Read More Warrior

On a quest to search for the 50 most life-changing books

Hello there! Ready to Devour some Books?

Hi, I am Quinten Voordeckers and I want to present you to the Read More Warrior. I am just his noble assistant. The Read More Warrior told me that he wants YOU to read more books. “Why?” you might ask. Well, he is convinced that reading books is the easiest way to ensure Lifelong Learning. He is on a journey to find the 50 most life-changing books. So if you don’t know which books to read, I recommend you start with the books on his 50-Book Project list. If you want to stay updated about how to read more books or if you want to read some thoughts about certain books, I will guide you to my blog, just scroll down!

Latest Posts

Book 9: About Listening, Pinocchio & Trains

A Little Story

Once upon a time, there was a young warrior. He was sitting with his family at the dinner table, blowing air over a spoon of too-hot soup, when his dad told him: “I spoke with Mike yesterday, he wants you to join his basketball team again. You will get a lot of chances to play on the field and you only need to train 3 times per week and …” “Dad,” the warrior interrupted, “you’re not listening. I told you already too many times that I don’t want to play basketball anymore!” The rest of the dinner was filled with silence. Sometimes, the warrior felt like his words went into one ear of the person he was talking to, and those words soon came out again on the other side.

“YELLOW MUST BE THE IMPOSTER!” echoed a metallic voice throughout the bedroom. It was Saturday evening and the warrior was video calling with his friends while playing the game “Among Us”. The stakes were high, he was Yellow and indeed he was the imposter. The goal of the game is to hide the fact you are the imposter, which requires a certain amount of lying. The warrior, however, was a very bad liar. His lying would have been equally obvious if his nose would grow like Pinocchio. Somehow he was proud of the fact he was a bad liar. Now his friends were certain that they could trust him.

Saturday night video calling while playing “Among Us” had become a weekly tradition. Because of the covid quarantine, there was no other way to stay in touch with his friends. When it was time to go to bed, one by one his friends left the call until just he and one friend remained. After some funny conversations suddenly his friend’s face changed. With a serious face, hiding a glimpse of sadness he began talking about his ex-girlfriend. It soon became clear there were a lot of emotions involved. The warrior’s brain was running at full speed, he wanted to help his friend as best as he could. So he was thinking full time about which advice he should give and was already thinking about his response when his friend just said the first word of the next sentence. He thought about similar situations in his own life which might help his friend. He was trying very hard, but he didn’t feel like he fully understood what his friend was saying. As if by magic, he remembered what he read in a book called You’re not listening by Kate Murphy.

He turned his approach of listening totally upside down in mid-conversation. He tried to focus solely on his friend, not on his own thoughts as if in some kind of meditation. He showed he was interested and didn’t interrupt him with one of his own stories. He stopped giving advice. He just nodded a lot and when his friend stopped talking, he thought of a good question to keep him going. It was 3 am and the video call ended. The warrior felt weird. He had never had this kind of conversation before. It felt like he was misleading his friend, couldn’t he have helped him better by giving him advice? He felt like he had let his friend down. But was it really?

The next day, he got a message:

“Thanks, warrior, you don’t realize how much the conversation last night helped me”

This simple sentence, with such an emotional load, touched him so deeply that he burst into tears. Each tear was a little package filled with happiness.

What is listening?

Real listening is not the same as just letting the other’s voice vibrate the little bones in your ear. It requires some effort and is more difficult than you think. By listening, you try to find out what the other person means, thinks, and feels. You don’t just accept what you hear and formulate a nice response to it.

Good listeners try to interrupt as little as possible, ask the right questions, and focus fully on the other person, not on themselves. They try to be fully present. Master Oogway from the film Kung Fu Panda says it best:

Using your full focus on listening is more difficult than you think. This is mostly because of the speed discrepancy between thinking and talking. Your thinking will inevitably go faster. The challenge is to try to use that extra bandwidth to notice things like body language. Don’t daydream about unicorns while listening, please.

Another pitfall might be that when you hear the story the person is telling, it reminds you of something you have experienced yourself and you feel the urge to tell your own story. Try to stop this urge. Don’t tell it, even if you think that it can help the person. It is not about you, it is about them. The other problem with telling your “own” related story is that for you it might seem very similar, but in reality, it is never completely the same, because everyone is unique. The other might even think your story is totally unrelated to what they were saying, which might worsen the relationship.

It is natural to feel the urge to help them, to fix their problem. Often you can’t and often that’s not what they want. With real listening, you help them with fixing their problem by helping them to think about them. As earlier said, thinking goes faster than talking, which also involves another problem. Because thinking goes so fast in your head it may seem like you’re running around in a maze without an exit. But when you talk about it, you are obliged to slow down, and maybe then you notice a small hole in the wall, just big enough to escape.

How To Be Listened To

Here are some guidelines which might help when you feel like somebody is not listening to you.

  1. Choose the right listener – you will find them by being a good listener yourself
  2. Tell stories – not just a list of facts*
  3. Don’t complain – nobody likes to listen to people that complain all the time**
  4. Be curious – other perspectives might shine a new light on yours
  5. Be honest – trust can be easily lost when you lie
  6. Be courageous – when you open yourself you are vulnerable, but in these moments, the strongest bonds are made
  7. Have fun – saying something funny even in the most emotional conversations can help

*A great book about storytelling is Storyworthy by Matthew Dicks

** To stop complaining, I would like to refer to one simple concept I read in a book called Effortless by Greg McKeown which helped me a lot. First, try to notice when you are complaining. Or notice when you want to complain but the words are still in your head. When you notice that, search for something you should be grateful for in that situation and say that instead. For example, once my parents came to pick me up to go back home but they were late. My grumpy self inevitably started thinking, “They are late again”. I noticed this thought and realized I should say this, “I am privileged that my parents are going to pick me up and I don’t need to go back home by train.”

Your Turn

You can train your listening skills, you know. Read this book. Hold the concepts at the back of your head during conversations. Something that I try to do is to start conversations with strangers at the train station or on the train itself and listen to what they are saying. So, train in the train.

Slow Steady Growth

A little story

Once upon a time there was a young warrior. He was proud of his name. He called himself the Read More Warrior. He wanted to help people to read more books. He gave tips & tricks to read more and recommended great books, all under the notion of trying to get people to read more.

Why did he think that reading more books was so important? Well, somehow reading a lot of books had became a part of his life, a part of his personality. That was because some of the books he read changed his life radicly. He became interested in the notion that books can lead to radicle change in peoples life. So he thought: “Wow, these books changed my life, I should read more books and then my life will improve even more”. For a while he foccused on reading as much books as possible. He chose often smaller books because they were easier and in that way his book count would increase faster. Then he could boast about his reading rate. With the motivation to read more books, he stumbled across a certain technique called speedreading and applied it right at that moment. The amount of books he read in one month skyrocketed. Until one day he felt something was wrong. He decided to do what he often did when he felt something was wrong: he went to the Old Magnolia Tree.

Arriving at the Old Magnolia Tree, to his surprise he smelled rotting flowers and saw that the tree was not doing well. Next to the tree, a wizard was looking at the tree. When the wizard noticed the warrior, he approached him and said, “Hello ambitious warrior I’m the Learn More Wizard, what is your name?”. “My name is the Read More Warrior and you seem to be a wise man. Can I ask you something? Lately, I’ve kept reading more and more books, so normally I would have come across more and more life-changing ideas right? That seemed not to be the case at all. I remember little of what I’ve read. I don’t feel like these books are part of me. I have not internalized these books. I did not do anything different after reading these books than before. I want to ask you this, is reading books a waste of time?” While saying this the warrior felt very awkward, he had recommended everyone to read more. But now his core idea was under attack. “Well,” answered the wizard “I also read a lot of books. But I read them very slowly. I want the books to become part of me. I want to internalize them. I want to do something different because of the book I read. I think your problem is that the method to obtain your goal has become the goal itself. You don’t want to read more. You want to learn more. Let me tell you a little story. Six months ago an ambitious warrior like you arrived here. His name was the Grow Fast warrior. He found this Old Magnolia Tree beautiful, but to him, it was not big enough. He knew plants needed water to grow so he decided to water the tree five times per day. He thought that then the tree will grow faster. However, the roots could not breathe because the ground was soaked all the time and the tree started to die. You can see the result of that even to this day. Remember, my dear Read More Warrior, that plants need time to grow, and so do you.” Inspired by the wizard, the Read More Warrior acknowledged the fact that he needed to read slower to learn more. Suddenly, as if by magic, one flower blossomed on the Old Magnolia Tree.

Slow Down

Most of us (including me) want to get things done as fast as possible. We want quick fixes, shortcuts, and instant gratification. These things are often very seductive, but there is a better way: slow steady growth. Slow steady growth comes forth out of the principles of Atomic Habits by James Clear and Effortless by George McKeown. Here are some personal examples of slow steady growth.

The Flamingo

While I was still playing basketball, I often sprained my ankle. Using an ankle brace to avoid spraining the ankle again was very common and even recommended by my doctor. So, I started to use a brace. However, the problem was that the brace makes your ankle weaker. The brace absorbs the impact and the ankle gets lazy. Many of my fellow basketball players were dependent on their braces, some of them even used the braces for just going for a run. I was fortunately spared of that. I was lucky, because a good friend of mine, who was a volleyball player, recommended me to start brushing my teeth like a flamingo, on one leg. It seemed silly at first, but by trying it and keeping with it, my ankle became stronger and my balance improved drastically. When I learned to slackline later, I had a great advantage over other beginners because I had trained my balance twice a day for years, without enormous effort. That is the power of slow steady growth.

Rabbit Food

In the first year of university, I gained some weight, like many other students. This resulted in laughter at the gala ball when my friends noticed that my suit trousers were too tight at my but. This was probably because of the food I ate because I exercised as much as the year before. A friend of mine asked me to join his challenge of eating vegetarian for half a year. I gave it a try. At the same time, a family member was trying to lose weight by using a very intense and expensive protein diet. He lost weight rapidly, but after a month he couldn’t keep up with it so he stopped. Soon he was back at the weight he started with. It was not my goal with my vegetarian diet to lose weight, nevertheless, I did. After the challenge, I kept eating vegetarian because it seemed not to be a burden to me. I got interested in eating as much plant-based as possible and I worked very gradually toward a vegan diet, finding alternatives for animal-based food one product at a time. All the while I slowly went back to my pre-university weight. That was the power of slow steady “growth”.

Becoming A Writer

The dream of writing a book has been in my head for a while. The problem is, I don’t know exactly about what and I don’t have that much writing experience. However, by writing daily for this blog I practice my writing skills and I get ideas for a book here and there. In that way, I hope this blog will prove to be a good investment to achieve my dream. That will hopefully be the power of slow steady growth.

F**k speed reading

Speed reading. You’ve probably already heard about it. It originates from a good thing. Namely, that you want to read more, but probably can’t find the time to do so. Speedreading is the solution! Or at least, that’s what some speedreading gurus want to sell you.

Let me ask you a question. What do you want? Spending 2 months reading just one book or spending one week reading 3 books? If you are like me, you would have probably chosen the last one. I have also fallen into the trap of wanting to read more and more. I was even reading smaller books so that in that way I can read more books. In that way, I can show people my bookshelf and say, “Look how many books I’ve read!” However, it misses the point completely. Yeah, maybe it can be a good idea to read more books, but you should not read books just to read books. You should read books to learn something, to do something, to experiment with something.

Maybe I should rename this blog to the Read Slow Warrior.

I took a speed reading course and read “War and Peace” in twenty minutes. It involves Russia.

Woody Allen

The good things of speed reading

I must admit, speed reading is not all bad, I’ve read some books on speed reading and although I’m not a big fan of speed reading, some of the concepts in these books have stayed with me.

“The preparation: read the back cover, index, and table of contents first.”

“Scan through the book to have a general view of the chapters and more importantly the visual graphs and figures.”

These are two things I do with every book I read. There is also one other thing I have learned from the speedreading books but this is not always recommended.

“Skim through the book, and skip uninteresting parts.”

At first, it sounded very convincing to me that it was very important that you have to skim through the uninteresting parts of a book. But a post of Ryan Holiday made me think about it a bit more. In the case that you have to skip parts because it is not interesting or it is not written well enough, is this book really worth your time? That’s what you should think about.

For the ones that want radicle change

If you really feel like slow steady growth is nothing for you and you need radicle change then I can recommend you some things.

  • Read the book The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau and apply the principles.
  • Stop letting social media use you
  • Shave yourself bald

Your Turn

Give yourself 1 month the time to read the book that is on the top of your “want to read” list. Fully immerse yourself in the book during the full month.

Book 8: About Flowers, Mountains, and Basketball

A Little Story

Once upon a time, there was a young warrior. His life was full to the brim with learning new skills, new hobbies, new interests, virtually every activity you can imagine. As a proud Generalist, he thought that was how it was supposed to be. The more the better. The newer the better. The faster the better. Being on the move all the time he didn’t notice that he was spreading himself very thin over a broad range of activities. He was good in a lot of things but great in none. He was interested in a lot of things, but not on the top of the game in any of them. He was motivated by a lot of things but began to notice that he became exhausted. Slowly, day by day he spent less time doing the thing he loved most: reading books. Nevertheless, he wanted to keep learning Spanish, keep making money, keep DJ-ing, keep studying, keep writing, keep playing music, keep drawing, keep running, keep doing handstands and keep meeting with friends. He didn’t want to quit with one of these because all were so fun and challenging. So, he said to himself, “I will work harder!” like Boxer the workhorse in Animal Farm to fit all these things into his schedule.

One day on a vibrant spring day, the warrior noticed the smell of growing grass and the opened flower buds while walking in the park. He saw in the distance a little girl with a flower in her hand, trying to give this gift to her mother. However, the mother didn’t seem to notice. She was on her phone. While seeing how desperately this little girl reached with the flower to her mother’s back, I could not help but think: “Does this mother know what is essential?”

A few days later the warrior got covid and needed to be quarantined. He had to cancel a lot of plans, but as a substitute, he obtained time for himself. After reminiscing about the little girl and her mother he realized he was not that different from the mother. He knew deep down that virtually every of his so-called interest was not that essential. But which of them were the truly essential ones? That was the question. With the help of the book Essentialism by Greg McKeown, he moved step-by-step toward the answer to this question.

The Three E’s

After writing a post about Generalism two weeks ago, I thought it would be interesting to write something about the book Essentialism. I remembered that this book reminded me of specialism, so it would be nice to compare it with the book Range. I decided to re-read Essentialism. However, to my surprise, I realized I was wrong, plainly wrong.

The basic structure of Essentialism exists of three things: Explore, Eliminate, and Execute. Exploring many options is actually a characteristic of Generalists. This confused me. Wasn’t Essentialism about Specialism? Apparently not the way I thought. Nonetheless, I like that the first step is exploration because it is my “specialty”. I can say that Curiosity is my thing. From the second step on, however, my expertise ceases. Eliminating is my Achilles’ heel. I find it enormously difficult to say no to opportunities, requests, or invitations. This requires Courage that I don’t always have. The last step, Execution, can be fairly easy with the right tips and tricks once you know which are your essentials in life. Though, it is important to stay Honest with yourself on which activities you should execute.

After reading the book, I realized something: Generalism and Essentialism don’t necessarily exclude each other. They are in an interesting symbiosis. I’m trying to become an Essentialistic Generalist or Generalistic Essentialist, which way around, I don’t know yet.

“I wish you the Curiosity to Explore, the Courage to Eliminate the unessential, and the Honesty to Execute a life that is true to yourself”

The Read More Warrior

How To Discover Your Essentials

What I’m going to propose right now might sound like kicking in an open door. Nevertheless, I recommend answering these three following as concrete as possible. Most people have a vague, general idea about the answers to these questions, but the clarity of purpose doesn’t hurt you. Here are the three questions you should ask yourself according to Greg McKeown:

  • What am I deeply passionate about?
  • What taps my talent?
  • What meets a significant need in the world?


The overlap of these three is what should be your essentials.

How To Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing

The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.

Stephen R. Covey

In order to keep your essentials your essentials and don’t let your life fill with non-essentials, you can use two strategies:

1. The Mountain

The best-selling author Neil Gaiman proposed the following in his commencement speech. Try to imagine where you want to be as a distant mountain. When you don’t know if you should or should not do something, think about whether it takes you towards or away from your mountain.

2. Memento Mori – Memento Vivere

Remember that you will die – Remember to live. Realize your time is limited. Why would you spend time on non-essentials? As an exercise, you can look up your life expectancy and turn it into days. Then you can calculate how many days of these you have already had. I have already had 7786 days of my 27225 days. This was a revelation to me.

Extra 1: The 50 Book Project & Essential Intent

The concept of essential intent laid out in this book is something I find severely interesting. Essential intent is the combination of statements like “I want to change the world” or “I want to help people” that are inspirational, but not so actionable as statements like “I will read book 50 books” of which it is possible to measure progress but are too bland. Both inspiration and actionability are important to keep motivation at a high level.  

So, I was thinking about the essential intent of this blog. My first brainstorming resulted in statements like: “Sharing life-changing ideas since 2021”, and “Lifelong Learning Through Books” but those were not actionable enough. Then I thought of “The 50-book project” and with it, came the right Essential Intent:

“On a quest to search for the 50 most lifechanging books”

(To convince people to read more of the right books and learn more as a consequence)

Why is this such a good essential intent in my opinion? Let’s break this sentence down into three parts.

“On a quest to search for…” highlights the fact that the journey is more important than the destination, which I’ve learned from Jordan Peterson. It highlights that life is dynamic and only by acting and experimenting do you find what is right. This blog is the perfect example of it. I started with it to share my thoughts on books I have read creatively, but I didn’t know where it was leading. However, by reading this book Essentialism and writing about essential intents in this blogpost I realized what the purpose of this blog is.

“…. the 50 …” makes it very concrete. Now I know that I am going to search for 50 books. 50 motivates me because I know it is doable but challenging enough at the same time. It will require dedication and time to find those 50.

“… most lifechanging books.” Books have always been and will stay the focus of this blog, but why do I use this overly used word “lifechanging”?  Well, the thing is, I love books that are very practical and are about things you can apply in real life. I want that after I’ve read a book, I:

  • Learned something new
  • Am inspired to change for the better
  • Know how to take action to make that change

When I can check off all of the three requirements above, I know I have read a terrific book. In that case, it would be a shame to call it anything different than “lifechanging”

Extra 2: Just Stop – Another Little Story

As a 10-year-old boy who was tall for his age chances were high that I would go out and play basketball or volleyball. I chose basketball. I loved playing basketball and I was rather good at it, not the best player you would have seen, but good enough to play across the country. With a father who had played soccer at high leagues and a grandfather who watched every game I played it was clear that my family supported me in my basketball career. Years passed. I changed clubs, won championships, and trained hard. All of a sudden Covid-19 came and we were not able to train and play basketball for a long time. I soon realized I didn’t miss playing basketball. This was the first time I even dared to ask myself, “Can I just stop?” This thought didn’t come unexpectedly, the last years I had spent many hours driving to trainings and games all over the country, sacrificing time with friends. At the same time, I got very few minutes on the field. The input/output ratio was clearly out of balance. I wanted to stop but stopping was way more difficult than I thought. “How would I keep fit? Am I just being weak, and I should keep training hard? Then probably one day I will get my minutes on the field, like my father always says. And, oh yes, I should not forget my grandfather he would be disappointed when he hears that I will stop,” were thoughts that ran trough my head.

Eventually I made the choice. I just stopped.

Some of my predictions were right. My father and grandfather were indeed disappointed. Other predictions were wrong: I managed to stay fit. However, none of it mattered. The advantages outbalanced the disadvantages. Suddenly, I had way more time on my hands and started reading, writing, and even a blog. It all started with one decision. Just stop.

Extra 3: My personal clean-up

Things I stopped doing:

  • Basketball
  • Instagram, Snapchat
  • YouTube for fun
  • Watching TV on my own
  • Student jobs: DJ, tutoring & working in a bookstore


Things I could start because of that:

  • Read More Warrior
  • Reading more books
  • Learning Spanish
  • Starting a book club
  • Learn to play the ukulele
  • Learning to perform a handstand

Your Turn

Think about one thing you did today that was non-essential. Try to stop doing this. If you need help with it, Atomic Habits is an informative book that helps you to erase a non-essential bad habit.

7 Lessons from 7 Books

Note: You can click on the drawings to go to a post about that subject.

The War of Art – Steven Pressfield

Resistance is your biggest enemy and will do anything to keep you from taking action.

Lying – Sam Harris

By lying you deny the people you lie to access to reality.

The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse – Charlie Mackesy

Have fun in the process

Atomic Habits – James Clear

Just read one page each day.

Digital Minimalism – Cal Newport

You can’t imagine how much time you will spare if you would stop with social media.

Range – David Epstein

Don’t be afraid to stay at the surface and experiment a lot before going into the deep.

Show your work – Austin Kleon

Share your work with the world to see if it is good or not. 

Your Turn

Which of the above lessons resonates most with you? Read the post linked with this lesson even if you’ve already read it. Repeating is the first step of internalization. 

Book 7: About Generalists, Snipers, and Darwin

A Little Story

Once upon a time, there was a young warrior. Every day he was wondering about what he wanted to become. Of course, he wanted to become a professional warrior, but that was impossible these days. Feeling sad because this dream was off the table, he searched for other possibilities. One day, as an 18-year-old, he needed to decide on what he was going to study. He based his decision on his grades and his interests as a kid: encyclopedias about animals, plants, and the Earth. That he would go on to study bioscience engineering didn’t surprise anyone.

The first three years of his study rapidly went by. He was getting good grades, followed interesting courses, and even became good friends with some of his fellow bioscience engineering students. Nevertheless, he felt like he was not in the right place. He began to search where this feeling came from. He could not track it back to bad grades, boring courses, or no friends.

So, he went on to think a little deeper.

There was one big problem, he was afraid to talk about this feeling. He was afraid that when he would talk about it, he would face disbelief. “How can you feel that you are not in the right place when everything in your life is going well?”, they would say.

So, without talking with someone, he went on to think a little deeper.

In the third year, he chose a specialty so what if he had chosen the wrong specialty? He went back over the other specialties, but they all seemed less interesting, so his specialty was not the problem. The thought of stopping his study altogether even occurred sometimes. In the meanwhile, he got really into reading books. He thought, “What if I had the wrong reasons to study bioscience engineering? What if I had interpreted my childish love for reading encyclopedias wrong? Maybe I don’t have to do something with science about nature, maybe I have to do something with books”

So, he started a blog about books, nevertheless, he went on to think a little deeper.

He was longing for something more, beyond the walls his study imposed on him. However, he didn’t know what he was looking for outside the safe walls of the university, so he stayed. He didn’t become a “self-made” college drop-out, like Bill Gates. He was too afraid. He kept reading more and more books ranging from astronauts to North-Korean refugees and from fungi to Braitenberg vehicles. Finally, something clicked in his head, he loved variety.

It seemed like the whole world was screaming: “SPECIALIZE!”, certainly in the university, but the warrior knew that he was more of a generalist. This conflict between specialization and generalization occupied most of his mind. “Do I have to specialize or do I have to learn about new topics?”, he thought. A book called Range by David Epstein helped him a lot in his search for answers.

The Game

Let us oversimplify life for a moment and see it as a game. You are given a limited amount of competence points and you can allocate them to a wide range of areas. For example, when you allocate a point to language learning you can’t use the same point anymore for mathematics, art, or public speaking. What are you going to do? Are you going to spend all your competence points on one area you like? Or are you going to spread your competence points as much as possible?

Being a specialist is like being a sniper. If the target is far away and clearly defined, you’re the man for the job. Being a generalist is more like having a swiss army knife. When the target is close and a lot of different skills are required, you’re the man for the job. I think that for me the best thing is something in between. Here are some examples of these in-between scenarios.

Here you have a specialty, but it’s supported by other proximate or distant areas. I especially like the one on the left. Here you have a specialty, but you also have some good competence in some other distant areas. This combination is in my opinion very good for creativity and the one I try to follow personally. For example, writing is my specialty for this blog, but other distant things like, learning Spanish, running, drawing, and even falling asleep provide me a lot of ideas for my writing.

The Role of the Specialist

What do specialists do actually? I like to see it this way: imagine that all of our human knowledge is represented by a circle. A good specialist would position himself at the boundary of our human knowledge and would try to move beyond it. The specialist would go into the unknown and gather new information. From this perspective, specialists are heroes.

There are also disadvantages to being a specialist. For example, there is a high chance that you get a very narrow view of the world. You see every problem in the world as a problem that can be solved with your specialistic knowledge. Another thing that might happen is that this new knowledge might die out if it doesn’t get used by others or when it is not interlinked strong enough with the rest of the human knowledge.

The Role of the Generalist

After that the specialists have made some outward bulges, it’s the role of the generalists to fill the gaps. Because the generalists know a broad range of subjects, they can more easily get creative and combine knowledge from distant areas. They interlink the knowledge gathered by the specialists and ensure that the knowledge gets used in the real world. Now, the human knowledge circle has become bigger.

Extra: Building a Network

You probably know Charles Darwin, yes, that bearded guy who is the father of the evolution theory. Charles Darwin was a very interesting person. He was a good generalist, an example. He did experiments in areas that ranged from geology to psychology. This wide experimentation led him to discover the evolution theory. But, like many other geniuses, he didn’t do all the work on his own. He was known for having a broad network of specialists and generalists, with whom he exchanged a lot of letters about his experiments and questions. So, what if you are a generalist who needs to know something specific about a subject? Or what if you are a specialist who wants to hear some other perspectives so that he can see his problem in a new way? You would need to network.

Concluding Thoughts

A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one

This post isn’t about finding out if generalists are better than specialists or vice versa. The book Range by David Epstein does not say that we should all become generalists and that we don’t need specialists. I needed to write this post for myself. I have asked myself often questions like: “Am I becoming too specialized?” or “Am I spreading myself too thin over a wide variety of areas?”. Writing this down made me realize that I’m more a generalist, and that’s okay. I hope this post may have helped you with your own exploration of what you are. 

Exploration is not just a whimsical luxury of education; it is a central benefit

David Epstein

Your Turn

Think about what you are or what you want to be. Are you a specialist? A generalist? Something in between? Try to make your own competence-different areas graph. If you don’t already know, explore!

When you can’t fall asleep

A Little Story

“Where did the time go that I was afraid of the dark?”, I thought while lying in my bed, “Maybe I should invent some sort of reverse sunglasses which can let you see in the dark. An interesting feature might be that the brightness might be controlled so that you can train yourself gradually to face your fear of the dark” I was honestly very proud of this idea so I turned on the light and wrote it down.

Some minutes later I was wondering, “Was it worth it to write this idea down? I’m probably never going to use it anyway and now I’m even more awake so it would be even more difficult to fall asleep now” I was very tired and really needed to wake up early the next day, but I couldn’t fall asleep. It felt like my two brain hemispheres were fighting for which side to sleep on while ideas were accreting like bugs to a beam of light (link to …). “I want to write down my thoughts while keeping the light off because the light makes me more awake. Maybe, I can invent a pen of light that illuminates my notebook while writing. Or I could grow a bioluminescent Panellus stipticus (fancy term for a mushroom that lights up).” The ideas kept accumulating and I turned on the light again to write them down.

“F*ck, I’m still awake and I need to fall asleep right now. How long have I been laying in my bed without sleeping? I don’t dare to look at my clock because if I do, I’m certain I won’t fall asleep this night at all. I’m blaming you, my silly ideas, why do you keep emerging? Why do you keep me awake? Why do you convince me to turn on the light and right you down? So that you will get immortalized? As a punishment I will erase you, I will burn you!” Of course, I didn’t dare to do that. I’m way too keen on my ideas, they are like my babies. What if I have to write down these ideas? I don’t know.

To write or not to write? That is the question.

Sleeping Problems

Am I the only one having sleeping problems? Probably not. Don’t misunderstand me, it’s not that I have amnesia or something, but every day I lie awake in my bed for at least 30 minutes and sometimes even an hour. It’s not because I’m anxious or something. It is because the creativity locked in my brain seems to unlock itself right before I want to sleep. My brain seems working at a very fast pace and comes up with a lot of creative ideas. Actually, a lot of the posts and concepts that are listed in this blog come from these late-night ideas.

Because of this, I have a daily dilemma. What do I need to do with these ideas? Should I write them down at that moment? Or should I try to ignore them because they ensure I’m not falling asleep any time soon? These are questions that bother me a lot, so I thought it would be fun to investigate this problem and try to find an answer. This post is the result of this search.

Why you are creative just before falling asleep

Do you know what Dali, Einstein, and Aristotle all had in common? Besides being famous, they all used the transient state between awakeness and sleeping for being creative. How did they do that? Well, they hold an object like a stone or a key in their hand while sitting in a chair, trying to fall asleep. When they would almost fall asleep the object would fall out of their hands and make a noise that would awake them. This is also known as the “dropping the spoon”-method.

In this method, Dali and the others make use of the theta brainwaves which occur while falling asleep. These theta brainwaves are highly associated with flow state and creativity. (I’m probably a bit oversimplifying though). So that’s the reason why you’re so creative before falling into sleep.

So these theta waves are very helpful for our creativity, but the problem is that they occur just before falling asleep. This combined with the fact that sleep cleans up our brain, we often forget these ideas. We even forget that we’ve forgotten these ideas! So to store these ideas, we have to write them down at the moment we have them.

Argument contra writing

In James Clear’s book Atomic Habits he says that the bedroom is only for sleeping. If you want to sleep well, you have to form a strong link in your brain between your bedroom and sleeping. When you do other things in your bedroom, like writing, your brain might get confused. So every time you write when you are in your bed, your brain will associate your bed more with writing and less with sleeping. This might make falling asleep more difficult.

Argument pro writing

A friend of mine, Joris, convinced me that it’s probably better to write these ideas down. I really liked the analogy he made. 

Every day, you have to work a minimum on an important cause and you must keep this habit going. It doesn’t matter if you succeed, as long as you do it daily. However, remember that this minimum is only the foundation that will eventually lead to greater things.

Let’s say that you write down some sentences every day, which requires considerable effort, but at the same time, you ignore the flowing inspiration when it occurs at 1 AM. That’s like gathering branches and tinder for days or even weeks, but when the universe places firestone in front of your feet, you say, “I’ve already done my job today for the fire”. No, at that moment, you should seize the opportunity and harvest the fruits of your preparing, tedious labor. Your daily structure makes the difference for your cause, but the fury of some decisive moments does even more.

So, to write or not to write? I think you should write. Or at least I think I should. If I hadn’t written down my ideas, this post (and the rest of the blog) probably would have never existed.  

Your Turn

Put a notebook and pencil on your nightstand. Don’t be afraid to use them. You’re future creative self will thank you.

Book 6: About Lies, Allergies and a PlayStation

A Little Story

Once upon a time, there was a ten-year-old warrior. Every day, after the bell rang at school, he biked straight back to his house. However, one day, a friend of his asked if he wanted to play some video games at his house. The young warrior didn’t have his own videogames, so he was convinced rapidly. They went together to the friend’s house and played on his PlayStation for hours. It was extremely fun, but he needed to go back home. When the warrior arrived back home, his parents were waiting. His parents asked him where he had been and he lied, “I stayed at school to do some homework with the other kids”. His parents were convinced, and the young warrior felt very smart because he had tricked his parents.

Some hours later, his mom stormed into his bedroom yelling, “We know that you went to your friend’s house and played video games there. Why did you lie to us?” The warrior was surprised and wondered how his mom had discovered it. Nevertheless, a harsh punishment followed which seemed unreasonable for the young warrior. A week after the conflict, his mom came to him and said, “You know darling, going to your friend without saying, wasn’t the reason we punished you. It was because you lied to us.” After that moment, the young warrior tried to never lie again, but those so-called “white lies” kept showing up. That was because he was convinced that there was nothing wrong with them. Until he read the book Lying by Sam Harris.

A White Lie


Lies about small matters, which are “harmless” to others and are often seen as a form of politeness.

3 reasons why you shouldn’t lie

Most people are convinced that, in many cases, lying is a bad thing. However, they don’t dare to say that lying is always a bad thing. I’m convinced that you should never lie. Only life or death situations may be an exception. If you’re not convinced, here are some reasons why you shouldn’t lie:

  1. When you lie, you deny people access to reality. This may damage them in ways you don’t know beforehand. Like Sam Harris says in his book, lying determines the choices they can make and because of that it’s an assault on their autonomy.


  1. Once people discover that you lied, they will have difficulties believing that you’re an honest person. Even if it is just a small lie. It will inevitably keep lingering in their conscious or subconscious.


  1. When you lie, you need to keep track of your lies because inconsistency is the nr.1 reason lies get discovered. Keeping track of your lies requires a tremendous amount of effort. Let’s be lazy and let the truth keep track of what we’ve said.

How to stop lying

This might be obvious, just stop lying, but it’s more complicated than you might think. Lying often has become a habit, and like all bad habits, a clear strategy for quitting is needed. Here are some steps:

  1. Acknowledge that lying is bad. Keep the three reasons listed above in your mind. If you’re not convinced that lying is bad, sorry I can’t help you.


  1. Notice when you lie. Sometimes I realize I’m lying at that moment. Other times I realize it later. When you notice that you lied, write down your lie on paper. Make for yourself the rule that you have to keep these written lies with you all the time. You can only get rid of them when you’ve corrected these lies to the person you lied to. In my coat, I have a paper with two lies I’ve told. I haven’t been able to correct them because I’ve not seen the person I lied to for a while. So be careful with your lies, your coat may get heavy.


  1. Correct When you feel the urge to lie, don’t do it. When it’s too late and the lie has been told, try to correct yourself and be honest about the lie. Don’t lie about a lie, that would be the beginning of an endless feedback loop.


  1. Learn to say, “I don’t feel like talking about that” when you want to keep your privacy while avoiding telling a lie. White lies often feel like an easy fix in those situations. Yes, they are easy. No, they are not a fix.

Another Little Story to End

When I was younger, I was really shy and silent. This probably was because I’m introverted, and because of this I’ve limited energy for social interactions. Looking back now, I think there was also another reason, but first I need to tell you something.

There are some lies that I’m specifically allergic to. I noticed that people could make very blunt statements and act as if they know 100% sure they’re right. In reality, they’re often not 100% sure, but they hope that by coming across as confident, they are more likely to “win” the debate. Jordan Peterson’s books have taught me that debates are not something you win, and the truth is not something you have. No, you’ll get closer to the truth by going into dialogue, and by listening actively to others.

Rule 9: Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t.

Jordan B. Peterson

Now that you know my allergy, I’ll try to explain what the other reason was that I was so quiet. I was convinced that in these debates it was of no use that I said something. I felt that way because I had not already thought through the problem beforehand. Now, however, I’m convinced that’s not required. My thoughts are valuable, even when they are wrong. So, I need to bring them out as long as I am honest about my ignorance. So, these days I try to say more what I think, but without arrogance.

To finish here is a quote for my fellow introverts:

“To be honest, I often feel I have nothing interesting to say,” said the fox.
“Being honest is always interesting,” said the horse.

Charlie Mackesy

This post gives you more information about the three key values. Honesty is one of them.

Your Turn

Think about the last time you lied. Fix this lie by saying to this person that you lied.

3 ways to get more ideas

You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we’re doing it

Neil Gaiman

1. experimenting

I was sitting alone on a camping chair, in the middle of a dark damp grass field. I could feel the moist grass touching my legs. I was camping in the countryside of France, and my sense of time was completely gone. My neck started to hurt and this time it wasn’t because I was looking down at my phone too much. It was because of the opposite. My gaze was focused directly above me, on one of the most beautiful sights I had ever seen. Thousands of stars were scattered across the dark sky, more than I had ever seen in my life.

For some reason, a weird experiment came to my mind. What if I would try to illuminate the stars even more by turning on my headlamp? Sitting in my camping chair, with my headlamp turned to the sky, I suddenly felt very stupid. The light of the headlamp obviously didn’t brighten the stars. Nevertheless, this stupid experiment resulted in interesting observations. I started to see some shooting stars. These were not shooting stars as I was used to. They seemed quite big and were not moving in straight lines. After a minute I realized that they weren’t shooting stars, they were bugs that were attracted to this beacon of light in the middle of the dark!

Why do I tell this story? It might not be obvious, but this little anecdote very much resembles how I see creativity. First of all, creativity often comes with experimenting. Even if these experiments are very silly. By taking action and trying, results may come that you would never have expected. Secondly, creative ideas are dynamic like the bugs in this anecdote, and not as straightforward as the “normal” shooting stars. It’s a good thing when ideas change. Don’t be arrogant. Lastly, if you put on a light long enough in the middle of the dark, bugs will inevitably come. Likewise, if you’re very consistent with showing up every day, ideas will come inevitably.

When I was sitting there, alone in the dark, I had a notebook with me. I wrote down my thoughts about this beacon of light attracting bugs that looked like shooting stars. A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon this note, and it reminded me of something I had read in the book The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. In this book he uses the following analogy:

Ideas accrete like iron fillings to a magnetized rod

Steven Pressfield

I found this a very interesting way of putting it, but I was convinced that I could make a better analogy:

Ideas accrete like bugs to a beacon of light

The Read More Warrior

2. The Plane of Possibilities

The Generalist vs Specialist debate is something I find very intriguing. There are a lot of good books written about this topic like Range by David Epstein, and Essentialism by Greg McKeown which are on the opposite sides of the playing field. But what does this debate have to do with creativity?

Look at the drawing above. You can see the Plane of Possibilities. This plane is extremely big and contains all creative possibilities. This makes it very difficult to choose where to begin. However, this can be solved by only using a small patch of the Plane of Possibilities. See this patch as your territory or your specialism. Now you know where to begin, that’s the first important step. The problem now is that the boundaries of our territories restrict our freedom. This can be solved by grabbing some things from outside our territory and putting them inside. This is often called thinking outside the box. Now we have a lot of different topics, ideas, and concepts in our territory. Now you can get creative by combining these in a new way.

3. Creativity = Curiosity?

In his book The War of Art, Steven Pressfield also had another interesting analogy. He writes something like, “Let the Muse lead you away from the warm comfortable glow of the campfire”. Sorry that I am messing with your analogies again, Mr. Pressfield, but this sounds too spiritual to me. I would like to use the word curiosity instead of Muse.

Curiosity is one of my three key values and is strongly linked with creativity. I even dare to say that it is a prerequisite for creativity. So get curious. Ask questions. Look at things from a different perspective. Read books, the ideas inside them are fertilizers for the ideas inside your head. Get out of your comfort zone. Think outside the box.

Your Turn

Perform your own silly experiment. Chances are you’ll get new interesting insights. If you don’t have any inspiration, try this. You may have noticed that while ascending a staircase, you can take 2 steps at a time. However, try to take 2 steps at a time while you’re descending a stair, and observe how you feel. Be careful, I’m not responsible for any injuries.

Your Turn, Again

Buy a notebook and pencil and have them with you at all times. Ideas might come when you would not expect them, and you would probably use them in ways you would not expect.

Book 5: Habits, Guerrero and Fruit

A Little Story

Once upon a time, there was a young warrior. Every day, he wanted to learn something new. He was interested in a lot: programming, playing the ukulele, and performing a handstand were just a few of the list. One day he wanted to learn Spanish. Just because guerrero sounds way cooler than “warrior”. The first day he felt a burst of motivation and he played Duolingo for three hours straight. He was very optimistic that he would learn Spanish fast. How difficult can it be to learn a language? The next day, he played Duolingo again for three hours. Nevertheless the following days his motivation declined as fast as the motivation had emerged. “Duolingo is just a silly game and a waste of time,” he said to his friends. A few days later he gave up his Spanish learning journey and moved on to the next one.

Now, he wanted to read 52 books in a year, one for each week. However, this time he developed a routine because he didn’t want to make the same mistake he did with learning Spanish by solely relying on occasional motivation. He did some calculations and found out that to reach this goal, he had to read about 33 pages each day. That seemed a lot but also doable, so he started with his routine and was very strict about it. He wasn’t allowed to sleep before he had read 33 pages. It required a lot of effort and he often stopped right at the 33rd page, nonetheless, he kept with it, at least for a while. Some days had passed and he began to notice that he was becoming very tired and he even started to dislike reading. He was on the brink of giving up.

Until he encountered the book Atomic Habits by James Clear. This book eventually saved his reading habit, his sleep, and his motivation. SPOILER ALERT: There even occurred magic on some days.

Why Atomic Habits Work

Atomic habits are activities you do daily in order to reach your goal, but in such a small amount that it is very easy to keep up with it daily. Examples of this are reading one page, exercising for two minutes, writing a paragraph, or learning 3 new Spanish words each day. Atomic Habits combine the advantages of the two methods most people use: the occasional motivation method and the high demanding routine. I can explain why Atomic Habits work so well more easily by classifying the days that occur into three categories:

  • High Motivation days: These are rare, especially when you’re already performing the habit for a while. Be grateful for these days.


  • The “Just 1 page”-days: On these days, your motivation is on a vacation to Ibiza. You really don’t feel like performing your Atomic Habit, but just because it requires so little effort, you do it nonetheless. After one page, you close the book and you’re done for that day.


  • The Magical days: I love them. These are the days that seem like a “Just 1 page”-day in the beginning, but when you’ve read 1 page, you realize it’s genuinely interesting and you keep reading. You feel the momentum and aren’t going to let go of it any time soon. You even feel like punching yourself in the face because you didn’t feel like reading just some minutes ago. These days are pure magic. Don’t waste them.

The Book

In this book, James Clear divides a habit into four parts: Cue, Craving, Response, and Reward. For example, you see a bar of chocolate while you are waiting in line in the supermarket (Cue). Chocolate is your dirty pleasure and you begin to crave it (Craving). You can’t stop yourself from buying the chocolate (Response). While walking back to the car, you enjoy tremendously every bite of the chocolate bar (Reward).

Let’s say you want to start a good habit. Then James Clear says that you should make it obvious, attractive, easy, and satisfying. If you want to break a bad habit you should do the opposite which means make it invisible, unattractive, difficult, and unsatisfying.

Note that these four tips to make or break a habit correspond to the four parts of a habit. I recommend that you read this book Atomic Habits for more information about how to implement it in your life, but here are some things that I did. If you’re not interested in my life, you can skip the following paragraph, no hard feelings.

What I did because of this book

  • I started to develop the rubber band technique. This rubber band technique combined with using a big calendar as a habit tracker ensures that I write daily.


  • I read one page each day or let’s say at least one page because it’s often way more. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be writing a blog about reading 😉.


  • I also signed a contract with a friend of mine which makes me pay him 50 euros when I perform a certain bad habit again.


  • I increased the resistance to using social media by removing them from my phone and even removing some of my social media accounts permanently. Honestly one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.


  • I started learning Spanish again. Duolingo opens automatically when I open my browser on my laptop, in that way I remember to learn my Spanish daily.


  • The most fun experiment I did because of this book was placing a big bowl of fruit on the table in the living room. My mom didn’t like it because then the fruit would spoil faster than in the fridge. Nevertheless, the fruit-eating rate at home skyrocketed. Just because the fruit was now visible and not hidden in the fridge.


If you keep up with your Atomic Habits daily, you’ll get 1% percent better every day. By reading one page each day, you’ll get 1% smarter every day. However, you need to remember that reading itself shouldn’t be the goal.

“The goal is not to read a book, the goal is to become a reader”

James Clear

I’m convinced that you can even take this one step further.

“The goal is neither to read a book nor to become a reader. The goal is to become a lifelong learner”

The Read More Warrior

Your Turn

I assume that you want to read more. Why would you otherwise be reading this blog? Start today with reading at least one page each day. I know you can do it.


How rubber bands can keep you going

Don’t be scared, you won’t be hurt. Or at least, the biggest part of you won’t. There is probably lingering a small dragon somewhere inside of you. This dragon named Resistance, however, is not safe. Resistance is going to die.

The Read More Warrior has found a new weapon: rubber bands. Resistance hates rubber bands. When dragons come in touch with rubber they turn into rubber themselves, as we turn into stone if we would look into Medusa’s eyes. Rubber dragons are not as scary as the real ones, and can even get sold as toys for kids!

Of course, we aren’t going to shoot with rubber bands. However, we can use rubber bands to battle Resistance. How? Let me explain. Showing up daily is the best antidote to Resistance, but showing up daily is easier said than done. We need some extra motivation to pull that off. To explain the concept I’ll use a personal example. I try to write daily. If there is another habit that you would like to do daily (like reading) you can apply the same concept to that.

I have two containers, one is transparent, the other is not. In the beginning, the non-transparent container is full of rubber bands and the transparent one is empty. Every day, I take one rubber band from the non-transparent container and put it around my wrist. From then on only one rule applies: I can’t put this rubber band off unless I write a paragraph. When I’ve finished a paragraph, the rubber band goes to the transparent container. *puts rubber band in transparent container*

“That’s silly, why should that work?” you might ask. Well, first of all, these containers are a visual cue for my daily writing habit. (For more information about habit formation, I recommend the book Atomic Habits by James Clear. This technique I developed was highly inspired by this book.) So when I see these containers, I’m reminded that I should write that day. You can’t build a habit that you forget about.

Secondly, the transparent container visualizes the writing progress. I find seeing the slow but steady progression deeply satisfying. It’s like watching new leaves sprout from a plant and seeing it grow for several months. I don’t know why, but someway I feel the urge to organize a big party when my big transparent container will be full one day.

Thirdly, having a rubber band around my wrist is slightly irritating. Because of that, I want to put it off as fast as possible. That ensures that I will start writing soon. Starting with writing (or reading, or whatever other habits you try to do daily) is the most difficult part. After that, the writing almost seems to take care of itself magically. However, after a while, you realize that there’s only one thing that comes close to the difficulty of starting, and that’s stopping.  

Lastly, there is the push and pull effect. We want to see the rubber bands in the transparent container, which is the pull factor, where we can see our progress. We can’t see our progress in the non-transparent container, which is the push factor so our subconscious wants the rubber bands out of there. This effect can even be magnified by making the non-transparent container ugly and the transparent beautiful.

After a while, you’ll begin to notice that every day the same story repeats itself:

See containers -> Don’t feel like doing [habit] -> Put rubber band on wrist anyway -> Start with [habit] -> Feel weird because now it’s difficult to stop with [habit]


What you could do to increase the push-pull effect, even more, is use two transparent containers: a small one and a big one. The small one is easier to carry around, but one day it will be full. So now and then you can empty the small transparent container into the bigger transparent container. This empty small container will have again a bigger pull effect. In the bigger container, you can further track your progress.

Your Turn

Use the rubber band technique for a habit you want to perform daily. If you can’t choose which, I’ll choose for you and I choose reading one page a day.