Monday, June 26, 2017

A Tribute to an Iconoclast

I know, I know. Surely the label iconoclast gets thrown around too easily. Sometimes it is even used as a marketing term.

However, I feel very strongly that the world lost an iconoclast this past Thursday. What? You may say. I did not hear anything. Exactly!

Perhaps the greatest evidence for being an iconoclast is that people do not pay enough attention.

Whom do I speak of? I am talking about Dr. John E. Sarno of New York.

I never met Dr. Sarno, in the flesh. But, I feel like I know him through his writing. This is a man who truly had the courage of his convictions. Which is a lot tougher than one might imagine.

In a medical world ruled by Cartesian dualism, Sarno was willing to bridge the gap. He was a bridge which was, unfortunately, mistreated and neglected.

Western medicine is ruled by this dualism which states that the mind is separate from the body. In a strict sense, this is true. However, with regards to the gestalt, mind and body are inseparably connected.

I know I am using some wonky, nerdy words, in this post. And, I think this is an appropriate time erudition. Because I believe these are subjects people should ponder.

In simple terms, Sarno showed us how the mind and the body are interconnected. You may read that last sentence and be dismissive. Suggesting it is obvious that the mind and body are connected.

While it may seem obvious, this is not an idea accepted by the medical orthodoxy. Thank God Sarno cared so little for the opinions of his peers!

You see, for years I struggled with significant back pain. Today (at times) I still do experience back pain. But, it is never a struggle. Thanks to the teachings of Dr. Sarno, I am in control of my pain.

To my way of thinking, the best I can do, to honor Sarno, is to spread the word. So, I will leave you with two resources.

A few years ago I wrote an overview of Sarno's book The Divided Mind. Click here to read that report. Also, a new documentary has come out about Sarno's work. Click here to watch the trailer on YouTube.

Thanks for the good work, Dr. Sarno 😊

Monday, June 19, 2017

Businesses are not paid to reform customers...

I took the title of this post from Peter Drucker. It is an exact quote of his. "Businesses are not paid to reform customers."

I love that quote. It reminds me to forget about any efforts to ever "fix" my customers. I cannot say I have always known this lesson.

Let me give you an example. Howard Gardner is a professor of "Cognition and Education" at Harvard University. We might call him a psychology professor for short.

A while back, Gardner published a book titled Changing Minds. Of course, I immediately snatched up the book. And quickly devoured it.

As a novice entrepreneur, I thought I would need to know how to change minds. I have come to learn how foolish I was. Ooops!

Today, I know we need to satisfy our customers. Not change them. In a sense we are looking to preach to the choir. But, there is a twist.

As an entrepreneur, it is smart to begin with the choir. The churchgoers. The people who believe. In the common parlance, of Crossing the Chasm, these people are what is referred to as the "Innovators." They understand what you are doing. And they are ready to join.

Next, comes the believers who have stopped going to church. No conversion necessary. Only outreach. This would be what is known as the "Early Adopters."

What I learned is that true innovators do not try to convert the non-believers. They begin by creating a momentum within the community of believers.

Like I mentioned, I used to think I need to change people's minds, so they would see the wisdom of my invention. It was a mistake.

Do not get me wrong, as you cross the chasm, there will be an element of influence necessary. But, it will be aided by the momentum created amongst the believers.

To continue with the church theme, thank God for Drucker, who said, "Businesses are not paid to reform customers. They are paid to satisfy customers."

Stated differently, identify the problem you solve, and go find people who have that problem. But, do not waste your time trying to change people.

I will leave you with one more Drucker quote. "Communications aimed at conversion demand surrender." And, honestly, what are the chances you are going to get your customers to surrender?

Monday, June 12, 2017

Remember to Forget

The metaphor, which compares the brain to a computer, is very useful. Specifically, the brain is the hardware and the mind is the software.

Over the years, we keep adding things to the software. We keep adding programs and information. We occupy ourselves with worry. This overloads the computing power of the hardware.

The brain gets overloaded. So, it is important to throw things out. Delete unnecessary files and abandon the preoccupation over things which we do not control. Just forget about it.

Remember to forget.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Grow the Pie

There is a lot of talk, these days, about jobs and income. It is important stuff.

Here is an important, little secret. Real gains in income cannot sustainably outpace raises in productivity.

Put differently, the only way to grow the economy, and grow incomes, is to increase productivity.

Last week, I wrote an article about excellence. And, striving for excellence is a bona fide path to increased productivity. Not guaranteed, but bona fide.

Allow me to make one prediction. China will not overtake America as the world's economic powerhouse. At least, not any time soon.

It is true that China has grow a lot in recent years. But, the origin of that growth has been playing catch-up.

The Chinese have simply been executing the lessons that Frederick Winslow Taylor taught America more than 100 years ago. Lessons on efficiency and productivity.

In most ways, China is simply playing catch-up by playing copy-cat.

So, again, your income cannot sustainably grow faster than your productivity. And, this is why I write about effectiveness. Because productivity is largely a function of effectiveness.

America is an innovation and entrepreneurship machine. Through innovation, entrepreneurship, and increased effectiveness, America will be hard to touch. And, so will you. If you learn, and execute, the lessons of history.

For more information, grab a copy of this book.

Monday, May 29, 2017

The Mundanity of Excellence

A huge barrier to effectiveness is lying. We do not necessarily identify the barrier as lying. But, lying it is.

The form of lying, which this barrier takes, is wishful thinking. The barrier results from the way we tend to lie to ourselves. Hoping that life is something other than it truly is.

I recently read an old article, by Dan Chambliss, a professor of sociology at Hamilton College. The article was titled, "The Mundanity of Excellence."

The truth is, achieving excellence is a rather mundane matter. It is an accumulation of small, seemingly trivial, things.

A lot of us would like to think excellence is achieved thanks to natural ability or talent. According to Chambliss, this mindset soothes by, "relieving those of us who are not excellent of responsibility for our condition."

As Jean-Paul Sartre has said, "What people would like is that a coward or a hero be born that way." Wish, though we may, this perspective turns out to be false.

Chambliss did the research, for his article, by studying Olympic swimmers. Dan theorizes, "Olympic sports, and competitive swimming in particular, provides an unusually clear opportunity for studying the nature of excellence. In other fields, it may be less clear who are the outstanding performers: the best painter or pianist, the best businessperson, the finest waiter or the best father."

Chambliss's conclusion? Excellence is mundane. Meaning, the behaviors and attitudes, which culminate in excellence, are not superhuman or special. They are ordinary, indeed, run-off-the-mill.

The professor takes direct aim at the talent myth. Saying the notion of 'talent' obscures more than it illuminates.

Talent is a weird, amorphous, catch-all term. According to Chambliss, "Talent is indistinguishable from its effects." For this reason, he writes, "Perhaps there is no such thing as talent."

Additionally, the requisite amount of talent, to achieve excellence, is not enormous. The author writes, "The amount of talent needed for athletic success seems to be strikingly low." Specifically, he says, "Wilma Rudolph had polio as a child, then came back to win the Olympic 100 meter dash."

In no way is this meant to say that excellence is easy. But, it is also not mystical. Indeed, it is mundane. For this reason, as I once heard said, it is important that we learn to, "Master the mundane."

It is a lot like how Drucker said you achieve productivity. Drucker said you get productivity, "The way the drill sergeant of old drilled recruits, which is you do the same thing every day. But you do it, and you do it, and you do it."

Excellence need not be some elusive concept. Let's keep it real. We cannot increase our effectiveness, we cannot take things to the next level, if we continue to live lies and half-truths.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Leadership means Effectiveness

Drucker once said, "Efficiency is doing things right. Effectiveness is doing the right things."

In slightly different terms, management is about doing things right. And, leadership is about doing the right things.

Leadership is about achieving results. It is about establishing the mission, setting a direction, and charting the course.

Leaders then take effective action, and stay the course, through to completion.

Drucker once said, the only true definition of a leader is someone who has followers. And, you cannot expect people to follow you if you do not perform. If you do not achieve results.

Leadership is largely about effective living. Which ain't easy. But it is necessary.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Am I Crazy?

One thing I have discovered, about myself, is that I really like to talk to myself. I am not completely certain, but, I am pretty sure this fact does not certify me as crazy.

The reason I talk to myself is because it is how I learn. I learn a lot by hearing myself talk. And, as it turns out, learning by hearing yourself taught is pretty common.

A couple weeks ago, I posted one of the most important articles I have ever read. It is titled, "Managing Oneself." And, it was written by Peter Drucker.

Click here if you have not yet read the article.

In Managing Oneself, Drucker advises that we ask ourselves the question, "How do I learn?" Peter says, "there are probably half a dozen different ways to learn."

One of the main ways to learn is by hearing yourself talk. This is how Drucker, himself, learns. And you might, too.

There is, however, one big challenge. A lot of us who talk to ourselves feel ashamed for doing so. We worry that people will think we are unhinged or even crazy.

This is a tendency which needs to be countered. And, the counteraction is the reason for this post.

You see, this past week I read another interesting article. The article was titled, "People Who Talk To Themselves Aren’t Crazy, They’re Actually Geniuses." And, it was written by Gigi Engle.

I am not sure talking to yourself will make you a genius. But, I am certain it does not qualify you as crazy.

Here is the article, in its entirety:

If I were my peach smoothie body butter, where would I be?” I say to no one while I search for my favorite lotion. Then: “Aha! Here you are. You rolled under my bed.”

I talk to myself a lot. And I don't mean only in the privacy of my own home. I talk to myself while I'm walking down the street, when I'm in my office or when I'm shopping.

Thinking out loud helps me materialize what I'm thinking about. It helps me make sense of things.

It also makes me look insane. Crazy people talk to themselves, right? They're conversing with the voices inside their heads. If you're yammering on to nobody, everyone thinks you're a mental patient.

I'm sure many people have seen me wandering down the streets of NYC and thought, “The crack addiction is strong with that one.”

I'm positive I look disturbingly similar to Gollum in “Lord Of The Rings” when he dotes over his “precious.”

Well, the joke is on the judgmental assh*les who give me a side-eye on the train. (By the way, I SEE YOU!).

Talking to yourself, it turns out, is a sign of genius.

The smartest people on earth talk to themselves. Look at the inner monologues of the greatest thinkers. Look at poetry! Look at history!

Albert Einstein talked to himself. He wasn't an avid social butterfly when he was growing up, and he preferred to keep to himself. reports that he “used to repeat his sentences to himself softly.”

So, you see? I'm not alone, and I'm not completely bonkers. I'm just really smart. Ha!

Talking to yourself makes your brain work more efficiently.

In a study printed in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, psychologists Daniel Swigley and Gary Lupya hypothesized that talking to yourself was actually beneficial.

We're all guilty of it, right? We might as well celebrate it and study the benefits.

In one experiment, Swigley and Lupya gave 20 people the name of an object (like a loaf of bread or an apple), which they were told to find in the supermarket.

During the first set of trials, the participants were bound to silence. In the second set, they repeated the object’s name out loud as they looked for it in the store.

According to Live Science, test subjects found the object with greater ease when they spoke to themselves while searching. Saying things out loud sparks memory. It solidifies the end game and makes it tangible.

Talking out loud to yourself helps you only when you know what you need.

If you want to find something, speaking the object’s name out loud is helpful only when you’re familiar with its appearance.

You have to know what it is you're looking for; otherwise, you'll just confuse yourself. According to Lupyan, “Speaking to yourself isn’t always helpful—if you don’t really know what an object looks like, saying its name can have no effect or actually slow you down. If, on the other hand, you know that bananas are yellow and have a particular shape, by saying banana, you’re activating these visual properties in the brain to help you find them.”

In other words, you can't make sense of something without knowing what you're dealing with. If you know what you need and verbalize its name, you will better your chances of finding it.

You learn as a child by talking to yourself.

Babies learn to speak by listening to grownups and mimicking what they say. Talking is all about practice.

We need to hear our voices to learn how to use them.

According to Live Science, “self-directed speech can help guide children’s behavior, with kids often taking themselves step-by-step through tasks such as tying their shoelaces, as if reminding themselves to focus on the job at hand.”

Think about all the munchkins you know. Haven't you seen them talking to themselves while they play with a toy car or favorite stuffed animal?

A toddler can remain focused by talking through his problems.

If a small boy is playing with his toy cars, he might say, “The small car can fit through this garage door, but the big truck is too big.” At the same time, he’ll test which of the cars fit inside the toy garage.

A child learns by talking through his actions. By doing so, he remembers for the future how he solved the problem. Talking through it helps him or her make sense of the world.

Talking to yourself helps you organize your thoughts.

What helps me the most when I talk to myself is that I’m able to organize the countless wild thoughts running rampant through my brain.

Hearing my issues vocalized calms my nerves. I’m being my own therapist: Outer-voice me is helping inner-brain me through my problems.

According to psychologist Linda Sapadin, talking out loud to yourself helps you validate important and difficult decisions. “It helps you clarify your thoughts, tend to what's important and firm up any decisions you're contemplating.”

Everyone knows the best way to solve a problem is to talk it out. Since it's your problem, why not do it with yourself?

Talking to yourself helps you achieve your goals.

Making a list of goals and setting out to achieve them can be hard to do. It can be overwhelming.

Talking yourself through those goals is a much steadier way to achieve them. If you walk yourself through the process, each step will seem less difficult and more concise.

Things will suddenly seem doable, and you'll be less apprehensive about diving into the problem.

As Sapadin puts it, “Saying [your goals] out loud focuses your attention, reinforces the message, controls your runaway emotions and screens out distractions.”

It puts things in perspective and grounds you.

Talking to yourself means that you are self-reliant. Like Albert Einstein, who “was highly gifted and acquired early in his life the ability to exploit his talents,” people who talk to themselves are highly proficient and count on only themselves to figure out what they need.

We “crazies” are the most efficient and intelligent of the bunch. We take the time to listen to our inner voices, out loud and proud!