To reach your outcomes, you need to be an optimist

Even if the world seems to be crumbling down

As 2011 draws to a close, with the economy appearing to be sliding down, and Eurozone's debt going exponentially up, I sometimes wonder if there is any rhyme or reason in all of this. Times are getting tougher, that's a fact. Kind of stormy would be a better description. But times are also getting new. And different. Times that do require a better innovative stance and a clear strategy to make things happen. Whoever recognizes this upfront will be better off in the times ahead of us.

That's why you need to be an optimist.

That's the rational choice. Being a pessimist will only let you in the dust. You can't keep the required drive and energy if you let the pessimist side of you takes over. I am not a natural optimist mind you. The more I look in depth, the more educated I become, the more reasons I get to be pessimistic. Call that being a realist. That's what you also get from having been formerly trained as a civil engineer: a talent for seeing what could be wrong and how to prevent it from happening. A talent for precision and sharp understanding through cold-blooded examination. That's what makes planes safe and bridges okay to cross. And machine guns effective. But that's not what gets you to your top goals. What keeps you 'safe' isn't what makes you reach your top 3 outcomes (if your outcomes are to be safe, all right. Then what about keeping it so in the long term?).  

 Beliefs are key

For getting to your top 3 outcomes, you need to believe that it will be okay despite hardship, that hardship is only transient, and that you have all the resources you need to succeed. And that you can brush off failures as something that is not associated with you personally. That events or others made it so. Not you. You need to believe that you are better than others at the game. You need to believe that opportunity is there and will show up. You need to believe that you can find out all the help you'll need when the time will come. In a previous newsletter, I told you about the fact that luck is where preparation meets opportunity. As a matter of fact, preparation includes a serious edge towards optimism. Getting there All right, but how to turn optimisitic when the general slant of the population is towards pessimism? (We have a kind of depression epidemia upon us in the western world, burnouts abound, as do deeper or masked forms of depression. So, if you are in a medical condition, nothing I say here will be of any use, check with your doctor first). Some key insights:
  1. Realize that optimism is a learnable competency. Yes, it is.
  2. Get educated about positive psychology. Recommended reading: Martin Seligman's learned optimism.
  3. Focus on leveraging your strengths. Stack the odds in your favor by taking the road that helps you instead of the hardest road of all.
  4. Build a support system and get rid of pessimistic mavens that chant doom and gloom. Especially if they do that for a living.
  5. Formulate a strategy and focus on making it true by executing, nothing beats sharp focus when it comes to leaving pessimism behind. Action and anxiety are mutually exclusive.
  6. Take time to relax. When the storm comes, the most exhausted get taken away first. The physiological informs the mental. And back. Without a conscious decision to take care well of yourself, how could you ever be optimistic?
  7. Check you diet. Eating crap with tons of sugar will for sure not help keeping you positive and optimistic when sugar and insulin take you to a roller coaster ride thrice in a day.
  8. Make space for fun. All work and no play makes anyone a dull person. How optimistic can one feel when chained for all day long? My dog isn't. Why would you?
  9. Naysayers can only go so far. Do not become one, it will not help you in any way. You do not want to develop any "create own deep frustration" skill, right?
And do not become nervous about becoming too much of an optimist: hundreds of thousands of years left enough of a trace to keep you safe in the world no matter how optimistic you become! Wishing you a (very) happy (wonderful) new (optimistic) year, Optimistically yours!

Test of Logitech iPad 2 Keyboard by Zagg

I am now test driving the Logitech keyboard for iPad 2 by Zagg. I had read a rave review about it and wanted to test drive it first hand. Well, first thing is that the borders are annoying when typing. But even if they are a hassle, typing on the keyboard is fine and much faster than typing on the iPad's on-screen keyboard. The space to type is cramped. I don't know if I'll be able to type long stuff on that either. But for reporting on trade shows, making a quick letter and so on, it is a good thing to have. It coples as a protection for the device and as such it is great. It is pretty cool to have access to the media control keys while working. I like to listen to music while working and this is a plus indeed. Of course, the keyboard is a national keyboard, so do not expect accelerators like on the virtual keyboard. But you are then able to use all keys and accented characters directly. The positioning of the iPad 2 on the keyboard feels solid. As I type this, I am adapting my position and it goes faster. While typing on my lap, I had to switch the device to landscape mode and the it is easier and making more sense. Compared to a laptop, this runs cool. Some think that using a hot PC on one's lap is bad for fertility. One problem solved then. And while we are on that, the iPad can be placed on either side, no problem at all.My power cable is on the left of my desk and if this wasn't possible, I would have to do a convoluted setup to be able to continue working as the device is about depleted (hey, it's been several days since I made the last charge). Using the keyboard arrows and shift key helps when selecting text and generally moving it around. All usual OSX shortcuts (Cmd-C, Cmd-X, Cmd-V, Cmd-Arrows) do work and help in restructuring the content. Adding pictures right away is a big plus, it makes a lot of sense if one is attending a presentation and wants to make a report of it. When there is a small space available, using a mouse or a trackpad is awkward and here, just reaching for the screen with one's finger is really helpful. I've been writing this on Pages and there has been no issue with all possibilities. Switching to full screen to type would be great but is apparently not possible. Too bad. But that is a general limitation of Pages. While we are on the subject of screen, there is a key on the top left of the keyboard which is equivalent to the home button. So, double type to get the multitask bar, triple type for (in my case) reverse display (comes handy in a dark room). The keyboard has no backlight, so you'd have to learn key locations before being able to type without errors. I am trying this out in a dark place and it is working nicely after two lines of text. I am very pleased with this acquisition and highly recommend it to reduce your backpack burden when on the move.

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Lego Mini Me, funny…


Sparx Systems releases Enterprise Architect 9.2

Breathing new Life into your Models

Enterprise Architect 9.2 is a major upgrade which significantly extends simulation, adds new modeling languages, new debugging capabilities and new tools to manage your models. Here are some of the great things built into this new release:
  • Bring your state machines and business processes to life with advanced simulation support for triggers, signals and events. Model messages, button presses, switches and similar events, then watch as your scenarios come to life. Verify your solutions. Explore multiple pathways and outcomes. Build reusable event sets to automate simulations.*
  • Business modelers can simulate their BPMN based models, including support for Parallel and Exclusive Gateways, Loops and basic activities. Animate and validate your business processes.**
  • Software developers can now attach Enterprise Architect to the GNU debugger (GDB) and inspect, debug and visualize a wide range of supported platforms. Local and remote debugging are both supported. Ada, Java, C, C++ and Objective-C supported.***
  • Modelers can now build and share concepts, taxonomies and detailed ontologies using the new MDG Technology for the Ontology Definition Metamodel with support for the Web Ontology Language (OWL) and the Resource Description Framework (RDF).
  • Systems Engineers can take advantage of the enhanced support for SysML 1.2 including Block Elements drawn with parts, references, values, flow part and standard port compartments. SysML FlowSpecification elements with the flowProperties compartment.
  • You can now generate visual diff/comparisons between current diagrams and baselines using the new visual comparison tools built into the model baseline facility. Highlight additions, deletions, moves, and resizes. Selectively roll back changes to a previous baseline state.
Enterprise Architect 9.2 supports UML® Version 2.4.1 - the latest specification from the Object Management Group® (OMG®). Links and Downloads:  
Release Notes:
Free 30 Day Trial:
Registered Users:
YouTube Channel:
* Corporate Edition and above
** Business and Software Engineering Edition and above
*** Professional Edition and above

Getting luck on your side

It is a fact of life that we have a limited amount of time available. Much less than we usually think. That's why it is very important to be careful about how we allocate it if we want to reach our top 3 outcomes. To reach our top 3 outcomes, whatever they are, we would love to have luck on our side. There is indeed a component of luck involved in reaching our top 3 outcomes. A lot of factors can sway our efforts in the wrong direction. Bad things happen. So, what's luck in the first place? As far as I concerned I define luck as "preparation meeting opportunity." Yep, that's it, preparation. You need to be prepared to jump right away on the opportunity as it presents itself to you. The unprepared will say "well, you know, I was unlucky and I was unable to seize the opportunity..." And the more you prepare, the more you'll be able to spot opportunities as well as you'll hone your skills. But beware, do not drown yourself in preparation. Make sure that you prepare on real cases, not just looking at books or discussing without purpose. That's the difference between knowledge and skill. Skill is what you are after. Skill is knowledge that has been applied to real world situations. You have been through the issues, you have a real solid learning. That's not fluff. That's not hot hair. As a side note, it is much better to have a grain of skill than 100 cubic meters of hot air on a given subject, no matter what the noise the hot air crew makes! But then the next problem occurs: which skills are going to help us meet the opportunity we want to seize? And what opportunity are we interested in in the first place? In the previous newsletter we looked at a bunch of questions to help you do just that. Identify your outcomes. At least the areas where you want them to be. There is no way to get away without this. You need to be clear on youroutcomes first. And with a kind of metric so that you know when you are there, or close enough to consider it reached successfully. Which leads us to the most difficult thing to do when you want to reach your top 3 outcomes: saying no to a lot of other stuff. You see, if you choose to pursue your top 3 outcomes, or even one of them, you'll need to stop chasing other things. And that means saying "no." It means that you have made a choice. And making a choice is saying no to what is not that choice. Say you want your firm to be well known in the marketplace so that it attracts customers for its very specific value proposition. All right. But if you want to get there, and get there fast, you'll need to focus on making it true. Learn how to do it, maybe staff for getting it done. Channel your resources to make it happen. No matter what, you'll have to say no to other things because nobody has infinite resource (not even Microsoft, Google or Apple: they all let go products that do not catch up). So, this month, let's reflect on what you'll say no to:
  • letting go of old habits that make no sense in the pursuit of youroutcomes (these are just time leeches)
  • letting go of people that do not contribute to your outcomes, or people who are sabotaging your effort (what a relief!)
  • letting go of projects that have been on the backburner for too long and have nothing to contribute to your outcomes (it will make more space available in your mind)
  • stop making commitments just to "look nice" and "because you have to." (2 minutes to say no, more satisfaction for hours by focusing on what matters instead of pleasing others)
Choosing is saying no. And if you do not choose, others will do it for you. Wouldn't it be better to act on your agenda rather than on theirs, by default?
Until next time, let's say no to crap and yes to luck!