Welcome to Zennen.net



Janne Piiroinen

Janne Piiroinen

Zennen is about positive transformation through lifelong learning. Best place to start the positive transformation is from within. I’ve shared many of my experiences, failures and struggles in this blog and intend to keep doing so.

Your life will not be magically altered overnight. Human mind needs time, but is capable in significant changes even during adulthood. I’ve come a long way from my early adulthood to this point, and even so I feel like I’ve just got started. In my current mindset, the learning experiences and growth experiences are the best thing in my life.

Therefore as I am constantly exploring new ideas, thoughts and going through growth experiences, I am sharing them here on Zennen. So stick around and enjoy!

Balancing the Thinking


Having too pessimist outlook on life will limit a lot the way we take action. I am talking about my own experience as I used to see very strongly the reality and the limitations of it. Only rarely a thought of optimism would wander into my mind.

Then as I learned about the benefits of a more optimist mind, I began to grow an interest in developing some of those qualities, while retaining the good sides of the pessimist thinking.

As it turns out, mind can be trained and the conscious effort is the method to do it. Before the training we have all kinds of mental habits running in the background, seeing only what we’ve previously learned to see and not recognizing anything else. The training is precisely the process of helping your mind to see also the other things, like opportunities there as well.

Step 1. This is well demonstrated by the exercise: Look around you and make a mental note of all blue stuff that you find.

Step 2. — Now tell me what red stuff did you see?

The original task I gave to you is the same as your original mentality. You only see the blue stuffs.

Optimist mind can be easily trained by conscious effort to find out the good things and opportunities in everyday life. This can be done easily by the daily top 3 list, in which you list at least 3 good things during each day. Challenge here isn’t to find the three things a day once, or over a few weeks, but to keep going for months and years.

Also this can be applied to any events in your life as well, in a way that even if something not so nice happens, you can try to find out some positives on that by conscious effort. By doing this consciously, instead of just accepting all the negative you see by default, the positive habits also become more and more automated. What that means, is of course that your general mood becomes a whole lot better, and your outlook on life will become more positive.

The transformation process will take it’s time, therefore it’s best to keep doing it on a day level and let the positive change catch you by surprise.

Professional Mentality


Becoming a professional requires a lot. I’ve noticed that as in my naiveté I’ve tried to become a professional in several different things. Firstly in my mind was probably professional gamer in StarCraft as well as in the game of Go.

I did manage to break out of the beginner status in both of them, but the mastery requires a lot more effort, as I’ve talked about earlier. At least about 10 000 hours worth, and that alone cannot be reached with just the enthusiasm of a beginner.

Today morning I was thinking about all of these my different pursuits, which I had been pursuing more or less seriously. The more serious I have been, the more discipline, willpower and energy overall I have been challenging to the particular activity. It is no surprise.

There is however a common factor in all more serious activities: the willingness to become more professional, use discipline and willpower to build more discipline to reach the particular goal in mind.

Sure you can have success without the professionalism. However if we are looking at the predictors of success in any activity: professionalism, is the mentality that removes all the doubt and the failure, it prepares us to succeed, with the professional mentality it is impossible for not to succeed.

So far, I have not become professional in anything. Being professional seems to be more mentality than anything else. Usually anyone highly skilled, or talented in any field develop the professionalism when they reach the top, if they haven’t already.

My definition of professional:

    • Comprehensive practice, not just the particular skill, but all areas of being, mind and body.
    • o   Sees the cause and effect – which helps him/her enjoy the practice and get internally motivated

    • Remains humble, sees the room for improvement
    • o   Yet constantly is able to give positive feedback for him/herself when progress is made

    • Lives for long term gratification and practices it, knows very well what kind of emotions he/she wants to experience and is willing to work and wait for them.
    • o   Is able to split the grand dream into mini goals and milestones which

    • Conscious sacrifice. Is willing to give up something, in order to achieve something grander.
    • Takes calculated risks, knows very well how to manage all those risks even if they occur.
    • Does the job thoroughly, to the best of his ability and ensures the excellent end result at all costs.

Mind Development


According to the Mind Development website [1] only 0,2% of all people reach postformal level of thought, which in that theory is the pinnacle of thinking. Overall I find the theory of mind developing very intriguing, even though I do not know that much about it yet.

Originally I got interested about the development of thinking from other source [2], which roughly sketched out the three phases of thinking development. I found this model very good and I was able to put it into use quite soon. The three phases according to the Johda Ihmistä[2] – book were:

  1. social mind
  2. self-directed mind
  3. protean mind

Basically these are rough states of minds, but still very useful. Book is written for leaders, however I think everyone is already leader of themselves. From my personal experience a quite sudden change got me to the path out of the social mind which I was dwelling during my early adulthood. Only the decision happened overnight, but the seed was planted.

After that conscious pursuit of personal growth has made me what I am today and keeps me driving to challenge myself even further. We have all have the possibility to develop ourselves further, if we are just willing to take the effort to do so. We are in charge of our lives after all.

I am very interested in becoming better person. At first, I thought that the intelligence would be the key to success, however now I’ve grown wiser and learned that it has more to do with the success. Even so, I quite enjoy the idea of keeping my mind challenged, so that I might benefit from it intellectually.

Now I putting a lot more focus to the actual development of thinking, that the intelligence. Higher education provides such possibilities for the mental challenges that are necessary for the thinking to emerge. In the adulthood we are responsible of our own education. Higher education provides a lots of potential resources and ways to develop our mind, however we alone are still responsible for the actual work to develop our minds.

In the terms of education, Internet is tremendous resource. Places such as Wikiversity, Wikipedia, Khan Academy, TED and Google Scholar are good places to start.


[1] Mind Development: ADULT INTELLECTUAL DEVELOPMENT.http://www.mind-development.eu/stages-development.html

[2] Leppänen M & Rauhala I. 2013. Johda Ihmistä – Psykologiaa johtajille. Talentum. Helsinki. ISBN10: 9521417455.

Earning Ability


Todays topic of thought has been the fruits of the labor, it is somewhat related to the yesterday’s 10 000 hour skill mastery, as the timescale here is five years. What I could do with five years of work for myself and what could come out of it? Now I am going to describe two models, that I’ve been thinking.

First is the social mind model, that is quite regular working life pattern, trading time for money. With the hourly or monthly salary, my ability to make money in five years wouldn’t be that much higher compared to beginning. Let’s say after graduation, the pay is about 2800 € a month gross, then probably with five year professional experience I could aim as high as 4500 € per month. I estimate that’s about the high salary that you can get as an employed expert, of course I cannot be sure.

I think that’s pretty much the limit to the “employment” on an individual level. By this I mean, after this the other qualities and responsibilities tend to come in play, especially in the field of business. Unless you’ve highly demanded specific skill, you are stuck in this mainstream. One break away point is the leadership qualities and responsibilities, which might also increase the salary. However, as long as you are employed, the differences cannot be that great. Differences start occur, when the actual person starts taking initiative into own hands. This means also assuming the risk, like a leader becoming an entrepreneur in the sense, instead of being just employed.

What I find especially fascinating, is not to the figures, but the shift and transitioning in the mindset of the person who decides to take the leap of faith. Instead of operating in just the social mindset of being part of something, the person in questions takes more self-directed action. It requires this kind of mindset to employ yourself, thus probably all artists, leaders and entrepreneurs have this kind (or higher) mindset.

So back to the topic of money. Actually with this kind of mindset, there is a tiny chance to make a lots of money, the successful growth company, best selling book, or a hit song. It’s still tiny chance, with a lot of work. What I discovered matters more, is quality of the work, which means quality chances to succeed. Actually even little success can be sufficient for the one who is operating with self-directed mindset. It can still provide enough to live off. With self-directed mindset, one works to all the time INCREASE the chance of striking gold.

In my previous post about the 10 000 hour rule, it would mean to achieve the final 1%, getting the tiny things correct, among which the timing is probably the most important. For some great people the timing is just wrong, this has been known time and time again with great people from the past, like Vincent Van Gogh.

Self-directed people gain satisfaction from their work beyond money. They actually do not need that much money to feel secure, as they are more confident in their own abilities. Basically this means that as they feel competent and confident, they can dedicate more time for their beloved vocation of their choice. Whatever that might be.

I find this very exciting. One of my favorite quotes comes from Napoleon Hill, who was the author of “Think and Grow Rich”, he said in one of his books, that he was so passionate about writing, that he didn’t really have time to make money.

In the end it is about thinking what matters. There are necessities in life, which money can buy, basically this means we need a steady stream of income through life. However if we think of our own work and the importance it reflects back to us, I think it should be a work that increases our possibilities of striking gold. To this I believe more than in winning lottery, because this is something I can actually influence on. It’s about striving for excellence in the vocation of a choice.

Motivation for 10 000 Hour Skill Mastery


It has been said that it takes about 10 000 hours to master a skill. A few years ago, when I first gave this a thought, it seemed quite a lot of hours… However, it turns out, I’ve changed my mind about that. Actually it’s quite a relief that there is actually something to shoot for, and in the end, it isn’t that big deal, just 10 000 hours. For me, who likes to work about 5 hours a day it would mean about 2000 days of work, which is about five and a half years. That’s actually pretty fast, now that I think about it. Perhaps it’s me just getting older, but just five hours of work a day and I could become master of it, in just under six years, that’s amazing!

Best part is yet to come. By my definition completion or complete mastery is highly unlikely, it might happen, but better to be little pessimist and aim for the 99% and if we are lucky we get to the 99,9 % eventually. It’s no problem!

The best thing is actually that, we are gaining from the skill even before the mastery of it! My sudden realization of this provided me also a sudden surge of motivation to start figuring this out. As 10 000 hours is fairly simple number, it is also quite fair to expect fair results from fair amount of work, thus this chart:


Here we can see, that even after 1000 hours of work, you can expect relatively high level of proficiency in your field of choice, up to 10 %! Although 10 % still lacks a lot, you might just start enjoying doing it a lot more, because you know, only nine such chunks to go before so called mastery!

Build Grit to Make Your Desire into a Reality


Key to the Success according to Angela Lee Duckworth in her TED speech is simply grit. So it was not IQ, EQ or looks, just the plain ability to keep doing something, until it becomes a reality.

I was thinking that perseverance could be the one, but it’s just one part of the whole grit. Duckworth described grit as having the marathon attitude which includes having perseverance and stamina to make the desire into a reality.

I don’t like to think that stamina has much to do with it. Instead I would like to think about the ability to perform at a certain level consistently, day in, day out. Also I would like to think that the ability to perform would increase as the skill level increases, so basically you will learn and grow in whatever you do. The marathon attitude however is a great one. With life it’s just so that you do not know exactly how far the goal is, so it’s more like running a marathon in a fog, without a clock. It requires you to see and believe that the goal is nearby, to keep yourself going.

In the end, strongest motivator or activator of grit is ourselves. Outside forces can be a very strong support and motivation, so learning to use them is very beneficial. Now I want to focus on the skills that are in our own disposal, that are really dependent on us alone to do and develop. So internal tools that support successful outcome:

  • a vision for the future
  • ability to see how even the tiny things are connected to the bigger picture
  • consistent work habits
  • prioritization
  • self-discipline
  • courage
  • ability to delay gratification
  • brick by brick –attitude
  • ability enjoy the process

Developing these qualities, being gritty or persistent does not mean that you cannot have any other life. However it means understanding the importance and impact completing that task every day. Depending about the thing you might be striving to make reality: for some it might be doing all the homework well, on a five days a week and for someone who is willing to become a writer it might be writing one hour per day.

So in conclusion, it seems like growth oriented attitude is indeed pretty much the key, but even more importantly it is about finding the right seriousness, to split the huge effort, into everyday work and then keep executing it, every day until it becomes reality.

What has Space Exploration Brought Us?


Constellation_Fornax,_EXtreme_Deep_FieldBy pushing our limits of our current understanding humanity has discovered a lot, that has made life on earth more stable, secure and predictable. Most significant benefits that have resulted from space exploration has to do with the bigger perspective: we can have actually satellites on the orbit and learn about what’s going on the surface of the earth. Mapping the earth, predicting weather phenomenon’s and GPS systems are just first few grand benefits which are seen in our everyday lives.

I just want to raise a little bit of appreciation and focus to the tremendous benefits that the space exploration has brought to us.

NASA alone has published 1800 spin-off technologies from mid 1970s to this date. These discoveries are affect all areas of our lives. Few notable things from the NASA: Food Safety Systems, LED lights for medical use, Highway Safety, Harnessing Solar Energy, Enriched Baby Food, Water Purification, Better Software, Structural Analysis, Ski boots

Read more detailed descriptions at the NASA’s website.

European Space Agency ESA and CERN together have also fostered together more than more than 250 technology spin-offs to the business world at world’s largest industry fair. [1]

These are just two space agencies, not to mention the space agencies of Russia, China, India and Japan.

I just want to remind you how incredibly big SPACE we are living in, and perhaps we should focus more to figure out how we can explore that. Of course good place to start is to explore fully our own home planet, but to do so, requires still great effort from everyone, we don’t really have time to be in each others throats, we’ve got a lot to discover!


[*] Image: Hubble Goes to the eXtreme to Assemble Farthest-Ever View of the Universe;  by NASA ESA; G. Illingworth, D. Magee, and P. Oesch, University of California, Santa Cruz; R. Bouwens, Leiden University; and the HUDF09 Team

[1] http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Technology/TTP2/Technology_spin-offs_at_world_s_largest_industry_fair