Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Amateur and the Pros

This is a post inspired by our Man of Leisure here.

If you've heard a amateur and a pro playing from the same music score, you'll find that there's a difference. Sure, the amateur can hit every note, even on time, but there's a certain degree of interpretation which defines the amateur from the pros. I don't profess that I'm a good musician (I'm not, I don't even play the piano nor how to read scores), but you'll find that you can play around with 3 things:

1. Notes (C, D, F# etc)

2. Volume (how hard you press the key)

3. Time (fast, slow, timing between notes)

Take some time and listen to the two youtube clips below and listen for yourself. One is from Synthesia and the other is from a pianist, Mira Lee, that I discovered on youtube like a day ago.

Synthesia music: Technically sound, but musically emotionless

                                   By Miri Lee: Can you feel that the music is different?

In learning any instrument, you first learn to play the score according to the beats. You don't miss a beat, you just follow exactly as read from the score. Once you know how to play a song mechanically after playing many many times, you earn the right to 'feel' the music. You play certain groups of notes faster (to build momentum) or you play certain notes louder (to build intensity), or certain notes softer and slower (to build suspense). A pro is someone who interprets these nuances and tweaks an otherwise mechanical score into something that has 'feelings'. An amateur? He just plays the notes according to the score, each note with the same volume with each abberation needing to be corrected.

I don't think anyone compared trading with playing music. Well, now you do. Trading is not much different. You have price, volume and time. Amateur might just use the same indicator mechanically. If it's a little different from the perfect signal, you don't trade. You haven't earn the right to have 'feelings' yet. But once you're a pro, you notice the nuances in the volume or the velocity of the price movement. Sometimes, you feel the market. It's hard to describe to someone how come you know certain things might happen (even if you do try to explain, you don't really think of it rationally like that at that moment of recognition). 

Can we apply the same concept to public speaking? Let's see:

1. Words and pitch

2. Volume

3. Time

Every one can read a script, but not everyone can speak like a radio DJ, even if the script is written by one. You just can't pull it off like that. If you listen to the pros speaking, you'll realise that they speak with certain stress on different words of a sentence. They vary their voice too, sometimes louder, sometimes softer. They can also speak faster or slower to create certain effects. What do an amateur do? They just read off a script.

An amateur is so focused on the magic indicator to use on a chart, where to get the score of the song they want to play and the professionally prepared script for the speech they are giving, while the pros are busy playing, feeling and trying out things. Worlds separate them apart.

Is there such a thing as an amateur or a pro on the road to financial freedom? I'm not talking about those who had already reached their goals, but talking about those still on their way. Maybe there is. Just listen to the music from the same musical score that we all play on our piano ;)

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Comfort is the place where dreams die

I love Greek mythology. So in the past, hence it is now. There are many many parallels that you can draw from them. Some serve as warnings and some as inspiration. This one that I'm sharing is quite a well-read one. This is the specific part about Homer's Odyssey.

Odysseus, after losing his ship and his entire army, drifted in the open sea for days until eventually rescued by Calypso in an island called Ogygia. There, Odysseus spent 7 years living a life of comfort and peace, with food and lodging all provided for by Calypso. Now, Calypso isn't an ordinary mortal; she is the daughter of the titan Atlas, which makes her a goddess in her own right. She offered to make Odysseus an immortal and grant him the gift of eternal youth if he stays on the island forever with her.

That is not to be. Odysseus wanted to go back to Ithaca to reunite with his wife Penelope and that is his life's goal. He is not to be swayed from his goals. But he did took 7 yrs to muster up all his courage and conviction (also with the 'persuasion' of Zeus's messenger, Hermes), to leave the safety and comfort of the island of Ogygia to brave the open seas and god knows what may come in his journey back to Ithaca.

That is Greek mythology. But a lot of these mythology are as relevant in life today as they are in the past. Are you like Odysseus, drifting in the sea of the unemployed and eventually rescued by your current employer? Are you also spending long years of relative comfort and peace in your job - boring mediocrity yes, but it does pay the bills doesn't it? Who is going to send Hermes to rescue you from your rescuer, so that you can go on and brave the open seas again in order to reach your life's goal? The Hermes today usually comes in the form of a life changing event - perhaps a close shave with Death, perhaps a recovery from a life threatening illness or maybe a conversation with an inspiring person in a strange land. They can advice or counsel you, but like Odysseus, you will still need to act on your own.

Think about whether your current life is aligned with your values. If not, do small acts to move towards somewhere that is more aligned with your values because that is the secret to being happy and being satisfied with life. If Odysseus can take 7 years to leave a comfortable position to brave the world again, so can you. He is a hero because of his choices and in spite of his circumstance. Always push your limits and move towards the relatively uncomfortable place, because that's where maximum growth is to be found.

If you stay too long in comfort, who knows, maybe that's the place where dreams die.