Notes from Some Summer Reading 2018 f/ @shawnachor @gretchenrubin @micheleborba @IAmMarkManson @askpang @DanielCoyle @DanielPink @simonsinek

Summer has flown by faster than seems possible given the number of days and hours we have in a summer. Part of that might be due to the fact that, last school year, as much of an effort I made to improve productivity and practice self-care, I just did not do a great job implementing and sticking to boundaries. I love my work so much, honestly I do, it’s easy to get sucked into working too long and too hard and forgetting to strike a healthy balance. And often times I don’t even realize how hard I’ve been pushing until summer hits – and I noticed how many things in the self-/friend-/family-care and home-improvement category I’ve put off for summer.

The one thing I’ve made a good amount of time for this summer is reading. (And this is one good habit I stick to even during the school year; I love listening to books.) I always read a mix of fiction and non-fiction, reading for both self and professional improvement and sheer pleasure. After I read a book, I always take some time to jot down notes and copy down quotes that I’ve bookmarked. (I actually listen to most of the books I read. I use the bookmark tool in the audio reader to note passages and quotes and then transcribe those things after I’ve finished.) Most of the reason I do this is I simply cannot recall a lot of things I’ve read, watched, or listened to without exercising this practice. I’ve learned the limitations of my memory over the years and have adopted some good strategies to overcome them.

I thought that I might share some notes from books I’ve read that were focused on professional growth. I have some summary included but mainly you’ll be reading areas that stood out in my mind when reading. In the process of summarizing, I usually look for reviews others have written to compare their takeaways to my own. In reading those, I do a good amount of borrowing good material to include in my own notes. I’ve tried my best to attribute that below. (If you’re just curious what I read in the fiction category, scroll down to the very end of this very long post.)

Books

Big Potential, by Shawn Achor

  • “We need to become Praise Prisms… prisms do not merely absorb or deflect light. By shining it on others, they enhance it and make it more beautiful… By shining the light of praise outward onto others, rather than absorbing or diminishing it, you not only make your colleagues look good; you also enhance your own position”
  • Borrowed some notes from: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/big-potential-shawn-achor-rachel-patricia-mcconnell/
  • “Society teaches that it’s better to be the only bright light than be in a forest of bright lights. After all, isn’t that the way we think about success in our schools and companies? We want to graduate at the top of our class, get the job at the best company, and be chosen to work on the most coveted project. We want our child to be the smartest kid at school, the most popular kid on the block, the fastest kid on the team… The lightning bug researchers discovered that when the fireflies were able to time their pulses with one another with astonishing accuracy (to the millisecond!), it allowed them to space themselves apart perfectly, thus eliminating the need to compete. In the same way, when we help others become better, we can actually increase the available opportunities, instead of vying for them. Like the lightning bugs, once we learn to coordinate and collaborate with those around us, we all begin to shine brighter, both individually and as an ecosystem.”
    • Discovery: lightning bugs synchronize when they light up to mate; seems counterintuitive, glowing in unison seems like it would decrease their chances of distinguishing themselves to potential mates; turns out it serves an evolutionary purpose for the fireflies; when lightning bugs light up at random times, the likelihood of a female responding to a male in the deep, dark forest is only 3% but when the lightning bugs light up together, the likelihood of females responding is 82 percent
    • Fireflies flashing as an interconnected community rather than as individuals increased response by 79% vs Society teaches that it’s better to be the only bright light than be in a forest of bright lights.
  • We tend to praise infants saying “Leo, you did that all by yourself! I’m proud of you.” And after a while, Leo begins parroting: “All by myself.” → First as children, then as adults in the workplace, we are conditioned to disproportionately value things we accomplish on our own.
    • At school, our kids are trained to study diligently and individually so they can best others on exams. If they seek help on projects from other students, they are chastised for cheating. They are given multiple hours of homework a night, forcing them to trade time with others for more time working in isolation. Over and over they are reminded that their future success in the workplace hinges on individual metrics, including their grades and standardized test scores. It dramatically raises their stress levels while robbing them of social connection, sleep, attention, happiness, and health.
    • But then, in the working world, the people who rise to the top are not those who try to do everything all by themselves, but, rather, those who can ask others for help and rally others to grow.
    • We spend the first twenty-­two years of our life being judged and praised for our individual attributes and what we can achieve alone, when, for the rest of our life, our success is almost entirely interconnected with that of others.
  • Thanks to groundbreaking new research you will read about in this book, we now know that achieving our highest potential is not about survival of the fittest; it is survival of the best fit. In other words, success is not just about how creative or smart or driven you are, but how well you are able to connect with, contribute to, and benefit from the ecosystem of people around you. It isn’t just how highly rated your college or workplace is, but how well you fit in there. It isn’t just how many points you score, but how well you complement the skills of the team.
    • The pursuit of potential must not be a lonely road. The conclusion of a decade of research is clear: It’s not faster alone; it’s better together.
  • By creating hypercompetitive environments in which only individual achievements are celebrated, companies and schools are leaving enormous amounts of talent, productivity, and creativity on the table. Overemphasizing the individual and removing others from the equation places a “soft cap” on our potential, an artificial limit on what we can achieve.
  • SMALL POTENTIAL is the limited success you can achieve alone; BIG POTENTIAL is the success you can achieve only in a Virtuous Cycle with others.
    • Success at Harvard was less about the individual attributes of a student and more about how they fit in with the culture and with their peers. Or, put another way, the potential to succeed at Harvard had less to do with “survival of the fittest” and more to do with “survival of the best fit.”
  • The problem with this view is that it’s not capturing the bigger picture. What that strong or smart person can accomplish alone is dwarfed by what they could accomplish when they connect with and improve the performance of the people on their team. When others around you are creative and smart, then you become MORE creative or smart than you were before. Because our potential is not fixed but, rather, a renewable resource with the power to multiply when we tap into the potential of the people around us, the more we invest in the skills and abilities of others, the more dividends we reap in our own. You CAN be a superstar; you just can’t be a superstar along.
    • That is why survival of the fittest is short-sighted and leads to small potential
  • On a trampoline, a “super bounce” is when you jump with someone else and – if you time it right – their extra weight augments the potential energy, and in turn you both spring up much higher. Big Potential is the super bounce that is possible only with others jumping with you. The height of your potential is predicted by the people who surround you. So the key to creating a super bounce for your potential is to SURROUND yourself with people who will life you up rather than drag you down. Surrounding yourself with other elevated people can provide the energy needed to life yourself to new heights.
  • You can be a superstar; you just can’t be one alone. What you need is a star system: a constellation of positive, authentic influencers who support each other, reinforce each other, and make each other better. The people around us matter. A lot. We can strategically choose to surround ourselves with people who give us a super bounce rather than knock us down.
    • STRATEGY # 1: Tap into the power of positive peer pressure.
    • STRATEGY #2: Create balance through variety.
    • STRATEGY #3: Create reciprocal bonds.
  • Instead of praise misers, we need to become Praise Prisms. In physics, a prism is an object with multiple reflective surfaces. When light hits a prism, different wavelengths bend at different angles, creating the rainbow effect when the light reemerges from the prism. In other words, prisms do not merely absorb or deflect light. By shining it on others, they enhance it and make it more beautiful. By shining the light of praise outward onto others, rather than absorbing or diminishing it, you not only make your colleagues look good; you also enhance your own position.
  • When we praise a win, we need to also recognize the supporting players who make the wins possible…. We need to direct more light on the player who made the assist, not just the player who scored the winning goal because the latter already received their due with adulation of the crowd and thrill of the goal.
    • We need to make sure we are also rewarding the people who make less visible – though no less valuable – contributions to the team’s success. Keep the light on the base steady, and it will reflect upward and outward so that the top shines even brighter.
  • Negative forces can help make us stronger — Much like vaccinations protect us against disease by actually introducing a virus into our ecosystem, the introduction of threats into our ecosystem of potential can help inoculate ourselves against them.
  • When you talk about your job and life to others, what tour are you taking them on?
    • Example: if his kid is watching the trash guys come pick up the trash, they often smile and show more zeal towards their job; does that spark of energy carry over?

 

Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?, by Seth Godin

    • The lizard brain
      • Only wants to eat and be safe; will fight (to the death) if it has to, but would rather run away.
      • The lizard brain cares what everyone else thinks, because status in the tribe is essential to its survival.
      • A squirrel runs around looking for nuts, hiding from foxes, listening for predators, and watching for other squirrels. The squirrel does this because that’s all it can do. All the squirrel has is a lizard brain.
    • The resistance
      • Always comfortable with low expectations; less freedom → the less resistance you face. This is why it feels so natural to do a job where all you have to do is follow instructions.
      • “Our economy has reached a logical conclusion. The race to make average stuff for average people in huge quantities is almost over. We’re hitting an asymptote, a natural ceiling for how cheaply and how fast we can deliver uninspired work.”
      • A job where we just go through the motions = giving in to the resistance
  • The resistance/the lizard brain exists “to make you safe, which means invisible and unchanged.
  • The only way to prove (as opposed to assert) that you are an indispensable linchpin—someone worth recruiting, moving to the top of the pile, and hiring—is to show, not tell. Projects are the new resumes. If your Google search isn’t what you want, or need it to be, then change it. Change it through your actions, your connections, and your generosity. Change it by so overdelivering that people post about you. Change it by creating a blog that is so insightful about your area of expertise that others refer to it. And change it by helping other people.
  • Discomfort brings engagement and change. Discomfort means you’re doing something that others were unlikely to do, because they’re hiding out in the comfortable zone. When your uncomfortable actions lead to success, the organization rewards you and brings you back for more.
  • And that’s it. At the end of the year, he has some great blog posts and a pile of Twitter tweets to show for it. What if he harnessed even one of those ideas and fought the resistance hard enough to actually make something of it?
  • I ship. I don’t get in the way of the news. I fight the resistance and I ship. I do this by not doing an enormous number of tasks that are perfect stalling devices, ideal ways of introducing the resistance into our lives.
    • A workaholic brings fear into the equation. She works all the time, to ensure everything is alright. And she experiences resistance all the time. She satisfies the raging fear of her lizard brain by being at the job site all of the time just to be sure.
    • I’m not a workaholic. There is no fear because I’ve ingrained the habit of shipping. The lizard brain has no chance so it shuts up and finds something else to worry about. By forcing myself to do absolutely no busywork tasks in between bouts with the work, I remove the best excuse the resistance has. I can’t avoid the work because I am not distracting myself with anything but the work.
    • The goal is to strip away anything that looks productive but doesn’t involve shipping.
  • Leo Babauta’s brilliant little book Zen Habits helps you think your way through this problem. His program is simple: Attempt to create only one significant work a year. Break that into smaller projects and every day, find three tasks to accomplish that will help you complete a project. And do only that during your working hours.
  • Linchpins don’t need authority. It’s not part of the deal. Authority matters only in the factory, not in your world. Real change rarely comes from the front of the line. It happens from the middle, or even the back. Real change happens when someone who cares steps up and takes what feels like a risk. People follow because they want to, not because you can order them to.

Switch: How To Change Things When Change Is Hard, by Chip & Dan Heath

    • Imagine this experiment: moviegoers were handed a soft drink and a free bucket of popcorn and asked to answer some questions after the movie; however, the popcorn was terribly stale (purposely so); some receive a medium & some receive a large
      • The researchers responsible for the study were interested in a simple question: Would the people with bigger buckets eat more?
      • The results were stunning: People with the large buckets ate 53 percent more popcorn than people with the medium size. That’s the equivalent of 173 more calories and approximately 21 extra hand-dips into the bucket.
      • So clearly, how much you eat is environmentally driven (how big is the plate/container); nobody actually could have enjoyed eating the popcorn; bigger container = more eating.
        • Yet, we always reprimand overweight people for not having any self control; what are we actually doing to change their environment (ie: changing portion sizes and plate sizes?)
    • Have you ever noticed that shopping is a lot more tiring than other kinds of light activity? Now you know why—it’s all those choices.
      • Decision paralysis deters people from saving for their own retirement!
      • As we face more and more options, “we become overloaded. Choice no longer liberates, it debilitates. It might even be said to tyrannize.”
    • Habits are behavioral autopilots. New habits present the essence of every change. The good (and the bad news) about habits is that they’re contagious. They’re incredibly sensitive to the environment and culture because people want to fit in.
      • One way to encourage new habits is by installing action triggers. Action triggers encourage you to execute a certain action when you encounter a certain situational trigger (also called a reminder).
      • The second way to encourage new habits are checklists.
    • Start by praising every small act, every time. You need to constantly notice and reinforce positive behavior. Reinforcement is the secret to getting towards the final destination step by step.
    • Students often didn’t do their homework, or they turned in shoddy work. Getting a D or an F was an easy way out in a way. They might get a poor grade, but at least they would be done. In the new system, the students couldn’t stop until they’d cleared the bar. “We define up front to the kids what’s an A, B, and C,” said Howard. “If they do substandard work, the teacher will say, ‘Not Yet.’
      • That gives them the mindset: my teacher thinks I can do better. It changes their expectations. → school was reborn
    • Romano – was deployed to Vietnam and fell into drug addiction there like so many others
      • However, when he returned, within a month he was clean. When he relocated back home, his environment changed and the new environment changed him.
      • This makes sense—our habits are essentially stitched into our environment.
      • Many smokers, for example, find it easier to quit when they’re on vacation, because at home, every part of their environment is loaded with smoking associations
      • The first thing to realize is that even small environmental tweaks can make a difference
    • What action triggers do is create an “instant habit.” Habits are behavioral autopilot, and that’s exactly what action triggers are setting up.
  • The value of action triggers resides in the fact that we are preloading decision
      • Action triggers simply have to be specific enough and visible enough to interrupt people’s normal stream of consciousness.
      • Action triggers protect goals from tempting distractions, bad habits, or competing goals.
      • The next time your team resolves to act in a new way, challenge team members to take it further. Have them specify when and where they are going to put the plan in motion. Get them to set an action trigger.
    • New principal took over school that was having major disciplinary problems
      • “What these kids don’t get in their lives is stability. They have to know that here they’ll get structure and order.”
      • At the assembly, Elder began with announcements and a brief call-and-response with the kids.“We’re a school of what?” a teacher would call out. The kids would respond by shouting, “Excellence!” At 7:50, Elder taught a brief lesson in character education, typically focusing on a single word, such as perseverance. At 7:55, everyone stood and said the Pledge of Allegiance… At 8:00, the kids stood and silently walked to class with “traveling arms,” meaning that the kids’ arms were folded behind them, reducing the nearly irresistible urge to mess with their friends. By the time the kids sat down at their desks, they were ready to learn. Elder shows us how new habits can clear the Path.
      • “Which parts of this chaos can I tame? What kind of morning routine can I setup that will improve the chances that the kids are ready to learn?”She had to fight the forces that stirred up kids before they’d even set foot in the classroom: the tense drop-offs, the cafeteria pandemonium, the erratic transition to the classroom. By bringing order and continuity to the environment, she was able to create forward movement for a group of children who’d grown used to a destructive cycle of behavior.
    • A good change leader never thinks, “Why are these people acting so badly? They must be bad people.” A change leader thinks, “How can I set up a situation that brings out the good in these people?”
    • Your brain is like an elephant with a rider perched on top.
      • The rider does the planning and analyzing.
      • The elephant provides the emotional energy.
      • To create change the elephant and rider must cooperate.
    • The Switch Framework helps create change by:
      • Directing the rider. Make sure the rider knows where to go, how others got there, and how you’ll get there.
      • Motivating the elephant. Knowing isn’t enough. Make sure the elephant feels drawn to the change. Make the change small (so it’s not intimidating) and encourage a growth mindset (“change is possible”).
      • Shaping the path. Change the environment to change the behavior. Build habits. Behavior is contagious: surround yourself with others exhibiting the behavior your want; help is spread.
    • Reach the emotional and rational side of people and clear the way for them to succeed
    • Look for the bright spots: every dark situation has some bright spots
    • Focus on small things that are already working and can be scaled.
    • To make a switch to a new behavior you must script the critical moves. You must provide crystal clear guidance on what exactly people (or you) should start doing, stop doing or continue doing. You need to think about the specific behavior that you want to see in tough or uncertain moments.
      • The opposite of having a script of critical moves are unclear directions with many different options. The more options we have, even good ones, that much tougher it is to make decisions.
  • A Rider needs to be jarred out of analysis at some point and given a script that explains how to act. Clarity dissolves resistance. The Rider needs a map – a clear starting point and a finish.
  • “You need to provide crystal-clear guidance. That’s why scripting is important—you’ve got to think about the specific behavior that you’d want to see in a tough moment”
  • Shrink the change — People find it much more motivating if they’re partly finished with a very long journey than if they’re at a starting point of a much shorter one.
    • “Hope is fuel for the Elephant. Even a small success can be extremely powerful in helping people believe in themselves.”
  • Grow the people around you — When you build people up, they develop the strength to act.
  • Create an expectation of failure
    • “Every change requires you to include a period of learning, empowered by the growth mindset.”
    • Teaching example: some kids told brain is like a muscle; these kids now believed that working hard was not something that made you vulnerable but something that made you smarter
    • One of IDEO’s designers created a project mood chart, to model how a team will feel about the design of a project from beginning to finish. At the beginning of a new project, the team is filled with hope—and thus, their enthusiasm is high. At the end of the project, when it is close to completion, the team is confident—and the enthusiasm level is high. But between these two points is a dip, a valley of low enthusiasm labeled “insight.”
  • A behavior is a result of an individual’s personality and the environment they are in. Thus, many times what looks like a people problem, is a situation problem.
  • By changing the environment, you can make change easier for people. You make the journey to a new destination a lot easier.
    • Tweak the environment – Change the situation, make the right behaviors a little bit easier and the wrong behaviors a little bit harder
    • Build habits – Look for ways to encourage positive habits
    • Rally the Herd – Behavior is contagious, help it spread

Start with Why, by Simon Sinek

  • 1. If you want to inspire others, always communicate your why first; 2. Excited employees are the best resource for any business; 3. You don’t need sleazy sales tactics when you start with why.
    • https://fourminutebooks.com/start-with-why-summary/
    •  Great leaders and companies naturally get this right by starting all communication with why they do things, eventually followed by how they do things, until finally revealing what it is they actually do.
      • Once we are sold on the cause of an idea, we’ll go above and beyond to support it
      • Apple is a great example. First they tell us why they’re here to shake things up, then they tell us how (with easy-to-use, beautifully designed products) and finally we find out what they make: computers, phones, tablets and mp3 players.
  • WHAT – Companies always know what they do – e.g. selling products
  • HOW – Some companies know how they do what they do – e.g. selling their products with a unique marketing plan
  • WHY – Few companies know why they do what they do (besides making money) – e.g. this is why employees get out of bed in the morning, what is the purpose and why should people care. This is where inspirational companies arise.
  • Successful Leaders are able to clearly explain why their organization does what it does. This needs to be clearly articulated in order to inspire followers.
  • We crave a sense of belonging, we want to feel that our beliefs and values are shared. A successful leader and organization will communicate and clearly display their beliefs and values, in-turn, earning the trust of consumers who share these beliefs and values.
  • Successful companies are made up of why-types and how-types.
    • Why-types = visionaries, the ones who optimistically set the goals
    • How-types = those that pave the road to get there; make things happen
    • You need a combination of the two to be successful and inspirational
  • The aim should be to inspire loyal customers. A loyal customer is so inspired by your brand that they are willing to turn down a better price or product to continue doing business with you.
  • The Golden Circle
    • The golden circle reminds us how much more we can achieve if we remember by starting by asking ourselves why
    • Apple = example of an inspirational company
      • The format a normal company: this is what we do, and this is how we do it.
      • Apple starts with why – they reverse the order of information
        • WHY – In everything that we do, we believe in challenging the status quo and thinking differently
        • HOW – The way we do this is to design products that are beautifully designed and easy to use
        • WHAT – We just so happen to make great computers. Wanna buy one?
    • When a company starts with what, there is likely going to be some appeal. But, when they start with why, and when their consumers share their beliefs, a sense of belonging occurs and as a consequence, their products symbolize these beliefs.
      • Apple products symbolize a user’s beliefs, it’s a status symbol.
        • “And that’s why the Apple logo is upside down to the user and the right way round for everyone else…”
  • “You have to earn trust by communicating and demonstrating that you share the same values and beliefs. You have to talk about your WHY and prove it with WHAT you do. Again, a WHY is just a belief, HOWs are the actions we take to realize that belief, and WHATs are the results of those actions. When all three are in balance, trust is built and value is perceived.”
  • “Great companies don’t hire skilled people and motivate them, they hire already motivated people and inspire them.”
  • ”It’s no coincidence that the three-dimensional Golden Circle is a cone. It is, in practice, a megaphone. An organization effectively becomes the vessel through which a person with a clear purpose, cause or belief can speak to the outside world. But for a megaphone to work, clarity must come first. Without a clear message, what will you amplify?
  • “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. It’s not what you do that matters, it’s why you do it. Apple’s ability to design such innovative products so consistently, and their ability to command such outstanding loyalty for their products comes from more than simply what they do. The problem is, organizations use the tangible features and benefits to build a rationale argument for why their products is better than another. But the effect is the same – companies try to sell us what they do but we buy why they do it.”
  • “Great leaders are those who trust their gut. They are those who understand the art before the science. They win hearts before minds. They are the ones who start with WHY.”
  • If your WHYs and their WHY correspond, then they will see your products and services as tangible ways to prove what they believe. When WHY, HOW & WHAT are in balance, authenticity is achieved and the buyer feels fulfilled. Without WHY, the buyer is easily motivated by aspiration or fear.
  • “The goal of business should not be to do business with everyone who needs what you have. The goal is to focus on people who believe what you believe. When we are selective to do business only with people who believe in our why, trust emerges.”
  • “But for a megaphone to work, clarity must come first. Without a clear message, what will you amplify?”
  • “Achievement comes when you pursue and attain WHAT you want. Success comes when you are clear in pursuit of WHY you want it.”

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life, by Mark Manson

  • The key to living a good life is not giving a f* about more things, but rather, giving a f* only about the things that align with your personal values (giving a f* about only what is true and immediate and important)
  • We have so much stuff and so many opportunities that we don’t know what to give a f* about anymore
  • The desire for a more positive experience is itself a negative experience
  • Accepting your experience of life as being great and wonderful is the single greatest thing you can do for your happiness
  • Everything worthwhile in life is won through surmounting the associated negative experience
  • The moments when we don’t give a f* and take action are often the moments that most define the course of our lives
  • *When a person has no problems, the mind automatically finds a way to invent some*
    • consider “life problems” are really just side effects of not having anything more important to worry about
  • From https://jamesclear.com/book-summaries/the-subtle-art-of-not-giving-a-fck:
    • Subtlety #1: Not giving a f* is not about being indifferent. It just means you’re comfortable with being different. Don’t say f* it to everything in life, just to the unimportant things.
    • Subtlety #2: To not give a f* about adversity, you must first care about something more important than adversity.
    • Subtlety #3: Whether you realize it or not, you are always choosing what to give a f* about. The key is to gradually prune the things you care about, so that you only give a f* on the most important of occasions.

Unselfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World, by Michele Borba

  • A strong sense of empathy is not only a moral imperative, but also an advantage in attaining health, happiness, and career success.
  • Nine essential empathetic skills: emotional literacy, moral identity, perspective talking, moral imagination, self-regulation, practicing kindness, collaboration, moral courage, and compassionate leadership abilities.
  • With narcissism and self-absorption on the rise in our digital age, empathy is in danger.
  • Our plugged-in, high-pressure culture is leading to a mental health epidemic among young people.
    • While we may be producing a smart, self-assured generation of young people, today’s kids are also the most self-centered, saddest, and stressed on record.
  • “Selfies” are all the rage as people take endless photos of themselves and post them on social media for others to view, to “oooh” and “ahhh” their every “Me” and “My” accolade. The term has become so ubiquitous (the word’s use increased 17,000 percent in one year; a Google search reaps more than 230 million hits) that Oxford Dictionaries chose it as its Word of the Year in 2014. A review of hundreds of books published since 1960 found a stark increase in phrases that included the word self or stressed personal uniqueness or being better than others (“I come first” and “I can do it myself”). But that “look at me looking at you” digital craze is spilling into the real world, altering our kids’ offline attitudes and creating the most entitled, competitive, self-centered and individualistic breed on record. I call this new self-absorbed craze the Selfie Syndrome.”
  • Exercise: When reading a book, use the illustrations and ask — “Look at Alexander’s face. What’s that feeling called? Can you imagine how he feels right now? Make your body look the way you think Alexander feels.”
  • “Kindness is like a boomerang: send it out, and it comes right back to you so you want to send it back again. Want Unselfish Kids? Help Them Practice Kindness.
  • “My TIP strategy helps kids identify how kindness can make a positive impact, and the acronym TIP helps you recall the three parts:
    • ▷ T = Tell who was the”
    • ▷ I = Identify the kind act said or done
    • ▷ P = Point out how the gesture affected the recipient
  • Family reunion test: how do you think your children would describe your behavior in the past week, or even today?
  • Guide & Strategies

Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less, by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang

  • Deliberate Rest: Why the Secret to Success Is Taking a Break
  • Problem: we think of work and rest as binaries. Even more problematic, we think of rest as simply the absence of work, not as something that stands on its own or has its own qualities
  • You cannot work well without resting well. Some of history’s most creative people took rest very seriously. They found that in order to realize their ambitions, to do the kind of work they wanted to, they needed rest.
    • The right kinds of rest would restore their energy while allowing their muse to keep going.
  • So work and rest aren’t opposites like black and white or good and evil; they’re more like different points on life’s wave. You can’t have a crest without a trough. You can’t have the highs without the lows. Neither can exist without the other.
  • People are often rewarded for “performing” busyness at work… Mobile and digital tools now allow us to work anywhere and anytime, and we (and employers) can track activities in and out of the workplace thus opportunities for performing busyness expand. These tools give us the capacity to measure everything – except when to stop work, when to turn off our devices, and when to disconnect.
  • It is not constant effort that delivers results but a kind of constant, patient, unhurried focus that organizes the investigator’s attention when at work and is present but watchful during periods of ease. Devoting yourself to only the first (to ratio, in other words) and neglecting the second (intellectus) might make you more productive in the short run but will make your work less profound in the long run.
  • While we are not conscious of it, the resting brains turns out to be consolidating memories, making sense of the past, and searching for solutions to problems that are occupying our waking hours.
  • The resting brain isn’t inactive. The brain automatically switches on a default mode network (DMN), a series of interconnected sections that activate as soon as people stop concentrating on external tasks, and shifts outward-focused to inward-focused cognition.
  • Studies found that the DMN of people who score high on creativity tests have resting brains that are more active and that the same areas that are active when they’re concentrating on work are still switched on when they just stare into space; even when they’ve stopped trying to think about problems, their brains still plug away, generating ideas they’ll use when they return to work.
    • This research has been key to understanding the importance of rest — it is a critical component to these people in discovering their solutions.
  • Researchers have found that a small amount of background noise can boost creativity and that some people perform better on creativity tests when listening to music. This is why some people like working in cafes: the low buzz of conversations and coming and goings provide a useful stimulus, loosening the mind just enough to encourage associative thinking but not so much as to really drive you off task.
  • The 19th century’s most towering mathematical genius worked just enough to get his mind around a problem—about four hours a day. We see the same pattern among other noted mathematicians. G.H. Hardy, one of Britain’s leading mathematicians in the first half of the 20th century, would start his day with a leisurely breakfast and close reading of the cricket scores, then from 9 to 1 would be immersed in mathematics. After lunch he would be out again, walking and playing tennis. “Four hours’ creative work a day is about the limit for a mathematician,” he told his friend and fellow Oxford professor C.P. Snow.
    • Same has been found with scientists. You might expect that the result would be a straight line showing that the more hours scientists worked, the more articles they published. But it wasn’t. The data revealed an M-shaped curve. The curve rose steeply at first and peaked at between 10 to 20 hours per week. The curve then turned downward. Scientists who spent 25 hours in the workplace were no more productive than those who spent five. Scientists working 35 hours a week were half as productive as their 20-hours-a-week colleagues.
    • Same has been found in the routines of many writers (p. 63)
  • During deliberate practice, you’re engaging with full concentration in a special activity to improve one’s performance. You’re not just doing reps, lobbing balls, or playing scales. Deliberate practice is focused, structured, and offers clear goals and feedback; it requires paying attention to what you’re doing and observing how you can improve.
    • Deliberate practice isn’t a lot of fun, and it’s not immediately profitable. There’s little that’s inherently or immediately pleasurable in deliberate practice, so you need a strong sense that these long hours will pay off, and that you’re not just improving your career prospects but also crafting a professional and personal identity. You don’t just do it for the fat stacks. You do it because it reinforces your sense of who you are and who you will become.
    • Deliberate practice is an effortful activity that can be sustained only for a limited time each day. Practice too little and you never become world-class. Practice too much, though, and you increase the odds of being struck down by injury, draining yourself mentally, or burning out. To succeed, students must “avoid exhaustion” and “limit practice” to an amount from which they can completely recover on a daily or weekly basis.
  • What separated the great students at the Berlin Conservatory from the good: how they rested.
    • Top performers slept about an hour a day more than the average performers. They didn’t sleep late. They got more sleep because they napped during the day.
    • The merely good violinists tended to underestimate the amount of time they spent in leisure activities. The best violinists, in contrast, could estimate quite accurately the time they allocated to leisure (about 25 hours). The best performers devoted more energy to organizing their time, thinking about how they would spend their time, and assessing what they did.
  • Morning Routine: It is wonderful how much work can be got through in a day, if we go by the rule—map out our time, divide it off, and take up one thing regularly after another. To drift through our work ends in comparatively little being done. One thing at a time will always perform a better days work than performing two or three things at a time. By following this rule, one person will do more in day than another does in a week.
  • It isn’t being outside that stimulates creativity; it is actually the walking itself that is most responsible for helping people be more creative.
    • Research: students scored higher on a divergent thinking test while walking outdoors versus when sitting inside; but what was most interesting was that their scores walking outside weren’t really higher than their scores walking on a treadmill
  • “The best way is always to stop when you’re going good. If you do that, you’ll never be stuck. And don’t worry about it until you start to write again the next day. That way your subconscious will be working on it all the time. But if you worry about it, your brain will get tired even before you start to write again the next day.” ~Ernest Hemingway
    • Effective form of deliberate rest: stop working at just the right point. To see your next move but leave it until tomorrow. Always stop when you know what is going to happen next… It makes it easier to get started the next day, creates a steadier pace that makes you more productive in the long run, and teases your subconscious into thinking about your work while you’re doing other things
  • But you don’t do great work by sprinting to the finish; you’re more likely to accomplish great things by stopping at a strategic point and continuing the next day. Learning to stop at the right point in your work encourages a steadier, more sustainable approach to your work without sacrificing creativity.
    • Monitor your energy and attention, appreciate how focused attention and mind-wandering can become partners in a creative life
  • It is critical to be able to disconnect from work psychologically. People who worry about their work in off-hours have lower recovery rates than those who do not.
    • Taking a break from work – detachment – the ability to put work completely out of your mind and attend to other things- turns out to be tremendously important as a source of mental and physical recovery from work. It’s a necessity for people who want to do their very best work to be able to able to detach from the workplace, to have time to recover their mental and physical energy
  • Workers with more control over their time and attention felt less need to recharge at the end of the day. Control means having the power to decide how you spend your time, energy, and attention.
  • We need to build rest into our schedule. The most creative and most productive workers are the ones who are able to unplug from the office, recover their mental and physical energy, and return to their work recharged. We get the most from breaks when we do things that are relaxing, that let us experience control and mastery, and that provide a sense of detachment from our working lives. Recovery is active, not passive, and we can design it to get greater benefit.
  • Deep play—hobbies that are challenging, mentally absorbing, and personally meaningful—provide another important source of recovery.
  • Exercise actually induces profound structural brain plasticity.
    • Exposing yourself to predictable, incremental physical stressors in the gym or the playing field increases your capacity to be calm and clear-headed in stressful real-world situations.
    • Nelson Mandela used exercise to combat the stresses of imprisonment. He maintained a boxers workout regimine: running in places for 45 minutes, a hundred push-ups, and two hundred sit-ups gave Mandela a way to take charge of his own captivity, to resist the government’s efforts to control and break him, and to show that he would remain his own man. He said that exercise was a key not only to physical health but also to peace of mind.
  • Hobbies and physical activities become what anthropologists and psychologists call “deep play,” activities that are rewarding on their own, but take on additional layers of meaning and personal significance. Play is one of the most important things we do.
  • To stay ahead, it’s necessary sometimes to step back; to keep up, it’s good sometimes to slow down.
  • In this book, I’ve argued that we should treat work and rest as equals; that we should treat rest as a skill; that the best, most restorative kinds of rest are active; and that when practiced well, rest can make us more creative and productive, without forcing us into a funhouse mirror of endless work and ever-rising expectations. A life that takes rest seriously is not only a more creative life. When we take the right to rest, when we make rest fulfilling, and when we practice rest through our days and years, we also make our lives richer and more fulfilling.
  • Taking rest seriously requires recognizing its importance, claiming our right to rest, and carving out and defending space for rest in our daily lives.
    • Deliberate rest is not a negative space defined by the absence of work or something that we hope to get sometime. It is something positive, something worth cultivating in its own right.
    • Taking rest seriously also helps bring more of your life into clear focus. At the everyday level, it heightens your ability to concentrate and discourages multitasking… And helps you decide when to say yes or no to an ‘opportunity’
  • Too often busyness is not a means to accomplishment but an obstacle to it. Deliberate rest helps you recognize and avoid the trap of pointless busyness and concentrate instead on what’s important.
    • When we treat rest as work’s equal and partner, recognize it as a playground for the creative mind and springboard for new ideas, and see it as an activity that we can practice and improve, we elevate rest into something that can help calm our days, organize our lives, give us more time, and help us achieve more while working less.
  • Today, we treat being stressed and overworked as a badge of honor, a sign of seriousness and commitment; but this is a recent phenomenon, and it inverts traditional ideas of how leaders and professionals should behave under pressure. For most of history, leaders were supposed to appear calm and unhurried; success began with self-mastery and self-control.
    • “By his habitual calm, he gave the impression that he was quite at leisure”
  • Deliberate rest helps cultivate calm. It deepens your capacity to focus, which helps you complete urgent tasks while driving off anxiety. It encourages you to work steadily rather than wait for a burst of inspiration (or simply the last minute). It reduces the number of things you have to do by helping you recognize and turn down inessential tasks. Finally it deepens your emotional reserves and resilience, which makes it more likely that you’ll meet challenges with greater confidence.
  • The hours of leisure should not be hours of idleness; leisure is one of the grandest blessings, idleness one of the greatest curses — one is the source of happiness, the other of misery.” ~John Lubbock
    • Rest is often mistaken for idleness, but it is not. Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time. ~John Lubbock
  • When we treat rest as works equal and partner, recognize it as a playground for the creative mind and springboard for new ideas, and see it as an activity that we can practice and improve, we elevate rest into something that can help calm our days, organize our lives, give us more time, and help us achieve more while working less.

When: the Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, by Daniel Pink

  • Daily When Tracker
  • Munich Chronotype Questionnaire
  • Morning peak. Whether it’s right after waking up or 1-2 hours later, most people feel pretty good early in the day.
    • Afternoon trough. You know how it’s tough to stay awake after lunch? This is it.
    • Evening rebound. Once you knock off work, even the toughest days take a turn
  • Figure out your chronotype to produce your best work.
    • The lark; The owl; The third bird (majority of people)
  • Much of the research shows morning people to be pleasant, productive folks—“introverted, conscientious, agreeable, persistent, and emotionally stable”… Owls, meanwhile are more open and extroverted than larks. But they’re also more neurotic— and are often impulsive, sensation-seeking, live-for-the-moment hedonists.
    • Owls are like left-handers in a right-handed How they respond is the final piece of the puzzle in divining the rhythms of the day.
  • What ultimately matters is that type, task, and time align—what social scientists call “the synchrony effect.”
    • Even though it’s more dangerous to drive at night, owls actually drive worse early in the day because mornings are out of sync with their natural cycle of vigilance and alertness.
    • All of us experience the day in three stages—a peak, a trough, and a rebound. And about three-quarters of us (larks and third birds) experience it in that order. But about one in four people, night owls, experience the day in something closer to the reverse order—recovery, trough, peak.
  • The power of restorative breaks
    • In addition to your “to do list”, create a “break list” (time, duration, what you’re going to do)
  • Study of Danish students taking standardized tests found those who took it in the morning scored significantly higher than those assigned to the afternoon
    • The effect was equivalent to missing two weeks of school.
    • Antidote: more breaks and better breaks. Regular, systematic breaks—especially those that involve movement, nature, and full detachment—reduce errors and boost mood
  • Napping has a lot of benefits (peak @ 10-20mins), even if you’re not sleep deprived
    • The most efficient nap is the “nappuccino”; down coffee, then take nap, so when you wake up the caffeine is kicking in (usually takes 25 mins)
    • Best time for nap: between 2-3pm (chart your energy level to determine trough)
  • “Vigilance breaks” = quick team huddles for reviewing checklists and verifying courses of action; great to use when in a big time crunch to deliver, worth the time out for the break
  • Take time out 2 hours before deadline; 1. Take a breath; 2. Each team member takes 30 seconds to report on their progress; 3. Each team member takes 30 seconds to report on their next step; 4. Each team member answers the question ‘what are we missing’; 5. Assign who will address the missing pieces
  • Breaks and recess are not deviations from learning, they are part of learning
  • Lighting of Hanukkah candles is a powerful metaphor
    • People tend to take lighting on the first and last day most seriously; somehow, the middle doesn’t matter as much; people will judge those who do not light the candles on the first and last night less religious, even if that person only missed one night versus somebody who only lit on the first and last night
      • At midpoints, we cut corners
  • To dig yourself out of a slump: 1. Set interim goals (break large goals into smaller steps); 2. Publicly commit to interim goals (tell somebody how and when you’ll get the next thing done); 3. Stop your sentence midway through (don’t end your work at the end, end in the middle so that you can easily pick up that flow the next day; also allows our brain to unconsciously think about that work in the down time); 4. Don’t break the chain (ie: write every single damn day and check off your calendar every single day); 5. Picture one person your work will help
  • FORM – STORM – NORM – PERFORM
  • In midlife, sometimes subtraction is more powerful than addition
    • As we get old, we tend to have a smaller circle of friends; we “edit” our friends; but it’s not all bad news, we tend to form much closer, deeper relationships and bonds with those people; more people in our inner circle
  • “Nine-enders” = 29, 39, 49, y.o.
    • These people are much more likely to run a marathon, get in the best shape, etc
  • Must track out done list to see how we’re progressing
  • Speakers of weak-future languages—those that did not mark explicit differences between present and future—were 30% more likely to save for retirement & 24% less likely to smoke; when the future feels more closely connected to the current moment & our current selves, we tend to plan more effectively
  • We tend to evaluate experiences, ie: vacations, by how they end
  • Choices: end with the GOOD news; elevate the ending
    • “Given a choice, human beings prefer endings that elevate. The science of timing has found—repeatedly—what seems to be an innate preference for happy endings. We favor sequences of events that rise rather than fall, that improve rather than deteriorate, that lift us up rather than bring us down. And simply knowing this inclination can help us understand our own behavior and improve our interactions with others.”
    • Experiment: people given a Hershey’s kiss taste test (for a new variety of chocolates using local ingredients) and asked to rate the various pieces of chocolate; when told “here is your last chocolate” liked that chocolate significantly more than any other chocolate they had eaten
  • “The product of writing this book contains more questions than answers. But the process of writing is the opposite. Writing is an act of discovering what you think and what you believe.
  • Good source of additional notes by Kyle Kowalski

The Four Tendencies, by Gretchen Rubin

  • Upholders: respond readily to outer and inner expectations; love rules, having a clear plan and are self-motivated and disciplined; clearly tell them what needs to be done and they’ll lead the way.
    • They enjoy routine and may have trouble adjusting to a break in routine or sudden scheduling changes
    • They put a high value on follow-through. Don’t tell them you’re going to do something, and then not do it
    • They may need to be reminded that, unlike them, others aren’t necessarily comforted or energized by getting
    • things done
    • They may have trouble delegating responsibilities, because they suspect that others aren’t dependable
    • Key strategy for habit change: Strategy of Scheduling
    • “Discipline is my freedom”
    • “While their discipline may make them appear rigid to others, Upholders themselves feel free, effective, and independent.”
    • Gretchen: “For me, discipline brings freedom” Rebel: “That doesn’t make sense. Freedom means no limits. I want to do what I want to do.” Gretchen: To the upholder, that statement is missing the point.
    • “Upholders value self-command, so they tend to pay a lot of attention to getting enough sleep, exercising, having fun, keeping gas in the car, and so on.”
    • “We were in L.A., on West Coast time,” Elizabeth recalled, “and you decided that you and Eleanor should stay on East Coast time. Every night, you two ate dinner at about 4:30 pm, and then went to bed at 7:30 – and meanwhile, Adam, Jack, and I had a whole separate vacation, from 7pm to midnight.” Elizabeth: “To me, it seems like you miss out on fun and relaxation that way.” Gretchen: I could see her point, but when I thought about the agony of trying to stay awake during dinner and then having to readjust when we returned home – well, it just didn’t seem worth it.
    • “Although Upholders take great satisfaction in their routines and their good habits, to someone on the outside, their disciplined approach can make them look like a killjoy.”
  • Questioners: question all expectations; they’ll meet an expectation if they think it makes sense; need to see purpose and reason in anything they do; make it clear why what you want from them is important.
    • They put a high value on reason, research, and information
    • Their persistent questioning may make them seem uncooperative or defiant
    • They hate anything arbitrary—anything like “Five garments to a fitting room”
    • Key strategy for habit change: Strategy of Clarity
    • “The constant questioning means that Questioners sometimes suffer from analysis-paralysis. They want to continue to gather research, weigh their options, and consider more possibilities. They crave perfect information, but very often in life we must make decisions and move forward without perfect information.”
    • “Many Questioners report that when they try to follow health advice, they begin to consider whether they’re following the “best” approach – they think, ‘Maybe I should do more research, maybe there’s a more efficient way, maybe this advice is incorrect,’ which stops their efforts.”
    • Questioners need to limit their overdeliberation. To avoid getting distracted by the urge to dig deeper, Questioners should focus on their ultimate aim. “I have an insatiable need for information, so when I feel myself getting sucked into research mode, I ask myself, ‘Is this information actually relevant to what I’m trying to decide? Why am I spending this time and energy on this question?'”
    • Questioners with analysis-paralysis can solve it by following the lead of someone they respect or restricting their information sources.” Strategy: use deadlines to end research and force a decision.
    • If a Questioner is failing to meet an inner expectation, the problem is often solved by clarity. When the Questioners don’t understand clearly why they should meet an expectation, and why they should meet it in a particular way, they won’t meet it. Questioners need clarity, and to get clarity, they ask questions.
  • Obligers: meet outer expectations, but struggle to meet expectations they impose on themselves; must be held accountable by a friend, coach or boss to get things done; they thrive when they have a sense of duty and can work in a team
    • Obligers often face the biggest inner struggle, because they always put everyone else before themselves. This can culminate in self-sabotage through little acts of defiance that end up hurting themselves more than anyone else.
    • They require deadlines, oversight, monitoring, and other forms of accountability
    • They may have trouble setting limits on others’ demands
    • They may be exploited by people who take advantage of them, and because of that may feel resentful and fall into obliger-rebellion
    • They must have systems of external accountability in order to meet inner expectations
    • Key strategy for habit change: Strategy of Accountability
  • Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner alike; want to be free to choose and express their own individuality; give them the facts, present the task as a challenge and let them decide without pressure.
    • They put a high value on freedom, choice, self-expression, and authenticity
    • They even have trouble telling themselves what to do—even when it’s something they want to do
    • They may love to meet a challenge in their own way, in their own time
    • They don’t respond well to supervision, advice, directions, or routines, schedules, or doing repetitive tasks
    • Key strategy for habit change: Strategy of Identity
  • Nutshell Guide

The Culture Code, by Daniel Coyle (August 2018)

  • 3 skills at the heart of great teamwork:
    • Build safety to make everyone feel comfortable in working together
    • Share vulnerability to show no one needs to be perfect
      • Share your own shortcomings to show people it’s okay to make mistakes
    • Establish purpose through a common goal and a clear path to get there
      • Since the goal is in the future, but your group lives in the now, your purpose should be like a bridge between the two
  • In dozens of trials, kindergartners built structures that averaged twenty-six inches tall, while business school students built structures that averaged less than ten inches.
    • Happens because we focus on what we can see—individual skills. But individual skills are not what matters. What matters is the interaction.
    • The business school students appear to be collaborating, but in fact they are engaged in a process psychologists call status management. They are figuring out where they fit into the larger picture: Who is in charge? Is it okay to criticize someone’s idea? What are the rules here? Their interactions appear smooth, but their underlying behavior is riddled with inefficiency, hesitation, and subtle competition. Instead of focusing on the task, they are navigating their uncertainty about one another. They spend so much time managing status that they fail to grasp the essence of the problem (the marshmallow is relatively heavy, and the spaghetti is hard to secure). As a result, their first efforts often collapse, and they run out of time.
    • The actions of the kindergartners appear disorganized on the surface. But when you view them as a single entity, their behavior is efficient and effective. They are not competing for status. They stand shoulder to shoulder and work energetically together. They move quickly, spotting problems and offering help. They experiment, take risks, and notice outcomes, which guides them toward effective solutions.
    • The kindergartners succeed not because they are smarter but because they work together in a smarter way. They are tapping into a simple and powerful method in which a group of ordinary people can create a performance far beyond the sum of their parts.
  • Group one received standard training, plus an additional hour that focused on the company’s identity. Group two also received the standard training, plus an additional hour focused not on the company but on the employee (ie: what is unique about you that leads to your happiest times and best performance at work?). Seven months later, trainees from group two were 250% more likely to still be working at the company! The hour of training had transformed group two’s relationship with the company. They went from being noncommittal to being engaged on a far deeper level. Why? Because of cues. The trainees in group one received zero signals that reduced the interpersonal distance between themselves and the company. They received lots of information about the company and star performers, plus a nice company sweatshirt, but nothing that altered that fundamental distance. The group two trainees, on the other hand, received a steady stream of individualized, future-oriented, amygdala-activating belonging cues. All these signals were small – a personal question about their best times at work, an exercise that revealed their individual skills, a sweatshirt embroidered with their name. These signals didn’t take much time to deliver, but they made a huge difference because they created a foundation of psychological safety that built connections and identity.
  • Great teams are energized and engaged, but at their core, their members are oriented less around achieving happiness than around solving hard problems together.
    • “I’m giving you these comments because I have very high expectations and I know that you can reach them.”  
    • This is a safe place for you to give effort.
  • Thank-Yous aren’t only expressions of gratitude, they’re crucial belonging cues that generate a contagious sense of safety, connection, and motivation.
  • Thank-Yous. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich takes each of his star players aside and thanks them for allowing him to coach them. This kind of moment happens all the time in highly successful groups because it has less to do with thanks than affirming the relationship.
    • Before Popovich selected Duncan to the team, he flew out to his home in the Virgin Islands and spent four days visiting Duncan’s family – traveling, swimming, and talking. This was Popovich’s way to connect and dig in to see if Duncan was the kind of person who was tough, unselfish, and humble enough to build a team around.
    • Team lost game six of the NBA Finals in a devastating defeat. They had planned to celebrate post-game with an Italian dinner. Post-game, whole team was defeated but Popovich instructed his players to dress quickly and head to the team bus as they were going to eat at Il Gabbiano Restaurant. Even though they didn’t win, Popovich still kept the reservation at the restaurant.
      • “Pop’s response was, ‘Family!’” Brett Brown says. “‘Everybody to the restaurant. Straight there.’ We needed to regroup because everyone was dazed, wondering what the hell had just happened. Pop’s instinct was to bring us together. Avoid the distractions. Block out the noise. He told us, ‘Grab your wife, your child, your mother. We’re all going to dinner.’ And off to dinner we went.”
      • Popovich meet with every player that night at every table, helping them talk over what happen in game six and how to correct.
  • Plane malfunction; pilot asked a critical question: anybody have any ideas?
    • Pilot trainer happened to be onboard; instead of him acting like the expert (which he really was in this scenario), he explicitly put himself beneath the pilot and crew, signaling his role as helper
  • Strong link between vulnerability and cooperation — vulnerability boosts willingness to cooperate; likewise, increasing people’s sense of power (making them feel more invulnerable) dramatically diminishes their willingness to cooperate.
    • Being vulnerable gets the static out of the way and lets us do the job together, without worrying or hesitating. It lets up work as one unit. The idea is that we can combine our strengths and use our skills in a complementary way.
    • Key: intense vulnerability + deep interconnectedness
  • “It’s very hard to be empathic when you’re talking. Talking is really complicated, because you’re thinking and planning what you’re going to say, and you tend to get stuck in your own head. But not when you’re listening. When you’re really listening, you lose time. There’s no sense of yourself because it’s not about you. It’s all about this task, to connect completely to that person.”
  • Listen Like a Trampoline: Good listening is about more than nodding attentively; it’s about adding insight and creating moments of discovery. Effective listeners aren’t passive sponges, they are active responders, absorbing what the other person gives, supporting them, and adding energy to help the conversation gain velocity and altitude.
    • 1. Interact in ways that make the other person feel safe and supported
    • 2. They take a helping, cooperative stance
    • 3. They occasionally ask questions that gently and constructively challenge old assumptions
    • 4. They make occasional suggestions to open alternative paths
    • *Slowly surface things
  • “The most important part of creating vulnerability often resides not in what you say but in what you do not say. this means having the willpower to forgo easy opportunities to offer solutions and make suggestions. Skilled listeners do not interrupt with phrases like ‘Hey, here’s an idea’ or ‘Let me tell you what worked for me’ in a similar situation’ because they understand that it’s not about them. They use a repertoire of gestures and phrases that keep the other person talking. Use: ‘say more about that’
  • “Like other birds, starlings sometimes congregate in large flocks. When these flocks are threatened by a predator like a falcon, however, they transform into something more. It’s called a murmuration, and it’s one of the most beautiful and uncanny sights in nature: a living cloud that swirls and changes shape at the speed of thought, forming giant hourglasses, spirals and tendrils that flow across the sky like a special effect from a Harry Potter movie. A falcon swoops toward a single starling, and at the same instant, on the other side of the flow (thousands of birds away), the other birds instantly sense it and react as one to flow away from the danger. The question, of course, is how so many birds behave like a single entity. How? Each starling tracks the 6 or 7 birds closest to it, sending and receiving cues of direction, speed, acceleration, and distance. That close tracking allows them to behave as one. They pay focused attention to a handful of key markers.
    • Successful groups act in the same way; think about your group’s culture as a continuous set of three fundamental signals:
      • 1. we are safely connected
      • 2. we share accurate information
      • 3. we know which way to move
    • Seen through this lens, culture is not about soft stuff — it’s about signaling. In other words, culture is not a set of traits — it’s a signaling contest.
    • Successful cultures relentlessly seek ways to tell and retell their story
  • “High-purpose environments are filled with small, vivid signals designed to create a link between the present moment and a future ideal. They provide the two simple locators that every navigation process requires: Here is where we are and here is where we want to go.”
  • “Stories do not cloak reality but create it, triggering cascades of perception and motivation.
  • Experiment: teachers told that all students were given the “Harvard Test of Inflected Acquisition” which could predict which children would excel in the coming year. They were told which students scored high potential, about 20%. Only the teachers knew this information, not the students. Those high potentials thrived on tests and also behaviorally. Winds up, this was a bogus test and those 20% of students had been randomly chosen.
    • We drive the narrative; teachers were warmer; gave them extra assignments; called on them more often & listened more carefully; provided more feedback, particularly when they made a mistake
  • “When you look at successful groups, a lot of their internal language features catchphrases that often sound obvious, rah-rah, or corny. Many of us instinctively dismiss them as cultish jargon. But this is a mistake. Their occasionally cheesy obviousness is not a bug – it’s a feature. Their clarity, grating to the outsider’s ear, is precisely what help them function”
  • Ask for feedback as a leader:
    • What is one thing that I currently do that you’d like me to continue to do?
    • What is one thing that I don’t currently do frequently enough that you think I should do more often?
    • What can I do to make you more effective?
  • Reference Notes by Michael Lukaszewski 
  • How to think about culture

 

In case you’re curious what I read for nothing other than pleasure (I will not include any notes since they all contain significant spoilers):

  • This Is How It Always Is, by Laurie Frankel
  • Before We Were Yours, by Lisa Wingate
  • This Impossible Light, by Lily Myers
  • The Light We Lost, by Jill Santopolo
  • Manhattan Beach, by Jennifer Egan
  • Educated: A Memoir, by Tara Westover
  • We All Fall Down: Living with Addiction, by Nic Sheff
  • Song of a Captive Bird, by Jasmin Darznik
  • Beartown, by Fredrik Backman
  • The Incendiaries, by R. O. Kwon

I’d love to hear what books you’ve read that made a great impact. I’m always looking for great suggestions!

One thought on “Notes from Some Summer Reading 2018 f/ @shawnachor @gretchenrubin @micheleborba @IAmMarkManson @askpang @DanielCoyle @DanielPink @simonsinek

  1. Wow, you have an extraordinary mind and heart to share (and first take in) so much. I hope many people will benefit from all that you have done – just in this one entry! The wisdom is everywhere in this post. I will be coming back to it often, my plan is to get through your notes over the next two weeks; Thank you for an inspirational tail end to my summer.

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