards many research grants to be led by those who proved that they can do almost just because the PhD associated with their names (Well, assuming all PhD’s can develop a sound grant proposal). The society would listen to certain people, text and media and filter out other ones just because they regarded the formers as holy, credible, and trust worthy. But nothing is trust worthy enough to make you regard it as more trust worthy than your own judgement and ability to question things. Even, sacred scriptures encourage its followers to be ready to be challenged in their faith in the same scriptures. I’ve been always excited in such stories that breaks such prejudices and assumptions. Newtons Apple, Archimedes bathtub, and John Nash’s blond in the bar were great in expanding what we regard as potential source of wisdom. Not to stick to the books, textbooks or peer reviewed journals. I recently had a kind of similar experience ! (Spoiler about next paragraph : I didn’t reach the Eureka moment .. yet. so don’t be excited about Sami’s law of gravity … laws of gravity still hold true … well … with some quantum mechanics and relativity theories that makes it little bit more complicated .. but don’t worry I am not intending to go there !)

 

Dancing Homeless Wise Man

Last night I was working at a coffee shop on an evolving theory. It was a little a while since I ran into that coffee shop for work, but I felt the sense of need to go there. I had the feeling that I had to order their a cardamon and honey tea latte. So that was one thing that drove me to that coffee shop. But probably I was unconsciously driven for another reason!

I got asked by couple of college students acquaintances about what I’m doing. Typical 30 seconds pitch with encouraging comments before they move on to get their coffee.  And then I got asked by ‘ Dancing Mike’. Mike started asking me about what I was doing. Rather the simple answer “I’m working!”. I triggered his curiosity with couple more words “I’m working on an evolving theory”. He asked what is it about and so I did my 30 seconds pitch. He returned the favor by triggering my curiosity with what he got in mind about it. Mike and I spent over an hour talking about challenges in the theory ! He challenged several assumptions I had, provided several factors that were not salient to me. he’s an assurance that wisdom can be revealed to those humble enough to accept it from wherever it is. He definitely got me several examples that expanded my understanding. Great enough that he stopped me as I was writing to my advisor to ask for his advice about a definition that is under dispute in the academic literature. Mike got to me before I hit the send button. After I heard his thoughts, I got some answers and deeper questions to talk about with my advisor.

 

Learning from the dance floor

Our Discussion was like dancing to music. You feel the rhythm of the thoughts bouncing back and forth between two minds. Mike inspired me in how he created an appreciation and respect to himself. He never minded what people think about him. Those +21’s Corvallisers who are regulars at The Peacock and Impulse know what I mean. He would dance in the dancing floor like no one is watching, while everyone is actually watching. Very skilled in maintaining his smile and cheerful attitude despite challenging life ( that we ‘all’ nag about from time to time). I learned one thing from him for sure, if you want to live a cheerful life that worths exploring, never settle down, and dance to any music that can give you a good rhythm, well, he is really good at that too.

Before ending my blog, I should observe the golden rule, am I writing about this gentleman in the same way I expect to read what might be written about me ? I did my best in doing so. I’m looking foreword to talk to him as my research journey evolves. Indeed I owe this gentleman as many of local young college students owe him the good time he gave them at the dance floor ;) .

A key to the abundance of wisdom

If there is something in life I admire, it is the vast abundance of wisdom in the universe that gets scarce due to our limited senses and confined brains. Not accepting our prejudices and nurturing our natural curiosity might be a good step into that abundance of wisdom.

Sami

 

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Procrastination Proclamation

Procrastination Proclamation 

 

Before reading this, just picture this: a man kneels on his knees for a moment that he and his beloved one waited for so long, he puts his hand in his pocket, it vibrates with the shiny light from the screen. He got a social media app notification , so he checks it for a little bit,… nice ! one of his buddies tagged him in a post, thats cool. Then he continues the proposal rituals and put his hands into the right pocket to ask his girl to marry him. Hold your thought about this image for now. And let’s talk about Procrastination and Good work !

 

What makes a good work ? 

 

We tend to be harsh over ourselves sometimes. Some other times we would slack and blame the lousy work on the other things. Today, I’m going to try to understand why creative and smart people would make their Procrastination Proclamation ! This is something usually observed by graduate student, creative and knowledge workers, and typical human beings.

 

These thoughts are for you if you ever slacked on an assignment that you considered as very important or very interesting. Not because you can’t do it. But because you might be afraid of not perfecting it. My dear father once promised me to help me out with skipping a school grade if I would translate a chemistry experiments manual into Arabic. Well, I did not finish that. Not because I couldn’t, but because it looked to me very hard to do, and very great accomplishment to make. Surprisingly, under the encouragement of the same great man, I happened to ‘invent’ an electronics circuit that broadcasts any voice that is captured from the speakerphones into an FM radio channel of your choice ! My intention wasn’t that complex at all. It was simply using two circuits from my electronics kit manual, one that broadcasts morse code signals into an FM Radio and another one that amplifies an input sound from the speakerphone into an earphone. What I did was simply combining the two circuits by connecting the output of one to the input to the other one. Such ‘simple’ accomplishment was way easier to do for me compared to translating the chemistry experiments manual, I was experimenting with different circuits while not expecting failure. Or perhaps expecting failure  to happen many times but it really didn’t harm to try. I found the joy in trying, thinking of what could happen if I try, and see what happens. Unlike my other experience of not translating the chemistry kit manual, I didn’t see the value of what I do in the reward of completing the work. Probably I saw the reward, it was too big for me despite the relative simplicity of the task !

 

This might sound familiar to your thesis, senior project, dream project, dream job application, marriage proposal, a crush first date request, or invention ( uh my ! I just remembered I have to file a followup write up for a patent application that could get abandoned if I didn’t follow it up through in the next 24 hours ! Actually, let me keep the parentheses unclosed and talk a little bit of my patenting experience, it’s quite a good example ! Since my undergrad years I’ve been working on this table tennis automated refereeing system invention with my dear friend Hassen Turigi. At every time we have a deadline to submit something to the patent attorney we feel we didn’t do a good ‘complete’ job. Recently we got multiple patent application claims rejections from the patent office inspector, a pretty normal and expected thing, which should motivate inventors to be more critical and innovative about their idea and develop more precise and generic invention claims than what they already have done. Well, not in my situation, it seems frustrating at the end that we are almost loosing our invention. My whole expectation from this experience was to go through the process and learn from it. Still, every time I add something to the patent application or I clarify something about it, it makes me feel incomplete in my work. There is still something better I could do about it. That realization matters, but what matters more is the choice between trying to make my work better and start with a simple action and thought toward it or just leave it. Close parantheses )

 

Who to blame other than myself if I fail ?

I want to leave you here with a very thoughtful talk by the writer of the best seller of “Eat, Pray, Love”. She says “We’ve completely internalized and accepted collectively this notion that creativity and suffering are somehow inherently linked, and that artistry in the end will always ultimately lead to anguish — are you guys all cool with that idea?” Our societies became to think about creativity as something coming from the individual genius. Is it that a good writer, inventor, learner have a genius or is a genius ? They are different.

 

Ancient societies might have thought of ‘Genius’ as something separate from the individual. Would that make a relief from emotional risk? Would it help you to put your procrastination proclamation into rest ? I believe that you need not to fear wither your next adventure would be a disaster or the best thing you ever expected to make in life ? In Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED talk: “Your Elusive Creative Genius” provides remarkable thoughts over these questions. It was a valuable 18 minutes of listening for me. The most valuable 18 minutes in my day so far. Enjoy listening: http://www.ted.com/talks/elizabeth_gilbert_on_genius.html.

 

If you would have thought about what could we do to escape procrastination, anxiety, or fear from failure into just enjoying what you do and do it the best way you could, then bravo , ¡Olé! , Allah !

May you find a great resolution from the paradox of wanting to excel what you do while still having the fear from such excellence to chase you. I’m not sure if I found such deep resolution into this. Philosophically I found great comfort in thoughts of Clay Christensen’s book “ How will you measure your life”. Here is a TEDx talk version of it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvos4nORf_Y . In a nutshell of what this academician is trying to say is that you got to treat what you do differently from what businesses accumulate their accomplishments into a balance sheet. Do what you do the best on very specific individual situations. Invest the best of what you do each moment you live. On long term, have a journey that is meaningful and try to do your best at it. You might reach there, you might divert for a better path, or you might never reach there. But you always considered the right direction and never settled for less. This is what matters.

(Spoiler : This paragraph is not completely secular) I’m also a creature who enjoys spiritual guidance, wither religious or not, spirituality adds a meaning for humans life and embraces their ethical system close to their life practices. Spiritually I find the great resolution in surrendering my peace of mind to Allah, as he empowers me with inspiration, willingness and capacity to innovate and produce. It is enough for me to have the peace in trusting the guidance I already have, the blessings that I already got. It shall result into great results. I should just do what I can do and never settle down for less than perfection, if I perfect it then Bravo, ¡Olé!, Allah is to be praised. If I didn’t perfect, it is my journey and I shall walk through it trusting my spiritual guidance. If you belief system  is purely secular, think of whatever reason you live for. I’m not sure if that would work. But whatever guiding system you have and is beyond your individual being might help you feel humble and relieved. It might be your nation, humanity, nature, family, parents, or beloved ones. Being selfless in attributing what you do to those who have helped you to be what you are is a great way to feel the beauty of being one among many, and a contributor to the universe harmony.

 

 Summary of thoughts

 

Trust what you do, unless you are doing nothing. Trust yourself when you start working. Just give it a push. Procrastination is the escape from starting a great work you are revealing from your future. I hope you find a good resort in what I shared to stop procrastinating. Have you ever started very important work on your computer .. like a homework.. and then suddenly you start the browser … type letter ‘f’ … ‘enter’… Your life is better with things you are actively participating in. Stop browsing Facebook, write a blog and share it on Facebook ! Stop watching a football game .. play .. well… play cricket or soccer they are way safer. But don’t settle by being passive. Unless you inherently comfortable that you won’t regret doing it.

 

My Procrastination Proclamation simply is : I shall decide that when I procrastinate,  It is me who decide on that and I own it .. I shall never regret it. And I shall remember that things we regret when we die are the things we haven’t done … words we did not try … proposals we did not offer .. ‘I love you’ statements we shied away from saying. I will remember that great work and important work can’t be interrupted by any activities of procrastination.

 

Remember the man who’s on his knees ? Don’t be him, wither you are asking the girl of your dreams to be your life long partner or you are working on your school or groceries, don’t let life disruptions to encourage you to procrastinate and leave what matters in your life.

Sami

 

 

 

 

Links you might procrastinated opening :

 

“Your Elusive Creative Genius”  

“ How will you measure your life”

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