For some reasons related to being busy on other things I did not write so much during a while in the past few months (blog posts or books or white papers), and the amazing thing is that I found it very difficult to start writing again. And then with some practice writing became easy again!
It was not writers’ block or anything like that. It was just that I found a strong resistance to start writing. I always found something more urgent to do. I found it difficult to concentrate on writing words together. It was like I was a beginner trying to piece together some sentences.
This all goes to show how much writing is a muscle that needs exercising regularly. And with exercise and regular writing it is possible to have substantial production that will improve over time.
Lesson learnt – I will keep exercising my writing muscle regularly and not let it weaken too much in the future!
The interesting part of the article is the reference to a study that would show that these limitations of our reason could be linked back to the context of the hunter-gatherer. The need for collaboration, fostered by evolution, may have blunted some aspects of our reasoning. That would be in particular the case for confirmation bias (the tendency to find confirmation that confirms our opinions).
There is hope still: “Humans aren’t randomly credulous. Presented with someone else’s argument, we’re quite adept at spotting the weaknesses. Almost invariably, the positions we’re blind about are our own.” The trick is to be able to get others look at our situations. And, maybe, try to get over those limitations we have inherited from our ancestors.
In my facilitating I like to use a simple process that I call the ‘open-close-act’ approach. Faced with a problem, we first open to the widest possible range of solutions before converging and deciding which way to act.
In this process, the first ‘open’ step is essential because people too often jump for the most obvious solution without taking the time to stand back, reflect, and spend some creative moments. The second step is also sometime difficult because people hesitate to take action.
This is very well touched upon in Seth Godin’s post ‘The simple two-step process‘: “The problem most people run into is that they mix the steps and confuse them. During step one, they aren’t open enough, aren’t willing enough to consider the impossible. And then, in step two, fear of shipping kicks in and they stay open too long, hold on to too many options and hesitate.”
This is a reason why in my method I have added a third step, which is action. This needs to be constantly reminded to participants: the goal is certainly to take action – after having undergone a proper process to determine what is the best one.
According to common knowledge it is difficult to entertain tight bonding with more than about 150 people at any one time. This is called the Dunbar’s number, a concept developed in the 1990s. However with the Fourth Revolution, I believe the rotation frequency of this tighter community might have increased.
My observation is that with social networks that allow us to maintain weak ties with a lot more people in a more intense manner than before, the composition of this elect group of stronger bonded people is much higher than before. Depending on exchanges, meetings and opportunities, we tend to renew this group much more frequently than before (around a much smaller stable core community). This has implications about the relative impermanence of stronger bonds which might be an issue, while the accelerated renewal rate is an opportunity for a richer life as well.
Is that your case also that your tighter community tends to rotate quicker than before?
One thing that goes in the way of creating new different habits is certainly the way we look upon ourselves. If we want to change a habit that is aligned with our sense of identity, or the identity we want to project outside, we will fail.
“The key to building lasting habits is focusing on creating a new identity first. Your current behaviors are simply a reflection of your current identity. What you do now is a mirror image of the type of person you believe that you are (either consciously or subconsciously). To change your behavior for good, you need to start believing new things about yourself.” writes James Clear in his post ‘Identity-Based Habits: How to Actually Stick to Your Goals This Year’.
I would add, not only starting to believe new things about oneself, but projecting them and publishing them too, which will make the case much stronger for change.
Reflect on your identity and check whether there is not something there that impedes changing some habits?
Leo Babauta at Zen Habits makes the case that we should focus on intentions rather than goals to achieve what we want.
“As you might know, I experimented with giving up goals after being very focused on goals for years. It was liberating, and it turns out, you don’t just do nothing if you don’t have a goal. You get up and focus on what you care about. Read more here. Instead, I’ve found it useful to focus less on the destination (goal) and instead focus on what your intention for each activity is. If you’re going to write something … instead of worrying about what the book will be like when you’re done, focus on why you want to write in the first place. If you are doing something out of love or to help others , for example, then you are freed from it needing to turn out a certain way (a goal) and instead can let it turn out however it turns out. I’ve found this way of working and living to be freeing and less prone to anxiety or procrastination.”
It is true that most of the literature is about setting goals and not necessarily about setting intentions. Personally I am still very much into goals. I am aware this approach requires a lot of personal discipline and is sometimes excessively straining. I certainly need to consider setting strong intentions instead!
“If you can raise somebody’s level of positivity in the present, then their brain experiences what we now call a happiness advantage, which is your brain at positive performs significantly better than at negative, neutral or stressed. Your intelligence rises, your creativity rises, your energy levels rise.” says Shawn Achor in a lively TED talk.
The traditional success formula is broken. “Most companies and schools follow a formula for success, which is this: If I work harder, I’ll be more successful. And if I’m more successful, then I’ll be happier. That undergirds most of our parenting and managing styles, the way that we motivate our behavior. The problem is it’s scientifically broken and backwards”.
In particular, it does not work because “Every time your brain has a success, you just changed the goalpost of what success looked like.” And thus we never reach that success we are striving for.
How much better do we get if we have the happiness advantage? “In fact, we’ve found that every single business outcome improves. Your brain at positive is 31% more productive than your brain at negative, neutral or stressed. You’re 37% better at sales. Doctors are 19 percent faster, more accurate at coming up with the correct diagnosis when positive instead of negative, neutral or stressed“.
Let’s strive to get the happiness advantage and produce success rather than the other way around!
“Your external world can only predict 10% of your long-term happiness. 90 percent of your long-term happiness is predicted not by the external world, but by the way your brain processes the world.” says Shawn Achor in a lively TED talk.
External-generated happiness is only temporary and limited. Hardwiring ourselves to be happy relatively irrespective of the circumstances is what creates long term happiness.
It is a long way from the usual understanding of happiness associating happiness with wealth, idleness and the ownership of worldly things.
Let’s train and hardwire our brains to see the world in a more happy manner, and live happier lives!
The reality is that 95%+ of our daily interactions with people remain at a too superficial level to figure out what it is they know we don’t know. The issue is then to figure out how to setup those conversations in a way to enrich our experience and their experience.
It all comes down to connecting in the right manner, demonstrating interest to the person, its interests and aspirations. It also come down to a benevolent attitude that does not seek immediate advantage or profit from the relationship.
Of course that takes time so we can’t do that for everyone we meet, but we can certainly do better.
Benevolence is important. I had written first the first sentence of this post “how to benefit from this knowledge”. But the point is not to benefit, but to share!
Let’s try to learn more about the world by connecting better with more people, learning exciting new stuff we did not even know existed and sharing our knowledge too!
“Everyone you Will Ever Meet Knows Something that You Don’t” is a quote by Bill Nye, and american science educator. It is a very powerful statement that I find by experience to be actually quite true. However we can only find out provided we take the time to establish the right connection to figure it out.
The reason for this situation is of course the variety of individual experience and interests.
We often tend to dismiss the knowledge that is available around us, while daily experience shows how fruitful it can be. For example on the workplace, leveraging on the interest and knowledge of the people constituting the team or the extended team is a very effective way to increase effectiveness. It is too often forgotten in particular with the race to efficiency.
Let’s never forget that anyone around us, however menial their occupation be, have something to teach us.
Independence and autonomy might seem quite similar but there is a substantial difference: autonomy does not preclude asking for support and help, while independence does.
Before proceeding further, let’s note that we apply those terms here in the personal sense and not in the diplomatic sense.
This distinction between the two concepts is essential because it shows that being independent is far more limiting than being autonomous. Autonomy implies being able to take one own’s decisions but at the same draw on help and support from others to reach one’s goals.
This is why we should strive personally for autonomy, not independence.