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My Journey to Power

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Glad you liked nz.  I m a proud kiwi.  Course anyone who doesn't  like is just plain out wrong.

NZers especially  the women are really good organisers.  But can be a bit mother hen about it.

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I also followed the advice that I got: "Say yes to everything" which is great while travelling. Even if we did organize/plan things more than I'm used to, I realize now that I also "went with the flow". So travelling is a delicate balance between planning and improvising. What I learned is that one can always remove things if you have planned too much but if one failed to book something early enough than one would have liked to do.

So it's better to overprepare and cancel before doing the activity than underpreparing and missing an activity. This also applies to booking places: if you book a place very early you can still cancel but if you book too late it might be too expensive or full.

On priorities, I spoke with a friend tonight and he reminded me that one can only have so many priorities (backburner theory). So if one want to prioritize everything, that is a recipe for burnout and failure. So if I take the different parts of one's life:

  • Health
  • Self-development
  • Self-care: includes taking care of one's home
  • Administrative tasks
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Dating
  • Work: I notice that in my field of work and others there is a pressure to prioritize it. So if one tries to de-prioritize it, it gets noticed and negative feed-back ensues.
  • Hobbies
  • Relaxing: I found out in Atearoa (maori name of NZ) that it is an activity in itself (duh!).

So I'm going to think how I can re-priorize all that. What is certain is that I have to do less things anyway.


@transitioned: Hahaha, she was totally a mother hen. I also noticed another NZ woman being like that and the husband follows. So that's what I did. The positive is that I was saving energy and she was making a lot of great propositions (most of them actually). So in this case, following was beneficial to me. That being said, I would not get into a couple with a women who is too much of a leader, even if the ideas are great. I like things to be more equal or that I'm leading (of course!).

And yes the country is very well organized, from the airports to the traffic to tourism. It's really easy to travel there. It's a country which found good balance between order and chaos, like the Netherlands. Not too much order, not too much chaos. Just what is needed to live happily. I found people to be quite happy and joyful there. Much more than in Switzerland. I thought it might be the sun. But then, as I was driving, I saw a woman dressed in orange who's holding the stop sign to regulate the traffic because of  road works. It was raining and this woman smiled at me!

This would never happen in Switzerland: a female traffic regulator dressed in orange who smiles at you in the rain while working. At least I never saw it.

I also noticed that it is quite an equalitarian country, many women in "men's jobs". This was also one of the main reasons for me to travel there a few years ago: to visit one of the most progressive countries in the World. And I think it is. In my short experience as a tourist, I think it has its place along with Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, the Netherlands. The rankings are right I believe. There are inequalities with the maoris but there has been a tremendous work to make things right with them I think. There is also an institutional respect for the culture, even if I suspect some hypocrisy could be hiding in it as well. Once again, I have only the surface view though. So I might miss deeper things.

I learned a lot from your country: it's a country who's doing it right I think. It focusses on personal responsibility and I think it is one of the high-trust cultures. So it has positive expectations for the people in it. On the other hand, Switzerland is more about what is forbidden and following the rules. I think in NZ, people rely more on the common sense and the "common good" to decide on what to do. I was surprised to see how my friend and the people there were taking seriously the census (happen every 5 years) as we filled it as travelling. There are a lot of things to be said but I will stop here as I could also be idealizing it.

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It is a nice place.   There are a few challenges that has created.   Because it is at the end of the world a lot of bolthole migration and property investment  especially from China  is pricing out the locals.   There are 2 Chinese language TV stations in Auckland alone.  My Mrs is Chinese and I m learning mandarin.   Now I just need to get really good at hand noodles and dumplings I don't think the P LA will shoot the cook.

Unfortunately like everywhere else we have a lots of politicians who are willing to jump on board whatever corrupt gravy train is running.   NZ needs to be careful China could send 6 ships  on a good will tour and that would be the end of NZ.   In the age of hypersonic missiles I don't think Australia could say boo to that  If that sounds paranoid ask a Tibetan for a second opinion.    Plenty of minerals and fertile agricultural land available in New Zealand and not many people.

Salaries are low and cost of living has gone through the roof

You would be OK plenty of good hospitals and medical practices  Not a lot of  IT work I live in Australia because of that.

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Cheers John, good to see you again and happy to read you had a good time!

I agree with you on the "inside out" and focusing on the main building blocks of a healthy life.
And also on "letting the organizer-type do the planning and decisions".
A more power-hungry or beginner guy may have seen that as a struggle for power/leadership, while instead the best course of action is often to sit back, make the most of the organizer type of person, and enjoy the ride :).

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Yes, that is the problem I identified with NZ: the unfavorable (in my view) ratio of wage to cost of life. I found it the same in other quite equalitarian high-income countries: Sweden, Iceland, Norway. I did not value money enough in the past, but now I see better the advantage of having a high disposable income as in Switzerland or Australia. As Lucio said, wealth has a universal aspect of value to it. It's useful for many things. So despite NZ being so cool, if one cannot enjoy it due to a lack of money, we have a problem. So far I have not found a country with all the things that I like: culture, people, women (my type), great nature, progressive, open, positive, modern with good weather AND high income. This is heaven and each country is missing one or more as we are living on Earth. So I guess one has to prioritize and pick what they will not get. So far I still prioritize income.

Regarding the military aspect, I think that the Pacific region is becoming more and more strategic due to China's imperialism. I read today that Australia, UK and USA made an alliance for submarines in the Pacific ocean. And yes, China is buying like crazy in NZ, like in many other countries through economic imperialism. To be continued...


Thank you very much! I'm glad to be back! As I expressed in another post I'm looking for ways to participate more. I think that the best solution for me is to write when I find time here and there. Blocking a certain moment in the day does not work for me. Anyway I'll find a way as this community is very important to me.

I agree with you on the "inside out" and focusing on the main building blocks of a healthy life.

Thanks! I'll update you guys on my success on this. It is about getting 7-8 hours of sleep, working out regularly and eating healthier. This will ask some effort and willpower from me. I'm in a new phase doing my best to face what I procrastinated for a long time: "The sleeper must awakened". It's quite confronting to see my weaknesses in that regard.

And also on "letting the organizer-type do the planning and decisions".
A more power-hungry or beginner guy may have seen that as a struggle for power/leadership, while instead the best course of action is often to sit back, make the most of the organizer type of person, and enjoy the ride :).

Thanks! I thought that writing this here I would get some feed-back like: "you were too low power" but actually not. That is exactly what I did and I thought it was actually high power as in I could get what I wanted: an amazing travel and friendship experience. If I would have resisted it would have soured it. So it was low dominance but high power I think.

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On teacher’s frame 

We talked here about teacher frames and how they can be self-defeating if used in the wrong context. They introduce a one-up frame that can create imbalance in equal relationships.

I thought this morning about where I think I went wrong. My intention was to share what I learned. And I think it is where there is a subtle difference. It’s different to say “this is what I learned” that to say “this is what I know” (and you don’t). So I definitely think there is a place for sharing genuinely what one has learned (coming from a trip for instance) which can lead to a conversation about this topic. It’s about the intention and the humility to recognize that it’s only one’s perspective and not imposing it on other people. So there is a subtle distinction I believe.


One of the things I learned in NZ is that now I want more “realness” in my life. I realized that in our current context, there is a lot of fakeness, games and pretenses. From porn to social media to politics there is a lot of noise and bullshit. When in Dunedin (southern island) I talked about our “overactive minds”. My friend’s friend corrected me saying that our minds are not more active than hundreds or thousands years ago. They are not more active than Socrates’ or other thinkers. He talked about our overstimulated minds. I think he’s right. It struck a chord in me.

I know I was guilty of it. I say “was” because I don’t want it anymore. No, I don’t have to listen to dozens of audiobooks until the end of the year. No I don’t have to do and learn all those things. It’s desirable and good yes. But it’s a choice. If I’m constantly stressed because there are all these things that I have to learn and do then I won’t enjoy my life as much and it defeats the purpose of it. It becomes counterproductive. Yes I still want to push myself, achieve my potential and my mission. Yes I still want an extraordinary life. But differently and at a different rhythm. My rhythm. Not the one from my overstimulated mind nor from my environment with ever increasing demands (to which I willingly participate). 

So thank you for this lesson and the many others, Aotearoa.

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Hello everyone,

I have to admit I currently feel a bit conflicted and confused about my lifestyle.

I changed my life to wake up earlier and I learned that if I don't go early enough to bed, the whole strategy crumbles on itself. One is feeling tired, focus, thinking and memory are impaired. I know it sounds obvious. However, I adapted to this state so I was not seeing it anymore. Coming back from holiday it's totally obvious to me now.

So I will still wake up early but I'm going to bed earlier now.

Here are the points of my current reasoning:

  1. I still believe that to have an extraordinary life, one must work harder than the other people (as in "extra"-ordinary). I learned this strategy from Tom Bilyeu and yes it does work.
  2. When I met my French friends as I was rebuilding my social life 2 years ago, they taught me something. They were actually not working as hard as me but were much happier. They were happier because they had balance in their life: hobbies, friends, went out to restaurants and drinks. I went too hard into monk mode in the past so I learned from them.
  3. In NZ, my physician friend is working from 9 to 4:30pm whereas I'm working from 8 to 6pm. And that is the best schedule a physician can get in Switzerland.

So I'm conflicted. I have a conflict of values. It's the same old one as many people: I want a great life but I don't want to work that hard. Hahaha, I know.

The conflict is: becoming a great pediatrician/having an extraordinary life vs having a "average" life/being synchronized socially with other people (drinks during the week with friends/dates).

In concrete terms:

  1. If I wake up early and go to bed early in the week, my nights of the week are gone, sacrificed to studying pediatrics, moving forward on my projects.
  2. On the other hand if I do that, I can probably enjoy my week-ends more.

One option is that I could do this monk mode (8pm to 4am) during the week and enjoy more the week-end so I could get more free time during the week-end. By waking up at 4am it leaves me time to study which will move me closer towards my goal to being a great paediatrician. However, I won't be able to do rock climbing at night during the evening nor dates nor see friends.

The other option is to stick to a "normal" early routine: going to bed at 9pm and waking up at 5am. This is the one I'm currently working on. However, if I wake up at 5 am, I don't have time to study since I'm working out from about 6am to 7am. So I would have to study during the week-end. And during my trip in NZ, I also saw that it would be cool if I could have a full day of rest during the week (Sunday for instance) rather than being so busy. That would allow me to travel/hike in Switzerland 1 day per week.

I'm thinking about experimenting with this because anyway my current goal is to go to bed regularly at 9PM. I think I should focus first on that because whatever strategy, I don't intend to go later than 9pm during the week.

I think I have to go step-by-step and this is what I'm currently doing:

  1. Go to bed at 9PM from Sunday to Thursday
  2. Working out from Monday to Saturday
  3. Study during the week-ends and work on my projects during the week-ends.

I'm aware that the first step is getting the appropriate energy and time. So it's about going to sleep, working out, eating right. Then I will be able to see what I can do with this energy.

If you guys have any thoughts on the dichotomy "Normal life/balance" vs "Extraordinary life/chill" and want to share your philosophy/strategy about it I'm curious!

I'm aware that what I can get in my life is related to the amount of effort I put in. However, if one puts in too much effort, then there is not enough life to enjoy the fruits of our efforts. So I'm still trying to figure this one out. I also understand it comes down to priorities and goals. There is also the tension between work and leisure. I also understand through a friend that we are the ones "setting the cursor" between work and private life. What I am currently changing anyway is the number of projects/activities I'm doing. I'll do less different things so I can focus more on the few I keep.

I still stand with my post above: I'm looking for my rhythm: one which could allow me to build momentum to acquire great skills AND have enough free time so not to feel like "I'm my own slavedriver" (Tesla employees quote).

For reference, I'm currently watching this video from Tom Bilyeu:

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Lucio Buffalmano

Just some thoughts here:

  • Extraordinary, average, and in-between: Have you considered the options aren't just "extraordinary" and "average"?
  • Extraordinary could be a good life, "achievements" notwithstanding (or some achievements, but not the all-time chasing achievements)
  • Alternating "flat-out times" & "chill times": one thing that worked well for me was to alternate periods of flat-out work, with some periods of more rest, enjoyment, and chill.
    Your idea of week/weekends may be something similar

I think there may also be a sort of oppressive, "achievement culture porn" being promoted by some of the current crops of gurus, Tom included, that may not always best serve one's interests.

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Thank you very much!

I think you nailed it. What I'm currently looking for (referring to "my rhythm") is a life that fits me. It's been a few years that I let go of trying to become the next Elon Musk as I got influenced by this culture you describe.

Totally agree with what you say about a good life, alternating with rest and Tom.

What you wrote helped me realize that what I'm looking for is a life that resembles me, that is good for me. That means something like developing my potential (work, self-development) but not in an endless empty pursuit when it's never enough. That means also having room for friendship, family, rest, hobbies but not so much that I don't move forward on my goals. Recently, I had several humility lessons in here, at work and during my travel. So I think it's the right time for me to re-think and re-design my life. That means, in a way that is sustainable (not leading to burnout), enjoyable and still challenging.

What I realized today is that I had to make so many sacrifices over the past years, now it's been about a year I have a 8-6 schedule ("normal"). With more time, I wanted to catch up and do all the things I could not do. It does not work of course. So I have to start again re-inventing my life in a way that is balanced enough that I can sustain it.

So thank you!

Here are 2 situations that I would like to share.

Asking for a recommendation letter from the head of the pediatrics & neonatology department

He's the big boss and we have a very good relationship. I asked him for a recommendation letter taking into account my work for the committee of residents in pediatrics. I asked him a recommendation letter and he accepted to do so. He asked me to keep him in the loop as my progress in my application. We had a few emails where he would basically delaying the delivery of the letter. Once he learned that I found a job he said that "so the recommendation letter is not needed anymore then".

I thought about telling him that it would still help me for my future. But now I take a more strategic view of it. What does he want? He does not want to do it. What is is goal? To minimize his workload. He's going to be retired this year. So he could do it as a gesture towards me, especially since I know he respects me a lot (that's what people told me). But I think he does not want to.

So I'm not going to pressure him because he does not have to, it's out of courtesy. I know he promised to do so, but I don't want to sour the relationship. I will do without this letter.

Getting rejected from the Moldovan dinner

An acquaintance who is part of our extended social group proposed us to do a Moldovan dinner on the 29th of April. She's from Moldova.

Last week she sent a message saying that she would like to move the date to the 22nd because it "suits her better". She asked us who was available. Everyone was except me since I'm working until 9pm. For more context she also invited us to a dinner on the 31st of March. So 2 dinners, one where she will cook Moldovan food. An exchange around the power dynamics:

Her: Cool, so let's do it on the 22nd for the meal. It suits me better for this date. @John Freeman: you can always join us after work, we will leave you some good things of course. (so basically she changed the date on her terms ignoring that I'm not available, passively de-inviting me. So now I'm supposed to arrive after everyone and eat alone what is left? Does not seem like a good proposition to me).

Me: Hello Olivia, I understand. No worries but I think I won't be with you all if it's in your hometown since I will probably arrive at 11pm and that is too late for me. Enjoy!

(So basically, I'm confronted with a "fait accompli", I do not have a say since it's her dinner party and she changed the date. It is 1+ hour from my workplace and we rarely end at 9pm sharp, so I would arrive too late. I stay positive since even though I'm disappointed I don't want to be nor appear bitter. She made her choice, I accept it. At this point I could have expressed my disappointment. However I chose not to appear vulnerable as I've had evidence in the past that she's quite manipulative and her move goes in this direction. I could have showed my disappointment but since I don't trust her that much I don't want to give her too much power. Maybe I could have shown disappointment here but with this woman, I did not feel like doing it.).

Her: Ok, I understand. But will you be there on the 31st?

(Here, the manipulative side shows more. By saying she understands she's trying to put it on me that I'm not available whereas she's the one who changed the date. She pushes the frame of me being a no-show/the one who cancelled by asking me if I'll be there at the dinner I already confirmed I would be there. So it's 2 topics that are not related to one another. She moved a date and I cannot come and I already confirmed my presence to the one. She's framing me as me cancelling on her).

Me: Yeah it's too bad this change of date... Yes why?

(I put back the responsibility on my absence on her by refusing her frame. I would be there if shed did not change the date. I'm not going into passive aggressiveness ("I'll be there on the 31st if you don't change the date!") nor aggressive ("Yeah it's too bad you changed the date"). I keep the answer impersonal ("the date was changed") to leave her some room for face-saving while not falling for her accusatory frame. I soften it with the "...". Then I surface the misplaced question about me being there on the 31st as she knows and everyone else knows I will be there. It's out of place: I confirmed, why are you asking me if I'm coming?).

Her: Just to make sure you will be there at least for the 31st 🙂

(she backtracks if my interpretation of the whole situation is correct. I don't think she was saddened that I could not come and wanted to make sure I was coming so she could see me. So for me this is an act).

Me: Yes, I'll be there 🙂

(now that she surfaced it I can answer to her question without being unsure to what frame I'm answering. I casually say that I'll be there and end the game here. There was a tasking element in her question but I let it slip and play along. I answer to show my goodwill for us to have a good relationship).


Denouncing my supervisor

I have 4 supervisors who have their own private practice in pediatrics. One of them is a 60ish years old female who's vaccine skeptic and antibiotics skeptic. She's all about homeopathy and this kind of medicine. When I started this rotation 5 months ago, I could see she was doing things that are considered bad practice:

  • Not giving antibiotics in perforated otitis media
  • Not undressing completely a baby to weigh him and look at the skin
  • Telling me only to check the belly when a child is vomiting
  • Not checking the ears and mouth at a well-child visit if the child is not sick
  • And others...

After 1 months I had a phone interview with 1 of the 2 training program directors. She asked me how the rotation was going and I told her the above as I was quite shocked. I also thought she should be informed because other pediatricians will be trained at her practice. If they are not so experienced or just trusting, they could learn bad practices. These bad practices could then have an impact on a child. That is why I told her. This woman has also a narcisstic side and working with her is difficult as she's overly dominant.

After I told her she said that I was not the only who complained about her and that she was going to talk about it with the other program manager. The problem is that I do have loyalty towards her: she welcomes me in her practice and she's teaching me stuff. Some of it has value, some of it I pretend to take it on board but it's garbage.

Then I told the PM to backtrack a little bit that the good thing was that I was still learning how to communicate with parents who think like her (vaccine skeptic, etc.). She told me that what she was doing was still wrong. She asked me if her colleague was as bad as her. I said "no" to protect her.

Afterwards I sent the PM an email asking her to wait until I finished my rotation in case they wanted to talk about it. She said alright.

So basically, I got a loyalty conflict, between:

  • My supervisor: she's teaching me things, we work on a daily basis together, she welcomed me in her practice
  • The program manager: has to know what is going on in the rotations where they send pediatric residents. The residents: they deserve the best training. The patients: they have the right to be treated the best possible and if residents get a bad training it can compromise it.

I still think that I did good in telling her. However in terms of strategy there can be consequences as the 4 pediatricians are related. So if 1 is scolded or excluded from the program, the other 3 will be in trouble. So for my own sake, I should have kept my mouth shut. I'm not sure they will be taking actions but now they have more info from me to do so. So if there is action taken, then they will know I was responsible for it and I will be chastised for it. Even more if I become a private practice pediatrician as I would have betrayed one of them. Now it's done anyway and there is no way to take it back.

I don't think they will do anything because they lack private practice pediatricians to train residents. But still...

Anyway, lesson learned. Next time I think I'll keep my mouth shut. I kind of regret having had spoken out. Performance reviews of higher ups only work if they stay anonymous to avoid reprisals. In this case I did not have this protection/guarantee.

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