Archive for the ‘Useful Ways to Think’ Category

To go with your gut, you need the guts to truly get to your gut.

December 16, 2017

You are going to read the beginning of this post and probably not see how you would ever use it. It is too long and complicated – not really feasible to use. It is the opposite of making decisions using your gut – the more left brain part of the equation.  It is useful and necessary to lay it all out. You’ll see why. At the end of this post I will offer something feasible. Promise.

If you are feeling badly or worried about any activity, thing or situation, instead of focusing on that thing – take stock of any agreements with others that you have related to it.

This can apply to anything. Sex requires agreement, for example. Washing dishes also involves agreement, and everything in between.

How do you know you have a good agreement? An agreement always involves two or more parties, so you can’t really every full know how the other side is with it. Start by looking at your part in it.  You have to compare now to what it was like before the agreement. This may be some time ago.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself. Don’t over think the answers initially.  GO through it quickly and then review if you think your answers need more added.

Who are the parties to this agreement?

Who is impacted by the agreement?

What is the financial impact of the agreement?  Earnings. Savings. Insurance – present and future?

How does it impact your time? Does it save time you time or take up more time

How does it impact your energy  – does it add to it or detract from it

How does it impact you emotionally? Frequency, duration and intensity of those feelings.

How well are others adhering to the agreement? What are the incentives and obstacles to adhering. How easy is it to enforce the agreement? How does that adherence and enforcement impact you financially, time wise, energy wise, and emotionally.

An agreement can save you time, money and energy, but if you hate living under the terms of the agreement, what is it worth?

How does this agreement impact your ability to negotiate other agreements?

How does it impact your authority to be party to other agreements?

What related problems does this agreement leave out?

What problems does this agreement impact? negatively or positively.

What’s the worst that can happen if you stop adhering to the agreement? What’s the best that can happen? What’s the worst that can happen if you continue to adhere to the agreement? What’s the best that can happen? I got this question from Dr Ben Carson book and I call it the WBWB question. You can apply it to any decision.

Now try to go through all these questions with the other parties to the agreement.

 

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The GUTS hack:

It is hard to do this analysis because we spend a lot of time trying not to feel bad or uncomfortable.  We distract ourselves. We have agreements to do things that help us not to feel so bad about the impact of our own bad or fuzzy agreements on ourselves. As an example, we may have people who agree to interact with us on social media with us, or not complain about our being on social media, and that’s how we cope.

As I write this post and try to think of something to evaluate, I am finding it hard. I feel pretty good right now. Since I am doing well, who cares? Nothing is coming to mind, and this is a lengthy and complicated set of questions.

How can I distill it down? A recent or current unpleasant situation. Here is one that just happened.

9 year old Clara lost the horseshoe that we use to keep the shed door closed. She doesn’t remember where she put it.  Shed door was open for about 24 hours. I want her to not do things like that generally.  Are there any agreements related to this? In my mind, yes. But in reality, no.  She asked to go in the shed to get snow shovels and I agreed.  She did exactly what she said she was going to do. I didn’t give her a condition before saying yes.  I didn’t think about what else I care about could be impacted.

I negotiated a crap agreement – AGAIN!  How can I alert myself to these situations where I am being too hasty in making agreements?

Any time you make a decision, you are potentially impacting all the agreements you have in your life. If I go to the gym now, for example, I can’t spend any time, etc on any other agreements.  We make these calculations all the time.

We generally just go with our gut, and that’s fine, but we need ways to go deeper into our guts quickly – a hack. I suggest you ask the WBWB question outlined above.  It is a great question because it helps us see further into the future than current distractions tend to allow. It also helps us tap into our gut.

If you go to your gut using WBWB and you are still unsure and really want more certainty, go to the methods laid out in the beginning of this post to analyze the decision and related agreements. Your gut will tell you its limits and take you to your intellect as needed. You may only need to answer one of the questions and you will get closer to the certainty, the gut feeling that you need to decide. I could go into the whole left and right brain thing, but my gut tells me not too. If I’ve lost you already, more intellectual explanation is not going to convince you.

If you your gut tells you not to use this method then don’t. Just make sure it’s really your gut deciding and not only just your distracted, unfocused, too clever mind rationalizing your choice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The pain of discipline or the pain of regret. Choose. Rinse. Repeat.

January 11, 2015

Pain is our jailor, jail, and liberator in this world.

 

Props to Allan Tsang for title inspiration.

Je suis Wim Chase

January 11, 2015

Just be yourself.  

Defend everyone’s right to do the same as long as they are not violating 6-10 of the Ten Commmandments.

1-4 of the ten commandments are  personal and social development recommendations.

They seem to become dangerous to the human psyche and human communities when not taken together with 6-10.

I think they actually simply point  you should aim to do the best you can by holding to the highest standard in ALL things.  Why have low standards when you can have high ones?

If you believe that there is a highest that preceeds and exceeds reality – you can call that Reality and try to make it the one thing you remember as often as you can.

That effort is religious effort – available to all of us, even if prefer to remove the R and make it an r.

 

RrRrRrRrRrRr

or rrrrrrrrrr

Whatever or WhateveR…

 

 

 

 

You are wise to start with attention to the least sexy component to success – patience.

October 2, 2014

Patience is not a particularly interesting topic, at least on the surface of it. Though patience has a lot to do with why people we admire accomplish so much, we tend to focus only on the fruits of their patience, or their visible actions.

Patience is seen more like drudgery. But reflecting on patience, we can begin to get some traction with it, and give ourselves an advantage for having done so.

How do we get started with becoming more patient? Consciously or not,  patience always begins with a decision to be willing to endure averse emotion as it arises in an endeavor – choose pain over comfort.  So being more conscious of that mental process, or mindful, will help us get more of a handle on accessing our patience when we need it. One wave of averse emotion at a time, we can develop our patience, even as we fall off the wave and our efforts are thwarted. We are strengthening our patience just by consciously meeting the wave that threatens it. We do the best we can.

Yet we know our efforts will be thwarted. Patience is built on a foundation of failures to be patient. It will strengthen your patience if you are kind to yourself and others even as your patience fails you. Or as Idries Shah wrote, learn to …”be patient with your patience.”  Resolve to relate to yourself with heart as often as you can remember to do so.

Fortunately, not everything requires patience. In fact, there is a time to give into your impatience. It is always wise to soothe or bypass averse emotion unless doing so disrupts the focus you require to complete something important.  Putting patience aside sometimes and favoring pleasurable activities will help replenish the energy that patience requires when you really need it. Misplaced patience is an energy drain.

Nonetheless, you really can’t overdo patience in situations that require it. The challenge is deciding which situations really require it. After all, we are told that he who hesitates is lost.  Then again, we are advised to look before we leap.  Maybe better sayings would be “He who hesitates to look before they leap unnecessarily risk being lost”. or “if you don’t look before you hesitate to leap you are just guessing and are already lost”. Anyways, my playing with the wording of pithy quotes might not clarify anything. Patience does not replace critical thinking. It just gives you adequate time to engage in it.

Patience must not confused with the capacity to wait.   Patience is a tool that permits us to see and seize the moment when waiting any longer is unhelpful. Procrastination tends to be the default way we employ time. Waiting is not hard for the procrastinator in us. We put things off and distract ourselves with something more interesting or easy. But it really is more a failure of patience than ambition not to get started on something. After all, you have no problem ‘getting started’ with easier activities, no shortage of ambition or gumption there! You are simply refusing to make a decision to endure the averse emotions that getting started on the tougher challenge might evoke. Call a spade a spade, and call impatience what it is – impatience.

Patience is very worthy of our focus in enhancing our development and making progress toward our goals.  It can expand and deepen our perspective on situations and make possible the vision required to make better decisions based on a greater grasp of what is happening and how it all fits together.

But it will not insist on your attention. It is a quiet virtue, and you have to be able to still yourself to really be able to employ it.

I am sorry if this piece is a boring or dry, but that does sort of speak to the point I am trying to make.

Stooping to Greatness – Reflections on Life and Business

August 7, 2014

The single greatest advantage any company can achieve is organizational health.

This is the first sentence from Chapter One of Patrick Lencioni’s book, The Advantage – Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business. I believe it to be true,  and really think anyone who plays a leadership role anywhere, ought to seriously consider what he writes to begin the book. We all play leadership roles somewhere, even if it is just for ourselves as we run our own lives.

Regarding this single greatest advantage, he continues:

… it is ignored by most leaders even though it is simple, free, and available to anyone who wants to do it…If it sound absurd, it should. After all, why in the world would intelligent human beings ignore something that is so powerful and accessible? 

The question was finally answered for me on July 28, 2010. 

I was attending a client’s leadership conference, sitting next to the CEO. This wasn’t just any company. It was, and still is, one of the healthiest organizations I have ever known and one of the most successful enterprises of the past fifty years. In an industry plagued with financial woes, customer fury, and labor strife, this amazing company has a long history of growth and economic success, not to mention financial customer loyalty. Moreover, its employees love their jobs, their customers, their leaders. When compared to others in the same industry, what this company has achieved is almost baffling. 

As I sat there at the conference listening to one presentation after another highlighting the remarkable and unorthodox activities that made this organization so healthy, I leaned over and quietly asked the CEO a semirhetorical question: ” Why in the world doesn’t your competition do any of this?”

After a few seconds, he whispered, almost sadly, ” You know, I honestly believe they think it’s beneath them.”

And there it was.

I have also seen this at the individual and family level in my work as a psychotherapist. The people who improve under my care and maintain their gains all have one thing in common – they establish their mental health or wellness as their top priority. They stop taking it for granted for the rest of their lives. This may seem like an obvious thing to do for someone who is suffering enough to  take  time and money to see a mental health practitioner, but it is not so easy for the many folks who think they are in therapy just to get back to who they used to be before mental health issues set in. They forget that the same person that seemed so strong because they weren’t  struggling with mental health issues also made the decisions that failed to prevent  their current mental health difficulties.

They idealize how they were before mental health challenges struck, and they just can’t bring themselves  to stoop down from their lofty view of their former self and do the new things it takes to achieve and maintain true wellness.

Even if they get better, and many do because they make a surge of effort for a limited time, they remain at high risk for relapse if they do not keep their mental health priority number one.

Sadly, this can reinforce their idealization of themselves before their first mental health episode, and the pattern continues.

 

I imagine organizational leaders fall into similar ruts for similar reasons.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The cure to cognitive cancer has to be organic in business and at home

August 2, 2014

Types of cancer tend to be named after the organs where they grow, so the term cognitive cancer seemed apt for this article.

The roots of the words organized and organic are the same – organ.  In a healthy system,  organs receive messages, serve a function in a greater system of organs, and send messages to other organs  in that system. Organs organize organically into organ systems 🙂  So organs have sub-organs, including organs of perception that receive messages and organs of communication that send them.

The questions how , where, when, and  what  have to be constantly asked and answered by our organs of perception and communication. It all has to be organized according to sequence, degree, type, quantity, periodicity, and other variables. Just contemplating how your own body does without any conscious effort on your part is mind-boggling.

Cancer is a system of mass replication that does not serve the greater system. It is organic, but it does not serve the whole system, even though it depends on it to survive and grow. Cancer only serves itself, however shortsighted that is as it kills the system that sustains it.

Generally speaking, our current cognitive systems are very susceptible to cancerous growths.  Just one thought can begin to take you in a cognitive direction resulting in the sorts of actions that end in a destination that some would even call hellish. Some people are psychologically loaded with cancer and their existence is like a hell to them.  We can catch their cancer just by spending time with them and responding unskillfully to the messages their cancer ridden system sends us. Most of us have psychological cancer to some degree.  We know that our physical bodies are fighting cancer cells all the time usually successfully.  Our minds require us to have an immune system for cognitive processes as well.

How do we maintain healthy psychological immune system?  Taking care of our physical and mental organs and organ systems and those of others offers a way to rid ourselves of psychological cancers. Just focusing on curing our own cancer allows us to work on one end of our psychological cancerous ‘tumors’.  Since cognitive cancer is fully pathologically selfish, it will thrive in us if we only focus on our own betterment. Not just about adhering to moral standards,  there is a simple technical reason for unselfishness. Organs of perception that are only self-referential begin to atrophy for lack of diverse stimulation. The whole system weakens and becomes more susceptible to cancerous growth.

So this is where higher consciousness begins to take on some very practical importance to human beings and their endeavors. If you have a higher vantage point you can achieve a broader or more in-depth ability to receive messages from the environment and make better informed decisions to not only fight cancer but develop healthily. Higher consciousness is even more important in a world where we have developed such powerful technologies that serve us but can also destroy us. The human element, the organic element,  is the only way to achieve and sustain higher levels of consciousness that our survival requires in an increasingly complex world.  Without it, enamored of our new found technological efficiency, we risk the temptation of falling into replication thinking to solve our problems – throwing (fill in the  blank ) at problems: logic, technology, data, analysis, skepticism, money, passion, detachment,  formulas, etc.  Despite the best of intentions, the result will be that cognitive cancers will grow in our minds at the expense of our families,  organizations and our individual mental health.

So what do we do?

Almost all of us need folks who have achieved higher consciousness than we have to develop healthily. We did as children, and we do now.   If these people exist, you can be assured that they are organized and looking for qualified candidates for their efforts.  Their methods are certainly organic and not at all something we can predict or manage at our current level. We have to be open to the signals they might already be sending.

These are our teachers.  They are not always who we expect them to be. Only their humility, and ours, can keep the right messages flowing for the right purposes at the right times to the right people. It all has to be aligned, and everyone can’t just have anything they want whenever they want. This is not a mass replication. We are human beings.

Our businesses need these qualified teachers and students. Our families need them too.

Teacher or student, and we are all both really, GK Chesterton’s quote applies to each of us:

We are all in the same boat, and we owe each other a terrible loyalty.”

 

 

 

 

 

Open eyes are not always enough – gotta open ’em ‘wider’

July 29, 2014

Antonio de Mairena

from Juan de Mairena

 

To see things as they are, the eyes must be opened; to see things as other than they are, they must be even wider; to see things as better than they are, they must be open to the full. 

 

At a recent family meeting my wife came up with the idea of each of us thinking of three positive things that happened that day or the previous day.  We started this morning when I sent an email with my three things to her, and my son (16) and daughter (18).  So far, my wife has replied with her three.

It felt weird, but it felt good. I had to open my eyes wider.

We are trying to get out of a rut.

Pondering the antidote for the human pride problem is humbling

July 27, 2014

 

Pride is really a human tendency to want to dominate a situation, to gain something. It is not bad in and of itself. It is important enough to our survival as a species to persist in us despite the hazards it creates. It makes me think of how recessive genes for sickle cell anemia offer immunity to malaria, but when two recessive genes combine in one person, it becomes a painful, debilitating, and deadly disease.

Humility has survival value too, as it has also persisted.  It is in constant use by those who are already worthy of employing it as a pathway to real learning, execution and contribution to betterment. Otherwise it rejects our efforts and in so doing invites  us to step back and retrace some preliminary steps we have not really understood yet.

It won’t insist though. Humility never insists. In so many human efforts, pride will rush in and seem to help us get our bearings. By that point, humility has already stepped back. It has done its job  and we have just failed to heed its guidance.  Humility will let us flounder about uselessly guided by pride until we become exhausted.

Meanwhile, not capable of anything on its own, our pride bounces back by insisting on taking credit for the  fruits of humility. And often not even the fruits of our own humility, but someone else’s.

But ultimately our pride will render us incapable of even utilizing those fruits.

So the meek really shall inherit the earth. I just hope pride doesn’t render earth  a place no longer worth  inheriting.

 

 

 

Do you think you’re better than me?

March 7, 2014

Doesn’t all human anger come down to this? Even if someone steps on your foot by accident, and you get angry, it comes down to you wanting to make sure that they don’t think they can get away with it. After all, anyone who thinks they can get away with hurting someone, even by accident, without some kind of contrition, must feel superior. Or so we tell ourselves, and so we get angry about all kinds of dumb shit.

” Do you think you are better than me?!”

Of course, if you are caught up in this kind of thinking , you are easy to bait, and people will get the better of you, because you care if they think they are better than you.

And that is funny, sometimes. Other times it is sad because you use it as an excuse to be abusive, like Happy Gilmore.

Here’s the thing. The problem isn’t that people think they are better than you. The problem is that you care.

What is holding you back?

February 28, 2014

There are many reasons why individuals and teams negotiate badly. But one is the lack of insight into the event at hand. What are you delivering to your adversary in this event? What is holding back this event from moving forward? What is emotionally troubling you? And your adversary? What are you going to communicate? How will you communicate it? Ask yourself this simple question: Who must see what, now? Answer it beginning with yourself – and you will start developing the insight you require.

Santhosh Ebroo
Camp Negotiation Coach

“Who must see what, now? Answer it beginning with yourself ….” – fantastic Santhosh! A much bettet question than ‘what should I do” which does not get us into the visual/emotional part of the brain where decisions happen. -Wim


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