Focus On What Matters: A Life Lesson From an English Busker

It was summer in London – warm, clear skies and we had just finished an amazing day of sightseeing.  I was on a once-in-a-lifetime trip with some of my best friends.  It stayed bright until late in the day so even though it was already evening, the sky was lit up with color.

As we entered the tube station surrounded by other tourists jabbering in different languages, I heard a busker strumming Oasis’ Wonderwall on his  guitar down the hall and singing the first verse –

Today is gonna be the day
That they’re gonna throw it back to you
By now you should’ve somehow
Realized what you gotta do
I don’t believe that anybody
Feels the way I do about you now
– Oasis – Wonderwall from (What’s the Story) Morning Glory

We tossed in a few coins and kept walking.

After we passed and he finished the verse, he went silent for a few seconds.

We were almost to our platform when I heard him start strumming again.

I assumed he was going to continue the song – but he didn’t.

Instead, he began singing the opening verse again –

Today is gonna be the day
That they’re gonna throw it back to you…

A Christmas Story – A Tale of Craig’s List and Two Frying Pans


“My brother will love these.  It’s the first time he has had a home in four years.  Thank you so much.”

He smiled, gave me a big, musky, hug, and drove away.

I wasn’t sure if I had just done a good deed, or been hustled by a Craig’s List scam artist.

This story actually begins months before – so let’s go back to the beginning.

Note: This is a true story, with names changed by request.

Am I Saving Money – Or Just Wasting My Time?

Following the theme of time-management in previous posts about paying myself first with my time, I wanted to discuss something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately:

Are some of the things we do to save money…  really just wasting our time?

Here’s a simple example – something I did one time when I was also doing a time log.

For a couple months I wrote down how long it took to fill up my car at two different gas stations – and today, I want to show you my results.

The Best Personal Development Books Reading List

Her email closed with – “are there any books you like?  what should I read?”

“Easy question” I thought to myself, as my fingers flew to the keyboard and I rattled off 10 books, then 20.  I could have gone on, but I stopped.

I took a step back, and realized that my reader didn’t need yet another long lists of books – there are plenty of those online, and if you want an endless list of reading material, check out this list of all the self improvement products at Amazon (1,140 at last count).

No – she was asking for my help, to sort through it all. The more items I gave her, the less helpful I would be. A better approach would be to give her a list that provided the best value – a list of the best personal development books, and the shorter better. This was a much more difficult problem.

After a lot of thought, I cut it down from twenty to the six four three most effective personal development books I have read. While the Pareto principle may not always hold in other situation, in this case a handful of the books I’ve read are responsible for most of my achievements and personal development. These books are the ones most worth your time to build a solid foundation for overall personal development and personal productivity.

The Problem with The Pareto Principle

“The Pareto principle … states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.” (Pareto principle, Wikipedia)

If you’re trying to streamline your work-day and boost your income, you might have come across authors telling you “facts” like these:

  • 20% of your clients pay 80% of your income.
  • 20% of your output produces 80% of your income.
  • 20% of your time produces 80% of your income.

Whenever you see the Pareto principle cited, ask yourself “Is this true?” I’d argue that, in many cases, it just isn’t. In my freelance work, I’ve often not seen the Pareto principle upheld: I’ll give you the figures for each of these three claims in turn, so you can see how the clients/output/time to income ratio works for me.

Altruism – One of the Keys to Happiness

Pop Quiz: What do you believe will make you happy?  A new car?  A promotion, a raise, perhaps?

While we all have different notions about what defines success and happiness, some common beliefs permeate our culture. One such belief is the ideal of the American Dream, the idea that anyone in the United States can achieve their goals, and material prosperity.

Society promotes the American Dream as an ideal to be aspired to – the type of life that we want to live, and the type of life we wish for our children.

Let’s take a step back and ask:  Will such a life, of achieving ones goals and material prosperity, ultimately make us happy?  And if not, what then are the keys the happiness?  Read on as we explore this question.