Out of the hospital but not the woods
This is some journey I’ve started, which I detail with my previous posts on my first visit to an emergency room and my surgery and subsequent discharge from the hospital. I didn’t choose to have pancreatitis, and yet at the same time I did. The instigating factors like diet, excess weight, not getting sufficient and regular exercise, not keeping myself sufficiently hydrated — I made choices over the years with all of these.
Well, pain has a way of changing your perspective on things. I’ve become serious about those instigating factors I just named in a way I never was before. I thought I was serious before, but the truth is I wasn’t. I never attacked those issues with the same type of determined action as I have the past several days.
I started by doing some research on pancreatitis and the diet that promotes recovery. I was right to suspect that the advice I received to eat smaller meals of non-fatty foods wasn’t quite complete. Apparently this is not something that resolves itself in a day or two. It often takes months and sometimes years for the pancreas to heal completely. There is no magic drug or procedure to heal the pancreas. The pancreas must heal itself.
To help the pancreas do that, I have to reduce the demand for the normal function of the pancreas as much as possible. The pancreas provides two things for the body. First, the pancreas provides digestive enzymes to aid digestion. When the stomach can’t handle the job of digestion, which it typically can’t when high amounts of fat are present, the pancreas steps in to lend a hand by providing digestive enzymes. The passage of those enzymes through an inflamed pancreas causes pain, so I can avoid pain by avoiding high-fat foods.
This is also the reason for eating smaller meals. Too much food at once means the stomach can’t handle the job, and so the pancreas steps up to help. The pancreas can heal itself, but it must be left alone to do so.
In addition to digestive enzymes, the pancreas provides insulin, so anything that will spike blood sugar is out. I’ve actually weened myself off a lot of sweets over the years, so this is not much of a problem for me (though I’m not certain how I will celebrate my upcoming birthday, but that’s a different story). My bigger problem is the high-fat foods. My absolute favorite food to eat is sausage biscuits and gravy. I could eat that all day every day and not get tired of it. And then there’s all the things you can do with cheese. I absolutely love cheese.
But now, there’s no more pizza, no more lasagna, no more cheddar sausages, no more bacon cheeseburgers — and I just said bacon. There’s so much you can do with bacon, including eating it by itself. Now that’s all out. I’m reminded of something my grandfather once said. He said, “The only thing better than butter is more butter.” I agree completely, but I also accept the need to refrain while I’m in recovery. And I don’t know how long it will take.
It’s not all bad, though. When I look at my new low-fat, low-sugar diet, what I see is roughly 80% of the diet I’ve been moving myself towards before pancreatitis took center stage. I’ve been moving in slow increments mostly because I didn’t want to give up the foods that now are completely off limits because now my body will not tolerate incrementalism. Now I have to be all the way there and nowhere else. That wouldn’t be agreeable if I had to be this way forever. But I won’t be, or at least that is my intention. Yes, this recovery period will be slow and long. But it will also end. And when it does, I will keep the diet I’ve developed because of it and slowly add an occasional delight, like biscuits and gravy or pizza or a bacon cheeseburger or butter on homemade white bread.
But for now, the time is to hunker down and devote myself to healing. And it’s more than my pancreas that needs a long recovery to heal. My pulmonary embolism will not heal any time soon. That’s going to take months of blood thinners and more movement every day during those months to increase circulation in my blood vessels.
And who knows what else may be lurking inside of me? This past week I’ve been tracking my weight and noticed I’ve been losing 1-3 pounds a day. In fact, I’ve lost around 25 pounds since my first visit to the ER a little more than two weeks ago. At present, I’m not greatly concerned about the weight loss because I’ve been trying to lose weight for a long time, and now it’s going. Granted this isn’t my preferred method of weight loss, but it’s going all the same, and I’ve got plenty left in store for this to continue over the next couple of weeks. That said, a part of me does wonder whether this weight loss is a leading indicator of some other health issue that I’ll need to add to the mix.
We will have to wait and see. One thing I have quickly learned from pancreatitis is the need to take one day at a time. One moment you could feel you’re doing fine, as I did earlier this week, and then the next you have another pain episode followed by fasting for a day or two and then starting over again on a liquid diet. It’s hard to see what or even if anything is coming over the horizon. So you have to focus on what you can do with what is right in front of you today and trust that all will somehow work out for the best. And so I follow the advice of Rocky Balboa at the end of Rocky III — “Just keep punching.”
Out and yet not
I cannot begin to tell you how happy I am to be out of the hospital. On the one hand, I’m very grateful for the care I received, but on the other hand, it started to feel more and more like a prison, especially after the surgery.
The surgery itself went well, or so I am told. I don’t remember a thing about it. And yes, there was just one surgery, not two, as originally planned. Monday morning I’m half starved with diarrhea getting prepped to go, and the surgeon decided to have another MRI scan. Apparently, he had a second look at the first image and thought the stone might have passed through me over the weekend. So I had a second MRI and kept starving in case it showed the stone was still there.
While I waited for the results, I couldn’t help but notice something humorous. I’ve been having different nurses rotate through each day in taking care of me, but I noticed that today, which is Halloween, one of my nurses is named Chucky! You can’t make this stuff up! I had to take a picture because I knew that otherwise no one would believe me.
By evening, the MRI results came back negative, which meant I was then rushed the second surgery on the following day. Seeing as I how I had just been starved through diarrhea to prep me for a surgery that was not going to happen, I wanted to wait a day to give my body a chance to recover. But the surgeon refused to wait. He wanted in the very next day. I had just a small bowl of broth that night and then not allowed anything as part of my surgery prep.
Personally, I’m glad I don’t remember anything about the procedure itself. I remember being placed on the surgery table surrounded by several individuals who each then began prepping individual parts of the body for the procedure. The anesthesiologist really did his job well, because I lost consciousness while they were prepping me and did not regain it until sometime after I had been placed in the outpatient area.
As I awoke, I noticed a feeling of cleanliness in my abdomen, a really good feeling from that part of my body that I had not felt in many years. Then the anesthesia wore off completely, and I felt pain from the incisions. The doctor had made four small incisions just large enough to insert his tools and remove the gallbladder without cutting me wide open. And they hurt like the dickens.
The staff didn’t know what to do with me being in so much pain that they just put me to bed to let me sleep it off. But there were two problems with that approach. First, as I would discover later, getting up and moving around as much as possible after the surgery helps keep the area from getting stiff. And was I ever super stiff the next morning! Second, I was already malnourished not having eaten anything since the night before, and that was just a small bowl of broth, the only thing I had to eat that entire day. How anyone can expect the body to recover without proper nutrition is beyond me. But hey, I never went to med school, so what do I know?
I soon learned that wasn’t to be my only challenge. The incisions in my abdomen made it painful for me to move my diaphragm, so in order to breathe without pain, I had to focus on using my chest for each breath. The result was a very sleepless night. I could close me eyes and try to rest, but even two shots of morphine (oh, do I love morphine!) Wasn’t enough to take all the pain away. I did manage to snooze some, but I was never really out.
The doctor who came to follow up with me the next morning became very angry when he learned about my condition. I was supposed to have been moving around after surgery not to mention fed. If that were the extent of my problems, I would have been a much happier man, not least of which because I would have been discharged that day.
But such was not to be. I found myself with severe breathing problems. Simply standing up out of a chair or taking a few steps would leave me out of breath as though I had just run a mile. I know I have exercised-induced asthma for years, but this was something else entirely. And the doctor treating me had no answers. By later that evening, there still weren’t any. While the doctor and nurses assembled to discuss how to proceed, my dinner was sat in front of me out of reach across from the bed where I was confined. Here I was hungry after my ordeal waiting on the staff to figure things out.
Eventually the doctor came in with no answers and began interrogating me. She seemed to think my difficulty breathing was related to COVID vaccines. I had been tested twice for COVID while in the hospital, and neither test came out positive, so what would that have to do with any of this? Hungered, I became more irritable as the doctor’s dead-end conversation with me continued. At length, she suggested I take a Xanax, which only irritated me even more.
After the doctor left, I had to admit to myself I really was anxious. It was all understandable. I just wanted to know what was happening to me and no one had answers. Plus I was hungry. So my first step in calming down was to eat my dinner, which one of the nurses was kind enough to warm back up for me. Then I played some relaxing music on my phone, meditated for a while, and then did some writing in my journal. A nurse came in to take my vitals and administer the Xanax, but I stared her down and intimidated her into keeping that away from me. My drug-free approach was sufficient for me to calm me down.
The next day I began one test after another, and in the end the results were conclusive. I have deep vein thrombosis (DVT) from a blood clot in my left leg. At least a portion of that blood clot broke away and traveled to my lungs, covering both of them with a pulmonary embolism (PE). Apparently pancreatitis wasn’t enough for me. My theory is that the stress of the events before, during, and after surgery dislodged the blood clot in my leg to travel up to my lungs. The doctor of course takes a different view, one that absolves the hospital of any wrongdoing.
Whatever the mechanism, the treatment plan is the same. I’ll be on blood thinners for 3-6 months for the PE, which totally freaks me out considering I could die from a simple cut or a knock to the head. I also need more movement, since spending so much time sitting in front of screens promoted the DVT to begin with. The idea is that over time with thinned blood and sufficient movement the clots will dissolve.
Treatment for the pancreatitis is different. All I was told is to eat smaller meals and avoid greasy food. That’s not a lot to go on, so I’ll be doing my own research to get more specifics. But it’s not like they ever gave me much to go on. Here’s another laugh. The morning of my last day in the hospital I finally got a menu. All my meals had been chosen for me previously. Only now when I am about to leave do I actually get to pick my meals. I selected some nice herb-crusted chicken and vegetables for lunch. Why I didn’t get to pick any of my other meals during my stay I’m not sure.
One thing is definitely for sure. As I followed the nurse out of the hospital and breathed clean air outside the building, I felt an immense freedom. But now the longer road of recovery can begin, and I started by driving myself home.
My first hospital stay
Life just hit me a hard one. A couple of days ago I began having an incredible abdominal pain like I had never before experienced. I wasn’t sure where it came from. It seemed to die down towards evening, so I thought that perhaps I could sleep it off.
I had no idea what I was thinking or dealing with. I awoke in the early morning with the pain just as strong as ever. It was a debilitating pain, but it was certainly more than a mere annoyance or irritant. I looked at the clock and wondered if I could stand it for another 3-4 hours until the clinic opened, because that would certainly cost less than the emergency room. But it didn’t take long for me to choose the emergency room. Accordingly, I got dressed and drove myself to the nearest hospital.
My first visit to the emergency room taught me, among other things, that no one working in the emergency room has any sense of emergency. Unless you’re bleeding profusely or crying out in agonizing pain, they’ll “give you a number” which they don’t tell you and then get to you when they get to you. I have to say, not ever witnessing anything like this for myself, I was a little taken aback.
The benefit of the early morning hour is that there weren’t that many others waiting to be seen, so it didn’t take long for a doctor to assess me. I did have to wait for blood work and a urine sample, but all the doctor needed after that was some answers to some very brief questions, which I happily answered. The resulting diagnosis was pancreatitis caused by gallstones. My gallbladder would need removal.
I spent the rest of yesterday in the ER being moved between two different rooms until I could get the admitted into the upstairs room I now occupy. I’m not sure how this is going to pan out. And I certainly never gave much thought to my pancreas before any of this came upon me. But apparently it’s quite the essential organ. The pancreas produces digestive enzymes to help with digestion in the stomach and intestines. It also produces insulin to help manage blood sugar levels. But if it becomes inflamed, that inflammation results in the abdominal pain I experienced earlier for the first time.
The leading cause of inflammation in the pancreas is excessive drinking. Alcohol causes a narrowing of the bile duct in the pancreas, which limits the amount of digestive enzymes that leave the pancreas at one time. Those that get held back end up eating the pancreas, leading to inflammation and pain. I’ve never had a drop of liquor in my life, so my pain, the doctor theorized, likely comes from gallstones. Gallstones blocking the bile duct can block the flow of digestive enzymes, which then leads to inflammation and pain.
Obviously the gallbladder needs removal. As if that isn’t enough, an MRI image taken yesterday appears to show a gallstone in the bile duct itself somewhere between the gallbladder and the pancreas. Thus, I will need two surgeries: the first to remove the gallstone, and the second to remove the gallbladder. The gallstone will be removed with a procedure called ERCP. A doctor will insert an endoscope down my throat, into my stomach, and from there travel up the bile duct to remove the gallstone. Then I can have the gallbladder removed.
Removing the gallbladder will be an important step toward preventing future pain, but for the present there isn’t a magic solution. The pancreas can heal itself, but it must be given time and space to do so. That means lowering the demand on the pancreas as much as possible. I’ve been on a liquid diet so far and uneasy with the antibiotic the doctor gave me to prep for surgery. It has nausea as a side effect, which the doctor says affects only 2% of people. I guess I’m part of that 2% because I’m super queasy inside.
I’m also uncertain about the future. But I intend to take everything one at a time and deal with each as best I can, working in the hope that all will be well in the end.
I think I’m in love
No, I’m not talking about that wonderful Eddie Money song (though it most certainly is playing my head right now). I’m talking about Crumbl Cookies! If you don’t know Crumbl Cookies, then you should really check them out. My sister, who I still contend makes the best cookies on the planet, introduced me to this very close runner-up in the cookie making world. I thought she was talking about a local place, meaning something local to her. But when I checked out their website, I saw that they are in almost every state across the country, including my own!
Each store offers chocolate chip cookies plus a rotation of other flavors that change with each week. All the store have the same offering each week, which is great for me to compare notes with my sister. And these are BIG cookies, about 4" or so in diameter. And they’re so good, which is why I feel fortunate NOT to live close to one. My first visit was a few months ago, and then a couple of days ago I made my second visit. All I can say is WOW. Actually, I have few more words than that.
Lemon Poppy Seed
I’m not one for lemon cookies, unless they come from Crumbl! Of course, their website (first picture) makes it look better than what it actually is. I didn’t see much of that lemon creme center in my cookie, but it still tasted outstanding!
This one was just heavenly, although there didn’t seem to be much frosting on top of the graham cracker cookie I got. The raspberry puree also slide off the cookie during the drive home. That’s a not a huge deal, but I have made a note for the future.
French Silk Pie
This cookie is aptly named. It truly is like eating a miniature French Silk pie. Of the three cookies I purchased, this one most closely matched what the website showed.
Now, let’s have one item clearly understood. I never eat an entire cookie all in one setting. They’re totally that good, but I don’t need all those extra calories, especially when they’re from sugar. So I usually cut off a quarter or sometimes less — just enough to give me a little taste of sweet goodness. Plus it makes the cookie last longer.
That said, I noticed something on the website that made me do a double take. The Lemon Poppy Seed cookie has only 120 cal? Raspberry Cheesecake 170 cal? French Silk Pie 150 cal? There’s no way! Looking further on the site I found this quote: “Calorie counts are per serving. Serving size varies based on product.” Hmmm . . . what might that mean?
I little more digging, and it all made sense. One serving is 1/4 cookie, at least for the three that I bought. That makes a lot more sense, and it redoubles my dedication to eat only a quarter of a cookie at a time. It’ll be some time before I go back, how much I couldn’t say. I’ll be checking out their website every week to get keyed on the new rotation for the week. Barring the appearance of something that looks so good I just have to get it, it’ll probably be towards the end of the year when I go back. Talk about de-railing a diet! As I said, I’m glad I don’t live close to Crumbl. But when I go, there’s no way I’m getting just one cookie. They’re just too good!
A major milestone on the road
If you’ve been keeping track wit my posts, you might think I’m ready to report I have found a new advisor. Yeah, I wish! But what I have to share is for me still a major accomplishment.
Like many people, I’ve been struggling with weight loss. I spend way too much time sitting in front of screens. In an effort to move more and contribute to my weight loss efforts, I’ve been establishing the habit of walking in the morning before breakfast. I started with 10 minutes. Then when that became easy, I added an extra 30 seconds. When that became easy, I went to 11 minutes. And thus I went. I haven’t walked every day, though that was my intention. But after missing a day (or two or three) I always came back around and picked up where I left off.
Well, today I walked for a full 30 minutes. This is a major milestone for me, because the next step is not walking for 30 minutes and 30 seconds. The next step is replacing 30 seconds of the walking with running. The step after that is replacing another 30 seconds of walking with running. And thus is goes until I am running for the full 30 minutes. What I did this morning is reach the transition point between walking and running.
I’m not sure when the running will start. My body was aching as I reached that half hour mark, and I’m not certain how long I’ll need to work through it. I’m debating introducing a longer rest period between walks so that my body can recover better, because trying to exercise when you haven’t completely recovered is just not smart. You’re wearing your body down while it’s still partially worn down. Then again, I’m not trying to build muscle with my walking. I’m trying to improve circulation as well as secure the other benefits of cardio exercise.
Plus I remember when I used to run and how much I loved it. I want to get back to that, and I want to do more than I ever thought I could do before. My walking is a transition from where I am to where I want to be. Doing just a little more each time and picking myself back up every time I fell down has brought me to this milestone, and I’m confident that doing just a little bit more in each of the days ahead will bring me to even more milestones ahead!
Follow-up with Dr. C
I wasn’t exactly expecting this, but in thinking about my previous conversation with Dr. C, I’m impressed with the conversation that we had. I’m also looking at my track record at finding a new advisor and finding it difficult to conclude I’m doing it right. Perhaps I wrongly assume that it shouldn’t be this hard, but that is just how it seems to me. Then again, I’ve long recognized that frustration is a sign you’re going about something the wrong way, so perhaps I do some faulty assumptions behind my thinking. But how can I know?
That’s when I got the idea to go back and pick Dr. C’s brain. If I could learn more about the perspective that professors typically have on their job and their involvement with grad students, I could improve my approach to finding a new advisor and meet with more success. So I reached back out to Dr. C and pitched the idea to him. And he accepted.
We met earlier today over Zoom, and this time I took notes. After explaining my objective for the meeting, Dr. C began a philosophical waxing on the idea that what motivates professors to do what they do is what motivates most people to do what they do, namely the natural tendencies. So we’re talking about money and laziness and fame and recognition and all that lot. But in that monologue I was able to discern a very important word: productive. Professors are expected to be productive at producing results, and the most valued results are research publications that add some valuable knowledge (there’s fame and recognition) and research grants (there’s money). From this I gained the idea that my search for an advisor could draw to a close if I offer that professor evidence that reasonably suggests said professor can get publications to his or her name and grant money.
Dr. C talked about the grad student journey, saying that the best grad students don’t need much instruction or guidance. They simply take the ball and run it into the in-zone. The advisor is simply there to guide the self-motivated student. The worst grad students are the ones who need to be told what to do, who don’t take any initiative, who essentially need to be baby-sat. The PhD journey is essentially an apprenticeship experience. The student does what the professor does (so what counts as productivity for the student is the same as what counts as productivity for the professor) all the while leveraging a connection with the professor to get what the student could not get on his or her own, principally the grant money.
I could see that is true, because I watched opportunity after opportunity after opportunity to secure funding pass me by because I didn’t have an advisor. When grant proposals are evaluated, the sponsor will examine the track record of the applicants. I have no track record because I am a student just starting out in this. But if I get with a professor who has a track record of securing funding for a research area that interests me, that can help me get the funding I need to do my research. Then as I develop a track record for myself, I can submit funding proposals on my own.
Suddenly it was all making sense to me. I felt such a huge mix of emotion. On the one hand, I felt elated that I was understanding the structure of the PhD journey and how the pieces fit together. On the other hand, I felt completely cheated. I was starting to understand the progress I should have been making but wasn’t simply because I didn’t know about the structure and I naively thought that my advisor would help me get on track if I went to oo far afield. The reality turned out be my advisor cut the string and let the wind blow me away because the system in which he works burdens him with so much other work that he didn’t want to make the effort to work with me in creating an alternative plan. He’s got only one way to do it, and if you can’t stay on that track, he’s not riding your train.
I know I’ve expressed this before, but I really do wish that someone would have communicated to me that structure my first semester here instead of me learning about it the summer before my fourth year. This is where the pandemic really bit me, because this sort of information is normally communicated to grad students by peers. I should have learned about thsi structure from my peers, and I would have it weren’t for the pandemic. The combination of masking requirements and my asthmatic condition didn’t play very well, and so to help me, my advisor gave me a desk in the lab where there was only one desk. Because I sat in that room alone, I could work without the mask (unless of course someone else came in, but that almost never happened). Because of that isolation, I never got the peer instruction I would otherwise have received.
Dr. C said one final thing to me that got me thinking. He said that in his experience older students appreciate knowing the journey up front (and my diatribe here about the structure of the program clearly puts me in that camp). But then he advised me to let go of having to know all the steps, just do the work, and trust the process.
That got me thinking. All this time I’ve been waiting on an advisor before I begin. But that is the essence of what Dr. C describes as the worst grad student. The best pick it up and take it home. That’s what I need to do. I need to determine my own direction and then find an advisor whose interests align with that direction. Eventually I won’t be able to go any further without an advisor, because the advisor is the chair of the dissertation committee that hears and approves my proposal. But I don’t need the advisor for much of the work before that point, especially at the beginning. So I need to put my rear in gear and start with assembling a lit review.
I’m thankful to have learned what I have learned. I just wish that my advisor would have sat me down when we first got together and spent 30 minutes explaining all of this to me. Everything would likely be radically different for me right now. That said, the successful deal with the world as it is, not as they wish it would be. So now it’s grinding time. Let’s work!
My meeting with Dr. C
In my search for a new advisor, I am finding the same response from professor after professor. Though delivered with some difference by each one, I have been left to keep searching. So when one professor who I will call Dr. C agreed to meet with me, I was optimistic. We found a shared free time in our schedules and arranged the meeting.
As we talked about my background and the daily routine of Dr. C’s graduate students, it became apparent that we were not a good fit. I could sense his uncertainty as he declared that conclusion, but the uncertainty was not in the conclusion but in my response to it; he was concerned about expressing himself inappropriately. I quickly thanked him for his forthrightness and agreed with his conclusion. Our conversation ten became more much enjoyable.
And it was also educational. In an effort to support my continued search for a new advisor, I asked questions about the perspective of the professor. Dr. C began talking about that perspective. I should have been taking notes, because his monologue really opened my mind, particularly with the ideas of creating new knowledge and the apprenticeship nature of the PhD program. I’ll need to think about these ideas some, but I left both discouraged and encouraged at the same time. I’m discouraged that I am learning just before the beginning of my fourth year what I should have learned my first semester here. But I am encouraged because, knowing now what I should have learned previously, I feel more capable of achieving my objectives and making real progress in my program.
And this is where it is. I am not going to stop until I win. I will finish what I started, and whatever results from that will result. I will do this!
Bye bye, Dr. B
It’s now official. The professor I’ve been hoping would be my new advisor — who I will call Dr. B — has now bowed out, leaving me right back where I started. I got tired of him dragging his feet on this matter, given that I need an advisor to take care of some loose threads in my progress towards my degree, not to mention my eventual need for a dissertation committee, chaired by an advisor, to pass my dissertation proposal. So I wrote a letter responding to numerous points he had raised in our earlier conversations and then asking him to commit to be on one side of the fence or the other. He came back with a short refusal.
On the face of it, it’s fine that he refused. I wouldn’t want to work with someone who thinks the fit is not good. At the same time, I wasted half my summer waiting on this guy to quit dancing and decide, time that might have been put to good use, only instead to find myself right back where I started.
I’ve debated including the letter I sent to him in this post. I’m still not completely sure about including it, which I interpret to mean I should not include it here. However, if you are someone with hiring authority and considering hiring me for a position, I might share that privately with you. Reach out if you are interested.
All in all, I feel disappointed. The person I once admired as being full of wisdom has been replaced with a myoptic miser who lacks vision. That said, I remain undaunted. This situation gets the same response I gave to my ex-advisor. If this guy doesn’t want to help me, then I will just find someone else who will. And that’s my attitude going forward.
Book Review: The 10X Rule
I ended up waiting for almost 6 hours while the mechanic was trying to overcome issues with his parts supplier, so I made a great call getting a new book. And in six hours I got through a lot of this book. It didn't take me long to finish it thereafter. I have to say this is one of the best books on success that I ever read. Not only has it confirmed much of what I've read elsewhere about the mindset of success, but it also gave me new ideas to think about.
Success is your duty
For example, Cardone talks about ethics in approaching success. By ethics, he means that success is a duty, an obligation, and a responsibility. I've heard him talk about this before but never really understood the idea until I read his book. Without success, you won't be your personal best or live up to your potential. Because ethics regards a system of appropriate behavior, not being successful, in the mind of Cardone, is inappropriate. Thus, success is an ethical duty, obligation, and responsibility.
In thinking about that idea, I agree with it because success in business and in life provides the means by which we meet our obligations to ourselves, our family, and the broader community. Without success, our ability to meet those obligations is severely diminished. So in thinking along those lines, I'm on the side of Cardone.
Set unrealistic goals
Having a high interest in goals, I was curious about Cardone’s perspective on making goals when I saw his chapter on goals. One of the themes of this chapter on goals is a diatribe against realistic goals. We hear this all the time, especially in the SMART acronym in which R stands for realistic. But Cardone doesn't believe in realistic goals. He says,
“I truly despise the word ‘realistic’ [sic] because it is based on what others . . . have accomplished and believed possible. Realistic thinking is based on what others think is possible — but they are not you and have no way of knowing your potential and purpose. If you're going to set goals based on what others think, then be sure you do it based on what the giants on this planet think. They will be the first to tell you, ‘Don't base your goals on what I have done because you can do even more.’ But what if you set goals based on those of the top players of the world? Steve Jobs’s goal, for instance, is to ‘ding’ the universe — to create products that forever change our planet. Look at what he has done with Apple and Pixar. If you're going to set goals comparable to those of others, then at the very least pick the giants who have already created massive success.”
To me, that idea makes a lot of sense. It reminds me of something Will Smith once said: “Why should I be realistic? What's the point of being realistic?” He goes on to talk about how extraordinary achievements are not made by thinking small. I think that's what Cardone is getting at here. Goals should be unrealistic because, in Cardone’s mind, only goals based on big dreams have the ability to inspire their achievement. That’s something to think about as I consider my own goals.
Competition is for sissies and other gems
His chapter on competition also changed my thinking. For so long I've thought about competition as being something good, even desirable. But competition is not the objective of the successful. They don't want to compete; they want to dominate. As I think about that difference, I can see many ready advantages to dominating my space. It provides so much opportunity and freedom that I don't have if I merely compete.
I was also impressed by this thought: “Your biggest problem is obscurity — other people don't know you and aren't thinking about you.” That one really got me thinking, and I could see that it's totally true. All of my past unsuccessful entrepreneurial efforts were just that because of that one word: obscurity. No one patronizes the business they don't know about.
Here's another idea that turned me around: “Learn to commit first, and figure out how to show up later.” When I first read that, it made absolutely no sense to me. Why would you commit to doing something without knowing whether or not you can do it? The loss of integrity with yourself is you fail could be massive. The uncertainty attached to that approach provides a huge risk that, before reading Cardone’s book, I've always rejected as being above my threshold.
But after reading his book and especially the experience at the end where he talks about applying that idea to his personal striving for success, I'm thinking he might be right. When you commit, you put yourself on the island, and when you commit without really knowing how it's going to work, you put yourself on the island and burn your boats. That puts you in a space where you have to make it happen. Results come from one thing and one thing only — action. It's really what the 10X Rule is all about. It’s not so much spending 10 times more time working as it is using the time you have to produce 10 times the results because you fit 10 times the action within the time you have.
Cardone talks time management
That leads me to the last idea I found really impressive. Cardone’s book has a chapter on time management, which like my interest in goals has always been high on my curiosity list. There's really two parts to his idea that impressed me. The first is the idea of balance. Most people think in terms of either-or; “I don't have time to do everything, so with the time I have, I must do either this or that.” But Cardone takes a different approach. He doesn't think in terms of either-or; he thinks in terms of all. Because he wants it all, he arranges his day so that he can have it all.
That brings me to the second part that impressed me. Cardone said, “To really understand, manage, maximize, and squeeze every opportunity out of the time you have, you have to fully understand and appreciate how much of it you have available to you. You must first take control of your time — not allow others to do so. If you listen to people discuss the topic of time — especially in regards to the amount they have at work — you'll probably hear a lot of complaining. People act as though work is something to get through, yet in reality they spend very little of their time even doing it. Most people only work enough so that it feels like work, whereas successful people work at a pace that gets such satisfying results that work is a reward. Truly successful people don't even call it work; for them, it's a passion. Why? Because they do enough to win!”
He then talks about the need to work harder and get more done in the same amount of time. This makes sense when you consider his 10X Rule, which is assessing the effort needed to hit target and adjusting thinking to dream big. Big dreams inspire big action, so the 10X Rule is about massive action at 10 times the amount others give. And that really is what it all comes down to, because results come from action and only from action.
If you haven't read this book, I highly recommend it. There's a chapter near the end where he gives 32 qualities of successful people and a brief treatment on each one. I’m thinking I might adopt that chapter as a sort of daily primer to start my day. Each day I read one section about one quality, and then after 32 days, I start all over again. There seems to be some mindset here that I have in part but not completely. And as I think about the concepts in this book, I feel impressed that it contains much of what I've been lacking in order to have the success I've been dreaming about for years. We'll see what comes of that. So again, if you haven't read this book, I highly recommend it. In the very least, it will get you thinking about the assumptions behind your thinking and the approach you could take to life. And that in itself would by good, even desirable. 5 stars.
Ham and broccoli quiche
This weekend I wanted quiche. The only question was “What kind?” Looking at what I had on hand, I opted for the ham and broccoli recipe I developed some years ago. The recipe is simple to make. You mix the eggs, stir in the remaining ingredients, add to a partially baked pie crust the same you would making any other quiche (450F for 4 minutes), and bake.
Here’s the list of ingredients:
2 cups ham, chopped
1 cup broccoli, chopped
2 cups swiss cheese, grated
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1/4 cup mozzarella, grated
1/8 cup minced onion
dash of chives
1 tsp nutmeg
1/8 cup parsley
1 tsp black pepper
The quiche bakes at 325F for 45 minutes. When it came out, it tasted so good to me, I ate half of it in one setting. It’s been said that real men eat quiche. But in my view, real men not only eat quiche, they make it!
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