Thoughts on Leadership from Xenophon’s Cyrus the Great

There’s a shorter way to a higher goal—the goal of voluntary obedience. People are quick to obey the person who’s wiser than themselves. A sick man will beg a doctor to guide him back to health, and a whole ship’s company will listen to an experienced captain. Likewise, travelers cherish the guide who knows the safest way. But if people think that obedience will lead them to disaster, then nothing—not punishments, not persuasion, not even bribes—will get them to come along. For no sane man can be lured to his own destruction.” I remarked that the best way to secure obedience is to be both wiser and better informed than those we rule. “To be sure,” said the king. “If you wish to be thought a good estate manager, or a good horseman, or a good physician, or a good flute player without really being one, just imagine all the tricks you have to invent just to keep up appearances. You might succeed at first, but in the end you’re going to be exposed as an impostor.” Xenophon’s Cyrus the Great: The Arts of Leadership and War (pp. 20-21). Macmillan. Kindle...

Change Your Environment to Change Your Behavior – Diet in Taiwan II

– Fresh produce is cheap in Taiwan Sometimes all you need to do to effect a change in your behavior is make one small tiny change – to alter the environment you’re in very slightly, or to rephrase the way you write your to-do list. I’ve started up my photo food diary again recently. I had been struggling to figure out a healthy breakfast alternative to Baozi – a delicious rice bun filled with pork.  I had been slow to make an change to my breakfast routine because Baozi are super convenient to pick up on the way out the door in the morning, relatively healthy (high in protein, and rice flour in Baozi is better than wheat or white toast), and are fairly delicious. I’ve been wanting to switch over to a grain-less breakfast for about two weeks, and one of my friends called me on it. I had this statement written on my to-do list for about two weeks: “Come up with healthier breakfast alternative.” Eating Baozi is not unhealthy. I wanted to come up with an alternative because I am in the process of drastically reducing / eliminating grains from my diet, except on cheat days. See anything that could be improved about the way I wrote the to-do? I had been talking about changing my breakfast for around two weeks. A friend of mine called me out on the fact that I had been talking about making a change to my behavior for half a month, but still hadn’t actually done anything about it. Having (real) friends that will call you out when you talk...

Talking to Strangers, or, Beer and John Denver with the Aboriginal Taiwanese

– Wulai, Taiwan Sometimes it’s good to talk to strangers. Sometimes, talking to strangers brings you new friends and Aboriginal Taiwanese men singing covers of John Denver’s Country Roads. —— Skim Time: 3 mins Read Time: 5 mins —– Here’s how you do it. Transportation From Taipei, you hop on the MRT and go to Xindian, a beautiful grassy hiking spot where people sell fruit out of the backs of trucks and paddle around a lake in duck boats. From Xindian you take a bus approximately 40 minutes, trying to balance while the driver throttles around serpentine mountain passes at full speed, passing little tea shops, hydro electric dams, and foggy mountain vistas the entire way. You get off at the last stop – where water pipes criss cross over the top of a blue-gray river to feed the biggest industry in the town: hot spring hotels. 500 NTD (about USD $16) for two hours in a swanky hotel room with a double hot spring and river view. Two hours? You have to wonder if people really come for the double hot spring, or if they make use of the swanky hot spring hotel rooms to indulge other corporeal appetites. The outdated aboriginal museum on the other side of the bridge, just as you enter into the town, is free for students, and sleepy for everyone. The main street is dotted with people selling moonshine millet booze, peanut mochi, and pungent stinky tofu. This is Wulai. Last week I went to Wulai to work remotely. I sat in an awesome little cafe overlooking the river. I sipped on my...