Archive for the ‘Rules’ Category

338- Matching Schedules

As we get older and the list of responsibilities increases, available time for play becomes increasingly scarce.

There’s work to do, taxes to pay, meals to cook – the list goes on.

Trying to align those scarce pockets of free time between friends is even more challenging, especially when making time to share longer and more time-intensive experiences together.

Rather than haphazardly inviting friends along for things you’re already doing and pray that schedules align – start by finding out what might make them excited.

A better first question to ask is: ” What is something you would be excited to take time off to do?” Quickly followed by: “When works for you?” would yield better results.

Ht: Conversations with Jeff Orlowski

High Standards & Low Expecatations

There’s nothing more frustrating than working with someone with low #standards and high #expectations.

They constantly try to cut corners but are baffled at the mediocre results when reality catches up to them.

The same is true when it comes to relationships. Those with low standards and high expectations are constantly whining about how things aren’t going their way but refuse to take responsibility for the sub-par outcomes.

Finding people that have high standards and low expectations, on the other hand, are an absolute pleasure to work with and hang around.

You can trust that they’ll put attention, love, and care into whatever they do and be delighted at the results regardless of the outcome.

The best way to find those people? To increase our standards and lower our expectations.

267- Rethinking Patterns

Pattern recognition is the bedrock of how we learn.

Acquiring a new language, navigating new relationships, or understanding the world around us wouldn’t be possible without the ability to associate unrelated but similar situations with one another.

Research by NYU’s psychology department shows that individuals better at pattern recognition tend to have a higher IQ, experience greater career success, and learn quicker.

But those same individuals who excelled at pattern recognition were also more prone to broad generalization and stereotyping.

While there’s no way to prevent the negative consequences of pattern recognition, we can continuously update the sources from which we draw our information to challenge our existing beliefs.

To unlock the potential of pattern recognition, constantly draw from diverse sources of information and practice rethinking.

260- Foundation of a scripted speech

It’s possible to make an infinite variety of pizzas.

From hashbrowns to hummus – we can add nearly anything to this versatile food category.

But no matter what toppings, sauces, or spices are used to make the pizza, the one part that is necessary to hold it all together is the crust.

When preparing a scripted speech, the crust is equivalent to the words that need to be memorized.

The energy, delivery, and style of the presentation all come second.

If you try making the crust and toppings simultaneously, you can never end up with a pizza.

ht:/ Conversations with Gill Nadeau on memorizing your lines first, and separately

255- The Urgency Instinct

The rule of thumb when making an irreversible decision with long-term consequences is to take our time.

That time is necessary to look at the situation from different perspectives, consult the various stakeholders, and consider any unintended consequences that may arise from the decision.

But when we’re surprised with an emergency, a feeling of urgency takes over and overrides our ability to reason and make good decisions.

Advocates and activists can sometimes fall into the trap of being blinded by that same urgency for a cause they feel passionate about.

Being in a state of chronic urgency is a recipe for disaster. Breathe and take small consistent steps.

ht: Hans Rosling – Factfulness – #Bias #10: The Urgency Instinct

254- The Blame Instinct

In science, there is a concept known as “simultaneous invention” – where certain discoveries happen entirely independently of one another, almost as if they were inevitable.

Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace both discovered evolution. Newton and Leibniz both discovered calculus. Oxygen was discovered by Joseph Priestley and by Carl Wilhelm Scheele.

When things go right, history likes to look for heroes that battled against all odds to bring something to life that would have never existed without them. When things go wrong, history hunts for scapegoats to blame.

But the real opportunity for innovation lies in looking around the individuals and paying attention to the invisible systems that had to be in place for success or failure to occur.

Very rarely is a single individual to credit or blame for a changing world.

ht: Hans Rosling – Factfulness – #Bias #9: The Blame Instinct

253- The Single Perspective Instinct

In the creative world, we’re often encouraged to become a master of one single medium.

Being a jack of all trades makes it very hard to stand out in an endless sea of content creators – but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t explore other modalities of storytelling.

The more tools and techniques we acquire in our career, the more options we have when trying to tell a story.

Different mediums come with different methodologies which inform how we plan, create, and share those stories. More importantly, it changes how we see the world and its possibilities.

A toolbox is always going to be more valuable than a hammer. Don’t over-estimate the value of your tool simply because it’s the one you master.

ht: Hans Rosling – Factfulness – #Bias #8: The Single Perspective Instinct

252- The Destiny Instinct

Today’s existential global issues can often feel so daunting that it fills us with a sense of dread, misery, and powerlessness.

Slow and steady change often feels insufficient relative to the scale and scope of the challenges we face – but if we look at history to see the challenges that our grandparents’ generation managed to overcome, we can see that incremental change compounds over time.

Large institutional systems and processes might look too big to change, but they’re constantly in motion – adapting to the changes in technology, culture, and religion – often for the better.

Most global issues solved by previous generations must have felt equally insurmountable. To gain perspective, study the history of systemic changemaking and internalize how we have the power to shape our own destiny.

ht: Hans Rosling – Factfulness – #Bias #7: The Destiny Instinct

251- The Generalization Instinct

Our brain loves to slot information into broad, sweeping categories to quickly navigate and make sense of the world.

We judge people based on labels like Rich and Poor, Christian and Muslim, Capitalist and Socialist – as if these labels alone could predict behaviors, thoughts, and actions.

But if we take the time to break these broad categories down into narrower sub-groups, we can start breaking down our biases.

How might a Rich Muslim Socialist think? What drives the Poor Christian Capitalist?

For activists and advocates looking to change hearts and minds, overgeneralizing by putting the audience into broad categories of “us” vs. “them” is a recipe for disaster.

Assume that every person has a reason for thinking the way they do. Curiosity to understand the other is key to keeping us from overgeneralizing.

ht: Hans Rosling – Factfulness – #Bias #6: The Generalization Instinct

250- The Size Instinct

When marketing their sustainability initiatives, big corporations like to throw big numbers around to talk about the positive impact they’re having on the world.

They’ll brag about how many tons of CO2 they’ve helped to sequester, millions of pounds of plastics removed, or tens of thousands of trees planted to impress the consumer.

But we need to be suspicious of big numbers, especially when they exist in isolation.

To get a real sense of impact or lack thereof, find something to divide those numbers by. Amounts and rates tell a different story.

Suppose a company generates millions of tons of plastics. In that case, a recycling program that captures thousands of pounds is not worth celebrating.

ht: Hans Rosling – Factfulness – #Bias #5: The Size Instinct

249- The Fear Instinct

Everybody knows that diet matters.

What we eat affects our sleep, weight, and energy levels.

The same is true of our information diet.

Unfortunately for us, media – whether mainstream or social – combined with our own attention bias – naturally pushes us to focus on fear. This bias leads us to believe that the world is scarier than it is.

In those moments, it’s essential to pause and wait for the fear to subside.

Risk is the combination of danger multiplied by exposure. Our fear has zero effect on the actual risk it poses.

ht: Hans Rosling – Factfulness – #Bias #4: The Fear Instinct

248- The Straight-Line Instinct

If you zoom in far enough, every growth or decay curve will look and feel like a straight line.

But as you zoom back out, the shape and nature of the curve will lead to very different destinations, even if they began with overlapping straight lines.

When we think of the near future, whether in relationships, careers, or finances, we tend to think about progress or regress in straight, consistent, and gradual lines.

But real life is anything but linear. Just look to the past for proof and see how much it zigs and zags unexpectedly.

When trying to predict the future, never think in straight lines. It’s guaranteed to be wrong.

ht: Hans Rosling – Factfulness – #Bias #3: The Straight Line Instinct

247- The Negativity Instinct

When the stock market tanks suddenly, it can be hard not to feel a sense of anxiety.

But what matters is not how low the market currently is, but at what price you got into the market because things can be both bad and better at the same time.

The market can be down, but you can be doing better than you were when you first got in.

We have a bias towards negativity. Continuous and gradual improvements never make the news, while the occasional dip receives all the attention.

When assessing a situation, differentiate between the level (i.e. bad) and the direction of change (i.e. better).

ht: Hans Rosling – Factfulness – #Bias #2: The Negativity Instinct

246- The Gap Instinct

Imagine you were a giant staring down at the world.

The taller you are, the harder it is to distinguish between the height of different objects when looking down.

Similarly, if you find yourself in the top 1% of the world’s wealthiest people – it’s hard to distinguish between the range of struggles, hopes, and dreams encountered by the bottom 99%.

To be a part of the world’s top 1%, you only need to earn more than $34,000 a year. To be part of America’s top 1%, you need to make more than $500,000 a year.

Our environment wildly distorts our worldview.

When trying to make sense of the world, look towards the global majority, not just the majority we see.

ht: Hans Rosling – Factfulness – #Bias #1: The Gap Instinct

152- Pebbles of concern

Having worries and concerns are part and parcel of the human condition.

Regardless of how much comfort, security, and #joy we accumulate, these doubts and problems always seem to find a way to seep in through the cracks of our subconscious mind.

But not all of our worries and concerns are made equal.

Some are valid, rational, and proportional to the different situations we face. While others, like a pebble in a shoe, are tiny, cause a disproportionate amount of discomfort, yet are easy to resolve.

The next time a tiny #worry emerges, don’t dismiss it; take note of it. If you observe it growing or re-occurring, address it sooner rather than later.

Trying to remove worry from our lives is near-impossible, but taking the time to identify and remove the small pebbles in our path can help make the #journey a lot more pleasant.

140- Design De-escalation

When it comes to avoiding #conflict with strangers, a simple #strategy is to be curious. It’s tough to stay mad at someone when you’re curious about them. Even better, if you can hold onto that sense of #curiosity for long enough, life will naturally send you in opposite directions making conflict impossible.

But avoiding conflict with friends, partners and family can be more challenging. Trauma, triggers, and accumulated resentment can blindside us, especially when we find ourselves in relationships when we feel safe.

We stand our ground more, push back a little harder, and both sides develop the expectation for the other to “know better.”

But recurring conflict is detrimental for relationships. The key is to develop processes and methodologies that empower both parties to de-escalate so that conversation can continue.

After all, ending a conflict is not the same as resolving one.

137- Belief in the possible

When I look back at any accomplishment in my life, it always began with the #belief that success was possible. And while the probability of #success wasn’t always high, deep down, there was always a firm belief that it was possible.

The belief that something is possible may not guarantee success, but it is fundamental to progress. Without it, we would not be capable of generating resilience, faith, or hope.

When we feel stuck, it is because we’ve lost the ability to see what’s possible and find ourselves focusing too much on what should be instead of what could be.

A helpful framework to reignite our imagination and rediscover that sense of what’s #possible is to ask ourselves:

Who could I be if I didn’t have to [do X]? [be Y]? [follow Z]?

Once we plant that seed of possibility, all we need is to remember to water it regularly and see where it takes us.

ht: Workshop with Jason Brown at Experience House

132- Reserve Judgment

I have a terrible habit of instantly judging people.

It comes from having an unwavering moral opinion on situations and having the need to slot them into binary categories of right or wrong.

The problem is that my judgments are often incorrect – which should come as no surprise since they come from incomplete information clouded with emotional bias.

If we’re more interested in the truth than in being right, holding back #judgment for as long as we can is crucial. It allows us to be curious and explore the “why” behind an action. It also challenges us to look at the situation from different perspectives to understand it better.


127- Giving and Reciprocity

As a giver, I get a lot of joy from supporting others.

I love being able to predictively and adaptively support those I care about, especially in environments where that kind of support is scarce.

But when the attentiveness isn’t reciprocated, I eventually become resentful.

Like water eroding the soil around a foundation, the expectation of #reciprocity begins to create wear and tear on friendships and relationships.

For those of us who instigate #Giving into our relationships, we also have a responsibility to create and communicate our boundaries so others can respect them.

It’s hard for others to respect our #boundaries if we don’t take the time to think about what those are.

124- Observing failure

It’s always hard to be the first to #volunteer in a group setting.

Standing up in front of a crowd of people, not knowing what will happen next, puts you in a very vulnerable setting.

Even if we’re in a “safe space,” an environment where you can engage in conversation and be free from judgment or harm, the feeling of potential failure never entirely disappears.

But #failure in a #safe space is not a bad thing. Watching others fail while being supported is empowering and gives viewers the courage and permission to try something they might not initially have had the confidence to try out alone.

Two main takeaways:
– Find spaces where you can safely watch others fail and try to push your #boundaries .
– If you feel safe, volunteer and be the first to fail. It’ll help empower the others in your group.

122- Easiest vs Next-Easiest

A friend recently recommended a hotel to me.
It was a discounted rate in a good neighborhood at a reasonable price, and best of all, it required nothing more than a simple text message to reserve a spot.

#Time is money, recommendations in foreign countries are always welcome, so it felt like a steal.

Just in case, I did a quick search online. Rather than a room, we had a private compound with a rooftop, jacuzzi, kitchen, laundry, and living room for an even lower price. Within minutes we booked it.

The easy route can be tempting when making simple decisions, especially when time is scarce, but the next-easiest route can offer a far better deal at marginal effort.


118- Easy Lucrative and Fun

I recently learned about a brand new framework called ELF.

It’s an acronym that promises business success that is #Easy, #Lucrative, and #Fun .

Growing up, I was taught that hard work was the only road to success – but looking back on my life, it was the hobbies, activities, and projects that were Easy, Lucrative, or Fun that created the greatest value long term value in my life and the lives of others.

  • Easy and Lucrative speaking engagements
  • Easy and Fun social impact campaigns
  • Fun and Lucrative fundraisers

But what’s been missing is the combination of all three. What if every micro and macro decision never moved forward unless it was something Easy, Lucrative AND Fun?

ht: Thanks to Jason Brown for sharing the framework.

117- Find humor in pain

It takes a fascinating detachment #mindset to find #humor in a painful situation.

First, humor cannot exist if your feelings of anger, resentment, and pain are too overwhelming.

Second, separation from the self and the specific situation is necessary to find humor in the pattern or context.

And finally, it invites the need to suspend judgment – since jokes hide in the spaciousness between assumptions.

The next time you find yourself in an unpleasant situation, start looking for the comedy in it. Even if you don’t find laughter, you’ll reduce the #pain by creating a sense of detachment.

114- Improv and Group Dynamics

The key to good group improv is the ability to read and react to a situation.

Only by actively listening with all of your senses can you understand which direction others are going, what will benefit the entire group, and how your unique contribution can enhance the experience for all.

In other words, the key is to balance out your feelings against that of others in a delicate dance to determine if it’s #time to lead, follow, stand out or blend in.

The same is true in everyday group dynamics outside of improv. Don’t inadvertently be that person that inconveniences everyone because they’re not taking the time to read the room properly.

111- Explain like I’m five

#Language can be alienating.

The more depth we have of a subject matter, the greater the tendency to use complex words.

Speaking with an extensive vocabulary can be an advantage when speaking to our tribe. It allows us to communicate with greater specificity in a shorter amount of time.

But when speaking to the layman, it has the opposite effect. It removes them from the present, makes it harder to follow the conversation, and almost guarantees that context gets lost in translation.

A better strategy is to intentionally explain things as if you were speaking to a five-year-old. The best teachers do it all the time, and it also helps us challenge our comprehension of a subject we might take for granted.