On The Inner Game of Tennis

I recently finished reading The Inner Game of Tennis by W. Timothy Gallwey.

Below are key excerpts from the book that I found insightful:

It is the thesis of this book that neither mastery nor satisfaction can be found in the playing of any game nor without giving some attrition to the relatively new relatively neglected skills of the inner game. This is the game that takes place in the mind of the player, and it is played against such obstacles as lapses in concentration, nervousness, self-doubt and self-condemnation. In short, it is played to overcome all habits of mind which inhibit excellence in performance.

Getting it together mentally in tennis involves the learning of several internal skills: 1) learning to program your computer Self 2 with images rather than instructing yourself with words; 2) learning to trust thyself  (Self 2) to do what you (Self 1) ask of it This means letting Self 2 hit the ball and 3) learning to see ”nonjudgmentally”—that is, to see what is happening rather than merely noticing how well or how badly it is happening. This overcomes “trying too hard.” All these skills are subsidiary to the master skill, without which nothing of value is ever achieved: the art of concentration.

The first inner skill to be developed in the Inner Game is that of nonjudgmental awareness. When we “Unlearn” judgment we discover, usually with some surprise, that we don’t need the motivation rf a reformer to change our “bad” habits.There is a more natural process of learning and performing waiting to be discovered. It is waiting to show what it can do when allowed to operate without interference from the conscious strivings of the  judgmental ego-mind. The discovery of and reliance upon this process is the subject of the next chapter.

The main job of Self 1, the conscious ego-mind, is to set goals, that is, to communicate to Self 2 what he wants from it and then to let Self 2 do it.

The time for change comes when we realize that the same function could be served in a better way.

Step 1 – Observe, Nonjudgmentally, Existing Behavior…Step 2 Ask Yourself to Change, Programming with Image and Feel…Step3 Let It Happen! Step 4: Nonjudgmental, Calm Observation of the Results Leading to Continuing Observation of Process until Behavior Is in Automatic…Step 4 Observation.

By increasing the effective power of awareness, concentration allows us to throw more light on whatever we value knowing, and to that extent enables us to know and enjoy it more.

Children who have been taught to measure themselves in this way often be come adults driven by a compulsion to succeed which overshadows all else. The tragedy of this belief is not that they will fail to find the success they seek, but that they will not discover the love or even tithe self-respect they were led to believe will come with it. Furthermore, in their single-minded pursuit of measurable success, the development of many other human potentialities is sadly neglected.

On a closing note:

Winning is overcoming obstacles to reach a goal, but the value in winning is only as great as the value of the goal reached. Reaching the goal itself may not be as valuable as the experience that can come in making a supreme effort to overcome the obstacles involved. The process can be more rewarding than the victory itself.

A highly recommended read in the area of personal development.

On Einstein

I recently finished reading Einstein – His Life and Universe – by Walter Isaacson. As introduced: “Looking back at a century that will be remembered for its willingness to break classical bonds, and looking ahead to an era that seeks to nurture the creativity needed for scientific innovation, one person stands out as a paramount icon of our age: the kindly refugee from oppression whose wild halo of hair, twinkling eyes, engaging humanity, and extraordinary brilliance made his face a symbol and his name a synonym for genius. Albert Einstein was a locksmith blessed with imagination and guided by a faith in the harmony of nature’s handiwork. His fascinating story, a testament to the connection between creativity and freedom, reflects the triumphs and tumults of the modern era.”

Below are key excerpts from the book that I found very perceptive:

On his approach:

His success came from questioning conventional wisdom, challenging authority, and marveling at mysteries that struck others as mundane. This led him to embrace a morality and politics based on respect for free minds, free spirits, and free individuals. Tyranny repulsed him, and he saw tolerance not simply as a sweet virtue but as a necessary condition for a creative society. “It is important to foster individuality,” he said, “for only the individual can produce the new ideas.”‘ This outlook made Einstein a rebel with a reverence for the harmony of nature, one who had just the right blend of imagination and wisdom to transform our understanding of the universe. These traits are just as vital for this new century of globalization, in which our success will depend on our creativity, as they were for the beginning of the twentieth century, when Einstein helped usher in the modern age.

On using suspicion successfully:

Throughout the six decades of his scientific career, whether leading the quantum revolution or later resisting it, this attitude helped shape Einstein’s work. “His early suspicion of authority, which never wholly left him, was to prove of decisive importance,” said Banesh Hoffmann, who was a collaborator of Einstein’s in his later years. “Without it he would not have been able to develop the powerful independence of mind that gave him the courage to challenge established scientific beliefs and thereby revolutionize physics.”

On Einstein’s ability to pursue several ideas at once:

A Strength of Einstein’s mind was that it could juggle a variety of ideas simultaneously. Even as he was pondering dancing particles in a liquid, he had been wrestling with a different theory that involved moving bodies and the speed of light. A day or so after sending in his Brownian motion paper, he was talking to his friend Michele Besso when a new brainstorm struck. It would produce, as he wrote Habicht in his famous letter of that month, “a modification of the theory of space and time.”

On his background:

“A new idea comes suddenly and in a rather intuitive way,” Einstein once said. “But,” he hastened to add, “intuition is nothing but the outcome of earlier intellectual experience.” Einstein’s discovery of special relativity involved an intuition based on a decade of intellectual as well as personal experiences. The most important and obvious, I think, was his deep understanding and knowledge of theoretical physics. He was also helped by his ability to visualize thought experiments, which had been encouraged by his education in Aarau. Also, there was his grounding in philosophy: from Hume and Mach he had developed a skepticism about things that could not be observed. And this skepticism was enhanced by his innate rebellious tendency to question authority.

On his dual approach to his research:

In it Einstein pursued a two-fisted approach. On the one hand, he engaged in what was called a “physical strategy,” in which he tried to build the correct equations from a set of requirements dictated by his feel for the physics. At the same time, he pursued a “mathematical Strategy,” in which he tried to deduce the correct equations from the more formal math requirements using the tensor analysis that Grossmann and others recommended…Einstein’s “physical strategy” began with his mission to generalize the principle of relativity so that it applied to observers who were accelerating or moving in an arbitrary manner. Any gravitational field equation he devised would have to meet the following physical requirements: It must revert to Newtonian theory in the special case of weak and static gravitational fields. In other words, under certain normal conditions, his theory would describe Newton’s familiar laws of gravitation and motion. It should preserve the laws of classical physics, most notably the conservation of energy and momentum. It should satisfy the principle of equivalence, which holds that observations made by an observer who is uniformly accelerating would be equivalent to those made by an observer standing in a comparable gravitational field.

His peer’s on his discoveries:

Its equivalence to acceleration, and, Einstein asserted, the general relativity of all forms of motion. In the opinion of Paul Dirac, the Nobel laureate pioneer of quantum mechanics, it was “probably the greatest scientific discovery ever made.” Another of the great giants of twentieth-century physics. Max Born, called it “the greatest feat of human thinking about nature, the most amazing combination of philosophical penetration, physical intuition and mathematical skill The entire process had exhausted Einstein but left him elated. His marriage had collapsed and war was ravaging Europe, but Einstein was as happy as he would ever be. “My boldest dreams have now come true,” he exulted to Besso. ”General covariance. Mercury’s perihelion motion wonderfully precise.” He signed himself “contented but kaput.”

On his reaction to his discovery:

Einstein’s decision reflected a major transformation in his life. Until the completion and confirmation of his general theory of relativity, he had dedicated himself almost totally to science, to the exclusion even of his personal, familial, and societal relationships. But his time in Berlin had made him increasingly aware of his identity as a Jew. His reaction to the pervasive anti-Semitism was to feel even more connected— indeed, inextricably connected—to the culture and community of his people.

On his view about education:

The Times called it “the ever-present Edison questionnaire controversy,” and of course Einstein ran into it. A reporter asked him a question from the test. “What is the speed of sound?” If anyone understood the propagation of sound waves, it was Einstein. But he admitted that he did not “carry such information in my mind since it is readily available in books” Then he made a larger point designed to disparage Edison’s view of education. “The value of a college education is not the learning of many facts but the training of the mind to think,” he said.

On challenging authority:

This wariness of authority reflected the most fundamental of all of Einstein’s moral principles: Freedom and individualism are necessary for creativity and imagination to flourish. He had demonstrated this as an impertinent young thinker, and he proclaimed the principle clearly in 1931. “I believe that the most important mission of the state is to protect the individual and to make it possible for him to develop into a creative personality,” he said.

On morality:

The foundation of that morality, he believed, was rising above the “merely personal” to five in a way that benefited humanity. There were times when he could be callous to those closest to him, which shows that, like the rest of us humans, he had flaws. Yet more than most people, he dedicated himself honestly and sometimes courageously to actions that he felt transcended selfish desires in order to encourage human progress and the preservation of individual freedoms. He was generally kind, good-natured, gentle, and unpretentious. When he and Elsa left for Japan in 1922, he offered her daughters some advice on how to lead a moral fife. “Use for yourself little,” he said, “but give to others much.”

On realism:

Einstein’s concept of realism had three main components: 1. His belief that a reality exists independent of our ability to observe it. As he put it in his autobiographical notes: “Physics is an attempt conceptually to grasp reality as it is thought independently of its being observed. In this sense one speaks of physical reality.’ ” 2. His belief in separability and locality. In other words, objects are located at certain points in spacetime, and this separability is part of what defines them. “If one abandons the assumption that what exists in different parts of space has its own independent, real existence, then I simply cannot see what it is that physics is supposed to describe,” he declared to Max Born. 3. His belief in strict causality, which implies certainty and classical determinism. The idea that probabilities play a role in reality was as disconcerting to him as the idea that our observations might play a role in collapsing those probabilities. “Some physicists. among them myself, cannot believe,” he said, “that we must accept the view that events in nature are analogous to a game of chance.”

On his final moments:

The aneurysm, like a big blister, had burst, and Einstein died at age 76. At his bedside lay the draft of his undelivered speech for Israel Independence Day. “I speak to you today not as an American citizen and not as a Jew. but as a human being,” it began. Also by his bed were twelve pages of tightly written equations, littered with cross-outs and corrections. To the very end, he struggled to find his elusive unified field theory. And the final thing he wrote, before he went to sleep for the last time, was one more line of symbols and numbers that he hoped might get him, and the rest of us, just a little step closer to the spirit manifest in the laws of the universe.

His eulogy:

“No Other man contributed so much to the vast expansion of 20th century knowledge,” President Eisenhower declared. “Yet no other man was more modest in the possession of the power that is knowledge, more sure that power without wisdom is deadly.” The New York Times ran nine stories plus an editorial about his death the next day: “Man stands on this diminutive earth, gazes at the myriad stars and upon billowing oceans and tossing trees—and wonders. What does it all mean? How did it come about? The most thoughtful wonderer who appeared among us in three centuries has passed on in the person of Albert Einstein.”‘

On curiosity:

A tenet of Einstein’s faith was that nature was not cluttered with extraneous attributes. Thus, there must be a purpose to curiosity. For Einstein, it existed because it created minds that question, which produced an appreciation for the universe that he equated with religious feelings. “Curiosity has its own reason for existing,” he once explained. “One cannot help but be in awe when one contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality.”

On freedom:

Einstein’s fundamental creed was that freedom was the lifeblood of creativity. “The development of science and of the creative activities of the spirit,” he said, “requires a freedom that consists in the independence of thought from the restrictions of authoritarian and social prejudice.” Nurturing that should be the fundamental role of government. he felt, and the mission of education.

On religion:

Einstein considered this feeling of reverence, this cosmic religion, to be the wellspring of all true art and science. It was what guided him. “When I am judging a theory,” he said, “I ask myself whether, if I were God, I would have arranged the world in such a way.” It is also what graced him with his beautiful mix of confidence and awe. He was a loner with an intimate bond to humanity, a rebel who was suffused with reverence. And thus it was that an imaginative, impertinent patent clerk became the mind reader of the creator of the cosmos. the locksmith of the mysteries of the atom and the universe.

A must read for all.

On An Inconvenient Truth

I have recently finished reading An Inconvenient Truth – The Planetary Emergency Of Global Warming And What We Can Do About It – by Al Gore.

Below are key excerpts from the book that I found particularly insightful:

1- “The fundamental outline of the climate crisis Story is much the same now as it was then. The relationship between human civilization and the Earth has been utterly transformed by a combination of factors, including the population explosion, the technological revolution, and a willingness to ignore the future consequences of our present actions. The underlying reality is that we are colliding with the planet’s ecological system, and its most vulnerable components are rumbling as a result…I have learned that, beyond death and taxes, there is at least one absolutely indisputable fact: Not only does human- in caused global warming exist, but it is also growing more and more dangerous, and at a pace that has now made it a planetary emergency.”

2- “But along with the danger we face from global warming, this crisis also brings unprecedented opportunities. What are the opportunities such a crisis also offers? They include not just few jobs and new profits, though there will be plenty of both, we can build clean engines, we can harness the Sun and the wind; we can stop wasting energy; we can use our planet’s plentiful coal resources without heating the planet. The procrastinators and deniers would have us believe this will be expensive. But in recent years, dozens of companies have cut emissions of heat-trapping gases while saving money. Some of the World’s largest companies are moving aggressively to capture the enormous economic opportunities offered by a clean energy future.”

3- “But I truly believe I was handed not just a second chance, but an obligation to pay attention to what matters and to do my part to protect and safeguard it, and to do whatever I can at this moment of danger to try to make sure that what is most precious about God’s beautiful Earth—its liveability for us, our children, future generations—doesn’t slip from our hands.”

4- “”he emerging consensus linking global warming to the increasingly destructive power of hurricanes has been based part on research showing a significant v; increase in the number of category 4 and 5 hurricanes. A separate study predicts that global warming will increase the strength of the average hurricane a full half-step on the well known five-step scale…As water temperatures go up, wind velocity goes up, and so does storm moisture condensation.”

5- “Insurers base their rates—the amount you pay to protect your home against disaster—on their ability to calculate the risk of unexpected events. When extreme weather stops following predictable, historical patterns—as it appears is already happening—companies can no longer estimate risk accurately, which 1 turn makes it difficult to project what their losses will be. The only way to stay n business under these conditions would be to raise premiums for all insurance holders or to stop offering insurance in particularly risky areas, such as Florida and the Gulf coast, which already face increasingly devastating weather every summer. As one business leader put it, insurance companies face “a perfect storm of rising weather losses, rising global temperatures, and more Americans than ever living in harm’s way.””

6- “There are many complex causes of the famine and genocide, but a little discussed contributing factor is the disappearance of Lake Chad, formerly the sixth largest lake in the world, in a period of only the last 40 years. ”

7- “In all of my journeys, I have searched for a better understanding of the climate crisis—and in all of them I have found not only evidence of the danger we face globally, but an expectation everywhere that the United States will be the nation to lead the world to a safer, brighter future. And as a result, since every journey took me back home, I have returned each time with a deeper conviction that the solution to this crisis that I have traveled so far to understand must begin right here at home.”

8- “Losing something is one thing; forgetting what you’ve lost is something else again. Maybe I shouldn’t generalize from my personal experience, but I do believe that our civilization has come perilously close to forgetting what we’ve lost and it then forgetting that we’ve lost it. This is caused in part by never having the chance to commune with nature. That may sound like so much hippie pap, but I defy anyone to take in this country’s unspoiled treasures and not feel calmed, humbled, and rejuvenated by them. I believe that when God created us {and I do believe evolution was part of the process God used). He shaped us, breathed life and a soul into us, and then set us free  within nature, not separate from it, giving us intimate connections to all aspects of it. The relationship we have to the natural world is not a relationship between “us” and “it.” It is us, and we are of it. Our capacity for consciousness and abstract thought in no way separates us from nature. Our capacity for analysis sometimes leads us to an arrogant illusion; that we’re so special and unique that nature isn’t connected to us. But the fact is, we’re inextricably tied.”

9- “According to this way of thinking, if exploitation results in injury to the environment, so be it; nature will always heal itself, and no one should care. But what we do to nature we do to ourselves. The magnitude of environmental destruction is now on a scale few ever foresaw; the wounds no longer simply heal themselves. We have to act affirmatively to stop the harm.”

10- “But despite the negatives, there is something powerful and resilient we must never lose sight of: American constitutional democracy still has the potential to confer on the average citizen the dignity and majesty of self-governance. t is still, in Churchill’s well-known phrase, “the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.” When it works the way our founders intended, the very act of self-governing can produce m indescribable feeling of goodness and harmony that no cynic will ever be able to diminish.”

11- “The parable of the Aral Sea has a simple message: Mistakes in our dealings with Mother Nature can now have much larger, many of our new technologies confer upon us new power without automatically giving us new wisdom.”

12- “Our new technologies, combined with our new numbers have made us, collectively, a force of nature.”

13- “Now it is up to us to use our democracy and our God-given ability to reason with one another about our future and make moral choices to change the policies and behaviors that would, if continued, leave a degraded, diminished, and hostile planet for our children and grandchildren—and for humankind We must choose instead to make the 21 st century a time of renewal. By seizing the opportunity that is bound up in this crisis, we cam unleash the creativity innovation,and inspiration that are just as much a part of our human birthright as our vulnerability to greed and pettiness.The choice is ours. The responsibility is ours. The future is ours.”


Omar Halabieh

An Inconvenient Truth

On The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

I recently finished reading The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin.

Below are key excerpts from the book that I found particularly insightful:

1- “Revelation had indeed no weight with me, as such; but I entertain’d an opinion that, though certain actions might not be bad because they were forbidden by it, or good because it commanded them, yet probably those actions might be forbidden because they were bad for us, or commanded because they were beneficial to us, in their own natures, all the circumstances of things considered. And this persuasion, with the kind hand of Providence, or some guardian angel, or accidental favorable circumstances and situations, or all together, preserved me, thro’ this dangerous time of youth, and the hazardous situations I was sometimes in among strangers, remote from the eye and advice of my father, without any willful gross immorality or injustice, that might have been expected from my want of religion. I say willful, because the instances 1 have mentioned had something of others. 1 had therefore a tolerable character to begin the world with; I valued it properly, and determin’d to preserve it.”

2- “I never was without some religious principles. I never doubted, for instance, the existence of the Deity; that he made the world, and govern’d it by his Providence; that the most acceptable service of God was the doing good to man; that our souls are immortal; and that all crime will be punished, and virtue rewarded, either here or hereafter. These 1 esteem’d the essentials of every religion; and, being to be found in all the religions we had in our country, I respected them all, tho’ with different degrees of respect, as I found them more o. less mix’d with other articles, which, without any tendency to inspire, promote, or confirm morality, serv’d principally to divide us, and make us unfriendly to one another. This respect to all with an opinion that the worst had some good effects, induc’d me to avoid all discourse that might tend to lessen the good opinion another might have of his own religion; and as our province increas’d in people. and new places of worship were continually wanted, and generally erected by voluntary contribution, my mite for such purpose, whatever might be the sect, was never refused.”

3- “These names of virtues, with their precepts, were: 1. Temperance. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation. 2. Silence. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation. Order. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business lave its time. 4- Resolution. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve. 5- Frugality. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i. e., waste nothing. 6. Industry. Lose no time; be always employ’d in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions. 7. Sincerity. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly; and, if you speak. speak accordingly. 8. Justice. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty. 9- Moderation. Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve. lo. Cleanliness. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation. 11. Tranquility. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable. 12. Chastity. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another s peace or reputation. 13. Humility. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.”

4- “In reality, there is, perhaps, no one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride. Disguise it, struggle with it, beat it down, stifle it. mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive, and will every now and then peep out and show itself; you will see it, perhaps, often in this history; for, even if I could conceive that I had completely overcome it, I should probably be proud of my humility.”

5- “There seems to me at present to be great occasion for raising a United Party for Virtue, by forming the virtuous and good men of all nations into a regular body, to be govern’d by suitable good and wise rules, which good and wise men may probably be more unanimous in their obedience to, than common people are to common laws.”

6- “This pamphlet had a good effect. Gov’r. Thomas was so pleas’d with the construction of this stove, as described in it, that he offered to give me a patent for the sole vending of them for a term of years; but I declin’d it from a principle which has ever weighed with me on such occasions, viz., That, as we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should he glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours; and this we should do freely and generously.”

7- “Some may think these trifling matters not worth minding or relating; but when they consider that tho’ dust blown into the eyes of a single person, or into a single shop on a windy day, is but of small importance. yet the great number of the instances in a populous city, and its frequent repetitions give it weight and consequence, perhaps they will not censure very severely those who bestow some attention to affairs of this seemingly low nature. Human felicity is produc’d not so much by great pieces of good fortune that seldom happen, as by little advantages that occur every day. Thus, if you teach a poor young man to shave himself. and keep his razor in order, you may contribute more to the happiness of is life than in giving him a thousand guineas.”

8- “Those who govern, having much business on their hands, do not generally like to take the trouble of considering and carrying into execution new projects. The best public measures are therefore seldom adopted from previous wisdom, but fared by the occasion.”


Omar Halabieh

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

On The Radical Leap

I recently finished reading The Radical Leap – A Personal Lesson In Extreme Leadership – by Steve Farber.

This book is a business parable – through the story of  the main character Steve, a leadership consultant, in which he uncovers the principles of Extreme Leadership – the Radical LEAP:

“Love generates Energy, inspires Audacity, and require Proof. LEAP, you see, is simply the Extreme Leader’s active, dynamic expression of love.”

A quick entertaining, and educative read. What I particularly liked about this book is the handbook at the end that summarizes the key concepts and how to apply them on a regular basis.

Below are excerpts that I found particularly insightful:

1- “Leadership is the art of mobilizing others to want to struggle for shared aspirations.”

2- “And we follow human beings; we don’t follow idealized icones of unattainable perfection.”

3- “If I love who we are, and if I love what we can be, then I’ll love the process of how we get there. And in order to make it all happen, I will act boldly and courageously and I will, at time, fail magnificently. But my love demands that I try. Demands it.”

4- “Relationships in the world of business are won in analogous ways…by paying nearly obsessive attention to the needs, desires, hopes, and aspirations of everyone who touches your business. By knowing not only when to stand firm on principle – there is such a thing as tough love – but also when to sacrifice some of your own short-term needs in order for us all to be successful in the long run. And by proving through your own actions that you really love your business, your customers, your colleagues, and your employees.”

5- “Do what you love in the service of people who love what you do.”

6- “…management has to stop pretending to be the Great Protector, but the rest of us have to stop askin’ and expectin’ them to be. We gotta get over the whole idea of ‘them,’ as a matter of fact. We need to hold ourselves accountable and stop looking to blame ‘them’ when things go wrong.”

7- “You may not think that you can change the Whole World that we live in (and you may be wrong) but you can certainly change the world – small w – that you and yours live in: the world of your company, the world of your employees, the world of your industry, or the world of your family. To deny that is to deny your capability as a human being.”

8- “Cultivate Love…Generate Energy…Inspire Audacity…Provide Proof”


Omar Halabieh

The Radical Leap

The Radical Leap