Why We Should Focus On Intentions Rather Than Goals

Leo Babauta at Zen Habits makes the case that we should focus on intentions rather than goals to achieve what we want.

intentionAs 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!

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How to Set the Conditions to Really Free Ourselves

Pema Chodron writes: “This moving away from comfort and security, this stepping out into what is unknown, uncharted and shaky – that’s called liberation.” Is that really true?

liberationThis idea that to be free we must move away from our comfort zone is quite strong and scary at the same time. It would mean that we can’t find freedom within the comfort of our lives.

The challenge is of course that those religious people who seek liberation tend to enclose themselves in a physical comfort zone made of habits and rituals. Is that possibly to be in a better situation to escape their mental comfort zone? This would seem to be a contradiction.

At the same time it is in times of unknown possibilities that we can find the best opportunities to reveal ourselves. That is often not possible in our comfort zone, unless some events happen that shake it.

It would seem to me that Pema Chodron’s words mean that we need to seek situations that are unknown and unpredictable to reach freedom. Let’s look for them – wherever they are, close or far from our comfort zone!

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Why You Should Not Tell Your Friends Luck is the Reason for their Success

Don’t try to tell your successful friends that they’re lucky. We saw that when Obama gave his speech in 2012 and Elizabeth Warren gave a similar speech, people didn’t like that. Those speeches were completely reasonable […], but people didn’t hear the reasonable part. The message they heard was that they didn’t deserve their success.” This recommendation is given by Robert Frank the author of ‘Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy‘, in an interview.

Success_LuckA large part of success is luck, that is not to be denied. However we still ascribe most of it to hard work and talent. Find the right way to investigate which was the share of luck by asking the right question.

He continues”That’s not the message of those speeches. If you want people to think about the fact that they’ve been lucky, don’t tell them that they’ve been lucky. Ask them if they can think of any examples of times when they might have been lucky along their path to the top.”

“I’ve tried this many, many times and can report to you that the successful people who would get angered and defensive if they were reminded that they were lucky, instead don’t get angry or defensive at all when they think about the question, “Can you think of examples of times when you were lucky?” Instead their eyes light up, they try to think of examples, they recount one to you, and that prompts them to remember another one, they tell you about that one too, and soon they’re talking about investments we ought to be making.”

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How History Forgets That Searching for Truth Entails Risks

Because biographies of famous scientists tend to edit out their mistakes, we underestimate the degree of risk they were willing to take. And because anything a famous scientist did that wasn’t a mistake has probably now become the conventional wisdom, those choices don’t seem risky either.” writes Paul Graham in an excellent short post, ‘the risk of discovery‘.

newtonalchemyBiographies of Newton, for example, understandably focus more on physics than alchemy or theology. The impression we get is that his unerring judgment led him straight to truths no one else had noticed. How to explain all the time he spent on alchemy and theology? Well, smart people are often kind of crazy.” (and it seems Newton’s dog helped burn his alchemy writings as well).

There are at least two interesting learning points from this reflection:

  • People who truly seek new truths at the border of knowledge will seem a bit crazy and will investigate potential avenues, some of which might not be fruitful at the end. And they will put in question mainstream knowledge, which can be dangerous for them.
  • History only highlights what is becoming new mainstream knowledge forgetting about the rest, and deleting it from collective memory. But that is reductive because we don’t know what will become mainstream in the future.

So it quite normal that we take risks if we strive to progress science and find new truths. Taking risk is part of it. Let’s not stop at it!

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How Collaboration Is a Form of Competition

Collaboration is the keyword of the Collaborative Age. As a concept we often oppose Collaborative with Competition, with is more about us against the others. Does it need to be that way?

Collaboration-CompetitionIn a collaborative team, we do compete to give out our best. We compete against ourselves to contribute to the Cause.

Competition does not need to be egoistic in the sense of trying to gain at the expense of others. That’s an Industrial Age view of a world of limited supply that had to be split. The Collaborative Age is a world of plenty where we can create more.

We can thus compete with ourselves to create great performance, and leverage this performance in collaboration.

We know that competition is an approach that allows us to overcome our limits and create true achievements. Together with Collaboration, this creates results into the Collaborative Age.

Inspiration by a great post by Gapingvoid

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How Drone Hives Are Becoming a Reality

Did you think that hives of drones coming upon us to overcome our defenses were things from a Hollywood movie? It is becoming real and it has the potentiel to change significantly the battlefield. In particular because hives of drones do not require each drone to be individually controlled – this creates a lot of resilience to the technology.

minidroneSmall drone military usage is probably the new factor to be taken into account on the battlefield. There has been news of the Islamic State using small commercial drones carrying explosives (see for example ‘Pentagon confirms new threat from ISIS: exploding drones‘).

However one very impressive video is shown below, which is the usage of drone hives, still under development. Hives of small drones are dropped from fighter jets and then they behave like hives. The thing is that each drone is not individually piloted, the hive has a collective behavior with drones reacting to the others’ behavior. That’s really impressive, in particular the buzz of the drone hive homing in at the end of the video!

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How We Need to Change Our Formula For Success: the Happiness Advantage

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.

happiness_productivityThe 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!

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How Happiness Comes From Within and Not From External Factors

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.

brain_happinessExternal-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!

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How Having a Large Connected Fleet Is an Advantage for Artificial Intelligence

Most artificial intelligence (AI) today is based on machine learning. Hence the more data is available, the better it is to get machines to learn how to react to a wide array of situations.

tesla-autopilotTesla seems to be leading this capability thanks to the fact that their cars are always connected by default. This paper ‘Tesla Tests Self-Driving Functions with Secret Updates to Its Customers’ Cars’ reveals the astonishing capabilities in terms of data retrieval as well as in terms of software update for the car. ““The ability to pull high-resolution data from these vehicles and to update the vehicles over the air is a significant part of what’s allowed us in 18 months to go from very behind the curve to what is today one of the more advanced autonomous or semi-autonomous driving features,” said Sterling Anderson, director of Tesla’s Autopilot program”.

Leadership on the market will thus be on those that will be able to connect the maximum widgets used in the widest conditions possible. And repatriate the data instantaneously.

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Why, Intead of Staying Caterpillars, We Can All Become Butterflies

There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly” – Buckminster Fuller, Author, Designer and Inventor

At the same time, unless there is an unfortunate accident, it is the inevitable destiny of the caterpillar to become a butterfly.

Many people are like caterpillars crawling around in life. Not many know they can become a butterfly. Many will stay caterpillars.

But when one knows it is possible to become a butterfly, unless of an unfortunate accident, they will become a butterfly. In their own way.

Let’s tell more people-caterpillars they have the capacity to become a butterfly.

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How Artificial Intelligence Learning is Provided by Humans

This excellent article about ‘Inside Amazon’s clickworker platform: How half a million people are being paid pennies to train AI‘ gives a great insight into the workings of human teaching Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the issues of crowdsourcing these tasks.

mechanical_turkWe have already mentioned in this blog how humans are core to improving the quality of a number of products we are using on a daily basis: ‘How humans intervene in Internet’s workings‘, ‘The best digital maps are created by humans and crowd-sourced’.

Now this has become quite more systematic and oriented towards teaching AI how to recognize certain patterns and things. It is quite a sad paradox that these tasks by humans are designed for machine learning and to replace in the very near future those same humans. In addition the opportunities they provide are quite limited and constraining on those who participate. Yet they do provide opportunities for people in developing countries to benefit from new technologies.

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How To Get One’s Creativity Unstuck

Your creative flow is stuck?

doLearn to say “Fuck You” to the world once in a while. You have every right to. Just stop thinking, worrying, looking over your shoulder, wondering, doubting, fearing, hurting, hoping for some easy way out, struggling, grasping, confusing, itching, scratching, mumbling, bumbling, grumbling, humbling, stumbling, numbling, rambling, gambling, tumbling, scumbling, scrambling, hitching, hatching, bitching, moaning, groaning, honing, boning, horse-shitting, hair-splitting, nit-picking, piss-trickling, nose sticking, ass-gouging, eyeball-poking, finger-pointing, alleyway-sneaking, long waiting, small stepping, evil-eyeing, back-scratching, searching, perching, besmirching, grinding, grinding, grinding away at yourself. Stop it and just…

DO

I can’t say it better than the creative advice given by Sol LeWitt to Eva Hesse. The MUST-READ full story is in ‘Do: Sol LeWitt’s Electrifying Letter of Advice on Self-Doubt, Overcoming Creative Block, and Being an Artist‘.

Just DO.

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