Meaning of bias for action

In this post, we’ll have a discussion on the meaning of bias for action, and how to develop it.

We tend to think of robots as emotionless machines that will do whatever they are programmed to do regardless of the consequences, and often we compare them to those humans who seem to display similar type of behavior. Of the kind that follows rules first and thinks second, but the truth is that if that’s the criteria we use to judge the level of “robotness” of a person, then we’re all robots in our own way. What I mean to say is that to some degree we all once in a while give the wheel to the evolution written programs within our brains and cells. We can certainly try to suppress that kind of behavior with the goal of looking more rational, but the truth is that as much as we might be against some of evolution’s decisions, not all of them are bad. In fact, if we leverage what mother nature gave us over the millions of years we’ve been around, we can advance on our lives and careers. It’s the equivalent of using the factory engine as opposed to building a new one and trying to make it fit, and work well with the car. One example of these gifts is what is known as the bias for action.

What is bias for action?

To put it simply, bias for action is the tendency for one to convert the mental, such as ideas and plans into action. We spend most of our time with ourselves, and most of that time is spent thinking, planning, and dreaming about distant and not yet realized futures. When science tells us that 20% of our body’s energy is directed to our brains, it soon makes sense why that would be so.

Just like with any kind of preference you can think of, some people are more inclined towards taking action, while some others more about keeping their thoughts as just thoughts, like a factory that does nothing but stockpiling raw materials with no intent of turning it into something useful. Below you’ll find a few examples when this bias is at play, when it’s good, and when it’s bad.

Bias for action examples

Examples of the bias for action are everywhere, from the driven businessman/woman movies and books make us aspire to be, who as children were known for their tendency to get their hands dirty, to the workaholics of today we all use as an excuse not to work hard who completely destroy their lives because of their almost obsessive need to get things done. On the first, we see an example to follow, while on the second, just like a “don’t drink and drive” ad, a warning about what happens when you let your drive and action take the wheel for too long. Whether there really is such a thing as workaholism or not is a matter for another day, but the point I’m trying to make is that although not necessarily a tool, this tendency should be harnessed as such. Like medicine, taking it only in medicinal doses to attain the desired effect, and to stop just shy of too much.

When is it good?

Being biased towards action is good when it’s the right time. Meaning that letting ideas and plans sit on the mind for long enough for them to become bulletproof is good, but it’s when you take it too far that trains of opportunity are lost, like when you eventually hear that the idea you’ve been working on for years has made someone else millions, or when you find out that the person you’ve been thinking about calling out for a date from the past few months is now engaged. As much as we might like to think we live in a civilized world, the world we live in still holds some of the traits of the long distant past, in which a mere extra and unnecessary blink of an eye could literally mean that you’d lose your meal for some other faster and opportunist primate.

The Minimum Viable Product

In business it’s commonly known that one can’t hold on to a product idea/prototype for too long since chances are that either the product will lose its usability for the public, maybe because a better technology came along, or someone somewhere who thinks just like you will think about, and act on it quicker than you.

One somewhat example of this I was made aware of what that from the book Rejection Proof by Jia Jiang, where the author claimed to have thought about the idea of Rollerbladers before they were introduced to the market but who, due to negative feedback from relatives decided to give up on the idea. This is one of the many examples of idea postponing ending up in deep regrets for the original inventors.

To solve this problem of trying over perfect your idea the author of the book The Lean Startup proposes the idea of the minimum viable product, in which instead of waiting for people to give you positive feedback on the idea, or for the product to be so perfect the public only gives you positive reviews, you build a version of your product with the least number of features that do the job, and to release it to some segment of your target customer base. This one way to artificially create the bias for action in ourselves especially if we are of the perfectionist kind. By artificially I mean using some logic/principle to instigate you to some kind of action to which you’re not naturally inclined to take.

The 3-second rule

Another situation common to all of as is that of taking too long to take action in all or nothing kind of cases. Like for example when deciding to ask a person you’re interested in a date, or when it’s imperative that you approach the one person who has the money/connections to make your dream come true.

For this problem, there is one solution I learned from the book The Game by Neil Strauss, in which you give yourself no more than 3 seconds to take action, with the goal of doing what you have to do before you’re flooded by the array of emotions and hormones that will eventually make you paralyzed enough and over thoughtful enough to chose to do nothing. This is what I would call positive recklessness, where you chose to do something you know might end up great quickly to prevent you from giving in to the increasing negative thoughts that come when we get out of our comfort zone.

The Pomodoro Technique

Another way to look at the lack of the bias for action is procrastination. At the end of the day, procrastination is, in essence, some sort of bias towards inaction, in which regardless of how pressing the matter one can’t help itself but to start working only when the deadline is a few inches away. It’s thought in science that for some reason chronic procrastinators need that adrenaline rush that comes from being about to lose something important to be compelled to act. One way around it is the famous Pomodoro technique, in which instead of working for hours on end, you chose to work on intervals of 25-30 min followed by 5-10 min breaks. It’s believed that this works because it’s a way to trick the brain each time into believing that we won’t be spending lots of time on the task at hand, and that right after that will be fun time 🙂

Decision making

We spend most of our time making decisions, and the impact of each can be so much to change our whole lives. This is the reason why when presented with a decision to make, many freeze and find themselves secluded to inaction. The person wants to make a decision, but the data is not enough to give it 100% of certainty that it is the right one, so they do nothing. There is one now somewhat popular strategy to urge people to an action that although it doesn’t appease the emotions of the person worrying, at least allows them to make the decision and it goes as follows:

When you have 40% of the evidence supporting one out of many possibilities just make the decision. The thing about the world we live in is that often it will be difficult if not impossible to be 100% certain of anything, and sometimes all we can have is small percentage points of certainty between disparate points/positions.

When is it bad?

At the extreme always lies some form of recklessness. We’re in a time in which plunging into our dreams is thought of as brave and something for the ones who do so to be proud of. Like anything in life, when you find yourself siding with the extreme, chances are that you’re wrong.

The person of today is all for the sensational and goes for it without a thought. When you think about it being biased towards action can be as detrimental as it can be good below are a few negative examples:

Leaving your day job

The first example I can think of is that of the newborn entrepreneur who reads a book or watches a speech and in a feat of inspiration chooses to leave its job to start a business forgetting that on average most businesses fail and that from the ones that do succeed, few do so overnight.

They forget that stories of success depict astronomical and quick sounding victories because the time to tell them is short. The book can only have so many pages, and the motivational speech can only have so many minutes. Leaving your job prematurely might make you look and sound like an action person, but that doesn’t make the action right/effective.

Making life-changing commitments

On the other side of decision paralysis is the need to prove how uncommon one is by making spur of the moment life-changing decisions. Leaving your job for a not yet proven and customerless business is certainly one example, but what I’m talking about here is more towards the subject of relationships. Be that romantic, like when you decide to marry a person without thinking it through because you think you found the love of your life forgetting that 1/2 marriages turn into a divorce.

There is also the classic scene on the movie in which strangers, in a binge-drinking night decide to become business partners, forgetting that a business relationship is more than just about two people agreeing on how awesome an idea is, but also about the blend of personalities, weaknesses and strengths that just like with parenting, will/will not provide the adequate environment for the birth and healthy growth of the idea into a profitable business.

The last in line and by no means the last in the long list of examples is that of investing your money on an idea without doing the adequate background work on the idea itself, the qualifications, skills, and personality of the person you’re investing in, just because you’re sure you “feel it”. The crazy thing about investing money is that even those who claim to do it 100% objectively lose money sometimes, which makes it even crazier to base your investment decisions on gut feelings.

Summary

Just like most things in life, this is one of these things that is often looked one way. We emphasize the ability to turn thought into action as this amazing trait to have that we forget that there is also the other and bad side of the coin, such that if not looked at carefully can be the source of much misery. This post is nothing more than a tour on both sides of the street. An appreciation of the pros, while not downplaying and making careful consideration of the cons. Again, at the end of the day, the bias to action can work for good and bad, and it’s only by monitoring the bad that we can fully enjoy the fruits of the good.

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉

Leave a comment below

Sources:

  1. https://books.google.com/books?id=ebY2NScPDWAC&pg=PA131&lpg=PA131&dq=bias+for+action+millionaires&source=bl&ots=gt8lcVL8pH&sig=bPYuY9gSeXXp-09dZLmtjzUs9uw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiq_5DLobvJAhVEXD4KHZTqAl8Q6AEIJTAB#v=onepage&q=bias%20for%20action%20millionaires&f=false

2. The Game by Neil Strauss

3. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

When to feel confident and when not to

In this post, you’ll get a few ideas on when to feel confident and when not to.

We live in a time in which the inner workings of any one’s mind has come from irrelevant to almost as if not even more important than one’s health. There is definitely some seed of truth on this concern about one’s mindset since just like with gossip that is unable to survive when only based on lies. Some truth is vital. So kids are raised with more and more attention being paid to the self-esteem, and self-confidence of the ones being raised by the now worried and concerned parents of the latest new future.

Among the biggest concerns of the parents of today, the problem of confidence in their kids is one of the biggest. So much so that more and more parents go overboard to the point of never criticizing their children. Which instead of correcting the problem, it overcorrects. Overcorrections like overdoes of medicine might solve our initial problem, but often bring with them side effects.

The overcorrection here is that instead of new adults not sure of themselves, what we now have are new adults who are overconfident about themselves with no reason whatsoever to back it up. When on the first the problem we have leaders not energetic enough to bring to life new and great ideas resulting in a universe of back to back innovations, on the second the problem we face is that of recklessness which might be driven enough to build, but that can be just as energetically reckless to destroy. If on the near past the silver bullet was to build up a person by beefing them up with positive and confidence promoting compliments, now a more careful approach might be what’s needed. Now the question is: when is it ok to be/feel confident?

When to feel confident

The time we live in is that of new rules. Behave confidently at the wrong time and you risk being called arrogant. Be caught being humble at the wrong time, and people start to put to question your intelligence and skills. Do the above at the right time and don’t be surprised if you build a following over time. The answer to this question is difficult for the simple fact that it’s based on context. Meaning, the context of the moment of confidence demonstration. Below are a few tips that might shed some light on when exactly to demonstrate that sense of confidence we’re all familiar with and want for ourselves, as well as when to put your head down.

When you have attained mastery in a field

The thing about feelings or demonstration confidence is that it’s often difficult to really know when you earned them. Just because a person close to us tells/told us we deserve it doesn’t mean we do; in fact, chances are that they will try to make us feel as if we do especially when we have all the reasons not to feel like we do.

The reason why objective subjects such as science and computer programming can be addictive once you get the hang of it is that there is no subjectivity in results when they do come. You either did write a computer program that works or didn’t. This is one of the many points made clear on the book Coders by Clive Thompson, that I definitely recommend if you’re curious about the mysterious art computer programming.

If certainty is a requirement to be confident, mastery in a subject can be one of the closest things to this sense of certainty you need. When you master a subject there is no ambiguity on whether you should feel confident about the subject. This mastery gives it to you, and even when you still doubt your skills and abilities, the world will give you the permission to feel good about yourself because they can feel the impact of your mastery on their lives.

This is why if you want true confidence on anything the way to go about it is by as taught in the book Relentless by Tim Grover, learning all there is to learn about the subject, and: “knowing without a doubt that all the hours of work have created an unstoppable internal resource that you can draw on in any situation”, and to master every single bit of it regardless of how small. Actually, the book The obstacle by Ryan Holiday talks about how this was one of Steve Job’s principles by the fact that he demanded perfection even in the interior of the product, even though this would rarely be looked at by the customer.

The master is not subject to popular opinion because the evidence is so powerful that the only way to doubt it is to doubt your senses, and for that, you’d also have to doubt your sanity.

When you master a subject you don’t even have to try to make yourself feel confident. There is no need for any morning ritual designed for positive thinking brain surgery. You don’t have to because the world will do that for you.

 After a while, your source of confidence begins to come not from the words you tell yourself to make you feel good, but from the outside world, from people who have no need to make you feel good. They do it because they feel like they need to. They feel as if they are the possessors of some truth(the truth of how good you are), and they have to make this truth available to someone, even if that someone is you, the person they feel awed about.

When your work gets positive reviews

The stranger has no business in making you feel good about yourself. Your parents, friends and family members do, so much so that they’d rather see you looking ridiculous and make you think you don’t than to put you through the pain of letting you know that are not as perfect as you think.

The stranger, especially when protected by the anonymity of an unspellable username, on the other hand, is freed from the constraints imposed on us by social norms/rules. They are free to say what they want and really feel because even if you get angry, the most you can do is spill out some insults back to them. Even here they have the choice of not seeing your response since all they have to do is to not go back to that page where they released all the evil they’ve been carrying and accumulating for which they were not allowed to release in the real world.

So, it follows that when the stranger gives you a compliment it means double. It might be the case that the stranger is one of these good-hearted people who can’t help themselves but uplift anyone who crosses their path, but chances are that they are not that kind of people because if most people were like that the world would certainly be a better place. When positive their opinion carries more weight because there are no social consequences for rudeness when we are anonymous, in the same way, that the negative feedback of a loved one carries more weight because there is only something to lose for making you feel bad about your work.

When the opposite can hinder your results

One time to feel confident even with nothing backing it is when confidence is the one thing that will bring upon you resilience and strength to get over an obstacle. The problem is that people use this form of artificially generated confidence like vitamins instead of painkillers. Vitamins you take every day, while painkillers you take occasionally and only when really necessary.

An occasion to use confidence as a tool is when it matters. When not using it will be detrimental for your results. What I mean is for the extreme life moments in which you need to believe you’re a God to have access to that extra energy that comes from confidence to keep going. Like when you’re running a marathon, and all your body is telling you is how much you’re not fit for what you’re doing, and that you will fail no matter how hard you try. That everybody else is better than you, and that loss is inevitable. Here being realistic is the last of the useful things you can do. It can be in fact counter-productive, to the point that it becomes a source of empiric evidence for why you should quit.

Just like honesty, with this, there are moments in which a lie is the best thing anyone can/has to do because the opposite will result in destruction as opposed to construction. Be overconfident when you’re selling yourself or your business idea to someone and when any drop of doubt will be enough to prevent you from accomplishing your dream. I’m not talking about telling a lie regardless of whether that lie will cause pain to someone, what I’m talking about is telling a lie to yourself because it will make your life and the world better in the future. When the extra bit of confidence is what will allow you to secure that so needed investment for your business, or when it is the one thing that will allow you to get the person of your dreams. It can be tempting to use the confidence tool indiscriminately and mask it as necessary, but the power of it is enhanced when you apply it correctly and at the right time.

When not to?

To put it simply, when you want to feel good about yourself for the sake of feeling good. Sadly, this is the reason why many people use self-inflicted confidence. They use it as a strategy to not feel bad when they fail. They use it as a strategy to feeling good being the way they are, even when the way they are is far from a source of proudness. They use it so they can feel proud of things any average human being can accomplish/do. They use it as a way to lower their standards, and at the same time shut down the cognitive dissonance that occurs when reality tries to tell them how much they need to change.

Summary

At the end of the day true and deserving confidence has to be earned not wished. The act of earning your confidence should be taken as depth and resilience-building experience. Here the depth and the resilience would be with respect to your so claimed sense of confidence, and the resilience would be for the moments in which the nature/source of your confidence comes into question in the minds and hearts of others. When your confidence is based on something concrete, there are no words that can tear it down. Even in moments of low self-esteem/self-worth, there is no need for a motivational speaker or a motivational tape. What brings us back are the memories of our past conquests, and obstacles overcome.

The quickest way to get to that earned sense of confidence is by continuously working on oneself. To continue even if when there is only a 1% improvement a day since even those 1%s with their little impact of theirs eventually string together with other small 1%s compounding their effect overtime for long enough to make a true impact as a whole.

Sources:

1)Coders by Clive Thompson

2)Relentless by Tim Grover

3)The Obstacle is the way by Ryan Holiday

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉

Leave  a comment below

Why mindset is not overrated

In this post, we’ll have a discussion on why mindset is not overrated.

The self-help industry has been around for a while, and during this long run, a set of principles/ideas were so cemented into the global mind that they became a part what self-help is known to be. The ideas I’m talking about are: being positive, believing in yourself and to dream big. These three ideas can, in turn, be boiled down to one, which is that self-help is an act of managing one’s mindset for the purposes of having a better life. By better, I mean anything you consider at the moment to be better. It’s subjective and heavily dependent on who you are and what drives you, but achieving it, whatever “it” is, boils down to mindset. If you pay attention to any self-help book/course out there, chances are high that it can be boiled down into this simple idea/principle. They are all in one way or another about changing the way you think about what’s it’s possible in order to help you accomplish/achieve more in life.

Why Mindset is not overrated

The problem with the self-help industry is the same problem that any kind of group faces. The problem that for outsiders, the group is viewed as nothing more than the average of its members. If on average the members of a group behave in a certain way, the outsider perceives the group as being the way of the average. The problem with averages is that they are easily swayed by outliers. We think they are representative of the truth most of the time, but if some of the time the results are extreme, what we see is the extreme, even if most of the time, the results are… well…average looking. The self-help industry is a victim of the many who just like the fanatic, blindly believe and make claims about something to the point that they start looking for lack of a better word…well… crazy.

What I’m talking about is the positivity problem. The problem of assuming that one can get anything one wants if only one thinks positively about the desired goal/result, positively enough. And on the advent that one doesn’t get what one wishes, then the impulse is to assume that the few moments of negativity and doubt he/she couldn’t control were the culprit and not the fact that they didn’t work hard enough. When the positive thinker finally comes to the conclusion that its way was the wrong way, the impulse then becomes to take the complete opposite approach. I’m talking about cynicism, which is still the wrong way, and the reason why the positive becomes the cynic is not so much because the positive became enlightened, but because of a flaw in reasoning. Meaning that just because the extreme of an approach did not work, doesn’t mean that a milder implementation of it won’t. The best example of this truth is medicine. Take only the effective dosage. Take more than that and chances are that you’ll give birth to new problems on your attempt to put some to bed.

Give enough time to the same cycle of hopeful romantics turned cynics, and soon enough anyone who becomes a hopeful romantic is seen/perceived as naïve/inexperienced. The mere belief of any remotely uplifting future becomes then a sign of immaturity, not because the ones who believe in that really came to realize how immature it was, but because they failed when they took that kind of path as their path and on the first sign of massive failure due to the over-application of a good thing, they incorrectly assumed that being hopeful, is a recipe for an even more disastrous disastrous world.

Jim Rohn and the idea of new principles or new truths/new fundamentals

I always seek to learn something new from someone new, and one of the first few lessons I learned from the motivational speaker Jim Rohn was that there was/is no such a thing as new truths/fundamentals. In essence, the teaching states that Truths and fundamentals will remain as true and fundamental as they’ve always been now, and in the future, regardless of social norms or governing governments. What is really true today will remain tomorrow. If not, then you’ll at least get a glimpse at how delusional you can be. Sometimes you really think you know, but not really you don’t.

The idea that you have to believe to achieve is one of these truths but not due to the reasons you might think. Again, sometimes you really think you know, but not really you don’t.

A part of being enlightened is to give in to the idea that you have no idea of what you’re talking about. It’s about knowing you’re ignorant even when you think you’re enlightened, and instead of unsuccessfully wishing your way into wisdom, to search your way into wisdom.  To REALLY accept you know nothing, not to look humble, but to REALLY be humble even when no one is looking.

When one first buys into the core ideas of the self-help movement one find itself enlightened. Oddly enough the same happens when one fails and falls into cynicism disguised in realism. They are both extremes, and as Aristotle suggested once: the truth is in the golden mean. Extremes rarely tell us the truth and yet we can’t help but fall for extreme ideologies, especially when disguised as “just rationalist views”… free of any agenda on the surface and still possessors of invisible goals.

Why is mindset not overrated? Because it’s not overrated.

I guess the theme of this post could just as well be “Why is mindset not underrated” and the answer would be just the same: Because it’s not underrated.

The one who so deeply believes in the power of the universe will exacerbate the importance of mindset, while the complete skeptic can’t help it by to downplay its value.

The truth is that if we overrate it we fall for the temptation of removing any action behind our intentions, while if we underrate it we fall for the temptation of removing any intention behind our actions.

The idea that the reason why one can fall prey to the belief or idea that mindset is just what readers of the secret talk about when they want to convince you that the universe is what will give you what you want is incorrect.

The thought process is wrong but the action somehow comes correct, in the same way, that one can be a fake doctor and recommend the right medicine even though the rationality behind the recommendation is incorrect.

Mindset is important because the brain can only work at its full potential when it has a good one. A person who doesn’t believe it can solve a problem or accomplish a goal will not have the resolve to plow through when the moment comes that insights fail to come or results fail to materialize. This is the risk you put yourself under when you remove any belief or motivation from your goal accomplishment attempts. You find yourself divorced of the kind of emotional energy you can only get when you have faith in your vision, and when you do fail, you incorrectly assume that it wasn’t meant to be, or you weren’t good enough. Just as there is such a thing as fanatically believing on the power of belief, there is also such a thing as fanatically disbelieving on it. The disease is the same but it is manifested in different sceneries, like how different bodies can respond differently to the same disease. For the extremist, the disease is the extremism of its beliefs, and the body is the belief. The result is the same: death caused by an over-application of a good thing.  

Mindset is vital

Another way to look at this question is through the perspective of one who has read the book The one thing by Gary Keller. This point of view is one in which the thinker chooses to think about only those things that matter enough such that when taken care of will reduce the amount of work to accomplish what one has in mind. In other words, think about what’s vital and ignore the rest.

Thinking along these lines, it becomes easy to see why subjects like health and mindset are important. They are vital to the accomplishment of anything in life. Without health, there is no room in anyone’s head to think about making money or success. Without the right mindset, there is no drive to accomplish anything; since it can be hard for anyone to do hard things if one doesn’t believe on its own ability to overcome obstacles or solve problems.

Just because something is preached by almost everyone you get in contact with doesn’t make the advice less valuable, in the same way, that just because everybody talks about how important it is to eat healthy and exercise doesn’t mean that healthy eating and exercising are not powerful pieces of advice. The same goes for mindset. You’ll find a tone of people out there preaching about it, some who know what they are talking about, and some who just heard it from someone else and are on the quest to looking smart/knowledgeable by re-cooking advice they’ve heard somewhere else from someone else.

Summary

The point in this post is to make you aware that mindset is not so much about what you are, but a tool to get you what you want. It’s by no means the silver bullet some people make us think it is, and neither is it a delusion of any kind, like some people, make us think it is. A mindset is just a tool. To say it is or it isn’t overrated is to make a similar judgment but about a tool of any kind. Overuse it and soon the tool becomes a weapon. Underuse it and soon you’ll be made aware of how much “money” you have been leaving on the table.

How To Inspire Loyalty

In this post, you’ll find a few ideas on how to inspire loyalty.

We live in a time in which being loyal to someone or some cause can easily be perceived as weak. More and more people think more and more about themselves. Everybody wants to make it, and the way most choose to do it is by taking a selfish approach. The few who don’t are the ones who in the long run are able to attract true crowds to their circle. Not of the kind that you see on the social media that pretend to cheer when you post a video on a recent achievement, or pretends to cry when you post a sad image, but of the kind that allows you to make changes in the real world even on the face of a powerful force/entity. So, it follows that the one who is able to inspire true loyalty is the one who can have more influence even when lacking resources.

How To Inspire Loyalty

The problem most of us have is that of us have is that of treating loyalty like love, or the desire for a great relationship: we expect it to fall from the sky. To find love or to have a great relationship one has to be proactive. One has to go after it; to take action. There are some cases in which through luck alone people manage to get what they want, but to bet on that is a losing strategy since luck has this tendency to show up when you don’t really need it, and to conveniently leave you when your life depends on it.

The same can be thought about loyalty. You have to take a more deliberate approach to get it, or chances are that you’ll spend the rest of your life wishing for it. This post is just a discussion on a few ways you can go about getting it.

Give first and ask for it second

The thing about loyalty just like everything else in life, is that it is all about reciprocity. It’s one of those things we all want/wish from others, but that we’re only willing to give when we get it first. So, we all find ourselves facing that chicken and egg kind of problem in which the correct and winning approach is the counter-intuitive approach of being the first to give. It’s the strategy of taking the risk that the other side of the table will betray our confidence, even taking into consideration our own act of loyalty.

The secret here is to be wise on who to demonstrate your first act of loyalty to. There is no point in trying to inspire loyalty on a known cheater or liar, since even if you do manage to get any genuine feelings of loyalty from that kind of person; you’ll live in uncertainty, which defeats the whole purpose of cultivating loyalty because at its core loyalty is all about security and trust.

So, the point here is to choose the kind of people who you can trust to exert your first act of loyalty. The reason why being the first is a good strategy is that as humans we are wired to pay back not only those who hurt us but also those who help us. This is what the reciprocity bias is all about.

Start by being a little loyal

The movies we watch tell us always a similar story when we hit on the subject of loyalty. They tell us the story that just like in the romantic world, only grand gestures are what matter. If we want to prove to someone how loyal we are to them we have to do so in a grandiose manner. And anything less than spectacular is useless. The thing is that the human mind is more complex than that. It is not enough to make a major display of loyalty and expect that display to cement your relationship into an unbreakable bond. As counter-intuitive as it might sound, it can be far more productive to make smaller displays of loyalty to the ones we are loyal to overtime, giving the relationship the time to grow old and deeper like the taste of a brand of wine let age at its own time and pace.

The alternative to that is just tiring and not sustainable. Doing it once in a while is not enough since regardless of the gesture, humans tend to need constant reassurance that their allies of yesterday remain so, and that they didn’t, for whatever reason convert into covert enemies, now plotting their future destruction. So instead of trying to light up fireworks everyday, you should focus on making sure you get the equivalent to a candle lit. This although not as impressive, is much more reliable, and its impressiveness comes from time.

Keep a clean record

The idea of keeping a good reputation/image has lost its influence over the years. Today we live in a time in which any kind of attention regardless of how negative is welcomed for those who are happy to settle for anything when the target goal becomes infeasible.

The problem with that is that it takes some options off the table, and among those options is the default sense of pre-loyalty strangers feel compelled to give to those who cultivate a clean record. What I mean here is the kind of person who is known to have an honest word that can be trusted always. The cleaner the image the lesser the volume of words is required to inspire trust and loyalty in others. Here your record speaks for you, in the same way, that an athlete’s trophy room tells the visitor of the power of the man/woman who owns them.

With the kind of loyalty built from a clean reputation comes word of mouth. The kind of word of mouth a business would pay to have. With it also comes influence, since as the number of people who know you for your track record grows, also does the number and reach of people who would like to develop a relationship with you. This is why dishonesty doesn’t pay in the long run. It’s not an ethical but a numbers thing. Meaning that the greater the number of people you’re dishonest to the greater the odds that your reputation becomes more publicly known.

Be useful

The last thing to talk about is the idea of being useful. We all want people to like and do good things for us. We want it for free, being the way we are without giving the other side of the table anything in return. It’s that new tendency to force people to like us even when we are awful, and when they don’t paint them as evil. We can do that as much as we want but it won’t make us any more likely to build our circle of loyalty.

The effective approach is to make people have something to gain by being loyal to you. It’s true that once in a while you’ll find the kind of person who for whatever reason will give it to you unconditionally, but again to bet on that is a losing strategy. Being useful might be harder than just wishing people are loyal to you for free, but it definitely is a more sure approach to getting loyalty from people. When you can add to the lives of others instead of just taking from, people tend to value your relationship with them more. Eventually, this value is so high that they become more willing to do anything to keep it, and at the top of the most powerful things people do when they want to keep a relationship they hold dear is to show to the other party that they are loyal to them. You don’t ask for or force it to happen, but it comes as a side effect of your ability to enhance other people’s lives.

You can enhance your usefulness by enhancing your ability to solve problems. The better you are at it the better you are at giving good advice, which is one of these scarce things the world is so desperately in need of. As your network grows you can be even more useful by connecting disparate parts of the network that would never meet. Now you’re the middle man or say the bridge that made it all possible, and the person they have a lot to thank for. Still on the same tone is the idea of favors. The more favors you make the more useful you are. This is especially true if you don’t ask for payback or give any hint that you’ll be needing any soon.

Summary

As discussed here loyalty is one of these things you have to earn. Waiting for it won’t take you anywhere, and the ideas above are just a starting point on your way to more loyal relationships.

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉

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How To Improve Patience

On this post, you’ll find a few tips on how to improve patience.

We live in a world of fast, where the one who gets results the quickest is the one who goes home with the crown. This idea is so ingrained in our global culture that it can just as easily be a business strategy. Where instead of coming up with groundbreaking products/services the entrepreneur settles for a slightly better improvement of the status quo. And often this improvement is in speed. Faster gadgets, faster services, and with all of that it’s no wonder that the word boredom is gaining more and more ground in the collective mind of our beloved planet. We are less and less patient, and the bad thing about this tendency is that some things will remain as they’ve always been. Meaning that unlike technology, which seems to introduce new products/services that work or allow us to do things faster and faster, things like true connection and mastery remain as they’ve always been regardless of the technology of the moment. They always took and will still take time to accomplish. They always did require patience and time, and they will remain so in the future. It is the idea that even these can be hacked for speed the reason why more and more people, as the Investor Tai Lopez once said: “believe they can be great at many things”.

There are very few Swiss knives of skills in history. The reason for this is that even for that who calls him/herself a master, there is still always more to learn since for every discipline there is always some unsolved mystery if you look hard enough. Some new and not yet discovered way of doing things better. And the way to find the way is through the practice of patience.

How To Improve Patience

Expect things to take longer

At the root of any moment of lack of patience is the expectation that things would take any less time to complete. With that assumption, we design our schedules around the event and when it does take longer we get the shakes that only a drug addict can tell us about. When we say we want to be more patient, what we mean is that we want to be calm when the inconveniences of life come our way. We want to avoid that feeling of anger that comes with it, and as a result, also prevent ourselves from losing mental balance. But setting ourselves up to expect things to take as long as their apparent time is like being overweight and expecting a party we’re going to will have only healthy dishes. It certainly is possible that that will be the case, but chances are that it will not. So instead we assume the worst possible scenario and prepare ourselves mentally and physically for it.

When we expect things to take longer than they are supposed to we often notice that they actually take less than that, and instead of the burst of lack of patience we are washed off by that sense of delight we feel when we find out that something we wanted to buy is actually cheaper than the money we saved for.

Remember that we’re not talking about just expecting an event you’re going to will take longer than expected, but to apply the same principle to your goals and dreams. In fact, this is one of the main reasons why people give up on their goals and dreams. They have an expectation about how long and how much it would take to accomplish them, and when it takes/costs longer/more, they give up. The point is that it will always take/cost longer. Remember that there is no such thing as average time. What there is is what you’d consider an extreme, and picking those for which you consider extremes is probably the best estimative you can ever make. If your goal takes on average 2 years to accomplish, expect 4, and you’ll notice that on the advent that it takes 3, you won’t be as easily phased because you knew it all along it would take longer than that. Just like a pessimist who lives life expecting the worse to happen is better mentally prepared for it on the advent that the worse does happen, you can keep going even after it has taken longer than average to accomplish what you want to accomplish because you were expecting it to take longer than average in the first place.

Practice any kind of stillness

At the core of any kind of stillness, practice be that meditation or simply choosing to only speak when one has something important to say is patience. Again the world we live in is faster and faster, and this increased speed is forced upon us. As a consequence, we also need things to be faster and faster. From the time it takes us to solve mundane problems, to life-changing decisions such as the people we take in as our romantic partners. We want it all to happen in an instant. In stillness, we force the mind to slow down, which can be quite uncomfortable for you if you’re all about getting everything now at least, but preferably yesterday.

So, another way to improve patience is to train yourself to be comfortable being still, because the struggle one has when forcing stillness upon its mind, is the same kind of struggle one goes through in moments of impatience when trying to force patience upon itself. Actually, if you think about it, another way to think about the patience problem is to think of it as a stillness problem. Just like in science when we can frame physical phenomena in mathematical or chemical terms, we can frame our attempts in being patience as attempts to keep the mind still. In essence being patient is keeping the mind still/unresponsive to some specific stimuli. So from this it follows that if you can keep your mind still/unresponsive to everything/all stimuli, which is almost what meditation is about, you can for free keep your mind still/unresponsive to some specific thing of your choice. In other words, you can be patient.

Beware of your own chemistry

The human body is a complex system of interconnected systems. One seemingly inconsequential change in a single and seemingly inconsequential variable in one system can cause catastrophic changes/effects on the whole big picture system. We talk a lot about the butterfly effect and often wonder how it might be affecting the universe at large, like how a butterfly swinging its swings here and now might affect the trajectory of some not yet found alien planet on the other edge of the universe in such a way that it will make it extinct and as a consequence never discovered by us; But we forget that this same effect might  and is at play closer to home. In the temples, we call our bodies.

You can easily notice this by paying attention to how chemical substances affect the various parts of the system you call the human body, from the electrical activity between the neurons of your brain to the whole psychological aspect of it like when you eat an amazing dish or have a night of drinking. The point is to find ways to hack your chemistry since it can be and it is a very influential part of your life. You can do this in many many ways, from the food you eat each day, to the large array of supplements known for their positive effects on the human brain in terms of mood, motivation, focus, and memory.

Get used to discomfort

Getting used to the thoughts that arise when you’re uncomfortable is another very important thing you have to learn on your way to improving patience. The reason for this is as we talked about above, one sub-system of the main system you call you can have an enormous impact on everything, and one of the most powerful ones is your thoughts and feelings. As you probably know, the things you think about can be so powerful to change your physiology and chemistry. You think positive and in brain scans what you see is brain activity matching the positive thinking mode. Do that for long enough and saliva tests designed to measure your level of cortisol(a stress hormone) can’t help but to reflect this increased sense of relaxation towards life that being positive represents, and on and on.

The point is that being positive is not just a way of life you adhere when you listen to a motivational speaker telling you about how the way you think about things can affect the “gifts” the universe will choose to give you. Thinking positive is also about managing your body. From the psychological, you affect and influence the chemical and the electrochemical, and from each, you affect the rest even those you never intended to in the first place.

Getting used to discomfort is one of these challenges that in order to be overcome you need to change the way you think. You need to manage your thoughts and attitude at the moment of struggle, and only then you can get past the obstacle. The thing about getting used to discomfort and beating it successfully is that when you succeed at it, chances are that being more patient will be much easier if not even a walk in the park. The reason for this is that the same mental muscles required to overcome discomfort in a given situation are at large a part of the same mental muscles required to deal with impatience, since just like on the stillness example, patience can also be reduced to our ability to deal with the discomfort that arises when the mind doesn’t want to wait and yearns for impulsivity.

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉

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How To Be A Better Problem Solver

In this post, you’ll find a few ideas on how to be a better problem solver.

The ability to solve problems is one of the most sought after skills any employer or start-up founder looks for. At the end of the day getting to tangible results is what has the final say on how much one can achieve in life. We often hear about the idea that what matters most is being able to interact with people and make connections, or even to be able to persuade the indifferent and hostile into friends. While this certainly has its own share of truth, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

One can be able to make connections in lightning speed, but connections are more than just the likability factor which many self-help/persuasion books try to convince us it is. Powerful connections are as much about what the other side of the table has to offer you, as you have to offer to them. It is all about a continuous exchange of value between two sides. Without that, you’re nothing more than a charming taker, and eventually, in life and business we shut down takers regardless of how charming they might be. The ability to solve problems is perhaps the most valuable card you can have on your value delivery arsenal.

How to be a better problem solver

Problem-solving in general is a challenging activity, and often to succeed at it the most effective way to go about it is to take more specific to the problem approaches. There are, however,  some things one can do regardless of the nature of the problem that can greatly increase the odds that once one decides to go about solving the problem, that the efforts will come back fruitful. Below are a few of them.


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Understand the problem first

One thing we often do when trying to solve a brand new problem is to throw ourselves at it without taking the time to completely understand it first. I believe the cause of this is the old and still existing belief that the genius is that to whom solutions to difficult problems come easily, and from this unacknowledged and insidious little belief, combined with the need to look and feel at least smart, comes the almost fear of making/demonstrating effort in trying to understand the problem. It makes us feel dumb and mentally weak to take that time to take the problem in. In a computer, this would be the equivalent to trying to run a game or an application by skipping the loading phase.

So, we find ourselves trying to solve a problem we don’t fully understand, and as a result, we don’t even know what we’re looking for. Now we can’t recognize the solution even when obvious, in the same way, that it’s near to impossible to find something in a lit room, when we don’t even know what that “something” is in the first place.

The crazy thing about this first step in any problem-solving activity is that often it culminates into the solution of the problem in the first place. Meaning that sometimes when you know what you’re looking for looks like, or what is, finding it can be done immediately. This is in part at the essence of the reading and interpretation strategy of reading the questions first and looking for the answers in the text second is based on.

Let it marinate

Another common problem-solving misconception is that for bright people the solutions for all problems appear immediately after they become/became aware of the problem. The truth is that the “Aha!” moment when it came it did so after days, weeks, months, or even years of pondering. In other words, the “geniuses” worked out the problem by letting it sit there in the mind for longer than a little while. Albert Einstein, for example, is known to have said that his genius came not necessarily from brilliance, but from the fact that he was willing to stay with a problem for longer than the average physicist. Something similar was said once by the physicist Michio Kaku when he said that the job of the physicist is mostly done sitting down for hours on end working on one problem. According to him, the better you were at it, the better physicist you were.

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So, after loading the problem into the mind the next step is to let it marinate. It often is the case that the solution comes when you’re not even thinking about it. It’s as if the brain has a separate unit inside itself responsible for working out problems, even when we’re not consciously doing so. The point here is to do it for long enough to trigger the process.

Ask someone

Sometimes we there is no point in reinventing the wheel. Meaning that with the large knowledge base the world has built over the centuries, often it is the case that for any given problem, there is someone somewhere who wrote something about it. It is still true even when the solution is not readily available in popular sources of knowledge/content/information you know of. I became aware of this last fact a while ago when I heard from a documentary that in the field of mathematics, for example, the solution for an unsolved problem is sometimes found by applying some old and forgotten technique in a new way. The same can be observed in the area of health and fitness in which once in a while someone, somewhere brings some old health practice to the light, making it mainstream, and subject to new scientific studies.

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The point is that as you look for the answer from within it might be useful to look outside also, and once in a while you might be delightfully aware that someone already solved the problem you’re trying to solve.

Enhance your mind

On any problem-solving effort, the mind is that which is behind it all. So far we’ve only taken an outsiders approach to problem-solving, which is definitely ok and will get a good portion of problems you ever need to solve taken care of. But the next question then becomes: what if none of that works? Meaning what if It is all up to me, the person solving the problem to come up with the solution? For this case, there are two important skills that have to be worked on well before you stumble into a difficult problem and they are as follows:

1.Increase your endurance

As we discussed already, difficult problems tend to take some time to be solved. They require us to look at them from different angles, methodologies, and even moods. As crazy as it might sound, your mood at the moment can have an impact on how likely you are to find an answer. Curiosity for example, makes us more open to whatever the mind brings to us, while the need to prove how smart we are can make it more difficult as time passes and we haven’t found the solution, and the thoughts about how smart we really not bubble up so high that they are all our minds are about.

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Knowing a lot is important to be a good problem solver, but even more important than that is the ability to keep knocking on new doors, even after a painfully gigantic stream of failed attempts. The reason for this is not that “the universe” will notice your efforts and reward you with the solution, but that the longer you stay after a problem, the greater the odds that you’ll learn what you need to learn to solve it. The greater the odds that you’ll stumble into a solution, and the greater the odds that you’ll have an insight. It’s not a belief thing, it’s a numbers thing.

2.Increase the number of things you know about

Knowing about a lot of things is one of these good things that is often looked down upon. Sadly the ones who know nothing are often the ones with the loudest voices and stronger presence, and often this presence is confused with wisdom. Just because a person can state their opinion persuasively doesn’t make them right, and this persuasiveness is often what makes us believe in the most ridiculous of theories.  One of them being that knowing a lot of things won’t get you anywhere. Of course this kind of view comes from people who don’t know much about anything, and in a world in which those who know don’t speak, emotional sayings naked of any background solid basis can not only take root but grow to flower and become huge trees of delusion. Tress that future generation will eventually sit under, and use for support throughout their lives.

 

That’s why it’s important to be guarded when in the presence of a person with a strong personality or who is skilfully persuasive. The reason for this is that they, because of the way they are, tend to be more believable, even when what they say has no grounds in rationality or truth.

How do you know the words coming out of a person are valid or not? Attack the point, not the way the point is being made. Attack it with the same kind of mental clarity you’d attack the point if it were written on paper by some unknown writer. Here it’s important to always ask why they believe in what they believe in, and as you’ll notice, most of the time these people have no clear reason for why they believe in what they believe, other than the fact the beliefs are theirs and not someone else’s. In other words, they are just biased to believe in what they believe in because they are them and the beliefs are theirs. On the advent that they do have a reason behind their beliefs, listen to it, and fact check it for validity. Look for conclusions coming from flawed logic or incorrect assumptions. Here the study of the basic laws of logic can come in handy since they can be of great help in finding mistakes in reasoning. If you can’t find a flaw in the reasoning behind the belief, you can give yourself the right to adopt the belief, but do it with a grain of salt. Do it with an open eye. Do it with one foot in the door ready to leave. Ready to abandon the belief. Because it is still possible that just because you couldn’t find a reason for not believing in a belief, that doesn’t mean that the reason doesn’t exist.

So, this is what knowing more is all about. Not to show off, and make the people around you hate the idea of knowing more and you along with it. But to help you distinguish the truth from a lie when you see a potential fact. To just like cook increase the number of ways you can connect the smaller pieces of knowledge into some new never yet seen solution. To be a better problem solver.

 

 

 

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉

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How to influence people and make friends

In this post, you’ll find a few ideas on how to influence people and make friends.

 

Life is about influence. What we think about is that money is important, but the reason why this is so is that money has the power to move people. We think money makes things happen, but the truth is that money makes people do things for you because people love and need money. Which means that most people get the whole money thing wrong. Most people think that the world is run by money which is true only in a surface level kind of thinking. In a deeper level money buys us influence.

We’re all deep down aware of this, so much so that we can’t help but feel at awe of people who are able to move and touch the hearts of lots of people through their words, from seducers to politicians. So at the end of the day instead of one, there are actually two ways to get what we want in life: 1) through hardworking our way into money based influence, or 2) through emotional intelligencing our way into the hearts of people.

How to influence people and make friends

So how does one influence people and makes friends? The first question is: why do you need friends in the first place?

The answer to this question can have a back and forth kind of effect over your friendship network and the way you live your life. Meaning that the attitude you have about friendships can dictate your friendships, and as a result also the way they influence the way you live your life, and the way you live your life can influence the kinds of friendships you have.

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If you’re needy then you’re more likely to have your friendships take over your life which is not ideal since each human being is at the end of the day out there for him/herself. Which means that each attempt to please is like a chess move in favour of the opponent with the probability that the beneficial move is not even a gambit. Being needy is a problem, and being able to tell when you have that problem is crucial.  Neediness comes from the sense of insecurity and the need for the approval of others. Which is totally a part of human nature but completely detrimental for your future if your goal is to take your fate by your hands.

So, are you needy? The point is that your friendships should enhance your life, if not as a stepping stone for your life goals, at least for the purpose of enjoying life for its own sake since as far as we know… there is only one.

Have a clear idea of the end goal

When it comes to friendships the most important thing is just like goals to know what you’re trying to accomplish. If you want to create more connections behaviours that increase your connectivity to people in a deeper level is the way to go. If all you want is to have people who will get you closer to your vision, the kind of behaviour that increases debt and value over time with each member of your network might be the way to go.

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Connection

When the goal is to increase the depth of your relationships with other members of the human race the tested and proven strategy has always been to train yourself into thinking their way by wearing their shoes. The number one question is always: “what would x do or want in this situation/from me?” The strategy here is not to think about what ought to be, but what is. The strategy is to get in the minds of the people you want to connect with not to take advantage of them but to as Steve Jobs would have said: show them what they really want. Being that what they really want is more powerful than the things they tell you in words that they want since when they do find what they really want, no words in the dictionary are enough to explain the array of feelings they feel regardless of language.

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This is the kind of thing the ultimate seducer/politician is looking for. The things/desires you want/have that you don’t even know you deep down want/have. This requires living in the head of the target, which eventually makes you the target of your own conquests. You genuinely like what your target likes because you now think the way they think. Hell… for a second you’re them even, and you as you know a foreigner because you feel the way they feel… no more no less.

 

Logic

The other way to go about it is also dependent on your goal, that is if your goal is to not connect with the human race, which is fine, but to advance your now perceived to be “selfish” cause. Here it’s easy to make the mistake of using deception towards other fellow human beings to get what you want since you don’t really care about what people think right? Wrong! You might not need people to love you, in the same way that anyone who seeks for connection does, but the truth is that human beings can as much as you can deny have a role on your overall happiness and misery. Just think about the concept of bullying. If we really are the masters of our destiny, why do some people commit suicide when rejected by their peers?

The point is that even when our goal is not to connect, we have to connect nonetheless. Not the kind of fake connection we learn about in books of persuasion, but the kind of connection in which the other side of the table knows what you’re about and is ok about it. What I mean is the kind of connection of the kind of which you want to be as useful as possible to the other person, so that through the power of the reciprocity bias they urge to be as useful as they can for you back. In essence, you get what you want by making sure the people who can help you get what you want get what they want. It’s that simple.

In a world of sceptics, the only thing that makes sense is results. If A wants B, and A can give you C, the most effective way to have C is to find a way give B to A, and show them you can do it.

We’re all self-involved. We want people to go by our principles because we think our principles are the most principled of the principles. What we forget is that chances are that our regards for our principles come not from the fact that they’re right but from the fact that they’re ours. The truth is that we are biased towards ourselves, and the way to get what we want in a world of logic not emotions, is to learn to be biased towards the other person, whoever that person is. No matter how illiterate or stupid.

So how do you make friends and influence people In a world of logic? You do it by being as useful as possible. You do it by being the tool of others who by themselves are the tools of the tool. Both A and B are special because they are people, but they are as human as they are tools. They’re both aware of it, and they are both OK about it.

Summary

The final thing to talk about is honesty. The ability to tell things the way they are is one of the most desired traits in all areas of life. So many potentially great relationships fall because of this lack of clarity and straightforwardness. This means saying what you have on your mind and what you hope to get from the relationship. The idea is to be as honest as possible about it, and if you can manage doing it without making the other person feel bad about it, they might even thank you for it. This is like criticism. We often hide passive aggressiveness behind it and when called on it we label what we’re doing as constructive criticism. True constructive criticism is more than just telling the person about their weaknesses with no regard for their feelings, but also this added concern for their feelings, since doing the opposite will just make them less likely to listen to what you have to say, the exact opposite of what you want to accomplish.

The one who is recklessly honest is of the same kind as their honesty: just reckless. The one who avoids honesty completely intentionally or not puts the relationship in jeopardy, taking it a step closer to the breaking point. So, honesty for what you want and feel without being aggressive about it, and clarity on what you really want is what to aim for when on your journey to influencing people and making friends.

 

 

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉

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How To Find Inspiration To Write

In this post you’ll find a few ideas on how to find inspiration to write.

The thing about any field/area that requires one to come up with ideas is that, well, there is usually no cut and dry way to go about it. Most people when asked about it will give you vague advice. As for every other area of life, the literature is beaming with how-to content detailed in such  a way that given enough time and patience, one can learn to use and master pretty much any algorithm to do anything.

Being creative is one of these things we can’t even call difficult/hard, because the notion of difficulty or hardness implies that the sledge hammer of all problem solving techniques namely effort and trial and error, when applied will invariably produce results. The crazy thing about it is that the opposite often is the case. Meaning that when the moment comes that we run out of ideas, and we fall for the temptation of applying the strategy described above, it is this exact approach that pushes the creative winds away from us instead of bringing them closer. This approach stresses the brain, which for most people tends to make them more close minded. And the more close minded they become, the greater the level of stress, and on and on, until the only way to get out of this vicious cycle is to take a break.

How to find inspiration to write

Finding inspiration to write can be seen as a smaller problem that makes part of the larger scale problem of how to find inspiration. Like in many areas of life and science, it is often by thinking about broader problems that we find solutions for the small, and vice versa. Below are a few ideas.

Just do it

The first idea on how to find inspiration to write and pretty much any kind of inspiration is to just do it. I thought of telling you to decide what you want to write about first, but as you’re probably aware of, most of the time we don’t even know the subject we want to write about in the first place. The reason why this approach can be effective is not because the perfect idea will fall on your lap fully formed, but because most of the time, a great idea is just like a combination of genes. The parent genes here are the parts of other seemingly unrelated ideas, that when put together make up something new. The problem of trying to come up with one fully formed and perfect idea all at once is that they tend to not be as deep.

So, when you just start writing, with no regard for the subject, you open your mind to an array of possible subjects to write about, and with this openness, we increase the odds that two or more ideas will be paired into something deeper and more meaningful to write about.

This idea comes from the business concept of brainstorming, where a team, trying to come up with the next idea to work on, eventually stumbles into something no individual would have come up by itself, since the ideas they had in their heads where just a part of the more complex and powerful big picture idea the group came up with.

Sleep on it

This idea comes from the area of problem solving, if there is such an area in the first place. When faced with a difficult problem, professionals, regardless of field, tend to take this approach when they notice their efforts to solving the problem at the moment became fruitless. Often it is the case that the answer for their questions come up as a flash to them, supposedly with little to no effort from their part and usually in moments they’re not even thinking about the problem in the first place. It’s as if the mind actively hides the solution for the problem, and only when they “give up” on it is that it finally reveals the solution.

Well, it’s now known in psychology and neuroscience that even after we “give up” on the problem the mind is working on it in a subconscious level. We think we’re only problem solving when we’re actively trying to solve the problem, but the truth is that the problem solving process is much deeper than that. The way to trigger this mechanism is to pay enough attention and try to actively solve the problem in question in the first place. Just thinking about it might not be enough. You have to put some initial effort, and even be willing to go through bouts of frustration before you can earn the right to put the problem away. Think of it in the following way: the more time you put trying to solve the problem, the more the subconscious will be convinced that the problem really is a big deal.

The same idea can be applied to the creative process, since problem solving can be easily seen/perceived as just another side of creativity. If you’re old enough I’m sure you’ve heard a story or two of people who stumbled into brilliant ideas when they least expected after days or weeks of creative effort. Just like a mathematician who finally cracks a problem after months or years of work.

Expose your mind to more

We think of creativity as the kind of thing that either you have  or not. We have this tendency to think that it comes 100% from within, which is not true. A part of being creative is combining things you experienced/ know about in a new  way. What we forget is that to be creative or be inspired we need to be inspired about something. Only a person who has experienced what being in love feels like can gain the inspiration to write a novel about the feeling. Only a person who understands the basics of physics can gain inspiration/insight about how the physical world works.

So, in a way our creativity is limited to the range of things we exposed ourselves  or experienced up to any particular moment. The greater the number and richness of experiences we have, the greater the number of things can feel inspired and creative about. It’s true that creativity is at the time of this writing not completely understood and that for some reason some people or some mental states really do produce more with less. But to rely on the possibility that you might be that kind of person might render your creative efforts fruitless. Here you go about it by using a large numbers strategy, in which just like the salesman who relies not on the possibility that he might be likable enough to produce record sales, but who instead goes about it by knocking on as many doors as he possibly can.

I learned this from the motivational Speaker Jim Rohn, who called it “The law of averages”, in which according to him, at the beginning of any sales carrier, the salesman/woman begins with some predefined success ratio. His/hers success ratio might be low, and it probably will be, but that’s not the point. The point is that the rate is always positive no matter how small. And since chances are that it will be small, the way to make more sales and improve your sales skills is by increase the number of attempts to make a sale.

Learn to be critical at the right time

We live in a time of extremes. Meaning, we’re either at one extreme or another. We’re either super positive or super negative. We either believe the world is better than it ever been or we believe that the world is at its worst. The truth is that extremes rarely portray the truth. The truth is that often it is the case that “the golden mean” is the case.

The point for this point is to do the hardest thing you can possibly do. Not to be pessimistic in an age of blind optimism, but to master the art of being pessimistic and optimistic at the right time.

Most of us fall for one way of operation or another. We’re either optimistic all the way, which often causes a disconnect between what we think is good, and the way the public feels about our work, or too pessimistic, to the extent that it prevents us from getting to the sparks of creativity that lead us to innovative writing, of the kind that opens  even old minds.

In an age of optimism what is hard is not to be pessimistic, but to be pessimistic and positive at the right time for the right amount. Because that’s what writing is about. With the openness that comes from being optimistic ideas come more easily, in the same way that children open themselves for the kinds of adult who are less judgemental. With the closeness that comes from being pessimistic delusion is removed from the writing, at least as much as the subconscious allows, making it more likely that truly great ideas grow through the paragraphs, and the weeds of bad ideas are weeded out.

In the end of the day, the truth is that being clear minded is one of the hardest things one can aspire to be, since it often is the case that when we’re not, we feel as if we were, sometimes even with the highest degrees of confidence. So, the solution for this problem is simple: find a person you trust who will be able to tell you when the great is great, and when the terrible is terrible, since by ourselves, there is always the chance that our biases towards our work are so shiny to the extent that they blind us to the truth, and the truth is very important, and probably the only thing that matters.

Summary

So inspiration, whether to write or compose, is more than just finding a spark of ideas that seem great. It is also about being able to recognize when we’ve stumbled into something great, because this is the deciding factor on whether we should keep digging the same hole or start all over somewhere else.

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉

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How to be more positive in life

In this post you’ll find  a few ideas on how to be more positive in life.

The way you approach the world around you, and how you react to it is one of the biggest contributors to what you get from it. When in times of crises, the overall mindset is one of pessimism, and when in times of prosperity, the overall mindset tends to be one of optimism.

We react to the mood of the times in the same way a cell that happens to be a part of a diseased organ absorbs its diseased state. And yet, there are some people out there who manage to keep an up beat spirit no matter how challenging the moment. When the country is in the middle of a losing battle, these are the people who bring inspiration and motivation from the  feelings of desperation, and uplift the overall morale of the people in the process.

I’m talking about the kind of people who can keep going no matter how bad the times, and who are able to somehow believe something good will come as long as they keep pressing forward.

How to be more positive in life

When we think about the idea of being positive, most of us think delusion. This is because there are people out there whose positivity comes from a delusional basis. I’m talking about the kind of people who would avoid going to the doctor when they feel sick, because they think that just because they believe so deeply in whatever divinity they believe in, the disease that afflicts them will miraculously heal itself. So, because of that kind of people, most of us with some common sense can’t help but to feel some aversion to the mere thought of being positive for the sake of being positive. The problem with that is that being positive has its own advantages/benefits.  For starters, it’s what allows us to keep moving forward even when everything seems hopeless, and to go back to the fight after a defeat, regardless of how bad it was. Without that, quitting becomes a part of who you are, since you’re unable to see the light, when there is no apparent light. Learning to be positive is important.

Make it a habit

The first thing one can do to become more positive in life is to make it a habit. Our thought patterns, just like our routines are/become literally hardwired in our brains. If you created the habit of brushing your teeth everyday since you were little, you probably know how uncomfortable it is to not brush your teeth for a single day. The automatic part of you takes over when you make habits, and it makes those habits more and more likely to be repeated as you repeat them. The same goes for the kinds of things you chose to think about, and how you chose to think about them.

Learning to be positive can be as simple as making a conscious effort to see the good in every situation, no matter how bad. This is a part of the book The obstacle is the way by Ryan Holiday, which in essence teaches us the art of overcoming obstacles.

So there is lots of power that come from establishing the right kind of habits, especially when one of them is that habit of thinking positive regardless of circumstance. This way you don’t have to think about it, and just like a computer program scheduled to run everyday at the same time, your neuro-program runs every time you need it requiring little to no effort to do so. If you worry that habits just like meditation are the kind of thing that requires a decade of sustained dedication, you can relax because according to recent science, all it takes on average is really just as little as 66 days.

Back it up with work

Being positive just like being confident is widely a product of reality. Meaning that whatever state of mind or feelings you have at the moment you have so for a reason. A good way to think about feelings and emotions is that of a thermostat. The device senses and reflects to what’s happening on its immediate environment. In essence if life is good, you’re more likely to feel confident and positive, and vice-versa.

We tend to feel negative when our expectations for the future are not positive, and in general we feel like that when we find ourselves making no progress in life. We need to keep getting better than we were in the past, and failing to do that is a reason for unhappiness.

So, another solution to feeling more positive is to do something. Pick a goal and go after it. Chose an area in your life,  be that relationships, school, your body or career, and make a deliberate effort to improve it each day that goes by. After a while the changes that come from this change in attitude will affect not only your life, but your attitude about it. It might not be the case that you’ve gotten your six pack, or the love of your life assuming that’s what you were aiming for, but the mere fact that you’re going forward towards something you’d love to have in your life can often be enough to improve your outlook in life.

Pay attention to the people around you

Sometimes our lack of positivity comes from not the inside, but from the outside. As much as we love to think of ourselves as independent beings immune to external influence, we are more affected by the people we spend most of our time around than we think. Spend enough time with negative people, and soon enough a part of that negativity will rub on you. Spend enough time with positive and motivated people, and soon enough that positivity and motivation will rub off on you. You don’t believe it? Well you shouldn’t believe on anything just because a stranger you’ve never met tells you to in a blog post. Just make an experiment on yourself. Start by deciding whether the people you spend most of your time around are of the positive/negative kind. Then make a deliberate effort to spend more time with people of the opposite kind, and take notes on how you feel before and after.

Again we’re like sensors of the environment we find ourselves in, and sooner or later we become what we spend most of our time around. In some cases we instinctively move away from people like that, and with luck manage to keep our level of positivity. The opposite is also common, meaning that when we find ourselves in the presence of a very positive person, our tendency is to want to spend more and more time around them.

Be more reliant on yourself

The last strategy to being more positive in life is to rely on you and you alone to get what you want. We live in a time in which for every failure of character one can have, there is an easy to find person to blame it to. If you’re lazy and not driven to accomplish anything in life, the easiest people to blame are your parents. You can just pull the “they didn’t raise me right” card. If you can’t find a good job you can blame on the rich, and how they “control” everything. As for everything else you can blame the government and their policies for which you probably have little understanding about, and even if you do probably have little to no real impact to your life.

The point is that when we blame other people for our failures we become powerless, and people only care about the things that are about themselves. Waiting for some someone to come and fix your life for you just because you complained about it is a losing strategy. And this level of powerlessness is one of the biggest reasons why thinking positive can be difficult sometimes.

So, the solution is to take everything to your own hands. Even for the things you had little control over. Someone promised you a deal and didn’t come through on the last minute and your whole business failed? Well…you could have known or try to know beforehand with more certainty whether they were the kind of people who would do that kind of thing in the first place. You could have thought about potential backups, and on,.. and on. The point is that there is always something we can do to further our cause, no matter how difficult/little the odds. What you have to do is to accept this fact.

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉

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How to be more confident in work

In this post you’ll find a dew ideas on how to be  more confident in work.

Confidence is one of the most talked about subjects, and wished traits of all time. Live long enough and you’ll find yourself either thanking the fact that you have it, or wishing you did. The reason for this is that most of what matters in life is about appearances. Think of dating for example, where a notch up of confidence could mean the difference between getting the partner of your dreams at this very moment, and settling for less at the end of your life because  when it did matter, you fail to inspire confidence to the people around you. The same applies to getting the job of your dreams, or getting that business opportunity that would change your life completely.  

How to be more confident  in work

Cultivate true confidence

The world we live in encourages everybody to be more confident. The problem with that is that just like “being good”, although we have a vague idea of what’s about, often it is the case that we have no idea of how to implement it. So, it’s easy to fall prey to the idea that in order to become confident one has to fake it till it makes it, and one day, the Gods of self-confidence, and possibly even self-esteem will descend upon us. When taken for long enough this approach tends to work, all due to the fact that the human brain can be made to believe, and behave as if what it’s told to believe in is true.

That’s how we get people who have absolutely no reason, or true motive to be confident about, but that still are nonetheless. I’m talking about people who have achieved nothing of substance in their lives, and walk through earth, as the old expression goes: “like they’re God’s gift to earth”. The problem with this kind of confidence is that it either is as fragile as a house of cards, subject to be destroyed when under scrutiny, or unhealthily stable, just like a muscle built on an unhealthy diet. For the later, the goal is attained, but the big picture point is completely missed. The person becomes unshakable confident, but the way it goes about being confident as counter intuitive as it might be, becomes limiting in other areas that matter more, specially work. The reason for this is that if you cultivate work confidence through belief and belief only, your flaws, when you do make them force you to reject the idea that you’re as great as you are. If your sense of belief in yourself is stable, then the only thing to reject is the idea that you’re not as good as you think, even if that’s true.

In the end of the day, we all have an intuitive idea of what we have to do to get what we want, and yet, the urge to succumb to trendy, quick and painless solutions remains too great to resist. If confidence in work is what you seek, there is only one true way, and that is: mastery. Mastery of your subject as a whole, from the inside out, and including the smallest of its pieces. The way is to know everything there is to know about your work, and how to do it the best way it can possibly be done. The standards, the rules, and a clear idea of what the words “perfection” or “beauty” mean in the context of your work. We all know this, and the reason why only a few do it is because although an easy idea to grasp, the same can’t be said about the moments of actually doing the work.  

Learn from  more experienced people

The way to become more confident in anything in life, work included is simple. The way is to get better at it. The way is to know more about your work than the majority of people. The way is to, as the book “So good the can’t Ignore you” teaches us is to, well… be so good they can’t ignore you. The problem of mastery is that most people don’t think of it as the source of most if not all of their problems. We complain we’re not good at sales, getting dates, friendships, but instead of blaming it to our lack of mastery on those specific fields, we attribute it to some lack of gift. When asked what we mean by gift, we eventually resort to a fuzzy definition of what that means, and in general, when someone gives fuzzy explanations or fuzzy definitions, chances are that they don’t know what they’re talking about, at least not enough to have the right to talk about it with confidence. Again, deep down we know what we have to do to get what we want, and the sad thing about it is that it all tends to be difficult in general.

When it comes to mastering a field, there is the very popular 10,000 hours you’re probably aware of, but what most people fail to address is the way you go about mastering the subject in question. Do you read? Do you mentor? Do you go about it through trial and error? Taking a superficial look at all of these, one can easily, and incorrectly conclude that any of them would do. The truth is that the way you go about mastering the subject can speed up/slow down the time it takes for you to become proficient enough to be truly confident when you go about doing it. As it turns out, learning from mentors is one of the most effective ways to learn how to get better at anything. The reason for this is simple: assuming that the mentor you chose is a master him/herself, chances are that they know the areas within the subject you should focus on to master it the quickest. This is ignoring the fact that the  if you rely on books, you need to know which books to read the first to learn the most. A mentor can direct you to the right books, in the context of your current learning stage/mastery phase.

So, overall mentoring under a master is the quickest way to attain mastery yourself, and as a result also gain the level of true confidence at work you’ve always looked for. The second best way to attain mastery is by knowing what you’re learning style is. Some people learn better through audio, some through printed text, some through video lectures, and on, and on. Signing up for the kind of content you’re the least effective at, is just another in the many ways of slowing down your mastery journey.

Remain a student

In the context of mastery, because the idea tends to be fuzzy to define, it’s easy to think you have attained it when you get the first taste of proficiency. You get good at it, and immediately assume/feel as if you know everything there is to know. We’ve all been through something like that, specially if the subject in question is something we’re naturally inclined to. You’re born with a great voice, greater than most people you know, everybody tells you about it, and suddenly the desire to practice vanishes. You wonder why you need to do it when you have the gifts you have, and if you stay on that frame of mind for long enough, you’re eventually surpassed by the ones to whom “the gift” never came easily.

The point of this point is to keep learning regardless of how much you think  you know. This is easier said than done, but it’s definitely a very important thing to keep track of. At the beginning of your journey you hate to practice because you know you know nothing, and you feel awkward about it. Further down the road you hate practice because you think you know it all when you know nothing.

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉

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