Pebbles of Perception: How a Few Good Choices Make All the Difference

Pebbles of Perception: How a Few Good Choices Make All the Difference is a book by Laurence Endersen. The book is about the choices we make in our lives and how we make them. It provides many suggestions to lay the foundation that good choices come from good character and a few good choices make all the difference.

🚀 The Book in 3 Sentences

  1. The premise of this book is about how a few good choices make all the difference. Author Laurence Endersen was heavily influenced by the work of Poor Charlie’s Almanack and other authors.
  2. The structure of the book is built around three core themes:
    1. Curiosity
    2. building Character
    3. making better decisions
  3. Curiosity and character provide the foundation for good choices. One has to be curious, build character and make better choices.

✍️ My Top 3 Quotes

  • Always be curious.
  • To be a true friend is the greatest gift you can give and receive.
  • The best things in life are not things. They are experiences.

📒 Summary + Notes

The Why

Is there a better question?

we all came into this world with abundant curiosity. As we grow up and get a job, most of us will lose that curiosity once we get settled with some job.

Adopt the motto ABC: Always Be Curious. Good questions trump smart answers. When we ask open questions the quality of our conversation improves. Stay curious. Improve the quality of questions before getting to work on answers. Use more questions to see beyond the obvious answers. Be interested.

Lifelong Learning

Most of us will stop learning as soon as we finish our education and start earning. Once we start earning, the incentive to keep learning is not always obvious to us since our life is navigating pretty well. we call them flat-line learners.

Why doesn’t everyone become a lifelong learner instead? it may boil down to choices and other priorities. “I don’t have time for continuous learning as I am busy with real-life”. But this excuse Why not make a conscious decision to learn something new every day? No matter how small the daily learning, it will be significant when compounded over a lifetime. Choosing lifelong learning is one of the few good choices that can make a big difference in our lives. How do you become a lifelong learner?

  1. Directly through your own experiences
  2. Indirectly through learning from others experiences

While both learnings have their place, there isn’t enough time to learn everything through direct experience. Indeed, this is neither practical nor always desirable, especially when it comes to mistakes. It’s far better to learn from the mistakes of others. Whether it is through reading, listening, or watching others in action, there are concrete ways to make our indirect learning more effective.

Reading is the fountain of indirect learning. We can find ample time for reading if we are sufficiently motivated to learn.

Choose lifelong learning over flat-line learning. Read regularly. Learn how to read for understanding. Know how to test whether you really understand something by demonstrating that you could teach it in simple terms with a clear analogy.

Listening

Communication comprises both transmitting and receiving. We receive messages through our senses like hearing, seeing, feeling, and perceiving. The information passes through our eyes, ears, and other sense organs before being processed by our brain. We receive information through the “lenses” we are wearing.

There are two types of communication lens; Lecturing lens Learning lens.

What is your default lens? Are you a good talker or a listener? Are you focused on yourself or on the other person? If you are more likely to talk, then you are wearing the lecturing lens. Others are better listeners and tend to communicate through a learning lens.

Choose a learning lens over a lecturing lens since there can be no real understanding without listening.

CHARACTER (The Who)

Start by Considering the End and the Opposite

we need to look forward in order to build a foundation of a good character. we need to start by considering the end. We need to question why are we here and what do we hope to achieve? Life is all about personal fulfilments. Instead of asking ourselves what makes a fulfilling life? What does it look like? What would represent a great life? Consider the opposite. What might an unfulfilled life look like? what would a truly wasted life look like? This approach of turning questions by considering the opposite is called Inversion. An inversion is a wonderful tool. To understand the nature of a life well-lived, it is helpful first to consider the nature of a life that has been wasted.

While you are tackling any decision, you can get more clear when you invert. For example, try the following thought process:

  1. What am I hoping to achieve? Look beyond the first level: what am I really looking to achieve?
  2. what does achievement look like to me?
  3. what actions would ensure that I failed?
  4. what actions do I need to take to get where I want to go?

Fear

Fear is deeply rooted in the human condition. One of the supposedly unique gifts of being human, our ability to contemplate how we will be in the future, may also be our greatest source of anguish.

Fact-Based Fear and Thought-Based Fear
Fact-based fear occurs when you face a present and immediate danger. You are walking home alone late at night when a menacing stranger threatens you with a knife.

Then we have thought-based fear, which is another matter entirely. Here we are either worrying about the past or we are fearful for the future. It could be over something we did or didn’t do. It could be over something that we are afraid might happen to us, or that might not happen to us.

Fear of the future is also both thought-based and time-based. Everyone is afraid of something or another. The future is uncertain, and for many this is troubling.

Loss is a natural part of life. Irrespective of what happens, we always have the capacity to choose our reaction.

We should know that:

-loss is natural and to be expected;
-the consequences of loss will not be as bad as we imagine, especially if we are living full and varied lives; and
-we never lose our capacity to learn, our capacity to love, and, above all, our capacity to choose.

Know Yourself, Be Yourself

Why should we strive to know ourselves?

Knowing ourselves gives context and clarity to the choices we make. Life is a series of choices; some are automatic (pulling your hand away from a hot object), others are conscious (choosing a meal at a restaurant). Many more are subconscious, like judgment. Our quality of life is heavily influenced by the quality of our choices. Knowing ourselves allows for more productive choices. It also helps with determination and resilience.

How do we get to know ourselves? Examining and reflecting on our feelings is one way. When someone makes us angry, sad, annoyed, bitter, jealous, or joyful – our feelings are always about us rather than about the other person. Examined feelings are a treasure trove of personal understanding.

Be Yourself

It is hard to be yourself if you don’t know yourself, so knowing yourself is the first step. The second step is to accept yourself. Strive to be yourself. In doing so, you might bear the following in mind: – You are a unique being; cherish your individuality. – No one is watching and monitoring you, at least to the degree that you might think. – Not everyone will like you, and that’s fine.

Everyone is unique for good reason. Embrace your uniqueness. Nothing in this world is perfect, and at the same time, everything is.

Adversity

How can we cope with adversity and perhaps even grow through adversity? I think there are three things that can help:              

Reflection on the nature of adversity, with a view to understanding;              
Recognition of when we personally face adversity, with a view to acceptance; and              
Re-writing our life story to account for the experience of adversity, with a view to personal growth.

The purpose of reflecting on adversity is to understand that it is inevitable, indiscriminate, and arbitrary. Through recognition, our goal is to truly face adversity when we come in contact with it, and not avoid it. In re-writing, we are tasked with updating our life story to incorporate the adversarial event. How we see ourselves and how we feel about ourselves are tightly bound with the life story we tell ourselves.

Be a True Friend

Friendship is the thread that binds the fabric of humanity.

Cultivating friendships is an extremely important life pursuit. The benefits of strong friendship networks to health, happiness, and longevity are well recognized. Choose your friends wisely as they can contribute greatly to who you become. I recall my grandmother saying, “Show me your friends and I’ll tell you who you are.”

Friends are WARM.  

Welcoming – When we see our friends we instinctively make them feel welcome with a smile and a warm greeting. Friends don’t need to make appointments. Indeed we can be even more welcoming of a surprise visit.  

Authentic – Friends are free to be themselves. And friends allow us to be ourselves.  

Reliable – Friendship requires effort. We may not always be in the mood to spend time with our friends or to help them, but we do it anyway. Friends are reliably there for each other.

Mutually Respectful – There is no friendship without mutual respect. In a balanced relationship, each friend respects the other for who they are.

To be a true friend is the greatest gift you can give and receive.

CHOICE (The What)

Choose a Career

Choosing a career that can give us the best opportunity for both monetary and non-monetary rewards. Work you Enjoy Do what you love and love what you do. If you work at what you enjoy, it won’t feel like work.

Too often people do what their parents want them to do, what their friends encourage them to do, or indeed what they feel they should do, given their life influences or financial situation. It is a tragedy to see people wasting their potential and passion on what others think is “good”. Finding a career that you enjoy is one of the most valuable things you can do in life. Imagine getting paid to do what you really enjoy doing anyway?

Working at something that we enjoy should be a fundamental objective for all of us.

Finding what you enjoy may require some experimentation. So experiment. What you enjoy may change over time. Don’t fear change, befriend it, for change is inevitable. If your work or career is not right for you, then change represents the only way to bring you closer to what you truly enjoy. Let the long-term prize of enjoyable work give you the strength to handle the short-term discomfort of change.

There are two types of monetary reward systems. Reward System A is what could be categorized as “power by the hour” where monetary rewards are broadly proportional to the number of hours we put in. Think of employees who get paid a particular rate per hour. I think of Reward System A as representing footwork, as the reward is largely proportional to the number of hours worked.

By contrast, Reward System B is categorized by what I call “share of value” or headwork. In this category financial rewards are in some way proportional to the value created. Think of business owners, entertainers, commission-based salespeople, entrepreneurs, and those careers that offer profit participation (e.g., through bonus pools or share options). You may know people who were granted shares in their company and now those shares are quite valuable. These people may have a total compensation significantly greater than yours even though they work no harder than you.

Harnessing the power of sharing in value can be substantially more financially rewarding when compared to areas where wages are capped – for the same effort.

Work With People whom You Trust and Respect We need to do our homework on the people with whom we choose to work. If we find people whom we trust and respect, we should move heaven and earth to get on board with them, especially if we can find a good mentor.

The Ubiquity of Energy

Nothing happens without energy. Everything that is produced requires the application of energy. The same goes for us as individuals. As living beings, we consume and continuously convert energy. How do we apply the energy we consume? How should we apply our energy?

Focus

Author Gary Keller reminds us that: “Until my ONE thing is done, everything else is a distraction”. Focus is simply another example of the controlled application of energy. It is very powerful. When there is something important to do, eliminate all other distractions and do it. Beyond focus, how can we make more productive use of personal energy?

To answer this we can think about energy in three ascending levels. The base level of energy application is where we are reactive. Something happens and we react. At this level we sit back and observe what the world throws at us, habitually or subconsciously reacting with no motivation other than to react. In this mode, our energy use is reactive or sometimes defensive. A more productive, higher energy level is when we become proactive.

We choose to do something on our initiative – starting new conversations for example, or coming up with better questions. Virtually all progress depends upon proactivity. But we can do even better and go one step further. Our most productive state is when we are enthusiastic. This combines being proactive with a real sense of purpose. Enthusiasm is infectious in a good way.

We find enthusiasm at the intersection of energy and purpose.

Experiences

The best things in life are not things. They are experiences.

Experiences are the essence of enjoyment or sometimes pain, depending on the situation. They are always at the root of wisdom. If you want to understand something, experience it. For many people, the most memorable experiences are ones that changed them in some way. They helped them grow.

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