Monthly Archives: March 2013

Laws of Power

I came across Robert Greene’s “48 Laws of Power” last summer and was blown away. In his book, Greene describes 48 “laws” that various figures throughout history have displayed that led them to a position of power. While reading it, I found there were a number of different “laws” I could apply to my everyday life. Sure, I’m not (literally) fighting any battles or involved in politics, but these lessons can be applied to just about anything if you frame it correctly. He gets pretty detailed so if you’d like hear some more about what Greene thinks, I strongly recommend picking up the book on Amazon.

The book led me to Greene’s blog, Power, Seduction and War. Here, I came across a speech that he gave at Yale (I think it took place in late 2010 according to the post date). There are plenty of things to take away from the speech, but here’s one part I found really interesting:

“It’s all material. Everything that happens is material. Material for a book. Material for a novel, for a screenplay. I want to be the master observer of this world.”

This line fits the vibe of this blog perfectly. To observe the world is to learn about the world. To learn about the world is to learn about people. To learn about people is to learn about the relationships between people, including yourself. This can open many doors…Observing can help improve the relationships in your life, whether you’re looking to improve the relationship with a loved one or make a change at work. Observe how people are acting around you and how different actions can lead to different results. Learn from these observations and use that to improve your own life.

On a creative note, these observations can lead to inspiration for anything. Like Greene says, “a book…a screenplay.” Art is life and in order to create art, one must observe life. If you do have a creative side to you and ever find yourself hitting a wall, go outside and observe life. The smallest thing can lead to a thought, which can lead to a feeling, which can lead to a memory, which can lead to a lyric, etc. Keep your eyes and ears open. Become the “master observer” of your world.

The full transcript of Robert Greene’s Yale speech referenced above can be found here.

An mp3 of the speech can be found here.


Simplicity

Keep it simple.

It seems like something so obvious that it just can’t be right, but experience has shown me time and again that it’s true. Take a look at any part of your life and you’ll find some good examples of this advice coming into play.

Family.

When it comes to family, one of the worst things you can do is to complicate things by over-thinking meaningless problems. I’m sure you’ve seen many times when fights have somehow seemed to manifest themselves out of nowhere. Things can turn from nothing into something major pretty quickly. The next time you have a little squabble with a family member, or you see others you love squabbling over something silly, take a step back. Take a deep breathe and think about all the time and energy being wasted when there’s a good chance it means nothing in the whole scheme of things. Keep things simple and realize that at the end of the day, family is one of the most important parts of your life. They’re there to love and support you, so don’t waste that valuable asset on something meaningless.

Work.

Many careers require you to think deeply and spend a great deal of time preparing spreadsheets, presentations or documentation. I would never advise against any of this, but be sure to use your time wisely. Many times I’ve found myself wasting hours and hours thinking about a possible solution to a problem while the answer was staring right at me the whole time. It’s natural to think that some problems must have a complicated solution or else they would have been solved already, but I’ve learned that this usually isn’t the case. All it takes is some clear thinking to realize that the problem you’re dealing with isn’t as big as it seemed at first. Keep things simple, break down the problem at hand and apply some logic to resolve it. People will take notice and soon you’ll start to hear, “Oh that was easy, I should have thought of that!”

Creativity.

Different people are interested in different types of art. Some like the more complicated and really deep types of music, literature and photography. I’m sure a music theorist and fan of classical would argue with a fan of hip-hop all day about what constitutes music and how something more complex is simply just better than something more simple. It really comes down to taste with art and what people can feel a connection with. Personally, I’ve always gravitated to the simpler forms of art. I can appreciate all forms, but I can really understand and feel a simple kick and snare with a chopped sample. Too many synthesized noises or layers upon layers of instruments and I’m lost. Not to say there is anything wrong with more complex forms, but when it comes to art, I’d always use the same advice, keep it simple and people will be feeling it. If you hit a drought of creativity, keep it simple. Go back to your roots and you’ll always find that inspiration and creativity coming back when you need them most.

In his jam “Poe Mans Dreams (His Vice),” Kendrick Lamar puts it oh so eloquently…”Some rappers using big words to make their similes heard, my simplest shit be more pivotal.”


Equal and Opposite

Up. Down.

Left. Right.

Good. Bad.

Yin. Yang.

As Newton’s law of motion states, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” When discussing this law, it is usually in the realm of physics. It means that in every interaction, there is a pair of forces acting on the two interacting objects. The size of the force on the first object equals the size of the force on the second, but in an opposite direction. These forces always come in pairs – equal and opposite.

Try thinking about this law in your approach to life. There is always another way of looking at things, a yin to the yang. When you come across a problem tomorrow at work, think of it as a solution to another problem…you’ve been looking for a way to move forward in your job but can’t seem to get a leg up on the competition. There may be a few co-workers that are a bit more experienced but you really feel like you can handle that next step. Use tomorrow’s problem as a solution to this. This problem may be something difficult that will take a great amount of time and effort to figure out, but doing so will put you exactly where you want to be, in your eyes and your boss’s.

Take a step back. Look at things in a different light. How can something negative be taken as the opposite? Think long enough and you’ll find a positive out of every negative. It may seem like the whole world is going up in flames at times, but out of the hottest fire comes the strongest steel.


Time Signature Living

If I had to describe my lifestyle and overall approach to life in a time signature, it would be 4/4. For those that aren’t big on music theory, a time signature basically tells you how music is counted. The top 4 tells you how many beats to count and the bottom 4 tells you what kind of note to count, whether it’s a whole note, half note, quarter note, etc. In this case, 4 refers to a quarter note. Ok, boring, but what this boils down to is the simplest and most straightforward time signature.

I always find myself enjoying songs that have a relatively simple beat and fill the spaces in between with a little more flavor. Like 4/4, I’d say my life is pretty consistent, somewhat normal and has a general feeling of completeness to it. Some try to do too much and some do too little, but living a 4/4 lifestyle feels just right. It allows for a nice mix of family, friends, work, hobbies, relaxation and anything else you may be in to.

While I feel like this is a great general approach to living, too much of anything is never a good thing. In order to remain hungry in life, keep things interesting. Never let yourself fall into a pattern, any pattern. Get up, go to work, come home, relax…great. Tomorrow, do something different. Set goals at work. Plan a dinner with a loved one. Go to the gym…anything. Just remember to keep your life interesting no matter how simple your time signature may be.

“Modern Man” by Arcade Fire is a fantastic song that has a different feel to it because of a funky time signature. Like this song, keep your life interesting by changing your “time signature”. While 4/4 may be a great way to stay consistent and keep things on an even keel, consistency leads to boredom. Change with the times, always keep learning and apply that to your life.


Self Titled

Welcome to the world of Broken Down & Hungry.

You may hear the name of this site and think it’s about someone down on their luck, looking for a place to vent. I’m sure there are a million blogs out there that serve this purpose, but what’s the fun in reading about someone else’s problems? I’ve got a different take on the phrase…

Broken Down

Everything in life has meaning, and that meaning can be different for every single person in the world. For instance, I can listen to a song and hear one thing, while you can listen to the same song and hear something completely different. What is important is that each person takes the time to fully appreciate what they’re listening to. On the surface, it might just sound like a cool guitar riff or a nice voice, but underneath all that is much more. What else is there? That’s up to you to decide. Spend some time, think about what you’re listening to, break down each part of it and I guarantee you will find something meaningful you can take and apply to your own life. Of course, music is only one of a million examples this can be done with.

Hungry

The most important thing you can do in life is to stay hungry. Hungry for knowledge, love, friendship, money, whatever. If you don’t stay hungry, you lose the desire to better your life and the lives of those around you. Sure, there are plenty of times when you’d rather just be lazy and watch some tv instead of reading a book or finishing some work, but it’s important to try and limit these times and opt to make your life better. The motivation and inspiration needed to make that choice is really where this blog comes in.

Keep your eyes and ears open. Take it all in, break it down and find something of meaning that you can apply to your own life. Use this as the motivation and inspiration to stay hungry and continue to better your life.