Relicty Mindsets

When I face a problem, I always start digging for the root problem - and - for the reason behind the whole problem branch I went down while searching for the root problem.

Well, this is nothing special and nothing new, pretty every psychologist does that with his/her patients.

What I understand now is: Searching for the reason of a problem is only relevant when the reason is still "alive" - if the source producing the problem is still "leaking".

Here is an example:
If you discover that you have a particular mindset that blocks you from being successful (such as "I am not strong enough, to do this or that" or "I am not intelligent enough for finishing university", ...), you might start digging how the hack you got to this prejudice or convintion.

The first question should be: Is this something old or is this mindset something that still gets fed by continuing (daily) experience?

After you got aware of a blocking mindset, you are already winning. If it is a relict of old times (maybe if you got punched by a stronger highschool peer or whatever) then you can be more efficient by not digging too much into the reasons. The reason is not that relevant any more if the reason has "fallen out" of your life already).


The wise talk less

I cannot tell the origin of the quote "Imagine there is war and nobody is showing up", I heard it several times and in fact I do see war as one of the silliest actions, humans can do. My grandma told me a lot about the second world war, so I have got a few impressions from the time back then. But when I think of war I also think of litigation, quarrel and almost any form of aggressiveness between humans.

For me it is clear that I won't go somewhere to make war or go to someone because I want to litigate. But what comes to my mind more often lately is: What if the war comes to me?

Myagi (in the film Karate Kid) says: "Best defense ... not be there". I mentioned that earlier in the post "Best defense". As I also mentioned there that even being the most peaceful creature, sometimes it may necessary to fight - and - People are way too creative in seeing threats anywhere.

It is very easy to offend people and in fact people feel offended even if it was the last thing you desired. That's why it is so difficult to just make peace.

Lately I discussed this topic with my father and he said: "Even the most peaceful animal starts to fight if it feels cornered." While it is quite easy to get aware when you are physically pushed into a corner, from psychologic, economic or political viewpoint it might be not always easy to distinguish whether you are caught in a dead-end or not.

Even from a distant philosophical or ethical point of view avoiding the fight/quarrel/litigation - and by this accept an aggressor to get closer and overrun everybody else, is not a solution either. The tipping point here maybe is: "Don't avoid fight at any cost."

Fight or war should be however be the very, very last option. In most cases compasion and empathy are the better alternatives. And instead of destroying something it is better to construct something better (which will the worse cause to fade away itself).

Oh, by the way: I discovered, that the more you talk (or write ;-) ) the more you are at risk that somebody gets it wrong what you say and feel offended. Maybe that is a major reason why wise people usually talk less and only talk if they are asked. That way the risk of other people getting it wrong and be offended is reduced.

Related posts: Best defense, Stop war by stopping defense, Little respect, Dissolved aggressiveness, Stake your claim, What remains.


Responsibility and decision

I usually do not have problems taking the responsibility but lately I discovered that I need to be more prudent before saying yes or accepting a new topic thrown at my desk.

I can see it more often lately that people or companies act in a very impertinent manner by discharging themselves from all kind of responsibilities. Basically whatever you buy or whatever service you consume - the full risk is always with you.

Yesterday I got an e-mail from the government asking for a document I needed to add to a proposition. They asked me to send it by fax and the disclaimer said that they are not responsible for any data loss while transmitting the data and that happens at my own risk.

The is one major thing you shouldn't accept: Getting the responsibility without getting the power to decide! - Don't accept a job or project when they don't let you decide but put the responsibility onto your shoulders. That is unfair!

The Debian folks (Debian is a Linux distribution) added a very interesting and true introduction text when you are attempting to run something with administrative account/permissions:
We trust you have received the usual lecture from the local System Administrator. It usually boils down to these three things:
#1) Respect the privacy of others.
#2) Think before you type.
#3) With great power comes great responsibility.

Very true...

Related posts: Prejudice vs economization, Work intelligently.


Controversal opinion on the 80-20-Rule

Some people tag me being a perfectionist. Reflecting this, I can see three reasons why perfectionism may make pretty good sense - and those three reasons sometimes make me go further than stopping at 80 % (see e. g. earlier post "When to give up"):

  1. The 20 % you are leaving out, ignoring or simply not further investigating are often causing 80 % of the troubles you are experiencing later.
    The pareto principle (80-20-rule) is being applied to current status quo without doing risk analysis of the future and here is where this time management tool lacks. I have experienced so many times and spent so much time fighting with big problems caused by tiny flaws in algorithms, strategies or project plans that I learned to think twice before stopping a thing at 80 %.
  2. Nowadays many products or services are delivered at a quality level according to "good enough" standards.
    Businesses survive today by offering the same product at better price or offering a better quality. If you cannot deliver at best price you must offer better quality. This means to go further than "just being good enough".
  3. Not to give up often is the key for outstanding results.
    In my work following the 80-20 rules often is applied by following a different path. Mostly, first you try something in a way that would be the most effective, most performant and most elegant way. Then you face troubles, start workarounds and finally choose another way of implementing the desired working result - which of course - then lacks usability or performance. Looking around then you find yourself with results that others may deliver at same or lower price or work. My experience has been that in many cases I did not give up in getting the most elegant solution to work. That often payed off in the long-run only, but with the additional good feeling, that I did it right.
Of course, there are plenty of situations where the 80-20-rule is useful. It's just - the exception proves the rule.

Related posts: When to give up, Information Overflow, Principles over Rules.


Increase efficiency with less planning

My wife is planning master. Planning can increase efficiency in two ways:
  1. When you have a plan you make big and small jobs fit together having less gaps where you loose time.
  2. Having a plan gives you the possibility to get prepared (have everything you need - and everything you might need).
One problem with planning is: For getting the benefit you need to plan in advance - in time to get prepared. When things change, planning needs to be adapted, which is a task to do by itself. Within very dynamic environments too much planning can be a time eater rather than a time saver.

So, too much planning can decrease your efficiency in two ways:
  1. Environment and situation may change obsoleting your planning partly or completely (again and again while you adapt).
  2. You cannot foresee everything and plan it in the optimum way. Let me give a simple example: While it might be perfectly ok, planning to clean the bathroom at 9, it might be better first to just keep in mind that there is the bathroom to be cleaned. During the day you might just find yourself waiting for a longer download to finish and in this moment remember that there is the bathroom task and fill the waiting gap with cleaning.
So two hints:
  • Delay planning where chances are currently high, that things change until due time of the task.
  • Leave space for some tasks to accidently fit in at the moment. Keep a todo-list for the tasks that could fit into some typical gaps (wait for the computer to finish a download, backup, copy, installation task; wait for the washing machine to finish; waiting for a train/bus; waiting for your wife/friend to help you with a bigger task).


6 triggers of bad actions

Actions or spoken words that cause suffering may be nailed down to one of those 6 triggers or reasons:
  1. Absence of appropriate (better) knowledge - or simply ignorance
  2. Attachment
  3. Jealousy
  4. Pride
  5. Anger
  6. Miserliness
All those triggers are caused by the fearful ego. With exercise you will be able to get aware of those triggers because they drive you (unwillingly) into (re-)action.

Related posts: There is suffering, The most important things to know, What remains.

Emotion and Sensation

The problem: Difficulty to distinguish emotion and sensation.
I often have the impression that people tend to have difficulties distinguishing emotions from sensations. In the German language these difficulties have lead for emotion and sensation there is just one word ("Gef├╝hl") and this leads people to put both into the same pot.

The reason: No explanation
In the first place both rise from the unconsciousness. There is no logic that  leads to the emotion or sensation as a result. Hence you have nothing to value them - to decide whether they are good or bad / healthy or unhealthy.

The solution: Step back - wait
Just wait. Whenever there arrives a wave of inner activity, first just watch it. Emotions tend to go away faster than sensations. Sensations can live in a calm environment - when your brain and body is in peace. Emotions tend to create more activity in general. Emotions tell you about effects that hit your spirit, they should be taken as information on what feels good and what causes suffering. But Emotions should not be the decision-maker.

Related post: What remains.


External success factors

2011 was a very work intensive year for me. After changing job I had to learn new products, get into already running projects which I didn't plan and there was much to do.

Basically I was facing
  • new products I was not familiar with
  • new customers I was not familiar with
  • new co-workers I didn't know
  • running projects where the initial heads already left
So there was a whole set of new challenges for me. Although I was on a good way to get in-depth knowledge of the products, customers and company I noticed that I will keep experiencing pressure and stress.

When experiencing problems the first for me always is to look at my own deficits - at the factors regarding my own person and my (missing) knowledge - with the intention to kill all the possible reasons of failure that I can control.

But by giving all your best, don't forget about the the factors that are relevant for success but are outside of your influence:
  • The thing (the subject you are dealing with - can be a product or a service, be it in the car manufacturing area, insurance, computer software or whatever).
  • The people (your co-workers, typical customers, your boss, partners etc) - some say "it's all about the people" - which is basically true, but the people currently be involved are not always the initial inventors or initiators of the product or service. People know might have different ideas and plans. So you do not face only the people and their ideas know but also what others created before (the thing).
  • The organization (company structure, organizational habits and rules etc) - wheather companies are small or big, they develop best practice solutions for their daily organizational issues and new market challenges.
If you have great plans for bringing people to the moon, it's probably not the best, working for a bycicle producing company. You might not be able to get great ideas lifting off if your co-workers fear you and hence do block you. If the organization does not permit a dynamic reaction of changing market situations you might not be able to deliver new stuff to new customers...

Don't forget that you might have or be able to develop the power to influence the thing, to motivate the people and to improve the organization! But be realistic and get aware of what you cannot change in the near future. Sometimes changing place is the better choice. Just make sure that it is not just you fleeing!

Related posts: Will to change is not enough, Reduce the stress factors.