Hurry home ... no more running

The problem: The rush to get to our goals and/or to earn a lot of money.
When we are setting goals (often too late) we want to achieve them in an instant with zero effort. That's often because we already feel tired and burned out from earlier rushes to previous goals. Or - when we see the opportunity to make big money - we are willing to make some bigger effort because we hope for the rest after the big win. So we hurry from one goal to the next.

The reason: We want to get home and rest.
I see the word "home" here standing not only for a home apartment or house where you live but also for "the save point" in general. "My home is my castle", a figure of speech says. We are tired from being chained to the oars. We want to rest. And therefore we are hurrying. We are hurrying because we think that when we get a "home run" we have more time to rest. But do we really feel safe there and can we really relax? Or do we start thinking of more things that put our safety in danger?

The solution: Give up desire for complete safety, the desire for retirement and rest at the opportunity.
There are only few cases where people invent something very great and make a lot of money and then don't need to work any more. And in those cases there either can happen unexpected events that ruin everything that has been "earned" (talking about wars or financial crisis for instance). In most cases you have to work your whole life to maintain your life style. Some did reduce their demands and need to work less but anyway there is some continuous work (even if only a few) needed. And I don't think that everybody who got rich, did plan it.

The next time you get in a rush to just achieve that only last big goal until you finally can rest, think if you can really find the rest then. Instead just do your daily portion of work and take a rest when there is opportunity even if not everything has been done yet.

Related posts: Urging to forge at full speed, In the present moment, Reduce the stress factors, Productivity spiral, All Done status.


The state of mind matters

I am used to work under pressure - only in rare cases this pressure is obviously produced by desparated customers. Mostly I feel the pressure because of the empathy I have developed for the customer so I can imagine how unpleasant it is facing some wired problem while trying to do some other productive and important work. Hours are easily lost by technical problems. In other many cases it is the expectations of others and the desire of being honored and respected that drive me into pressure so. In exaggerated words: "I want to be the hero that can get everything done in miracles." The sad truth is: Unfortunately even if you do miracles it will often not be honored and only expectations grow. Or in the worst case: People think that before the miracles you were doing nothing and just sitting around being bored.

The big bad side effect that everybody will notice when you get more and more done is that you will leave the impression to others being the hectic, fast-paced always on the run guy. People will simply begin to feel bad when you are around.

Just think a moment what people you prefer to meet. When do you feel good together with other people?

In my case people with a calm voice that carefully listen without urging me, allowing also moments of silence giving space that thoughts and feelings can flourish. People who seem somehow in meditation, fully present and relaxed do improve the general quality of the situation. It is the breeding ground for good communication and hence also a breeding ground for a successful meeting. Being on speed comes with the potential danger that you behave like the bull in the china shop. You can destroy the relationship with friends as well as with (potential) customers that way - or also with your boss. Being on speed is not always getting you to the goal fast!

Related posts: In the present moment, Urging to forge at full speed, Getting older.

Too much

You can continuously improve productivity to gain free time slices. But the free time usually quickly gets filled up again. Or as it was in my case: You improve productivity to somehow get everything done that is your duty or "has become your duty" (due to rationalizations or external events) and has created very long to-do lists that always grow bigger and bigger instead of getting cleared out.

Well, it must be stated: Too much is too much!

If you are facing continuously more and more work, more and more tasks to be done then the simple crude but unattractive answer is: You are doing too much!

And here we are at the very difficult situation that you have to decide what to drop.

Before deciding keep in mind that a lot of general commitments for jobs, tasks or projects come along with a lot of tiny (administration) tasks that one usually doesn't get aware so easily. Samples:
  • Just one or more short phone calls.
  • Archiving of paper (or files) that gets produced along with the tasks.
  • Reading of mails, documentation (or blog posts ;-) ).


Today two short posts were planned instead of a single longer one. And then I remembered a post at The Positivity Blog: Would You Like To Be a Guest Blogger?

It says that a guest post has to be at least 800 words. So I first felt it could be bad quality by writing only a short post. But thinking of it and remembering several things I learned I will stick to my original plan and the reason is the KISS-Principle - as nothing should be "implemented" (in the widest possible meaning) with more than necessary (but even not with less).

What does the K.I.S.S. principle mean? Here are several interpretations:
  • Keep it simple, stupid.
  • Keep it simple and stupid.
  • Keep it small and simple.
  • Keep it sweet and simple.
  • Keep it simple and straightforward.
  • Keep it short and simple.
  • Keep it simple and smart.
  • Keep it strictly simple.
  • Keep it speckless and sane.
  • Keep it sober and significant.
Related post: Who cares?


Masked rot

The problem: Inability to extract the important information from the complete information input stream.
When you are in meetings, in shops, in discussion with vendors or even at job interviews there you are often confronted with new abbreviations, new spicy good sounding words and a lot of filler words. It is epidemic that people get more and more vague in their form of expressions.

The reason: People are masking the rot to get their things or stories sold.
People need to mask the disadvantages of their stuff or the strategies they want to sell you. The vague stuff they want to sell often they bought under vague circumstances themselves. - Yes I am talking also about stock market and the financial crises, but not only. ;-)

As many do cover and mask the stuff to hide probable risks there is also a lack of information which multiplies on the way from a producer to the final buyer. I experience this for instance if I am asking for more detailed information while analyzing the disadvantages before buying something. Many times the (re-)seller has only a very poor idea of what they are selling.

On the other hand there are those who know more details and had bad experiences with angry customers who returned to the shop because they were so disappointed. Those (re-)sellers really try everything to not give any definite answer - especially in IT. They fear the moment you come back and tell them something like "You told me that it works this way".

The solution: Identify the smoke and mirrors and stick to concrete clear information.
The only chance to survive all those false fronts is to analyze the situations to dissolve illusions and to insist in your requests for concrete and clear statements, in detail:
  • Ask yourself for possible interests of the people you are dealing with.
    In general the others talking about their interests they seem like Mother Teresa, but usually they are not. They are working to achieve their very own egoistic goals. Guessing their goals can uncover smoke and mirrors.

  • Do unemotional analysis.
    Especially when somebody wants to sell you something the person wants to push your "wish" buttons and create demand within you - demand you might never have had before. Drop your emotions and especially your expectations also. Then analyze the situation, the product or the offered service.

  • Search for the disadvantages.
    There is always at least one disadvantage. There is no product, no service - nothing - that has only advantages. Why? Because of the simple truth that you can't have everything at once - there is no magic pill. If you get told that there is no disadvantage you can be sure that the person is masking rot (or isn't either aware of the disadvantages). Try to ask for the disadvantages.

  • Ask for concrete explanation of all the fancy words that people are using that you don't know.
    People often use abbreviations and buzzwords to appear as a specialist and they count on the other people's desire not being the stupid. Many that don't know the meaning of particular words are too shy to ask. So those people using these words can hide behind them. If you ask for explanation of the fancy words (even if you already heard 3 other explanations) the other people get annoyed and they reduce usage and get more simple and clear in their speaking. A justification of that behavior asking for explanation is that often people use fancy words without really knowing what they mean. If you ask for explanation (and insist of a little more detailed explanation) those often can be unveiled.

  • Ignore fillers and brilliant labels.
    There is so much stuff that does not affect the quality of the product or service. Vague filler words that everybody is using (buzzwords) or particular labels that scream out to stand for quality are some of that stuff. Memorize only the information that really matters.
Related post: Information overflow., Create consensus.


Urging to forge at full speed

The problem: You feel pressure to get things done and be successful.
In our civilization speed is a fast growing hype. Either people are producing pressure on their own or get pressure from outside - or both. Speed is fun, speed is sexy, time is money - use it or loose it. Being on speed is the default mode for many people. Speed is everywhere in our life, from speed reading to speed dating.

The reason: Fear of going to rack and ruin, fear of (personal) economical crash.
Our anxiety to fall behind, being not interesting any more, being not attractive any more for the job market or for social groups and friends, drives us to full speed.

The solution: Slow down and either stop to get a distant and detached - more realistic - view.
Just stop, step back and look around to get a more complete view of the situation and world (as a painter steps back to see his painting from the distance checking the general impression the painting offers).

Take a serious look at the whole. Try living on full speed for a while and then remember your days when you were younger and had plenty of time to build a Lego house for instance. And try retreating for something you want to do with a bigger piece of time (writing a nice computer program, self development, ...). You will experience that
  • it is not enough doing things right, it is also important to do the right things,
  • there is a big difference in quality of output if you had enough time achieving it,
  • you feel healthier and feel more being an integrated part of the world (hence being happier),
  • others feel more comfortable and relaxed, staying with you,
  • you notice more details of the world around you which can be the source of creativity.
Being at full speed all the time inexorably leads to a crash. It narrows your view and your options. You will react in panic and do aimless quick shots rather than taking coordinated and target-oriented decisions and actions. This will create a spiral producing more fear and panic and more quick shots.

For many, being on full speed for many is a distraction from dealing with major questions or problems in life. So the paradox situation can be that one who is on full speed is a procrastinator in reality.

Here are some related videos:
Unfortunately being slow is tagged with being stupid and unmotivated. Slow is not always good, but slow can be good. Discover the tortoise mode - don't be on speed as a default mode!

When will I learn to slow down...

Related posts: The state of mind matters, In the present moment, You can't urge the river flowing, Why investing enough time rules, Parkinson's law and quality, Reduce the stress factors, Productivity spiral, Dynamic activity, Hurry home ... no more running, How to be happy, Slowing down, Minimum effort, Getting older.


The mismatch problem

Lately I saw this video - by accident - because the title was a completely different one and in the video the speaker - Malcolm Gladwell - mentions that the original topic was planned differently.

He talks about something that he calls the "mismatch problem".

Basically in a nutshell he explains that the way we measure things and the parameters we think to be important for a particular job often do have nothing to do with what really matters. The way we measure performance of people through tests, graduations, certificates often does not bring the expected results. Instead the number of people that would do a good job is reduced by filtering all those out with bad marks and such who are missing particular graduations. Malcolm shows a few examples where even the opposite can be seen: That those people who have the worst testing results and graduations are the best performers.

He recommends not to rely on standardized testing routines and instead prefer looking on how people are making it on the job in the real world.

I already had similar thoughts many times. In particular I remember support calls where people emphasized their academic titles when calling and had the worst understanding of how the software works. My experience is that an academic title is no guarantee that the person behind is an intelligent and productive person. On the other hand there are persons without an academic title who are really smart, creative and good performers. Don't get me wrong, there are very good academics also. I only want to point out, that a title or a certificate is no guarantee for quality.

I think that in many, many cases our analysis, testing and labeling of things, people or events happening are affected by the mismatch problem in the way that the interpretation we are attaching to our impressions is hardly ever fitting the reality. Even history of science is full of mistakes and misinterpretation of results.

Sometimes it is better to rely on the gut feeling instead of doing scientific tests, polls and statistics.

Related posts: In the present moment, Detect the weak point, Crappy guesswork.

Good heart these days is hard to find

In tough times people tend to hunt for money wherever possible. And often people only have their advantages in mind before doing anything.

Remember that how things are done in the small will reflect in the picture of the whole world. We can see the exploitation of the world and the people looking at many different aspects.

Keep in mind, that your neighbours, your co-workers and the people on the street will notice those who are trying to exploit everything they are encountering. They will feel anxiety and flee from those plunderers.

Look out for the brave hearts, for the people with a good heart trying to be a good neighbour, a good friend, a good worker, a good comrade. When socializing, focus on those that give a good example of a human being for a better big picture of the world.

Related post: Scoundrel days.


Productivity spiral

Although I was working on self development already for many years I was not aware of all the particular buzzwords of this realm. Only after a coaching about two years ago I started reading several personal development blogs and jumped on the bandwagon of life hacking and productivity optimization in a declared manner and in a more comprehensive way.

Now looking back all those improvements I can say, that I got the time for a child and family (before we both, my wife and I, we worked and worked, even on weekends and there was only few room for socialization and spare time). As a child and family occupies a lot of time I could be proud of all the time that I "won" by optimizing productivity.

About 16 months ago I was in a situation where our child still wasn't born but I could see first big results in optimization and gaining free time slots - and I used them for personal development increasing productivity.

Situation now is that I my time is getting again fully occupied with family needs and with work. What happens? I am improving productivity not to have (more) time to relax - no, I am improving to pack more and more into my life.

But: Real satisfaction is only evolving if you slow down and definitely stop. So you can not increase your happiness by improving productivity to get more and more done! Be aware of the productivity spiral and don't get addicted to productivity improvement.

Related posts: Highly happy people, Dynamic activity, Who cares?, All Done Status, Urging to forge at full speed, LTO - Letting things open, Hurry home ... no more running.


Solve conflicts

The problem: Unsolved conflicts growing bigger and bigger.
It often happens that for some reason (for instance because fearing any form of negative impacts) people are in conflict with others but they avoid talking about the problem and they do all kind of strange things to avoid having to face the issue.

The reason: Negative experience and attachment to harmony.
The desire to have everything in harmony around you is a good desire. However, if harmony is not really given, denying it will have the conflict growing in the hidden. So harmony should be a long-term thought.

The solution: Have it out - solve the conflict.
Don't hide or suppress your feelings and opinions. Have it out with the involved person(s). Tell your arguments but show also empathy for the other persons involved also. But when telling others don't loose respect to them, be constructive in your critics and show your best will to find a solution that fits best for everybody (not just for you). There might be big discussion and there might be litigation but if everything is out then both have more opportunity to understand each other. Avoiding, suppressing and procrastination is no solution. It might take several attempts and longer time until an earlier established harmony returns but it will then last longer.

Related posts: Stake your claim, Setting borderlines.