Mastery by Stewart Emery  Mastery in our careers (and in our lives!) requires that we constantly 
produce results beyond and out of the ordinary.  Mastery is a product  of consistently going beyond our limits.  For most people, it starts with 
technical excellence in a chosen field and a commitment to that  excellence.  If you’re willing to commit yourself to excellence, to  surround yourself with things that represent this excellence, your life 
will change. 
It’s remarkable how much mediocrity we live with, surrounding  ourselves with daily reminders that average is somehow acceptable. 
In fact, our world suffers from terminal normality.  Take a moment to 
assess all the things around you that promote your being “average.”  These are the things that prevent you from going beyond the limits 
that you’ve arbitrarily set for yourself. 
The first step to mastery is the removal of everything in your  environment that represents mediocrity, and one way to attain that 
objective is to surround yourself with people who ask more of you 
than you would ordinarily give of yourself.  Didn’t your parents and  some of your best teachers and coaches do exactly that? 
Another step on the path to mastery is the removal of resentment 
toward the masters.  Develop compassion for yourself so that you  can be in the presence of a master and grow from the experience.  Rather than comparing yourself to (and resenting) people who have  mastery, remain open and receptive.  Let the experience be like the 
planting of a seed within you that, with nourishment, will grow into 
your own individual mastery. 
You see, we’re all ordinary.  But rather than condemning himself for  his “ordinariness,” a master will embrace that ordinariness as a 
foundation for building the extraordinary.  Rather than relying on his 
ordinariness as an excuse for inactivity, he’ll use it instead as a  vehicle for correcting himself.  It’s necessary to be able to correct  yourself without invalidating or condemning yourself ­­ to use the 
results of the correction process to improve upon other aspects of 
your life.  Correction is essential to power and mastery.

Forget Setting Goals. Focus on This Instead.

By James Clear - December 17, 2013

We all have things that we want to achieve in our lives -- getting into the better shape, building a successful business, raising a wonderful family, writing a best-selling book, winning a championship, and so on.

And for most of us, the path to those things starts by setting a specific and actionable goal. At least, this is how I approached my life until recently. I would set goals for classes I took, for weights that I wanted to lift in the gym, and for clients I wanted in my business.
What I’m starting to realize, however, is that when it comes to actually getting things done and making progress in the areas that are important to you, there is a much better way to do things.

It all comes down to the difference between goals and systems.

Let me explain.

The Difference Between Goals and Systems

What’s the difference between goals and systems?
If you’re a coach, your goal is to win a championship. Your system is what your team does at practice each day.
If you’re a writer, your goal is to write a book. Your system is the writing schedule that you follow each week.
If you’re a runner, your goal is to run a marathon. Your system is your training schedule for the month.
If you’re an entrepreneur, your goal is to build a million dollar business. Your system is your sales and marketing process.

Now for the really interesting question:

If you completely ignored your goals and focused only on your system, would you still get results?
For example, if you were a basketball coach and you ignored your goal to win a championship and focused only on what your team does at practice each day, would you still get results?

I think you would.

As an example, I just added up the total word count for the articles I’ve written this year. (You can see them all here .) In the last 12 months, I’ve written over 115,000 words. The typical book is about 50,000 to 60,000 words, so I have basically written two books this year.

All of this is such a surprise because I never set a goal for my writing. I didn’t measure my progress in relation to some benchmark. I never set a word count goal for any particular article. I never said, “I want to write two books this year.”

What I did focus on was writing one article every Monday and Thursday. And after sticking to that schedule for 11 months, the result was 115,000 words. I focused on my system and the process of doing the work. In the end, I enjoyed the same (or perhaps better) results.

Let’s talk about three more reasons why you should focus on systems instead of goals.

1. Goals reduce your current happiness.

When you’re working toward a goal, you are essentially saying, “I’m not good enough yet, but I will be when I reach my goal.”

The problem with this mindset is that you’re teaching yourself to always put happiness and success off until the next milestone is achieved. “Once I reach my goal, then I’ll be happy. Once I achieve my goal, then I’ll be successful.”

SOLUTION: Commit to a process, not a goal.

Choosing a goal puts a huge burden on your shoulders. Can you imagine if I had made it my goal to write two books this year? Just writing that sentence stresses me out.

But we do this to ourselves all the time. We place unnecessary stress on ourselves to lose weight or to succeed in business or to write a best-selling novel. Instead, you can keep things simple and reduce stress by focusing on the daily process and sticking to your schedule, rather than worrying about the big, life-changing goals.

When you focus on the practice instead of the performance, you can enjoy the present moment and improve at the same time.

2. Goals are strangely at odds with long-term progress.

You might think your goal will keep you motivated over the long-term, but that’s not always true.

Consider someone training for a half-marathon. Many people will work hard for months, but as soon as they finish the race, they stop training. Their goal was to finish the half-marathon and now that they have completed it, that goal is no longer there to motivate them. When all of your hard work is focused on a particular goal, what is left to push you forward after you achieve it?

This can create a type of “yo-yo effect” where people go back and forth from working on a goal to not working on one. This type of cycle makes it difficult to build upon your progress for the long-term.

SOLUTION: Release the need for immediate results.

I was training at the gym last week and I was doing my second-to-last set of clean and jerks. When I hit that rep, I felt a small twinge in my leg. It wasn’t painful or an injury, just a sign of fatigue near the end of my workout. For a minute or two, I thought about doing my final set. Then, I reminded myself that I plan to do this for the rest of my life and decided to call it a day.

In a situation like the one above, a goal-based mentality will tell you to finish the workout and reach your goal. After all, if you set a goal and you don’t reach it, then you feel like a failure.

But with a systems-based mentality, I had no trouble moving on. Systems-based thinking is never about hitting a particular number, it’s about sticking to the process and not missing workouts.

Of course, I know that if I never miss a workout, then I will lift bigger weights in the long-run. And that’s why systems are more valuable than goals. Goals are about the short-term result. Systems are about the long-term process. In the end, process always wins.

3. Goals suggest that you can control things that you have no control over.

You can’t predict the future. (I know, shocking.)

But every time we set a goal, we try to do it. We try to plan out where we will be and when we will make it there. We try to predict how quickly we can make progress, even though we have no idea what circumstances or situations will arise along the way.

SOLUTION: Build feedback loops.

Each Friday, I spend 15 minutes filling out a small spreadsheet with the most critical metrics for my business. For example, in one column I calculate the conversion rate (the percentage of website visitors that join my free email newsletter each week). I rarely think about this number, but checking that column each week provides a feedback loop that tells me if I’m doing things right. When that number drops, I know that I need to send high quality traffic to my site.

Feedback loops are important for building good systems because they allow you to keep track of many different pieces without feeling the pressure to predict what is going to happen with everything. Forget about predicting the future and build a system that can signal when you need to make adjustments.

Fall In Love With Systems

None of this is to say that goals are useless. However, I’ve found that goals are good for planning your progress and systems are good for actually making progress.

In fact, I think I’m going to officially declare 2014 the “Year of the Sloth” so that everyone will be forced to slow down and make consistent, methodical progress rather than chasing sexy goals for a few weeks and then flaming out.

Goals can provide direction and even push you forward in the short-term, but eventually a well-designed system will always win. Having a system is what matters. Committing to the process is what makes the difference.

A version of this article was first published on


"Smash His Camera" is a "film centering on the life and work of Ron Galella that examines the nature and effect of paparazzi." Directed by Leon Gast. 


I loved this film. I loved Ron's passion, enthusiasm, tenacity and his energy. A lot of the story and footage was from a time where few photographers did what he did, so the idea of someone doing anything they could to capture photos of famous people living their lives was somewhat new and original. Andy Warhol famously called Ron Galella his favourite photographer, after the artist explained, "My idea of a good picture is one that's in focus and of a famous person doing something unfamous." There are numerous wild and hilarious stories about people we all know and how Ron interacted with them in getting those photos. 
There is of course the issue of privacy, but if you are as famous as some of these people are, your expectation of privacy (especially someone like Jackie Onassis living in the middle of New York City!) shouldn't be what us less famous people expect. Plus, it's the price of fame, and a guy like Ron Galella simply supplied a demand; having a look through his collection of photos, I'd say he did it with an artistic flare that many photographers have been influenced by, especially those who won't admit it. 

All these issues aside, what I loved the most about this story is that this person found a passion in their life and lives it to the fullest to this day, no "retirement" for this guy. 


a simple graphic of Vancouver's electronic music scene:



Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby of Vedge Restaurant in Philadelphia come to the Montréal en Lumière Festival, and created two evenings of gourmet vegan gastronomy at Laloux. We visited Vedge Restaurant in Philadelphia last fall and loved it; we came home wishing something so refined and delicious existed in Montreal, a city where you either have vegan cafes lacking an upscale experience, or higher-end places with meat-centric menus.

So having Vedge create a seven course menu in a fine establishment like Laloux in Montreal could not be missed!

In partnership with chef Jonathan Lapierre-Réhayem, Richard and Kate created dishes we had to spend a few minutes appreciating the originality and uniqueness of; our server talked about each dish so enthusiastically, we forgot we were in a restaurant that normally has one non-meat dish on it’s main course menu. Combine this with perfectly paired natural wines courtesy of David Vincent, and you have a culinary experience that all food lovers must experience in life.

The best thing about this event (happened two nights: February 26/27) is that Kate and Rich proved to those in Laloux and those who attended (who weren’t already sure about this), that vegan food can be fulfilling, delicious, original and presented to a variety of restaurant goers.People loved it, in fact both nights were sold out weeks in advance with waiting lists to attend. 

We had the real experience of what a restaurant could be like that combined an upscale, quality experience, with quality healthy food - a combination not yet offered in Montreal and very much missing. We are looking into what it will take to open a restaurant in Montreal similar to the concept of Vedge, and will continue testing our idea through our dinner party events, the next one being "New Beginnings" on May 4th. More on that in another blog...

Here is the actual menu:



link to review on Trip Advisor: 

Thanks to Marie-Laure Landais, tonight we discovered "Sherlock" on Netflix, a BBC

production, 6 episodes, each one almost a movie in itself (88 minutes each!). Below is a little trailer from the first of the series, we intend to watch them all. It's obviously subtle, and in your face like a breeze of sulphur. Dark, damp and funny. 



Good news for Canadian politics. Joe Keithley, who was known as "Joey Shithead" during his punk rock career, including being founder and headpunk of D.O.A., has matured himself into quite a voice for sanity and possibility and community. He says it all best himself: 


"Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Joe Keithley and I am seeking the NDP nomination in Coquitlam-Burke Mountain. I am a lifelong activist who has worked hard for the past 35 years to try to create positive change in our world. I am a musician, a business owner, an environmentalist, a husband and a proud father. If I gain your support and your trust, I will work tirelessly to defeat the BC Liberals. Once we have achieved that I will work around the clock to ensure that Adrian Dix and the BC NDP team restore equality and fairness to the people of Coquitlam-Burke Mountain and B.C. I first joined the NDP at 18 while enrolled at S.F.U. studying to become a civil rights lawyer. Those aspirations were soon put on hold as I embarked on a career in the music business, founding the seminal punk band D.O.A. and running my own record label, SDR Records.


"For the past 35 years I have used my music, passion, and business acumen to work towards achieving my ultimate goal, which is to move B.C. and Canada toward becoming a province and country that reflect the values of kindness, inclusion and social justice that I believe Canadians and British Columbians hold dear. I believe that for me, now is the ideal time to enter formal politics and bring the energies and experiences of the activist community to the NDP to help effect change from within the party once again. If elected I will bring these energies and experiences to the task of tackling the big problems that affect Coquitlam and B.C. head on. Issues such as affordable housing, good paying jobs, accessible health care for all, a proper standard of living for our seniors, the protection of our environment and our natural resources."


from his website:



picture from