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Ian O'Byrne

You are not controlling the storm, and you are not lost in it. You are the storm. - Sam Harris In issue of the TL;DR Newsletter. Subscribe at #power


Ian O'Byrne

Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast

2 min read

This statement comes from military and police parlance and usually indicates a focus on mobility and dexterity in operations.

Combat and conflict often center on mobility. If you move too fast, you can be outflanked. If you move too slow, you can be pinned down. The best course may be a cautious, thoughtful understanding of planned moves.

From a learning context, this statement provides insight into our focus on work process as opposed to product.

"Slow is smooth, smooth is fast" indicates a focus on technique, and speed in learning new things.


As we learn new skills, we need to focus on the small, discrete skills slowly. This allows us to focus on technique and building expertise in our subconscious and long term memory. There is also a need to ensure that we do not focus on improper strategies as we learn these new skills and content.


To make this happen focus on the following stages:

CRAWL - Identify a new skill, practice, or area of content that you would like to study. Identify the theory and basic skills. What are the (3 - 5) major elements, or steps involved in this action or area? Be as granular as possible. 

WALK - Practice these 3 to 5 elements or steps in the process while considering the larger picture. Continue to practice these steps while you continue to learn, and practice the granular steps.

RUN - Work toward mastery of the skill, practice, or area of content. Continue to practice while focusing on the small, discrete skills you identified in the CRAWL stage. Expand toward automaticity with a constant focus on awareness and confidence.


An awareness of these stages can be applied at any level and for any aspect of learning. This builds a strong awareness of strategies, tactics, tools, and motivation in the practice. 


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Ian O'Byrne

Stoic reflections on life as a project and role models

3 min read

Thank you to friends Doug Belshaw and Eylan Ezekiel for pointing me to the events for Stoic Week 2016. This year's theme is on "stoicism and love." You can review the handbook for the week's materials here. 

The website is full of materials if you're interested in exporing stoicism and possible impacts on your life. I was most intrigued by the self-assessment they provide as you begin this journey. I'll share more on this later.

I start my day with a period of meditation, exercise, and then some reading and journaling. The events of stoic week 2016 will consist of a daily meditation and some written reflections throughout the day.

The iniitial prompt for today is the following:

From Maximus [I have learnt the importance of these things]: to be master of oneself and not carried this way and that; to be cheerful under all circumstances, including illness; a character with a harmonious blend of gentleness and dignity; readiness to tackle the task in hand without complaint; the confidence everyone had that whatever he said he meant and whatever he did was not done with bad intent; never to be astonished or panic-stricken, and never to be hurried or to hang back or be at a loss or downcast or cringing or on the other hand angry or suspicious; to be ready to help or forgive, and to be truthful; to give the impression of someone whose character is naturally upright rather than having undergone correction; the fact that no-one could have thought that Maximus looked down on him, or could have presumed to suppose that he was better than Maximus; and to have great personal charm. – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 1.14

The intent of this prompt from the organizers of Stoic Week is to have us consider our life as an ongoing project, and the journey of ethical self-development. 

For me this is an important element of my life as I try to understand, or at least make room for the thoughts and habits that make me who I am. Meditation has helped me to quiet (at times) much of the noise of self-doubt and anxiety. By resetting each morning through meditation and reflection, I try to learn more about myself and who I would like to be.

Learning is a fundamental part of my philosophy and action. Through the aquistion of new knowledge I believe that we can understand and hopefully "change" most anything in our lives. 


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Ian O'Byrne

The ultimate value of life depends upon awareness and the power of contemplation rather than upon mere survival. - Aristotle

2 min read

In our lives, the number one priority should be the expansion of our own self awareness. We need to become aware, accept, and in some cases adjust the truth about our selves and our world.

To examine this narrative and build self-confidence, we have the possibility of reversing that narrative and speak from expertise as the person we would like to believe that we are. We are who we think that we are.

We can achieve this through the following:

  • Cease automatically and arbitrarily defending your own viewpoints as being binary (i.e., right/wrong, or black/white). This relentless attack/defense stops us from receiving new ideas.
  • Problematize and reassess your concepts, values, belief systems, assumptions, defenses, goals, hopes, and truths.
  • Understand, evaluate, and revise your real needs and motivations.
  • Learn to trust your intution. 
  • Observe your mistakes and try to correct them. we learn more about ourselves through this process.
  • Love yourself and others.
  • Listen without prejudice and evaluation. Train yourself to listen to WHAT someone is saying without auditing their expressions.
  • Recognize what you are defending most of the time.
  • Understanding that the end result and your unlocked awareness will provide the means and motivation needed to enact further change in your life.