These are my core beliefs about how to get along in the world.
I wrote this post fourteen years ago and rediscovered it this morning. I’m amazed at the consistency of what I believe. I still hold to these, although now they’d be supplemented with newfound knowledge about complexity, mindfulness, informal learning, community, social media, and other topics. Here’s how I saw it in 2001:
Perception is reality. (See The User Illusion)
- Placebos work.
- Hawthorne effect.
- Halo effect.
- There need be no commodities.
- Reality is relative: we each have our own.
Mental expectations set real limits.
- Learned helplessness.
- “They are able because they think they are able.” Virgil
- Optimism works better than pessimism.
- Logic = blinders to intuitive exploration.
Modern people have cro magnon brains.
- The human brain is the product of 10 million years of evolution, 99.8% of it in caves, on the savennah, hunting and gathering.
- Our relatively modern “thinking” brains are in perpetual contact and conflict with our ancient “feeling” brains.
- Pre-agricultural troglodytes lived entirely in the now. Our brains didn’t need to plan very far ahead, so looking longterm is not in our natural repertoire.
- Our brains seek patterns, often finding one when it’s not intentionally there. As we retell a dream, our brains invent the context to make sense of nonsense. We do this in waking life as well, but are not conscious of it.
People are warm-blooded, omnivorous, sight-mammals.
- We are creatures.
- Circadian rhythms control our thinking.
- If it full empty it; if it’s empty, fill it.
- Fight or flight response is the root of stress in the office as well as the jungle.
People like what they know; they don’t know what they like.
- In marketing, position services for maximum halo effect.
- First we make our habits, then our habits make us.
- Personal comfort zone = blinders, rut.
- Change threatens stability.
Be alert. Keep an open mind. Follow your heart.
- Mindfulness matters.
- Be here now.
- Walk in other people’s shoes.
- Get out of your comfort zone.
- Learning is an active process.
To every thing there is a cycle.
- You’re born, you live, you die.
- You live on through your children, your start-ups.
- Epigensis = born at the right time.
- Time flies.
- Nothing alive is ever finished.
- Worthwhile documents, policies, reports, and relationships live.
All things are connected.
- Connections often as important as the things they connect.
- Value of a network increases exponentially to the number of nodes.
Less is more.
- Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication
- When confronted with two explanations, choose the simplest.
Everything exists on numerous levels.
- Level of abstraction/detail. Meta-.
- No matter what’s happening in the plaza, you can always go up to the balcony for a look at the bigger picture.
- Laterality, everything/idea has neighbors, related by concept, co-location, timing, etc.
- Everything is rooted in a life cycle. It’s young or old, evolving or dying.
Process is power.
- Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. –Chinese Proverb
- One person’s process is another person’s content.
Virtually everything is on a continuum. It’s shades of gray rather than black or white.
- There is no absolute truth. There is no meaning without context.
Most things in life are beyond our control. (See Serendipity)
- Better to think things through than to thrash and force-fit.
- The mind and body are one.
- Diversification decreases risk.
- We are smarter than any one of us.
- Moorphy’s Law (On Internet time, shit happens exponentially.)
Decisions are a tradeoff of risk & reward.
- Leverage = How much risk or reward.
- R & R are not logical.
- …rather, a mix of logic, emotion, biological drives, habit, associations, current state of mind, etc.
- Information is valuable only to the extent that it will change decisions.
Does it matter?
- What’s in it for me?
- What business are we in?
- Principle of materiality.
- Don’t fret over the inconsequential.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff.
- The past is a sunk cost.
Invest time and resources wisely.
- Time is the scarce resource.
- Optimize mix of up-front preparation and auctual doing and folllow-up.
- Do not confuse thought with action.
- There is no such thing as a free lunch.
- Beware of armchair data.
When management treats time, space and no-matter as resources rather than as roadblocks, our methods of organization will no longer be lagging behind, at the end. —Future Perfect.
In business, take Jack Welch’s advice…
- focus on customers
- resist bureaucracy
- think imaginatively
- invigorate others.
How to behave
- Live as if this is all there is.
- Look for the best in others. Other esteem.
- Share my thoughts and feelings. Be authentic.
- Open the door to feedback.
- Smile. Learn. Laugh. Pay attention.
- Practice optimism. Be here now.
- Live with intention.
- Think out of the box.
- Do what I love. Do it with gusto.
- Maintain balance.
- Don’t obsess.
- Homeostasis — central tendency, self-correction, standard deviation.
- Pareto’s law: 20% of the resources yield 80% of the results.
- Organize by product or area or function
I don’t ask him ”What’s the problem?” I say, “Tell me the story.” That way, I find out what the problem really is. –Avram Goldberg
Structure follows strategy. (Strategy = plans and policies by which a company aims to gain advantages over its competitors.)
Drivel, BS, and caution signs
- Anachronism. Fighting the last war.
- “And so he continues to plan his future with the rules of the present in mind — heedless of the possibility that the future will have rules of its own. Change in inherent in civilization.” –Harry Brown
- Finding comfort in obsolete, vestigial rules and concepts. Accounting is BS.
- Short-term fix for long-term problem
- Too busy chopping down trees to sharpen his ax
Accepting the wrong answer to the right problem.
- Illogical expediency
- Group think
- The madness of crowds
Evaluating with what’s easy to measure rather than what’s appropriate.
- examples: $/hour, academic grades, IQ
- need to measure what counts
- Nasrudin story
- confusion of means & ends
Information is not instruction.
- Telling is not teaching.
Using my context to understand your situation.
- Jimmy Swaggart syndrome
- Jungian projections
Confusing meaningless social noise with a message.
- “It’s a communicating problem.”
- “We don’t have time.”
- “How ’bout them Niners?”
- “Thanks a lot.”
A word is not the thing itself.
Fourteen years ago, my post didn’t have illustrations. I didn’t appreciate how much they reinforce what you’re saying back then. Furthermore, in the days of 300 baud modems, images took forever to download. Crafty designers put them way down in posts so you could read the start of a post while the images were gradually appearing on screen.