Apr 03, 2018
Apr 03, 2018
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Jeremy Heimans, cofounder of Purpose and Avaaz, and Henry Timms, director of the 92nd Street Y in New York—offer a framework for organizations seeking Jeremy Heimans, cofounder of Purpose and Avaaz, and Henry Timms, director of the 92nd Street Y in New York—offer a framework for organizations seeking to effectively use the two distinct forces of “old power” and “new power.” Old power, the authors argue, works like a currency. It is held by few and is zero-sum. Once gained, it is jealously guarded, and the powerful have a substantial store of it to spend. It is closed, inaccessible, and leader-driven. It downloads, and it captures.
The future will be a battle over mobilization. The everyday people, leaders, and organizations who flourish will be those best able to channel the participatory energy of those around them—for the good, for the bad, and for the trivial.
New power operates differently, like a current. It is made by many. It is open, participatory, and peer-driven. Like water or electricity, it’s most forceful when it surges. The goal with new power is not to hoard it but to channel it.
New power actors differ from old power players along two dimensions: the models they use to accumulate and exercise power and the values they embrace. Some enterprises, like Facebook, have new power models but don’t seem to embrace the values; others, like Patagonia, have new power values but wield their influence using traditional old power models.
The book is about how to navigate and thrive in a world defined by the battle and balancing of two big forces : The old power and new power.
New Power is the deployment of mass participation and peer coordination to create change and shift outcomes.
People have always wanted to take part in the world. Throughout history, movements have surged, people have organized collectively, communities have built collaborative structures to create culture and conduct commerce. There has always been a dialectic between bottom-up and top-down, between hierarchies and networks.
Thanks to today’s ubiquitous connectivity, we can come together and organize ourselves in ways that are geographically boundless and highly distributed and with unprecedented velocity and reach. This hyperconnectedness has given birth to new models and mindsets that are shaping our age, as we’ll see in the pages ahead. That’s the “new” in new power.”
New vs Old power models
New power models are enabled by the activity of the crowd—without whom these models are just empty vessels. In contrast, old power models are enabled by what people or organizations own, know, or control that nobody else does—once old power models lose that, they lose their advantage.
Old power models ask of us only that we comply (pay your taxes, do your homework) or consume. New power models demand and allow for more: that we share ideas, create new content (as on YouTube) or assets (as on Etsy), even shape a community (think of the sprawling digital movements resisting the Trump presidency).
“The skills in question are often misunderstood as the ability to self-promote on Facebook or as Snapchat for Dummies. But new power is about much more than just new tools and technologies.”
Think of Facebook, the new power platform that most of us know best. For all those likes and smiley faces we create using what the company calls our “power to share,” the two billion users of Facebook get no share of the vast economic value created by the platform. Nor any say in how it is governed. And not a peek into the algorithm that has been proven to shape our moods, our self-esteem, and even some elections. Far from the organic free-roaming paradise the early internet pioneers imagined, there is a growing sense that we are living in a world of participation farms, where a small number of big platforms have fenced, and harvest for their own gain, the daily activities of billions.
Competition vs. collaboration
New power models, at their best, reinforce the human instinct to cooperate (rather than compete) by rewarding those who share their own assets or ideas, spread those of others, or build on existing ideas to make them better. Many new power models such as Airbnb are driven by the accumulated verdict of the community. They rely on reputation systems that ensure that, say, rude or messy guests on the platform have trouble finding their next places to stay.
In contrast, those with old power values celebrate the virtues of being a great (and sometimes ruthless) competitor, defined by your victories. Dividing the world into winners and losers, this mindset considers success a zero-sum equation. It is the classic thinking behind much of corporate life and essential to the culture of sales teams in almost every industry.
The Ice Bucket Challenge
The Ice Bucket Challenge—love it or hate it—was a phenomenon that tells us something important about our era. By unpacking how and why this campaign went so big, we can learn a lot about how ideas—good, bad, and ugly—spread in a new power world.
The Ice Bucket Challenge worked not because it was a perfect piece of content, like Nike’s “Just Do It” slogan, but because it created a compelling context to seed activity by people all around the world. It was a blueprint for action dropped into the fast-moving current of ideas and information, ready to be taken in countless directions, in countless forms.
ACE stands for the three design principles key to making an idea spread in a new power world:
Actionable—The idea is designed to make you do something—something more than just admire, remember, and consume. It has a call to action at its heart, beginning with sharing, but often going much further.
Connected—The idea promotes a peer connection with people you care about or share values with. Connected ideas bring you closer to other people and make you (feel) part of a like-minded community. This sets off a network effect that spreads the idea further.
Extensible—The idea can be easily customized, remixed, and shaped by the participant. It is structured with a common stem that encourages its communities to alter and extend it.
“An ACE idea: An idea designed so that the crowd will take hold of it and spread it. It is actionable because it is designed to make a user do something, connected because it makes a user feel part of a like-minded community, and extensible because it is structured with a common stem that encourages its communities to alter and extend it.”
Harnessing the three storms
Successful movements often build up off the backs of storms—galvanizing moments of human drama and urgency that can be hard to predict but that provide great energy. Sometimes storms happen and the movement works to embrace them, even if at first they seem like setbacks. Sometimes, a movement sees a storm out in the world and chases it. At other times, a movement creates a storm out of thin air.
Many old power organizations will take days just to cobble together a press release. But organizations now need to be set up to move faster, to soak up the energy in a moment and turn that into new supporters. Byzantine bureaucracies requiring multiple sign-offs aren’t the right tools for storm chasing.
BUILDING A NEW POWER TEAM
The shapeshifter (vs. the disrupter)
The shapeshifter is a new power change agent in old power garb, a figure with unimpeachable institutional credibility who smooths the path to change and sets an example for the timid or resistant to follow. The shapeshifter figure will likely not be the person who executes day-to-day the big structural changes that make transitions happen, but will be the spiritual and symbolic figure who, steeped in tradition, is ideally placed to guide the institution toward a new identity and a new relationship with its communities.
Contrast the shapeshifter with a much more familiar modern figure in organizations, the disrupter.
Leading an old power organization through transition isn’t about “breaking shit.” It requires a tricky blend of tradition and innovation, past and future. Those efforts need shapeshifters who can show—by example—how to get the best of both worlds.
The bridge (vs. the digital beard)
More than one old power organization has found itself with a “chief innovation officer” or “director of strategic initiatives” parachuted in by a CEO desperate to uncover some magical revenue line, or to serve as public evidence that her leadership really is engaging with the new world. But despite good intentions, these people often end up as “digital beards,” providing cover for a risk-averse leader and an unchanging strategy, and relegated to the margins of power and influence within the organization. They are often a small department paid to think about the future, resented by the rest of the organization for not doing what is considered “real work.” They cut ribbons at openings for 3D printing labs but in reality are often siloed and underfunded.
“Bridge: A new power change agent who can meaningfully connect with the new power world, making the practical “jumps” between old and new power. A bridge’s work is structural. A digital beard is often mistaken for a bridge, but actually provides cover for a risk-averse organization and resides on the margins of influence.”
Instead of the “beard,” what organizations really need is a “bridge,” that person who can meaningfully connect his organization to the new power world, making the practical “jumps” between old and new power.
The solution seeker (vs. the problem solver)
Any team “taking the turn” needs to build a squad of solution seekers. These are the people, typically drawn from the main body of staff, who will become the experimenters and allies of new power initiatives. Investing in this group—and recruiting for it—is key, not just in creating new value for an enterprise, but as a political force.
In old power organizations, all of our resources, training, recognition, and rewards are geared to problem solving. Shifting them is hard work.
The super-participant (vs. the stakeholder)
No new power team would be complete, of course, without those people who create huge value in the community: the super-participants. These are the most engaged and active people in your wider crowd—AFOLs like Robin Sather, who set up the Vancouver Lego club, and Bruce Cragin, the semi-retired telecommunications engineer who out-thought a group of the best-resourced rocket scientists in the world. Though his idea was the most celebrated, he was just one of many super-participants who contributed valuable thinking to NASA’s efforts.
One of the dangers of transitioning to new power is in seeing the crowd as a distant, amorphous asset—a blurry mass of occasional opportunity. But crowds cannot be approached in the same way that organizations often treat such “stakeholders” as civil society or investors: as external actors who must be managed (and sometimes tolerated) alongside the pursuit of the activities that “really” matter. In contrast, super-participants always participate, and they create value by doing so.
The Crowd Leader (top right) combines a new power leadership model with a commitment to, and articulation of, new power values. The Crowd Leader wants to do more than channel the power of her crowd; she wants to make her crowd more powerful.
The Cheerleader (bottom right) champions new power values like collaboration, transparency, and participation, but leads in an old power way. He either isn’t able or doesn’t want to genuinely distribute power.
The Castle (bottom left) pairs old power values with an old power leadership model—this is the traditional hierarchical and authority-based model of leadership most of us grew up with, and which is widespread in sectors like the military, business, and education.
The Co-opter (top left) deploys a crowd and skillfully uses new power tools and tactics—but does so in the service of old power values, and to concentrate power for himself. ...more
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Jun 13, 2021
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The Book You Were Born to Write is a guide to writing a full-length transformational nonfiction book by the editor and author Kelly Notaras. After two The Book You Were Born to Write is a guide to writing a full-length transformational nonfiction book by the editor and author Kelly Notaras. After two decades working as a book editor—editing many of today’s biggest personal growth and spirituality authors—Kelly Notaras saw that her clients and readers had important questions about the transformational book writing journey. The Book You Were Born to Write is her answer!
Within the transformational nonfiction genre, the vast majority of books fall into one of three common subcategories.
The first is prescriptive nonfiction, which is a book that teaches the reader a helpful methodology the author has learned or developed.
The second is inspirational memoir, in which the author relates her own life story—often a story of triumph over adversity—for both the entertainment and the benefit of the reader.
Teaching memoir, which uses the author’s own story to illustrate lessons that will help the reader in his life.
Writing makes you feel like a rock star a lot of the time. It’s a huge boost to energy, self-esteem, and creativity. (As opposed to thinking about writing, which is a total resource drain.) Writing a book is a dream for so many people.
Getting a book out into the world is rarely a straight line. It’s a hero’s journey, full of twists and turns, dead ends, and unexpected doorways.
In the Internet age, personality has become the primary draw. Especially in the realm of transformational nonfiction, the marketing game is set up so we feel like we’re not fans of an author but in fact friends with them. Getting an e-mail every week, or sometimes every single day, from an author—reading their words, which seem to be directed straight at us and, if they’re a good match, hit us square in the middle of the heart—we feel like we know them. When their book is published, we not only want to own it, we also want to support our friend’s success!
A book proposal
A book proposal is a document written about your book, kind of like a business plan is about a business. A business plan is written to clarify the founder’s intentions and, in many cases, to generate funding; a book proposal has a similar function. It’s meant to help you get a commitment from a publisher so you know your book has a home before you write it.
An outline is essentially a written plan for your book, listing each piece of information you want to include, point by point, in its proper order.
When it comes to fiction or memoir, this outline tells an overt story. When we’re working with transformational nonfiction, the outline highlights each idea you will be including and in what chapter it will appear. Outlines come in different shapes and sizes, some skinnier (just bullet points) and some more fleshed out (with topic sentences already written).
The Why-What-Wow of Titling Your Book
If you want your book to be actually read, by actual human beings, in a wide and ongoing way, the most important thing you can do is title it well.
The “what” answers the question, “What is this book about?”
The “why” answers the question, “Why should I read it?” and
The “wow” is that extra added something that catches our attention and conveys the book’s uniqueness.”
Writing Practice – a regularly scheduled time when you practice writing. This doesn’t mean you have to write perfectly or craft something that will actually go into your book someday. The only commitment is that you sit down to do it, at your scheduled time, whether or not you feel like it. This willingness to do the thing, at the specified time, even if you don’t feel like it, is the defining characteristic of a practice. It’s the same diligence you apply to a yoga practice, or a meditation practice, or even an exercise regimen.
Seven Steps to a Personalized Writing Plan
Step #1: Take out a sheet of paper and your favorite pen or marker.
Step #2: Give yourself an inspiring headline.
Step #3: Take an honest look at your weekly calendar.
Step #4: Chart your plan for the week.
Step 5: Place your writing chart somewhere you will see and use it.
Step 6: Adjust your commitment as you go.
Step 7: Start again next week!
The writing plan is all about consistency over quantity. Write every day, even just a little bit. If you complete your plan three weeks in a row—the length of time they say it takes to create a new habit—you may find yourself shocked by how much content you generated.
CRAFT YOUR HOOK
Craft a one- or two-sentence encapsulation of the topic. In the parlance of traditional publishing, that encapsulation is called a hook. And true to its name, the point of this little nugget of information is to catch the reader’s attention—to hook them, like an unsuspecting mackerel—so they can’t walk out of the bookstore without your book under their arm.
The hook for a book might also be called its “concept,” “premise,” or “conceit.” In the film industry, it’s sometimes referred to as an elevator pitch—because ideally you can transmit the “big idea” of your film in the time it would take you and an influential producer to travel in an elevator from one floor to the next.
There are five basic qualities to try to bake into your book’s hook even before you start writing. What you should aim for is a hook that is high-concept, narrowly tailored, unique, magnetic, and salable.
JUST START WRITING
Where a visual artist creates art that is a feast for the eyes, a writer of books weaves worlds that unfold in the imagination. Every word has an impact; every phrase either ushers the reader closer to the author’s meaning or holds him at arm’s length. In this way the act of sitting down to write is the act of crafting, like an artisan, the seed of a new world.
Writing anything—good or bad, brilliant or sh*tty—is better than not writing at all. For a writer, a day when pen touches page is a successful day. Writing comes before all other pleasures—if only because very little else is pleasurable until one has done one’s daily writing.
Handle your Resistance
Resistance is any false obstacle, known or unknown, that is standing between you and writing your book.
As anyone who’s studied depth psychology and shadow work can tell you, there is a reason for every counterproductive behavior we have—including resisting doing the exact thing we most want to do. Usually it’s a very good reason. Often it’s our attempt to avoid a replay of painful feelings we experienced in childhood. When it comes to writing, we might be trying to avoid feelings like shame or humiliation or the fear of being seen. Pretty rotten emotions that no sane person would sign up for.
Resistance is not the enemy; it’s deeply a part of you. Trust it, honor it, and learn to love it. Good writing can’t help but follow.
Copyediting happens when the book is still in manuscript form; it is the last phase of editing before the book is set into type. Done well, its impact is invisible to the end reader. Done poorly—or left out altogether—its absence is felt by everyone. Copyediting is an extremely important phase in the life cycle of a traditionally published book.
Proofreading (or “proofing,” for short) takes place once the book has been set into type. Typeset pages are referred to as proofs, and they are read for errors. (The term “proofreading” is thus a refreshing example of truth in advertising.) Proofing is also invisible to the reader—unless it hasn’t happened.
Front matter and back matter.
Front matter is all the material that comes before page one of your book’s content. This includes things like the title page, copyright page, table of contents, and foreword.
Back matter, as you can likely deduce, is everything that comes after the last page of the book’s main content. Appendixes, indexes, reading group guides, acknowledgments, author bio, and sometimes (especially in genre fiction) advertisements for other books.
As important as your book is, the journey of writing is where the treasure lies. It’s no coincidence that birthing metaphors abound in the book business; writing a book is in many ways a similar creative process to having a child. Your book will take time to gestate. There may be some scares along the way. And labor pains are to be expected as the book emerges from your heart, mind, and spirit and makes its way into the world. Each of these stages is meant to teach you something. Something about yourself, about your readers, and about your purpose in this lifetime.
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“Although you can’t change the person with BPD, you can change yourself. By examining your own behavior and modifying your actions, you can get off th “Although you can’t change the person with BPD, you can change yourself. By examining your own behavior and modifying your actions, you can get off the emotional roller coaster and reclaim your life.”
Mayo Clinic defines personality disorders:
A personality disorder is a type of mental disorder in which you have a rigid and unhealthy pattern of thinking, functioning and behaving. A person with a personality disorder has trouble perceiving and relating to situations and people. This causes significant problems and limitations in relationships, social activities, work and school.
People with BPD often perceive other people as either the wicked witch or fairy godmother, a saint or a demon. When you seem to be meeting their needs, they cast you in the role of superhero. But when they perceive that you’ve failed them, you become the villain.
“Because people with BPD have a hard time integrating a person’s good and bad traits, their current opinion of someone is often based on their last interaction with them—like someone who lacks a short-term memory.“
People with BPD may dissociate to different degrees to escape from painful feelings or situations. The more stressful the situation, the more likely it is that the person will dissociate. In extreme cases, people with BPD may even lose all contact with reality for a brief period of time. If the borderline in your life reports memories of shared situations quite differently from you, dissociation may be one possible explanation.
Borderlines may need to feel in control of other people because they feel so out of control with themselves. In addition, they may be trying to make their own world more predictable and manageable. People with BPD may unconsciously try to control others by putting them in no-win situations, creating chaos that no one else can figure out, or accusing others of trying to control them.
Feelings create facts
In general, emotionally healthy people base their feelings on facts. People with BPD, however, may do the opposite. When their feelings don’t fit the facts, they may unconsciously revise the facts to fit their feelings. This may be one reason why their perception of events is different from yours.
Projection is denying one’s own unpleasant traits, behaviors, or feelings by attributing them—often in an accusing way—to someone else.
Tools for taking back control of your life
Tool 1: Take good care of yourself: obtaining support and finding community, detaching with love, getting a handle on your emotions, improving self-esteem, mindfulness, laughter, and wellness.
Tool 2: Uncover what keeps you feeling stuck: owning your choices; helping others without rescuing; and handling fear, obligation, and guilt.
Tool 3: Communicate to be heard: putting safety first, handling rage, active listening, nonverbal communication, defusing anger and criticism, validation and empathetic acknowledging.
Tool 4: Set limits with love: boundary issues, “sponging” and “mirroring,” preparing for discussions, persisting for change, and the DEAR (Describe, Express, Assert, and Reinforce) technique.
Tool 5: Reinforce the right behaviors: the effects of intermittent reinforcement.
What You Can Do – Change yourself
There is nothing wrong with wanting to change the person with BPD in your life. You may be right: he might be a lot happier and your relationship might improve if he sought help for BPD. But in order for you to get off the emotional roller coaster, you will have to give up the fantasy that you can or should change someone else. When you let go of this belief, you will be able to claim the power that is truly yours: the power to change yourself.
Consider a lighthouse. It stands on the shore with its beckoning light, guiding ships safely into the harbor. The lighthouse can’t uproot itself, wade out into the water, grab the ship by the stern, and say, “Listen, you fool! If you stay on this path, you may break up on the rocks!
No, the ship has some responsibility for its own destiny. It can choose to be guided by the lighthouse. Or it can go its own way. The lighthouse is not responsible for the ship’s decisions. All it can do is be the best lighthouse it knows how to be.
Focus on your own issues
Some people find that trying to change someone else is easier than changing themselves and that focusing on the problems of others helps them avoid their own problems.
“Allow people to be who they are instead of what you want them to be. Send healthy support messages like, “I’m here if you need me, but your choices—and the consequences—belong to you.”
Take responsibility for your own behaviour
You may feel like a crumpled newspaper in a tornado, buffeted about at the whim of the person in your life with BPD. But you have more control over the relationship than you probably think you do. You have power over your own actions. And you control your own reactions to troublesome BPD behavior. Once you understand yourself and the decisions you’ve made in the past, it is easier to make new decisions that may be healthier for you and the relationship in the long run.
Memorize the three Cs and the three Gs:
I didn’t cause it.
I can’t control it.
I can’t cure it.
get off the BP’s back.
get out of the BP’s way.
get on with your own life.
Healthy limits are somewhat flexible, like a soft piece of plastic. You can bend them, and they don’t break. When your limits are overly flexible, however, violations and intrusions can occur. You may take on the feelings and responsibilities of others and lose sight of your own.
Determine your Personal limits
Boundaries without consequences is nagging.
Personal limits, or boundaries, tell you where you end and where others begin. Limits define who you are, what you believe, how you treat other people, and how you let them treat you. Like the shell of an egg, limits give you form and protect you. Like the rules of a game, they bring order to your life and help you make decisions that benefit you.
“Setting and enforcing boundaries is not selfish. It is normal and necessary. Some non-BPs label their behavior “selfish” when they are simply watching out for themselves.”
Stages of Grief
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, author of Death: The Final Stage of Growth (1975), outlined five stages of grief, which are appropriate for people who care about someone with BPD.
Non-BPs make excuses for the BPs’ behavior or refuse to believe that their behavior is unusual. The more isolated the non-BP, the greater the chances they will be in denial. This is because without outside input, non-BPs lose their sense of perspective about what is normal. People with BPD can be skillful at convincing others that their behavior is the non-BP’s fault. This keeps non-BPs in a continual state of denial.
Some non-BPs respond to angry attacks by fighting back. This is like adding gasoline to a fire. Other non-BPs maintain that anger is an inappropriate response to borderline behavior. Some say, “You wouldn’t get mad at someone for having diabetes—why would you be angry when they have BPD?”
Feelings don’t have IQs. They just are. Sadness, anger, guilt, confusion, hostility, annoyance, frustration—all are normal, and to be expected by people faced with borderline behavior. This is true no matter what your relationship is to the person with BPD. This doesn’t mean that you should respond to the BP with anger. But it does mean that you need a safe place to vent your emotions and feel accepted, not judged.
This stage is characterized by the non-BP making concessions in order to bring back the “normal” behavior of the person they love. The thinking goes, “If I do what this person wants, I will get what I need in this relationship.” We all make compromises in relationships. But the sacrifices that people make to satisfy the borderlines they care about can be very costly. And the concessions may never be enough. Before long, more proof of love is needed and another bargain must be struck.
Depression sets in when non-BPs realize the true cost of the bargains they’ve made: loss of friends, family, self-respect, and hobbies. The person with BPD hasn’t changed. But the non-BP has.
Acceptance comes when non-BPs integrate the “good” and “bad” aspects of the borderlines they care about and realize that the BPs are not one or the other, but both. Non-BPs in this stage have learned to accept responsibility for their own choices and hold other people accountable for their choices as well. Each can then make their own decisions about the relationship with a clearer understanding of themselves and the person with BPD.
Making decisions about your relationship
People who care about someone with BPD are usually in a great deal of pain. Staying in the relationship as it is seems unbearable. But leaving seems unthinkable or impossible.
People who love someone with BPD seem to go through similar stages. The longer the relationship has lasted, the longer each stage seems to take. Although these are listed in the general order in which people go through them, most people move back and forth among different stages.
This generally occurs before a diagnosis of BPD is known. Non-BPs struggle to understand why borderlines sometimes behave in ways that seem to make no sense. They look for solutions that seem elusive, blame themselves, or resign themselves to living in chaos.
In this stage, non-borderlines:
turn their attention toward the person with the disorder
urge the BP to seek professional help, attempting to get him or her to change
try their best not to trigger problematic behavior
learn all they can about BPD in an effort to understand and empathize with the person they care about
BPs often suppress their anger and instead experience depression, hopelessness, and guilt.
The chief tasks for non-BPs in this stage include:
acknowledging and dealing with their own emotions
letting BPs take responsibility for their own actions
giving up the fantasy that BPs will behave as the non-BPs would like them to
Eventually, non-BPs look inward and conduct an honest appraisal of themselves. It takes two people to have a relationship, and the goal for non-BPs in this stage is to better understand their role in making the relationship what it now is. The objective here is not self-recrimination but insight and self-discovery.
Armed with knowledge and insight, non-BPs struggle to make decisions about the relationship. This stage can often take months or years. Non-BPs in this stage need to clearly understand their own values, beliefs, expectations, and assumptions.
In this final stage, non-BPs implement their decisions and live with them. Depending upon the type of relationship, some non-BPs may, over time, change their minds many times and try different alternatives.
“As an adult, when the relationship causes too much pain and your relative is unwilling to change, you have the option to temporarily or permanently step away.”
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In order to move through the stages from Caretaker to self-care, you need to know what you think, how you feel, what you want, and how you want to liv In order to move through the stages from Caretaker to self-care, you need to know what you think, how you feel, what you want, and how you want to live your life.
Marriage and Family Therapist Margalis Fjelstad profers strategies for dealing and living with people with Borderline or Narcissist Personality Disorders. In Stop Caretaking the Borderline or Narcissist: How to End the Drama and Get On with Life, Margalis shares tools for breaking the cycle of drama and ways for developing a new path of personal freedom, discovery, and self-awareness.
The book looks at how someone can move from being a caring person to being a Caretaker and the effects of that role. Factors that contribute to these more extreme reactions, how they impact your life as a Caretaker, how Caretakers are set up for failure, how to get out of the Caretaker role, and how to become that loving, caring person you want to be.
Being in a relationship with a borderline/narcissist can be intoxicating, full of spontaneity, exciting, and thrilling. You may feel deeply needed and super important to him or her. At the same time, this life is all about them and none about you. You may have even lost sight of who you are and what you want, and your own interests, feelings, and needs. You may have even lost friends and family connections because of the borderline/narcissist.
A healthy relationship is one that nurtures and reflects both partners. It fulfills the needs of both people—and it attends to the goals and interests and desires of both people. It is not always on high alert. Decisions in healthy relationships are made calmly after a discussion of both people’s needs and wants and people follow through with what they say they are going to do. A healthy relationship gives you energy, helps you feel relaxed, and makes you feel wanted and comfortable just the way you already are.
Personality is considered to be the pattern of behaviors, motivations, thoughts, ways of speaking, sense of self, individual quirkiness, and so on that is unique to a specific person.
Because of a biological sensitivity to emotional stress, some people do not process information about the world in such an orderly fashion. They tend to have a “highly sensitive” emotional system that reacts instantaneously and intensely to their experiences. They do not adjust to change very well or very quickly.
BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER (BPD)
BPD is described by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed.) (DSM-IV) as a “pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image and affects or moods, and marked impulsivity, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts.
NARCISSISTIC PERSONALITY DISORDER (NPD)
Narcissists are people with two different self-esteems. There is a false sense of self (i.e., a pretend self that is extremely positive and desirable) and the hidden real self underneath the facade that is fearful and anxious.
HOW BORDERLINES AND NARCISSISTS ARE ALIKE AND DIFFERENT
Despite the differences in these two external personality patterns, borderlines and narcissists share a similar internal sense of low self-esteem, fear, anxiety,paranoia, and deep emotional pain from a sense of “not feeling good enough.” Both will also go to extremes to protect their emotional vulnerability.
Most important, both use many of the same defense mechanisms: blaming, projection, devaluing, idealization, splitting, denial, distortion, rationalization, and passive-aggressiveness. Narcissists also use omnipotence, whereas borderlines will use acting out. Sometimes these defense mechanisms can reach delusional or psychotic levels.
People who become Caretakers for a BP/NP also seem to have a certain set of personality traits. These traits do not constitute a “personality disorder.” In fact, they can be highly valued and useful to relationships and families, at work, and socially, especially when they are at moderate levels. They include a desire to do a good job, enjoyment in pleasing others, a desire to care for others, peacemaking, a gentle and mild temperament, and calm and reasonable behaviors.
What is common to all Caretakers, however, is a high level of needing to care for others, a willingness to let go of any and all of your own needs, an amazing adaptability, great skill in soothing and calming other people, a lot of internal guilt, high levels of responsibility, and a great dislike of conflict.
Splitting is a defense mechanism that divides the world—all events, people, and feelings—into either good or bad. In order to feel okay, BP/NPs work hard to keep hold of all the good feelings. They identify with the good feelings. Whenever they have bad feelings, BP/NPs become intensely frightened and fear being overwhelmed by them. So BP/NPs place all the blame and responsibility for those bad feelings on someone/something outside themselves as a way to get rid of those feelings. The BP/NP needs the Caretaker to carry these bad feelings and be responsible for them.
THE DRAMA TRIANGLE
Stephen Karpman designed the Drama Triangle to outline the way these dysfunctional relationship patterns fit into actual roles. The roles of persecutor, rescuer, and victim appear consistently in drama-dominated, unequal relationships and keep those relationships from maturing and functioning in a healthy, happy, relaxed way. The borderline, narcissist, and Caretaker typically get locked into these three rigid and self-rewarding/self-punishing roles as their only choices.
The persecutor has the attitude of “It’s all your fault.” This role includes blaming, criticizing, anger, rigid demands, rules, and expectations, all aimed at the victim.
The victim carries the stance of “Poor me.” The person in this role feels hopeless, powerless, overwhelmed, and helpless. The victim refuses to make decisions, take action, or solve problems and remains clueless to what is happening and how to fix it. Thus, the victim never has to take responsibility for anything.
The rescuer has the job to “help,” whether he or she actually wants to or not. It is a demand, fueled by external and internal guilt, that almost “forces” you to take care of protecting anyone who acts like a victim.
Caretaking vs CoDependency
Codependency seems to be a more pervasive set of personality traits that are applied in every aspect of a person’s life, including at work, in friendships, at school, in parenting, and in intimate relationships. Codependent behaviors could be described quite similarly to those that Caretakers use. However, most Caretakers take on this role almost exclusively inside the family and primarily only with the borderline or narcissist.
Often Caretakers are very independent, good decision makers, competent, and capable on their own when not in a relationship with a borderline or narcissist. It is almost as if the Caretaker lives in two different worlds with two different sets of behaviors, rules, and expectations, one set with the BP/NP and another with everyone else. You may even hide your caretaking behaviors from others and try to protect other family members from taking on caretaking behavior, much like child abuse victims try to protect siblings from being abused.
FOG – Fear, Obligation and Guilt
The Caretaker role is created by a combination of highly sympathetic and parasympathetic responses, a personality guided primarily by a particular combination of feelings (fear, obligation, and guilt) as well as random and calculated reinforcement by the BP/NP, and a chaotic environment that needs organization to function to meet the basic physical and financial needs of the family.
A delusion is a strongly and adamantly held belief that has no basis in fact or is even contrary to fact. BP/NPs use a lot of internally created, delusional explanations for how they came to feel so terrible. To them, their feelings are the actual truth of reality despite any facts to the contrary. If they feel a certain way, BP/NPs will assume that someone or something outside of themselves made them feel that way.
You hang onto the delusional belief that if you could just find the “right way” to explain things, then the BP/NP would see things clearly and the relationship could be healed. Actually, BP/NPs seem to have a random mix of logical and illogical thoughts, which can lead you to think that you have reason for hope. The truth is that the BP/NP is unable to consistently respond logically. You may find it hard to believe that this ability just comes and goes in a random manner. However, that is exactly the reality of dealing with a BP/NP. So when you get so caught up trying to be logical, you are trapping yourself in the Caretaker role.
Enmeshment results when you and the BP/NP merge into one, and it is exemplified by behaviors such as talking for each other, assuming that both of you think the same about everything, expecting to react or feel exactly the same in a situation, lack of privacy, assuming that everything that belongs to one belongs to the other, and always using “we” instead of “I” (e.g., “we think” and “we feel”). Enmeshment happens to some extent in most long-term relationships, but it is extreme in the relationship with the BP/NP.
Caretaker Involvement Levels
Self-defeating Caretakers consistently select relationships that are rejecting and humiliating.
If you are a self-defeating Caretaker, you may find yourself drawn over and over to situations and relationships where you find yourself disappointed, mistreated, unappreciated, or humiliated. Perhaps you consistently get into relationships where you are made fun of, your partner cheats on you, or your partner is already married, keeps breaking up with you, or tells you that he or she doesn’t love you or doesn’t find you attractive. Yet you continue to pursue the relationship.
At this level, you find joy in giving to others. You like making others feel happy. You often surprise others with thoughtful gifts and doing favors. However, you may find it uncomfortable and a little embarrassing when others do the same for you. You don’t know how to accept thanks, or you may brush off gratitude or blush when others are appreciative. It may take you quite awhile before you notice that your needs, wants, and feelings are not paid much attention by the BP/NP. He or she doesn’t seem to notice when you are tired or need a kind word or a neck rub like you would do for him or her. You may begin to feel that you are being taken for granted and unappreciated.
In the middle of the continuum are the Caretakers who may never have been a Caretaker in other relationships. You may find yourself stuck in the relationship with the BP/NP because you are a good-hearted person, caring, understanding, and rather confused by the strange behavior of the BP/NP. You have a strong tendency to feel sorry for the borderline’s pain or lured into the excitement and fun that the narcissist offers early in the relationship.
Self-protecting Caretakers have learned to step away from the drama with the BP/NP. You set limits and refuse to interact with the BP/NP when he or she is being manipulative and demanding. By thinking ahead, you plan your interactions with the BP/NP to avoid falling into the persecutor/victim/rescuer game. You work consistently to be aware of your own thoughts, needs, and beliefs in order to maintain a separate sense of yourself. However, all of this awareness takes a lot of planning and energy.
People who fall into this category may still be afraid of falling into the Caretaker role and adamantly refuse to give into that behavior. You may have been stuck in the Drama Triangle with a BP/NP in the past, been forced into a Caretaker role as a child, or gotten out of a disastrous relationship with a BP/NP and have some fear of being pulled back into the role of Caretaker. Cutoff behavior does not denote noncaretaking. This is still a reaction to being vulnerable and fearful of being pulled back into the Caretaker role. You may find that you know you don’t want to be a Caretaker but also be anxious that the BP/NP or others could use guilt, pity, or manipulation to force you back into that role.
A true noncaretaker very rarely gets caught into the drama games of the BP/NP. Noncaretakers do not feel a need to protect, save, feel sorry for, or understand the borderline. They do not feel extra special, dazzled, or even interested in the over-the-top attention and self-importance that the narcissist displays. Instead, noncaretakers see the BP/NP as strange, odd, and annoying. The noncaretaker’s typical reaction is to move away from interacting with the BP/NP because the usual give-and-take and the normal boundaries of a healthy relationship are constantly being breached. This is uncomfortable and irritating for a noncaretaker who picks up very quickly that the interaction is not relaxed, comfortable, or rewarding.
ACCEPTING THE FACTS
The BP/NP is mentally ill and will not get better in the foreseeable future. This is a fact that is denied by the BP/NP (he or she thinks that you are the crazy person), and you have colluded in this distortion. You have to give up your hope and fantasy that, with your help and direction and giving in and putting up with all that goes on, the BP/NP will somehow get better. As long as you stay in the Caretaker role, you are reinforcing the insane, dysfunctional behavior of the BP/NP. These are facts that you must come to see and accept.
Yale communication model.
If you want to talk clearly about something that is bothering you, a good process to follow is the Yale communication model. Use it first with yourself to clarify what you actually feel and want. Then try it with your children. It works extremely well with kids. Then move on to using it with friends and at work. When you feel competent in its use, try it with the BP/NP:
“1. When ____________ happens – “ statement of an observable fact”
2. I feel ____________“clearly state your own feelings about the event”.
3. I would like ____________What do you want?
4. Or I will need to ___________“ I will need to ”
Very little gets changed with a BP/NP by talking. BP/NPs are masters of denial and delusion. They jump instantaneously from topic to topic, they are emotional rather than logical, and they usually forget any discussion that has been emotionally intense. Making changes in the relationship with a BP/NP requires taking new actions, not making agreements or coming to an understanding.
THIS IS YOUR JOURNEY ALONE
Caretakers continually search for ways to change the BP/NP. You may have read self-help books, talked to friends, learned new communication skills, and even gone to therapy to figure out how to bring out the good person that you believe is inside the BP/NP. You may have had high hopes for the BP/NP. You may have nearly exhausted yourself trying to improve your relationship with the BP/NP, but searching for solutions to the BP/NP’s problem does not work and cannot continue if you are to get healthy.
Right now, you have to decide to go on this healing journey for yourself and for yourself alone. Always trying to help someone else is just a way you keep from facing reality and making changes in your own life. You came into this life alone, and you will leave it at your own time. The life you are living is yours—alone. It is your job to make your life what you want it to be. It is not your job to make someone else’s life what you want it to be.
YOU HAVE CONTROL ONLY OVER YOURSELF
Here is another uncomfortable truth: you have no control over anyone or anything else other than yourself. This may cause you to grumble or doubt. As a Caretaker, you have probably spent enormous amounts of time and energy trying to control the BP/NP’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in order to make things better, but has it ever really worked? Sometimes it may have seemed to work, but I’ll bet that was really the result of the random nature of the universe and that the changes didn’t last.
YOU CAN CHANGE ONLY TWO THINGS
There are exactly two categories of things that you have the full power to change: your behavior and your thoughts. Most clients I work with really want to change the behaviors, beliefs, or feelings of someone else. However, these things are impossible to change because you do not have direct control over any of them.
“If you can’t control something, you can’t directly change it. If you are not directly changing something, then you are manipulating or trying to coerce the change.”
Get into Therapy
Caretakers are usually missing some very important experiences that are necessary to become a healthy person. If you are a child of a BP/NP as well as a spouse, you may not have a clear idea of what you don’t know.
Just being in a long-term relationship with a BP/NP means that you have missed out on a lot of validation, your social skills may have deteriorated, you may be confused from being blamed for everything by the BP/NP, your expectations of others may be too much or too little, you may be battling depression, or you may have anxiety that doesn’t respond to typical treatment. Over time, Caretakers become easily manipulated and confused about reality, fantasy, and delusion. You may have become highly self-critical, and your self-care and self-respect may need support.
DON’T TAKE ANYTHING PERSONALLY
“It is important when dealing with the BP/NP to not take anything that he or she says or does personally. The BP/NP is very prone to blaming you for everything he or she thinks, feels, and does, and you need to come to terms with the fact that the BP/NP is not a reliable person to identify reality. About 90 percent of the time, whatever the BP/NP says about you is a much more reliable statement about him or her. This is called projection.
It is not selfish to take care of yourself. Putting yourself first may be very hard for you, and you may not have many ideas about how to take care of yourself. When you have spent so long focused on the BP/NP, it can be a challenge to move your attention to yourself. You may not feel deserving of taking care of yourself, or you may not have many self-care skills. You may not think you have the time to care for yourself, or you may not know what feels good to you.
“Changing from being a Caretaker can be like the metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly. When you break out of your old skin and take the risk of flyi ...more
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Models are opinions embedded in mathematics.
Algorithms control almost everything we do on the internet, from Google search, Netflix movie recommendati Models are opinions embedded in mathematics.
Algorithms control almost everything we do on the internet, from Google search, Netflix movie recommendations, our Facebook news feed, Job applications, etc. Algorithms are mathematical models used to solve a set of problems or to perform computational instructions. American Mathematician and Author Cathy O’Neil write about the impact of big data algorithms on increasing preexisting inequality in the world. In Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy, she calls these algorithms Weapons of Math Destruction.
WMDs, are mathematical models or algorithms that claim to quantify important traits: teacher quality, recidivism risk, creditworthiness but have harmful outcomes and often reinforce inequality, keeping the poor poorer and the rich richer.
Cathy defines algorithms as opinions embedded in code. These algorithms are being weaponized, and she argues that the algorithms are becoming more Widespread, Mysterious, and Destructive. She sights examples of how the WMDs are being used in various fields such as teacher assessment, predictive policing, insurance, the justice system, microtargeting politics, money lending, and how the algorithm decisions can lead to increasing inequality, reinforcing racism, and harming the poor.
Models are opinions embedded in mathematics.
According to Cathy, these mathematical models share key features: they are opaque (black box), unregulated, difficult to contest, a questionable definition of success, and Pernicious Feedback loops, The scalability of these algorithms amplifies any inherent biases to affect increasingly larger populations.
Ill-conceived mathematical models now micromanage the economy, from advertising to prisons. They’re opaque, unquestioned, and unaccountable, and they operate at a scale to sort, target, or “optimize” millions of people. By confusing their findings with on-the-ground reality, most of them create pernicious WMD feedback loops.
Verdicts from WMDs land like dictates from the algorithmic gods. The model itself is a black box, its contents a fiercely guarded corporate secret. If the people being evaluated are kept in the dark, the thinking goes, they’ll be less likely to attempt to game the system. Instead, they’ll simply have to work hard, follow the rules, and pray that the model registers and appreciates their efforts. But if the details are hidden, it’s also harder to question the score or to protest against it.
You cannot appeal to a WMD. That’s part of their fearsome power. They do not listen. Nor do they bend. They’re deaf not only to charm, threats, and cajoling but also to logic—even when there is good reason to question the data that feeds their conclusions.
The three elements of a WMD: Opacity, Scale, and Damage.
Data scientists all too often lose sight of the folks on the receiving end of the transaction. They certainly understand that a data-crunching program is bound to misinterpret people a certain percentage of the time, putting them in the wrong groups and denying them a job or a chance at their dream house. But as a rule, the people running the WMDs don’t dwell on those errors.
Their feedback is money, which is also their incentive. Their systems are engineered to gobble up more data and fine-tune their analytics so that more money will pour in. Investors, of course, feast on these returns and shower WMD companies with more money.
A model, after all, is nothing more than an abstract representation of some process, be it a baseball game, an oil company’s supply chain, a foreign government’s actions, or a movie theater’s attendance. Whether it’s running in a computer program or in our head, the model takes what we know and uses it to predict responses in various situations. All of us carry thousands of models in our heads. They tell us what to expect, and they guide our decisions.
A model’s blind spots reflect the judgments and priorities of its creators. While the choices in Google Maps and avionics software appear cut and dried, others are far more problematic.
Racism, at the individual level, can be seen as a predictive model whirring away in billions of human minds around the world. It is built from faulty, incomplete, or generalized data. Whether it comes from experience or hearsay, the data indicates that certain types of people have behaved badly. That generates a binary prediction that all people of that race will behave that same way.
Consequently, racism is the most slovenly of predictive models. It is powered by haphazard data gathering and spurious correlations, reinforced by institutional inequities, and polluted by confirmation bias. In this way, oddly enough, racism operates like many of the WMDs.
We are ranked, categorized, and scored in hundreds of models, on the basis of our revealed preferences and patterns.
Propaganda Machine – Online Advertising
Anywhere you find the combination of great need and ignorance, you’ll likely see predatory ads. If people are anxious about their sex lives, predatory advertisers will promise them Viagra or Cialis, or even penis extensions. If they are short of money, offers will pour in for high-interest payday loans. If their computer is acting sludgy, it might be a virus inserted by a predatory advertiser, who will then offer to fix it.
When it comes to WMDs, predatory ads practically define the genre. They zero in on the most desperate among us at enormous scale.
In education, they promise what’s usually a false road to prosperity, while also calculating how to maximize the dollars they draw from each prospect. Their operations cause immense and nefarious feedback loops and leave their customers buried under mountains of debt. And the targets have little idea how they were scammed, because the campaigns are opaque. They just pop up on the computer, and later call on the phone. The victims rarely learn how they were chosen or how the recruiters came to know so much about them.
The poorest 40 percent of the US population is in desperate straits. Many industrial jobs have disappeared, either replaced by technology or shipped overseas. Unions have lost their punch. The top 20 percent of the population controls 89 percent of the wealth in the country, and the bottom 40 percent controls none of it. Their assets are negative: the average household in this enormous and struggling underclass has a net debt of $14,800, much of it in extortionate credit card accounts. What these people need is money. And the key to earning more money, they hear again and again, is education.
Along come the for-profit colleges with their highly refined WMDs to target and fleece the population most in need. They sell them the promise of an education and a tantalizing glimpse of upward mobility—while plunging them deeper into debt. They take advantage of the pressing need in poor households, along with their ignorance and their aspirations, then they exploit it. And they do this at great scale. This leads to hopelessness and despair, along with skepticism about the value of education more broadly, and it exacerbates our country’s vast wealth gap.
As insurance companies learn more about us, they’ll be able to pinpoint those who appear to be the riskiest customers and then either drive their rates to the stratosphere or, where legal, deny them coverage. This is a far cry from insurance’s original purpose, which is to help society balance its risk. In a targeted world, we no longer pay the average. Instead, we’re saddled with anticipated costs. Instead of smoothing out life’s bumps, insurance companies will demand payment for those bumps in advance. This undermines the point of insurance, and the hits will fall especially hard on those who can least afford them. ...more
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“A codependent person is one who has let another person’s behavior affect him or her, and who is obsessed with controlling that person’s behavior.”
Aut “A codependent person is one who has let another person’s behavior affect him or her, and who is obsessed with controlling that person’s behavior.”
Author Melody Beattie has survived abandonment, kidnapping, sexual abuse, drug and alcohol addiction, divorce, and the death of a child. In Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself, Melody writes about codependent relationships. She shares life stories, personal reflections, exercises, self-tests, and strategies for dealing with codependency.
The surest way to make ourselves crazy is to get involved in other people’s business, and the quickest way to become sane and happy is to tend to our own affairs.
In an article from the book Co-Dependency, An Emerging Issue, Robert Subby wrote codependency is “an emotional, psychological, and behavioral condition that develops as a result of an individual’s prolonged exposure to, and practice of, a set of oppressive rules—rules which prevent the open expression of feeling as well as the direct discussion of personal and interpersonal problems.”
“A codependent person is one who has let another person’s behavior affect him or her, and who is obsessed with controlling that person’s behavior.”
The other person might be a child, an adult, a lover, a spouse, a brother, a sister, a grandparent, a parent, a client, or a best friend. He or she could be an alcoholic, a drug addict, a mentally or physically ill person, a normal person who occasionally has sad feelings.
Codependents are Reactionaries.
They overreact. They under-react. But rarely do they act. They react to the problems, pains, lives, and behaviors of others. They react to their own problems, pains, and behaviors. Many codependent reactions are reactions to stress and uncertainty of living or growing up with alcoholism and other problems. It is normal to react to stress. It is not necessarily abnormal, but it is heroic and life-saving to learn how to not react and to act in more healthy ways. Most of us, however, need help to learn to do that.
Codependents may: think and feel responsible for other people—for other people’s feelings, thoughts, actions, choices, wants, needs, well-being, lack of well-being, and ultimate destiny.
Codependents tend to: get angry, defensive, self-righteous, and indignant when others blame and criticize the codependents—something codependents regularly do to themselves.
Many codependents: push their thoughts and feelings out of their awareness because of fear and guilt.
Codependents tend to: feel terribly anxious about problems and people.
Many codependents: become afraid to let other people be who they are and allow events to happen naturally.
Codependents tend to: ignore problems or pretend they aren’t happening.
An estimated 80 million people are chemically dependent or in a relationship with someone who is.
Most codependents are attached to the people and problems in their environments. Attachment is becoming overly-involved, sometimes hopelessly entangled.
Attachment can take several forms:
We may become excessively worried about, and preoccupied with, a problem or person (our mental energy is attached).
Or, we may graduate to becoming obsessed with and controlling of the people and problems in our environment (our mental, physical, and emotional energy is directed at the object of our obsession).
We may become reactionaries, instead of acting authentically of our own volition (our mental, emotional, and physical energy is attached).
We may become emotionally dependent on the people around us (now we’re really attached).
We may become caretakers (rescuers, enablers) to the people around us (firmly attaching ourselves to their need for us).
Worrying and obsessing keep us so tangled in our heads we can’t solve our problems. Whenever we become attached in these ways to someone or something, we become detached from ourselves. We lose touch with ourselves. We forfeit our power and ability to think, feel, act, and take care of ourselves. We lose control.
If people have created some disasters for themselves, we allow them to face their own proverbial music. We allow people to be who they are.
What is Detachment?
Detachment is releasing, or detaching from, a person or problem in love. We mentally, emotionally, and sometimes physically disengage ourselves from unhealthy (and frequently painful) entanglements with another person’s life and responsibilities, and from problems we cannot solve.
Detachment is based on the premises that each person is responsible for himself, that we can’t solve problems that aren’t ours to solve, and that worrying doesn’t help.
Detaching does not mean we don’t care. It means we learn to love, care, and be involved without going crazy. We stop creating all this chaos in our minds and environments. When we are not anxiously and compulsively thrashing about, we become able to make good decisions about how to love people, and how to solve our problems. We become free to care and to love in ways that help others and don’t hurt ourselves.
The rewards from detachment are great: serenity; a deep sense of peace; the ability to give and receive love in self-enhancing, energizing ways; and the freedom to find real solutions to our problems.
We cannot change people
We cannot change people. Any attempts to control them are a delusion as well as an illusion. People will either resist our efforts or redouble their efforts to prove we can’t control them. They may temporarily adapt to our demands, but the moment we turn our backs they will return to their natural state. Furthermore, people will punish us for making them do something they don’t want to do, or be something they don’t want to be.
The Karpman Drama Triangle
The Karpman drama triangle is a social model of human interaction proposed by Stephen B. Karpman. The triangle maps a type of destructive interaction that can occur among people in conflict.
Rescuing and Caretaking
We rescue people from their responsibilities. We take care of people’s responsibilities for them. Later we get mad at them for what we’ve done. Then we feel used and sorry for ourselves. That is the pattern, the triangle.
Caretaking doesn’t help; it causes problems. When we take care of people and do things we don’t want to do, we ignore personal needs, wants, and feelings. We put ourselves aside. Sometimes, we get so busy taking care of people that we put our entire lives on hold.
Rescuing leaves us bewildered and befuddled every time. It’s a self-destructive reaction, another way codependents attach themselves to people and become detached from themselves. It’s another way we attempt to control, but instead become controlled by people. Caretaking is an unhealthy parent-child relationship—sometimes between two consenting adults, sometimes between an adult and a child.
Caretaking breeds anger. Caretakers become angry parents, angry friends, angry lovers. We may become unsatisfied, frustrated, and confused Christians. The people we help either are or they become helpless, angry victims. Caretakers become victims.
“Undependence” is a term Penelope Russianoff uses in her book to describe that desirable balance wherein we acknowledge and meet our healthy, natural needs for people and love, yet we don’t become overly or harmfully dependent on them.
“Knowing we can live without someone does not mean we have to live without that person, but it may free us to love and live in ways that work.”
Self-care is an attitude toward ourselves and our lives that says, I am responsible for myself. I am responsible for leading or not living my life. I am responsible for tending to my spiritual, emotional, physical, and financial well-being. Self-care is an attitude of mutual respect. It means learning to live our lives responsibly. It means allowing others to live their lives as they choose, as long as they don’t interfere with our decisions to live as we choose.
THE FROG SYNDROME
There is an anecdote circulating through codependency groups. It goes like this: “Did you hear about the woman who kissed a frog? She was hoping it would turn into a prince. It didn’t. She turned into a frog, too.
Many codependents like to kiss frogs. We see so much good in them. Some of us even become chronically attracted to frogs after kissing enough of them. Alcoholics and people with other compulsive disorders are attractive people. They radiate power, energy, and charm. They promise the world. Never mind that they deliver pain, suffering, and anguish. The words they say sound so good.
If we don’t deal with our codependent characteristics, probabilities dictate we will continue to be attracted to and kiss frogs. Even if we deal with our characteristics, we may still lean toward frogs, but we can learn not to jump into the pond with them. ...more
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In The Big Nine: How the Tech Titans and Their Thinking Machines Could Warp Humanity, American Futurist and Author Amy Webb writes about the broken na In The Big Nine: How the Tech Titans and Their Thinking Machines Could Warp Humanity, American Futurist and Author Amy Webb writes about the broken nature of artificial intelligence and how powerful corporations she calls the Big Nine; are turning the human-machine relationship on its head. According to Amy, the Big Nine corporation includes 6 American corporations and 3 Chinese companies. The American portion (G-MAFIA - Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, IBM, and Apple) and the Chinese portion (BAT - Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent).
The American G-MAFIA companies are beholden to the whims of Wall Street, and they have a transactional relationship with the American Government. In contrast, the Chinese BAT companies are controlled by the Chinese Government and the demands of the Chinese Communist Party. At the center of all these is the consumer whose data is mined and refined to build the future of Artificial Intelligence.
The Big Nine companies may be after the same noble goals—cracking the code of machine intelligence to build systems capable of humanlike thought—but the eventual outcome of that work could irrevocably harm humanity.
Favourite Takeaways – The Big Nine by Amy Webb.
The AI Revolution
Artificial intelligence is already here, but it didn’t show up as we all expected. It is the quiet backbone of our financial systems, the power grid, and the retail supply chain. It is the invisible infrastructure that directs us through traffic, finds the right meaning in our mistyped words, and determines what we should buy, watch, listen to, and read. It is technology upon which our future is being built because it intersects with every aspect of our lives: health and medicine, housing, agriculture, transportation, sports, and even love, sex, and death.
“AI isn’t a tech trend, a buzzword, or a temporary distraction—it is the third era of computing. We are in the midst of significant transformation, not unlike the generation who lived through the Industrial Revolution.“
Contrasting AI Worldview – USA vs China
In the US, relentless market demands and unrealistic expectations for new products and services have made long-term planning impossible. We expect Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, and IBM to make bold new AI product announcements at their annual conferences, as though R&D breakthroughs can be scheduled. If these companies don’t present us with shinier products than the previous year, we talk about them as if they’re failures. Or we question whether AI is over. Or we question their leadership. Not once have we given these companies a few years to hunker down and work without requiring them to dazzle us at regular intervals.
The US government has no grand strategy for AI nor for our longer-term futures.
Rather than treating AI as an opportunity for new job creation and growth, American lawmakers see only widespread technological unemployment. In turn they blame US tech giants, when they could invite these companies to participate in the uppermost levels of strategic planning (such as it exists) within the government. Our AI pioneers have no choice but to constantly compete with each other for a trusted, direct connection with you, me, our schools, our hospitals, our cities, and our businesses.
Instead of funding basic research into AI, the US government has effectively outsourced R&D to the commercial sector and the whims of Wall Street.
China AI Strategy
Meanwhile, in China, AI’s developmental track is tethered to the grand ambitions of government. China is quickly laying the groundwork to become the world’s unchallenged AI hegemon. In July 2017, the Chinese government unveiled its Next Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Plan to become the global leader in AI by the year 2030 with a domestic industry worth at least $150 billion, which involved devoting part of its sovereign wealth fund to new labs and startups, as well as new schools launching specifically to train China’s next generation of AI talent.
In October of that same year, China’s President Xi Jinping explained his plans for AI and big data during a detailed speech to thousands of party officials. AI, he said, would help China transition into one of the most advanced economies in the world. Already, China’s economy is 30 times larger than it was just three decades ago. Baidu, Tencent, and Alibaba may be publicly traded giants, but typical of all large Chinese companies, they must bend to the will of Beijing.
China’s AI push is part of a coordinated attempt to create a new world order led by President Xi, while market forces and consumerism are the primary drivers in America. This dichotomy is a serious blind spot for us all.
America’s Tribes: The G-MAFIA
The US-based portion of the Big Nine—Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, IBM, and Apple—are inventive, innovative, and largely responsible for the biggest advancements in AI. They do function as a mafia in the purest (but not pejorative) sense: it’s a closed supernetwork of people with similar interests and backgrounds working within one field who have a controlling influence over our futures.
With the data you’re generating in the cloud, the G-MAFIA could theoretically tell if you’re secretly pregnant, if your employees think you’re incompetent, or if you’re grappling with a terminal illness—and the G-MAFIA’s AI would probably know all of that well before you do. The godlike view the G-MAFIA have into our lives is not necessarily bad. In fact, there are numerous ways that mining our personal data for insights could result in all of us living healthier, happier lives.
China’s Tribes: The BAT
Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent, collectively known as the BAT, are China’s side of the Big Nine. The AI tribe under the People’s Republic of China operates under different rules and rituals, which include significant government funding, oversight, and industrial policies designed to propel the BAT forward. Together, they are part of a well-capitalized, highly organized state-level AI plan for the future, one in which the government wields tremendous control. This is China’s space race, and we are its Sputnik to their Apollo mission. We might have gotten to orbit first, but China has put its sovereign wealth fund, education system, citizens, and national pride on the line in its pursuit of AI.
Facebook may have 2 billion monthly active users, but those users are spread out around the world. Tencent’s WeChat’s 1 billion active users are predominantly located in just one country. Baidu had 665 million mobile search users in 201737—more than double the estimated number of mobile users in the United States.3
Humanity is facing an existential crisis in a very literal sense, because no one is addressing a simple question that has been fundamental to AI since its very inception: What happens to society when we transfer power to a system built by a small group of people that is designed to make decisions for everyone? What happens when those decisions are biased toward market forces or an ambitious political party? The answer is reflected in the future opportunities we have, the ways in which we are denied access, the social conventions within our societies, the rules by which our economies operate, and even the way we relate to other people.
Every person alive today can play a critical role in the future of artificial intelligence. The decisions we make about AI now—even the seemingly small ones—will forever change the course of human history. As the machines awaken, we may realize that in spite of our hopes and altruistic ambitions, our AI systems turned out to be catastrophically bad for humanity.
The Big Nine aren’t the villains in this story. In fact, they are our best hope for the future.
The future of AI is being built by a relatively few like-minded people within small, insulated groups. But as with all insulated groups that work closely together, their unconscious biases and myopia tend to become new systems of belief and accepted behaviors over time. What might have in the past felt unusual—wrong, even—becomes normalized as everyday thinking. And that thinking is what’s being programmed into our machines.
Those working within AI belong to a tribe of sorts. They are people living and working in North America and in China. They attend the same universities. They adhere to a set of social rules. The tribes are overwhelmingly homogenous. They are affluent and highly educated. Their members are mostly male. Their leaders—executive officers, board members, senior managers—are, with few exceptions, all men. Homogeneity is also an issue in China, where tribe members are predominantly Chinese.
The problem with tribes is what makes them so powerful. In insular groups, cognitive biases become magnified and further entrenched, and they slip past awareness. Cognitive biases are a stand-in for rational thought, which slows our thinking down and takes more energy.
The more connected and established a tribe becomes, the more normal its groupthink and behavior seems.
The AI Systems
The Big Nine AI tribes are building:
Artificial narrow intelligence (ANI) systems, capable of performing a singular task at the same level or better than we humans can. Commercial ANI applications—and by extension, the tribe—are already making decisions for us in our email inboxes, when we search for things on the internet, when we take photos with our phones, as we drive our cars, and when we apply for credit cards or loans.
Artificial general intelligence (AGI) systems, which will perform broader cognitive tasks because they are machines that are designed to think like we do. But who, exactly, is the “we” these AI systems are being modeled on? Whose values, ideals, and worldviews are being taught. The short answer is not yours—and also not mine. Artificial intelligence has the mind of its tribe, prioritizing its creators’ values, ideals, and worldviews. But it is also starting to develop a mind of its own.
The Big Nine—China’s BAT (Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent) and America’s G-MAFIA (Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, IBM, and Apple)—are developing the tools and built environment that will power the future of artificial intelligence. They are members of the AI tribe, formed in universities where they inculcate shared ideas and goals, which become even more entrenched once graduates enter the workforce. The field of AI isn’t static. As artificial narrow intelligence evolves into artificial general intelligence, the Big Nine are developing new kinds of hardware systems and recruiting developers who get locked into their frameworks.
AI’s consumerism model in the United States isn’t inherently evil. Neither is China’s government-centralized model. AI itself isn’t necessarily harmful to society. However, the G-MAFIA are profit-driven, publicly traded companies that must answer to Wall Street, regardless of the altruistic intentions of their leaders and employees. In China, the BAT are beholden to the Chinese government, which has already decided what’s best for the Chinese. ...more
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Bitcoin is a groundbreaking digital technology with the potential to radically change the way we conduct banking and commerce, and to bri The Potential
Bitcoin is a groundbreaking digital technology with the potential to radically change the way we conduct banking and commerce, and to bring billions of people from the emerging markets into a modern, integrated, digitized, globalized economy. If it works—and that’s still a big if—an awful lot of things that today seem like part of the natural state of the world are going to look as antiquated as Gutenberg’s printing press.
By eliminating middlemen and their fees, cryptocurrency promises to reduce the costs of doing business and to mitigate corruption inside those intermediating institutions as well as from the politicians who are drawn into their prosperous orbit.
Distrupting the Banking System
The Cryptocurrency (Bitcoin) cuts away the middleman yet maintains an infrastructure that allows strangers to deal with each other. It does this by taking the all-important role of ledger-keeping away from centralized financial institutions and handing it to a network of autonomous computers, creating a decentralized system of trust that operates outside the control of any one institution.
Decentralized System of Trust
At their core, cryptocurrencies are built around the principle of a universal, inviolable ledger, one that is made fully public and is constantly being verified by these high-powered computers, each essentially acting independently of the others. In theory, that means we don’t need banks and other financial intermediaries to form bonds of trust on our behalf. The network-based ledger—which in the case of most cryptocurrencies is called a blockchain—works as a stand-in for the middlemen since it can just as effectively tell us whether the counterparty to a transaction is good for his or her money.
At its core, this technology is a form of social organization that promises to shift the control of money and information away from the powerful elites and deliver it to the people to whom it belongs, putting them back in charge of their assets and talents.
Satoshi Nakamoto – Creator of Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System
On November 1, 2008, a computer programmer going by the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto sent an email to a cryptography mailing list to announce that he had produced a “new electronic cash system that’s fully peer‐to‐peer, with no trusted third party.” He copied the abstract of the paper explaining the design, and a link to it online. In essence, Bitcoin offered a payment network with its own native currency and used a sophisticated method for members to verify all transactions without having to trust in any single member of the network. The currency was issued at a predetermined rate to reward the members who spent their processing power on verifying the transactions, thus providing a reward for their work. The startling thing about this invention was that, contrary to many other previous attempts at setting up a digital cash, it actually worked.
Nakamoto was the first to solve the double-spending problem for digital currency using a peer-to-peer network. Nakamoto was active in the development of bitcoin up until December 2010. Many people have claimed, or have been claimed, to be Nakamoto.
Aftermath of the 2008 Recession
At its core, cryptocurrency is not about the ups and downs of the digital currency market; it’s not even about a new unit of exchange to replace the dollar or the euro or the yen. It’s about freeing people from the tyranny of centralized trust. It speaks to the tantalizing prospect that we can take power away from the center—away from banks, governments, lawyers, and the tribal leaders of Afghanistan—and transfer it to the periphery, to We, the People.
While the wealth of hedge fund managers and other elites surged thanks to the relentless stock market gains after the financial crisis subsided in 2009, the incomes of most households in Western societies stagnated, creating the widest wealth gap since the Great Depression. It’s a story of big banks, big companies, and big homes for the 1 percent, with close to nothing left for the rest. That’s one of the features of our twenty-first-century economy, and it speaks to a trend of centralization, not decentralization.
Permissionless Blockchains – Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum
Permissioned Blockchains – Ripple, Eris, Hyperledger
At its core, bitcoin the technology refers to the system’s protocol, a common phrase in software terminology that describes a fundamental set of programming instructions that allow computers to communicate with each other. Bitcoin’s protocol is run over a network of computers that belong to the many people around the world that are charged with maintaining its core blockchain ledger and monetary system. It provides those computers with the operating instructions and information they need to keep track of and verify transactions among people operating within the bitcoin economy.
The system employs encryption, which lets users key in special passwords to send digital money directly to each other without revealing those passwords to any person or institution. Just as important, it lays out the steps that computers in the network must perform to reach a consensus on the validity of each transaction. Once that consensus has been reached, a payee knows that the payer has sufficient funds—that the payer isn’t sending counterfeit digital money.
“Trust is at the core of any system of money. For it to work, people must feel confident that a currency will be held in the right esteem by others.”
The Nixon Shock
America, hobbled by the cost of the Vietnam War and unable to compete with cheaper foreign producers, couldn’t bring in enough foreign currency with which to restock its gold reserves and so started to run out of them as countries such as France demanded that their dollars be redeemed for the precious metal.
Feeling trapped, President Richard Nixon took the stunning step on August 15, 1971, of taking the dollar off the gold peg. He did so with an executive order that was designed in consultation with just a handful of staffers from the Treasury, the Fed, and the White House.
Now that the dollar was no longer pegged to gold, banks could take their credit-creation business global, setting the stage for the globalization of the world economy. It also paved the way to the multinational megabanks that would become too big to fail … and all the problems these would create.
Bitcoin’s software is preprogrammed to generate a consistent amount of new bitcoins over a 130-year period, and that these are issued as rewards to computer owners known as miners for their work confirming transactions. Over time, as the generation of new bitcoins slows, the reward system will shift to one in which miners are compensated with modest transaction fees imposed on anyone making payments.
Altcoins (Litecoin, Dogecoin, GoCoin, Ethereum etc)
Altcoins, as they came to be known, would use the same or similar aspects of bitcoin’s system, all made possible because of bitcoin’s open-source protocol and its lack of an owner. Anybody can download the software, copy it, and build something new from it. Lawsuits for copyright or patent infringement are simply not a concern.
Some are dubious-looking projects, quite blatant pump-and-dump schemes. Some aren’t really competitors to bitcoin at all because they exist for the purpose of creating new forms of decentralized commerce through blockchain technology.
Challenges of Bitcoin
Remember, bitcoin functions very much like cash. Once it is sent, it is sent; there’s no way to get it back, no chargebacks like those that credit-card companies impose on merchants when they discover they’ve sold goods to someone with a stolen card. As with cash, if your bitcoins are stolen, that’s it. You can’t retrieve them—unless, of course, the thief is caught.
Another big concern is price volatility. Nobody wants to go to the grocery store week to week and see her bill change 10 percent or more just because the underlying bitcoin exchange rate is fluctuating. Until we live in a bitcoin-based economy, where the digital currency is the unit of account in which prices are quoted, this exchange-rate fluctuation will be unavoidable in everyday life for bitcoin-using payers and payees.
Enomormous Carbon Footprint
There’s no way to calculate the total energy used by the bitcoin mining network, but that hasn’t stopped some from trying. Back in April 2013, various press reports recounted that bitcoin was consuming 131,000 megawatt hours a day, at a daily cost of $19.7 million.
Months later, Guy Lane, an Australian environmental scientist, came up with his BitCarbon method for calculating the carbon footprint of bitcoin. Based on his assumption that a bitcoin miner will on average spend 90 percent of the value of the mined bitcoin on electricity, Lane calculated that a $1,000 bitcoin price would result in 8.2 million tons of carbon per year, about the size of Cyprus’s emissions, and that a $100,000 bitcoin price would produce 825 megatons annually, or the equivalent of Germany’s emissions.
If the bitcoin’s currency exchange rate ever got to $1 million, a number that some argue is feasible if bitcoin becomes a world-dominant payment system, its network would have a carbon footprint of 8.2 gigatons, or 20 percent of the planet’s carbon output.
If bitcoin becomes a world-dominant payment system, its network would have a carbon footprint of 8.2 gigatons or 20 percent of the planet’s carbon output.
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JOMO – The emotionally intelligent antidote to busy; intentionally choosing to live in the present moment by embracing open spaces of unrushed time.
“P JOMO – The emotionally intelligent antidote to busy; intentionally choosing to live in the present moment by embracing open spaces of unrushed time.
“PRODUCTIVITY IS NOT ABOUT doing more, IT’S DOING WHAT’S MOST IMPORTANT”
The LiveWELL Method
The liveWELL Method is a series of small, huge movements: easy to manage and simple to implement, yet monumental in the impact they make on your daily life. In its most basic form, the liveWELL Method will help you design a life centered around your priorities. The four-step process will help you customize systems and strategies and design them to work for you.
DISCOVERY: Because you are at the center—not the system—we begin by working together to discover your unique purpose and identify the priorities in your life. We will create a North Star to serve as your personal guide to help you make choices and begin to focus on what’s important.
CLARITY: Using what we discovered in step one, we will learn how to choose the projects and tasks that will have the most impact on your goals and priorities. We will create effective boundaries and learn an easy framework to help clarify what is important and what is not.
SIMPLICITY: Even while living a priority-centered life, you still have all those not-so-glamorous tasks to accomplish—from home chores to finances. We will work together to simplify these systems and design personalized processes to help both your work and home life run with less effort.
HARMONY: Now that we have discovered your purpose, clarified what’s important to you, and built a solid foundation of simplified systems to help things run smoothly, we will work to pull it all together and create harmony so you can begin living a life you love.
“When you are productive, you place your priorities at the front and center of each and every day. And when your priorities are the focus, you can finally enjoy the whitespace—you can allow yourself to slow down and embrace the calm.”
Why do we have these limiting beliefs, and where did they start? There is a point in our lives where we seem to go from confident to questioning—from being assertive and sure to hesitant and uncertain. For many of us, there’s a tiny little blip on our life maps, somewhere between elementary school and high school, where we lost our self-assurance in who we are.
Ask any kindergartner what they are good at, and you’ll need to sit through a laundry list of topics: art, running, painting, climbing trees, eating potato chips—seriously, five-year-olds think they are amazing at everything! But wait ten years and ask the very same child, and she’ll think of almost nothing; at best you’ll maybe hear one or two things she believes she excels in. What happens to us in this space of time? How do we lose our belief in ourselves? We’ve allowed the world to define us and reinforce these limiting beliefs, but it’s time to breakthrough.
We are all lucky enough to be on this earth for a finite amount of time—it’s up to us to maximize that time and live our lives to the fullest. Living a life with our priorities guiding us is the key to a happy life—a life that feels well lived.
Time, Energy and Focus
We all have three key resources available to share with the world—time, energy, and focus. Each of these elements, though, is a depleting commodity; once it’s invested, it’s gone forever. You cannot get it back. By far, these are the most valuable resources we have to give. But in an effort to make our buckets feel like they are somewhat even, we spread these resources out far and wide, making little to no impact. We end up stretching ourselves thin, exhausting ourselves.
When we get caught up in the idea of balance, we are busy trying to make everything even. We don’t concentrate our time, energy, and focus to move in the direction we really want to go. In chasing this illusion of balance, we end up creating a life that feels busy—not meaningful. We have to be willing to go out of balance. We need to be willing not to do everything. That’s the real magic.
Time doesn’t stop. It’s finite, and we have to treat it as such when it comes to our priorities and our vision of where we want to be. You have more time left in your life right now in this very minute than you will have an hour from now. There is not another point in your lifetime when you’ll have the luxury of the amount of time you have right this very second.
Locus of Control
When we gift ourselves with the ability to step back and choose, something powerful begins to happen. We strengthen our internal locus of control3. In other words, we remember we have the ability to influence our own destiny instead of allowing the current to push us wherever it wants.
People with a strong internal locus of control believe they have the freedom and ability to make their own choices and determine what happens to them. Because of that, they are significantly happier and more motivated. Psychologists have found that an “internal locus of control has been linked with academic success . . . higher self-motivation and social maturity . . . lower incidences of stress and depression . . . and longer life span. We want to strengthen our internal locus of control and begin to understand that we have choices.
Finding choices isn’t only possible, it’s essential to thrive. You just have to start actively looking for them—that’s a choice in and of itself.
Effective vs Efficient
Productivity isn’t about being efficient—it’s not about filling our day with tasks to quickly check off. It’s about being effective and asking yourself if those tasks need to be done at all. I want to remind you: productivity is not getting more done—it’s focusing on what matters most.
Unfortunately, when people focus on being efficient, the resource we target is time. We fail to realize that being efficient is about getting things done; being effective is getting what’s important done. There’s a big difference.
DOING, DREAMING, AND DEFINING
Our North Star is a combination of our mission, vision statement, and core values. Each one answers the question of who you are at your heart. The mission statement tells us what we are doing now, the vision statement tells of where we want to be, and the core values tell us how these can be defined through our actions. Like pieces of a puzzle, they come together to create the completed picture of why we make the choices we do. They become the North Star we need to guide us and help us navigate through decisions.
Important tasks are hard to define. The CLEAR framework helps you differentiate the important from the merely urgent:
Connected to your North Star
Linked to a goal
Connected to your North Star
“ASK YOURSELF: IS THIS CONNECTED TO MY NORTH STAR?”
Your North Star determines how you want to spend your time, energy, and focus—the three key commodities when it comes to productivity. It can also help clarify what’s important.
ASK YOURSELF: IS IT LINKED TO A GOAL?
“The big secret in life is that there is no big secret. Whatever your goal, you can get there if you’re willing to work.” – Oprah Winfrey
ASK YOURSELF: IS IT ESSENTIAL?
If you allow it, work will fill all your time 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Parkinson’s law applies to all of us regardless of fame or fortune.
“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.” – Warren Buffet
ASK YOURSELF: IS IT ADVANTAGEOUS?
We want to consistently work on tasks that have a return on investment—the time we put into them pays off in dividends down the road. Our time is a finite commodity that we are consistently investing in the tasks and chores we choose to do, so you need to question how you are spending this time.
ASK YOURSELF: IS IT REALITY-BASED?
Oftentimes we feel that something is important because we believe it’s something we are supposed to do—even if it’s not something we really want. These tasks are so deeply entwined with our stories and our need for perfection that we don’t even realize it. We feel tied to the obligation, and we lose sight of why we are even doing the task in the first place.
Systems are a key part of living the life we want, because while it’s important to spend time focused on priorities, we still have all the other tasks to do. There are the not-so-glamorous activities like home maintenance, managing finances, getting dinner on the table, and then there’s laundry.
“Strong systems harness the patterns of habits and make tasks happen automatically. ”
Systems make our lives easier. Doesn’t that sound like something we all want? But we have a tendency to overcomplicate tasks when really we just need to break them down into bite-size pieces that feel manageable and achievable.
“We lose time dreaming of a life we could have, when the one right in front of us could be even more beautiful and livable. We need to create systems that feel attainable and fit the lifestyle we really want—not the one we think we are supposed to want.” ...more
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The Five Components of the One Sentence Persuasion Course
Encourage their dreams
Justify their failures
Allay their fears
Confirm their suspicions
Help the The Five Components of the One Sentence Persuasion Course
Encourage their dreams
Justify their failures
Allay their fears
Confirm their suspicions
Help them throw rocks at their enemies
Hitler used them and nearly took over the world. Cult leaders Jim Jones, David Koresh, a Marshall Applewhite used them and commanded such loyalty that many of their followers willingly – even eagerly – died for them.
And yet, these five insights are not only tools for mad men, but for marketers, salesmen, seducers, evangelists, entertainers, etc. In short, they are the tools for anyone who must connect with others and, more importantly, make these connections pay off.
Encourage their dreams
Parents often discourage their children’s dreams for “their own good” and attempt to steer them toward more “reasonable” goals. And children often accept this as normal, until others come along who believe in them and encourage their dreams. When this happens, who do you think has more power? Parents? Or strangers?
Justify their failures
While millions cheer Dr. Phil as he tells people to accept responsibility for their mistakes, millions more are looking for someone to take the responsibility off their shoulders, to tell them that they are not responsible for their lot in life. And while accepting responsibility is essential for gaining control of ones own life, assuring others they are not responsible is essential for gaining influence over theirs. One need look no further than politics to see this powerful game played at its best.
Allay their fears
When we are afraid, it is almost impossible to concentrate on anything else. And while everyone “knows” this, what do we do when someone else is afraid and we need to get his or her attention? That’s right. We “tell” them not to be afraid and expect that to do the trick. Does it work? Hardly. And yet, we don’t seem to notice. We go on as if we’d solved the problem and the person before us fades further, and further, away. But there are those who do realize this and pay special attention to our fears. They do not tell us not to be afraid. Instead, they work with us until our fear subsides. They present evidence, they offer support, they tell us stories, but they do not tell us how to feel and expect us to feel that way. When you are afraid, which type of person do you prefer to be with?
Confirm their suspicions
There’s just nothing quite like having our suspicions confirmed. When another person confirms something that we suspect, we not only feel a surge of superiority, we feel attracted to the one who helped us make that surge come about. Hitler “confirmed” the suspicions of many Germans about the cause of their troubles and drew them further into his power by doing so. Cults often “confirm” the suspicions of perspective members by telling them that their families are out to sabotage them. It is a simple thing to confirm the suspicions of those who are desperate to believe them.
Help them throw rocks at their enemies
No matter what you may think of this, rest assured that people have enemies. All people. It has been said that everyone you meet is engaged in a great struggle. The thing they are struggling with is their enemy. Whether it is another individual, a group, an illness, a setback, a rival philosophy or religion, or what have you, when one is engaged in a struggle, one is looking for others to join him. Those who do become more than friends; they become partners.
When you focus on what you want, people will resist. That’s what people do. Politicians lie. The sun rises in the east, and people resist pressure. But one thing people rarely resist is someone trying to meet their needs. And when ones needs have been met, a bond is often forged and a natural desire to reciprocate has been created.
The Power of Persuasion
People willingly leave their families for cults that fulfill these needs for them. People pick up arms and kill others for those who meet their deepest needs. People leave long-term marriages and relationships for people they just met and their spouses are often left stunned. They wouldn’t be if they understood the power of these needs. Like it or not, the duration of our relationships is nothing compared to the depth of our relationships. And depth is based on the fulfillment of our deepest needs, not on the duration of dialog.
“All men are tempted. There is no man that lives that can’t be broken down, provided it is the right temptation put in the right spot.” – Henry Ward Beecher
Validate and Fascinate
Need for Validation
The point is, our need for validation is no joke. And it is not something we’re going to outgrow. It is something we must accept and adjust for. Or, pay an awful price for not doing so.
This need to be right often overtakes our desire to be well thought of, and even our desire to be treated well. This may help explain why some people are seemingly inexplicably drawn to people who treat them like crap. If we secretly feel unworthy, we will unconsciously be drawn to those who will confirm this “fact” for us, even though we will outwardly complain about it. We will dismiss people who try to praise us while fawning over those who denigrate us.
It isn’t that we enjoy feeling like crap. It’s that we enjoy feeling as if we have the world figured out.
Need for Fascination – Attention Capture or Mental Engagement.
“What holds attention determines action.” ~ William James”
Every moment of every day, we want to be engaged in something. It often doesn’t matter what it is as long as it can gain and maintain our attention. We seek entertainment, conversation, confrontation. We do crossword puzzles, work in the garden, listen to music. We cook, we clean, we rearrange. Even when we’re exhausted and want to relax, we simply engage in something else. We swim, we go to amusement parks and we meditate. All this in an effort to alleviate the one thing few people can endure: boredom.
The need for mental engagement is so fundamental that few give it much thought. But it’s always there, lurking just behind our awareness, looking for something to “lock onto.” This is why many of us are so easily distracted. Unless our current thoughts or activities are sufficiently engaging, the next best thing that comes along will pull us away. And since it’s through engagement that we experience and through experience that we are changed, those who engage us hold the keys to our hearts and minds, and from there, our actions. We do not see these people as manipulators. We see them as saviors.
No matter how unskilled or unpolished you may be, if you can capture and hold another person’s attention long enough, they will eventually fold to your command.
Correct and convince.
If we insist on correcting people before we convince them, we might as well accept the fact that we’re never likely to convince them of anything. In fact, the attempt to correct other people often makes their current ways of thinking even more entrenched.
Within a context of correction, nothing we say will be very convincing.
Sometimes, we may not be able to bring ourselves to encourage another’s dreams. Especially if we feel the dreams are particularly harmful to them. Or, are very unlikely to happen for them.
Sometimes we may need to encourage others to accept full responsibility for their actions. To do otherwise might promote irresponsible behavior.
Sometimes we cannot allay another’s fears because that person might be, in fact, justifiably afraid.
Sometimes we may not be able to confirm another’s suspicions because their suspicions are just plain wrong.
And finally, we may not be able to help them throw rocks at their enemies because they have misidentified the enemy.
Instead of validating the specific needs they’re trying to fulfill, we can address and validate the more universal needs and motives underlying them. For example, if we can’t encourage a specific dream a person may have, we can certainly acknowledge the importance of having such dreams, and then attempt to move them in a more positive direction.
If we can’t justify their failures, we can at least acknowledge that there are many contributing factors to any situation and then suggest that, right or wrong, sometimes the most effective way to get out of a situation is to act as if one is completely responsible for it.
If we can’t allay their fears, we can at least assure them that it is okay to be afraid. To tell someone who is already afraid that they shouldn’t be afraid only compounds the problem.
If we can’t confirm their suspicions, we can at least acknowledge the possibility of their suspicions being correct and let them know that we understand how they could have come to such a conclusion. Even if we don’t share that conclusion ourselves.
If we can’t help them throw rocks at their enemies, we can at least acknowledge the universal desire to seek revenge before we try to talk them out of it. ...more
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In Emotional Blackmail, Therapist and Best Selling Author Susan Forward, Ph.D., presents the anatomy of a relationship damaged by manipulation and giv In Emotional Blackmail, Therapist and Best Selling Author Susan Forward, Ph.D., presents the anatomy of a relationship damaged by manipulation and gives readers an arsenal of tools to fight back. Dr. Forward provides powerful, practical strategies for blackmail targets, including checklists, practice scenarios, and concrete communications techniques that will strengthen relationships and break the blackmail cycle for good.
They swathe us in a comforting intimacy when they get what they want, but they frequently wind up threatening us in order to get their way, or burying us under a load of guilt and self-reproach when they don’t. It may seem as though they map out ways to get what they want from us, but often they’re not even aware of what they’re doing. In fact, many can appear sweet or long-suffering and not threatening at all.
Generally, it’s one particular person—a partner, a parent, a sibling, a friend—who manipulates us so consistently that we seem to forget everything we know about being effective adults. Though we may be skilled and successful in other parts of our lives, with these people we feel bewildered, powerless. They’ve got us wrapped around their little fingers.
“Just because there’s emotional blackmail in a close relationship doesn’t mean it’s doomed. It simply means that we need to honestly acknowledge and correct the behavior that’s causing us pain, putting these relationships back on a more solid foundation.“
WHAT IS EMOTIONAL BLACKMAIL?
Emotional blackmail is a powerful form of manipulation in which people close to us threaten, either directly or indirectly, to punish us if we don’t do what they want.
“At the heart of any kind of blackmail is one basic threat, which can be expressed in many different ways: If you don’t behave the way I want you to, you will suffer”
Emotional blackmail hits closer to home. Emotional blackmailers know how much we value our relationship with them. They know our vulnerabilities. Often they know our deepest secrets. And no matter how much they care about us, when they fear they won’t get their way, they use this intimate knowledge to shape the threats that give them the payoff they want: our compliance
Fear, Obligation and Guilt (FOG)
One key reason is that our blackmailers make it nearly impossible to see how they’re manipulating us because they lay down a thick fog that obscures their actions. We’d fight back if we could, but they ensure that we literally can’t see what is happening to us. A metaphor for the confusion blackmailers creates in us and as a lens for burning it off.
FOG is a shorthand way of referring to Fear, Obligation and Guilt, the tools of the blackmailer’s trade. Blackmailers pump an engulfing FOG into their relationships, ensuring that we will feel afraid to cross them, obligated to give them their way and terribly guilty if we don’t.
Blackmailers can skillfully mask the pressure they’re applying to us, and often we experience it in ways that make us question our perception of what’s happening.
FOG is penetrating, disorienting, and it obscures everything but the pounding discomfort it produces. In the midst of FOG we’re desperate to know: How did I get into this? How do I get out? How do I make these difficult feelings stop?
Each of us brings into any relationship our own potent set of hot buttons—our stored-up resentments, regrets, insecurities, fears, angers. These are our soft spots, places that hurt when touched. Emotional blackmail can only operate when we let people know they’ve found our hot buttons and that we’ll jump when they push them.
Our compliance rewards the blackmailer, and every time we reward someone for a particular action, whether we realize it or not, we’re letting them know in the strongest possible terms that they can do it again.
The Price we pay
Many of the people who use emotional blackmail are friends, colleagues and family members with whom we have close ties that we want to preserve and strengthen. They may be people we love for the good times we’ve shared, the closeness we still occasionally manage to have and the histories we have in common. We may consider our relationships with them to be good, for the most part, but pulled off course by blackmail. It’s vital not to let the blackmail habit suck us—and everyone around us—into its vortex.
“When we live with emotional blackmail, it eats away at us and escalates until it puts our most important relationships and our whole sense of self-respect in jeopardy.
The six stages of emotional blackmail.
1: A demand
Manipulation becomes emotional blackmail when it is used repeatedly to coerce us into complying with the blackmailer’s demands, at the expense of our own wishes and well-being.
The Four Faces of Blackmail
“If you really loved me . . .”
“Don’t leave me or I’ll . . .”
“You’re the only one who can help me . . .”
“I could make things easy for you if you’d just . . .”
Punishers, who let us know exactly what they want—and the consequences we’ll face if we don’t give it to them—are the most glaring. They may express themselves aggressively, or they may smoulder in silence, but either way, the anger they feel when thwarted is always aimed directly at us.
Self-punishers, who occupy the second category, turn the threats inward, emphasizing what they’ll do to themselves if they don’t get their way.
Sufferers are talented blamers and guilt-peddlers who often make us figure out what they want, and always conclude that it is up to us to ensure that they get it.
Tantalizers put us through a series of tests and hold out a promise of something wonderful if we’ll just give them their way.
Blackmailers build their conscious and unconscious strategies on the information we give them about what we fear. They notice what we run away from, see what makes us nervous, observe when our bodies go rigid in response to something we’re experiencing. It’s not that they’re taking notes and actively filing them away for later use against us—we all absorb this knowledge about the people we’re close to. In emotional blackmail, fear works a transformation on the blackmailer, too
Fear moves us into black-and-white—even catastrophic—thinking.
We all come into our adult lives with well-established rules and values regarding how much of ourselves we owe to other people and how much of our behavior ought to be determined by such ideals as duty, obedience, loyalty, altruism and self-sacrifice. We all have deeply ingrained ideas about these values, and often we think they’re our own ideas, but actually they were shaped by the influence of our parents, our religious backgrounds, the prevailing beliefs of society, the media and the people we’re close to.
Most of us have a terrible time defining our boundaries, where our obligations to others begin and end. And when our sense of obligation is stronger than our sense of self-respect and self-caring, blackmailers quickly learn how to take advantage.
Guilt is an essential part of being a feeling, responsible person. It’s a tool of the conscience that, in its undistorted form, registers discomfort and self-reproach if we’ve done something to violate our personal or social code of ethics. Guilt helps to keep our moral compass working, and because it feels so painful, it dominates our attention until we do something to relieve it. To avoid guilt, we try to avoid doing harm to someone else.
Emotional blackmailers encourage us to take global responsibility for their complaints and unhappiness, doing all they can to reprogram the basic and necessary mechanisms of appropriate guilt into an undeserved-guilt production line where the lights continually flash guilty, guilty, guilty.
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May 08, 2021
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Africa Rise And Shine is the story of how Jim Ovia built Zenith Bank from a nascent business with $4 million in shareholders’ funds to an internationa Africa Rise And Shine is the story of how Jim Ovia built Zenith Bank from a nascent business with $4 million in shareholders’ funds to an internationally recognized brand and institution with more than $16 billion in assets despite a decaying infrastructure and periods of economic instability. Ovia wrote the book determined to redefine the gloom narrative about Africa and illustrate the real Africa behind the headlines. We are a total of our life experiences, and it is always exciting to read, learn and discover what makes highly successful people like Jim Ovia thick. Success leaves clues, and Jim Ovia's story leaves lots of very relatable clues.
The Africa of my birth and of my life experience is a continent of abundant human and natural resources, immense and diverse investment opportunities, and an economy that is primed for leapfrog strategies. Africa’s challenges may appear daunting to most, but to those with the right entrepreneurial vision, challenges always provide opportunities. Poor infrastructure? The entrepreneur sees that as a chance to leverage structural improvements as a core component of a burgeoning brand identity. Inadequate supply of electricity? The entrepreneur identifies such a deficiency as a blank slate on which a new electricity supply can be built.
In the course of Zenith Bank’s own journey to “rise and shine,” the business began as a single branch in Lagos on the ground floor of an improvised residential duplex that we shared with a private tenant and his wife. At the time, there were no high-rise office structures in the area, and we were not able to afford a stand-alone building of our own, so we created an impromptu commercial space where we could carry out the banking business. We put up our signage and logo, but truly it did not resemble an office or a bank at all. That unassuming duplex was the starting point for a business that became a London Stock Exchange-listed company with operations in the UK, China, UAE, Ghana, Gambia, Sierra Leone, with more than 400 branches and business offices in Nigeria. What lessons can the next generation of entrepreneurs learn from the meteoric rise of Zenith Bank?
1. Be very focused on and committed to what you do—cultivate your passion. If your motivation comes solely from financial profit, and not the heart, you cannot engage the passion that will take your business from good to great.
2. Have faith in yourself, and in the environment in which you operate. Remember that everyone around you is a potential part of your future network; build that network one person at a time.
3. Go with your gut, remember that your intuition is a powerful business tool, and always pay attention to what your instincts are telling you to do.
4. Strategize in brand-building to keep all avenues of growth in the future open. Begin locally, but with a view toward becoming global. Include the technology of tomorrow in your strategic planning of today. Without it, no business will survive and thrive in the future.
5. Be patient, and always display a positive attitude. Timing is key in all commercial enterprises. Demonstrate your own good character while strategizing to be ready for opportunity when it knocks.
6. Turn adversity to your advantage by making it an asset—a window of opportunity for change. Let adversity motivate you to become vested in your own local or business community, and to invest your time, money or resources in them.
7. Know Your Customer. Do the right thing always, and place value on integrity and honesty in yourself, your employees, and your customers. Always carry out proper due diligence, and expect the same from those with whom you do business. ...more
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Never before have so many people been so dissatisfied—or so preoccupied with chasing “happiness.” Our culture and media feed us Collective Unhappiness
Never before have so many people been so dissatisfied—or so preoccupied with chasing “happiness.” Our culture and media feed us images and concepts about who and what we should be, while holding up models of accomplishment and success. Fame, money, glamour, sex—in the end none of these things can satisfy us. We’ll simply seek more and more, a circuit that leads to frustration, disillusion, dissatisfaction, unhappiness, and exhaustion.
“Yesterday is but a dream. Tomorrow is only a vision. But today well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness, and every tomorrow a vision of hope.” – Kālidāsa, the great Sanskrit writer
Monkey vs Monk Mind
Our minds can either elevate us or pull us down. Today we all struggle with overthinking, procrastination, and anxiety as a result of indulging the monkey mind. The monkey mind switches aimlessly from thought to thought, challenge to challenge, without really solving anything. But we can elevate to the monk mindset by digging down to the root of what we want and creating actionable steps for growth. The monk mindset lifts us out of confusion and distraction and helps us find clarity, meaning, and direction.
“the monk way—we go to the root of things, go deep into self-examination. It is only through this curiosity, thought, effort, and revelation that we find our way to peace, calm, and purpose. ”
The Monk Mind
“Thinking like a monk” posits another way of viewing and approaching life. A way of rebellion, detachment, rediscovery, purpose, focus, discipline—and service. The goal of monk thinking is a life free of ego, envy, lust, anxiety, anger, bitterness, baggage. To my mind, adopting the monk mindset isn’t just possible—it’s necessary. We have no other choice. We need to find calm, stillness, and peace.
“When you get stressed—what changes? Your breath. When you get angry—what changes? Your breath. We experience every emotion with the change of the breath. When you learn to navigate and manage your breath, you can navigate any situation in life.”
Unconsciously, we’re all method acting to some degree. We have personas we play online, at work, with friends, and at home. These different personas have their benefits. They enable us to make the money that pays our bills, they help us function in a workplace where we don’t always feel comfortable, they let us maintain relationships with people we don’t really like but need to interact with. But often our identity has so many layers that we lose sight of the real us, if we ever knew who or what that was in the first place. We bring our work role home with us, and we take the role we play with our friends into our romantic life, without any conscious control or intention.
However successfully we play our roles, we end up feeling dissatisfied, depressed, unworthy, and unhappy. The “I” and “me,” small and vulnerable to begin with, get distorted. We try to live up to what we think others think of us, even at the expense of our values.
The voices of parents, friends, education, and media all crowd a young person’s mind, seeding beliefs and values. Society’s definition of a happy life is everybody’s and nobody’s. The only way to build a meaningful life is to filter out that noise and look within. This is the first step to building your monk mind.
Rarely, if ever, do we consciously, intentionally, create our own values. We make life choices using this twice-reflected image of who we might be, without really thinking it through. Cooley called this phenomenon the “Looking-Glass Self.” We live in a perception of a perception of ourselves, and we’ve lost our real selves as a result.
Negativity—in conversation, emotions, and actions—often springs from a threat to one of the three needs: a fear that bad things are going to happen (loss of peace), a fear of not being loved (loss of love), or a fear of being disrespected (loss of understanding).
From these fears stem all sorts of other emotions—feeling overwhelmed, insecure, hurt, competitive, needy, and so on. These negative feelings spring out of us as complaints, comparisons, and criticisms, and other negative behaviors. Think of the trolls who dive onto social media, dumping ill will on their targets. Perhaps their fear is that they aren’t respected, and they turn to trolling to feel significant. Or perhaps their political beliefs are generating the fear that their world is unsafe. (Or maybe they’re just trying to build a following—fear certainly doesn’t motivate every troll in the world.)
TYPES OF NEGATIVE PEOPLE
Negative behaviors surround us so constantly that we grow accustomed to them. Think about whether you have any of the following in your life:
Complainers, like the friend on the phone, who complain endlessly without looking for solutions. Life is a problem that will be hard if not impossible to solve.
Cancellers, who take a compliment and spin it: “You look good today” becomes “You mean I looked bad yesterday?
Casualties, who think the world is against them and blame their problems on others.
Critics, who judge others for either having a different opinion or not having one, for any choices they’ve made that are different from what the critic would have done.
Commanders, who realize their own limits but pressure others to succeed. They’ll say, “You never have time for me,” even though they’re busy as well.
Competitors, who compare themselves to others, controlling and manipulating to make themselves or their choices look better. They are in so much pain that they want to bring others down. Often we have to play down our successes around these people because we know they can’t appreciate them.
Controllers, who monitor and try to direct how their friends or partners spend time, and with whom, and what choices they make.
Austerity of Speech
The Bhagavad Gita refers to the austerity of speech, saying that we should only speak words that are truthful, beneficial to all, pleasing, and that don’t agitate the minds of others. The Vaca Sutta, from early Buddhist scriptures, offers similar wisdom, defining a well-spoken statement as one that is “spoken at the right time. It is spoken in truth. It is spoken affectionately. It is spoken beneficially. It is spoken with a mind of good-will.
“Our fears are more numerous than our dangers, and we suffer more in our imagination than reality.” – Seneca
When we track our fears back to their source, most of us find that they’re closely related to attachment—our need to own and control things. We hold on to ideas we have about ourselves, to the material possessions and standard of living that we think define us, to the relationships we want to be one thing even if they are clearly another. That is the monkey mind thinking.
Clinging to temporary things gives them power over us, and they become sources of pain and fear. But when we accept the temporary nature of everything in our lives, we can feel gratitude for the good fortune of getting to borrow them for a time. Even the most permanent of possessions, belonging to the most wealthy and powerful, don’t actually belong to them. This is just as true for the rest of us. And for many—indeed most—of us, that impermanence causes great fear. But, as I learned in the ashram, we can shift our fear to a soaring sense of freedom.
THE FOUR MOTIVATIONS
No matter how disorganized we might be, we all have plans. We have an idea of what we have to accomplish in the day ahead; we probably have a sense of what the year holds, or what we hope we’ll accomplish; and we all have dreams for the future. Something motivates every one of these notions—from needing to pay the rent to wanting to travel the world.
Hindu philosopher Bhaktivinoda Thakura describes four fundamental motivations.
Fear. Thakura describes this as being driven by “sickness, poverty, fear of hell or fear of death.
Desire. Seeking personal gratification through success, wealth, and pleasure.
Duty. Motivated by gratitude, responsibility, and the desire to do the right thing.
Love. Compelled by care for others and the urge to help them.
These four motivations drive everything we do. We make choices, for example, because we’re scared of losing our job, wanting to win the admiration of our friends, hoping to fulfill our parents’ expectations, or wanting to help others live a better life.
Everyone has a psychophysical nature that determines where they flourish and thrive. Dharma is using this natural inclination, the things you’re good at, your thrive mode, to serve others. You should feel the passion when the process is pleasing and your execution is skillful. And the response from others should be positive, showing that your passion has a purpose. This is the magic formula for dharma.
Passion + Expertise + Usefulness = Dharma.
Every morning make some time for:
Thankfulness. Express gratitude to someone, someplace, or something every day. This includes thinking about it, writing it, and sharing it.
Insight. Gain insight through reading the paper or a book, or listening to a podcast.
Meditation. Spend fifteen minutes alone, breathing, visualizing or with sound.
Exercise. You can do yoga as most monk do, but you can do some basic stretches or a workout.
As late Kobe Bryant told Jay Shetty on his podcast, On Purpose, having a routine is critical to his work.
“A lot of the time, creativity comes from structure. When you have those parameters and structure, then within that you can be creative. If you don’t have structure, you’re just aimlessly doing stuff.” Rules and routines ease our cognitive burden so we have bandwidth for creativity. Structure enhances spontaneity. And discovery reinvigorates the routine.”
Detachment is a form of self-control that has infinite benefits across every form of self-awareness and its origin is always in the mind. The Gita defines detachment as doing the right thing for its own sake, because it needs to be done, without worrying about success or failure. That sounds simple enough, but think about what it takes to do the right thing for its own sake. It means detaching from your selfish interest, from being right, from being seen in a certain way, from what you want right now.
“Detaching means escaping the hold of the senses, of earthly desires, of the material world. You have the perspective of an objective observer. Only by detaching can we truly gain control of the mind.“
The monk approach is to look to your guru (your guide), sadhu (other teachers and saintly people), and shastra (scripture). We look for alignment among these three sources. In the modern world many of us don’t have “guides,” and if we do, we probably don’t put them in a different category than teachers. Nor are all of us followers of religious writings. But what the monks are going for here is advice from trusted sources who all want the best for you, but who offer different perspectives.
Choose from those who care most about your emotional health (often friends and family, serving as gurus), those who encourage your intellectual growth and experience (these could be mentors or teachers, serving as sadhus), and those who share your values and intentions (religious guides and/or scientific facts, serving as shastras).
Nobody carries a sign announcing what they have to offer us. Observe people’s intentions and actions.
THE FOUR TYPES OF TRUST
We often expect too much of others when we don’t have a clear sense of their purpose in our lives.
Someone has to be competent if we are to trust their opinions and recommendations. This person has the right skills to solve your issue. They are an expert or authority in their area. They have experience, references, and/or a high Yelp rating.
We need to know a person cares if we are putting our emotions in their hands. Real care means they are thinking about what is best for you, not what is best for them. They care about your well-being, not your success. They have your best interests at heart. They believe in you. They would go beyond the call of duty to support you: helping you move, accompanying you to an important doctor’s appointment, or helping you plan a birthday party or wedding.
Some people have a strong moral compass and uncompromising values. We look to these people to help us see clearly when we aren’t sure what we want or believe is right. Character is especially critical when we are in an interdependent partnership (a relationship, a business partnership, a team). These people practice what they preach. They have good reputations, strong opinions, and down-to-earth advice. They are trustworthy.
People who are consistent may not be the top experts, have the highest character, or care most deeply for you, but they are reliable, present, and available when you need them. They’ve been with you through highs and lows. ...more
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In Leaving the tarmac, Nigerian Entrepreneur and former group managing director of Access Bank Plc shares how he and Herbert Wigwe turned Access Bank In Leaving the tarmac, Nigerian Entrepreneur and former group managing director of Access Bank Plc shares how he and Herbert Wigwe turned Access Bank, a crisis-prone Nigerian Bank they bought in 2002, into one of the most admired banks in Nigeria and Africa. Aigboje gives the readers a front-row seat to the challenges, setbacks, successes, and failures they had to deal with in the process of building a world-class financial institution in an environment like Nigeria.
Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede opens the book with:
It is a story that shows how you can build a world-class business in a relatively short time if you lay the right foundations, have good core values, and do the right things. It is also a snapshot of a decade in which an enormous amount has changed in the world of international finance, politics, and power, particularly within Africa.
The Tarmac Story
I was born in Ibadan to parents who were both in the civil service. We moved to Lagos soon thereafter and since then Lagos has been home for me. At the age of ten I was privileged to attend one of Nigeria’s elite Unity Secondary Schools, the Federal Government College Kaduna, which was a thousand kilometres by road from Lagos. The two popular means of travel at the time for schoolchildren were trains or commercial aeroplanes. Apart from my maiden journey to Kaduna to attend the school for the first time, and another occasion when my mother was attending a National Council of Women Society event in Kaduna, which happened to coincide with my travel date, on all my journeys to and from school I was unaccompanied.
On this particular occasion I was flying alone to Lagos, just me and my small suitcase sitting in the departure lounge, waiting nervously for my flight to be called. I was flying Nigeria Airways, then the only way to fly commercially within Nigeria. The airline was a bloated state-owned monopoly that personified all that was bad about government running a business. It was bureaucratic, corrupt and provided an atrociously poor level of service; getting on board a flight required connections with the ground staff and a confirmed ticket never guaranteed you a seat on the plane. But in my innocence I did not know how it all worked.
When the airport staff announced that the plane was ready for boarding there was suddenly a mad scramble as the more experienced passengers leapt to their feet and dashed out to get on board. As I struggled towards the plane with my suitcase I was elbowed out of the way by many people much bigger and stronger than me. By the time I reached the bottom of the steps to the plane the door at the top had been slammed shut, all the seats having been filled. As I stood with my suitcase, watching the plane take off without me, tears streamed down my face and I vowed that never again would I be left behind on the tarmac while everyone else was flying off.
As I stood with my suitcase, watching the plane take off without me, tears streamed down my face and I vowed that never again would I be left behind on the tarmac while everyone else was flying off.
At the beginning of my career I was inspired by reading books about the success of great American and European bankers such as the Rothschilds and J.P. Morgan, and about companies like Sony, Apple, and Hewlett Packard, books that were always readily available in airport bookstores.
Business Literature on African/Nigerian Businesses
There has been very little, however, written about African companies or indeed Nigerian businesses, despite the fact that some of these organizations possess the most interesting business stories of our times, and despite the fact that Nigeria has the potential to be one of the most successful economies in the world if the right business philosophies can be introduced and adopted by the big companies as well as by the politicians and others in positions of power.
Historically the private sector in Nigerian business has not been strong on issues of emotional intelligence. A business community where the hard IQ issues of growth, expansion and profitability dominate so totally is bound to face difficulties in a modern world where a greater degree of sophisticated thinking is needed in order to tackle corporate issues such as risk and sustainability.
In my view the world’s developed economies started out by putting an emphasis on leveraging the factors of production to the highest degree of efficiency with little consideration for environmental, social and other such issues. As their businesses matured they learned to act in a fashion that would ensure their long-term sustainability, particularly as regards their role and relevance to their host communities.
Commercial and Merchant Banks
When I commenced my banking career in 1988 there were two main banking models that characterised the sector; Merchant Banking and Commercial Banking, the first also called wholesale banking involved providing corporate loans, debt/capital advisory services and other financial solutions to large corporate customers, the second commonly referred to as retail banking involved cheque/cash handling services, and other financial solutions to individuals and corporate customers. The leading Merchant Banks maintained technical partnerships with well-respected American Investment Banks and I recall that four Merchant Banks stood out namely:
Continental Merchant Bank, (Chase Manhattan Bank),
International Merchant Bank (First Chicago),
ICON Merchant Bank (Morgan Guaranty)
NAL Merchant Bank (American Express Bank).
The Commercial Banks were dominated by the ‘Big Four’, namely
First Bank (originally Standard Bank),
Union Bank (originally Barclays Bank),
United Bank for Africa (UBA), a joint venture led by the French bank BNP and
Afribank, formerly the International Bank for West Africa (BIAO).
All of them had been indigenised as public companies quoted on the Nigerian Stock Exchange; their ownership comprised the Nigerian Government as well as the general public. Employees of the big four started at the bottom rungs of the career ladder rising through the ranks as clerical officers into positions of management in a somewhat pseudo colonial working environment.
No Knowledge is wasted
Immediately after law school I joined Continental Merchant Bank3, one of the yuppie merchant banks. I soon discovered that I enjoyed the practice of banking far more than functioning as a legal officer and decided that at the right time I would make a move to core banking, a decision I have never regretted. My three years as a legal officer, however, would prove invaluable throughout my banking career. Nothing is ever wasted when it comes to accruing knowledge, experience and skills.
Chapter 2: Buying the bank
The ability to sustain the change required to turn around a distressed bank depends more on the quality of its leadership and the strength of its values than the expertise of the management consultants who are engaged to try and put things right.
I chose, however, not to dream alone of owning my own bank. I made sure my professional colleague and friend Herbert Wigwe drank some of the same entrepreneurial juice and managed to get him thinking along similar lines. We were the same age, born just one month apart, and both of us had parents who were civil servants. We both went to Federal Government colleges, which were fiercely competitive and where you were taught how to be independent. Our colleges had also afforded us an understanding of Nigeria and the true meaning of federalism, given that Unity Colleges were melting pots of Nigeria’s many ethnic and tribal groups. We both understood the importance of forming alliances and making broad friendships. Herbert was a chartered accountant and economist and I had studied law. We had both chosen to get into the banking sector after qualifying and having met through mutual friends in 1989, we both ended up working at GTB in 1991.
Herbert and I had worked well together at GTB, where he had managed the entire portfolio of corporate banking relationships. Between us we felt highly confident of succeeding in the gargantuan task we were taking on, although we could not possibly have predicted the financial turmoil which was to rock the world, including Africa, over the coming decade, and the enormous scale of the changes that would take place throughout the Nigerian banking system. Herbert attended the same three-month senior management programme at Harvard the year after me, by which time I had already planted the seeds in his mind about the possibility of us buying a bank together. He tested the idea against everything that he learned in the classroom in Harvard and returned to Nigeria at the end of the course feeling as certain as I was that this was indeed the right way to go.
I liked the idea of having a partner for this venture because I believed that this way we would have ‘four eyes’ of leadership instead of two, which is always a good idea in any situation, particularly one as complex as building a bank
Buying the Bank at 36
Despite this hitch we had become the owners of the bank in March 2002. At that time I was still only thirty-six years old, but I already had had ten years of senior management banking experience at GTB, where I had risen from being middle manager to working next to the managing director at the top of one of the best-run banks in the country and had been privileged to learn the secrets of building a highly successful business.
At the beginning of the new century the ten largest Nigerian banks accounted for around half of the industry’s total assets and liabilities, while most of the rest of the country’s banks each had a capitalisation of less than ten million dollars. Even the largest bank only had a capital base of US$240-million, half the size of the capital base of the smallest bank in Malaysia.
Beyond bribes, leakages and theft of public funds, the truly debilitating consequence of corruption is the fact that in any nation where corruption is rife, merit cannot have its way. In a globalised world the ability of individuals, companies, industries and entire nations to grow and develop on a sustainable basis is a function of their competitiveness. Corruption has implanted the virus of mediocrity in several aspects of Nigerian life to the point where our performance in many fields of endeavour is much worse today than it was fifty years ago.
Lucifer Effect theory, which argues that within all men lies an inherent capacity to do evil.
Products can always be imitated by competitors but service delivery cannot. Service, therefore, was inevitably the battleground for increasing our market share and we had to ensure that we continuously redefined our service standards to attract and retain our target customers. While we were able to deliver an extremely high level of service in our first five years, the challenges of rapid expansion and inorganic growth became a major issue and we struggled to maintain high standards of service across the entire value chain following the acquisition of Intercontinental in 2011.
There are too many unexplained coincidences, accidents of timing, events of chance that can only be attributed to the Almighty.
We were determined that we would not become a paternalistic organisation, which was how the godfather-run banks had operated in the past. We wanted to maintain a competitive, professional edge. We were determined to resist the temptation to go soft before attaining our goals. We didn’t, for instance, intend to go for large, grandiose offices and we kept our office doors open for anyone who wished to pop in and discuss any subject.
‘The Access Way’ – Crafting the Access Bank Culture
Whenever I read the stories of successful companies such as Sony and Hewlett Packard, I was always struck by the amount of time they invested in thinking through their corporate cultures. They would have the ‘Sony Way’ or the ‘HP Way’ all written up so that new recruits knew exactly what they were buying into. We wanted to do the same and so together with Bolaji Agbede, head of Human Resources for Access Bank plc, we wrote a guide called ‘The Access Way’ and created an electronic archive of past events, internal memos, etc., so that new employees could have points of reference by which they could connect with the history of the company.
Expect the Unexpected:
As is often the case, even in the most well-planned operations, the unexpected happens. Irrespective of how many times I watch Zero Dark Thirty, the film about the hunt for Osama bin Laden at the moment when one of the US Military helicopters unexpectedly crash lands my heart skips a beat. My experience of mergers and acquisitions has taught me that however robust your due diligence is, what you discover when you go into the acquired institution is always different from what you expect to find. The gap between expectation and reality will depend on how well you did your due diligence, and how cooperative the target company’s management team has been. ...more
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Apr 30, 2021
May 03, 2021
Jan 07, 2020
Jan 07, 2020
really liked it
In Competing in the Age of AI, Authors Marco Iansiti and Karim R. Lakhani argue that reinventing a firm around data, analytics, and AI removes traditi In Competing in the Age of AI, Authors Marco Iansiti and Karim R. Lakhani argue that reinventing a firm around data, analytics, and AI removes traditional constraints on the scale, scope, and learning that have restricted business growth for hundreds of years. From Airbnb to Ant Financial, Microsoft to Amazon, research shows how AI-driven processes are vastly more scalable than traditional processes, allow massive scope increase, enabling companies to straddle industry boundaries, and create powerful opportunities for learning—to drive ever more accurate, complex, and sophisticated predictions.
The book describes the profound implications of artificial intelligence for business. It is transforming the very nature of companies—how they operate and how they compete. When a business is driven by AI, software instructions and algorithms make up the critical path in the way the firm delivers value. This is the “runtime”—the environment that shapes the execution of all processes.
Favourite Takeaways – Competing in the Age of AI
Transformation is about more than technology; it’s about the need to become a different kind of company. Confronting this threat does not involve spinning off an online business, putting a laboratory in Silicon Valley, or creating a digital business unit. Rather, it involves a much deeper and more general challenge: Rearchitecting how the firm works and changing the way it gathers and uses data, reacts to information, makes operating decisions, and executes operating tasks.
AI is the “runtime” that is going to shape all of what we do.—Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO”
AI is becoming the universal engine of execution. As digital technology increasingly shapes “all of what we do” and enables a rapidly growing number of tasks and processes, AI is becoming the new operational foundation of business—the core of a company’s operating model, defining how the company drives the execution of tasks. AI is not only displacing human activity, it is changing the very concept of the firm.
As such, the first truly dramatic implications of artificial intelligence may be less a function of simulating human nature and more a function of transforming the nature of organizations and the ways they shape the world around us.
The Challenge Ahead
AI can render skills and talents obsolete, from driving a car to managing a traditional retail establishment. Digital networks can alter and transform accepted approaches to social and political interaction, from dating to voting. The broad deployment of AI could threaten millions of jobs in the United States alone. And beyond the erosion of capability, threats to traditional skills, and other direct economic and social impact, we are increasingly vulnerable as an increasing portion of our economy and our very lives become embedded in digital networks.
Rethinking the Firm
Ant Financial employs fewer than ten thousand people to serve more than 700 million customers with a broad scope of services. By comparison, Bank of America, founded in 1924, employs 209,000 people to serve 67 million customers with a more limited array of offerings. Ant Financial is just a different breed.
Business and Operating Models
The value of a firm is shaped by two concepts. The first is the firm’s business model, defined as the way the firm promises to create and capture value. The second is the firm’s operating model, defined as the way the firm delivers the value to its customers.
The AI factory
The AI factory is the scalable decision engine that powers the digital operating model of the twenty-first-century firm. Managerial decisions are increasingly embedded in software, which digitizes many processes that have traditionally been carried out by employees.
Experience from Netflix and other leading firms underlines the importance of a few essential AI factory component
This process gathers, inputs, cleans, integrates, processes, and safeguards data in a systematic, sustainable, and scalable way.
The algorithms generate predictions about future states or actions of the business. These algorithms and predictions are the beating heart of the digital firm, driving its most critical operating activities.
This is the mechanism through which hypotheses regarding new prediction and decision algorithms are tested to ensure that changes suggested are having the intended (causal) effect.
These systems embed the pipeline in a consistent and componentized software and computing infrastructure, and connect it as needed and appropriate to internal and external users.
The most obvious challenge in building an AI-centered firm is to grow a deep foundation of capability in software, data sciences, and advanced analytics. Naturally, building this foundation will take time, but much can be done with a small number of motivated, knowledgeable people.
Network vs Learning Effect
Network effects describe the value added by increasing the number of connections within and across networks, such as the value to a Facebook user of having connections with a large number of friends, or access to a broad variety of developer applications.
The most important value creation dynamic of a digital operating model is its network effects. The basic definition of a network effect is that the underlying value or utility of a product or service increases as the number of users utilizing the service increases.
Learning effects capture the value added by increasing the amount of data flowing through the same networks—for example, data that may be used to power AI to learn about and improve the user experience or to better target advertisers.
The first and most important force shaping value capture is multihoming. Multihoming refers to the viability of competitive alternatives, specifically to situations wherein users or service providers in a network can form ties with multiple platforms or hub firms (“homes”) at the same time. If a network hub faces competition from another hub connecting to a network in a similar way, the first network hub’s ability to capture value from the network will be challenged, especially if the switching costs are low enough for users to easily use either hub.
Disintermediation, wherein nodes in a network can easily bypass the firm to connect directly, can also be a significant problem for capturing value. From Homejoy to TaskRabbit—that provides only a connection between network participants. After the first connection is made, most if not all of the value created is delivered, and it’s difficult to hold a user accountable to the network hub for ongoing rents.
Network bridging involves making new connections across previously separate economic networks, making use of more-favorable competitive dynamics and different willingness to pay. Network participants can improve their ability to both create and capture value when they connect to multiple networks, bridging among them to build important synergies.
A collision occurs when a firm with a digital operating model targets an application (or use case) that has traditionally been served by a more conventional firm. Because digital operating models are characterized by different scale, scope, and learning dynamics from those of traditional firms, collisions can completely transform industries and reshape the nature of competitive advantage.
We live in an important moment in the history of our economy and society. As digital networks and AI increasingly capture our world, we are seeing a fundamental transformation in the nature of firms. This removes historical constraints on scale, scope, and learning and creates both enormous opportunity and extraordinary turbulence. But despite all this newfound digital automation, it seems that we can’t quite do away with management just yet.
The challenges are just too great, too complex, and too amorphous to be solved by technology (or technologists) alone. But leading through these changing times will require a new kind of managerial wisdom, to steer organizations from full-scale firms to new ventures, and from regulatory institutions to communit ...more
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Apr 21, 2021
Apr 28, 2021
Apr 28, 2021
it was amazing
“The culture we have does not make people feel good about themselves. And you have to be strong enough to say if the culture doesn’t work Un Happiness
“The culture we have does not make people feel good about themselves. And you have to be strong enough to say if the culture doesn’t work, don’t buy it.”
“Dying,” Morrie suddenly said, “is only one thing to be sad over, Mitch. Living unhappily is something else. So many of the people who come to visit me are unhappy.” Why?
“Well, for one thing, the culture we have does not make people feel good about themselves. We’re teaching the wrong things. And you have to be strong enough to say if the culture doesn’t work, don’t buy it. Create your own. Most people can’t do it. They’re more unhappy than me-even in my current condition.
The culture we have does not make people feel good about themselves.
The Tension of Opposites
“Life is a series of pulls back and forth. You want to do one thing, but you are bound to do something else. Something hurts you, yet you know it shouldn’t. You take certain things for granted, even when you know you should never take anything for granted.”
“A tension of opposites, like a pull on a rubber band. And most of us live somewhere in the middle.”
“So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they’re busy doing things they think are important. This is because they’re chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.”
The First Tuesday – The World
“The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in. We think we don’t deserve love, we think if we let it in we’ll become too soft. But a wise man named Levine said it right. He said, `Love is the only rational act.’ ”
The Second Tuesday – Feeling Sorry for Yourself
Mitch: I asked Morrie if he felt sorry for himself.
Morrie: “Sometimes, in the mornings,” he said. “That’s when I mourn. I feel around my body, I move my fingers and my hands-whatever I can still move-and I mourn what I’ve lost. I mourn the slow, insidious way in which I’m dying. But then I stop mourning”
“Just like that?
“I give myself a good cry if I need it. But then I concentrate on all the good things still in my life. On the people who are coming to see me. On the stories I’m going to hear. On you-if it’s Tuesday. Because we’re Tuesday people.”
The Third Tuesday– Regrets
The culture doesn’t encourage you to think about such things until you’re about to die. We’re so wrapped up with egotistical things, career, family, having enough money, meeting the mortgage, getting a new car, fixing the radiator when it breaks-we’re involved in trillions of little acts just to keep going. So we don’t get into the habit of standing back and looking at our lives and saying, Is this all? Is this all I want? Is something missing?
“You need someone to probe you in that direction. It won’t just happen automatically.”
The Fourth Tuesday – Death
Everyone knows they’re going to die, but nobody believes it. If we did, we would do things differently. To know you’re going to die, and to be prepared for it at any time. That’s better. That way you can actually be more involved in your life while you’re living.
Do what the Buddhists do. Every day, have a little bird on your shoulder that asks, `Is today the day? Am I ready? Am I doing all I need to do? Am I being the person I want to be?’
“Once you learn how to die, you learn how to live.”
Mitch: But everyone knows someone who has died, I said. Why is it so hard to think about dying?
Morrie: Most of us all walk around as if we’re sleepwalking. We really don’t experience the world fully, because we’re half-asleep, doing things we automatically think we have to do.
And facing death changes all that?
“Oh, yes. You strip away all that stuff and you focus on the essentials. When you realize you are going to die, you see everything much differently.”
If you really listen to that bird on your shoulder, if you accept that you can die at any time then you might not be as ambitious as you are.
We are too involved in materialistic things, and they don’t satisfy us. The loving relationships we have, the universe around us, we take these things for granted.
The Fifth Tuesday – Family
The fact is, there is no foundation, no secure ground, upon which people may stand today if it isn’t the family. It’s become quite clear to me as I’ve been sick. If you don’t have the support and love and caring and concern that you get from a family, you don’t have much at all. Love is so supremely important. As our great poet Auden said, `Love each other or perish.’
This is part of what a family is about, not just love, but letting others know there’s someone who is watching out for them. It’s what I missed so much when my mother died-what I call your `spiritual security’-knowing that your family will be there watching out for you. Nothing else will give you that. Not money. Not fame.”
The Sixth Tuesday – Emotions
Learn to detach.
“You know what the Buddhists say? Don’t cling to things, because everything is impermanent.”
“Detachment doesn’t mean you don’t let the experience penetrate you. On the contrary, you let it penetrate you fully. That’s how you are able to leave it.”
Take any emotion-love for a woman, or grief for a loved one, or what I’m going through, fear and pain from a deadly illness. If you hold back on the emotions-if you don’t allow yourself to go all the way through them-you can never get to being detached, you’re too busy being afraid. You’re afraid of the pain, you’re afraid of the grief. You’re afraid of the vulnerability that loving entails.
But by throwing yourself into these emotions, by allowing yourself to dive in, all the way, over your head even, you experience them fully and completely. You know what pain is. You know what love is. You know what grief is. And only then can you say, `All right. I have experienced that emotion. I recognize that emotion. Now I need to detach from that emotion for a moment.’
The Seventh Tuesday – Fear of Aging
Mitch: I felt a little ashamed, because our culture tells us we should be ashamed if we can’t wipe our own behind. But then I figured, Forget what the culture says. I have ignored the culture much of my life. I am not going to be ashamed. What’s the big deal?
It’s like going back to being a child again. Someone to bathe you. Someone to lift you. Someone to wipe you. We all know how to be a child. It’s inside all of us. For me, it’s just remembering how to enjoy it.
“The truth is, when our mothers held us, rocked us, stroked our heads-none of us ever got enough of that. We all yearn in some way to return to those days when we were completely taken care of-unconditional love, unconditional attention. Most of us didn’t get enough.”
It’s very simple. As you grow, you learn more. If you stayed at twenty-two, you’d always be as ignorant as you were at twenty-two. Aging is not just decay, you know. It’s growth. It’s more than the negative that you’re going to die, it’s also the positive that you understand you’re going to die, and that you live a better life because of it.
If you’re always battling against getting older, you’re always going to be unhappy, because it will happen anyhow.
The Eighth Tuesday – Money
“We put our values in the wrong things. And it leads to very disillusioned lives.“
Do you know how they brainwash people?
They repeat something over and over. And that’s what we do in this country. Owning things is good. More money is good. More property is good. More commercialism is good. More is good. More is good. We repeat it-and have it repeated to us-over and over until nobody bothers to even think otherwise. The average person is so fogged up by all this, he has no perspective on what’s really important anymore.
“Money is not a substitute for tenderness, and power is not a substitute for tenderness. I can tell you, as I’m sitting here dying, when you most need it, neither money nor power will give you the feeling you’re looking for, no matter how much of them you have.”
There’s a big confusion in this country over what we want versus what we need. You need food, you want a chocolate sundae. You have to be honest with yourself. You don’t need the latest sports car, you don’t need the biggest house.
“The truth is, you don’t get satisfaction from those things. You know what really gives you satisfaction?” What?
“Offering others what you have to give.”
Devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.
“Mitch, if you’re trying to show off for people at the top, forget it. They will look down at you anyhow. And if you’re trying to show off for people at the bottom, forget it. They will only envy you. Status will get you nowhere. Only an open heart will allow you to float equally between everyone.”
“Do the kinds of things that come from the heart. When you do, you won’t be dissatisfied, you won’t be envious, you won’t be longing for somebody else’s things. On the contrary, you’ll be overwhelmed with what comes back.”
The Ninth Tuesday – How Love Goes On
“I believe in being fully present,” Morrie said. “That means you should be with the person you’re with. When I’m talking to you now, Mitch, I try to keep focused only on what is going on between us. I am not thinking about something we said last week. I am not thinking of what’s coming up this Friday. I am not thinking about doing another Koppel show, or about what medications I’m taking.”
“Part of the problem, Mitch, is that everyone is in such a hurry,” Morrie said. “People haven’t found meaning in their lives, so they’re running all the time looking for it. They think the next car, the next house, the next job. Then they find those things are empty, too, and they keep running.”
The Tenth Tuesday – Marriage
“In this culture, it’s so important to find a loving relationship with someone because so much of the culture does not give you that. But the poor kids today, either they’re too selfish to take part in a real loving relationship, or they rush into marriage and then six months later, they get divorced. They don’t know what they want in a partner. They don’t know who they are themselves-so how can they know who they’re marrying?”
“You get tested. You find out who you are, who the other person is, and how you accommodate or don’t.”
The Eleventh Tuesday – Culture
People are only mean when they’re threatened,” he said later that day, “and that’s what our culture does. That’s what our economy does. Even people who have jobs in our economy are threatened, because they worry about losing them. And when you get threatened, you start looking out only for yourself. You start making money a god. It is all part of this culture.
He exhaled. “Which is why I don’t buy into it.”
“Here’s what I mean by building your own little subculture,” Morrie said. “I don’t mean you disregard every rule of your community. I don’t go around naked, for example. I don’t run through red lights. The little things, I can obey. But the big things-how we think, what we value-those you must choose yourself. You can’t let anyone or any society determine those for you.”
“Take my condition. The things I am supposed to be embarrassed about now-not being able to walk, not being able to wipe my ass, waking up some mornings wanting to cry-there is nothing innately embarrassing or shaming about them.”
“It’s the same for women not being thin enough, or men not being rich enough. It’s just what our culture would have you believe. Don’t believe it.”
Every society has its own problems
The way to do it, I think, isn’t to run away. You have to work at creating your own culture.
“Look, no matter where you live, the biggest defect we human beings have is our shortsightedness. We don’t see what we could be. We should be looking at our potential, stretching ourselves into everything we can become. But if you’re surrounded by people who say `I want mine now,’ you end up with a few people with everything and a military to keep the poor ones from rising up and stealing it.”
“The problem, Mitch, is that we don’t believe we are as much alike as we are. Whites and blacks, Catholics and Protestants, men and women. If we saw each other as more alike, we might be very eager to join in one big human family in this world, and to care about that family the way we care about our own.”
“But believe me, when you are dying, you see it is true. We all have the same beginning-birth-and we all have the same end-death. So how different can we be?”
“Invest in the human family. Invest in people. Build a little community of those you love and who love you.”
The Twelfth Tuesday – Forgiveness
“There is no point in keeping vengeance or stubbornness. These things”-he sighed-“these things I so regret in my life. Pride. Vanity. Why do we do the things we do?” It’s not just other people we need to forgive, Mitch,” he finally whispered. We also need to forgive ourselves.
Yes. For all the things we didn’t do. All the things we should have done. You can’t get stuck on the regrets of what should have happened. That doesn’t help you when you get to where I am. I always wished I had done more with my work; I wished I had written more books. I used to beat myself up over it. Now I see that never did any good. Make peace. You need to make peace with yourself and everyone around you.
The Thirteenth Tuesday – The Perfect Day
“I read a book the other day. It said as soon as someone dies in a hospital, they pull the sheets up over their head, and they wheel the body to some chute and push it down. They can’t wait to get it out of their sight. People act as if death is contagious.”
“As long as we can love each other, and remember the feeling of love we had, we can die without ever really going away. All the love you created is still there. All the memories are still there. You live on in the hearts of everyone you have touched and nurtured while you were here.”
There is no formula to relationships. They have to be negotiated in loving ways, with room for both parties, what they want and what they need, what they can do, and what their life is like.
In business, people negotiate to win. They negotiate to get what they want. Maybe you’re too used to that. Love is different. Love is when you are as concerned about someone else’s situation as you are about your own.
You’ve had these special times with your brother, and you no longer have what you had with him. You want them back. You never want them to stop. But that’s part of being human. Stop, renew, stop, renew.
Notes are private!
Apr 23, 2021
Apr 23, 2021
Apr 23, 2021
Dec 03, 2008
Oct 01, 2008
really liked it
John C. Bogle, the late founder of the Vanguard Mutual Fund Group and creator of the first index mutual fund, in Enough: True Measures of Money, Busin John C. Bogle, the late founder of the Vanguard Mutual Fund Group and creator of the first index mutual fund, in Enough: True Measures of Money, Business, and Life, examines what it truly means to have “enough” in a world increasingly focused on status and score-keeping. The book is divided into three sections: Money, Business, and Life.
The book begins with a great story that summarizes the theme of the book:
At a party given by a billionaire on Shelter Island, Kurt Vonnegut informs his pal, Joseph Heller, that their host, a hedge fund manager, had made more money in a single day than Heller had earned from his wildly popular novel Catch-22 over its whole history. Heller responds,“Yes, but I have something he will never have . . . enough.
Discovery of Mutual Fund
At Princeton, this callow, idealistic young kid with a crew cut had determined to write his economics department senior thesis on a subject on which no earlier thesis had been written. Not John Maynard Keynes, not Adam Smith, not Karl Marx, but a subject fresh and new. What but fate can account for the fact that in December 1949, searching for my topic, I opened Fortune magazine to page 116 and read an article (“Big Money in Boston”) about a financial instrument that I had never heard of before: the mutual fund. When the article described the industry as “tiny but contentious,” I knew that I had found my topic and, though I couldn’t know it at the time, another diamond as well.
After a year of intense study of the mutual fund industry, I completed my thesis and sent it to several industry leaders. One was Walter L. Morgan, mutual fund pioneer, the founder of the Philadelphia-based Wellington Fund and member of Princeton’s class of 1920. He read my thesis and liked it sufficiently that he would soon write: “A pretty good piece of work for a fellow in college without any practical experience in business life. Largely as a result of this thesis, we have added Mr. Bogle to our Wellington organization.” I started right after my 1951 graduation (magna cum laude, thanks largely to my thesis) and never looked back. I have worked there—one way or another, as you will soon see—ever since.
A Door Slams; a Window Opens – Getting Fired
By late 1974, as the bear market took its toll and large numbers of our shareholders took flight, the assets under our management had plunged from $3 billion to $1.3 billion. Not surprisingly, my partners and I had a falling out. But my adversaries had more votes on the company board than I did, and it was they who fired me from what I had considered my company. What’s more, they intended to move all of Wellington to Boston. I wasn’t about to let that happen.
Never Enough – Money, Business, and Life.
In our financial system, we focus our expectations on the returns that the financial markets may deliver, ignoring the exorbitant costs extracted by our financial system, the excessive taxes engendered by record levels of speculative trading, and inflation borne of a government that spends (our) money beyond its means, grossly devastating these returns. We engage in the folly of short-term speculation and eschew the wisdom of long-term investing. We ignore the real diamonds of simplicity, seeking instead the illusory rhinestones of complexity.
In business, we place too much emphasis on what can be counted and not nearly enough on trusting and being trusted. When we should be doing exactly the opposite, we allow—indeed we almost force—our professions to behave more like businesses. Rather, we ought to be encouraging companies and corporations (the enterprises that create products and services) to regain the professional values that so many of them have cast aside. We have more than enough of the fool’s gold of marketing and salesmanship and not enough of the real gold of trusteeship and stewardship. And we think more like managers, whose task is to do things right, than as leaders, whose task is to do the right thing.
In life, we too often allow the illusory to triumph over the real. We focus too much on things and not enough on the intangibles that make things worthwhile; too much on success (a word I’ve never liked) and not enough on character, without which success is meaningless. Amidst the twenty-first-century pressures for immediate satisfaction and amassing information on demand, we’ve forgotten the enlightened values of the eighteenth century. We let false notions of personal satisfaction blind us to the real sense of calling that gives work meaning for ourselves, our communities, and our society.
Chapter 1: Too Much Cost, Not Enough Value
Some men wrest a living from nature and with their hands; this is called work.
Some men wrest a living from those who wrest a living from nature and with their hands; this is called trade.
Some men wrest a living from those who wrest a living from those who wrest a living from nature and with their hands; this is called finance.
We have moved to a world where far too many of us seemingly no longer make anything; we’re merely trading pieces of paper, swapping stocks and bonds back and forth with one another, and paying our financial croupiers a veritable fortune. In the process, we have inevitably added even more costs by creating ever more complex financial derivatives in which huge and unfathomable risks have been built into the financial system.
Chapter 2: Too Much Speculation, Not Enough Investment
Investing is all about the long-term ownership of businesses. Business focuses on the gradual accumulation of intrinsic value, derived from the ability of our publicly owned corporations to produce the goods and services that our consumers and savers demand, to compete effectively, to thrive on entrepreneurship, and to capitalize on change. Business adds value to our society, and to the wealth of our investors.
Speculation is precisely the opposite. It is all about the short-term trading, not long-term holding, of financial instruments—pieces of paper, not businesses—largely focused on the belief that their prices, as distinct from their intrinsic values, will rise; indeed, an expectation that the prices of the stocks that are selected will rise more than other stocks, as the expectations of other investors rise to match one’s own. A line representing the path of stock prices over the same period is significantly more jagged and spasmodic than the line showing investment returns.
Change is Inevitable
“Changes in the nature and structure of our financial markets—and a radical shift in its participants—are making shocking and unexpected market aberrations ever more probable. The amazing market swings we have witnessed in the past few years tend to confirm that likelihood. In the 1950s and 1960s, the daily changes in the level of stock prices typically exceeded 2 percent only three or four times per year. But in the year ended July 30, 2008, we’ve witnessed 35 such moves—14 were up, and 21 were down. Based on past experience, the probability of that scenario was . . . zero.”
Chapter 3: Too Much Complexity, Not Enough Simplicity
“There are three i’s in every cycle: first the innovator, then the imitator, and finally the idiot.”
“Back to Basics
So mark me down as a believer in innovation that is based on clarity, consistency, predictability relative to the market, and low cost; innovation that will serve investors over the long term; innovation that provides an optimal opportunity that it will work tomorrow rather than innovation based on what worked yesterday; innovation that not only minimizes the risks of ownership but clearly explains the nature and extent of those risks.
Chapter 4: Too Much Counting, Not Enough Trust
Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts. – Albert Einstein
Numbers are not reality
Today, in our society, in economics, and in finance, we place far too much trust in numbers. Numbers are not reality. At best, they are a pale reflection of reality. At worst, they’re a gross distortion of the truths we seek to measure. But the damage doesn’t stop there. Not only do we rely too heavily on historic economic and market data; our optimistic bias also leads us to misinterpret the data and give them credence that they rarely merit. By worshipping at the altar of numbers and by discounting the immeasurable, we have in effect created a numeric economy that can easily undermine the real one.
Chapter 5: Too Much Business Conduct, Not Enough Professional Conduct
Among the most obvious, and troubling, manifestations of the change from the stern traditional values of yore to the, well, flexible values of our modern age—with its myriad numeric measures and its largely missing moral measures—is the gradual mutation of our professional associations into business enterprises. Even as power corrupts, so money corrupts the sound functioning of our national agenda.
A similar transition has taken place in the medical profession, where the human concerns of the caregiver and the human needs of the patient have been overwhelmed by the financial interests of commerce: our giant medical care complex of hospitals, insurance companies, drug manufacturers and marketers, and health maintenance organizations (HMOs).
“It’s amazing how difficult it is for a man to understand something if he’s paid a small fortune not to understand it.” – Upton Sinclair
Chapter 6: Too Much Salesmanship, Not Enough Stewardship
During the 1950s and 1960s, some 240 new equity funds were formed, and during the 1970s and 1980s, about 650 were formed. But in the 1990s alone, 1,600 new equity funds were created. Most of them, alas, were technology, Internet, and telecommunications funds, and aggressive growth funds focused on these areas. It was such funds, of course, that then took the brunt of the 2000-2002 bear market. Such product proliferation has engendered the expected reaction: Funds are born to die. Whereas 13 percent of all funds failed during the 1950s, the failure rate for the present decade is running at near 60 percent.
Chapter 7: Too Much Management, Not Enough Leadership
10 rules for building a great organization,”
Rule 1: Make Caring the Soul of the Organization
Rule 2: Forget about Employees
Rule 3: Set High Standards and Values—and Stick to Them
Rule 4: Talk the Talk. Repeat the Values Endlessly.
Rule 5: Walk the Walk. Actions Speak Louder than Words.
Rule 6: Don’t Over manage
Rule 7: Recognize Individual Achievement
Rule 8: A Reminder—Loyalty Is a Two-Way Street
Rule 9: Lead and Manage for the Long Term
Rule 10: Press On, Regardless
What distinguishes a superior company from its competitors are not the dimensions that usually separate companies, such as superior technology, more astute market analysis, better financial base, etc.; it is unconventional thinking about its dream—what this business wants to be, how its priorities are set, and how it organizes to serve. It has a radical philosophy and self-image. The company’s unconventional thinking about its dream is [often] born of a liberating vision.
Chapter 8: Too Much Focus on Things, Not Enough Focus on Commitment
Boldness, Commitment, and Providence
Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.
It is all true, and my own life has been the proof of it, better than any dream. Whenever I have committed myself with boldness, providence has followed, whether it was the providence of stumbling on that Fortune magazine article on the mutual fund industry way back when I was searching for a topic for my senior thesis, and then committing myself wholeheartedly to the project; the providence (yes, the providence!) of being fired by my Wellington partners that demanded of me the commitment to recapture my career in the industry and gave me the opportunity to start Vanguard; the providence of receiving a new heart, just as mine was about to expire; and the commitment to making the most of my second chance at life; and the many other examples I’ve cited throughout this book—the “acres of diamonds” that were always providentially there, waiting to be discovered but requiring commitment to capitalize on their value.
“Commitment and boldness—these are among the things that truly matter, the things by which we can measure our lives, the things that help turn providence in our favor. Their reach goes far beyond how we earn our living, for never forget that none of us lives by bread alone.“
Chapter 9: Too Many Twenty-First-Century Values, Not Enough Eighteenth-Century Values
With Wikipedia at our fingertips and Google waiting online to serve us, we are surrounded by information, but increasingly cut off from knowledge. Facts (or, more often, factoids) are everywhere. But wisdom—the kind of wisdom that was rife in the age of this nation’s Founding Fathers—is in short supply.
T. S. Eliot had expressed the same ideas—much more poetically, of course—in The Rock (1934):
“Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
The cycles of Heaven in twenty centuries
Bring us farther from God and nearer to the Dust.“ ...more
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In The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power, American Harvard professor, and social psychologist, In The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power, American Harvard professor, and social psychologist, Shoshana Zuboff argue that the biggest technology companies such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon are exploiting our attention, modifying our behavior, and selling our data to the highest bidding advertisers. Surveillance Capitalism is an economic system centered around the commodification of personal data with the core purpose of profit-making.
“Forget the cliché that if it’s free, “You are the product.” You are not the product; you are the abandoned carcass. The “product” derives from the surplus that is ripped from your life.”
Surveillance Capitalists unilaterally claims human experience as free raw material for translation into behavioural data which] are declared as a proprietary behavioural surplus, fed into advanced manufacturing processes known as ‘machine intelligence’, and fabricated into prediction products that anticipate what you will do now, soon, and later.
Favourite Takeaways – The Age of Surveillance Capitalism
How they got away with it
No single element is likely to have done the job, but together a convergence of political circumstances and proactive strategies helped enrich the habitat in which this mutation could root and flourish. These include
(1) the relentless pursuit and defense of the founders’ “freedom” through corporate control and an insistence on the right to lawless space;
(2) the shelter of specific historical circumstances, including the policies and juridical orientation of the neoliberal paradigm and the state’s urgent interest in the emerging capabilities of behavioral surplus analysis and prediction in the aftermath of the September 2001 terror attacks; and
(3) the intentional construction of fortifications in the worlds of politics and culture, designed to protect the kingdom and deflect any close scrutiny of its practices.
Today’s owners of surveillance capital have declared a fourth fictional commodity expropriated from the experiential realities of human beings whose bodies, thoughts, and feelings are as virgin and blameless as nature’s once-plentiful meadows and forests before they fell to the market dynamic. In this new logic, human experience is subjugated to surveillance capitalism’s market mechanisms and reborn as “behavior.” These behaviors are rendered into data, ready to take their place in a numberless queue that feeds the machines for fabrication into predictions and eventual exchange in the new behavioral futures markets.
The commodification of behavior under surveillance capitalism pivots us toward a societal future in which market power is protected by moats of secrecy, indecipherability, and expertise. Even when knowledge derived from our behavior is fed back to us as a quid pro quo for participation, as in the case of so-called “personalization,” parallel secret operations pursue the conversion of surplus into sales that point far beyond our interests. We have no formal control because we are not essential to this market action.
In this future we are exiles from our own behavior, denied access to or control over knowledge derived from its dispossession by others for others. Knowledge, authority, and power rest with surveillance capital, for which we are merely “human natural resources.” We are the native peoples now whose tacit claims to self-determination have vanished from the maps of our own experience.
The elective affinity between public intelligence agencies and the fledgling surveillance capitalist Google blossomed in the heat of emergency to produce a unique historical deformity: surveillance exceptionalism. The 9/11 attacks transformed the government’s interest in Google, as practices that just hours earlier were careening toward legislative action were quickly recast as mission-critical necessities. Both institutions craved certainty and were determined to fulfill that craving in their respective domains at any price. These elective affinities sustained surveillance exceptionalism and contributed to the fertile habitat in which the surveillance capitalism mutation would be nurtured to prosperity.
Behavioral Surplus Capture.
If Facebook is a social network, why is it developing drones and augmented reality? This diversity sometimes confounds observers but is generally applauded as visionary investment: far-out bets on the future. In fact, activities that appear to be varied and even scattershot across a random selection of industries and projects are actually all the same activity guided by the same aim: behavioral surplus capture. Each is a slightly different configuration of hardware, software, algorithms, sensors, and connectivity designed to mimic a car, shirt, cell phone, book, video, robot, chip, drone, camera, cornea, tree, television, watch, nanobot, intestinal flora, or any online service, but they all share the same purpose: behavioral surplus capture.
The New Priesthood
More than six hundred years ago, the printing press put the written word into the hands of ordinary people, rescuing the prayers, bypassing the priesthood, and delivering the opportunity for spiritual communion directly into the hands of the prayerful. We have come to take for granted that the internet enables an unparalleled diffusion of information, promising more knowledge for more people: a mighty democratizing force that exponentially realizes Gutenberg’s revolution in the lives of billions of individuals.
But this grand achievement has blinded us to a different historical development, one that moves out of range and out of sight, designed to exclude, confuse, and obscure. In this hidden movement the competitive struggle over surveillance revenues reverts to the pre-Gutenberg order as the division of learning in society shades toward the pathological, captured by a narrow priesthood of privately employed computational specialists, their privately owned machines, and the economic interests for whose sake they learn.
As things currently stand, it is the surveillance capitalist corporations that know. It is the market form that decides. It is the competitive struggle among surveillance capitalists that decides who decides.
Invasion of Privacy
Surveillance capitalists’ acts of digital dispossession impose a new kind of control upon individuals, populations, and whole societies. Individual privacy is a casualty of this control, and its defense requires a reframing of privacy discourse, law, and judicial reasoning. The “invasion of privacy” is now a predictable dimension of social inequality, but it does not stand alone. It is the systematic result of a “pathological” division of learning in society in which surveillance capitalism knows, decides, and decides who decides.
Demanding privacy from surveillance capitalists or lobbying for an end to commercial surveillance on the internet is like asking Henry Ford to make each Model T by hand or asking a giraffe to shorten its neck. Such demands are existential threats. They violate the basic mechanisms and laws of motion that produce this market leviathan’s concentrations of knowledge, power, and wealth.
Under the regime of surveillance capitalism, individuals do not render their experience out of choice or obligation but rather out of ignorance and the dictatorship of no alternatives. The ubiquitous apparatus operates through coercion and stealth. Our advance into life necessarily takes us through the digital, where involuntary rendition has become an inescapable fact. We are left with few rights to know, or to decide who knows, or to decide who decides. This abnormal division of learning is created and sustained by secret fiat, implemented by invisible methods, and directed by companies bent to the economic imperatives of a strange new market form. Surveillance capitalists impose their will backstage, while the actors perform the stylized lullabies of disclosure and agreement for the public.
The prediction imperative transforms the things that we have into things that have us in order that it might render the range and richness of our world, our homes, and our bodies as behaving objects for its calculations and fabrications on the path to profit. The chronicles of rendition do not end here, however. Act II requires a journey from our living rooms and streets to another world below the surface, where inner life unfolds.
“The new toolmakers do not intend to rob you of your inner life, only to surveil and exploit it. All they ask is to know more about you than you know about yourself.”
Large Scale Behaviour Modification
Today’s means of behavioral modification are aimed unabashedly at “us.” Everyone is swept up in this new market dragnet, including the psychodramas of ordinary, unsuspecting fourteen-year-olds approaching the weekend with anxiety. Every avenue of connectivity serves to bolster private power’s need to seize behavior for profit. Where is the hammer of democracy now, when the threat comes from your phone, your digital assistant, your Facebook login?
“Surveillance capitalists’ interests have shifted from using automated machine processes to know about your behavior to using machine processes to shape your behavior according to their interests. In other words, this decade-and-a-half trajectory has taken us from automating information flows about you to automating you. Given the conditions of increasing ubiquity, it has become difficult if not impossible to escape this audacious, implacable web.”
Instrumentarianism, defined as the instrumentation and instrumentalization of behavior for the purposes of modification, prediction, monetization, and control. In this formulation, “instrumentation” refers to the puppet: the ubiquitous connected material architecture of sensate computation that renders, interprets, and actuates human experience. “Instrumentalization” denotes the social relations that orient the puppet masters to human experience as surveillance capital wields the machines to transform us into means to others’ market ends. Surveillance capitalism forced us to reckon with an unprecedented form of capitalism. Now the instrumentarian power that sustains and enlarges the surveillance capitalist project compels a second confrontation with the unprecedented.
Surveillance capitalism is the puppet master that imposes its will through the medium of the ubiquitous digital apparatus. It is the sensate, computational, connected puppet that renders, monitors, computes, and modifies human behavior. Big Other combines these functions of knowing and doing to achieve a pervasive and unprecedented means of behavioral modification. Surveillance capitalism’s economic logic is directed through Big Other’s vast capabilities to produce instrumentarian power, replacing the engineering of souls with the engineering of behavior. ...more
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Within the next ten years, industries, economies, and probably entire societies will be transformed by a barrage of technologies that until recently h Within the next ten years, industries, economies, and probably entire societies will be transformed by a barrage of technologies that until recently have existed only in science fiction, but are now entering and reshaping the business world. Becoming a Digital Master is challenging, but there has never been a better time. The longer you wait, the more difficult it will become
In Leading Digital, authors George Westerman, Didier Bonnet, and Andrew McAfee highlight how large companies in traditional industries—from finance to manufacturing to pharmaceuticals—are using digital to gain strategic advantage. They illuminate the principles and practices that lead to successful digital transformation. Based on a study of more than four hundred global firms, including Asian Paints, Burberry, Caesars Entertainment, Codelco, Lloyds Banking Group, Nike, and Pernod Ricard, the book shows what it takes to become a Digital Master.
Success in digital transformation is as much about what you don’t do as what you do. In the context of so many opportunities to digitize your business, it’s easy to become distracted by the latest shiny object. But when it comes to making real strategic commitments, investing real dollars, and involving real people, only a focused approach to digital transformation delivers real business value.
Companies that struggle with becoming truly digital fail to develop digital capabilities to work differently and the leadership capabilities required to set a vision and execute on it. The firms that excel at both digital and leadership capabilities are Digital Masters.
Digital Masters, in short, keep making digital technologies work for them even though the technologies themselves keep changing. Digital Masters excel at two essential capabilities. They build digital capabilities by rethinking and improving their business processes, their customer engagements, and their business models. They also build strong leadership capabilities to envision and drive transformation. Each dimension of capability is important on its own. Together, they make you a Digital Master.
The elements of the digital world—software, hardware, networks, and data—are pervading the business world, and they’re doing so quickly, broadly, and deeply. Regardless of industry or geography, businesses will become much more digitized in the future. It’s inevitable— so the time to start pursuing digital mastery is now.
Chapter 1: WHAT IS DIGITAL MASTERY?
If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all. —Michelangelo
Digital Masters do more than just invest in digital capabilities. They create the leadership capabilities to get the most from their digital activities.
Digital and Leadership Capability
Digital Masters excel in two critical dimensions: the what of technology (digital capabilities) and the how of leading change (leadership capabilities).
Digital Masters know where and how to invest in the digital opportunity. The size of the investment is not as important as the reason—and the impact. Digital Masters see technology as a way to change the way they do business—their customer engagements, internal operations, and even business models.
To these companies, new technologies such as social media, mobility, and analytics are not goals to attain or signals to send their customers and investors. These technologies are tools to get closer to customers, empower their employees, and transform their internal business processes.
For Digital Masters, committed leadership is more than just a buzzword. It is the lever that turns technology into transformation. Executives in every Digital Master steered the transformation through strong top-down leadership: setting direction, building momentum, and ensuring that the company follows through.
FOUR LEVELS OF DIGITAL MASTERY
Beginners are just at the start of the digital journey. Many of them adopt a wait-and-see strategy, trying to gain certainty before they act. Some believe the digital opportunity is right for other industries, but not for theirs. Others lack the leadership to make something happen. As a result, Beginners have only basic digital capabilities.
Fashionistas are not waiting to act. They buy every new digital bauble. They flaunt their technological trendiness but don’t change what’s behind the veneer. However, because they lack strong digital leadership and governance, they waste much of what they spend. Or they find that they need to reverse what they’ve done so that they can integrate and scale their capabilities.
Leaders in these companies don’t want to make mistakes that would waste their scarce time, effort, and money. This caution can be useful, especially in highly regulated industries such as health care and financial services. But it can also create a governance trap that focuses more on controls and rules than making progress.
Digital Masters have overcome the difficulties that challenge their competitors. They know how and where to invest, and their leaders are committed to guiding the company powerfully into the digital future. They are already exploiting their digital advantage to build superior competitive positions in their industries.
Digital Masters are 26 percent more profitable than their industry peers and generate 9 percent higher revenue from their physical assets.
Chapter 2: CREATING A COMPELLING CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
One of the deep secrets of life is that all that is really worth doing is what we do for others.—Lewis Carroll
Transforming the customer experience is at the heart of digital transformation. Digital technologies are changing the game of customer interactions, with new rules and possibilities that were unimaginable only a few years back.
For Digital Masters, these new technologies are not goals to attain or signals to send to investors. Instead, the technologies are tools that can be combined to get closer to customers. Digital mastery goes well beyond websites and mobile apps to truly transform the customer experience and how you steer customers effortlessly through it.
CHAPTER 3 : EXPLOITING THE POWER OF CORE OPERATIONS
What lies behind you, and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you. —Ralph Waldo Emerson
Digitally transforming operations requires a vision that extends beyond incremental tweaks. But it also requires something more. Transformation requires good data, available in real-time, to the people and machines that need it. For many companies, true operations transformation starts by overhauling legacy systems and information to provide a unified view of processes and data.
CHAPTER 4: REINVENTING BUSINESS MODELS
Do not quench your inspiration and your imagination; do not become the slave of your model. —Vincent van Gogh
Executives in music, newspapers, and equity trading have already seen the radical upheavals that digital business model reinvention can bring to their industries. Industries ranging from insurance to education are starting to experience the same thing. Whatever your industry, you need to be on the forefront of challenging your current business model. Otherwise, someone else will.
CHAPTER 5: CRAFTING YOUR DIGITAL VISION
We do not need magic to transform our world. We carry all the power we need inside ourselves already. We have the power to imagine better. —J. K. Rowling
Creating Transformative Ambitions Having a vision is not enough.
The vision needs to be transformative. Incremental visions will limit the benefits that you can attain in your digital transformation. Even if you succeed, the most you’ll get is the incremental payoff. If digital is leading to radical changes in every industry, you can help your company by defining what a radically different digital future looks like.
Your digital aspirations can be divided into three categories: substitution, extension, and transformation.
Substitution is the use of new technology as an alternative or a replacement for substantially the same function that the enterprise already performs.
Extension significantly improves the performance or functionality of a product or process, without radically changing it.
Transformation is the fundamental redefinition of a process or product through technology.
CHAPTER 6: ENGAGING THE ORGANIZATION AT SCALE
If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it, I know I can achieve it. —Jesse Jackson
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In Working Backwards, Collin and Bill share insights. stories and the principles that drove the success of Amazon to become one of the world’s most va In Working Backwards, Collin and Bill share insights. stories and the principles that drove the success of Amazon to become one of the world’s most valuable brands. The Title of the book working back is derived from amazon’s product development process: working backwards from the desired customer experience.
The authors illuminate how Amazon’s fourteen leadership principles inform decision-making at all levels and reveal how the company’s culture has been defined by four characteristics: customer obsession, long-term thinking, eagerness to invent, and operational excellence. Bryar and Carr explain the set of ground-level practices that ensure these are translated into action and flow through all aspects of the business.
Working Backwards is a practical guidebook and a corporate narrative, filled with the authors’ in-the-room recollections of what “Being Amazonian” is like and how it has affected their personal and professional lives. They demonstrate that success on Amazon’s scale is not achieved by the genius of any single leader, but rather through a commitment to and execution of a set of well-defined, rigorously executed principles and practices.
Amazon according to Jeff Bezos:
In a talk at the 2018 Air, Space and Cyber Conference, Jeff described Amazon this way: “Our culture is four things: customer obsession instead of competitor obsession; willingness to think long term, with a longer investment horizon than most of our peers; eagerness to invent, which of course goes hand in hand with failure; and then, finally, taking professional pride in operational excellence.
In 2015 Amazon became the company that reached $100 billion in annual sales faster than any other in the world.
PLANT MANY SEEDS
“Jeff often used an analogy in those days when describing our efforts to innovate and build new businesses. “We need to plant many seeds,” he would say, “because we don’t know which one of those seeds will grow into a mighty oak.” It was an apt analogy. The oak is one of the sturdiest and longest-living trees in the forest. Each tree produces thousands of acorns for every one tree that eventually rises to the sky.”
Part One: Being Amazonian
The Bar Raiser
Urgency bias: the tendency to overlook a candidate’s flaws because you are overwhelmed with work and need bodies. The Bar Raiser provides teams with methods to make the strongest hires efficiently and quickly, but without cutting corners.
The basic premise is, for each initiative or project, there is a single leader whose focus is that project and that project alone, and that leader oversees teams of people whose attention is similarly focused on that one project.
A single person, unencumbered by competing responsibilities, owns a single major initiative and heads up a separable, largely autonomous team to deliver its goals.
“Working Backwards from the desired customer experience. Before we start building, we write a Press Release to clearly define how the new idea or product will benefit customers, and we create a list of Frequently Asked Questions to resolve the tough issues up front. We carefully and critically study and modify each of these documents until we’re satisfied before we move on to the next step.”
The Working Backwards process is all about starting from the customer perspective and following a step-by-step process where you question assumptions relentlessly until you have a complete understanding of what you want to build. It’s about seeking truth.
Chapter 1 Building Blocks: Leadership Principles and Mechanisms
What distinguishes Amazon is that its Leadership Principles are deeply ingrained in every significant process and function at the company. In many cases, the principles dictate a way of thinking or doing work that is different from the way that most companies operate. As a result, newly hired Amazonians go through a challenging multimonth period of learning and adapting to these new methods.
14 Amazon’s Leadership Principles
Over the course of many years, Amazon has put in place mechanisms to ensure that the Leadership Principles translate into action. Three foundational mechanisms are
The annual planning process;
The S-Team goals process (the S-Team consists of the senior vice presidents and direct reports to Jeff Bezos); and
Amazon’s compensation plan, which aligns incentives with what’s best for customers and the company over the long term.
Amazon relies heavily on autonomous, single-threaded teams. These teams keep the company nimble, moving quickly with a minimum of external friction, but their autonomy must be paired with precise goal-setting.to align each team’s independent plans with the company’s overarching goals.
Chapter 2 : Hiring
“Unstructured hiring decision meetings can give rise to groupthink, confirmation bias, and other cognitive traps that feel right at the time but produce poor decisions.”
The Amazon Bar Raiser program
The Amazon Bar Raiser program has the goal of creating a scalable, repeatable, formal process for consistently making appropriate and successful hiring decisions. Like all good processes, it’s simple to understand, can be easily taught to new people, does not depend on scarce resources (such as a single individual), and has a feedback loop to ensure continual improvement. The Bar Raiser hiring process became one of the earliest and most successful components of the being Amazonian toolkit.
“Amazon’s Bar Raiser process was designed to provide that framework, minimize the variability of ad hoc hiring processes, and improve results.”
“The method that Amazon interviewers use for drilling down goes by the acronym STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result):
“What was the situation?”
“What were you tasked with?”
“What actions did you take?”
“What was the result?”
The Bar Raiser
The Bar Raiser is involved in every interview loop and ensures the process is followed and bad hiring decisions are avoided. They are also there to set a good example for other interviewers. In addition to conducting one of the interviews, the Bar Raiser coaches others on interviewing techniques, asks probing questions in the debrief, makes sure that personal biases do not affect the hiring decision, and determines whether the candidate meets or exceeds the hiring bar set by the company.
The two-pizza team, so named because the teams would be no larger than the number of people that could be adequately fed by two large pizzas.
Chapter 4: Communicating
Six Pager Document
At Amazon, after a brief exchange of greetings and chitchat, everyone sits at the table, and the room goes completely silent. Silent, as in not a word. The reason for the silence? A six-page document that everyone must read before discussion begins.
Amazon relies far more on the written word to develop and communicate ideas than most companies, and this difference makes for a huge competitive advantage.
Amazon uses two main forms of narrative.
The first is known as the “six-pager.” It is used to describe, review, or propose just about any type of idea, process, or business.
The second narrative form is the PR/FAQ. This one is specifically linked to the Working Backwards process for new product development.
Chapter 5: Working Backwards
Working Backwards is a systematic way to vet ideas and create new products. Its key tenet is to start by defining the customer experience, then iteratively work backwards from that point until the team achieves clarity of thought around what to build. Its principal tool is a second form of written narrative called the PR/FAQ, short for press release/frequently asked questions.
Chapter 6 Metrics: Manage Your Inputs, Not Your Outputs
The share price is what Amazon calls an “output metric.” The CEO, and companies in general, have very little ability to directly control output metrics. What’s really important is to focus on the “controllable input metrics,” the activities you directly control, which ultimately affect output metrics such as share price.
Weekly Business Review (WBR).
The purpose of the WBR was to provide a more comprehensive lens through which to see the business. The WBR is constructed and implemented so the company can improve each and every week. It has a fractal nature that allows us to easily adapt to different situations, from small groups to billion-dollar businesses. Small teams, business category lines, and the entire online retail business all have their own WBRs.
Input vs Output Metrics
Input metrics track things like selection, price, or convenience—factors that Amazon can control through actions such as adding items to the catalog, lowering cost so prices can be lowered, or positioning inventory to facilitate faster delivery to customers.
Output metrics—things like orders, revenue, and profit—are important, but they generally can’t be directly manipulated in a sustainable manner over the long term. Input metrics measure things that, done right, bring about the desired results in your output metrics.
Part Two: The Invention Machine at Work
To invent you have to experiment, and if you know in advance that it’s going to work, it’s not an experiment. Most large organizations embrace the idea of the invention but are not willing to suffer the string of failed experiments necessary to get there. Thus for Amazon, its less successful inventions, such as Fire Phone, are valuable. The same is true of the off-target early iterations of later successes, such as Amazon Unbox, which evolved into Prime Video, and Amazon Auctions and zShops, which developed into Amazon Marketplace. These “failures” are important parts of the company’s story, both as precursors to later successes and as evidence that experimentation is happening.
Being Amazonian means approaching invention with long-term thinking and customer obsession, ensuring that the Leadership Principles guide the way, and deploying the practices to drive execution.
Long-term thinking levers our existing abilities and lets us do new things we couldn’t otherwise contemplate. – Jeff Bezos
You can’t wind the clock back, replay the experiment, and see what would have happened if we had built and launched these services quickly without knowing some of the truths we discovered using Working Backwards. However, though there were still some post-launch maintenance issues and outages, the performance and rapid customer adoption speak for themselves. Based on my experience of going through the Working Backwards process with Jeff for well over a dozen different product teams across AWS, Digital, and other services,
“I can say confidently that the extra time we spent slowing down to uncover the necessary truths was ultimately a faster path to a large and successful business. The results speak for themselves. Amazon has large viable digital devices and media businesses. And, as mentioned in the introduction, AWS reached the $10 billion annual revenue milestone faster than Amazon the online retailer.” ...more
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Digital transformation is not about technology—it is about strategy and new ways of thinking. Transforming for the digital age requires your business Digital transformation is not about technology—it is about strategy and new ways of thinking. Transforming for the digital age requires your business to upgrade its strategic mindset much more than its IT infrastructure.
Digital transformation requires a holistic view of business strategy.
The rules of business have changed. In every industry, the spread of new digital technologies and the rise of new disruptive threats are transforming business models and processes. The digital revolution has turned the old business playbook upside down.
Businesses founded before the rise of the Internet face a stark challenge: Many of the fundamental rules and assumptions that governed and grew their businesses in the pre-digital era no longer hold. The good news is that change is possible.
Pre-digital businesses are not dinosaurs doomed to extinction. Their disruption is not inevitable. Businesses can transform themselves to thrive in the digital age.
The digital revolution is still just getting started. With an ever-unfolding cascade of new technologies and all the potential they provide, it is impossible to predict how the digital future will impact your business or any industry. But if you are savvy, your business can choose to use each new wave of change as an opportunity to create new value for your customers.
The organizations that flourish in the digital age will combine the right strategic mindset with the right leadership skill set. They will understand the new strategic fundamentals of the digital age and use them to craft new products, services, brands, and business models. Whatever their size, they will maintain the organizational agility to seize new opportunities, and they will balance the art of incubating and learning like a start-up with the art of scaling and integrating like an enterprise.
These organizations will be guided, as their strategies and business models change, by a focus on continuous value creation.
The five domains of business: strategy: customers, competition, data, innovation, and value.
Customers – From passive targets…to dynamic networks
Digital technologies change how we connect and create value with our customers. We may have grown up in a world in which companies broadcast messages and shipped products to customers. But today the relationship is much more two-way: customers’ communications and reviews make them a bigger influencer than advertisements or celebrities, and customers’ dynamic participation has become a critical driver of business success.
Competition – From products…to platforms
Digital technologies transform how we need to think about competition. More and more, we are competing not just with rival companies from within our industry but also with companies from outside our industry that are stealing customers away with their new digital offerings. We may find ourselves competing fiercely with a long-standing rival in one area while leveraging that company’s capabilities by cooperating in another sector of our business. Increasingly, our competitive assets may no longer reside in our own organization; rather, they may be in a network of partners that we bring together in looser business relationships.
A platform is a business that creates value by facilitating direct interactions between two or more distinct types of customers.
Today, we are moving to a world of fluid industry boundaries, one where our biggest challengers may be asymmetric competitors—companies from outside our industry that look nothing like us but that offer competing value to our customers.
Data – From silos….to strategic asset
Digital technologies have changed our world perhaps most significantly in how we think about data. In traditional businesses, data was expensive to obtain, difficult to store, and utilized in organizational silos. Today, data is being generated at an unprecedented rate—not just by companies but by everyone. Moreover, cloud-based systems for storing data are increasingly cheap, readily available, and easy to use. The biggest challenge today is turning the enormous amount of data we have into valuable information.
To create good data strategy, you must begin with an understanding of the four templates of data value creation, the new sources and analytic capabilities of big data, the role of causality in data-driven decision making, and the risks around data security and privacy.
Innovation – From top-down planning…to experimentation
Digital technologies are also transforming the ways that businesses innovate. Traditionally, innovation was expensive, high stakes, and insular. Testing new ideas was difficult and costly, so businesses relied on their managers to guess what to build into a product before launching it in the market. Today, digital technologies enable continuous testing and experimentation, processes that were inconceivable in the past. Prototypes can be built for pennies and ideas tested quickly with user communities. Constant learning and the rapid iteration of products, before and after their launch date, are becoming the norm.
This new approach to innovation is focused on careful expValue – From defending…to adapting
The final domain of digital transformation is the value a business delivers to its customers—its value proposition. Traditionally, a firm’s value proposition was seen as fairly constant. Products may be updated, marketing campaigns refreshed, or operations improved, but the basic value a business offered to its customers was assumed to be constant and defined by its industry (e.g., car companies offer transportation, safety, comfort, and status, in varying degrees).
In the digital age, relying on an unchanging value proposition is inviting challenge and eventual disruption by new competitors. Although industries will vary as to the exact timing and nature of their transformation by new technologies, those who assume it will be a little farther down the road are most likely to be run over. The only sure response to a shifting business environment is to take a path of constant evolution, looking to every technology as a way to extend and improve our value proposition to our customers. Rather than waiting to adapt when change becomes a matter of life or death, businesses need to focus on seizing emerging opportunities, divesting from declining sources of advantage, and adapting early to stay ahead of the curve of change.
Build Platforms, Not Just Products
To master competition in the digital age, businesses must learn to cope with asymmetric challengers who are reshuffling the roles of competition and cooperation in every industry. They must also understand the increasing importance of strategies to build platforms, not just products.
digital transformation is not just about having the right strategy; it’s also about making that strategy happen.
Harness Customer Networks Customers
Customers in the digital age are not passive consumers but nodes within dynamic networks—interacting and shaping brands, markets, and each other. Businesses need to recognize this new reality and treat customers accordingly. They need to understand how customer networks are redefining the marketing funnel, reshaping customers’ path to purchase, and opening up new ways to co-create value with customers.
A brand is no longer something that a business alone creates, defines, and projects outward; it is something that customers shape, too, and the business needs their help to fully create it. Many customers want to do more than just buy products and brands; they want to co-create them.
Five Customer Network Behaviors
Access: They seek to access digital data, content, and interactions as quickly, easily, and flexibly as possible. Any offering that enhances this access is incredibly compelling.
Engage: They seek to engage with digital content that is sensory, interactive, and relevant to their needs.
Customize: They seek to customize their experiences by choosing and modifying a wide assortment of information, products, and services.
Connect: They seek to connect with one another by sharing their experiences, ideas, and opinions through text, images, and social links.
Collaborate: As social animals, they are naturally drawn to work together. Accordingly, they seek to collaborate on projects and goals through open platforms.
Disintermediation and Intermediation
Disintermediation—the removal of an intermediary or middleman from a series of business transactions. The Internet is widely known to have been a powerful force for disintermediation, as it has made it much easier for goods and services of all kinds to reach any audience that wants them.
As an incumbent, you have six possible responses when faced with a disruptive challenger:
THREE STRATEGIES TO BECOME THE DISRUPTER
• Acquire the disrupter
• Launch an independent disrupter
• Split the disrupter’s business model
THREE STRATEGIES TO MITIGATE LOSSES FROM THE DISRUPTER
• Refocus on your defensible customers
• Diversify your portfolio
• Plan for a fast exit
Reimagining your business requires challenging some of its underlying core assumptions. It requires recognizing blind spots you may not realize you have. It requires thinking differently about every aspect of your strategy—customers, competition, data, innovation, and value. This kind of rethinking is difficult—but certainly possible. Just as factories built before the era of electrification were able to revamp their entire way of working and manufacturing, businesses today that were born before the Internet are quite capable of transforming for the digital age.
To develop true organizational agility, your business needs to focus on three areas:
• Allocating resources: How will you decide what to invest in? Are you able to disengage from initiatives and lines of business that lack future potential? Can you apply resources from older business lines to support new ventures?
• Changing what you measure: What outcomes are being measured by senior decision makers? Do they simply relate to existing business practices, or can they support new directions? What should you be measuring at different stages of a transition to a new business model?
• Aligning incentives: What kind of behavior is enabled, supported, and rewarded in your organization? What are managers held accountable for? How are they assigned to new positions? Do compensation and recognition support or hinder the necessary changes in your strategy?eriments and on minimum viable prototypes that maximize learning while minimizing cost.
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Employment for many skilled professionals—including lawyers, journalists, scientists, and pharmacists—is already being significan Technology Disruption
Employment for many skilled professionals—including lawyers, journalists, scientists, and pharmacists—is already being significantly eroded by advancing information technology. They are not alone: most jobs are, on some level, fundamentally routine and predictable, with relatively few people paid primarily to engage in truly creative work or “blue-sky” thinking.”
As machines take on that routine, predictable work, workers will face an unprecedented challenge as they attempt to adapt. In the past, automation technology has tended to be relatively specialized and to disrupt one employment sector at a time, with workers then switching to a new emerging industry.
Virtually every industry in existence is likely to become less labor-intensive as new technology is assimilated into business models—and that transition could happen quite rapidly. At the same time, the new industries that emerge will nearly always incorporate powerful labor-saving technology right from their inception.
The Disruption is going to affect all of us:
One widely held belief that is certain to be challenged is the assumption that automation is primarily a threat to workers who have little education and lower-skill levels. That assumption emerges from the fact that such jobs tend to be routine and repetitive. Before you get too comfortable with that idea, however, consider just how fast the frontier is moving. At one time, a “routine” occupation would probably have implied standing on an assembly line. The reality today is far different. While lower-skill occupations will no doubt continue to be affected, a great many college-educated, white-collar workers are going to discover that their jobs, too, are squarely in the sights as software automation and predictive algorithms advance rapidly in capability.
Chapter 1: THE AUTOMATION WAVE
As automation becomes ever more flexible and sophisticated, it’s likely that manufacturers will trend toward offering more customizable products—perhaps, for example, allowing customers to create unique designs or specify hard-to-find clothing sizes through easy-to-use online interfaces. Domestic automated production could then put a finished product into a customer’s hands within days.
Robots, of course, have the ability to work continuously, and as they become more flexible and easier to train for new tasks, they will become an increasingly attractive alternative to human workers, even when wages are low.
Chapter 2: IS THIS TIME DIFFERENT?
The phrase “triple revolution” referred to a report written by a group of prominent academics, journalists, and technologists that called itself the Ad Hoc Committee on the Triple Revolution.
The third revolution, which comprised the bulk of the document’s text, has largely been forgotten. The report predicted that “cybernation” (or automation) would soon result in an economy where “potentially unlimited “The third revolution, which comprised the bulk of the document’s text, has largely been forgotten. The report predicted that “cybernation” (or automation) would soon result in an economy where “potentially unlimited output can be achieved by systems of machines which will require little cooperation from human beings.
The result would be massive unemployment, soaring inequality, and, ultimately, falling demand for goods and services as consumers increasingly lacked the purchasing power necessary to continue driving economic growth.
Seven Deadly Trends
In all, we can enumerate at least seven economic trends that, taken together, suggest a transformative role for advancing information technology.
A Bear Market for Labor’s Share, and a Raging Bull for Corporations
Declining Labor Force Participation
Diminishing Job Creation, Lengthening Jobless Recoveries, and Soaring Long-Term Unemployment
Declining Incomes and Underemployment for Recent College Graduates
Polarization and Part-Time Jobs
Chapter 3: INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY: AN UNPRECEDENTED FORCE FOR DISRUPTION
Information Technology is one of the major forces driving the automation and disruption in the world of work. Here are some cool stats on the power of technology and value creation:
2007 — YouTube purchased by Google for $1.65 billion —65 people — $25 million per employee
2012 — Instagram purchased by Facebook for $1 billion —13 people — $77 million per employee
2014 – WhatsApp purchased by Facebook for $19 billion —55 people — $345 million per employee
Progress is generally not always smooth and consistent; instead, it often lurches forward and then pauses while new capabilities are assimilated into organizations and the foundation for the next period of rapid advance is established. There are also intricate interdependencies and feedback loops between different realms of technology.
Chapter 4: WHITE-COLLAR JOBS AT RISK
Between 2003 and 2012, the median income of US college graduates with bachelor’s degrees fell from nearly $52,000 to just over $46,000, measured in 2012 dollars. During the same period, total student loan debt tripled from about $300 billion to $900 billion.
Millions of lower-skill jobs in areas like fast food and retail are at risk as robots and self-service technologies begin to encroach aggressively in these areas. We can be sure that more education and training will be the primary proffered solution for these workers.
The ongoing race between technology and education may well be approaching the endgame: the machines are coming for the higher-skill jobs as well.
Chapter 5: TRANSFORMING HIGHER EDUCATION
Small wonder, then, that many observers have expressed the view that higher education has become a “bubble,” or at least a bloated house of cards that is ripe for the same kind of digital decimation that has already transformed the newspaper and magazine industries. MOOCs offered by elite institutions are viewed as the mechanism mostly likely to impose the winner-take-all scenario that invariably takes hold once an industry goes digital.
The United States has over 2,000 four-year colleges and universities. If you include institutions that grant two-year degrees, the number grows to over 4,000. Of these, perhaps 200–300 might be characterized as selective. The number of schools with national reputations, or that might be considered truly elite, is, of course, far smaller. Imagine a future where college students can attend free online courses taught by Harvard or Stanford professors and subsequently receive a credential that would be acceptable to employers or graduate schools. Who, then, would be willing to go into debt in order to pay the tuition at a third- or fourth-tier institution?
Chapter 6: THE HEALTH CARE CHALLENGE
Once medical applications of artificial intelligence evolve to the point where the systems can act as true advisers capable of providing consistently high-quality second opinions, the technology could also help rein in the high costs associated with malpractice liability. Many physicians feel the need to practice “defensive medicine” and order every conceivable test in an attempt to protect themselves against potential lawsuits.
A documented second opinion from an AI system versed in best practice standards could offer doctors a “safe harbor” defense against such claims. The result might be less spending on needless medical tests and scans as well as lower malpractice insurance premiums.
AS JOBS EVAPORATE and median incomes stagnate—or perhaps even fall—we run the risk that a large and growing fraction of our population will no longer have sufficient discretionary income to continue propelling vibrant demand for the products and services that the economy produces.
Chapter 8: CONSUMERS, LIMITS TO GROWTH . . . AND CRISIS?
Extreme income concentration among a tiny sliver of potential customers will ultimately threaten the viability of the markets that support these industries.
Economists have long understood that the wealthy spend a smaller fraction of their income than the middle class and, especially, the poor. The lowest-income households have little choice but to spend nearly everything they manage to bring in, while the truly rich would likely find it impossible to consume at a similar rate even if they tried. The clear implication is that, as income increasingly concentrates among the wealthy few, we should expect less robust overall consumption.
Chapter 9: SUPER-INTELLIGENCE AND THE SINGULARITY
Once Artificial General Intelligence is achieved, Moore’s Law alone would likely soon produce a computer that exceeded human intellectual capability. A thinking machine would, of course, continue to enjoy all the advantages that computers currently have, including the ability to calculate and access information at speeds that would be incomprehensible for us. Inevitably, we would soon share the planet with something entirely unprecedented: a genuinely alien—and superior—intellect.
Chapter 10: TOWARD A NEW ECONOMIC PARADIGM
Education and retraining, it seems, are a solution that is immutable across time.
We are running up against a fundamental limit both in terms of the capabilities of the people being herded into colleges and the number of high-skill jobs that will be available for them if they manage to graduate. The problem is that the skills ladder is not really a ladder at all: it is a pyramid, and there is only so much room at the top.
As various sectors of the economy have mechanized or automated, workers have transitioned from routine jobs in one sector to routine jobs in another. The person who would have worked on a farm in 1900, or in a factory in 1950, is today scanning bar codes or stocking shelves at Walmart.
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“The present is the past rolled up for action, and the past is the present unrolled for understanding”
“Civilization is social order promoting cultural “The present is the past rolled up for action, and the past is the present unrolled for understanding”
“Civilization is social order promoting cultural creation. Four elements constitute it: economic provision, political organization, moral tradition, and the pursuit of knowledge and the arts. It begins where chaos and insecurity end. For when fear is overcome, curiosity and constructiveness are free, and man passes by natural impulse towards the understanding and embellishment of life.” (Will Durant, Story of Civilization, pg 1, vol. 1)”
The historian always oversimplifies, and hastily selects a manageable minority of facts and faces out of a crowd of souls and events whose multitudinous complexity he can never quite embrace or comprehend.
History and the Earth
“History is but the record of crimes and misfortunes. – Voltaire
History is subject to geology. Every day the sea encroaches somewhere upon the land, or the land upon the sea; cities disappear under the water, and sunken cathedrals ring their melancholy bells. Mountains rise and fall in the rhythm of emergence and erosion; rivers swell and flood, or dry up, or change their course; valleys become deserts, and isthmuses become straits. To the geologic eye all the surface of the earth is a fluid form, and man moves upon it as insecurely as Peter walking on the waves to Christ.
Geography is the matrix of history, its nourishing mother and disciplining home. Its rivers, lakes, oases, and oceans draw settlers to their shores, for water is the life of organisms and towns, and offers inexpensive roads for transport and trade.
Biology and History
History is a fragment of biology: the life of man is a portion of the vicissitudes of organisms on land and sea. Sometimes, wandering alone in the woods on a summer day, we hear or see the movement of a hundred species of flying, leaping, creeping, crawling, burrowing things.
The first biological lesson of history is that life is competition. Competition is not only the life of trade, it is the trade of life—peaceful when food abounds, violent when the mouths outrun the food.
Animals eat one another without qualm; civilized men consume one another by due process of law. Co-operation is real, and increases with social development, but mostly because it is a tool and form of competition; we co-operate in our group—our family, community, club, church, party, “race,” or nation—in order to strengthen our group in its competition with other groups.
We are subject to the processes and trials of evolution, to the struggle for existence and the survival of the fittest to survive. If some of us seem to escape the strife or the trials it is because our group protects us; but that group itself must meet the tests of survival.
The second biological lesson of history is that life is selection. In the competition for food or mates or power some organisms succeed and some fail. In the struggle for existence some individuals are better equipped than others to meet the tests of survival.
Race and History
The role of race in history is rather preliminary than creative. Varied stocks, entering some locality from diverse directions at divers times, mingle their blood, traditions, and ways with one another or with the existing population, like two diverse pools of genes coming together in sexual reproduction. Such an ethnic mixture may in the course of centuries produce a new type, even a new people; so Celts, Romans, Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Danes, and Normans fused to produce Englishmen.
It is not the race that makes the civilization, it is the civilization that makes the people: circumstances geographical, economic, and political create a culture, and the culture creates a human type.
History is color-blind and can develop a civilization (in any favorable environment) under almost any skin.
Character and History
Society is founded not on the ideals but on the nature of man, and the constitution of man rewrites the constitutions of states.
Intellect is therefore a vital force in history, but it can also be a dissolvent and destructive power. Out of every hundred new ideas ninety-nine or more will probably be inferior to the traditional responses which they propose to replace. No one man, however brilliant or well-informed, can come in one lifetime to such fullness of understanding as to safely judge and dismiss the customs or institutions of his society, for these are the wisdom of generations after centuries of experiment in the laboratory of history.
History in the large is the conflict of minorities; the majority applauds the victor and supplies the human material of social experiment.
Morals and History
Morals are the rules by which a society exhorts (as laws are the rules by which it seeks to compel) its members and associations to behavior consistent with its order, security, and growth. So for sixteen centuries the Jewish enclaves in Christendom maintained their continuity and internal peace by a strict and detailed moral code, almost without help from the state and its laws.
A little knowledge of history stresses the variability of moral codes, and concludes that they are negligible because they differ in time and place, and sometimes contradict each other. A larger knowledge stresses the universality of moral codes, and concludes to their necessity.
Moral codes differ because they adjust themselves to historical and environmental conditions. If we divide economic history into three stages—hunting, agriculture, industry—we may expect that the moral code of one stage will be changed in the next.
Religion and History
Religion does not seem at first to have had any connection with morals. Apparently (for we are merely guessing, or echoing Petronius, who echoed Lucretius) “it was fear that first made the gods” —fear of hidden forces in the earth, rivers, oceans, trees, winds, and sky. Religion became the propitiatory worship of these forces through offerings, sacrifice, incantation, and prayer.”
One lesson of history is that religion has many lives, and a habit of resurrection. How often in the past have God and religion died and been reborn! Ikhnaton used all the powers of a pharaoh to destroy the religion of Amon; within a year of Ikhnaton’s death the religion of Amon was restored.
I do not know what the heart of a rascal may be; I know what is in the heart of an honest man; it is horrible.” – Joseph de Maistre.
“As long as there is poverty there will be gods.”
Economics and History
History, according to Karl Marx, is economics in action—the contest, among individuals, groups, classes, and states, for food, fuel, materials, and economic power. Political forms, religious institutions, cultural creations, are all rooted in economic realities.
The experience of the past leaves little doubt that every economic system must sooner or later rely upon some form of the profit motive to stir individuals and groups to productivity. Substitutes like slavery, police supervision, or ideological enthusiasm prove too unproductive, too expensive, or too transient. Normally and generally men are judged by their ability to produce—except in war, when they are ranked according to their ability to destroy.
In progressive societies the concentration may reach a point where the strength of number in the many poor rivals the strength of ability in the few rich; then the unstable equilibrium generates a critical situation, which history has diversely met by legislation redistributing wealth or by revolution distributing poverty.
Socialism and History
The struggle of socialism against capitalism is part of the historic rhythm in the concentration and dispersion of wealth. The capitalist, of course, has fulfilled a creative function in history: he has gathered the savings of the people into productive capital by the promise of dividends or interest; he has financed the mechanization of industry and agriculture, and the rationalization of distribution; and the result has been such a flow of goods from producer to consumer as history has never seen before.
Capitalism retains the stimulus of private property, free enterprise, and competition, and produces a rich supply of goods; high taxation, falling heavily upon the upper classes, enables the government to provide for a self-limited population unprecedented services in education, health, and recreation. The fear of capitalism has compelled socialism to widen freedom, and the fear of socialism has compelled capitalism to increase equality. East is West and West is East, and soon the twain will meet.
Government and History
The prime task of government is to establish order; organized central force is the sole alternative to incalculable and disruptive force in private hands. Power naturally converges to a center, for it is ineffective when divided, diluted, and spread.
Monarchy seems to be the most natural kind of government, since it applies to the group the authority of the father in a family or of the chieftain in a warrior band. If we were to judge forms of government from their prevalence and duration in history we should have to give the palm to monarchy; democracies, by contrast, have been hectic interludes.
The only real revolution is in the enlightenment of the mind and the improvement of character, the only real emancipation is individual, and the only real revolutionists are philosophers and saints.
The excessive increase of anything causes a reaction in the opposite direction;… dictatorship naturally arises out of democracy, and the most aggravated form of tyranny and slavery out of the most extreme form of liberty.
Democracy is the most difficult of all forms of government, since it requires the widest spread of intelligence, and we forgot to make ourselves intelligent when we made ourselves sovereign. Education has spread, but intelligence is perpetually retarded by the fertility of the simple. A cynic remarked that “you mustn’t enthrone ignorance just because there is so much of it.” However, ignorance is not long enthroned, for it lends itself to manipulation by the forces that mold public opinion. It may be true, as Lincoln supposed, that “you can’t fool all the people all the time,” but you can fool enough of them to rule a large country.
History and War
War is one of the constants of history, and has not diminished with civilization or democracy. In the last 3,421 years of recorded history only 268 have seen no war. We have acknowledged war as at present the ultimate form of competition and natural selection in the human species.
The causes of war are the same as the causes of competition among individuals: acquisitiveness, pugnacity, and pride; the desire for food, land, materials, fuels, mastery. The state has our instincts without our restraints. The individual submits to restraints laid upon him by morals and laws, and agrees to replace combat with conference, because the state guarantees him basic protection in his life, property, and legal rights. The state itself acknowledges no substantial restraints, either because it is strong enough to defy any interference with its will or because there is no superstate to offer it basic protection, and no international law or moral code wielding effective force.
The Ten Commandments must be silent when self-preservation is at stake.
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Where Companies Go Wrong
To mitigate the effects of digital disruption while also exploring new opportunities, companies have typically followed some c Where Companies Go Wrong
To mitigate the effects of digital disruption while also exploring new opportunities, companies have typically followed some combination of these three strategies–creating small, independent units or startups within the larger organization; doing a series of digital experiments; and/or leveraging technology to cut costs and improve efficiency. However, in most cases, these initiatives have led to limited success.
Independent Digital Units
Almost every large company launches independent digital units or has outposts in Silicon Valley, with the hope that a handful of young entrepreneurs will spark innovation for the firm.
Creating an independent unit is like launching a speedboat to turn around a large ship. Often the speedboat takes off but does little to move the ship.
Companies tend to run experiments, which makes a lot of sense given the rapidly changing environment and uncertainty about the future. This journey often begins with a few tactical experiments, typically in marketing departments, where employees are quick to try new social media tools or new mobile platforms. As the excitement around digital spreads throughout the organization, new initiatives start emerging all over the company, leading to a proliferation.
A third approach is to leverage technology to reduce costs and improve the efficiency of operations. For instance, banks close branches as consumers move to online and mobile banking. Retail stores reduce their real estate footprint and close marginal stores. Processes are digitized and streamlined to minimize overlap and increase efficiency. Many of the internal tasks are redesigned to allow customers to self-serve, thereby reducing labor costs.
“Companies should always try to improve efficiency and minimize cost. However, if you rely solely on this approach, you are implicitly assuming that technology will not fundamentally change your business. Effectively you are assuming that banks, for instance, will still operate as before and that fintech companies won’t have a major impact on their business. In many cases this may be a flawed assumption.”
In order to be successful, you can’t just create a separate digital unit, or run experiments, or use technology to improve efficiency. Instead, you must make digital strategy an integral part of your overall business strategy. That is, rather than treating digital strategy as a separate exercise, you must embed it into the operations and DNA of your organization, in a way that touches all aspects of your business.
Crafting a Strategic View: A Framework for Reinventing Business
The framework consists of four key components:
Reimagining your business
Reevaluating your value chain
Reconnecting with customers
Rebuilding your organization
Reimagine Your Business
Given the dramatic changes that digital has caused, you’ll need to sit back and reflect on the core essence of your business, examining three components: scope, business model, and ecosystem.
“When considering scope, you’ll need to ask yourself this fundamental question: “What business are we in?”
Competition in the digital age usually comes laterally, from new players, and redefining the scope of your business is essential to ensuring future success. This requires a careful balance of broadening the scope of your business while staying within your core competencies.
Reevaluate Your Value Chain
Digital technology can significantly improve the efficiency and effectiveness of various parts of your value chain, especially as new models of R&D and innovation have emerged. Companies such as GE, P&G, and Siemens have leveraged open innovation to redefine their R&D process.
Digital technology has also ushered in a new era of Industry 4.0. Innovations such as digital manufacturing, virtual and augmented reality, 3-D printing, and digital supply chains are improving operational excellence.
Reconnect with Your Customers
“Digital technology has changed the way consumers search for information and buy products, and technology is enabling firms to collect information about the entire consumer decision journey or path to purchase, which will open up new ways for you to acquire customers.
Long before a consumer buys a car, she searches for information on Google, which provides an opportunity for auto manufacturers to understand her preferences and influence her behavior. Sensors in washing machines will soon allow Whirlpool to understand consumers’ usage behavior and even provide valuable consumption data about laundry detergent to P&G. And as consumers increasingly rely on online reviews and friends’ advice, you can monitor social media to understand how those friends and reviewers might be converted into brand advocates.
Rebuild Your Organization
Managing the digital transition in a large organization is a nontrivial task. As you try to strengthen your core business and build for the future at the same time, you’ll face the challenge of running two organizations in parallel. As a result, revenues and profits often decline during the transition period before they go back up, which can shake the resolve of even the most confident CEO.
Amazon competes with Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, and Walmart.
As an online platform
Amazon competes with eBay. In cloud computing, it battles for market share with IBM, Google, and Microsoft.
In streaming services, it has Netflix and Hulu as formidable competitors. Amazon Studios puts the company up against Disney and NBC Universal Studios.
Its entry into mobile phones put it in the crosshairs of Apple, HTC, and Samsung. Its ad network made it Google’s rival.
Competition Is No Longer Defined by Traditional Industry Boundaries
It should be clear from the discussion so far that competition is no longer defined by traditional product or industry boundaries. The rapid development of technology is making data and software integral to almost all businesses, which is blurring industry boundaries faster than ever before.
Amazon surprised Google by becoming the dominant competitor in the search market.
Apple is hiring automobile engineers at a rate that is scaring the auto industry. Netflix and, more recently, streaming services by HBO and CBS are causing concern for Comcast and other cable players.
A platform offers scale with low capital investment, but it comes with limited control that may lead to poor customer experience. Companies that rely heavily on their platform spend enormous amounts of time and effort managing customer experience.
As devices become embedded with sensors, their value is less in the hardware itself and more in the interconnectedness of that hardware. In the connected world, the battle is no longer fought among products. Instead, competitive advantage comes from building a platform that has an ecosystem around it. However, the journey from product to platform is not always easy or quick, and often a company’s business model evolves over time to reach this stage.
In order to collaborate and partner with many players, some of whom may even be their competitors. And this requires new skills and capabilities to manage and govern a platform.
The 200-20 Rule
According to the familiar 80-20 rule, 20 percent of the customers provide 80 percent of the revenue. However, research shows that if we focus on profitability instead of revenues, the rule would be 200-20, where 20 percent of the customers provide almost 200 percent of the profit!
In other words, a company’s profits would soar if it were to jettison the bottom 80 percent of its customers. Of course, some of these unprofitable customers may be important for other, strategic reasons, but this analysis forces management to articulate the reasons for retaining these unprofitable customers.
Often there is a tendency to get seduced by the latest technology or the new business model of a hot startup. While incumbents should always learn from others, they should stay true to their core DNA and leverage the assets they have.
Digital transition involves managing existing business and building for the future at the same time. It is like changing the engine of a plane while in flight. The plane is going to go down first before it goes up again–and that is a scary and uncertain time, when everyone in the organization starts questioning the company’s strategy. Even though existing businesses may be under threat and in need of change, they are usually still profitable in the short run, and it is hard to give up all those profits for an uncertain future.
According to an IBM report, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day.
Data Analytics, Machine Learning, and Artificial Intelligence
According to an IBM report, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day. Put differently, 90 percent of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years. This data comes from consumer activities such as web browsing, social media posts, and mobile usage–and increasingly from sensors built into machines. Making sense of this vast amount of data has therefore become the key challenge.
Machines will not replace human judgment, but they will be major complementary assets to what we currently do to manage talent. The technology revolution is only going to accelerate in the future, and we better prepare and brace ourselves for it. ...more
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Rule 1: If you want to avoid worry, do what Sir William Osier did: Live in "day-tight compartments". Don't stew about the future. Just live each day u
Rule 1: If you want to avoid worry, do what Sir William Osier did: Live in "day-tight compartments". Don't stew about the future. Just live each day until bedtime.
Rule 2: The next time Trouble—with a capital T comes gunning for you and backs you up in a corner, try the magic formula of Willis H. Carrier:
a. Ask yourself, "What is the worst that can possibly happen if I can't solve my problem?"
b. Prepare yourself mentally to accept the worst-if necessary.
c. Then calmly try to improve upon the worst-which you have already mentally agreed to accept.
Rule 3: Remind yourself of the exorbitant price you can pay for worry in terms of your health. "Business men who do not know how to fight worry die young.
Part Two In A Nutshell
Rule 1: Get the facts. Remember that Dean Hawkes of Columbia University said that “half the worry in the world is caused by people trying to make decisions before they have sufficient knowledge on which to base a decision."
Rule 2: After carefully weighing all the facts, come to a decision.
Rule 3: Once a decision is carefully reached, act! Get busy carrying out your decision and dismiss all anxiety about the outcome.”
Rule 4: When you, or any of your associates are tempted to worry about a problem, write out and answer the following questions:
a. What is the problem?
b. What is the cause of the problem?
c. What are all possible solutions?
d. What is the best solution?
To break the worry habit, here is:
Rule 1: Keep busy. The worried person must lose himself in action, lest be wither in despair.”
George Bernard Shaw was right. He summed it all up when he said: "The secret of being miserable is to have the leisure to bother about whether you are happy or not." So don't bother to think about it! Spit on your hands and get busy. Your blood will start circulating; your mind will start ticking and pretty soon this whole positive upsurge of life in your body will drive worry from your mind. Get busy. Keep busy. It's the cheapest kind of medicine there is on this earth and one of the best.
“Rule 2: Let's not allow ourselves to be upset by small things we should despise and forget. Remember "Life is too short to be little.short to be little.”
To break the worry habit before it breaks you, here is Rule 3:
"Let's examine the record." Let's ask ourselves: "What are the chances, according to the law of averages, that this event I am worrying about will ever occur.”
To break the worry habit before it breaks you, Rule 4 is:
Co-operate with the inevitable.”
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference. - Dr. Reinhold Niebuhr,
So, to break the worry habit before it breaks you, here is Rule 5:
Whenever we are tempted to throw good money after bad in terms of human living, let's stop and ask ourselves these three Questions:
1. How much does this thing I am worrying about really matter to me?
2. At what point shall I set a "stop-loss" order on this worry and forget it?
3. Exactly how much shall I pay for this whistle? Have I already paid more than it is worth?
Part Three In A Nutshell - How To Break the Worry Habit before It Breaks You
Rule 1: Crowd worry out of your mind by keeping busy. Plenty of action is one of the best therapies ever devised for curing "wibber gibbers".
Rule 2: Don't fuss about trifles. Don't permit little things, the mere termites of life, to ruin your happiness.
Rule 3: Use the law of averages to outlaw your worries. Ask yourself: "What are the odds against this thing's happening at all?"
Rule 4: Co-operate with the inevitable. If you know a circumstance is beyond your power to change or revise, say to yourself "It is so; it cannot be otherwise."
Rule 5: Put a "stop-loss" order on your worries. Decide just how much anxiety a thing may be worth and refuse to give it any more.”
Rule 6: Let the past bury its dead. Don't saw sawdust.
“To avoid resentment and worry over ingratitude, here is Rule 3:
A. Instead of worrying about ingratitude, let's expect it. Let's remember that Jesus healed ten lepers in one day and only one thanked Him. Why should we expect more gratitude than Jesus got?
B. Let's remember that the only way to find happiness is not to expect gratitude, but to give for the joy of giving.
C. Let's remember that gratitude is a "cultivated" trait; so if we want our children to be grateful, we must train them to be grateful.”
You and I ought to be ashamed of ourselves. All the days of our years we have been living in a fairyland of beauty, but we have been too blind to see, too satiated to enjoy.
If we want to stop worrying and start living. Rule 4 is: Count your blessings, not your troubles!
The most important thing in life is not to capitalize on your gains. Any fool can do that. The really important thing is to profit from your losses. That requires intelligence; and it makes the difference between a man of sense and a fool.
So, to cultivate a mental attitude that will bring us peace and happiness, let's do something about Rule 6: When fate hands us a lemon, let's try to make a lemonade.
Part Four in a Nutshell - Seven Ways to Cultivate a Mental Attitude That Will Bring You Peace and Happiness
Rule 1: Let's fill our minds with thoughts of peace, courage, health, and hope, for ' 'our life is what our thoughts make it".
Rule 2: Let's never try to get even with our enemies, because if we do we will hurt ourselves far more than we hurt them. Let's do as General Eisenhower does: let's never waste a minute thinking about people we don't like.
Rule 3: A. Instead of worrying about ingratitude, let's expect it. Let's remember that Jesus healed ten lepers in one day and only one thanked Him. Why should we expect more gratitude than Jesus got?
B. Let's remember that the only way to find happiness is not to expect gratitude, but to give for the joy of giving.
C. Let's remember that gratitude is a "cultivated" trait; so if we want our children to be grateful, we must train them to be grateful.
Rule 4: Count your blessings, not your troubles!”
“Rule 5: Let's not imitate others. Let's find ourselves and be ourselves, for "envy is ignorance" and "imitation is suicide".
Rule 6: When fate hands us a lemon, let's try to make a lemonade.
Rule 7: Let's forget our own unhappiness by trying to create a little happiness for others. "When you are good to others, you are best to yourself.
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Ask yourself these two questions:
What is important now?
What is next?
“To this day, those same two questions keep me up late, get me up early, and creat Ask yourself these two questions:
What is important now?
What is next?
“To this day, those same two questions keep me up late, get me up early, and create a never-ending quest of enormous possibilities and accomplishments.“
Knowing that the quality of my life will never exceed the quality of my questions, I must ask outstanding questions. What am I doing that will count two hundred years from now? For eternity?
Present success or failure does not measure the true value of your life’s work. You still have now.
Time is merely the measure of passing events. Time is inflexible. You cannot manage it. It cannot be compressed or expanded. Bottom line: don’t focus on time, but on events themselves. When you control the event, you control your life. Fill these events with people you love. Relationships will be enhanced and memories created.
LIVING EACH DAY AS IF IT WERE YOUR LAST
“I know that “live this day as if it were your last” is an old and tired cliché that is often written or spoken with little thought to it. But there’s a reason why it is used so much. Let me explain.“
The reality of that statement is this: if you were actually told that today was your last day, you’d waste hours trying to figure out exactly how you should be spending your final moments.
That’s why “live this day as if it were your last” isn’t about action. If it were about action, most people would blow off work and ignore 99 percent of their daily responsibilities, just trying to decide what to do. You wouldn’t accomplish much for the long term. So it’s not about actions. It’s about mind-set. It is a thought process.
it’s not about actions. It’s about mind-set. It is a thought process.
Three things you can do to make getting into this mind-set a little bit easier on yourself.
1. CREATE A LIFE STATEMENT
From The Power of Positive Thinking by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, which was first published in 1952, and it’s still completely relevant and applicable today.
I BELIEVE I AM ALWAYS DIVINELY GUIDED.
I BELIEVE I WILL ALWAYS TAKE THE RIGHT TURN IN THE ROAD.
AND I BELIEVE GOD WILL ALWAYS MAKE A WAY WHERE THERE IS NO WAY.3”
2. CONTACT IMPORTANT PEOPLE
Which people matter most to you in life? Are there things you need to share with them? How can you express gratitude to them today? You can call or do something as simple as writing a letter or an e-mail.
Never forget the people who count in your life—not just parents but the other important people as well: teachers, mentors, spouses, friends, and more. Never forget what they’ve done for you. Honor them visibly. Let them know they matter and are critical to your life. Always.
“Applaud everyone you can today. Step up and stand up! Yell loud and long. Celebrate who they are and who they are becoming.”
3. NUMBER YOUR DAYS, DAILY
. Stop counting days down. Instead, count them up! Marvel at how many you’ve been allowed to spend on this planet. And never forget that each one could be your last.
There is no thought that will purge your priorities of worthless and worldly tastes like that of your impending death. Ponder the kind of life you would like to look back on when you come to die. There is enormous wisdom in such thoughts and meditation. Think often of your death. It is essential to understand that you have been dying since the day you were born.
“Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today. – JAMES DEAN AMERICAN FILM ACTOR FEBRUARY 8, 1931, D. SEPTEMBER 30, 1955 (HE LIVED EXACTLY 9,000 DAY
IF WE CAN LEARN HOW TO DIE, WE’LL KNOW HOW TO LIVE
“The best preparation for living well is to be prepared to die at any time.”
Imminent death inspires clarity of purpose, a rearranging of what really matters. How many times have you heard of people having near-death experiences and then making radical changes in their lives? From where they live and work, to whom they spend time with, to what takes priority, it all suddenly has a different meaning.
Whether it is a health scare or a terrifying plane ride, if you’ve ever waited for those test results to come back or for that turbulence to even out, those moments in between can feel like eternity. You question everything. And when you get the good news and the plane safely touches down, you are grateful and swear to live differently. Why not pledge to live better right now? Choose to be fully alive, purposeful, and loving today.
If we learn how to die, we’ll know how to live; if we learn how to live, we’ll know how to die.
How long does it take to discover your purpose in life? Believe it or not, twenty minutes! Remember, we are short on time, so we have to hurry. So be open to this. You must expect it to work; then it will.
1. Get a blank sheet of paper. Title it, “My Purpose in Life.
2. Start writing. Right now. Write. Write all you can. Words, phrases, complete sentences. Just write. Don’t stop. Write some more.
3. Repeat step two until you get the answer that makes you either cry or jump up and down with excitement. Condense it into one sentence. This is your purpose.
THE STATE OF INTENSITY
MANY PEOPLE MAY THINK THAT INTENSITY IS A STATE OF mind. But it is not. Intensity is a state of emotion. Intensity goes from the heart to the head. Intensity is enthusiasm. Intensity is passion. Intensity is being in love. You have to be emotionally connected to what you are doing in order to pursue it with intensity.
In order to make every day count, you must have that emotional connection—the fanatical commitment to follow through. Most likely, you have already created that desire, the intensity, the passion that will pull you forward. Now it’s just a matter of tapping into it on a consistent basis. Deep down, you know what counts in life. Simply focus on it.
EAT DESSERT FIRST
YOU KNOW WHEN YOU’RE OUT TO DINNER AND THAT REALLY amazing, decadent dessert on the menu catches your eye? You file it away in your mind and think, I’ll get that after the meal. Then, by the time you’re done and it’s time for dessert, you’re too full to eat anything else! Sound familiar?
Celebrating your life is kind of like that. We always think, Now’s not the time to stop and celebrate. I’ll do that once I’ve (insert lofty goal you want to accomplish here).
Here’s the problem with that philosophy: if you don’t stop to celebrate the little steps along the way, you get burned out! You get “too full,” just like when you put off dessert.
Order the dessert before you have time to fill up, before you have time to think about the calories. You can work those off! These are similar to the excuses we try to use for not celebrating: “I don’t have time; I’m too tired; I haven’t accomplished anything major yet. Forget about those excuses. The little steps must be recognized and honored. The main goal would be unreachable without them.
When you form a clear plan for your life, every day becomes part of something bigger: the process. It’s up to you, however, to determine who you are in the process of becoming.
You are the pebble that has been dropped into this gorgeous, beautiful, incredible, God-made, awe-inspiring pool of life. The pebble knows not of the ripples it creates. But there are always incalculable numbers of ripples that go to the edge of eternity. And you simply float to the bottom of the pool. But it’s not just the bottom; it’s the foundation. It is the foundation of everything you are. It is everything you are to become. It is everything you are creating.
“Winning is defined by the legacy you create, and legacies always take time to build.”
THREE STEPS TO CATAPULT YOUR LIFE
Sit down with a notebook or a laptop, and do this for yourself:
Step 1: Determine how many days you have been alive. Are you shocked? Amazed?
Step 2: Determine immediately the answer to these two critical, ongoing questions. (I know you can’t be sure about these things, but IF you were, what might they be?)
1. What is important right now to you?
2. What is next for you?
Having trouble? Here are some thoughts to prompt your answers:
• What have I not thought of yet?
• What is one immediate need I can fill for someone I know?
• What is a huge dream I have? How can I think bigger?
Step 3: Draft your life’s story, then live it!
SEVEN QUESTIONS TO SEIZE THE ESSENCE OF TODAY
WANT TO GUARANTEE THAT YOU WILL CREATE INTENSITY every day of your life? Then review these questions, as if for the first time, every single morning you are blessed with another day.
1. Whose life am I going to brighten today?
2. What three things am I most grateful for today?
3. What memories am I going to create today?
4. What challenge am I going to overcome today?
5. What value am I going to create today?
6. How much joy can I create for others and myself today?”
“or others and myself today?
7. What life-changing decision(s) am I going to make today?
Bonus Question (just to cover all the bases): What question am I not asking yet today?
“Never be misled by the number of hours in a day. This number simply represents the time that is potentially available to you. Each of these moments is but a dab of paint you can apply to the canvas of your life. Somewhere between sunrise and sunset, let it not be said that you lost an hour. No reward can be offered to find lost hours, for they are gone forever. The present moment is the only moment you totally control.”
You do not choose to be born. You do not choose your parents. You do not choose the time period in which you live. You do not choose the country of your birth. You do not choose the circumstances of your upbringing. In most cases, you do not choose to die. You do not choose the time or conditions of your death. ...more
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