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Self-Help Uncategorized

life is a journey. Enjoy the ride.

Life is a journey, enjoy the ride. Sometimes the road is nice and pleasant and other times it is rocky, arduous, dangerous, and most unpleasant. No one voluntarily chooses to go down the unpleasant road, except that sometimes there is nowhere to go but down that road. Life is a road filled with hardships, celebrations, success, failure, heartaches, joy, and special moments.

Route 2020 & 2021 is one of those roads that gives you the chills when you are on it, danger lurks at every corner, there is no good visibility, it is isolated, rugged, with many up and down hills and unexpected turns. We have been driving on that road for a year and a half now and it has been rough.

Life is a journey. Enjoy the ride.

Imagine you are in your car on your way to Pleasant Ville which represents your ultimate dream destination. You put in the coordinates and drive along quite happily until you realize you are going in the wrong direction after taking a wrong turn. There is no need to panic, the GPS will re-direct you to Pleasant Ville, albeit using a different route. This little detour cost you some time, but you are now more focused on the road, determined not to take another wrong turn or to miss the next exit. You are getting closer to your destination and will get there as long as you stay focused.

Life is a journey. Enjoy the ride. Photo by Alize Reed featuring Joanne Reed.

There could be times when we encounter rough terrain and end up stuck in dead-ends. Those who can only proceed in forward gear and on a smooth track cannot make it to the end of the road. Being able to turn back and reversing is as important as raw speed and moving forward. This is especially true when we encounter deliberately altered road signs that send us the wrong way.

Now, imagine that you are sharing the road with three other drivers and you all want to go to Pleasant Ville. Driver 1 is the fast-and-furious type who starts his engine and immediately speeds off, impatient to get to his destination as quickly as possible. But, after taking a wrong turn and finding himself in the wrong place, Driver 1 is now annoyed, discouraged, and disheartened by losing his early lead (who said that this was a race anyway). Driver 1 returns home feeling defeated.

Life is a journey. Enjoy the ride. What kind of driver are you? Photo by freepik via freepik.com

Driver 2 is the are-we-there-yet-type of driver who drives around not paying attention to his GPS and turns around in circles thinking are we there yet? Driver 2 eventually gets disheartened by driving around in circles not knowing where he is going. He also returns home feeling defeated.

Driver 3 is the zig-zag type of driver. Before arriving at his destination Driver 3 decides that a different place is better than where he was originally going, so he changes the coordinates, again and again, never arriving anywhere.

Driver 4 is the smart and steady type: focused, and patient, he pays attention to the road and doesn’t fret if he takes a wrong turn, because it doesn’t matter which road you take, there is rarely only a single road that leads to your destination. Eventually, driver 4 arrives at Pleasant Ville and when he gets there, he realizes that it was worth all the time, effort, sweat, and tears and rejoices in the happiness of the moment. Driver 4 had the vision and discipline to keep going on the path that he chose; his journey leads him to his ultimate destiny. His passion was the fuel that kept him along the way. I know what type of driver I want to emulate. Which one are you?

Life is a journey. Enjoy the ride and learn along the way.

Road trips are fun, but they can also be filled with unexpected events, delays, and danger, but whatever comes our way we should take stock of all the lessons that we are learning along the way. There are many roads one can take on their life journey; choose the one that defines you the most, the one which has a purpose for you.

Life is a journey. Enjoy the ride. Leave a trail. Photo taken by Joanne Reed. Saint Philippe. Ile de la Reunion.

“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Being on a road trip doesn’t mean that you are on the go all the time, there will be times when you will need to stop, have some rest, refuel. Stillness is an important tool on your journey to find clarity. The ability to see clearly when you are frustrated, angry, or scared, will help you find a more logical, less emotional response, and give you choices to do things differently, or do nothing at all.

Life journeys are not always smooth, throughout our travels, we will encounter many challenges. Some of these challenges will test our courage, strengths, and weaknesses. Those obstacles could be blessings in disguise, but it is hard to realize that sometimes the obstacle is the way. All the obstacles and hardships are a test of our strength and weakness, courage and faith.

Life is a journey. Enjoy the ride. A bend in the road is not the end of the road… Photo by freepk via freepik.com

“A bend in the road, is not the end of the road… unless you fail to make the turn.’

Helen Keller

When things don’t go our way we can either focus on the fact that life is unfair and everything sucks or we can take the challenges with courage and determination; whether we end up victorious or defeated what matters the most is the way we carry ourselves when facing those challenges. If we do it with dignity and integrity we can be proud of ourselves. When on the road, do not travel with too much baggage. Excess baggage takes too much space and will hinder your progress.

“Look at life through the windshield, not the rearview mirror.”

Byrd Baggett

Value the people you meet on your journey of life. Some of the people you take on board will stay with you for life, others will ride with you just for a little while until they jump off to take another road. Value all of them, learn from them, enjoy their company whilst it lasts. Everybody we meet can teach us a lesson, open our eyes, help us look inside ourselves, and help us discover who we really are.

“Never blame anyone in your life. Good people give you happiness. Bad people give you experience. Worst people give you a lesson. Best people give you memories.”

Zig Ziglar

And this, my dear friend, is your Quest.

Personal Note

DDI Chat – Personal Growth – One-to-one Chat with Joanne Reed

In addition to publishing my articles on my website, I have also been publishing on Medium. I have been working closely for the past months with Data-Driven Investor (DDI) Publication.  DDI has recently launched a new marketplace/platform where people can book a paid one-to-one session with an expert of their choice.  DDI asked me to join their panel of advisors/experts in the Leadership, Coaching, and Personal Growth category.  Here is my profile. If you wish to book a one-to-one chat with me you can do so on this platform.

For more on this subject you can purchase my book This is Your Quest online at BookLocker, from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble.  The Ebook version is available on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iBooks) & Kobo. Check out my Amazon Author Page here or my listing on Booksradar.com.

Categories
Self-Help Uncategorized

the truth is, you don’t know what you don’t know

The truth, is we don’t know what we don’t know. We don’t even know the questions we need to ask in order to find out because we are so stuck in our narrow-minded way of doing things.

“The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid ones are full of confidence”.

Charles Bukowski

This is a brutal statement from Charles Bukowski but it contains a lot of truth in it and it encapsulates a lot of what is indeed wrong with the world these days. It is concise, straight to the point, and quite difficult to argue against.

According to Sadhguru, I Don’t know holds tremendous possibilities. We should learn to say I don’t know more often, instead of jumping to conclusions. The moment you destroy, I Don’t know, you destroy all the possibilities of knowing. Confusion is better than stupid conclusions. In confusion, there is still a possibility.

The problem is that everyone is pretending to know things they don’t. In fact, too many people are dead certain about things that just aren’t true. The next time you hear something you are not sure about, instead of picking a side and believing or disbelieving, why not admit the truth: I don’t know. By refusing to draw a conclusion you keep your mind open, and you give the truth a chance to get in; but by drawing a conclusion you naturally become close-minded and dismissive towards all other possibilities.

The truth is, true wisdom consists in knowing that you know nothing – Socrates.

According to the Ancient Greeks, the source of all wisdom and clarity is to know thyself. That moto Know Thyself was one of the maxims inscribed on the Temple of Apollo at Delphi.

“The only true wisdom consists in knowing that you know nothing.”

Socrates
The Truth is, true wisdom consists in knowing that you know nothing Photo by freepik – via freepik.com

According to the Wise Man of Ancient Greece, you may find the path to wisdom, if you start from a position of humility and if you accept the extent of your ignorance. A lot of us like to think of ourselves as pretty smart, rational individuals and funny too. But what if we are wrong? Do we overestimate our own abilities? Are we completely blind to our own failings? You probably don’t know as much as you think you do. When put to the test, most people find they can’t explain the workings of everyday things they think they understand. There is great power in knowing what you don’t know. When we accept our ignorance and limitations, we become wiser.

Socrates is known as the wisest man in Athens, but he doubted this very much until he put it to the test. Socrates’ favorite pastime was the pursuit of Truth. His reputation as a philosopher spread across Athens and beyond. When told that the Oracle of Delphi revealed to one of his friends that he was the wisest man in Athens, Socrates responded, not by boasting or celebrating but by trying to prove the Oracle wrong. Socrates decided to find out if anyone knew what was truly worthwhile in life as anyone who knew that would surely be wiser than him. He questioned everyone he could find, but no one could give him a satisfactory answer. Instead, they all pretended to know something they clearly did not. Finally, he realized that the Oracle might be right after all; he was the wisest man in Athens because he alone was prepared to admit his own ignorance rather than pretend to know something he did not.

Too often we fall into the delusion of thinking we know a lot more than we really do, this concept is commonly known as illusory superiority. Recognizing what you don’t know actually puts you in a unique place of power. It can improve your choices in life because it’s an honest view of your knowledge and capabilities, as well as your ignorance and limitations. Understanding the limitations of your knowledge puts you at an advantage over people who overestimate their knowledge or aren’t aware of their own ignorance.

This isn’t a negative thing, this is about being honest with yourself which means acknowledging both your strengths and your weaknesses. If you are willing to keep an open mind about your beliefs and the possibility that you don’t have all the facts, you will be much better off than if you were to just take everything you believe as complete truth. See things the way they are, not how they could, should, or might be. Same with people. Look at people as they are, not how they could, should, or might be.

“Most people take their thoughts so seriously believing every thought that passes through their heads as if their thoughts represented the undeniable and irrefutable truth of the matter. But thoughts aren’t facts, what you think isn’t what it is. Thoughts are just thoughts. Just because you have a thought doesn’t mean it is true.”

Sadhguru

The Truth is, uncertainty is uncomfortable, but certainty is an absurd one – Voltaire

The Truth is, you don’t know what you don’t know. Have you heard of the Lemon Man? Photo by Mak Labs via freepik.com

McArthur Wheeler is also known as the Lemon Man became famous for his total lack of self-awareness and an incredible level of stupidity. In 1995, McArthur Wheeler was arrested for robbing banks in broad daylight, with no visible attempt at disguise. He believed that the lemon juice he wore on his face made him invisible to surveillance cameras.

The Dunning-Kruger effect is a cognitive bias characterized by inappropriate overconfidence about mastery of a subject. The term was coined by psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger in 1999 in a study called Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence lead to Inflated Self-Assessments. The Lemon Man story is an example of self-awareness, or rather a lack of self-awareness that ended disastrously. Why do people fail to recognize their own incompetence? Because people who are incompetent at something are unable to recognize their own incompetence.

Dunning himself stated that “If you’re incompetent, you can’t know you’re incompetent”, but also noted the reason for this seems to be ignorance, not arrogance. So, why is this a problem? It is a problem because if you have a tendency to overestimate your abilities you will end up making sub-optimal decisions until your misassumptions catch up with you.

Should you overestimate or underestimate your competence?

As well as showing that less-competent people tend to overestimate their abilities, the Dunning-Kruger effect study also showed that competent people tend to underestimate their own competence. This ability to underestimate our capabilities can also produce sub-optimal decisions but does have some positive impact by increasing our capacity for humility, curiosity, and a drive to improve ourselves.

The Truth is, you don’t know what you don’t know. Fake or fact? Photo by Diloka 107 via freepik.com

That drive to improve ourselves can be deeply rooted in culture; researcher Dr. Steven Hein, a psychologist at the University of British Columbia, did similar studies to Dunning-Kruger but looking at the issue from a different angle y comparing North American and East Asian People. When asked to self-assess their abilities, Hein’s study reveals that East Asians tend to underestimate their abilities, with an aim toward improving the self and getting along with others, whilst North Americans tend to overestimate their ability and competence.

There are cultural, social, and individual motives that explain these tendencies. As Western society becomes more individualistic, successful life is equated with confidence, self-assurance, and high-self esteem (often to the verge of arrogance). Conversely, East Asians tend to adopt a self-critical self-view, the downside effect of this being they tend not to feel so good about themselves. Knowing thyself, knowing your strengths and weaknesses is important so that you can exploit your strengths and seek help in areas where you are weak.

To know who you are is important, but in addition, belief and confidence are as big a part of the equation too. There is a robust body of scientific and anecdotal evidence that suggests that people who believe they will become successful at something are most likely to succeed. Similarly, there are countless stories of cancer patients who credit their survival to a positive mindset and their determination to survive this terrible illness. Inspirational quotes such as Your thoughts determine your future are popular in the self-help sphere.

So, is it better to overestimate yourself or underestimate your abilities? The truth is always somewhere in the middle. Overestimate your futures and underestimate your past; acknowledge the fact that the more you know the more you realize you don’t know, this will give you the benefit of humility, but overestimate the future, because these positive expectations will give you the benefits of higher performance.And this my dear friend, is your Quest!

Personal note.

DDI Chat – Personal Growth – One-to-one Chat with Joanne Reed

In addition to publishing my articles on my website, I have also been publishing on Medium. I have been working closely for the past months with Data-Driven Investor (DDI) Publication.  DDI has recently launched a new marketplace/platform where people can book a paid one-to-one session with an expert of their choice.  DDI asked me to join their panel of advisors/experts in the Leadership, Coaching, and Personal Growth category.  Here is my profile. If you wish to book a one-to-one chat with me you can do so on this platform.

For more on this subject you can purchase my book This is Your Quest online at BookLocker, from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble.  The Ebook version is available on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iBooks) & Kobo. Check out my Amazon Author Page here or my listing on Booksradar.com.

The audio version of my book “This Is your Quest ” is available. Feel free to check it out and use this special Promotion code.

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Be Happy Uncategorized

Life is a double-edged sword. Learn the art of not hurting yourself

Life is a double-edged sword. A Knife is only as good as the one who wields it. You can use a knife to cut vegetables and cook a beautiful dinner, but if you are not careful you can cut and hurt yourself with that same knife. There are times when our greatest strengths turn out to be a source of weakness as well; this occurs when we overplay on our strengths or rigidly work to them.

The starting point is to know and be aware of what your strengths are and know when and how to use those strengths bearing in mind that self-awareness and flexibility will help you stay the course. Life is a double-edged sword the way you communicate and express yourself can be good or bad depending on your communication style. Every communication style has its strong points and weak points. The strength of your communication style can turn into a weakness if people rely too much on it.

For example, a reflective and cautious person is admired for her thoughtful approach to every problem and decision-making process. However, this strength can become a problem if it is exaggerated. A reflective person can turn this strength into a weakness if their reflectiveness makes them suffer from analysis-paralysis and make them unable to make a decision due to over-thinking a problem. This reflective person turns into a way-too-cautious-and-inflexible person unable to arrive at any decision without detailed and complete information. Anyone who is expecting to have complete information before making any type of decision is doomed because it is an impossibility. Things change all the time, what’s true right now at this minute can turn out to be untrue 5 minutes later. Every day we make decisions based on incomplete information.

But I digress. Let’s go back to the main point of this article which is to explain the concept of why life is a double-edged sword. To help me do this, I tapped into the wisdom of Jay Shetty and some interesting concepts that he explains in his book “Think like a Monk”. Jay Shetty explains that there are 4 types of people in this world. 1. The Leader. 2. The Guide. 3. The Creator and 4. The Maker. All 4 types have strengths and weaknesses and depending on how you play those, you will find yourself operating within your mode of goodness, or within your mode of ignorance. The rest of this article will be based on Jay Shetty’s explanation of this concept.

Being a leader can be a double-edged sword adventure.

Life is a double-edged sword. being a leader can be a double-edged sword adventure. Photo by User 14190141 via freepik.comfencing. Mixed media

Originally, leaders were Kings and warriors. Today you have politicians, military personnel, law enforcement personnel, justice personnel who occupy that position. The skillset required for this type of position is good communication, honesty, and integrity, being driven by a noble cause to defend and protect your people; being inspiring and engaging is definitely a plus.

Those who are operating in this group are natural leaders of people, movements, associations, and families. They are motivated and directed by courage, strength, and determination and are driven by the need to protect those who are less privileged. They are led by higher morals and values and seek to enforce them across the board. They provide structure and frameworks for the growth of their people. They like to work in teams. They are focused and are dedicated to a mission.

Throughout history, there are countless examples of leaders who proved that holding this function is a double-edged sword, and not in the best sense of the word.

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Sir John Dalberg-Acton

If a leader operates under a Mode of Ignorance as Jay Sheety describes it, you will witness a shift happening. That person would go from being an honorable individual to being a despicable character who gives up on change due to corruption and hypocrisy, develop a negative and pessimistic viewpoint, and loses his moral compass in his drive for power. They use their talents and influence to serve themselves and not humanity.

Life is a double-edged sword. Stay the course. Practice the art of not hurting yourself and the people around you.

Being a Guide can be a double-edged sword adventure.

Life is a double-edged sword. Being a Guide can be a double-edged sword adventure. Photo by User 14190141 via freepik.com

Guides are teachers, coaches, gurus, mentors. Their skillset is learning, studying, sharing their knowledge and wisdom. A coach and a mentor want to bring the best in the people they connect with, they want to help you be the best version of yourself and will help you find your purpose. Their quest in life is to find meaning, fulfillment, purpose, and share their wisdom with the world. They are here to serve. They enjoy intellectual pursuits and meaningful conversations.

If the Guide operates under a Mode of Ignorance, you will see a shift from sage to fool; not practicing what they preach, and not leading by example. They could also use their knowledge for strength and power and not for the good of humanity.

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Sir John Dalberg-Acton

They are countless examples throughout the world of mentors/gurus/spiritual leaders who became corrupted by the power of their position and the unconditional devotion of their disciplines. Those supposedly enlightened individuals became harmful, destructive, taking advantage of their followers, clients, disciples in the most despicable ways, because those people were extremely vulnerable, desperate, lost, and confused.

Life is a double-edged sword. Stay the course. Practice the art of not hurting yourself and the people around you.

Being a Creator can be a double-edged sword adventure.

Life is a double-edged sword. Being a creator can be a double-edged sword adventure. Photo by User 14190141 via freepik.com

Originally Creators were merchants and businesspeople. Nowadays they are marketers, salespersons, entertainers, producers, entrepreneurs, and CEOs. Their skillset gravitates around brainstorming, networking, innovating, making things happen. They have great sales, negotiation, and persuasion skills, they can convince themselves and others of anything. They are highly driven by money, pleasure, and success, they are very hardworking and determined. They are status-driven. They are dynamic, charismatic, and captivating. They create products and ideas that make money but also serve others. They provide jobs and opportunities for others.

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Sir John Dalberg-Acton

Still, if the Creator operates under a Mode of Ignorance, you will see a shift from a great negotiator to a scammer. Creators can become corrupt they can lie, cheat and steal to sell something with no value. They can burn out, and become depressed, moody, difficult, and very unpleasant characters.

Life is a double-edged sword. Practice the art of not hurting yourself and the people around you.

Being a Maker can be a double-edged sword adventure.

Originally Makers were artists, musicians, painters, writers. Today, the same list applies but you could add engineers, architects, programmers, coders, carpenters, cooks. Their skillset gravitates around inventing, creating, implementing an idea, a vision, a concept. They like exploring and experimenting with new ideas. They tend to choose meaningful goals to pursue. They are driven by stability and security.

Still, if the Maker operates under a Mode of Ignorance, you will see a shift from creative to destructive, when they feel anxious, stuck, and unworthy. They focus more on money and fame instead of focusing on honing their skills.

Life is a double-edged sword. Practice the art of not hurting yourself and the people around you.

Moral of the story

Whatever you do, whether you are a Leader, a Guide, a Creator, or a Maker, life is a double-edged sword. You have to stay alert and stay on the straight and narrow path with some flexibility thrown into the mix.

“A Knife is only as good as the one who wields it.”

And this, my dear friend, is Your Quest.

Personal note.

DDI Chat – Personal Growth – One-to-one Chat with Joanne Reed

In addition to publishing my articles on my website, I have also been publishing on Medium. I have been working closely for the past months with Data-Driven Investor (DDI) Publication.  DDI has recently launched a new marketplace/platform where people can book a paid one-to-one session with an expert of their choice.  DDI asked me to join their panel of advisors/experts in the Leadership, Coaching, and Personal Growth category.  Here is my profile. If you wish to book a one-to-one chat with me you can do so on this platform.

For more on this subject you can purchase my book This is Your Quest online at BookLocker, from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble.  The Ebook version is available on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iBooks) & Kobo. Check out my Amazon Author Page here or my listing on Booksradar.com.

The audio version of my book “This Is your Quest ” is available. Feel free to check it out and use this special Promotion code

Categories
Self-Help Uncategorized

A Story About Freedom Within the COnfine of Reunion Island

I wrote the first draft of this article – A story about freedom within the confine of Réunion Island – in our little hideaway cabin up the hills where my youngest daughter and I spent our week of quarantine (called septaine here as it only lasts 7 days). The year 2020-2021 would be remembered as the year of lock-down, confinement, curfew, quarantine. Never in our modern history has our freedom of movement been so restrained, albeit justified for public health reasons. This is not an article about the pros and cons of restrictions imposed for public health reasons, it is a story about freedom within the confine of Réunion Island; it is the story of some brave souls from Réunion Island who fought in the most admirable manner to free themselves from their shackles. This article is also the perfect excuse for me to introduce you to Réunion Island, where I was born and where my family lives.

A story about Reunion

Réunion island, or in French ‘Ile de la Réunion’, is a smallish island situated east of Madagascar and about 175km southwest of Mauritius. It’s a volcanic island, like Hawaii, with a mountainous interior and a population of about 1 million people. If you haven’t heard of it, that’s not unusual, it’s typically only known by sailors and stamp collectors. The island is famous for a number of things including the first Euro Transaction, occasional – but very heavy rain, and one of the world’s most active volcanoes.

A story about the First Euro transaction

Réunion Island is a French Department and because of its geographical position is the most easterly part of the eurozone. The Island was the first European territory to handle the Euro currency when it was introduced in 2002. The mayor of St Denis (the Capital city) purchased a kilo of lychees after a brief barter with a local stallholder.

A story about Rainfall

For the most part, Réunion Island has a mild tropical climate, but it is in the hurricane belt (here it’s called, cyclone belt) and when it rains, oh boy, it rains. Réunion has set a number of records for the highest rainfall measured including the official 24-hour rainfall record (1,825 mm or 71.85”) during a tropical storm in 1952 and the 48-hour rainfall record (2,467 mm, or 97.13”) at Cilaos, which has sadly – or happily- now been beaten. Have you ever wonder what is the difference between hurricanes and cyclones? It is just a question of geography. A tropical storm system is called a hurricane in the Atlantic and Northeast Pacific and is called a cyclone in the Northern Indian Ocean.

A story about a very active volcano!

Life is an adventure. Out and about with an active Volcano in my sight – Photo taken by Alize Reed – Piton de la Fournaise – Réunion Island

Piton de la Fournaise, or Furnace Peak in English, is one of the most active volcanoes in the world, along with Kilauea in the Hawaiian Islands, Stromboli, and Etna in Italy, and Mount Erebus in Antarctica. The volcano is a major tourist attraction and offers some excellent hiking and scenery.

Since 2010, the Piton de la Fournaise has been a member of a very exclusive club as one of the natural assets listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for their outstanding universal value. It is an honor that it shares with the island’s other volcano, the Piton des Neiges which culminates at 3070 meters and which is a dormant volcano. For the past 10 years, the Piton de la Fournaise has erupted on average every 9 months, fortunately without endangering the islanders. Not many volcanoes can boast such exuberant activity.

The latest eruption of the Piton de la Fournaise started on 9th April 2021 and is still going on as I speak. I went for a hike with some of my local friends to the volcano site to have a closer look. We saw the fumes coming out of some craters, we couldn’t see the flow of lava from our viewpoint but we were told that there was a tunnel of lava still running underneath. The whole volcano site is surreal, very out of this world kind of scenery.

A story about freedom

Coming back to the main topic of this article – a story about freedom within the confine of Réunion Island, slavery was used widely in the French colonies in the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean. The French slave trade began in the 15th century, not for use within mainland France, although France’s northern ports were heavily used to trade and ship slaves, but in the French colonies, where sugar accounted for 80% of exports. Slaves from Africa were brought into the colonies to cultivate sugar cane. Regulatory measures constantly governed the supervision of slaves, the control of their labor, their movements, any possible activities by them outside the plantations, and events in their personal lives.

These regulations allowed extensive freedom to plantation owners regarding the range of punishment they could administer to their slaves. Slaves were subjected to physical and emotional abuse on a daily basis. The phenomenon of resistance on the part of the slaves, individually or collectively, has been the focus of relatively little research. Yet, slaves in the French colonies resisted their plight in the most varied and admirable ways.

They attempted to escape on a regular basis (a phenomenon known in French as “marronnage” escaping the plantations in coastal areas to find refuge in the mountains where they remained hidden in the hope that the plantation owner would eventually give up looking for them. The word “marron” originates from the Spanish word “cimarron” which means “to escape.”

On Réunion Island, historical accounts reveal stories of the Black- Marrons taking great risks to escape to the mountains, preferring to live as free men in precarious conditions rather than staying at the plantation under the bondage of a brutal plantation owner. Those who successfully escaped established semi-permanent camps in the mountains. Once a small group of trusted companions had settled and had organized themselves, they conducted regular raids on the plantations to steal weapons, tools, food, seeds, and farm animals (chickens); they also brought back with them their women and children.

Eventually, the Black-Marrons successfully managed to grow their own food, raise farm animals and create a new community of free men, women, and children up in the mountains. The plantation owners were terrified of these raids which were becoming more and more frequent. They started manhunts for the Black-Marrons and offered hunters 30 Livres per “catch” dead or alive. Hunters had to bring as proof of a “catch” (in order to claim their prize) the severed left-hand of the Black-Marron they had just killed. Hunters were free to capture or kill men, women, and children alike. Despite this brutal repression against the Black-Marrons not all of them were captured or killed and the most resilient managed to keep living as free men and women in the mountains until slavery was abolished.

The Black-Marrons became legends in their own right; nowadays, if you go hiking on Réunion Island, you will come across several mountain peaks that are named after them, amongst them, Dimitile, Cimendef, Mafate, and Anchaing. One of the most notorious of those Black-Marrons was a slave known by the name of Cimendef. After his escape to the mountains, Cimendef created a new identity for himself. Originally from Madagascar, he created a name from the words “tsi” meaning “non” in Malagasy and “mandevi” meaning “slave” – so, Cimendef means “non-slave.” Through his new name, he wanted to show everyone his will to live as a free man. Slavery was abolished in France and its former colonies in 1848.

There is a policy of organized forgetfulness of the past that suits the agenda of the rulers, the people in power. History is written from the perspective of the victors and not the oppressed, whose role in their own liberation is often forgotten or downplayed. Historical accounts have found a way of denying centuries of resistance by slaves and the role they played in resisting oppression and pursuing their freedom. Historical accounts tend to attribute the happy resolution of a very shameful episode in history to a particular government or piece of legislation; while forgetting the acts of resistance that were carried out by the slaves themselves and the oppressed, who fought bravely for their inalienable right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

It is worth pointing out here that despite what most people believe slavery should not be automatically associated with ethnicity. Slavery has existed since the beginning of time; the color of someone’s skin was not a key factor to determine whether that person could find himself in the unfortunate position of being a slave. Those who became slaves were chosen because of their vulnerability compared to another dominant group and not because of the color of their skin. Since the beginning of times, Europeans enslaved other Europeans, Asians enslaved other Asians, Africans enslaved other Africans and Arabs enslaved other Arabs. A slave is a person who is the chattel or property of another. The etymology of the word “slave” finds its origin in the medieval Latin word “sclavus,” originally “Slav” because of the many Slavs sold into slavery by conquering people.

Of all the tragic facts about the history of slavery, the most astonishing to an American today is that, although slavery was a worldwide institution for thousands of years, nowhere in the world was slavery a controversial issue prior to the 18th century. People of every race and color were enslaved and enslaved others. White people were still being bought and sold as slaves in the ottoman empire, decades after American blacks were freed. The region of WestAfrica was one of the great slave-trading regions of the continent before, during, and after the white man arrived. It was the Africans who enslaved their fellow Africans, selling some of these slaves to Europeans or to Arabs and keeping others for themselves. In East Africa, Arabs were the leading slave raiders, ranging over an area larger than all of Europe; slavery is often and wrongly associated with ethnicity and skin color. This practice was an accepted fact of the society of the time on the basis that the strongest has the right of appropriation over the weakest.

Thomas Sowell

This article is dedicated to all the people who have been oppressed and have suffered injustice and who have found the courage to resist oppression and somehow free themselves from their shackles.

For a more detailed analysis of this subject, I invite you to check Chapter 7 of my book “This Is Your Quest.”

For more on this subject you can purchase my book This is Your Quest online at BookLocker, from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble.  The Ebook version is available on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iBooks) & Kobo. Check out my Amazon Author Page here or my listing on Booksradar.com.

The audio version of my book “This Is your Quest ” is available. Feel free to check it out and use this special Promotion code

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Be Happy Be Healthy Self-Help Uncategorized

As one chapter ends, another one starts

As one chapter ends another one starts. Every day you write the story of your life. Your life is like a book, there is a beginning, a middle, an end and there are chapters that catapult you from one event to another. These past few weeks, or shall I say months have been very hectic for me and my family as we geared ourselves up to say farewell to South Korea which has been our home for many years.

The Land of the Morning Calm has been the greatest adventure we had as a family. Korea has been the land where my two daughters grew up with our dog and two cats in tow. The land where we met and made long-lasting friendships with wonderful people. The Land where we had many exciting adventures making the most of the amazing scenery, beauty, and delicious food.

The Land of the Morning Calm chapter has now ended, and new events have catapulted us across the globe. My husband has started a new job in Saudi Arabia building a brand-new futuristic city in the desert, 100% powered by renewable energy. My eldest daughter has settled well in Calgary, Canada where she is studying Bio-Med, and where she is having the time of her life. My youngest daughter and I just arrived in Réunion Island, where I was born and grew up and which is going to be our new base for now. As one chapter ends, another one begins, and so our story continues….

As one chapter ends, another starts

As one chapter ends, another starts. Photo by freepik via freepik.com

When one chapter ends, it’s just one chapter in the book of your life, don’t close the book the story is not finished, just turn the page and move on. Whether this chapter brought you grief or brought you joy, no other page is written like this. If you don’t like the way the previous chapter of your life happened, have a good cry, learn the lessons. Put your big girl’s or big boy’s pants on and move on.

“If you are going through hell, keep going.”

Winston Churchill

“Whenever an obstacle rises that seems to block the path forward, in reality, the obstacle has an essential function. And that is, it forces me, or it forces humanity to generate more – either more strength, more energy or more consciousness.”

Eckart Tolle

If you really like the way the previous chapter of your life happened and wished that it never ended, rejoice in the memory of all the good times and the precious moments that made this chapter of your life so pleasant and beautiful. Human beings like comfort and order, and as I discussed in one of my previous articles, order is the place where the world’s behavior matches our expectations and our desires, the place where all things turn out the way we want them to.

We like to be in there. In order, we’re able to think about things in the long term. There, things work, and we are stable, calm, and competent. We seldom leave places we understand – geographical and conceptual – for that reason. But even the best things have to end. If you read a really good book and you come to the end of it, you don’t throw it away wishing you never read it, you put it on your shelves and rejoice in the knowledge that you were fortunate enough to have come across this book.

Changes are hard, but it’s OK. It is the beginning of a new chapter

There is no denying the fact that changes are hard, especially when you are facing life-changing events such as the end of a job, or the end of a relationship or moving across the world to relocate someplace new, with all the logistics that such a move requires. I have just been through this, it’s hard, definitely not a walk in the park, but more like an obstacle course where you need stamina, speed, dexterity, flexibility, and coordination.

The harsh reality of life is that everything moves on and for things to move on, first things have to end. People leave, they leave you and they leave places, and they leave things behind. Everyone finds their way, an end is just a new beginning. We are all made up of fragments of other people, places, and things, and each time this happens we write a new page in our book of life.

No matter where we are, some things are under our control and some things are not. The fundamental reality of chaos and order is true for everything alive, not only for us. Living things are always to be found in places they can master, surrounded by things and situations that make them vulnerable. Order is not enough. You can’t just be stable, and secure, and unchanging because there are vital and important new things to be learned.

Nonetheless, chaos can be too much. You can’t tolerate being swamped and overwhelmed beyond your capacity to cope while learning that you still need to know. Thus, you need to place one foot in what you have mastered and understood and the other in what you are currently exploring and mastering. Then you have positioned yourself where the terror of existence is under control and you are secure, but where you are also curious, alert, and engaged.

As one chapter ends, another one starts. Keep writing the story of your life. To be continued…

For more on this subject you can purchase my book This is Your Quest online at BookLocker, from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble.  The Ebook version is available on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iBooks) & Kobo. Check out my Amazon Author Page here or my listing on Booksradar.com.

The audio version of my book “This Is your Quest ” is available. Feel free to check it out and use this special Promotion code

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Self-Help Uncategorized

Do you want to know what is the problem in the world? read on …

What is the problem with the World? There are endless problems in the world too many to list, but I was thinking that it would be an intellectually challenging exercise to try to put my finger on it. A foolish endeavor you may think. Maybe. Only a fool or a wise man could seriously pretend to know the answer to this question. I happen to know a wise and eccentric philosopher (Bertrand Russell [1]) who pondered over this question and who came up with an answer that is quite remarkable.

The problem with the world is that fools, and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people are always so full of doubts.

Bertrand Russell

Et voila, in just one sentence Bertrand Russell sums it up. So, now that we have the answer to the question, let’s look at this more closely to see what we find out when we dissect Bertrand Russell’s statement. Pretend you are sitting comfortably in a theater to see the latest production of this Shakespearean tragedy or comedy, depending on your sense of humor, titled: “What Is the Problem With the World”. There are three main characters on stage, the Fool, the Fanatic, and the Wise Man.

Act I – Do you want to know what is the problem in the world ? Ask the Fool he believes he knows best

Do you want to know what is the problem in the world? The Fool knows best – Photo by Kapone via freepik.com

The fool is grandiose (borderline annoying), confident (borderline arrogant), flamboyant (borderline tacky) and walks through life feeling absolutely certain about everything. A fool is set in his opinions and feels that he has a duty to share his way of thinking about this and that and everything important. A fool does not care to take counsel from others nor listen to their opinions, because he knows best. He has no fluidity of mind and is set in his ways.

New opinions are rejected and opposed just because they don’t fit the accepted idea and concepts that the fool has adopted as hard truth. The fool’s arrogant certainty about everything is set in stone and even King Arthur would not be able to dislodge him from that position. The problem with the fool is that he doesn’t know enough to know that he doesn’t know about the things he thinks he knows.

In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king – Erasmus

Act II – Do you want to know what is the problem in the world? Ask the Fanatic he believes he has access to absolute truth

Do you want to know what is the problem in the world? The fanatic believes he has access to absolute truth. Photo by Anna Oddi via freepik.com

The fanatic is not a fool because he is a true believer in his cause and spends a substantial amount of his time learning about the cause he is fighting for. But just like the fool, he feels absolute and resolute certainty in his belief. The Fanatic refuses to hear and contemplate opposing views. You can find fanatics in all areas of life religion, politics, sports, media, etc. Fanatics can be leaders or followers, they are people who indulge in a toxic concoction of self-affirming, know-it-all confidence believing that they have unique access to absolute truth, truth so perfect that they have to impose them on everyone.

It is not what they believe that makes them fanatics it is how they believe it – no need to provide further evidence, no need to question or doubt. They operate in an irrational and emotional manner hiding their irrationality by rehearsed arguments that have been repeated and learned over time, not refreshed, updated, or put to the test. Fanatics are rigid in their thinking. The problem with this is that nothing is really certain what is true today may not be true tomorrow.

“Uncertainty is an uncomfortable position, but certainty is an absurd one”

Voltaire

Our two main Shakespearean characters, the Fool and the Fanatic will not give a second thought to Voltaire’s adage because they remain certain and dogmatic in their beliefs.

Act III – The Wise Man believes that he knows nothing

Do you want to tknow what is the problem in the world? Photo by user 24028417 via freepik.com

According to the Ancient Greeks, the source of all wisdom and clarity is to know thyself. That Motto knows thyself was one of the maxims inscribed on the Temple of Apollo at Delphi.

“The only true wisdom consists in knowing that you know nothing.”

Socrates

According to the Wise Man of Ancient Greece, you may find the path to wisdom, if you start from a position of humility and if you accept the extent of your ignorance. A lot of us like to think of ourselves as pretty smart, rational individuals and funny too. But what if we’re wrong? Do we overestimate our own abilities? Are we completely blind to our own failings?

Socrates is known as the wisest man in Athens, but he doubted this very much until he put it to the test. Socrates’ favorite pastime was the pursuit of Truth. His reputation as a philosopher spread across Athens and beyond. When told that the Oracle of Delphi revealed to one of his friends that he was the wisest man in Athens, Socrates responded, not by boasting or celebrating, but by trying to prove the Oracle wrong.

Socrates decided to find out if anyone knew what was truly worthwhile in life, as anyone who knew that would surely be wiser than him. He questioned everyone he could find, but no one could give him a satisfactory answer. Instead, they all pretended to know something they clearly did not. Finally, he realized that the Oracle might be right after all; he was the wisest man in Athens because he alone was prepared to admit his own ignorance rather than pretend to know something he did not.

The Wise man is humble in his knowledge, he is open-minded and recognizes that he has limited knowledge; and because he knows that there are so many things that he doesn’t know, he has doubts. The Wise Man understands that someone else may have knowledge that he doesn’t have, and this could lead him to change his opinion on this and that. He has fluidity of mind, he is not rigid in his view and his pursuit of the truth will lead him to question everything.

Ladies and gentlemen we are coming to the end of this production, thank you for reading this Shakespearean piece. And with this said, I will give the floor to the man himself for the final word.

“A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.”

Shakespeare.

PS: If you like this piece, feel free to applaud and comment. If you didn’t like this piece, feel free to criticize it not in a fanatical kind of way but after careful consideration just like a Wise Man would do; and I will try my best not to react to your comments in a foolish kind of way.

[1] Bertrand Russell (18 May 1872- 2 February 1970), British philosopher, mathematician, historian, political activist, and Nobel Laureate.

For more on this subject you can purchase my book This is Your Quest online at BookLocker, from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble.  The Ebook version is available on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iBooks) & Kobo. Check out my Amazon Author Page here or my listing on Booksradar.com.

The audio version of my book “This Is your Quest ” is available. Feel free to check it out and use this special Promotion code

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Self-Help Uncategorized

Don’t worry, it’s ok to worry, if you do it in small doses

There are so many things to worry about these days, you worry about your health, your career, your relationship, your kids, your family, the food you eat, and the list goes on and on. Worrying doesn’t feel good, it sucks the life out of you, makes you anxious, and can turn you into a neurotic mess. Worrying stems from a desire to be in control. We often want to control our environment, or we want control over the outcome of every situation. But the more you try to control everything around you the more anxious you feel. Worrying about the things you can’t control will drain you of your mental strength and will leave you in a state where you can’t operate properly. Although worrying does not feel good, new research shows that worry can have surprising benefits, when done in just the right amount. So, don’t worry, it’s OK to worry if you do it in small doses.


“Worrying is like sitting in a rocking chair. It gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you anywhere”

English Proverb

Don’t worry, It’s OK to worry; if you do it in small doses

New research shows that worrying done right is actually a powerful tool that can help you in all areas of your life. The trick is to find the balance between healthy worrying and being a neurotic mess. A recent study published in Social & Personality Psychology Compass, argues that although extreme levels of worry are associated with depressed mood, poor physical health, and even mental illness, worry has an upside; a little anxiety is healthy, it can help people recover from trauma, be better planners, live a healthier lifestyle and even overcome depression. So, don’t worry, It’s OK to worry; if you do it in small doses.

Worrying can have positive effects on behavior and can motivate people to take action and make preparations to prevent an undesirable outcome from taking place. Parenting is an anxiety landmine that lasts at least 18 years. Parents often worry about their children, they will fret as to whether their kids are wearing the right type of clothes for the weather, whether they had eaten enough, slept enough, whether they are safe and happy; and when the children are a bit older, parents worry about their offspring getting involved with unhealthy habits such as drugs, alcohol, and hanging out with the wrong crowd.

Worrying about our loved one show them that we care about them. Worrying about our health can motivate us to change our diet, hit the gym, and do regular check-ups. Worrying about an exam or a work presentation may indicate to us that we should do more preparation, research the subject more thoroughly, practice our pitch one more time.

How much worry is too much?

Don’t Worry, it’s Ok to worry if you do it in small doses. Photo by Benzoix via freepik.com

Like most things, worrying is all about balance. Worry too little and you put yourself in danger; worry too much and you may never leave your house again. When you feel trapped in your mind, with nowhere to go, having to deal with your fertile imagination and your anxiety as dreaded companions, you know you have crossed the line. Below are a few tips to help you manage worry when things get out of control.

Change the things that you can change and for the rest change your perspective

Identify what is within your control and what isn’t. For example, you can control how eye-catching your marketing ads are, but you can’t control whether people will buy your product, and that’s the way it is. If it’s within your control, tackle the problem. If it’s out of your control, focus on changing your perspective. Remind yourself you can change your thoughts and perspectives on things, you can change the meaning you attach to specific events, your conclusions, and expectations. Much of our disappointment, hurt, sadness, anger, etc, that we experience is a result of unmet expectations. So, if we change our expectations, we will be able to dramatically decrease the negative feelings that result from experiencing unmet expectations. I know, it’s easier said than done, but have a go at it anyway and see if it helps.

Don’t worry, accept that life Is uncertain

Accepting a situation does not mean that you have to like it, rather it means that you stop fighting it. And that releases you from the suffering. Instead of focusing on how you would like something to be different, recognize and accept the problem or situation as it is. Remember, accepting is not the same as liking or condoning something. Learning to accept the problems that are out of your control will lead to less anxiety, anger, and sadness when dealing with them.

Exercise

Regularly moving your body is not only good for your body, but it also helps you improve your mood and it actually gives you something to do and someplace to go. Taking a walk when feeling overwhelmed can help reset your mood, give you a sense of control, and get you back on the right track. Listen to your favorite tracks whilst walking and your worry will be silenced by the sound of music. So, don’t worry, it’s OK to worry; if you do it in small doses.

Meditate and practice gratitude

Being thankful for the things that are going well in your life can help you put things into perspective and will make you less anxious. Practicing gratitude regularly can help you feel more in control of your life and the things that you can’t control will begin feeling less overwhelming. Stay still for a minute or two, reflect, and meditate. So, don’t worry, it’s OK to worry if you do it in small doses.

Talk to the Sun, the Moon, the Rain, and the Breeze.

Ask the Sun to bring you new energy by day.

Ask the Moon to restore you by night.

Ask the Rain to wash away your worries.

Ask the Breeze to blow new strength into your being.

If you do this, you will be able to forget all your worries

You will walk as tall as the trees

And to stand as strong as the mountain.

And this, my dear Friend, is Your Quest.

For more on this subject you can purchase my book This is Your Quest online at BookLocker, from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble.  The Ebook version is available on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iBooks) & Kobo. Check out my Amazon Author Page here or my listing on Booksradar.com.

The audio version of my book “This Is your Quest ” is available. Feel free to check it out and use this special Promotion code

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Uncategorized

Short Life lessons from joanne reed – World Class Performer Interview

I am feeling blessed to have been interviewed by World Class Performer who have been featuring since 2017 stories, tactics and practical advice from authors, entrepreneurs, athletes, artists, investors sharing their short profiles to help their audience answer life’s most challenging questions, achieve extraordinary results and transform life.

You can read the interview on the World Class Performer platform by clicking on the following link Short Life Lessons from Joanne Reed – World Class Performer Interview.

Or you can read the transcript of my interview with World Class Performer below.

Joanne Reed is the author of This Is Your Quest – Your Mission: To Experience Happiness Along the Way. She has not made it yet to the New York Times Bestseller list and is wondering why she is being featured here, but as a storyteller, she has a lot to say. Stories teach us about life, about ourselves, and about others. She discovered the art of blogging a year ago and writes about anything that nourishes and educates the mind with a zest of philosophy, plenty of good vibes, and this little je ne sais quoi. 

Can you tell the audience of World Class Performer where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?

I was born and raised on a French Island in the Indian Ocean called Réunion. It is like the French version of Hawaii. Life on the island was good and I was truly fortunate to have been born and raised in a loving family environment surrounded by my parents, my sister, lots of uncles and aunties, and tons of cousins with the beach on one side and the mountain on the other side. Those early years taught me two things: 1) family is everything and 2) immerse yourself in nature whenever you can.

What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?

Most people play the same game i.e., Follow the Follower. Instead of following everyone else and instead of competing with everyone else: Pause – Create – Innovate.

What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

You often hear that your work will speak for itself and the only thing you have to do is write a great book and the rest will follow. That is a myth. Writing a great book is not enough. If you don’t put yourself out there, your work will stay in semi-obscurity. It takes great energy and effort for new authors to get visibility. New authors should be relentless in their Quest to make their work visible and accessible to a larger audience. The most surprising thing I learned about writing is that your book is not finished until it has been read.

Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?

Dark periods for me equates to periods of time throughout various stages of my life where I felt out of place, lacking confidence in my ability, not having any clarity, living in a state of anxiety, and worrying about the future. Reading self-help books helped me get out of these periods and those books made me a little bit smarter and wiser.

There are two ways to learn valuable life lessons. The first method is through trial, errors, and personal experience and the second method is through books. The downside of the first method is that it will no doubt bring you a fair amount of pain and suffering, which is something that we all want to avoid as much as possible. Learning life lessons through someone else’s struggle and the ordeal is a much less painful way to go about it whilst still bringing the same benefits. Words have tremendous power and energy. Well-chosen words can breathe hope into you when your spirit is broken and can make you stronger than you know. 

What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?

It depends on how you define success. It is such a fluid concept. Success means different things to different people. If success means signing a publishing contract with a publisher, I tick that box and the biggest contributor to my success would be the fact that I wrote a book that is unique. The book is written from the perspective of the reader. I act as a tour guide and take my readers with me on an epic journey through time, traveling around the world, and learning valuable lessons from my favorite authors and philosophers along the way. The whole idea of the book is to guide my readers in their Quest to find their own definition of happiness and find their own path. I couldn’t find anywhere a book that dealt with all the subjects I was interested in (i.e., money, love, and health), a book that inspired me but challenged me all the same, a book that could act as a compass when I was feeling lost, a book that could educate, heal and illuminate the mind. So, I decided that I should write such a book myself.

If you define success by being on the New York Times Bestselling list, I don’t tick that box yet! I am Work-In-Progress. I see myself more like a marathon runner and not a sprinter. Let’s do this interview again in a couple of years, shall we?

What is your morning routine?

If I had to write a book to describe my morning routine, the title would be the ‘Art of wearing different hats’.

5:30 am: wake-up and make coffee, dress-up in sports gear and put my baseball hat on ready to take my dog Louis out for a quick toilet-stroll round the block; show-up at my desk for an early morning writing session wearing my favorite author’s hat, blissfully aware about how precious this alone time is.

8:00 am: Cook healthy/high protein English breakfast whilst doing the best I can to resist eating too much carb/bread.

9:00 am: show up to my Muay Thai class wearing my protective fighter hat for some high-intensity hand-to-hand combat activity where I am practicing some kick-ass moves that make me feel like Wonder Woman. 

10 am: Return home for a shower. Put author’s hat back on to do more writing till the time comes for me to swap my author’s hat with my domestic goddess hat, ready to prepare lunch, and do whatever domestic goddesses do nowadays. Wear my chauffeur’s hat a few times during the day to take my youngest daughter to places.

The rest of the day continues with me having to swap hats all the time and attend to whatever requires my undivided attention. 

What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?

I am curious about the world, about people, I am awake and aware of what’s happening, I read, I listen, I connect the dots, I pause, stay still, reflect and meditate, and when all of this is done, I have the urge to put my thoughts on paper and I write. I like to describe myself as an artist because it is more fluid and more suited to my current state of mind. Charles Bukowski says it best “An intellectual says a simple thing in a hard way. An artist says a hard thing in a simple way”. 

What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?

  • Write To-Do-Lists.
  • Have lots of different hats to wear for different occasions.
  • Wake-up, dress up, show up and do the best I can till I know better and when I know better I do better. 
  • Last and not least have a sense of adventure, be an explorer. Explorers are a special type of human beings. They have physical endurance, mental toughness, abundant determination, and willpower, a deep feeling of purpose, they have faith in their pursuit and live every day with the conviction of their Quest!

What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho because it summarizes very well everything important you need to know to survive in this world. Mainly that a person’s only real obligation is to realize one’s Personal Legend because if you do this with courage, authenticity, and integrity everything else will fall into place. Realizing your own Personal Legend is not a selfish, ego-centric purpose that only benefits you because as Christian D Larson says, “what’s the world needs is people who can do things that are thoroughly worthwhile; people who can think great thoughts and transform such thoughts into great deeds”. 

Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often that you would like to share with the audience of World Class Performer?

I live by and think often of one particular quote by Maya Angelou: “Wake-up, dress-up, show-up every day, and do the best you can until you know better, and when you know better, do better.” Maya Angelou was such a phenomenal woman; her life was a succession of epic adventures. I named my eldest daughter after her.

For more on this subject you can purchase my book This is Your Quest online at BookLocker, from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble.  The Ebook version is available on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iBooks) & Kobo. Check out my Amazon Author Page here or my listing on Booksradar.com.

The audio version of my book “This Is your Quest ” is available. Feel free to check it out and use this special Promotion code

Categories
Get Wealthy

$how Me the Money

There are a lot of things you hear about money: The Love of Money is the root of all evil. Money doesn’t grow on trees. Money can’t buy happiness. Nowadays there is a huge divide between the 1% of the population who holds in their hands the vast majority of the world’s wealth, leaving the 99% trying to pick over the remainders. Money is what makes people worry the most and makes them the happiest and the unhappiest.

The true fact of all money matters remains a secret for the majority of people. In this article, I will unveil the hidden secrets of money. [Hint, the current debt-based-fiat-money system was born in secrecy following a meeting of some of the most influential people of the time gathered on Jekyll Island]. I will also explain what money is and where it is coming from. [Hint: ‘money’ is created out of thin air and is just a piece of paper with no intrinsic value.] And finally, I will take you on an epic journey through history, right from the start where I will tell you the story of the Scotsman who is responsible for all of your money worries. Fasten your seat belt, it is going to be a hell of a ride.

Hidden Secrets of Money

There is a difference between money and currency, most people would not know what is the key factor that distinguishes one from the other. The best person to explain the difference is Mike Maloney, who is the creator of the series Hidden Secrets of Money; he made it his mission in life to see through all the smoke and mirrors that surrounds money matters. As the title of his series suggests, the true facts of all money matters remain a secret for the majority of people.

“Our true wealth is our time and freedom. Money is just a tool for trading your time. It is a container to store your economic energy until you are ready to deploy it. The secrets of money are hidden in plain sights, they are out in the open like the way the monetary system works, but most people can’t really see or understand how it really works; the use of technical jargon makes it very opaque and inaccessible to the uninitiated. The secret remains a secret because of a lack of proficiency for the majority of people. Other secrets are meant to be just that, secrets! But the truth is finally coming out, such as the fact that the Federal Reserve is a private corporation and not part of the US Government.” Mike Maloney

Photo by @freepik via freepik.com

G. Edward Griffin the author of The Creature of Jekyll Island explains in his book the origin of the Federal Reserve. He describes it as a creature.

Most people think that the Federal Reserve is a Government Agency. It is not. It is a corporation. The Federal Reserve was created in 1913 and operates like a banking cartel. It is a cartel of the biggest private banks in America. They are joined together for the purpose of what all cartels do and that is to control their own industry, prevent competition and make sure their profits margins are nice and secure.

G. Edward Griffin

What is money?

But what is money? Money and currency are two different things. Currency is a medium of exchange, a unit of account that it (i) portable, (ii) durable, (iii) divisible and (iv) fungible mutually interchangeable – a dollar in your pocket buys the same amount as a dollar in my pocket. Money is all of the above plus (v) a store of value over a long period of time. The currency in your pocket is a medium of exchange. It is a unit of account because there are numbers on it. It is somewhat durable. It is portable. It is divisible and it is fungible, but it is not a real store of value because governments can print more and more of it, devaluing and diluting the currency supply, continually transferring wealth out of your pocket into the banking system.

Paper currencies have no intrinsic value and are used solely as a means of payment. When you board a plane to go on vacation overseas one of the things you are likely to bring with you is some foreign currency because as soon as you cross the border, the currency of your home country stops being useful. The same principle applies when you return home with left-over foreign currency; unless you change that currency, it will remain in your wallet with no value in the country you live in. Ultimately, currencies are just pieces of paper, with no intrinsic value.The dollar has lost 98% of its value since its creation by the Federal Reserve in 1913. All money created is debt and there are interest payments on it. There is always more debt in the system than there is currency in existence to pay the debt. The whole currency system is a debt-based system.

How money comes into existence?

Money’ is created out of thin air just by the fact that the Treasury and the Federal Reserve are swapping IOUs (“I Owe You”) with the bank as the middleman. This process is repeated over and over again enriching the banks (who systematically take a cut from each transaction) and increasing the national debt (the US National Debt stands at $23.3 trillion at the time of writing). The Treasury deposits the newly created currency into the various branches of government and gives it to politicians to fulfil their promises. The government then does some deficit spending on public works, social programs and war. Government employees, soldiers, contractors deposit their money in banks for safe keeping.

This is where the money creation process starts cranking up through a system known as Fractional Reserve Banking, which is a banking system in which only a fraction of bank deposits (i.e., 10%) are backed by actual cash on hand or money available for withdrawal. Banks are free to loan the greater part of their deposits (i.e., 90%) to customers seeking loans or debts. For example, if you deposit $100,000 in the bank and the bank has a reserve requirement of 10%, the bank must keep $10,000 of your money on reserve and can lend $90,000 to other customers. In essence, the bank has taken $100,000 and has turned it into $190,000 by giving you $100,000 credit on your deposits and by lending an additional $90,000 to someone else. This process continues to repeat itself over and over again with the next customer. This is where the vast majority of our currency supply comes from.

In essence, the commercial banks are creating money out of nothing then lending it to the people and charging interest on it. If individual persons decide to manufacture money in their own home, this is called counterfeiting. If an accountant creates money out of nothing in the company accounts, it is called accounting fraud or cooking the books, but if a bank does it, it is perfectly legal. It is absurd. But that it was it is.

Money and Currency. Photo by @freepik via freepik.com

The Founding Fathers of the Unites States knew the danger of central banking and a Debt Based Monetary System and this is why they wrote very clearly in the Constitution that only gold and silver can be money; but we have seen throughout history that what’s written on paper and what’s happening in real life is two different things. The American Revolutionary war itself started out as a tax revolt and to protect future generations from institutional theft and an out-of-control government the United States Constitution stated:

No state shall make anything but gold and silver a tender in payment of debts”.

US Constitution

Only gold and silver can be money for the simple fact that you can’t print them into oblivion.

The current system in the US is not only unconstitutional but it robs every American of the Liberty and Prosperity that the Founding Fathers fought and died for. By this means, Government may secretly and unobserved, confiscate the wealth of the people, and not one man in a million will detect the theft.”

John Maynard Keynes

This sentiment was reiterated by Sir Josiah Stamp, Former Director of the Bank of England when he said

The modern banking system manufactures money out of nothing. The process is perhaps the most astounding piece of sleigh of hand that was ever invented. Banking was conceived in iniquity and born in sin. Bankers own the earth. Take it away from them but leave then the power to create money and control credit, and with a flick of a pen, they will create enough money to buy it back again… but if you want to continue as slaves to the bankers and pay the cost of your own slavery, let them continue to create money and to control credit”.

Sir Josiah Stamp

To understand more about money, look back at history

In 1944, near the end of the Second World War, world leaders and economists met in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire USA, to form a new world monetary system for the post war era, ‘The Bretton Woods System’. Within the Bretton Woods Agreement the US dollar became the reserve currency of the world, promising nations that they could redeem any dollars they had for gold. The dollar’s value at the time was fixed to a gold standard, other countries currency valuations were fixed to the dollar. This system favored the United States because the US could settle its foreign payments in paper dollars, allowing the US to simply print dollars to send overseas, whereas other nations had to settle their foreign payments in gold.

President Charles de Gaulle of France called this payment system America’s exorbitant privilege. The closing of the gold window by Nixon was triggered by the decision of De Gaulle to send a warship to New York harbor with instructions to bring back all of France’s gold from the New York Federal Reserve Bank. On 15 August 1971, President Nixon repriced the dollar/gold relationship to $35 per ounce and no longer allowed the Federal Reserve to redeem dollars with gold, making the gold standard meaningless. This date is a very significant date in the history of global finance as it marked the beginning of the era of fiat money.Fiat Money is currency that a government has declared to be legal tender, but it is not backed by a physical commodity. Fiat currency is created out of thin air and is based on faith and credit in the economy backed solely by public confidence.

If you want an Empire, first create paper money

The sun never sets on the British Empire. Photo by @freepik via freepik.com

The story as to how modern-day banking was created is fascinating in its Machiavellian brilliance. As Robert Darryl Schoon explains in his video series Dollar and Sense, banking started in England in 1694 and the key character in this Shakespearean tragedy was a Scotsman by the name of William Patterson. Patterson approached the King of England, King William III, with a proposition: “If you let me issue paper money from my new bank (The Bank of England) alongside the Gold and Silver coins that are used as money; I will pay off all your war debts and loan you as much money as you need so that you can go to war again”.

King William III as the reigning monarch of the time had absolute power over the land and over its subjects but was running short of money. Why? Because like most kings he was constantly waging war. So, when William Patterson approached the King with this deal at a time when the king was heavily indebted, he could not and did not refuse. Unknown to the king, his acceptance of that deal would change the world forever.The role that paper-money has played in the shaping of history cannot be underestimated.

At the end of the 19th century, Britain’s position as the world’s greatest imperialistic power was uncontested; the expression the sun never sets on the British Empire means literally that there was always some part of the Empire on which the sun was shining.Have you ever wondered how and why England, a relatively small island in the English Channel managed to propel herself to be one of the greatest Empires of all time? The key ingredient for this phenomenal success was paper money. England was the first country to develop a modern financial and banking system. Bankers loaned fiat-money to traders, ship owners, and government officials. The formation of the Bank of England was the determining factor that allowed the British to borrow ‘money’ to build a huge navy, overtaking countries such as Spain and Portugal who had exercised maritime dominance from the 15th century onwards.

The availability of finance allowed England’s navy capability and military resources to be built up enabling the English explorers and traders to explore, trade, and establish commercial trading posts all over the world. The British Navy owned the seas. These days fiat money is used to indebt and enslave the population. Bankers first made a deal with King William III, then they made a deal with the United States (which coincided with the creation of the Federal Reserve) and later with every government on the face of the earth (except for Cuba, North Korea, and Iran, the only countries in the world without a Central Bank.)

The whole world has become indebted because governments gave the power to the bankers to do just that. How are these debts paid off? Through income tax. The American Congress passed an act to legalize federal income tax imposing a flat rate to be imposed on each individual; this new law was enacted in 1913, the same year the Federal Reserve was created. Do you think this was a coincidence?

Quick stop-over in China

Photo taken in Suzhou China – March 2019

It is worth noting that the Chinese were the first to create paper money around the year 1000 AD. During that time money was in the form of gold and silver coins, but most cash coins were made from copper or bronze alloys. In the province of Sichuan, there was a shortage of copper, so, some inventive men came up with the idea of minting iron coins instead of copper. Iron was worth less than copper, but the idea was to mint more of it to make up the difference. The problem with this solution was that a large amount of iron coinage was required to purchase items that were both very heavy and hugely inconvenient to carry around.

To resolve this problem people started to leave their coins on deposit at money shops; money shops kept coins safe in their store and issued the owner with a receipt, which was then used to purchase food or other items. That receipt, or piece of paper, represented the exact amount of iron that a person had on deposit at the money shop. This system worked well; until the people at the money shop realized that their receipt was as good as money. The money shops started printing more of these receipts than they had coins in deposit and fairly soon, prices started going up, things got out of control and economic chaos followed putting the local government in a state of crisis.

In 1022, the Sichuan Provincial Government had to be rescued, or bailed-out, by the Central Chinese Government.Central Government officials came to Sichuan Province to assess the situation and report back; the officials shut everything down but realized that this paper money system was a very clever idea. Two years after the incident in Sichuan the Chinese Government themselves adopted a paper money system but declared that only the Central Government could issue these bank notes. The Chinese Government propaganda machine worked to convince people that the paper money was intrinsically as good as the copper deposited, but the truth of the matter was that the Government issued a significantly higher value of paper money than there was copper stored.

What is freedom? Freedom is about having choices. The more choices you have the more freedom you have and vice versa. In our society money is a conduit that facilitates choices. The 1% control the 99% of the population by keeping a firm grip on money creation and money distribution.

For the 1%, money is power. For the 99% knowledge is power. Know how the system works and you will become powerful.

For a more detailed analysis of this fascinating subject please refer to Chapters 8 & 9 of my book “This Is Your Quest’.

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The Reddit, Robinhood, Citadel Saga. The Name of the Game is Short Selling

The Reddit, Robinhood, and Citadel saga is front page news; the name of the game is short selling. All those players are currently engaged in a modern-day version of the David and Goliath battle where the small guy is beating up the big guy at their own game.

This whole Reddit, Robinhood, Citadel saga gave me a good excuse to have a movie night at home with my youngest daughter to watch the 2010 Robin Hood movie directed by Sir Ridley Scott with Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett in the lead roles. We enjoyed it, great cinematography, great cast, and a really good storyline. The movie tells the background story of Robin Hood and how he came to be an outlaw. In this article, I am taking you on an epic adventure traveling back in time with Robin Hood as our traveling companion and hero. At the end of this journey, we will circle back to the modern-day Reddit, Robinhood, and Citadel saga, where the name of the game is short selling.

Robin Hood. Rise and Rise Again Until the Lambs Become Lions

Robin Hood – Rise and Rise Again Until the Lambs Become Lions. Photo by @freepik via freepik.com

The movie starts with an epic battle taking place in France between the army of Richard the Lionheart who is on a full siege and assault mode on the Challus castle; the idea was to break through the castle’s fortress and ransack the place to finance the final leg of the journey home to England. Robin Longstride serves as a common archer in the army of King Richard the Lionheart, at this point in time he was quite disillusioned and war-weary. He got himself and his comrades into trouble after sharing his frank and unflattering appraisal of the King’s conduct when the king asked for his opinion. This led Robin and his comrades to be tied-up for insubordination, waiting to hear about their fate whilst the rest of the army mounts their final assault on the castle.

The King is killed during the attack; this gave Robin and his comrades the opportunity to escape, they became deserters and persona non-grata but they were alive and free. From that point in time, their quest was to make it safely back home to England. They came across an ambush of the English by Godfrey the traitor, an English Knight who was conspiring with King Philip of France to assassinate King Richard. After chasing Godfrey away, Robin decides to take advantage of the situation by having his men impersonate the dead English knights in order to return to England as wealthy noblemen instead of penniless deserters. Before they depart to sail across the Channel, Robin promised to fulfill one of the dying knights, Sir Robert Loxley’s last wish, of returning his sword to his father in Nottingham.

Robin was fascinated with the words engraved on the sword’s blade

“Rise and rise again, until the lambs become lions.”

The Legend of Robin Hood and the Charter of Rights also known as the Magna Carta

Upon his arrival in the Thames estuary, Robin continued to assume the identity of Sir Loxley as it fell upon him to inform the royal family of King Richard’s death. He witnessed the coronation of King John who was as ambitious as he was clueless, and who lost no time making himself extremely unpopular by raising taxes on the poor and by dismissing the loyal and experienced chancellor from his function to replace him with his friend Godfrey, who turned out to be a ruthless traitor who was plotting with the French King to invade England.

Robin and his companions traveled to Nottingham to hand over Loxley’s sword to his elderly and blind father. Sir Walter asked Robin to continue impersonating his son to prevent the Crown from seizing the Loxley family lands. Loxley’s widow, Lady Marian, is initially cold toward Robin but eventually warms up to his charisma, quiet assertive strength, courage, and devotion towards the people and the land.

The plot by Godfrey to help the French invade England is discovered and triggered the northern barons to assemble in the presence of King John to discuss a strategy to fight the invaders. Attending and speaking on behalf of Sir Walter, Robin declared that he would not fight under King John’s command unless the King agrees to the Charter of Rights granting more rights and protection to the barons such as the protection of church rights, protection for the barons from illegal imprisonment, access to swift justice, and limitations on feudal payments to the Crown. In those days, kings believed they were divinely appointed, and this gave them a license to use and abuse anyone and anything that suited their wants or needs. Being under the threat of civil war on the domestic front and having to deal with an imminent foreign invasion on its shores King John reluctantly agreed and signed (on 12 June 1215) the Charter of Rights also known as the Magna Carta.

The battle between the now united English troops and the French took place on a beach below the cliffs of Dover. Robin led his troops to victory and distinguished himself during the battle saving in the process Lady Marian’s life from Godfrey’s evil intent and stopping Godfrey dead in its track when he was shamefully fleeing the battle scene. King Philip soon realized that his ‘surprise’ attack failed and sailed back to France feeling utterly defeated. The English troops rejoiced in their victory over the French and celebrated Robin Hood for his courage and leadership during the battle. King John was offended by the lack of recognition and validation he received from his troops and became resentful of the genuine and loving attention ‘his’ people gave to Robin Hood, something he never experienced first hand. He decided from that point on to compensate for his flagrant lack of authority and popularity by abusing his ‘flaky-God-given-power’.

Back in London, King John decides to renegade on his promise to implement the Charter of Rights deciding instead to reassert the fact that he was divinely appointed and would not on this basis agree to have his power curtailed. He declares Robin an outlaw to be hunted throughout the kingdom. Robin and his men flee to Sherwood Forest with the orphans of Nottingham.

And so, begins the legend of Robin Hood the one that steals from the rich to give to the poor

The Reddit, Robinhood, and Citadel Saga. The Name of the Game is Short Selling

The Reddit, Robinhood Citadel saga. The name of the game is short selling. Photo by @freepik via freepik.com

Fast forward to today and the news about GameStop, Robinhood App, and the Citadel Hedge fund. It all started with a Reddit Chat Group called Wall Street Bets who has more than 2 million subscribers. This group noticed that a lot of the big hedge funds had very heavy short positions on GameStop, as a matter of fact, 140% of the stocks were short! [Feel free to be shocked]

Disclaimer. Before I continue with this article please note that I am not a financial advisor, banker, or any kind of financially qualified person; the rest of this article should not be taken as financial advice.

Question: Can you sell something that you don’t own? Answer: in the real world the answer is no, but in the world of finance the answer is yes you can. That is what short selling is; it is the ability to borrow a stock that you don’t own in order to sell it back at a profit later on hoping in the meantime that the stock price has tanked, allowing you to buy it back at a price that is lower than the price you paid to borrow the stock. Once you have pocketed your profit you return the stock to the owner. Sounds fishy?! Absolutely, except that in the financial world you are allowed to do that.

When you have a short position, you are betting on the company to fail. The big wall street players have been playing this game very successfully for years until a few weeks ago when they got a taste of their own medicine. That medicine was administered by a bunch of amateur investors who got together on the Reddit chat group where they agreed to buy en masse shares of GameStop forcing the price to go up. The increase in prices forced the big guys to buy back their short positions at a much higher price than they paid which cost them billions of dollars in losses. The price of GameStop skyrocketed to the moon, making millions of dollars of profit to the small guys! At its lowest GameStop’s share price was $2.50 and at its highest, it went over $350.

The big guys on wall street were stunt, they had no idea that a bunch of ordinary people could get together, get into the stock market arena, call them out on their short positions, and play quite successfully the same game that was reserved till now to the big guys!

When the going gets tough change the rules of the game!

The Reddit, Robinhood, Citadel saga. The name of the game is short selling. When the going gets tough, change the rules. Photo by @freepik via freepik.com

The story should have ended there with winners on one side (the small guy for once) and losers (the big guys) on the other side licking their wounds. Except that when the going gets tough for the big guys they change the rules!

The plan worked extremely well for the little guy until the big guys started to freak out. One Hedge fund company called Melvin Capital lost 30% of its money and was on the verge of bankruptcy; this triggered two players Citadel and Robinhood App to come into the arena to ‘rebalance’ the game.

Citadel is another hedge fund company, they came to the rescue and bailed out Melvin Capital from Bankruptcy. Robinhood is an App where you can trade stocks for free, [attention, attention, alarm bells ringing, there is no free lunch anywhere. Right?! So, how does Robinhood LLC make their money if all their customers can trade for free?! There must be a catch somewhere]. To everyone surprise and shock, Robinhood stopped trading stocks of GameStop to try to stem the bleeding and protect the big hedge funds from incurring further losses. Robinhood market themselves as being an App for the people, they push forward the message that through their App ordinary people can get on their phones, participate in the stock market and make money. Shutting down trading because they didn’t like what was happening to these Hedge funds with short positions seemed like the exact opposite of what those Apps were supposed to be doing, taking from the poor and giving to the rich. It is interesting to note that a ‘citadel’ is defined as a fortress where people could shelter for safety. It looks to me that Citadel is acting as a fortress to protect its own i.e., the big guy.

What is interesting about Robinhood is that they make their money through Citadel by selling them user data. Citadel pays Robinhood money for real-time information on what Robinhood’s users are buying and selling. Remember my point earlier about there is no free lunch, there must be a catch somewhere. [Feel free to feel shocked and outraged]

People should not underestimate the importance of this event, because it is without the shadow of a doubt a populist revolution aimed at the financial industry. The little guy is saying, “The system is rigged. We can play that game too. We want a piece of the pie.” This event has caused an onslaught of reaction, on one side you have those cheering and applauding the small guy and on the other side, you have the big guys going on TV and crying foul! The double standard is quite outrageous. It is classy to game the stock market if you are wealthy but if you are a regular Joe and you game the stock market you are trashy.

After enduring a beating across social media, Robinhood took to its own blog on 28 January, and CEO’s Twitter account to explain why it had halted trading of some of the stocks.

“Amid this week’s extraordinary circumstances in the market, we made a tough decision today to temporarily limit buying for certain securities. As a brokerage firm, we have many financial requirements, including SEC net capital obligations and clearinghouse deposits. Some of these requirements fluctuate based on volatility in the markets and can be substantial in the current environment. These requirements exist to protect investors and the markets and we take our responsibilities to comply with them seriously, including through the measures we have taken today.” Robinhood CEO

SEC net capital obligations and clearinghouse deposits are rules about how much money brokerage have to have on hand to ensure that they are essentially good for the transactions their consumers want to make. In order to be in compliance, a brokerage must have sufficient net capital at all times prior to, during, and after purchasing or selling property securities to protect its customers and fulfill its obligations; it must have cash flow.

Robinhood’s explanation for suspending trading and putting a limit buying of some of their stocks is that it was to comply with their regulatory obligations; in other words, it was a risk management issue. My question is: how often does a brokerage house have to suspend trading in order to comply with its basic regulatory obligations? Can we reasonably infer that it was the broker’s own conduct and operation that made their exposure so risky that they put their customers and their own operation at risk, so much so that they had to halt trading?

The Reddit, Robinhood, and Citadel Saga. Class Action v Robinhood, the battle is now happening in Courts

A class-action lawsuit was filed in the Southern District of New York by Brendon Nelson, Plaintiff Class Action against Robinhood Financial LLC, Robinhood Securities LLC, Robinhood Market Inc. Plaintiff demands trial by jury.[Feel free to clap and cheer, if you so wish].

Nature of the legal action:

1. Breach of contract. Robinhood an online brokerage firm purposefully, willfully, and knowingly removed the stock GameStop from its trading platform in the midst of an unprecedented stock price, thereby depriving retail investors of the ability to invest in the open market. Robinhood breached its customer agreement by among other things failing to disclose that its platform was going to randomly pull a profitable stock from its platform. Robinhood failed to provide adequate explanations to their customers and knowingly put them at a disadvantage compared to customers who used other trading platforms.

2. Breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. Robinhood failed to exercise trades and actions requested by their customers and was therefore in breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. Robinhood unfairly interfered with the rights of plaintiffs and members of the class to receive the benefits of the customer agreement.

3. Negligence. Robinhood was grossly negligent and wrongfully breached his fiduciary duty to the plaintiff and the members of the class causing losses and damages that would not have occurred but for Robinhood’s gross breach of duty of care.

And so, begins the legend of Reddit and the small investor.

To be continued …

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Online University for International Student. What It’s Like and How to Do Well

This article is about online university for international student, what it’s like and how to do well. My eldest daughter Maya is in her first year of college studying Bio -Med at the University of Calgary, Canada; but because of Covid she had to start her university life from the comfort of her bedroom confined to the family home for some extra time. Maya volunteered to write an article to share her experience and give some tips to fellow students; she hopes those tips could be useful to those facing the same struggles that she faced when studying online. So I will let Maya take over from here.

Maya Reed – Class 2020

Last year I started my first year of college at the University of Calgary in Canada. However, in the spirit of 2020 being a strange and totally insane year, all of my classes were online and, since I live in Korea, I was working on a 14 hour time difference. 

In all honesty, things were pretty awful. Hopefully, the world doesn’t reach a state where students will have to go through this ever again, but while we’re here, I figured I would share my experience, what I learned, and my tips for anyone just starting; but god forbid that this kind of information will be necessary in the future. 

Online University, the hardest parts/things to look out for 

Sleeping Struggles

Any year of university is going to involve late nights and irregular sleeping patterns, but working on a time difference made this so much more pronounced. I went into it thinking it would be as simple as working through the night and sleeping through the day, but that definitely wasn’t the case. Some days I would sleep right after my classes finished in the morning, others I would get to work after my classes finished and ended up sleeping late in the afternoon, and many days I had to resort to 2-3 hour naps wherever I could squeeze them in. I tried to create a regular sleeping habit, but things just never worked out that way, and deciding when exactly I would be sleeping became one of the most challenging parts of the whole ordeal. 

An unexpected side effect of my irregular sleep patterns was the amount of time I slept. I’m not someone who has struggled with sleeping in the past, but during the semester and even for a week or so afterward, my body physically would not sleep for more than 5 hours. This was my personal response to the ever-changing sleeping patterns and someone else is likely to have different responses based on their own time difference, but it’s important to keep in mind that figuring out when to sleep will probably not be as simple as you originally make it out to be. 

Online University. sleepy or Burn out? Photo by @freepik via frepik.com

With all the sleeping struggles I’ve just mentioned, you’d probably think that I felt awful most of the time. Strangely, I actually didn’t feel incredibly sleep-deprived or sluggish most of the time I was in classes or doing homework assignments. There were definitely days where I did, but I actually went around telling people that the sleeping arrangements and effects weren’t as bad as I was expecting. However, upon reflection and a few bad grades, I realized that sleep deprivation and irregularities did actually have an effect on my ability to focus and do my work. It’s very common knowledge that sleep deprivation will decrease performance in almost anything, and I certainly found myself making mistakes that I don’t think I would be making if I had a more regular sleeping pattern. 

Something else you might need to be prepared for is how the weekends work. My sleep schedule also made weekends complicated; all throughout the week I would be sleeping sporadically through the day and working through the night and basically operating on Canadian time. However, if I wanted to do anything with family or friends on the weekend, I would have to switch my sleep schedule back to Korean time so I could do things during the day. My options were basically to be tired most of the weekend or opt to recover and not see anyone. 

Online university struggles: distraction, concentration, and sitting too long 

While my time difference circumstance is one that may only be applicable to a small population, the struggles of working and learning online are ones that an entire generation of students and even workers can relate to. 

I found that distraction became one of the biggest obstacles I had to overcome. Listening to a lecture over a zoom call from your bedroom just doesn’t compare to the environment of a classroom or workplace, and that definitely hindered my ability to focus. Regularly, and without even realizing, I would find myself picking up my phone, scrolling through other tabs, playing with my cat, fiddling with the things on my desk, or just zoning out. 

My name is Cherry-Bee. I love Bio-Med Studies. Photo by @freepik via frepik.com

Those bad habits may all sound like they’re just that: bad habits that I or you need to work to control, and although this is partly true, it’s unfair to put all the blame on oneself. Bedrooms are spaces of comfort that we strongly associate with relaxation, and suddenly having to shift that association to include learning new, complex material that we would usually hear in a classroom as well as working is bound to and does introduce difficulties. 

Something else that is likely to affect your ability to concentrate is the amount of time you spend sitting in one place. Since all of my classes were online, I would end up sitting in my chair for hours and hours at a time, and after a couple of hours I would inevitably start to lose focus. A typical day in-person university would have you leaving your dorm to eat, move between classes, and more, and the difference between your typical day in online school is jarring. 

Quite honestly, some of these struggles might not sound “legitimate” enough to complain about, and when they start to hinder your academic performance it’s easy to blame yourself and start to feel insecure about your academic ability or intelligence. However, as small or trivial as some of them might sound, they are valid struggles people have to deal with and it’s important to recognize them as such so they can be combated. 

Online University, some of the good things

Despite all the challenges I’ve described, there are still some benefits to online school (even with a time difference) that students have to look forward to. 

With my particular time difference (14 hours ahead), there was the illusion that I had an extra day to do things. For example, something due at midnight on a Monday in Calgary would be due at 4 pm on Tuesday for me. Of course, I actually had the same amount of time to complete work as everyone else did, but it felt like I had an extra day of work time and that made things just a bit more bearable. My weekends also felt longer since I would go through all my classes early Saturday morning, have time to do something that day after classes, and wouldn’t start classes again until Monday night, technically giving me a 3 day weekend every week. 

Online University. Was this assement due yesterday or today?! Photo by @freepik via frepik.com

Another benefit was the accommodations teachers made for the courses. Many of my assessments were made open-book, I was given a lot more time to complete tests, and a couple of my classes dropped grades they didn’t usually drop to help boost the class’ overall grades. 

The most significant perk I saw was students being able to ask questions comfortably. I haven’t been to a large in-person university class, but I’m sure that people aren’t jumping up and down to ask their professor a question in front of everyone. However, over Zoom, students are much more eager and willing to ask questions, whether it was over the chat or speaking over the microphones. It’s simply much less anxiety-inducing to unmute yourself over a call where you can’t even see your classmates compared to speaking up in a quiet class of 200, and this was genuinely helpful. Students, myself included, were able to ask quick clarification questions that would probably not be asked in live lectures as well as feel more comfortable speaking up in the first place. 

The benefits you might experience will be different depending on your time zone and professors, but there will surely be at least one aspect of online school that acts as a perk. I also know a good handful of people who found online school better than traditional schooling, citing the convenience of not having to commute to classes, the benefit of academic accommodations, and more. 

Online University. How to be successful (time difference or not) 

Sleeping habits are different for everyone and the best sleep schedule for online school will depend on someone’s normal sleep patterns, the exact time difference, and more. My most applicable piece of advice for sleeping would be to invest in black-out curtains or a sleeping mask, because trying to sleep in the brightness of the day is not always easy.  

I do, however, have tips for improving the other aspects of doing online school with a time difference. 

  • Create a study space: If possible, having a room separate from your bedroom designated for studying, working, and attending class would be ideal. For most, this will not be the case, but it’s still worth setting up your study space as a study place. I tried to keep my desk clear, facing away from my bed, and free from distractions. Doing this, or anything similar, will help combat the relaxed associations you are bound to have with your bedroom and hopefully help you maintain concentration. 
  • Do not, under any circumstance, try to study in/on your bed: The bed is tempting, but anyone who has tried this knows that as soon as you make the decision to move you and your books to the bed, you’ve already lost the battle. This tip goes hand in hand with creating a study space. Don’t mix your comfort and your studying. 

Online University. Do not, under any circumstance try to study in/on your bed! Photo by @freepik via frepik.com
  • Keep your phone in a different room or where you cannot see it when you’re working/attending lectures: This was a difficult habit to enforce on myself, but I noticed a significant difference in my ability to concentrate when my phone was out of sight or not in the room. Phones and all our social media apps are designed to grab and hold our attention, and they do it extremely well. The only way to stop yourself from getting distracted from notifications or succumbing to the lure of doing literally anything other than listening to your professor is to remove the threat altogether. 
  • Triple check all your due dates and timestamps: Even though I tried to be very conscious of this, there were a number of times where I forgot to think about time differences and missed or had to rush something. It’s likely that the school platform you use doesn’t change their due dates to match time zones, so it’s up to you to figure out when you have to complete them by. There was an international student in one of my classes last semester that miscalculated when her exam was and was not able to make it up. Always check. 
  • Write down everything: Having a planner was probably one of the best decisions I made for last semester. One thing many other students and I hate about online school is the feeling that assignments pop up out of nowhere with no warning. After a few panicked submissions and a missed test, I started each day by checking all of my courses for assignments and due dates and writing them down in my notebook adjusted to my time. It’s  a tedious step, but will definitely save you a lot of headaches. 
  • Take walks: I mentioned earlier that sitting in the same spot at my desk for hours and hours at a time became draining and hindered my concentration. You’d be surprised at how much moving around for a little will wake you up. It doesn’t even have to be a walk outside, you could just go to your living room for a while to stretch your legs. Getting your blood flowing for just a couple of minutes will genuinely help reset your mental state. 
  • Make time for yourself and to see other people: Throughout the semester I got a bit lonely. I would often not see my family for very long since I was awake while they slept and vice versa, and with school and my sleeping patterns, it was basically impossible to see any friends during the week. There is already so much that is difficult about online university, and loneliness is not a struggle you want to add. Go see your friends. Take breaks. Don’t forget about your mental health.  
Online University. Meet up with your friends and have a pyjama party. Photo by @freepik via frepik.com
  • Go easy on yourself: I know for a fact that a lot of people have found online school during these times challenging and have seen those difficulties manifest through less-than-satisfactory grad performance or just the feeling of being burnt out and exhausted. It’s too easy to be hard on yourself and say that you should have done better because exams are open-book, or whatever other reason but don’t feel bad in admitting that what you’re doing is hard. It’s completely okay for you to not perform as well as you might have wanted or to give yourself some leeway about what you need to complete. I dropped my physics class this semester that’s usually completed in the first year and is a re-req for my major. After I dropped it, my school started approving students to mark specific classes as pass or failed and omitted from GPA calculations. I will have to retake the class and it will count towards my GPA, but I’m glad I decided to drop because I was burning out, the time I spent trying to figure out what was happening in that class was affecting my other class grades, and I realized that, with everything going on, I deserved to catch a break. 

My semester was rough, but I actually finished with pretty decent grades, and I would genuinely attribute my late success to those exact tips I have just gone through. As soon as I dropped my physics class I had the time to put much more effort into doing well in my other classes. I made sure to see my friends every weekend, eat with my family, write down all my due dates, and even managed to keep my phone out of my way for the last few weeks of the semester. 

If you’re a student, I hope this has prepared you for what you might encounter. If you’re a parent, I hope this has shed some light on what my generation is dealing with. 

In conclusion, let’s just hope and pray none of this ever has to happen again. 

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How to React to Different Types of Criticism; the Good, the Bad and the Downright Ugly

How to react to different types of criticism; the good, the bad and the downright ugly

There are different types of criticism, but all criticism hurts. It can hit you when you are at work, at home, or just happily checking social media. Criticism can provide helpful feedback, but it can also ruin your day and seriously shake your self-esteem. We all know what it is like to be criticized and have all succumbed to the temptation of lashing out to offer our unrestrained opinion about something someone did or didn’t do. Anytime someone is criticizing you, they are comparing you against some specific standards, whether it is their own or those of an organization such as a work environment highlighting your failure to reach those standards.  There are different types of criticism, the good, the bad and the ugly.

Frequent and poorly delivered criticism is a breeder of conflict in personal and work relationships, and can trigger anger, resentment, withdrawal, stress and anxiety. Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain.  Artists build and create something out of nothing. Critics destroy something to make it into nothingness. It is easier to be a critic than an artist; before you criticize someone’s work, try to be an artist first. 

According to Aristotle, you can easily avoid criticism by saying nothing, doing nothing and being nothing, but this is not actually a viable option. Instead of hiding behind a rock to try to escape being criticized let’s come out in the open and see if we can learn and practice the art of criticizing with kindness, and also learn the art of knowing how to deal with critical people.

Different types of criticism; constructive, destructive and self-criticism

Constructive criticism is good criticism; it is healthy and is designed to point out your mistakes, but also show you where and how improvements can be made. If we don’t know what our weaknesses are, how will we ever grow or change?  Constructive criticism should be viewed as useful feedback that can help you improve yourself rather than put you down. When criticism is constructive it is usually easier to accept, even if it still hurts a little. We all make mistakes; it is human nature. As we go through life, we have plenty of opportunities to learn and improve ourselves.  We should try to take criticism on board to help us be a better person. Naysayers have a job to do, see them as a disguised team mate whose job is to help you grow and help you build a thicker skin. Both personal and professional success depend on being able to take criticism in your stride. The ability to hear and truly listen to people’s opinion, even when they are negative, improves relationships, academic performance and negotiating skills. 

Different types of criticism: constructive criticism

Destructive criticism on the other hand is unhealthy. It could be thoughtlessness by another person who skipped their emotional intelligence class at school, but it can also be deliberately malicious and hurtful. It aims to show that the person or object has no worth or validity. It is meant to tear you down.   If you are finding yourself at the receiving end of some destructive criticism, I suggest that you give them the cold shoulder treatment and look at them with utter disdain, remembering they are not worthy of your attention. 

Different types of criticism: destructive criticism (male version)

It is worth noting that not all constructive criticism is delivered gently and not all destructive criticism is delivered harshly. There are times when people will lash at you with a seemingly mean comment or observation, but once you got over the initial shock and start thinking about it rationally you realize that they  may have a point. Other times, you have people who are seemingly sweet and gentle who will fire an ‘innocent’ comment about your appearance on that particular day whilst flashing a bright smile, but all aimed at destroying your self-image and self-confidence. We have all seen the movie Mean Girls, right?!

Self-Criticism is that little voice inside your head that keep repeating to you that you are not good enough, you never going to be able to do this and that, filling you with self-doubt and a toxic attitude. Self-critical individuals experience feelings of unworthiness, inferiority, failure, and guilt.  However, self-criticism is different from self-reflection and self-evaluation.

The capacity for self-reflection is a key quality of being human. Self-reflection can be helpful when it involves an objective evaluation of ourselves, our thinking, feeling and behavior. It can beneficially support our wisdom in a variety of ways. Self-reflection helps us connect with ourselves and notice negative patterns in our life, it helps us process complex emotions, identify values and support decision-making. Constructive self-evaluation offers us information about what went wrong and what we might do differently the next time.  By contrast, self-criticism involves a knee-jerk reflection that is demeaning, devaluing and destructive. 

Different types of criticism: self-criticism

The antidote for self-criticism is self-compassion, self-soothing and learning ways to calm our bodies and our emotions. Self-compassion provides us with increased acceptance of who we are as whole, our strengths but also our weaknesses, flaws and mistakes.

How to criticize with kindness

In a working environment learning to criticize with kindness can save you the unpleasantness of an expensive lawsuit from employees.  Ellen DeGeneres is currently experiencing this unpleasantness as it recently came to light that Warner Media is investigating the Ellen DeGeneres Show following a series of allegations of racism, workplace intimidation, and other mistreatment made by employees who complained about the toxic work culture

Nowadays, it is not uncommon to hear people complaining about their boss and confiding in friends and family how much they hate their boss. Why is this such a common occurrence? Probably because the boss has also skipped the emotional intelligence class when they were at school and picked up a ‘not-so-nice-attitude’ that continued all the way up the corporate ladder. Being at the head of an organization, being successful, rich and famous does not give you a free pass for being an asshole (please excuse my French), but I couldn’t find any better word to illustrate my point. I have no insight into the Ellen DeGeneres saga, I have no way of knowing that she is indeed a horrible boss, but a lot of people already came forward to express such feeling.  Whatever the situation, maybe this internal investigation wouldn’t have seen the light of day if Ellen knew and practiced the art of criticizing with kindness and her staff knew and practiced the art of dealing with critical people. Now that the cat is out of the bag it is going to be difficult to bring it back home.

In a personal environment, criticism can be the one thing that can damage and break a marriage. Dr John Gottman, the renowned American psychologist and researcher who has done extensive work over the past four decades on divorce prediction and marital stability, argues that there are four main relationship killers: criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling.  He calls them The four horsemen of the apocalypse. The first horseman is notably Criticism. When you harshly, unfairly, and unkindly criticize your partner, you run the risk of suggesting that your partner’s personality is defective and unworthy.  Submitting your partner to a regular flow of criticism will definitely hurt your partner’s feelings and will generate a lot of anger, resentment and toxicity within the relationship. So, if you have some criticism you would like to share with your partner best to do it with humor and compassion and in a constructive and sensitive manner.

“Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s growth without destroying his roots.”

– Frank A. Clark

I hope this article has helped you understand the different types of criticism and convinced you of the benefits of learning to criticize with kindness. Whether you are at work or within the comfort of your own home and are controlling your own urge to lash out at someone, you can’t control the fact that someone else may not have the same restraint towards you. You may find yourself at the receiving end of some hurtful comments. So, how do you react?

How to deal with critical people?

  1. Stay calm! Repeat to yourself the wise words of Lao Tzu: If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow.  Staying calm and being patient in one moment of anger does not mean that you are rolling over and accepting to be the silent victim of some unwarranted criticism. It just gives you enough time and space to analyze the situation as rationally as you possibly can (bearing in mind that someone just hurt your feelings a minute ago) and gives you time to plan your next move.
  2. Consider the source and the value of the criticism. Take the time (a few minutes can suffice) to ask yourself whether or not the opinion of the person criticizing you is worth worrying about. Once you have identified that criticism as being destructive rather than constructive, it becomes easier to dismiss the comment by ignoring it or by firing a measured but pointy remark and continue going about your business of being awesome.
  3. If, from the different types of criticism, you’ve identified feedback as constructive, allow yourself to acknowledge that no matter how harshly or poorly worded, that person might just have a point. It is good to be confident in yourself and your abilities, but it is also important to accept that you might be wrong. If you stay on the defensive you rob yourself of valuable opportunities for growth.
  4. If after analyzing the situation you are still of the view that the criticism is not warranted, then whisper to yourself that you can’t please everyone and that’s OK.  Builders are gonna build. Critics are gonna criticize, and Haters are gonna hate.

Understanding the different types of criticism is a learned skill and needs practice. You may find some solace in Theodore Roosevelt’s famous Be in the Arena speech while you are learning.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

Theodore Roosevelt

Criticizing with kindness is an art that can save you a hundred days of sorrow. Understanding the different types of criticism and learning how to deal with critical people is an art that can save you lots of heartache.

And your Quest, my dear friend, is to learn and practice this art.

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For more on this subject you can purchase my book This is Your Quest online at BookLocker, from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble.  The Ebook version is available on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iBooks) & Kobo. Check out my Amazon Author Page here or my listing on Booksradar.com.