Team meeting with yourself

The problem: Indecision, doubt, confusion, new challenges
Whenever we leave the comfort zone, think about new strategies, want to break old habits etc, it often happens that your thoughts go in circles for a long while. In the end you often end up confused and choose to procrastinate the topic.

The reason: Uncoordinated thinking
Even if you are not schizophrenic there are different voices inside of you that want to be heard and this is completely normal. They are caused by coincidence of priorities, principles, strategies, different needs and so on - multiplied by the different roles that you play (e.g. as an employee, father or mother, husband or wife, son or daughter or a role in your hobby club). It is not always easy to get everything done without conflicts caused by the different resulting interests.

The solution: Team meeting with yourself
Organize a team meeting with your inner voices. Depending on your preferences you can imagine different locations and styles. I prefer the following imagination: A court-like "arena" where in the front there is the judge which I prefer to call "the moderator". Now for every thought that comes up imagine, that a person in the arena or meeting room stands up and speaks. Always only one person should speak and the very important here is that you should put your thought in clear phrases and name the person that stands up by its role. Possible roles are for instance "the architect (of your life)", "the pessimist" (or I prefer to name this person "the critic"), "the controller", "the (master) builder", "the strategist", "the futurist" or whatever fits. Let the different voices tell their concerns and let the judge or moderator be the mediator of the discussion. You may find that some roles do speak more and other speak less and some roles do more often start the discussion which is already interesting to observe. It shows your dominating parts of your personality. You may also discover personal priorities you were not aware of before. But apart from that, the core purpose of the discussion is the communication between the different voices. You will wonder how often it is possible to find solutions that all or at least most of your voices can live with or how often consens can be found.

Related posts: Focus by decision, Information overflow, Razor sharp focus.


Primary motivator

When you see people's intellect fading away due to dementia, when brain is loosing control and cultivated manners do not cover primary impulses any more then you see that fear is a very primary motivating factor.

But fear is very present in our every-day decisions - not only when the brain is loosing control. If you look behind some of your core priorities and decisions, you may find that a lot of your actions are intended to increase an inner feeling of safety. Or, when you investigate some of your first reactions on other people's arguments in discussions, you may detect yourself feeling attacked. The common root is fear/anxiety. The two core options inherited from our very past when fear comes up is to attack or flee.

  • In modern times there are a lot of options between those two extreme reactions. (taking it with humor is a great one).
  • You are not alone with your fear. Guess what: Person's attacking you (verbal, nonverbal or physically) may fear you more than you fear them! The best strategy might be, assuring the others that you are coming in peace.
  • Fear and the instinctive reactions are good advisors in situations of imminent danger (for physical health - e.g. when face-to-face with a saber-toothed tiger), but not in most common daily situations (e.g. in meetings, negotiations, when having discussions with friends or family members etc).
  • The power of others often is overestimated while the own power is underestimated. In many cases where you might experience fear, there is no reason for it.
A good strategy is to eliminate fear and the automatic reactions wherever there is no actual danger given and replace it with a moment of meditation before any overhasty reaction.

Related posts: Your situation does not suck, The fear, About habits, Plan to get fear done, Something more important, Spam critics, The present moment.


Considerations on decisions

Investigating situations where precious time is lost, I often find decisions being a core issue. Although we are taking decisions quickly and on a daily basis (many of them even automatically without being really aware of them) some of those can evolve to a very time consuming process.

Very often when we are in a dilemma we only think of this or that (black or white) and that's one of the mistakes. In many cases there are more options available than you might think of in the first place.

A second mistake lies in the effective time when the decision needs to be taken. While some people tend to delay a decision as long as possible (missing the best opportunities), others decide too early when not enough information is available or too few options have been elaborated yet.

So when a situation is evolving to a point of decision think of the following:
  1. Enough options elaborated? - Having only one option is dangerous (to do something or do not already requires a decision). If other people are involved then think of what their needs may be and try to find a win-win-solution.
    An example: I remember that my father sometimes had to go to the office on weekends but he also wanted to spend time with me. Well, he took me with him and showed me his working place. I remember quality time with my father when he showed me the big computer there and I was very impressed - and it made me choose my profession.
  2. Is it the right/best time to make the decision? - Did you gather enough information yet, that allows to make serious and good decision? Do you really need to take that decision NOW?
    An example: Buying a new computer or car. First thing to be aware of is: Do you really need to buy it NOW (is your old broken or not)? How much time for evaluation would be adequate for the size of the investment? Are you on top of the information? If you are in car or computer business respectively then the time for gathering information will be much shorter, otherwise you should maybe consult a friend who is.
  3. Do you really need to choose? Is there really a decision required? Sometimes you do not need to choose one thing over another as occasionally you can get both. Be aware of options that may get you both!
    Example: If you like black and also like white what about buying a shirt that has black and white stripes?
  4. (Re)think your core principles, values and priorities. When you find yourself often in dilemmas of the same type, you might improve the decision process by reviewing your core life principles, your core values or your (current) priorities.
    An example: A long time ago I often fought with myself to do something fast or good. I finally decided (of course after suffering a lot from consequences) to go for quality and prefer quality over fast results. Now many decisions of that kind are taken automatically in my subconscious part of the brain. Of course that might not always be the optimum way and I do also choose the quick fix from time to time. But wherever a fast decision process is needed the gut feeling will tend towards your core values, priorities and principles.
Related posts: Get focused with 3 Questions, Principles over rules, Direction over goals, Problems and dilemmas, Focus by decision, The golden rule.


Your situation does not suck

When you read this I assume, your brain and your heart is working. That's awesome! You can be glad!

A few months ago I listened to the audio version of the book "Tuesdays with Morrie" written by Mitch Albom.

By accident I began to search the internet afterwards and found out, that this is a real true story - see details here:
That also reminds me to another guy, Randy Pausch and his famous last lecture which I listened to some years ago and it reminds me to Nicholas James Vujicic (see him here in "no arms, no legs, no worries" or here in a shorter summary version). While searching for the links I further discovered Richie Parker.

What they have in common is: They did not give up and made the best out of situations that really suck.

Why all that now? It's because of my father in law. He suffers from Pick's disease. The big difference in his case is: It's his intellectual abilities that get reduced, disconnected and are switching off. He cannot teach me as Morrie taught Mitch. His illness hasn't been discovered in it's beginning, which is typical for this disease. Currently the situation is already very bad. Verbal communication is not really possible any more. I have to listen more carefully, don't listen to words, but listen to emotions and to non-verbal communication (such as eye-contact). His luck is, that he had a life before the illness (he arrived at 80 some days ago). But anyway, thinking of such a situation - loosing control of your own mind and even your essential core functions (writing, speaking or even swallowing reflex for example) is horrible. Even your core vital functions are controlled by your brain. Without your brain working properly you can hardly make the best out of your situation. As long as your heart and your brain is working, be happy!

Although the very reduced life quality in his current status of the illness, I could still see some moments where he seems to enjoy life. Where intellect is fading away, there is still emotion and sensation. I have accepted the situation and instead of joking with him (we were joking a lot when he was still in full health a few years  ago) I held his hand or let him pull my nose (for whatever reason he liked that).

In the 35-minute-video above of Mitch Albom, he says that what for you is the most important in your last hours of life should also be the most important right now. But isn't there something wrong with this thought? I am pretty sure, if I would know that I will die tomorrow, I would not go to work any more and stay with my family concentrating on them. However, staying with my family, playing with the children all the day, would mean - after a few months - that: Several bills are not paid any more, things will break and not being repaired, we would loose social contact to other people. So acting as it would be your last day is - oh wonder - not a good long-term plan! You need to find a healthy balance!

If you would know the future you could take better suitable decisions now. Without the information you need to consider several possible futures!
No again, rethink the sentence: "What for you is the most important in your last hours of life should be the most important right now." It does not imply that you should ONLY do what is important in your last hours of life. The sentence talks about priorities! FIRST do the important things.

I give you an example from right now: I was writing this article while the children were playing. A few minutes ago my 4-year old son came in and talked to me. He explained to me how he solved the quarrel with his older brother. That was the trigger to immediately switch attention, hug him, tell him how well he did. After 30 seconds of this positive feedback he already had enough and wanted to continue playing alone. Time to continue writing.

However, to find a healthy balance, it helps a lot being aware of the core needs of human being. And this is, what I can still learn from my father in law.

Related posts: Living your opportunities, Simple Life, How to be happy, Between GTD and GHE, Primary motivator.


Learning from other's experiences

The problem: Learning from other people's experiences is difficult.
Even if you want to use every opportunity to learn, learning from other's experiences is far more difficult than learning from your own experiences. And there might be even a bunch of people who (full of love for you) insist in trying to help you in avoiding the same pitfalls they have fallen into.

The reason: Reliability of external information
If you feel inner resistance to fully incorporate other people's experiences then keep in mind that this is an automatic precaution feature inside of you and this is fully ok. Experience explained to you by others does not have the same quality that your own experience does. Learning from experience is learning about action or event and the resulting reaction or effect. During this learning process for each learned lesson the following are important parameters:
  • Age of the experience (recent experiences are more relevant than older ones, and the older an experience the more details potentially get forgotten).
  • Exact environment (you cannot expect - at least not always - the same result under different environments). Parts of the environment can be any sort of group (family, patients in a hospital, political groupings, ...), weather, physical location, country, personal situation or mood of present people, your own personal situation and mood...
  • Exact action taken
  • Other simultaneous actions taken by other people
  • Time of result to take effect (this might be strongly relevant for the reliability of the conclusion).
  • Exact result
  • Side effects
  • Interpretations (your own but also the interpretations of other people involved).
  • Exact final conclusion
When making your own experiences you have a better overview of everything relevant. Experiences of others automatically already get filtered by their interpretations and are limited to their recordings.

The solution: Take in all experiences and informations thankfully but prioritize.
Take external experience as repository for possibly valid "rules", but prefer your own in case of conflict. In some cases your own experience might be very outdated that a recent experience from somebody else might fit better with the current reality, but on the other hand the result might depend on the concrete person acting (as it would be when attending a beauty contest ;-) ).
There are two types of people when they raid you with their life lessons or good hints: Those who want to help you because they love you and those who are searching for attention and self-affirmation. You might feel resistance to the latter but keep in mind that listening to other's experiences does not force you to incorporate foreign life-lessons. Be thankful instead that they share their experience with you.


Cost of substitution

Don't you sometimes wonder how it is possible that statistics talk about high unemployment rates and at the same time you read in the news that there is a shortage of experts?

Well, there are two reasons for this contradiction:
  1. What they don't say in the news: There is a lack of cheap experts. Companies are searching for people who work for a banana and wonder that the only candidates showing up, are apes.
  2. Companies always try to achieve more with less people. This implies that you need good people because only the best and most efficient workers can achieve more than most of the others. So many workers available but not matching the high performance requirements. But even if the best workers out there achieve more, nobody can run on 150 % for years. So often workers are "consumed" in the long run. You can work at full power and full speed for some months, maybe for a few years, but there are mental impacts and impacts on motivation and health. At the final end when your energy is exhausted you will further be criticized for your decreasing performance. So the already low number of very good people available is also decreased by those who end up with burnout and by those who take their own lifes.
So although there are enough people "available on the market", companies do scorn most of them looking for the best workers only (or for most stupid ones - depending on how you look at it). From the company point of view it even fits the interests when newspapers write about the high employment rates because scared people will ask less money when they apply for a job or stay at even the worst job fearing unemployment. And some of the most efficient and hardest working people may abstain from asking more money.

In our consumer society, employees also tend to be consumed and companies do believe the newspapers when they write of high unemployment rates. They might think that there is enough human resource left, not considering that they cannot fit the high expectations.

But let's assume, a company needs a new worker, what are the required tasks?
  • Prepare a job description
  • Outsource hunting for appliers or do it on your own
  • Make final interviews (or more if you do hunting on your own)
  • Prepare contract
  • Some other administrative work (preparing clothes, creating user accounts, print business cards, ...)
  • Send new employee to courses or have a peer explaining everything
  • Accompany employee in the first few weeks (e.g. by introducing to new clients and projects, ...)
  • Wait until new employee has adapted to new situations and finaly reaches performance of the previous employee
Depending on how sophisticated the job is, a year or an even longer period might pass by until the old level of quality and efficiency or profitability is reached again. In IT business it is usually a year or two. Always assuming, you find a same quality person again that fits in the team and find it on the first attempt.

Yes, everybody can be replaced somehow, but every replacement required, will cost time and money! To put those costs into effective numbers is difficult and that's why in many cases there is no awereness of the real impact of a staff change ("what cannot be put into numbers, cannot be controlled"...).

Now that we talked about people you can apply this to material, machines, software modules, technologies or structures accordingly.

The best strategy therefore is:
  • Choose wisely your workers etc
  • Do the required maintenance work (motivation etc)
  • Don't consume them
Related posts: Why not multitasking how to, Good heart these days is hard to find, The big difference of the how, How not to eat the frog.


The fool gives way without borders

An old proverb says: The intelligent gives in. This is why idiocy rules the world.

Maybe the reason behind this are the wise words of Bertrand Russell, "The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts."

I find it to be better for the whole mankind when people solve problems without wasting resources (of any kind). Destroying helpful things or harming people may just produce suffering. So it might definitely not be foolish to give way, as it might still be the second best solution for a problem when the best solution - finding a solution by discussing the problem and finding the logically best solution - cannot be found. When there is a conflict and one party is not willing to make compromises, it is still the more intelligent solution for the other party to give in instead of wasting resources by creating a war (of any type).

War (of any type, be it "just" a legal war, a quarrel or a real war) is wasting energy and resources and in best case it is the third best solution for a problem.

However, raising this rule to the top rule in any case, creates room for the rude and primitive "caveman" behaviour. And here it comes back to idiocy ruling the world.

But this reminds me to the Borg and Star Trek film "First Contact":
Giving in always and forever without setting borders is nearly equivalent to self destruction!

While I like the idea of Myagi, that best defense is not be there (where the hammer hits ;-) ), other than in space, here on earth there is not always much space where to move to be out of the "attack zone".

Related posts: Best defense, There is suffering, The most important things to know, The main purpose, Dissolved aggressiveness.