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Ian O'Byrne

The key to success is action, and the essential in action is perseverance. - Sun Yat-Sen In issue of my weekly newsletter. Subscribe at #drive


Ian O'Byrne

Reach for the stars, even if you have to stand on a cactus. - Susan Longacre In TL;DR — #drive


Ian O'Byrne

Wisdom is tolerance of cognitive dissonance

2 min read

In our daily interactions, we often try to consider what elements combine to create real "wisdom." The challenge is that wisdom is really a mental construct. That is to say that it is something that exists only in our minds. Other constructs include motivation, creativity, and intelligence.

Mental constructs are hard to consider, yet we know that they are there. We primarily understand and accept them through outward behaviors and our actions. 

The following quote from Robert Thurman tries to help crystalize exact what constitutes true wisdom.

Wisdom is tolerance of cognitive dissonance.

One of the reasons I love this quote is the inclusion of the term "cognitive dissonance." Cognitive dissonance is the stress or imbalance that occurs mentally when we try to hold two competing thoughts in our mind. True learning occurs when there is this imbalance in our mind and actions.

An example of cognitive dissonance would be a person that considers themselves to be environmentally friendly, yet they drive a vehicle that does not have good gas mileage.

A lower level example of this would be regularly cooking with specific tools and methods, and then trying to cook food from a different region. Imagine regularly cooking pasta, and then trying to cook some Vietnamese food with a wok and unfamiliar ingredients.



In Thurman's quote, he suggest that true wisdom comes from this imbalance or stress that occurs as we learn new things. It is in this discomfort, in these attempts to learn and struggle that we achieve true wisdom. 


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Ian O'Byrne

Using a daily gratitude journal to start your day

2 min read

I start my day with a morning quick write to get my brain focused and start the day on the "right foot."

Usually when we think about journaling, it seems like something that is a hassle and will take too much time. I think that a morning writing ritual can be simple and empowering. 

I follow a simple template that I reuse every morning. This can be copy/pasted from the previous day, or using a text expander on your computer. You can do this using paper and pencil.

I find it is easier for me to use a journaling app on my devices. I use the Journey app as it syncs using Google Drive and I can use it on a Chromebook, Android phone, tablet, or the web. If you use mostly Apple products, you might want to check out the Day One suite of apps.

Every morning, I add the template below to a new page for the day. Some mornings I'll add a photo from the previous day of something that was meaningful to me. Lately these have been photos of the kids as they grow up too quickly.

The template is shared in markdown. Use Doug Belshaw's super cheatsheet if you need support.

Enjoy. :)


*What did I do yesterday?*


*What lessons did I learn?*



*What am I thankful for right now?*


*How am I feeling right now?*



*What did I read/listen to today?*


*What are my plans for today?*


*What one thing must I accomplish today?*


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Ian O'Byrne

Death ends a life, not a relationship. - Mitch Albom

2 min read

It is interesting to watch our considerations of death and the changes brought about by the influx of technology and social networks.

In an earlier post I wrote a bit about my own use of social networks and technology to understand how and when celebrities die. I've been struck by the loss of life of someone close to me.

My Wife worked in retail for a number of years. She managed a store and as a result became quite close to a number of the women that worked in her store, and served as assistant managers.

When we became pregnant with our first son, I was attending UConn for my doctoral work and she was working in a mall near the campus. I would often stop off at the store on the way home to visit and make sure she was fine. After our son was born, I would drive in to the store with him to see her...or pick him up there on the way home. 

She became close to one of her colleagues in particular. She would greet me and hug me whenever we saw each other. She became close to my Wife even after they stopped working together. Through the use of social networks, they routinely shared, commented, and liked content on each other's walls.

On one regular day, my Wife called me and informed me that the friend and former colleague had passed. It was totally unexpected and as a result we were unsure if it even occurred. 

Slowly in drips and drabs friends posted their condolences on her Facebook wall. This was followed by others that were learning and questioning about the details. Finally a family member somehow obtained access to her Facebook account and posted a short notice that she indeed had passed.

Over the coming days and weeks, her Facebook wall became a memorial and celebration of her life. To this day her Facebook wall is still active as loved ones routinely carry on dialogue with her after her passing. They share jokes, and music videos that she would have loved. The space provides room to reminisce and remember. 

Ian O'Byrne

March 21, 2016

2 min read

There is no value in anything until it is finished. ― Genghis Khan

Over the weekend I took all of Saturday and changed the brakes on both vehicles. In this process, I was dreading, absolutely dreading having to get both cars done at once. I knew that both cars needed it. The wife's truck was making this weird noise as you would drive slowly. My truck started squeaking again as I would slow up. 

I knew how to complete the job. I've done it many times, but it's the process and long time it'll take to get it done. 

While working on this, I was listening to the series on Genghis Khan on Hardcore History. I knew I had a couple of hours to kill and this was the perfect opportunity. 

I found it fasincating the leadership and brutality of Genghis and the value system that was primarily defined by the area in which he was raised. 

In looking for quote and aphorisms by Genghis, I was struck by this one in particular. In my "one side project" and other activities, I'm frequently busy and sidetracked as assignments take my focus away. In the end, especially when working with technology...there is no real value in talking about, or time spent worrying, etc. on something...until it's done.

Time spent worrying about the brakes, now seems silly as it's done. Time spent planning, and kvetching about the business plan, or model of the "one side project" is pointless...if it's not completed. It's better just to get it done...and then relfect and iterate.