29 January, 2014

2-3-4 working with others: Make them feel important!

What other people want? They want so many things on many levels; get the job done, get money, buy and wear expensive stuff, to be famous … etc.

But there is a current, a touch of a very delicate thing that is running through every action and desire and aim of any of us …. And that thing is to FEEL IMPORTANT

Feel important to ourselves, to others; that we appreciate ourselves and seek happiness for it, or get appreciated by people, to be admired

That's a very special kind of "Loving Power" [Power here means influence] which is the hardest and last sin that a human being can get rid of in his spiritual path to his god (according to Sufism)

The more important you make people feel, the more they like and the more you can influence them
-          Listen carefully [or at least pretend to]
-          Be sincere and try to help them make the right choice even if that wouldn't be in your favor (make lifelong customers), they will trust you like hell after that
-          Maintain eye contact

-          Treat them like persons not a potential sale 

2-3-3 working with others: Over communicating

The very best thing about working with yourself is that you don't need to spend time and energy to communicate your ideas, plans, thoughts with somebody else … as there is no one actually, you are on the same page with yourself, all focused and notified all the time

-          Bring an extra one with you … bring two … bring 150 people ……
The more people you work with, the more time and effort you need too communicate with them to be on the same page
At a certain point and if you did that all naive and unprofessional, you will find yourselves talk more than work :/
-          The best group size that their number adds a lot of capabilities without over-communication problems- is from 5 to 8 members
From 8 and higher, communication problems appears
At 12 people number, groups tend to splinter according to preferences, sex, races, specialties ……etc. and if this splitting is not controlled, it will be just a mess

The solution is:
-          Splinter groups from 5 to 8 members each
-          Make them as autonomous as possible. If their tasks depend on each other, we did nothing by splitting then
-          Design a swift, fast, short way of communication to avoid chit-chatting and side-communication problems

-          If 2 or more groups needs to be on the same page, it is more effective to make one of each team talk to each other and then transfer the summary to his group members 

2-3-2 working with others: Why work with people?

You know this quote: "Know everything about one thing, and know one thing about everything"? This is the answer

In the world we live in, sciences are incredibly large and it is impossible to know everything about a science, so sciences are branched with so many specialties

A person can only specialize in one specialty; to know everything about it and can actually give something useful and productive about it

We can't be self-sufficient at all nowadays at even 2 specialties within one branch of a science, so we need other people to work with

-          Each one of us focuses on one thing to be very good at and then collaborate with others to be most effective and productive
We still need of course some people to know a lot of things about many stuff, these are the CEOs and board members of businesses… but it comes with time and experience

So, focus on what you are good at to be the best at it – read, be intellectual and learn one thing about everything – collaborate with other specialists – outsource with the best people

You can't be self-sufficient if you want to play it big … that was doable long time ago, but now you just can't 

2-3-1 working with others: Power???

What is "POWER" equal to in meaning? It can't be equal to "CONTROL" in anyway especially regarding business. The only person we can control is ourselves, we don't have any kind of control over the others

-          Power over others can be referred to as "Influence", which means that the power we have over other others is "Indirect" power instead of the incorrect "Control" word "Direct power"
-          We give and receive this (Influence – indirect power) at all time with any interaction we encounter with the people or even the environment around us
-          Communicating with people always sends messages of the words, actions, body language, voice, smells, shape, clothes …. All this info can influence us in many ways

-          Learning how to use all the factors in, around you to direct the influence you want on the people around you is the key to gain "Power " over them 

2-2-22 working with yourself: Locus of control

You can't control most of the things around you; most of people, environment, and multifarious things that happen around and for us

Actually you can only control only ourselves –to a certain limit- and things you own and some people you can influence

A very good strategy to not get insane in this world trying to control everything and worrying about that is to separate what you can control from things you can't control or influence

And I am not saying ignore them … not at all … you prepare of them, foresee them,  plan to react to them, respond and hit back … but that don't try to control them .. you simply can't … so stop worrying about it

DON'T worry about things you CAN'T do anything about ….. life will be much easier and peaceful

So, what if bad things happened and you just can't do anything about it? What is the best strategy to deal with it?
-          Actually there are two solutions: you can keep kicking yourself in the butt and damaging all your nerves as a punishment to you for …. for … for …. Actually I don't know for what … just you this in vain, with no purpose at all
-          And the second solution is to ACCEPT it. Ask yourself: I am here … where to go from here, where to start from?

I know it is a hard choice, but I am sure you will choose wisely :) 

2-2-21 working with yourself: Be realistic

It is easy to like the idea of being/doing/living something much more than actually being/doing/living it, especially when you have so little info about its disadvantage

-          Any job/lifestyle comes with tradeoffs, and your emotions/judgment does not count until you know the pitfalls of it
-          And once you know this info, you need to make the decision all over again. It is alright to change your mind once your perspective changes  

So, ask someone who is living/doing what you dreams of and know what the disadvantages are, what he has to give away in exchange of this life …. Be objective and fair about your judgment

2-2-20 working with yourself: Enter the ZONE

Sometimes you find yourself have a lot to do, or in the mood for work, or even can't focus but you want to 

…. So you want to get into the zone (the focus for work, the loaded-context zone) as quick as possible … and here is a way to do so and it works like this:

-          You set a timer to 25 minutes
-          Turn off anything that has the least chance to distract you
-          You make yourself focused into the work and really don't talk to anyone or respond to any distractions (0 interruptions) till the 25 minutes are over
-          Take a five minutes rest
-          Get back to work at the normal pace and focus
You will find yourself got a lot done already + be in the zone for work. Actually it is kind of a funny way to deceive yourself to enter the zone and mood for work

After some time it becomes a way to get specific tasks done and a very useful strategy in the emergency, urgent tasks … and your threshold will increase with time to make these periods with time (2 every 3 hours, 3 every 3 hours, 4 every three hours …. and so on) 

2-2-19 working with yourself: You are NOT a machine

We have to rest … we can't just work at 120% capacity all the time

-          Make sure you have enough time to sleep. That would be normally 6-8 hours of sleep a day
-          Have fun, read books that interest you, enjoy literature, art …. Listen to music, play games, have fun, travel and socialize …. At last we only live once so don't act you are getting out of it alive :)
-          Don't you ever feel regret that it is a wasted time or something …. We are designed to waste sometimes ... it's called recovery period 

-          Get some rest and the rest of the work ends up being much better. And if you are so concerned about not being productive all the time, actually the other activities you do make you a better, faster, more creative, more open-minded and more broad-minded person which will reflect on your work in many better ways 

2-2-18 working with yourself: Performance load

The simplest fact about any engine, machine in the world: overworking over the normal limits will cause less performance and finally a breakdown.
-          The more you have to do, the lower your performance
-          The higher the load, the lower the performance
You have limited recourses; time, energy, motivation points … over working and over burdening yourself with many things will just drain your powers, thinking always of the tasks on you will make you less focused doing tasks and it will be the same as multitasking. Mistakes will just be higher

So, you have to set limits for yourself. Keeping yourself busy and motivated to do stuff all the time is good, but crossing the thin line will just give the opposite effect of that

-          Eliminate the unnecessary tasks
-          Delegate (if someone can do  a task at 80% or higher of your performance, delegate)
-          Defer tasks to its time
-          Refuse to take tasks above your limits and be clear and determent about that

-          Make sure you always have extra capacity for emergency, sudden tasks and for the rest of your life; family friends, relationships, yourself…etc. 

2-2-17 working with yourself: Hindsight bias

You know these moments when you make a decision and then after some time you look back to judge the decision you make and you say "Man. I was sooo dumb"? You shouldn't really feel bad about it

You assume that you had the same information as you do right now, but that is not true at all. These regrets and bad feelings are just of no use. Instead, you should really ask yourself "What can I do from here?"

The message is just this quote here:

"Finish each day, and be done with it. You've done what you could; some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in. Forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. Begin it well and serenely, and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense"

2-2-16 working with yourself: Confirmation bias

One of the best ways to figure out whether or not you are right is to actively look for info about why you ARE wrong
-          We hate to be wrong
-          We tend to enforce and overvalue our beliefs all the time
-          We look all the time for things that make us comfortable, things we like. We always look for things to improve and empower our situation. And in the meantime, ignore and mock other opinions that may shake out ideas, beliefs
-          That's why people stay ignorant and adopted wrong beliefs all the previous time
By doing this, we will never know that we are wrong and we will just keep going in the wrong way

-          To be successful, we need to get out of the comfort zone, actively look for evidence that empower the opposite of what we think
-          And by time, we get desensitized about the opposing opinions, we tend even to look for them all the time, they will not harm us if they aren't useful
But the other empowering opinions will make no use if they don't harm us and mislead us

So, adopt always the other opinion and ask yourself if you are all wrong. Always test your beliefs against the most discomforting point of views ever: if they can stand and take the hits, you make sure that you are in the right way, and if it shows that you were wrong about it, then you knew and have the time to fix the situation before it gets worse

It will just take time to learn how to suspend disbelief, take the opposing points of view seriously, study and test them, be more objective and not a part of this debate thing, take a step back and see the bigger picture and you will see how enlightened you will be and how fast you get to really tell the right from the wrong 

2-2-15 working with yourself: Excessive self-regard tendency

A psychological fact:

The less we know about something, the more competent we think we are
-          We tend to be very confident and overvalue our thoughts, beliefs, ideas, plan …etc. over the others'
-          Being confident and a believer is very good actually, it is the main drive of the most inspiring persons in history who made huge changes in the world, especially when you have a belief of a very-unlikely big dream
But the excessive confidence is very bad, it will make you just keep making dumb decisions and not listening to any one's advice until you find yourself in a deep shit hole that you can't out of

-          The difference between the two is a very simple test: are you asking yourself all the time if you are really that good or you just imaging that?
Asking that question and seeking for an answer by testing your ideas, counseling people, listing to criticism, educate one's self …etc. is a very good indicator of being better than you think you are
The more you learn, the more you know how clueless and ignorant you have been –are. And the more you practice, the more consciously-confidence you become and the more you become aware of what you are doing and how to self-correct yourself

So always seek advice, counseling and knowledge. Test your ideas against others' and book's to see if you really that good … and if not, by doing that you are already improving yourself and become better every day  

2-2-14 working with yourself: Worst case scenario

It is always very useful to go through the mental simulation experience of the "Worst Case Scenario" for many reasons:

-          You may imagine something you have never thought of as a likely-to-happen situation and you discover that you better be prepared for it
-          Thinking about the worst make you feel comforted that you have prepared for it (have a plan B or have a way to fix it)
You need to imagine the worst things that can happen, the model that can be studied as (what NOT to do in a business), and take it seriously and ask yourself three Qs:

1-     How likely is that scenario to happen?
2-     How can I improve/fix it?
3-     Will I survive it?
The important thing is to have always plan B and not to just freeze in your place.

Always remember if you have a problem, either you can do something about it, then you do it, or not ... then prepare an exit … just don't freeze and lock. 

23 January, 2014

2-2-13 working with yourself: Parkinson's Law

"Work expands to fill the time available for its completion"

-          If you dedicate a month task that can be perfectly done in 3 days, it will perfectly fit to the month without you feeling that there is a lot of free/wasted time
-          Actually more than 90% of our tasks can be done in much less time. The wasted time mainly because of:
-          Distractions
-          Multitasking
-          Using a lot of time to load the context to get in the work zone again  
If you have a project/task that you expect it will take a long time, use the counterfactual simulation concept:

-          Stress yourself in a time less than the reasonable time range for it
-          Figure out ways, shortcuts through it
-          Delegate and split the work between your team members
For example, meetings usually in most companies take an hour no matter what … and a lot of times it can fit in 20 minutes or less. Imagine you have only 15 minutes to conduct that meeting … how would you act and be serious and focused in what you gathered for? 
There is a great quote by IKEA founder:

"If you split your day into 10 minutes increments (144 parts) and try to waste as few as possible, you will be amazed of what you can get done in a day-period"

2-2-12 working with yourself: Impossible is nothing

We have talked already about "mental simulation" and how our brain can simulate and calculate the consequences of actions

One of the most useful & helpful tools to get things done is a little tweak form "mental simulation" called: "Counterfactual Simulation"

Asking yourself: What would happen/what would it be look like if X happens?

-          Don't be afraid, you are in the virtual world right now, you can ask yourself whatever you want
-          Ask yourself the most crazy, structure-changing, weird questions you have ever thought of
-          Take these questions seriously
-          Be as flexible, versatile, arbitrary, daring as you can
-          Start writing down solutions and scenarios:
-          What would have to be true in order to make this work?
-          Start writing down solutions and scenarios, fill in the planks
You will be astonished how less difficult are the things you assume they are just dreams for you 

You just have to treat the most impossible idea you have as a "project", simplify and break it down to doable steps and handle-able difficulties and you will really discover that "Impossible is nothing"

2-2-11 working with yourself: Don't multitask

Our brains can just focus on one thing at a time

Every time you need to work/continue working on a task, your brain need time to load all the context related to that specific task … that "Context-loading" takes time to get you in the zone

For complicated problems … it takes from 15 to 20 minutes to load all the stuff related to that task/subject

Multitaskers -as they are accustomed to such attention-switching thing, it take less time for them, but no one can just eliminate that loading-time or even minimize it to a minimum amount

-          Multitasking is proved to be THE least efficient way to do stuff
-          Multitasking is exactly working the same way distractions do. Just try to make a dramatic, emotional phone call in the middle of a meeting and see how long does it take to get back in the zone
-          In multitasking, you are just rapidly switching attention between many things
-          Researches show that the level of focus you drive with when you talking to the phone using Bluetooth headset is the same level of focus of a drunk person driving the car
The more switching you do, the more time you need to load, the less productive you will be

So, structure your schedule with the fewest distractions/ interruptions possible and single-tread your tasks, one by one. You will find yourself being more productive with better performance over shorter time  

2-2-10 working with yourself: Self-elicitation

Here is a problem regarding 'Externalization': it is not so easy, especially at beginning- to get ideas out of your brain and translating it to words and sentences?

-          Actually, getting the ideas out is kind of half-solving the problem
-          And the other part is getting them inside again, which is too easy
And the best way to translate ideas to words is to Ask Questions

-          Keep bombarding your brain with open-ended questions about the specified subject
-          The 6 W-questions are (in-order)
-          What/who (the identity)
-          How much (numbers and shit)
-          When (on the timeline)
-          Where (on google maps)
-          How (the steps-the strategy)
-          Why (the reason-the purpose-the goal)
-          These are all the questions you can ask
-          You don't need to have such answers to all these Qs for every problem you face
-          Remember: (Why All The Way Up & How All The Way Down)? This is an example of self-elicitation technique

The more questions you ask, the more you can figure out how to solve problems, plan projects ….etc. 

2-2-9 working with yourself: Externalization

The high-brain, that crust on the external of our brain is relatively new to us and with all the tasks it has to do, it is not accustomed yet to get them all done by itself
For example: a very important part of this is that internal connection/communication between it and the midbrain
-          That’s why we tend to get confused, forget about hard tasks we don't want to do
-          The negative emotional side our mid brain feels about some stuff makes it very mean and tend to miscommunicate with us (our high-brains) about them
Another example is dealing with large amount of data, working with complicated problems ….. Usually anything that is out the comfort-zone-reference of the mid-brain which has the upper hand over the relatively new high-brain

Also, keep tracking of things we are thinking of is a hard thing for our cortex to handle efficiently on its own

-          And knowing that our high-brains are great and very efficient in receiving signals from the outside environment via senses, we already figured out a way to deal with this internal "miscommunication" problem and this strategy is called: 'Externalization':
Taking out info from the brain to outside and then make the high-brain receives it by the ways it is best at; the senses
-          That is what we do when people (or some of them):
-          Learn best by teaching to other
-          Have somebody to talk to relieve stress, solve problems
-          Write down steps and actions and to-dos
-          Deciding verbally and out loud what to do
-          Learn by writing down and studying out loud
 You know now what to do, for example there is a great strategy adopted by programmers called "Rubber-ducking":

When they have a big problem they don't know how to solve, they have a rubber duck that they talk with and tell it their problem and that helps greatly solve that problem

So, for signaling more efficiently to the brain, take info outside the brain and get it inside again using senses

The more you externalize, the clearer things will become for you, and the faster you will make progress on important things

2-2-8 working with yourself: Simplifying "Projects"

We have to differentiate the meaning between the two words: (Project) and (Action/task)

-          A project: is anything that takes multiple steps to complete. It needs preparation and consists of many steps
-          An action/a task is something you can do in time immediately without preparation 
-          Dealing with the word (Project) seems like a big, hard thing to do. For example:
-          Learn how to dance Tango
-          Climb mount Everest
-          Learning MBA
-          Complete a marathon
Notice that the common thing in all "projects" is that they consist of many actions/steps/phases. You can just breakdown each of the previous projects into many simple steps/actions ….. even if a project consists of 10,000 simple steps … they seem doable and not impossible to do as the big, vague, impossible "project" … and it is just about time to get there

And remember that the million mile journey starts with one step 

So, breakdown every project you have into series of actions/tasks … write them down … and make schedule to do some of the actions you have to do every day … and  you will get there and achieve all your dreams

And always remember: One step at a time 

19 January, 2014

2-2-7 working with yourself: WHY up, HOW down

Another great way to make yourself decide faster is to discover if the choice you are making is actually the most suitable one available at the moment to serve the purpose or not
And the best way to know that is to know the real, essential, primary reason/emotional desire/motive/moral behind that:
-          Just keep asking yourself why I want to do that, and repeat the question again and again until you finally reach the essential reason

Then you need to ask yourself HOW I could get that:
-          This is called "successive approximation": starting from a general idea and  
-          Go all the way down again to discover any other ways to satisfy this primary desire, see all your options and
-          As you go down … you will discover many options... compare between them, and choose the most suitable ones and work on them by asking more HOWs
-          As you go down further and further, you will fill in the details more and more

So, whatever you want to do –especially for big decisions- you need to step back and just keep asking yourself WHY all the way up and then HOW all the way down and you will discover what you really need/want to do much easier and quicker     

2-2-6 working with yourself: ChooSe!

The act of making a decision = ignoring all the other options and choosing the most suitable, right option to do

Notice that:
-          We don't have 100% of info the decide which is better than which, we just act in the light of info we get and our brains fill the gaps from past experiences

-          Our brains are actually pretty good at comparing. So if you find yourself confused between 2 or more choices, they are pretty much the same
So what to choose then? Go for the fun choice, the new, the adventurous, go for what is cool to do, what you think it will give you the better experience/ quality in life

-          Don't waste time in choosing, set a deadline and stick to it

-          Indecision is suffering, and like I said: good choices are pretty clear, if you can't choose the best option; believe me they are the same
And if you choose and it turned out to be the worse choice, that would be better than just standing in the same place not knowing what to do/choose

-          Doing/deciding verbally and out loud: "I am deciding to do X" is actually very good strategy to force your mind to stop being confused and actually start putting goals and moving toward the next step  

2-2 working with yourself: Tip, A practice of Priming

How to use priming to make yourself read faster? And be aware I am not talking about reading poets or novels; I am talking about reading as in learning, studying, searching for something. There are two ways:

1-       Purpose setting;
-          Define clearly why you are opening that book in the first place
-          Set your mind that you are not going to read all the pages
2-     Previewing
-          Prepare yourself to look only for what you need
-           Skip what you already know, don't waste time

-          Use the index to go for what you need. Indexes are made for that 

2-2-5 working with yourself: Priming

We are surrounded by distractions all the time. If we keep paying attention to all colors, sounds, movements around us, our brains will just breakdown. Our brains cannot just handle all these info at once

So our brains filter out what we don't have to pay attention to and just pay attention to what is important right now. For example:

-          We don't pay attention to the cars in the streets unless we want to cross it
-          I am concentrating on writing right now, I didn't notice that my phone vibrates twice although it is right next to me
This gift is so profound in our minds that we do it efficiently all the time unconscious and unaware of it
This psychological phenomenon is called Priming:

"Our minds prioritize things it has to pay attention at the present moment, then it shifts the attention to something else when needed"

The magnificent thing is we can learn to do it consciously and on purpose. You will find it very beneficial in lots of ways:
-          It will save you a lot of time reading stuff, focusing….etc.
-          It will make you more able to multitasking, quickly shifting attention without being distracted
-          It will help you arrange your priorities more quickly and efficiently
And the technique is easy…. You have just to pre-program your mind before doing any task:

Think and concentrate on the purpose (the clear, specific) goal of what you are going to do before you actually go and do it. And with time you will be more focused and efficient in what you do 

2-2-4 working with yourself: The state-of-being

Some of the goals are not exactly "goals" according to the 4 characteristics we sated about a valid goal. They better be called: 
"State Of Being" or "Quality Of Life" decisions 
-          For example
-          I want to be happy
-          I want to feel calm and energetic
-          I want to stop doing …..
The main reasons you shouldn't treat them as goals are:

1-     They are not specific
-          You can achieve them one day and the next day you don't feel happy or anything …… that would be very frustrating if you treated it as a goal
2-     Some of them are not positive, not immediate
-          Most of the time moving away from something is a big thing, you need to make a big structural change, defuse that first before you can set a positive, specific goal to move toward it

So, states-of-being are more like a decision criteria to have a "Quality of Experience" than a definitive specific goal