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In this issue:
- Brainpower tip
- Time tip
- Finance tip
- Security tips
- Health tip/Fitness tip
- Balancing act
- Why the eNL break?
- Thought for the day
plug: See our Career Skills courses at
Invest in you. This is
especially important, as the layoff trend continues the upward pattern
it began 45 years ago. Today is that trend has been trending so long, it
now looks almost as bad as it is. If you think this trend will stop
"when the economy recovers," please contact me immediately
about buying some swampland in Arizona.
1. Brainpower tip
We all have genetic limits. And we differ in
our experiences. Thus, we have different strengths and weaknesses. It's easy to
feel inadequate because we aren't as skilled or knowledgeable in a given area as
we think we should be. A common defense against this feeling of inadequacy is a
self-imposed delusion that we actually have talent we don't have. For example:
80% of American automobile drivers
consider themselves "above average" drivers.
90% of American automobile drivers
consider themselves careful and attentive drivers, yet we all know most
folks are simply in a daze when behind the wheel.
Surveys show 70% of Americans consider
themselves "skilled writers," and 20% consider themselves
"great writers." Yet less than 1 in 100 can pass a standardized
test of Standard Written English.
Surveys show 80% of American men consider
themselves "great lovers." Surveys show 10% of wives consider
their husbands competent in the sack.
Surveys show 80% of men consider
themselves physically strong, yet the typical adult American male cannot do
a single pull-up. The minimum fitness requirement is five. Pushups follow a
similar pattern, different numbers.
The list goes on and on. The point is we tend
to take on delusions of competence, when what we should be doing is
acknowledging our weaknesses and limitations and then developing effective
A weakness is a deficiency we may
be able to improve on. For example, taking a writing course or meeting with
a writers group can help us improve our Standard Written English skills.
A limitation is a barrier to how
far we can take the improvement. For example, nearly anyone has the mental
gear to learn the rules of grammar and composition. But, very few of us can
write a compelling novel. Similarly, nearly anyone can train to be able to
do 10 pullups. But doing 50 requires superior (for that talent) genetics.
What's an effective response? Here are
some choices people make. You judge the effectiveness:
Denial and delusion. Already discussed.
Gets you nowhere, undermines your belief in yourself, reduces your
credibility with others.
Focus on the weakness. This reduces how
much you can develop your strengths. Hint: Be you! When Michael Jordan
retired from basketball to take up baseball, he found he did not have great
strength as a baseball player. He could have devoted his energies to
overcoming that weakness, but he chose to go back to his strength.
Develop baseline competencies, then focus
on strengths. Identify your baseline competency needs. For example: just
about everyone should be able to do five pull-ups, write in Standard Written
English (if English is your language), carry on a polite conversation, and
parallel park. It is not necessary to be the most physically fit, write like
a pro, be the next Jay Leno, or be have the driving skills of an Indy
Once you develop your baseline skills, ask
what it is about you that makes you special. What do you really enjoy, and what
are you really good at? Then, spend most of your energies developing your
brainpower in those areas.
Don't let an incompetency hold you back, and
don't be embarrassed by it. Consider the case of a man who used to stop people
and ask them for directions to his own house. He would even stop and ask them
questions like, "Excuse me, but did you see what building I just came out
of? I can't remember." That man could have considered himself an idiot, and
so could the people who answered his questions. But he did not and they did not.
And today, we still think of Albert Einstein as a model of intelligence despite
those "stupid questions" he asked every day.
2. Time tip
Last week, a writer for Women's Day Magazine
interviewed me as a subject matter expert on time management. By the way, here's
another quick plug. I do time management seminars. See www.mindconnection.com/main/timemanager.htm.
I'm booked through the rest of this year, but if you need a speaker for a
function or your company needs higher productivity--please consider me. I'm
entertaining, as you can probably guess. But, as you can also probably guess, I
have great information for the audience. Coming out next year: ProductivityAlert,
an eNL I am doing with another subject matter expert.
OK, end of shameless promotion. Here is a tip
I shared with Women's Day: Pay attention to your attention span. Too often, we
set out to do a difficult task, and we don't stop until it's done. Many times,
that's because we procrastinate until the last possible moment. As a result, we
make mistakes or simply lose energy and the whole thing takes longer than it
The correct approach is this:
Break large tasks up into manageable
blocks, rather than trying to do them all at once from start to finish.
Start early, and you won't have to do too much at one time.
Arrange the blocks into your schedule.
Mix blocks up by their demand on the
brain. For example, if you have four blocks that require processing visual
information (doing your taxes, reading your e-mail, writing a complaint
letter, paying your bills) break them up by injecting blocks that don't
require processing visual information (call a friend, walk the dog, clean
the kitchen up).
As an example, I don't sit down and do my
taxes all at once. Starting in early February, I do about half an hour of work,
then stop. I can easily pick up where I left off. Maybe on the first session, I
import data from the previous year and go through the setup. On the second
session, I start entering the current year's data. And on it goes. When I'm
done, it doesn't feel like I've really worked very hard. And I'm done way before
the normal "stand in line at the Post Office" timewaster that so many
people engage in each year.
3. Finance tip
The Russell Factor is my new name for simply
stopping to do the math. All of the math. A subscriber recently wrote to ask me
about paying off a car loan. The loan is at 5%, and is for 5 years. They have
four years left to go. Her husband wants to pay off the loan, using their home
equity line of credit (HELC). Their HELC is at 5.75%, which is more than the car
loan but the tax deduction makes it less. Currently, they have no other debt in
She says the higher monthly payments will
just add to their financial burdens and the tax deduction is a joke because the
IRS has issued them a collection notice for taxes they don't owe and seized last
year's refund anyhow (note: this seems to be a common problem with the IRS--the
GAO found 94% of IRS notices are erroneous). So in her mind, it's a choice
between 5% or 5.75%.
What happens when you plug in the Russell
Forget about the difference in loan
costs, the IRS, etc. These are too nebulous to deal with.
The loan is not that expensive, so it
isn't urgent to pay it off.
Making small extra payments on the
existing car loan each month will result in an early payoff. If you run into
money problems later, then you can tap your HELC.
Most experts consider a car loan to be
consumer credit. Why would you put your home on the line for a consumer
Once you transfer your car loan to your
HELC, you forget the monthly cost of that car. Then, you are tempted to
"trade up" before you are done paying for the car. This puts you
on a debt treadmill.
Apply the Russell Factor when you are unsure
of how to proceed.
4. Security tip
|A reader sent me an e-mail suggesting everyone
should put black tape over the VIN on their dashboard. The logic behind
this suggestion was that anyone can copy your VIN and then have keys
made for your car. This is not true.
If you cover up your VIN, you are going to have police officers
wondering if you stole your own car. Do you really want to come out of
the shopping center only to find your car has been impounded because
police have good reason to suspect it is a stolen vehicle?
Instead of doing something that doesn't help but can only hurt,
follow these common sense tips:
- Park under a light and/or in a spot that has good visibility.
- Hide any packages--put them on the floor, in the trunk, or under
something in the car.
- Lock your car.
Essentially, thieves are looking for the easiest way to steal a
vehicle or its contents. Just make it harder. If you need expert advice,
contact any or all of the following:
- Your local police department. A detective in my city actually puts
on neighborhood training sessions. It's amazing what police will do
to help reduce crime. Just ask them for education.
- Your car dealer. They often have good information, especially for
your particular vehicle. I have found them a good resource. Don't
buy a car alarm until you talk with them. And contrary to some of
the drivel out there, alarms do reduce the number of car thefts.
They aren't a guarantee, but they do help.
- Your insurance company. Before you buy a car, get their advice on
which cars are stolen the most. Some of these cars are high theft
items because they are popular. Others are high theft items because
their designs make them easy to steal.
Car jacking prevention.
- When you stop your car behind another, ensure you can see where
the tires of that car touch the pavement. If you cannot, you are too
close. And when you are too close, you are vulnerable to the #1
- Do not roll down your window for a suspicious-looking pedestrian.
If the person tries to enter your car, drive away. If the person
damages your car, resist the urge to get out and respond. The damage
is a ruse to get you into a more vulnerable position. Drive off, and
report the incident to the police as soon as possible. Remember,
it's better to repair your car two weeks later than than to die five
- If someone rear-ends you at a stop, don't get out of your car.
Call the police on your cell phone, and tell them you have just been
hit and suspect a carjacking in progress. If you do not have police
department number in your cell phone, put it in there now.
- Carry a weapon. I have a massive pigsticker in my car. If someone
reaches into my car, that person will lose some tendons.
- Lobby for right to carry laws, if you do not have them. I would
prefer anti-crime laws in my state, but the folks here favor the
criminals. When the question comes up, ask how being disarmed helped
Michael Jordan's father.
5. Health tip/Fitness tips
Back pain. When it strikes, we are amazed that it can
happen to us. For some folks, there are structural reasons for back pain (for
example, a spina bifida occlusion). For most people, however, back pain is due
to two things (often in combination):
- Bad posture
- Weak abdominal muscles.
To correct bad posture, you will need to learn what good
posture is and analyze the posture you do have. Your spine needs to follow a
certain curve pattern. In most of us, this pattern is disrupted. You may wish to
consult a chiropractor (one of the rare instances in which I think they can
help) or ask your family doctor for a referral to a posture expert.
To correct weak abdominal muscles, don't do sit-ups! This
exercise actually creates an imbalance, and causes the wrong stresses on the
connective tissue. Plus, it exacerbates posture problems. There are many
effective exercises for your abs. Here are some:
- Front squats. My abs "kill me" after my squat
routine. If you are doing squats and not working your abs, you are doing
something wrong. Very wrong. Ask for guidance. Tip: Use abdominal
contraction as a natural weight belt when doing any weight training.
- Hanging leg raises. Be sure to arch your back on the
downstroke, for proper tendon alignment.
- Crunches. These are not quite as good as hanging leg
raises. Be sure to tense your abs while doing them. If you are doing these
right, you can't do very many in a row. I like to do four sets of 10.
- Deadlifts. Be careful with this exercise. Do it right,
and you add strength to your back (while also building your abs). Do it
wrong, and you hurt your back. Form is everything. Don't worry about
- Good mornings. An excellent exercise for the back,
spine, and abs--though it's aimed at the hamstrings. If you don't know how
to do this exercise, get advice. It's dangerous if done wrong.
6. Balancing Act
Think of all the various commitments you have. Each of
them is like a ball in a juggling act. Some of those balls are rubber. Others
are glass. You need to identify which ones are which, so you don't drop the ones
that will break. Put some thought into this.
7. Why the eNL break?
We've had a long break between eNLs for two reasons:
- I've been busy with improvements to the Mindconnection
shopping cart system (it's much faster now, and it has other enhancements).
- The sheer amount of e-mail during the recent spam/trojan/virus
attacks meant I'd work very hard on an eNL only to have it lost in the
confusion. Plus, readers had enough to contend with e-mailwise.
8. Thought for the Day
Whatever you spend your time doing, that is what you will
Wishing you the best,
The views expressed in this e-newsletter are generally not shared by criminals, zombies, or brainwashed individuals.
Except where noted, this e-newsletter is entirely the work of Mark Lamendola. Anything presented as fact can be independently verified. Often, sources are given; but where not given, they are readily available to anyone who makes the effort.
Mark provides information from either research or his own areas of established expertise. Sometimes, what appears to be a personal opinion is the only possibility when applying sound logic--reason it out before judging! (That said, some personal opinions do appear on occasion).
The purpose of this publication is to inform and empower its readers (and save you money!).
Personal note from Mark: I value each and every one of you, and I hope that shows in the diligent effort I put into writing this e-newsletter. Thank you for being a faithful reader.
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