Unavoidable Entropy? Here’s the Antidote to Chaos in Life

In the world of science, there’s a notion that everything ultimately reverts to entropy.

Meaning: everything that’s ordered will at some point turn into increasing disorder, until there’s only chaos left. I’m not a scientist, but if I understand correctly, the idea is that ultimately the universe itself will be nothing more than a chaotic uniform distribution of molecules. Correct me if I’m wrong (but only if you’re an actual scientist ;)

Anyway, whether you’re into science or not: you too know that things in life always tend towards chaos.

Your todo list grows to the point of caving in on itself.

Your attic fills until the roof lifts and the floor sags.

Relationships dilute until you’re rarely in touch any longer (hello, old friends whom I know are reading this).

Plans well laid-out get disrupted the moment you start to implement them (as in: no strategy survives first contact with reality).

And your carefully planned schedule for the day? That’s the one that gets blown to smithereens the moment you check your inbox and see something urgent&important has shown up.

Any of this sound familiar?

Entropy, a state of chaos in life, seems unavoidable.

Like George Braessens sang: “Le vent qui vient à travers la montagne me rendra fou.” (The wind blowing down the mountain will drive me crazy).

Put differently: Any influence borne long enough, will have an effect.

Water is soft, but a couple of billions of drops will eventually cut through granite rock.

So are we then relegated to seeing our lives gradually disintegrate into chaos, just like a planet has no choice but to eventually dissolve and a sun can’t do anything but explode at some point?

Nope, not at all. Humans are different.

You and I, we have agency. We can control things, move things around.

Groups of molecules from here to there (hello, car).

Ideas into the minds of other people (see what I’m doing here?)

And most importantly: we can move our own understanding, thought, and insight.

And that right there, the ability to influence the way our minds work, is the antidote to entropy in your life.

Having insight into – and some control over – how we handle our minds, is the secret to keeping things in order, and avoiding chaos and confusion.

In that sense, you’re an agent of order.

Question is, do you want to take control?

Or would you rather do what most people do, which is to turn a blind eye to the actual agency, power and control you *could* have…?

Cheers,

Martin

Outcomes, Decisions, Agency – and the Problem With Learning

Now that you’ve seen how the 9 pillars of Calibrate Reality Dojo go together, I need to point out something:

It’s all academic and fairly useless – UNLESS you put it to use.

Any theory, or framework, or system… whatever it is that you learn, it won’t do you much good unless you put it to use.

A fact of life which is conveniently (and unethically) exploited by many publishers of information products.

Always telling us that we need to read their book, watch their video, buy their course – because, so they try and convince us, without this extra knowledge, you’re not complete and don’t know enough and will unavoidably end up bankrupt, paralysed, living under a bridge, and generally suffer the quality of life that a medieval impoverished peasant used to enjoy.

But learning is for the mind, and the mind by itself doesn’t really do much.

It’s US doing things that causes change.

Which is why CRD comes with instructions on how to make the theory actually work for you, and it comes with two tools:

Decisions, and journaling.

Journaling in order to reach decisions – decisions that are designed to create a specific outcome for you, whether that’s in business, relationships, or life in general.

And, decisions that position you to take action. The bigger action, the better.

And how to journal in that particular way?

It’s real simple.

Pick an issue that you want to resolve or improve, and turn it into:

An outcome-aligned, agency-based question.

In other words: the question needs to ask how to get to a particular, specifically designed outcome.

And, the question needs to position you as the agent of change, the single responsible party for making something happen.

It’s remarkable how quickly writing your way through questions like that can get you clarity, can get you to a decision that has you take action.

Example: “Why isn’t this working better?” won’t help much.

But “What action can I take in order to make [thing X] work better?” will trigger a completely different process of discovery in your mind.

Or “What decision can I make about my focus, so that [thing X] will work better?”

Or “What can I eliminate so that [thing X] will work better?”

See the mechanism here?

You define an outcome. You ask yourself what YOU can do (or not do, in case of overwhelm or ineffective busyness) and then you let your subconscious speak up, make it’s way out through your pen.

Have you tried?

(Betcha you haven’t – and I’ll bet that if you do, you’ll be amazed at what’s hiding just below the surface of your mind…)

I routinely give coaching clients a writing prompt or exercise during sessions – and so far it has never failed to create clarity and lead to sensible decisions.

Want to try for yourself?

You now have the instructions to do it… and do it the right way.

Unless of course, you’d rather keep things as they are… That’s a decision too.

What decision will you make today?

Cheers,

Martin

Are You Using Your Genius? (CRD Pillar 9)

Before we dive in: this isn’t about *being* a genius – I wouldn’t want you to tune out because of insecurities or healthy humility.

What it’s about is a *zone of genius*, also known as your unique ability.

That thing you do in such a way, that there’s nobody in the world who could copy it.

(For deeper insight into Zone of Genius, read Gay Hendrix ‘The Big Leap’ – highly recommended). Short version: there’s 4 zones in which we operate: Incompetence, Competence, Excellence and Genius. Hendrix’s point is that the more we eliminate the first three and operate as much as possible in the genius zone, the better our lives, results, and business will be. And I concur.

For example, back when I was a fancy-pants bespoke tailor, I was rather skilled at making the clothes. I’d get comments like ‘magnificent’ and ‘you’re an artist’ and so on.

But I wasn’t a genius at making. In tailoring, my zone of genius was communicating with a client, and then designing a pattern and fit that they’d fall in love with.

Where it came to making, I was often excellent, but not genius. Didn’t have the experience to get it right every time, inside a normal timeframe.

Which meant that the more fancy and expensive a garment was, the bigger my loss on it was.

Had I outsourced the making process and focused only on comms and design, I probably wouldn’t have burned through the inheritance my good ole’ dad left me.

But it’s so easy to fall into the trap of trying to do it all.

Doing our own design, our own copywriting, creating our own ads and marketing strategy… whether we believe we can’t afford to outsource, or because we think our own skills are good enough…

We often end up doing many things, of which many get done either badly, or reasonably well, or good at best.

And that’s a problem, because the average of all the things we don’t do stellarly, is somewhere between mediocre and reasonably good.

Meaning, if we don’t carefully curate what we do and don’t do, the majority of our activities add up to average.

And you’ll agree that’s no way to run a life or a business.

This is why the final pillar of Calibrate Reality Dojo is Zone of Genius – and since elimination is one of the core tools of the system, today I invite you to spend some time thinking about how you spend your time.

Here’s a few instructions to help you:

1: List out all the activities you spend time on during the week

2: Mark each of the 1, 2 , 3 or 4, where 1 is stuff that’s your zone of genius, and 4 is incompetence.

3: Write them all down again, each in a separate column, marked 1 thru 4.

If you’re brave, step 4 is deciding to no longer to anything that’s in column 4. Just delete it, no matter how much you want to tell yourself that it has to be done.

Why? Because if you’re doing it in an incompetent manner, the results it gets you amount to little and you might as well stop wasting time on it.

Column 2 and 3, ask yourself:

Should I continue doing these?

Or should I outsource them?

Or, should I improve my skills, and bring them closer to my zone of genius?

As always, insight and clarity help you to make better decisions.

And to not make a decision on what to eliminate is also a decision.

Final thought: the way you operate in the different zones is what got you here.

If you want to get better results, something’s got to give – and moving more into your zone of genius, as much as you can, is the easiest way to start building better results.

Cheers,

Martin

CRD Pillar 8: Yes is Expensive

Any time you say yes to something, you’re saying no to everything else that’s not that thing.

Even if you believe in multitasking (which doesn’t exist – there’s only task-switching)

And saying yes is the source of many problems: depletion, lack of clarity, overwhelm, disappointing results, to name but a few.

Saying yes carelessly is the opposite of saying yes to what’s essential, and only that what’s essential is important enough to bring into your life.

Why would you want a life or a business overflowing with non-essential, mostly trivial stuff?

But we say yes to all kinds of things that actually deserve a hard no.

Say yes to hoarding, and your house clutters up.

Say yes to being active on all social media platforms, and your head is filled with other people’s conversations, and your own creativity suffers.

Say yes to spending time with people who nag, and your state suffers.

Say yes to a decision you didn’t think through, and you’re very unlikely to get the result that decision was supposed to bring you.

Say yes to all the ‘don’t miss this!’ crap that marketers send you, and you’ll have little time left for doing actual work.

Say yes to learning things you don’t need to know right now, and you won’t have time to actually execute on the things you already learned.

Here’s the truth:

Saying yes indiscriminately is the behaviour of those who believe in scarcity.

I don’t know enough, so I need to learn more. I don’t have enough followers so I need to be everywhere. I’m short on money so I need to take on that time-wasting, micromanaging, complaining client. I don’t have enough time, so I need to cram more todos into my day.

In each of those cases, saying yes means that something suffers, all because you think there’s not enough of something.

But if you use what you already know, you create momentum and results.

If you engage with more people on one or maybe to social media platforms, you’ll get more followers.

If you refuse that bad client, you’ll have time and energy to search for someone better and more fun.

If you keep your todo list realistic, you won’t be overwhelmed and you’ll perform better in the short time you have.

People who want the best for themselves and their clients, say no.

No to anything that’s not essential, not fulfilling, not based in true service.

Which is why saying no is pillar 8 in the CRD system.

And it’s why I have a ‘no-list’ that I review and update frequently. Anything that doesn’t make things better for myself and/or others goes on there, and I live by its mandate.

Brings a lot of space for doing work that matters.

So, question for you:

What have said yes to (consciously or not) that you should actually give a cold hard no to?

Cheers,

Martin

CRD Pillar 7: Steal Back Your Attention

Did you know, there’s a war being fought over you?

Specifically, over your attention?

It’s true. All those ‘free’ websites, with all their highly addicting endless scrolling and their clickbait headlines: they need you.

They want your data, they want your clicks, and above all: they want your attention.

Because for each second you spend there, some advertiser makes money and pays the platform.

Attention is a super valuable, and extraordinarily abundant, resource.

7 Billion people, who all pay attention to something, all day long, consciously or not.

Except attention is not abundant – not for you or for me.

For us as individuals, attention is a finite resource.

We can only pay attention to one thing at a time, and only for the finite number of hours we’re awake each day.

And to make matters worse, paying attention to something costs energy, which is another finite resources.

And to make matters worse, what you pay attention to has a big influence on how you feel, think, and decide, and therefore on what you create in life.

This is why Pillar 7 in Calibrate Reality Dojo is Attention.

You want to get deliberate and intentional about what gets your attention.

And you certainly want to avoid falling into the trap of spending your attention on the addiction economy that so many businesses exploit shamelessly.

Because they’re fighting to steal your attention, and they’re REALLY good at it.

They’ve learned how to addict people to a dopamine drip, and I’m telling you:

Steal your attention back.

Because unless you mindfully and deliberately control your attention, someone else controls it, and that can’t be a good thing.

Next up, a question:

What in your life, business, or relationships, should you pay more attention to?

Next next up: Might be a useful question to journal on…

Cheers,

Martin

CRD Pillar 5: Habits & Systems

On the surface, life as a human seems haphazard, erratic, and often chaotic.

In reality though, life is a superbly organised, utterly reliable mix of habits and systems.

The fact that it seems chaotic, that’s only because the entire system of living as a human is so enormous that we can only observe a tiny portion of it all.

The trick then, is to do two things:

First, start gaining insight in your own habits, because you’re a creature of habit, whether you want to be or not.

Bring your habitual actions and reactions into sight. Create insight.

Next, start getting deliberate about creating and/or modifying your habits.

Especially your habitual patterns of thought – the majority of which is an ongoing unconscious process.

How you think, and how you think about your thinking, determines what you will feel and do, and is the strongest causation of the results you get in your life and business.

And it’s not that hard to create that insight. Nor is it hard to change habits – once you get clarity and insight.

Especially if you make it a habit (ha) to journal in the way I recommend in the CRD system.

But then, inevitably, someone tells me that they don’t want to have habits, because it inhibits their freedom.

Which is silly because a) you can not not have habits, and b) the notion of wanting to be free is a prison, and c) thinking that you don’t want habits is in itself a habitual thought (head spinning yet?).

And as for the actual limitation that habits and systems cause?

Sure! Of course a habit and a system causes a limitation, but that’s only good.

Because you create habits and systems around the mundane, the rote, and the relatively inconsequential.

And when you do that, you buy yourself an enormous amount of cognitive energy to do what actually matters, i.e. operate in a resourceful and creative way. And that creativity is severely reduced when lacking habits cause your experience of life to be chaotic and erratic.

That’s why habits and systems are a core element of Calibrate Reality Dojo.

Your life might appear chaotic or unpredictable, but you’ll grow to perceive all kinds of structures and patterns, the more you actually start getting intentional and deliberate about the habits and systems you already have.

And again: the best habit to start with if you want to remove chaos and create clarity:

Create outcome-oriented, agency-based questions around issues in your life, and journal your way through answering them – as a habit, each day and each time you get stuck on something you can’t seem to resolve.

You’ll be amazed at how your (perception of) reality will change…

Cheers,

Martin

[CRD Pillar 6] A Nightclub, a Cathedral and a Trainstation Walk Into a Bar…

What do those three have in common?

If you say ‘nought’, you’re missing an important point.

Consider:

You walk into a cathedral, and instantly you’re beset by a feeling of almost palpable calm.

Walk into a trainstation, and you can’t avoid feeling the bustle and the hectic stress.

Walk into a nightclub, and you instantly feel ‘partaaaay!’.

Now you get what they have in common?

Contextual influence. Each of those places, and in fact every place you’ll ever be in, will influence you by nature of its aspects.

Every context and every ecology you’ll ever find, bears upon you.

Problem is, nearly all of our contexts and environments are way too subtle to notice – but they influence you just the same. Just not in the same dramatic way.

But throughout your life and your days, you are never not in a physical context, and the cumulative effect of your ecology can’t not have an influence.

This is why pillar 5 of the CRD system is context&ecology, because if you don’t protect and deliberately optimise your context, your calm, focus and wellbeing are constantly broken down.

That’s why in my house and my office, everything has a place and everything is (most all the time) in its place.

It’s why I pick music specifically for my different activities: funk for getting revved up or making art, mathematical music like jazz and Zappa solos and Bach for writing long stretches, soft music for winding down.

And, it’s why you couldn’t get me into a shopping mall if there was a pot of gold. (Ok, I’d go in but I’d be out right quick).

You might think that your context doesn’t affect you much, but that would only be because you’ve grown numb to the low quality of them.

I promise that if you start to look at, and optimise for well-being, everything you can about your context and ecology, you’ll start a phase
in life where you won’t ever want to let negative influences creep back in.

So, here’s a question:

What is the lowest hanging fruit – the most easy to optimise – aspects of the context you move through most frequently?

Cheers,

Martin

What Matters?

It’s easy to think that money matters, or productivity, or focus or relationships or marketing or sales.

And sure, they’re not irrelevant.

But they’re all outcomes. They’re the result of preconditions.

Productivity becomes easier when you optimise your surroundings and organise your projects and todo lists.

Money comes to you more easily if you get better at marketing and selling.

Relationships become better and more rewarding when you invest time in them.

Like I said: preconditions make for better outcomes.

And as you know, outcomes are the result of decisions (the ones you made, and those you didn’t make – where not making a decision is often also a decision. Ostrich politics, essentially).

And the one precondition that globally, holistically, makes every possible goal or outcome easier?

Clarity.

Especially clarity on what matters most.

Insight into what action will drive the most results.

But getting clarity is often the one thing we skip over.

We tend to just pick something that seems like a good idea, and then we get started.

Before long we notice that the results are taking too long, signups are too few, potential clients too often say no, and we get frustrated and start to procrastinate.

Something that could be remedied easily by first, before anything else, taking some time to think, contemplate and ideate.

Do that and you’ll find clarity, which then makes whatever action you take far more likely to get you the outcomes you want.

Oh sure, you already know this. I’m preaching to the choir.

Sure.

But, are you DOING it?

Do you actually set time aside, to find that clarity you need?

Sit yourself down, pen in hand, to journal through a question and thought process that gets you that clarity?

Because in my experience, spending just 20 minutes a day writing, every day, is the single best way to create insight and clarity into what matters most.

Have you tried?

And if you have, has it changed anything for you?

Cheers,

Martin

People, Watcha Doing? (CRD Minicourse, Pillar 4)

Yeah people, what are you, in fact, doing?

According to the George Clinton of Parliament/Funkadelic, the answer is:

“Standing on the verge of getting it on”, except that’s not the case for most of us (whatever your definition of ‘getting it on may be’).

Most people merely toil through life, never really getting ahead very much.

And one of the biggest reason for that stagnation?

People. Specifically, the people we hang out with.

And no, this isn’t one of those ‘you become the sum total of the 5 people you spend most time with’ articles.

Problem is, your five closest contacts do have an influence, but so does everybody else in your environment – even those that you’ve never met.

Why? Because science.

Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler studied the data from a very large health study, and found something extremely interesting:

If a friend of yours becomes obese, you yourself are 45% more likely to gain weight in the next 2 to 4 years.

That’s not too far-fetched, since norms rub off: if someone else starts behaving in a certain way, there’s a real chance this will change your norms and affect your behaviour.

But where it gets interesting, is when a friend of your friend becomes obese.

According to the data, in that case, you are still 20% more likely to gain weight.

And if a friend of a friend of a friend becomes obese?

Then you still have 10% more risk of gaining weight.

So yeah, you should only hang out with skinny people who hang out with skinny people. (that’s how science works, right?)

Seriously though: the ‘5 people’ notion is nice, but there’s a ton more social influence acting upon you.

And you better believe that all that combined influence is stronger than you (sorry, but it’s true).

Just consider that the single most important factor in whether or not an addict stays clean after rehab is… the people they hang out with.

No matter the resolve, or the quality of treatment, or the decades spent sober, or the cost of addiction (divorce, bankruptcy, health etc etc): when an addict goes back to their old circle, it’s nearly impossible to stay clean.

In my CRD framework, the second module deals with how you manage your energy and your inner state.

People (pillar 4 of the system) have a massive, direct, unavoidable influence on your state and your energy.

And your energy is finite, it gets used up daily, which directly determines your state of being.

So if you often feel low, or down, or unmotivated, or stressed, you might want to take a close look at the people in your life.

Very likely, you’ll want to stop dealing with certain individuals who affect you negatively, and start spending more time with folk who lift you up.

Bonus points if they are people who also prefer spending time with people who lift them up.

Me, I’m pretty deliberate where it comes to my friends and contacts. Does me a lot of good (and them, in return).

How about you? Anyone you’d like to let go of, or anyone you’d like to be around more…?

Let me know, I’m curious.

Cheers,

Martin

CRD Minicourse, Pillar 3: Done Any Critical Thinking Lately?

Oh I know, ‘mind’ is only part of the equation – what about feelings?

Are those not the true measure of what matters, isn’t it emotions that reveal truth?

Sure, yes. Emotions matter.

Especially if you consider evolutionary biology: the areas in the brain related to emotions and intuition are much bigger, and much much older than the frontal lobes where thinking happens.

Even so, thinking is highly underrated. Underpracticed too, in fact.

What most people call thinking, is nothing more than rehashing some thoughts that we’ve thought a hundred times before, slapping on a few emotions that say ‘yes, feels good’, and off we go, making yet another decision that doesn’t stand a chance of getting the outcome we want.

Real thinking on the other hand, is a matter of logic and reason.

Actual proper thinking asks ‘does this make sense’?

And that’s where most of us go wrong.

Because the moment we ask that question and the answer isn’t ‘yes’, emotions step in and say ‘But it feels good’ or ‘but I really want it’ or ‘the price is right’, or any of the many different excuses we throw in the mix.

The remedy is to actually stop and take some time to sort out your thoughts.

Separate thinking from desires and wishes and emotions.

Give a cold hard look at your thought process, and whether or not it actually makes sense or not.

Very often, you’ll find that you’re lying to yourself, or making excuses, or using strawman arguments to convince yourself.

None of that helps.

So instead, take pen and paper, identify the issue you want to solve or decision you want to consider, and turn it into a question.

Next: write. Answer that question for yourself. Keep writing and when you get stuck, create another question to prod you along, and keep going.

Before long, you’ll find that you’re actually making sense, on that paper of yours.

There’s a number of massive benefits here:

For one thing, taking time to think means you get clarity, which means you won’t be ‘stuck in mind’ nearly as much as you’re used to.

Which I believe is something we all long for.

And, if you first think and then decide (instead of the more common ‘looks good, let’s do it and think later’, you’ll actually be getting the outcomes you want.

So that rounds up section 1 of the CRD system.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at section 2: managing your state.

Stay tuned…

Cheers,

Martin

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