Daily Surgery

Unlike many today who believe in living a life of no regrets, I have regrets. I can tell myself that these “mistakes” (or non-mistakes for politically correct weirdos) have helped get me to where I am today, and this is probably true. But at the same time, if it is true that those choices could lead to something amazing given the infinite permutations of life paths, it is also true that among those infinite permutations could have been a better way, a wiser way, a way that doesn’t need me to rationalize, “I have no regrets.” The fact that I have to tell myself not to regret something already shows regret. It’s very common for us to contradict ourselves.

This post isn’t so much about regrets and how to deal with them but about the other thing I thought of while gathering my thoughts in advance preparation for a “singles event” I’ll be speaking in.

I’ve never been a fan of “Singles Events”, simply because I find it to be a weird classification. I don’t think “Singles” have unique needs or special circumstance. Listen to their concerns without getting lost in the symptoms, and you’ll find the same concerns that everyone faces – including married people. Feelings of loneliness aren’t cured by having someone. Feelings of inadequacy and insecurity, needing to feel beautiful, needing to feel desired, needing to feel loved, these issues will not be addressed by getting married, in fact, they’ll be highlighted. If you feel inadequate alone, imagine how you’ll feel when you have someone else relying on you for things you’re afraid you can’t deliver? You’ll feel worse. Being in a relationship will only emphasize the issues you’re already facing. If you have spent your life building the foundations of your life, you’ll be able to handle it and thrive. If not, you’ll find yourself, at best, insecure in a roller coaster of ups and downs, and at worst, miserable, crumbling, and jaded when you find that this thing called marriage, the thing that was supposed to complete you, is crushing you instead.

Underneath these issues is not a distinction between single or married. Both single and married people are facing the exact same things. A medical doctor doesn’t treat the cancer of a single person differently from the cancer of a married person. It’s irrelevant. He treats the cancer. To think that the condition of a single person is his or her being single is weird. It’s not a condition to be treated or handled with special care. Here are what I think the conditions are:

– Immaturity
People Who Are Too Weak (particularly mentally, emotionally, and spiritually) to Stand On Their Own. Immature people are not mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and financially independent, so will be difficult in a marriage because marriage requires inter-dependence. How can a dependable partner depend on someone who can’t even take care of himself or herself? He or she will have a leach as a partner, and that leaching partner won’t realize it. They’re too immature to realize it. 

– Irresponsibility
People You Can’t Rely On. Connected to immaturity is irresponsibility. This is someone you cannot rely on, who always has an excuse for why they can’t deliver. These are people you end up building around instead of with. In time, you’ll lose respect for immature and irresponsible people because there’s nothing to respect. 

– Entitlement
People Who Think the World Owes Them. It’s not uncommon to find that many immature and irrespirable people, if not all, are accompanied by this disease: entitlement. It’s ironic because the person who contributes the least somehow thinks they deserve the most. This is most obvious when we don’t get why we want. Do we expect others to deliver what we can’t? It’s really weird. 

– Unreasonableness
People Who Can’t Reason Beyond What They Feel. In an age where the most important thing in the world is to be nice, get ready for more divorces – and from nice couples. This isn’t a fearless prediction. It’s plain logic. The cult of nice has removed Reasoning from the dialogue. When there’s no reason, there’s no meaning, when there’s no meaning, what we have is meaning-less. Why be in a relationship that meaning-less? No amount of inspiration or ritual can save a union that has lost meaning. 

Being reasonable has nothing to do with being nice. It has everything to do with basing your understanding and discussion on objective truth. Is your position based on objective truth or a feeling? Truth doesn’t change. Feelings do. If I based my career on how I feel our companies would crash. Yet you have marriages listening to advice saying being nice is more important than being right. 

They’re both important!

Without rightness and truth you will remove that essential ingredient to lasting relationships: respect. Again there’s nothing to respect. When nothing is true all that matters is how we feel. This person will not be teachable and will learn at a snail’s pace. Why? Instead of being sensitive to truth and picking up, the only way for them to learn is to be taught in a conducive environment by no one less than the Dalai Lama. 

– Foolishness
People Who Don’t Live with Purpose on Purpose. A lot of people have dreams that won’t come true. And it’s not because they’re not nice. It’s because they’re not backing up their dream with purposeful living – in other words: discipline. Discipline means limiting my activities to things that bring me closer to my goals. Many times we think that a fool is simply someone who is mean or evil. Not exactly. Those are mean and evil people. A fool is someone who doesn’t love with purpose on purpose, or lacks disciplein. It will be very difficult to be the partner of a fool, even if you are disciplined, especially if you are disciplined. 

– Vanity
People Who are Obsessed with the Superficial Areas of Life. These are people who live for likes and shares, who would rather seem than be, who want to be liked more than known. These are the people taking 100 selfies in the bathroom, give themselves more cleavage, and brag about their stuff – stuff they won’t be using in a few months.  Vain people are a black  hole you’ll ever be able to fill, and they’ll resent you when you can’t fill it. Why even try?

– Pride
People Who Think They’re the S**t, Including the Ones Who Don’t Realize It. It’s easy to spot pride in a high achiever. It’s more difficult to spot it in a low-achiever even if it is just as present. The question here isn’t whether we’re overconfident or underconfident. The question here is “Do I think about myself, my activities, my feelings, my present, my future, more than others?” If yes, that’s pride right there. The most obvious indicator of pride is the inability to say sorry simply because you hurt someone. 

– Laziness
People Who Base Their Output On Feelings Not the Needs of the World. No one will admit to being lazy. Everyone thinks they’re very busy. Modern day laziness looks more like staying busy with whatever catches our fancy instead of being committed to meeting the needs of those we’re responsible for. 

– Impatience
People Who Cannot Journey with Graciousness. This is a big one for me. I am incredibly impatient, especially with lack of logic, lack of common sense (and I think time and money management should be common), and incompetence. But there is no good reason to be impatient, so it’s important I learn to be more gracious, no matter how frustrating it can be to reason with people who lack the education and training of simple dialogue.  


There are more conditions than these of course. These conditions will continue to hurt you and others, even when you’re married. These are all present in my life in different stages, and still crop up. They were present when I was single and they’re still present. Just ask my wife. That’s why what we need is not more feel good inspirational sound bites. We don’t address these conditions with quotes. Like a surgeon, we remove these soul cancers with a sharp knife. For Christians, we know that our cancer is so huge and so deeply rooted, that a scalpel won’t do. We actually use what Ephesians 6 calls a sword, the Word of God.

The insecurity, loneliness, and inadequacy singles face are not symptoms of being single but the symptoms of a people, single and married, who want to be loved and called beautiful without dealing with the vanity, entitlement, immaturity, pride, selfishness and foolishness that make us unlovable and not beautiful in the first place. Society’s cure to ugliness is to lie to us. We want to be told we’re sexy when we’re overweight, that we’re beautiful when we know we’re not our makeup, that we’d be a catch when we know we’re not. No external thing can make someone who is inwardly empty more fulfilled, no cosmetic treatment nor compliment.

What we need is deep surgery.

Contrary to the popular approach of reminding people they’re beautiful or that their best life is in front of them, I recommend doing what I’ve learned to do daily:

Daily devotions not as my daily dose of inspiration, but my daily surgery, daily healing, and daily loving.

Here’s my prayer:

Father, I want to feel loved. But I am honest enough to admit that my pride makes me closed to love, my selfishness makes me unloving, and I am incapable of dealing with these things on my own. I tell myself, “Today, I’ll be humble”, and within minutes I am cursing the man who cut me in traffic because I feel I was dishonored. I tell myself, “Today, I’ll be selfless” and within minutes I am agitated by a small comment from my wife. I blame others for the way I feel, when it is I who hold these feelings. How illogical my feelings have made me. How foolish and unwise am I. Every day I am reminded of how much I need You. I am closed to love, unloving, and incapable, in short, I am unlovable. So I come to You today without pretense for You know everything already, and I ask You to keep operating on my heart. Cut away what You must, heal what You must. Your will be done in my heart. For Your perfect love makes up for my imperfection, Your beauty drives away my ugliness like light banishes darkness. My Great Surgeon is also my Great Healer for He is my Great Lover. I can rest in the security and pleasure of Your hands.


Then I go about my day. I always used to say that if you need more than one person to love you’ll always feel insecure. If you love one horrible person you’ll still be insecure as well. But if you love the One who love you most, and you really really really love Him more than anyone else, who cares if no one else loves you?

Foundations – Body

This isn’t going to be like my usual posts. This is a simple explanation of the fitness regimen I’ve adopted for 2017. The reason why I’m sharing this is because of the importance of developing our whole selves, meaning Spirit, Soul, and Body. I can’t say I’ve taken are of my body as best as I could have, so I’m being more intentional about becoming meaningfully healthier every year. I want my family to have a meaningfully healthier husband/father every year, and I want to set a good example to our team members, that it is possible to be productive and healthy at the same time. In fact, I think being healthy makes us more productive as it helps us focus and avoid sickness.

The first thing I did was I set my goals. Goals and objectives give us something to aim for. They become starting points to work back from, plotting the necessary steps and investment to achieving them. Whether it’s business or body, applying Stephen Covey’s Begin with the End in Mind, works. To help me choose goals, I just looked at what really fit people are doing and made them my standard. For 2017, my goals are:

– 100 Push-Ups Straight

– 50 Pull-Ups Straight

– 8% Body Fat

– 24 Minute 5k Run

– 48 Minute 2km Swim 

– 10 Handstand Push-Ups

The sad part is that a lot of these I had already achieved when I was younger, but instead of improving with discipline, I allowed a more sedentary lifestyle to take root, which has led to terrible flexibility, pains in certain parts, and significantly diminished physical performance. I needed to turn this thing around before things got worse. 

Due to my time, money, and physical limitations, I looked for concepts that are relatively inexpensive, can be completed in a short amount of time, and can scale, starting with moderate difficultly. This led me to include more High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), swimming, less running than usual, and one “heavy” weights day (which isn’t really very heavy at the moment). A lot of these things are actually free. So no excuses. 

The most important part though would be diet and nutrition. A healthy diet is actually very affordable but can be very bland and repetitive. If diet is 80% of the battle, being healthy is well-within everyone’s reach. Sadly, our lack of discipline, particularly with high-sugar food, is undermining our well-being. For those who are using finances as an excuse not to be healthy, my advice is to stick to a very simple healthy diet. Not only will you save money, you’ll get healthier and feel better because of it.

Here’s what my weekly fitness routine looks like:

Monday: Swim 1k (building up to a 48 minute 2k swim)

Tuesday: HIIT / WOD Day (I alternate between KEELO and CrossFit’s Workout of the Day (WOD))

Wednesday: Goal Day. This is when I focus on improving on specific movements. For this year the movements are Push-Ups, Pull-Ups, and Handstands, all foundational movements that I hate! But giving myself measurable targets helps me see my progress. There’s no such thing as a goal that isn’t measurable. Those are called wishes. And there’s no goal that is achieved without a consistent progression towards that goal.

Thursday: Swim 1k (focus on technique)

Friday: Active Rest (I’ll probably go for an even 5k run)

Saturday: Burn Day: Run 5k, Swim 1k, Core Exercises

Sunday: Strength Day/ 5×5 Day, Yoga Stretching (none of that chanting stuff)

Sometimes, I’ll rest an extra day depending on how my body feels. Notice that I didn’t say “depending on how I feel” because many times I don’t feel like working out even if I know my body can handle the day’s exertion. What I watch out for is potential injury. We need to listen to our body’s to avoid the kind of pain that breaks things. 
Learn from High Performers

I was talking to my friend about my fitness goals when he replied, “Are you nuts? 8% body fat is athlete level!” To which I replied, “Yup.” I explained that I don’t believe in setting mediocre goals. I believe in setting the highest possible goal and working backwards. When making your goals, don’t make your starting point your basis for choosing what you want. Make what is good what you want. Look for a standard, and look for one that’s beyond you, that’s bigger than you, that scares you. This is what high performers do. They don’t set meaningless goals that don’t lead to an achievement or win. Learn from them.


Foundations – What I’m Building

For Why I’m Building, please read this article.

In my last article, I explained WHY I’m building, and that reason, in a nutshell, is love. What I mean by love, as I clarified, is not simply a feeling, but a desire so strong for God, the principles, and the people dear to me that develop myself to be as best an offering to them as possible. For example, because I love my wife so much, the questions I ask myself are “How can I be more faithful?” or “How do I make sure my wife has the fittest possible husband?” or “How do I make sure my wife has a wise and intelligent husband?” Or when I think about having future kids, I ask myself, “How do I become a great dad?” or “What is a great dad?” or “How do I balance the need for discipline and the need for acceptance?” For work, which I love a lot, I ask, “How do I make sure my teams have a great leader in me?” or “How do I make sure our leaders are growing spirit, soul, and body, and how do we empower them with the opportunities and resources to grow in these areas?”

I guess you can say I’m thinking of a lot of things. I think we should all be thinking of a lot of things. The ability to reason and think logically and not just instinctively is one of the main things that separates humans and animals.

I’d like to get more specific about how I’m going about the structuring of WHAT I’m Building, not so much to say that these are superior categories or a superior process, but more to give you ideas for how you can approach your own planning. There are many different methods to planning, and I’m always optimizing my own processes. Like an operating system updating to a newer version, I think it’s important that a person is constantly updating their own operating systems, an improvement from David 2.0 to 3.0, and so on.

I. The first thing I start with is a mind map of my major roles, including future roles. I give an example in the photo bellow:

Every role we play in life is both a privilege and a responsibility, which means they are meaningful and can be lost. Many times we take these roles for granted and think we won’t lose them. We can. And we will if we don’t take care of them. No matter how far-reaching God’s love is, He will honor the free-will He gave us if we choose to live independently of Him. No matter how beautiful our weddings were, our marriages will fail if we don’t take our roles seriously and fulfill the responsibilities of the role. It doesn’t matter how much we pray for our health, our bodies will suffer if we do not take care of that dimension of our person. The point is, we need to take account of the different roles we play.

Taking into account future roles is also very important. Someday, if I’m going to be a dad, I’ll need to grow into a certain kind of person. If I don’t, if I wing it, then my child will get a dad who wings it. If I don’t prepare now, my child will have an unprepared father. If I don’t save now, I’ll stress about bills later. In the same way, too many people are living just for the moment and sacrificing future roles. Before they know it the future is upon them and they have nothing to show and no preparation for the opportunities and challenges now facing them. If you’re in college, start preparing for life after college, which is a working, independent, productive life. If you’re single, start preparing for a lifetime of commitment. Start saving, start learning to control impulses, and most importantly, start learning to walk humbly before God. I wish I did more of those things.

II. The next thing I do is I break these roles down into more specific categories. In the photo bellow, you’ll see that I divided my role as a Person, which I believe is to be maximized, into Body, Soul, and Spirit.

I believe that every person has the privilege and responsibility to grow their body, soul, and spirit towards maximum value. Especially if you say you’re motivated by love, you should be motivated to offer a great person to the world. I’ve never met a truly loving person who didn’t want to give their best to the person they love. Who I am is ultimately what I’m offering God and the world, by growing spirit, soul, and body, I offer God and the world a more purposeful, a more loving, a more rested, a wiser, a healthier, stronger, and more energetic person.

I further break these down into the even more specific areas of Diet, Hydration, Exercise, and so on for body, as well as Devotions, Church, and Bible Study for Spirit. This helps me identify what activities I need to do to succeed in these areas.

III. I identify specific activities I will practice to succeed in the category. As David, I have a personal dimension, and that person is made up of a Body, Soul, and Spirit. In the Body category of my person, I need to exercise if I’m going to succeed in my body. The exercises I’m focusing on this year, considering my goals (such as 8% body fat), constraints (time and money limitations), and preferences (I’m easily bored!) I chose HIIT or high intensity interval training (which I can do at home or outside), swimming (my apartment has a pool so no extra cost), and running (which allows me to listen to audiobooks while working out). To these I add specific goals, such as swim 2k straight (which I used to be able to do, but haven’t done in a while) and a 24 minute 5k (which I also used to be able to do when I was much younger).

Having specific goals like these help me plan my approach. For example, to swim 2k, I need about 1 hour at the moment. I don’t have 1 hour a day to swim, so I do this on weekends. For the 24 minute 5k, I currently run 27 minute 5ks, which isn’t too bad, but it’s not good enough for me, so I’ve prepared interval training and running programs to improve. Because time is a limitation, I try to keep my daily workout to 30 minutes or less and my weekends for longer ones. So I spend less than 5 hours a week on my body (not including sleep of course), which isn’t a lot at all, so I have no excuses.

IV. Finally, I identify the details of the activities and schedule them into one time events or recurring events on my schedule. 

Thinking of goals and dreams is fun, planning for success, which means planning in detail, scheduling, budgeting, and saying NO to a million things is tedious and difficult – but it’s what gets results. I did this planning exercise with Yasmin, and while she was very excited for this year, she was also incredibly tired after. So was I. For everything we say “yes” to, we need to remember that we’re saying “no” to others. This is where maturity comes in. When I say “yes” to a “renovation” fund, I say “no” to a “David’s New Car” fund (which works for me because I prefer Uber anyway). When I say “yes” to being healthy, I say “no” to many of my favorite food and drinks, and I say “no” to certain expenses to say “yes” to certain investments in health.
In the example above, I show a general view of my role as a Steward (which is someone who manages the resources God has entrusted to him). For me, I have found that I have opportunities and talents in business, social work, and with my art, specifically, writing, music (I have compositions that need to be re-recorded), and painting. For the business areas of my life, I articulate my goals here as the Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) of the company, aligning my goals with the companies’ goals. For art, particularly for writing, I’m in the process of launching my first book. This means I need to identify things like “October Book Launch” or “sign publisher” or “submit manuscript”. These things happen in order. I won’t be able to launch in October if I don’t submit my manuscript at least 3 months before. And these things don’t happen in a vacuum. I have other roles and responsibilities. So I need to plan ahead and plan well.

It is possible to do a lot of things. Like I wrote in an old blog about Magellan, people of today can do what took the world’s #1 explorer a year to do in less than a day. By planning and harnessing technology and best practices, I’ve found that I am able to live a prolific life despite the challenges of every day.

Hope this helps you plan your own awesome year. May God bless us our plans.

Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.
Proverbs 16:3