Thursday, July 29, 2010

Why Intelligent People Fail

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Content from Sternberg, R. (1994). In search of the human mind. New York: Harcourt Brace. 1. Lack of motivation. A talent is irrelevant if a person is not motivated to use it. Motivation may be external (for example, social approval) or internal (satisfaction from a job well-done, for instance). External sources tend to be transient, while internal sources tend to produce more consistent performance. 2. Lack of impulse control. Habitual impulsiveness gets in the way of optimal performance. Some people do not bring their full intellectual resources to bear on a problem but go with the first solution that pops into their heads. 3. Lack of perserverance and perseveration. Some people give up too easily, while others are unable to stop even when the quest will clearly be fruitless. 4. Using the wrong abilities. People may not be using the right abilities for the tasks in which they are engaged. 5. Inability to translate thought into action. Some people seem buried in thought. They have good ideas but rarely seem able to do anything about them. 6. Lack of product orientation. Some people seem more concerned about the process than the result of activity. 7. Inability to complete tasks. For some people nothing ever draws to a close. Perhaps it’s fear of what they would do next or fear of becoming hopelessly enmeshed in detail. 8. Failure to initiate. Still others are unwilling or unable to initiate a project. It may be indecision or fear of commitment. 9. Fear of failure. People may not reach peak performance because they avoid the really important challenges in life. 10. Procrastination. Some people are unable to act without pressure. They may also look for little things to do in order to put off the big ones. 11. Misattribution of blame. Some people always blame themselves for even the slightest mishap. Some always blame others. 12. Excessive self-pity. Some people spend more time feeling sorry for themselves than expending the effort necessary to overcome the problem. 13. Excessive dependency. Some people expect others to do for them what they ought to be doing themselves. 14. Wallowing in personal difficulties. Some people let their personal difficulties interfere grossly with their work. During the course of life, one can expect some real joys and some real sorrows. Maintaining a proper perspective is often difficult. 15. Distractibility and lack of concentration. Even some very intelligent people have very short attention spans. 16. Spreading oneself too think or too thick. Undertaking too many activities may result in none being completed on time. Undertaking too few can also result in missed opportunities and reduced levels of accomplishment. 17. Inability to delay gratification. Some people reward themselves and are rewarded by others for finishing small tasks, while avoiding bigger tasks that would earn them larger rewards. 18. Inability to see the forest for the trees. Some people become obsessed with details and are either unwilling or unable to see or deal with the larger picture in the projects they undertake. 19. Lack of balance between critical, analytical thinking and creative, synthetic thinking. It is important for people to learn what kind of thinking is expected of them in each situation. 20. Too little or too much self-confidence. Lack of self-confidence can gnaw away at a person’s ability to get things done and become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Conversely, individuals with too much self-confidence may not know when to admit they are wrong or in need of self-improvement. PS: I found this article interesting... And you?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

St.Ilia's Day

On July 20, Bulgarian Orthodox Church celebrates St. Ilia Day. According to the Christian religion St. Ilia is a Judaic prophet, a follower of Jehovah. In the Old Testament St. Ilia is known as an ascetic wanderer. In Bulgaria he is honored as sky patron. Ilinden is celebrated to prevent hail and thunderstorms. Whenever St. Ilia gets angry he either locks the rains into his cave or causes hailstorms. It is believed that St. Ilia crosses the sky in a golden chariot trying to kill the dragon that feeds on the wheat. When he shoots the dragon with arrows, on the sky appear thunder and lightening. St. Ilia's Day is celebrated by leather workers, fur dressers, tile makers and bakers. It is also a name day for everyone called Ilia, Ilian or Iliana.

ps: I did not write this blog entry, I found it in the webcashe of a non-exising page, so I don't even know who to thank about it, but I'm sharing it.

down memory lane with the roar of a military airplane

Hot summer day, middle of July... In the outskirts of Utrecht, my office has no air-conditioning, so the open window and door provide the life maintaining air draft in the near 30 deg C temperatures... I'm working quitely, and the humming of the cars on the nearby highway is substituting for the sound of the crickets I used to listen to during the summers back in Bulgaria...many years ago... And then, out of the blue, the roaring sound of a military airplane! Splitting the air in two and shattering the sky in pieces... Not so usual to hear these days! I feel a tasty adrenalin rush! I don't know where the plane came from and went to, but by the sound of surely can't be too far, and it wasn't too high...the hair on my skin rises...for no other reason, but because this sound took me instantly down memory lane...and brought back sweet memories. Having grown up in a communist time Bulgaria, airforce was always alert and flying regularly in preparation for who knows what, or just to pretend we are ready to fight. The village I lived in was near by two military bases, and it was part of the summer fun with my Dad to listen to and watch the overflying MIGs or TUs airplanes and guess which way they are going, sometimes we'd see them, sometimes we would only hear the roar above the clouds, but we knew what the direction is, we also knew if they just took off of have been circling around. Ocasionally we would see formations of two or three planes, and being oblivious to the potential damaging power they had I would only see beauty in it. How easy it was to be a child...

Friday, July 09, 2010

Ashtanga Yoga

The first time I heard of Yoga was back in school when I was a 12 years old teenager, frustrated with not being able to perform a split in my Physical Education class. My Dad told me that Yoga practitioners are the most flexible people, so perhaps I can learn from them. Luckily, my uncle had a book on Yoga, so I dived in it , but all I found was photos of what seemed to be impossible postures, description of breathing techniques which I failed at, and cleansing exercises. It was not too exciting at first, but I tried some simpler postures and with time I discovered that I was gaining flexibility, to the point that I could do a right split after some serious warm up. Success!
Back then I didn’t care that Yoga means ‘to unite’ and that just the stretching is not the real thing. What’s more, I was probably not even doing the postures quite properly, but nevertheless I kept practicing through the years and I’ve noticed that after a Yoga practice I feel calmer.
Years later, having just moved to the States, stress level in my life was getting unbearable. I tried some meditation techniques I was taught , but it was hard to apply them – my brain was like a busy beehive. So I thought of trying yoga, but this time in a more consistent manner. Every Saturday morning, Sunday evening, and once during the week, I would go to various Yoga centrrs in Tucson, Arizona, and that is how I found Ashtanga Yoga.
It was just what I needed – series of strength and stamina demanding postures, a lot of flexing and balancing, synchronized breathing, and as a result - a light and strong body, and a calm mind. In only a couple of months I had (at last!) discovered the true meaning of Yoga – to unite the body and the mind, and to put them in harmonious peace. It felt so uplifting! Daily life became more positive and energetic, yet more relaxed.
Years came and went, yoga being part of them, sometimes more regularly practiced, sometimes not so. I lived in many cities, but I never found as good teachers as the ones I had in Arizona (with exception to one, but I had to relocate). Also I could not find the Ashtanga style I was looking for.
This Monday I went to my first yoga class in Utrecht – Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga!
Bingo! Perfect click with the place, with the teacher, with the style, with the class pace! My old Yoga skills kicked in after just a couple of Sun Salutations! I felt so hungry for more that I went again on Tuesday! I realized that while going through my daily ToDo lists, going to work, settling in my new place, paying the bills, etc. etc …some of the balance between mind and body was lost, there was a bit of a disconnect. And just a couple of classes brought back the feeling of being United. You go into a posture with an open mind and determination to do it at the best you can, you breath in, the whole world disappears, you are into the posture, you let go off everything on your mind, and you feel the balance, the posture become easier, you enjoy it, you exhale…sublime!

Ashtanga teacher Anne Nuotio says: “It is close to an experience of beauty. As you balance you are not thinking, the feeling is so totalizing. It’s like experiencing a beautiful sight in nature. Those are the rare moments in yoga when you are in ecstasy. I don’t know how it looks, but feels divine.”

Not all asanas come always easy to me – then the teacher would have to come and straighten me out. And often, only a slight alignment, just a millimeter in the right direction and ‘click’ , it gets much easier to hold the pose.
I wonder … is it the same in life … is it a minute alignment that could make everything easier and so much more enjoyable…with the right teacher…? And while I’m waiting for the answer of this and many other questions…I will diligently practice Ashtanga.


Tuesday, July 06, 2010

the aftermath of a 4th of July

photo: Stephanie McCabe via Unsplash

I have not been American Citizen for long, yet the 4th of July is a very special day for me, captivating the spirit of independence, the uniting of a nation, and the warm friendliness the festivities come with. Friends and families gather to fire a BBQ and have some good time, crowds fill the stadiums for rock concerts including inevitably a 'The Star-Spangled Banner' performance, fireworks light the evening sky for a glorious ending of Independence Day. I had a very different 4th of July this year...partly because I chose so, and partly because it happened so...and like always, life's surprises push my mind to wander and discover... I live in the Netherlands now, 3 months already. I like it a lot! Well, I like it so far... ;) Moving to a new country engages all these forgotten survival skills, that go lethargic after you've lived long enough in the same place. It forces you to look at life from a new perspective, to open up for new experiences. That makes me feel young in spirit, alive! I was lucky to meet quite a lot of people in the very first weeks, and make a few good friends right away. So, when 4th of July approached it was a no-brainer that a party was in order! Let the fun begin! I've always been social and when flamboyant mood strikes me, a party for 20 or more is not unusual, I like to bring people together, I like to mix various personalities, with the one goal - let's have a good time and enjoy life! Space has never been a problem, spending money on drinks and food either, get the idea. Very surprisingly, this year I felt strongly that a big party is not going to work well... Something had changed. Somehow a shift has happened, and for the first time I didn't need to invite many, I didn't crave the crowd. There was the urge to change the scale of events. I wanted only the people I care about, only the people I have meaningful relationships with. I realized I was exhausted from spreading thin in terms of people. It's funny! As a child I always wanted to have many many friends...and now I do, but I don't have the time for them...Life always finds a way to frustrate us  The party was small - six people in total. But not short of anything - mai-tai drinks with real orchid flowers, chicken, steak and fish on the BBQ, corn and potatoes, fresh guacamole and chips, plenty of wine, music, dancing, singing ... we even had a Birthday Boy, what else could you ask for! I thought of Terry Pratchet's book 'The Carpet people' - 'All you need to be happy is soft toilet paper, warm soup, and a few kind words'. Well...I think we had it all. I loved the simplicity of the evening, the sincerity and the intimacy. It felt like never before, and it made me feel complete...

Sunday, July 04, 2010

The Netherlands:Brazil 2:0

Being an expat during a World Cup Championship is tricky. Which country to cheer for, what if your favorite team is playing the team of your friends, but it is a fun time nevertheless. I can't tell you what moves me most - is it that something as simple as a game with a ball is uniting nations? is it to see the glowing happy faces of the winning team? is it the ocasional player breaking in tears after a loss? It is a strongly emotional time - determinatin to win, years of hard work on the line, pride, determination, loyalty...Football is like no other sport! Watching the World Cup in the Netherlands is an experience like never I seen before. Streets all in orange, and the national flag, everybody wearing orange on a game day...the atmosphere is fantastic! I watched Netherlands wining over Slovakia in a pub with a colleague. The place was packed, and with one common want in mind, it was great to be part of the crowd. Screams, shouts, cheers, the vibe was unbelievable! I thought I had seen it - the Dutch way of enjoing a game! But then a week later, another great game and the Netherlands won over Brazil! The the oranje madness hit the city! It was like Queen's day is happening orange sea was flooding the center of Utrecht and everyone was so excited, so deliriously happy, drunk from the pleasure of winning! And I was in the middle of it...unbelievably easy to forget about all else, and celebrate, and be happy to be in the right place at the right time! Go Holland!!!

Friday, July 02, 2010


In the Netherlands 'Cabaret' is something that we in the States would call a stand-up comedy show, plus some more music. But the devil is in the details, so let's move on past the definition... :)
After only three months of exposure to Dutch language and culture, I bravely went to my first cabaret show - we watched the Olaf and Jasper's Meuk . With the help of a couple of beers, and Bart translating a couple of words for me (oplossing
= solution, being the key one!), I managed to grasp about half of the jokes, and laughed out loud. Not bad! Despite the akwardness of being the only one at times that has no idea what has been said, and why the audience is explauding with laughter, I had a lot of fun!
It turned out that after 12 years, this was one of Olaf and Jasper's last shows. Jammer! By the time I speak Dutch they will be off the waggon...oh, well!
It was moving to see someone from the crowd offering presents to the cabaret-performers at the end of the show. They also received (from what I understood!) life-long pass to come and have a drink in this perticular Utrecht's venue - the Schiller Theater 'Place Royale'. Althought small in size, the Schiller Theater is a lovely place. Dating back to 1906, the building has always been a stage for performing arts.

Well, for those of you that speak Dutch, here is something from Olaf and Jasper!
And for those you don't - you would have to trust me - it WAS fun!
Laghing out loud is one of my most favorite things to do :)