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Objectivism and Flak

Over the years, I have taken a lot of flak from people regarding my acceptance of Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism.  Especially in recent months, has this increased.  People aren’t willing to learn about that which they fear, regardless of the rationality of that which they fear.  I guess this is the irony of Objectivism itself.

I have promoted the book, The Virtue of Selfishness, by Ayn Rand to many, many people.  Only a handful have bought it, even fewer have read some of it, and I doubt any have read it all.  But this little book clarified for me the thinking/feeling I knew to be true in the depths of my self, perhaps my soul.  I recall tears streaming down my face from the beauty of Ayn Rand’s words — I couldn’t believe there was another human alive who could understand and explain that which I knew to be truth.

Here is a link to a short little video that gives a VERY high-level overview of what Objectivism is:  https://youtu.be/asery3UeBj4

Here is a great explanation of Objectivism, right from www.AynRand.org  I hope it helps you understand, and perhaps even prompts you to study Ayn Rand and Objectivism further.  I am certain that in 200-300 years from now, she will be elevated to one of the highest places in history, as a result of her teachings having changed the world.

REALITY: “Wishing won’t make it so”

Ayn Rand’s philosophy, Objectivism, begins by embracing the basic fact that existence exists. Reality is, and in the quest to live we must discover reality’s nature and learn to act successfully in it.

To exist is to be something, to possess a specific identity. This is the Law of Identity: A is A. Facts are facts, independent of any consciousness. No amount of passionate wishing, desperate longing or hopeful pleading can alter the facts. Nor will ignoring or evading the facts erase them: the facts remain, immutable.

In Rand’s philosophy, reality is not to be rewritten or escaped, but, solemnly and proudly, faced. One of her favorite sayings is Francis Bacon’s: “Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed.”

Reality — that which exists — has no alternatives, no competitors, nothing “transcending” it. To embrace existence is to reject all notions of the supernatural and the mystical, including God.

REASON: “You can’t eat your cake and have it, too”

The essential advice of Rand’s philosophy is: embrace reason as an absolute. This means: choose to face the facts at all times, in all areas, whether at work or at home, in business or in love — and no matter what conclusion logically ensues, whether pleasant or unpleasant.

The purpose of epistemology is to help teach us how to reason: how to think conceptually, how to properly define our terms, how to form and apply principles.

Reason doesn’t work automatically. We have to choose to activate our minds, to set them in motion, to direct them to the task of understanding the facts, and to actively perform the steps that such understanding requires. Our basic choice in life is “to think or not.”

To choose to follow reason, Rand argues, is to reject emotions, faith or any form of authoritarianism as guides in life.

SELF-INTEREST: “Man is an end in himself”

Why does man need morality?

The typical answer is that we must learn to deny our own interests and happiness in order to serve God or other people — and morality will teach us to do this.

Rand’s answer is radically different. The purpose of morality, she argues, is to teach us what is in our self-interest, what produces happiness.

“Man has,” she observes, “no automatic code of survival. . . . His senses do not tell him automatically what is good for him or evil, what will benefit his life or endanger it, what goals he should pursue and what means will achieve them, what values his life depends on, what course of action it requires.”

This is what the science of ethics studies — and what Objectivism offers. “Man must choose his actions, values and goals,” she summarizes, “by the standard of that which is proper to man — in order to achieve, maintain, fulfill and enjoy that ultimate value, that end in itself, which is his own life.”

CAPITALISM: “GIVE ME LIBERTY OR GIVE ME DEATH!”

The ideal social system, Rand holds, is laissez-faire capitalism. Economically, this means not today’s mixture of freedom and government controls but “a complete separation of state and economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as the separation of state and church.”

Rand’s advocacy of laissez-faire capitalism is a consequence of her deeper philosophical views. An individual who eagerly faces reality, who embraces his own rational mind as an absolute, and who makes his own life his highest moral purpose will demand his freedom. He will demand the freedom to think and speak, to earn property and associate and trade, and to pursue his own happiness.

Laissez-faire capitalism, Rand argues, is the system of individual rights. In such a system the government has only one function, albeit a vital one: to protect the rights of each individual by placing the retaliatory use of physical force under objective control.

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What’s this world coming to?

Another old blog post from December 2006:

I had a busy family weekend and needed to get back to a couple of clients regarding important meetings for this week. So, just before I went to bed last night (12:55AM this morning, actually), I sent them both Emails suggesting dates.

When I got up this AM, I checked my Email and BOTH clients had already replied, the first at 2:10 AM and the second at 2:55 AM! At the risk of sounding old, I’m sitting here shaking my head saying, “What’s this world coming to?”

In the past (5-10 years ago), I was the one person I knew who worked crazy hours, deprived myself of sleep (and health in general) for the sake of business, and really attached my self-worth to the results of my business. In fact, I remember having taken pride at my “dedication” when others would be astounded by my ridiculous hours.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for high-production, high-innovation, and a get-the-job-done focus. But I wonder what will happen in the world, when it becomes the norm to check your Email at 3:00 AM! In fact, I wonder how people are doing it? Are they staying up until that hour? Not sleeping at all? Or do they take their Blackberries or Email-based PDAs to bed with them??

As I grew older, I realized that I had to re-prioritize my life, or I’d end up dead at 35. I did this by assessing EXACTLY what was important to me (clearly understanding/defining my core values). Business should have been just a means to an end, but instead it was the end, itself. This was because I turned to business to satisfy my emotional needs for acceptance, self-worth, and value to the world. I learned that there’s a problem with doing this when you make work the ONLY place to turn for these things. In fact, I had taken it so far, that I was on 3 non-profit boards to try to get even more of what I was desperately seeking.

There is a big problem with this thinking, however: Until a person learns to be “ok” with himself first, he’ll search all over for what he thinks he needs to be “ok”. Unfortunately, he won’t find it anywhere else. He’ll find things that look like it, feel like it, and even temporarily fill the need for a while. But none of these will last. He has to learn to become INTERNALLY motivated, otherwise he will become a people-pleaser, doomed to feeling sadness by misinterpreting everyone else’s behavior as critical or demeaning to him. This isn’t fair to him or the other people and certainly is no way to live a joyful life.

By being “ok” with himself, he is able to be confident of his own decisions, actions, and beliefs while being open to learning and growing from other people. Ironically, by deriving self-worth only from others (EXTERNALLY motivated), he will become a barrier to learning and growing he is so desperately trying to receive. In addition, he ends up using and manipulating others to get what he wants, rather than accepting and embracing others as they are.

Now, I’m working at having a much more balanced life which includes my family time, time with just my wife, time with just my daughter, and my SELF time. I’m happier, and MUCH more productive than ever, because I AM more balanced now. I’ve implemented Getting Things Done by David Allen, which is a set of tools for helping people become highly efficient and effective in their task management. By doing this, I added structure to my balance and armed myself with techniques I use to manage myself when I get pulled in 50 different directions.

It’s a constant struggle, however, to achieve balance. I so often “fall off” and have to “get back on again,” but that’s fine with me because I’m learning and growing through the process.

I must also add that I wasn’t able to do this on my own – I had help from my business coach and numerous books, including The Four Agreements, Good to Great, Jump Start Your Business Brain, Getting Things Done, Boundaries, The 9 Things a Leader Must Do, The Secret (DVD), The Art of Possibility, and The Amazing Power of Deliberate Intent. I highly recommend all of these books.

My larger concern is that as we “progress” with the benefits of technology, we may be leaving behind some things that we really need, and creating new problems for ourselves. I wonder if there really is a true net benefit to the individual, the family, and the business.

I’d really enjoy hearing your thoughts regarding 24-hour Email, business-based self-worth, and the future of the world with new technology. If you have a moment, just comment on this blog entry.

If…

I had stumbled across this poem by Rudyard Kipling in 2009 on Kelly Perdew’s (from the apprentice) website.  It truly seemed to be a message I needed then.

Recently, my daughter found it and shared it with me again.  As I listened to her read it, I realized I needed it again, now.

Maybe you need it today, too:

Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If”

If you can keep your head
when all about you men are losing theirs
and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
but make allowances for their doubting, too.

If you can wait but not be tired of waiting,
or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
and yet don’t look too good nor talk too wise,

If you can dream but not make dreams your master,
If you can think and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with triumph and disaster,
and treat those two imposters just the same,

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
and stoop and build them up with worn-out tools,

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
and risk it on one turn of pitch and toss,
and lose and start again at your beginnings
and never breathe a word about your loss,

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
to serve your turn long after they are gone,
and to hold on when there is nothing in you
but the will that says to them “hold on,”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
or walk with kings nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
if all men count with you but none too much,

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
with 60 seconds worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
and which is more, you’ll be a man, my son.

Ayn Rand Quotes

Ayn Rand, the author of Atlas Shrugged, The Virtue of Selfishness, and several other incredible books, has had many quotes attributed to her.  Here are my two favorite, at this time of my life:

Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle. The world you desire can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible. It’s yours. — Ayn Rand

Every time I read this, I get some energy to press on and achieve even greater than ever before!

“I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.”

This one keeps me reminded of what to allow and expect of other people, and the standard I need to hold myself to.

Here’s a website of additional quotes by Ayn Rand: http://www.ayn-rand-quotes.com/ayn-rand-quotes/

Enjoy!

The Future of the Internet: Acres of Diamonds

Another old post, from January 2007:

I recently reread a fascinating little book, which I had originally read 15 years ago, called Acres of Diamonds. It is a written copy of a speech given by Dr. Russell H. Conwell in approximately 1910. Reading this insightful book really helped me recently.

Dr. Conwell works diligently throughout his speech to explain that there are an unlimited number of opportunities sitting right in front of each of us, just waiting to be noticed and implemented. All one needs to do is look at what is needed and do something about filling the need.

He talks about MANY people who started simply filling a simple need, such as the poor man out of work in Hingham, MA who whittled children’s toys out of his firewood and eventually is rumored to have become the richest man in Massachusetts selling his amazing toys. Or a woman in New Britain, CT who invented the snapping button because her regular button had gotten stuck in the hole one time.

He tells a funny story about a man from PA who wanted so badly to work for his cousin in the oil business (and get rich) that he studied hard, sold his farm for $833.00, and moved to Canada to work in the oil business. Amazingly, the man who bought his farm found that the previous owner had put a plank across a brook of scum to cross. It turns out that the scum was actually oil and the farm produced over $1 billion over its lifetime!!

He also does a great job of explaining how making money is a good thing and is in no way something to be ashamed of or bashful about.

What’s this go to do with the Internet?!? Well, just before I read this book, I had been thinking recently that it seems the Internet opportunity of the past had dried up. It felt to me that every great idea had already been taken and fully exploited, and that any worthwhile venture would take an enormous amount of money to accomplish because the Internet standards and expectations had been raised so high.

However, after reading this little book, it became clear to me that at ANY TIME IN LIFE, especially RIGHT NOW, there are opportunities sitting RIGHT IN FRONT OF US just waiting for us to pick them up and take advantage of them. Often these opportunities are hidden because they’re SO close that we don’t even see them.

So, this book really changed my outlook and shifted my paradigm such that I’m starting to see new and interesting things already right in front of me. Like most successes, these things I’m seeing are not at first earth-shattering or monumental, but little things I can do (and am doing) to fill a need or make something better in what I already do.

Amazingly, in the past 2 weeks, I’m already noticing improved results beginning to appear in an exponential way – small at first, but almost growing as if they have a life of their own.

I’m really interested in your ideas regarding the INTERNET Acres of Diamonds sitting right in front of us. Please read this little story and let me know if it changes your insight, as it did mine. I’d enjoy reading your comments.

The New PsychoCybernetics by Dr. Maxwell Maltz and Dan Kennedy

Another old blog post from 2006:

I’m reading The New PsychoCybernetics now, on audio-book (from Audible. I had read this book back when I was a kid (picked it up from a tag sale) and then again when I was in my 20’s (recommended by Worldwide Dreambuilders). Both times it seemed very different.

I’m reading it again, on the advice of my business coach. I thought it would feel like an old repeat, but it doesn’t. In fact, it seems like a completely new book! Perhaps this is because much of it has been updated or maybe its because I’ve changed again.

So far, I’m at chapter 3. The basic concept is that we’re built for success. Just like an animal, which has instincts for success, we too have success ‘instincts.’ However, ours are in the form of the goal-seeking mechanisms in our brains.

Simply put, if we accurately create a strong goal in our brains, we can’t help but accomplish it. Unfortunately, many people either don’t focus on goals or focus on negative thoughts. In either case, they bring about the failure they dwell upon.

A recent article I read from Self-Realization Fellowship spoke of the same topic, from the perspective of fear. If we allow our minds to focus on something we fear, we will actually increase the odds of that event occurring. Instead, we need to focus on that which we want. When fear comes into our minds, we need to consciously put it aside and return focus to our goals.

Internet safety for children

This is one of my old blog posts from 2006 (before Facebook), which still has a lot of good, useful points for all parents to know regarding the safety of their children on the Internet:

http://www.kenreiss.com/InternetSafety_KReiss/InternetSafety_KReiss.html

Enjoy!
Ken.


Internet Safety
Ken Reiss

Part I: The Problem

Why isn’t the Internet Safe?
– Access
– Anonymity
– Allure
– Assumptions
– Avoidance

1 out of 5 kids have been solicited sexually online. 1 out of 17 kids have been harassed, threatened, or bullied online. One third of kids have been contacted by a stranger and half of these were considered inappropriate. Most kids will not report inappropriate Internet contact to their parents because they are afraid of losing Internet privileges. 9 out of 10 parents will never know that any inappropriate contact has occurred.

Problem #1: Access

– Access to the Internet is easy
– Prevalent: The Internet today is as much a part of every-day life for children as food, shelter, and clothing
– Kids are nonchalant about using the Internet – it has been around as long as they can remember!
– Children can very easily be exposed to inappropriate written content/images, bad behavior, unsuitable friends, and Internet predators online

There is a paradigm gap between today’s children and their parents perception of the Internet. 70 MILLION children go ONLINE EVERY DAY! 1 out of 4 are solicited in some way!!

Problem #2: Anonymity

– Children think their actions on the Internet are safe
– Predators know that kids often are not monitored and trusting
– People think that what they do on the Internet isn’t real
– Some Internet culture actually encourages deception and alter-egos

Problem #3: Allure

– The Internet is exciting to kids
– Peer pressure
– Kids want to join and be part of a group
– Most online social networks are dangerous and deceptive and encourage dishonest, untrustworthy, and risky behavior

Kids WANT TO BE PART OF SOMETHING, especially 12-16 yrs old. Examples of typical social networks: Family, Church, School, and Clubs (boy scouts, girl scouts, etc.) What do we value in a social network: Honesty, Openness, Trust, Safety, and Nourishing. Many Online Social Networks (i.e. MySpace, etc) violate these values by requiring kids to lie to join, sharing who you are, you put yourself at risk, can’t build trust when you can’t really know who you’re talking to Story after story of kids hurt by people they met at these sites

Visit: www.TheDeadKidsOfMySpace.com if you don’t think this is an issue!!! Read some of the writeups on there! After reading this site for 20 minutes, you’ll completely understand the risk and feel compelled to do something about it!! Webkins!

Problem #4: Assumptions

– Parents assume that the Internet is safe and benign
– Easily assumed that everything on the internet is legal, moral, or ethical
– People assume that the person they are talking to on the Internet is who they say they are
– Many people assume the Internet is monitored in some way

Using the Internet, the most heinous criminal is effectively closer to your children than the person sitting next to them now! And they are available to them 24/7!

Problem #5: Avoidance

– It is easily assumed that bad things only happen to other people
– Often parents don’t know as much about computers or the Internet, so they defer to their children
– Having a discussion with your child may be uncomfortable
– It takes time and responsibility to understand and address this problem

Part II: The SOLUTION!

– Parental Involvement
– Awareness
– Control Access
– Monitor Usage
– Become the Solution

SOLUTION #1: Parental Involvement

– Get involved in your child’s life
– Commit to helping your child stay safe online
– Move all computers to central, open locations
– Insist on being aware of your child’s online activities
– Require your child to read and sign an Internet Usage Agreement, such as the one found at http://www.komando.com/kids/

Parents are still parents, when their children are online! You wouldn’t allow your child to walk alone down the streets of new york city at night – Why would you allow them to wander around the Internet? Be willing to ban certain areas of the internet, including chat rooms, social networks, and peer-to-peer services. Parents: Get yourself your OWN MySpace.com account – See with your own eyes the things your child(ren) are being exposed to! Get your children involved in local clubs, where you can meet those involved fact-to-face.

SOLUTION #2: Awareness

– Dedicate time to learn about technology
– Learn about the online dangers and discuss them with your children
– Help your children understand the very real and extreme dangers and risks
– Read and discuss some true stories regarding Internet dangers with your children
– Insist on moral and ethical behavior online

TRUST! Work together as a family!

SOLUTION #3: Control Access

– Use an ISP that offers some form of parental controls
– Install software that blocks access, like CYBERsitter ($39.95)
– Meet all your child’s friends in person and don’t allow your child to spend time with any strangers either online or in-person
– Don’t allow any peer-to-peer software on your child’s computer

You wouldn’t leave your front door wide open with a sign saying “Come on in”? That’s what you’re doing when you’re in the Internet without following these suggestions

SOLUTION #4: Monitor Usage

– Install a stealth monitoring program, like Spector Pro ($99.95)
– – It watches every email, chat, IM, website and keystroke
– – It sends this information to your Email address and even includes screenshots
– – It is undetectable by the computer user
– Randomly review the content of you’re the computer your child uses, including Email, chat logs, and downloads

Tell your kids that you will be reviewing their content, per the agreement they signed

SOLUTION #5: Become the Solution

– If you suspect any online dangers to your children, contact your local police or the FBI immediately!
– Talk about this issue of Internet safety with family, friends, co-workers, teachers, and the parents of your children’s friends
– Join an online safety organization, like http://www.WiredSafety.org
– Encourage your children to join an online safety organization, like http://www.TeenAngels.org
– Encourage all child-centric organizations you know to discuss and educate parents on this issue

Summary

– The Internet is a powerful tool, but it be just as easily used for evil as it can for good
– It’s up to YOU to decide what you’ll allow into your home
– Take the time understand and address the problem TODAY, while you can!
– It’s easier than you think!