Choice, fear, life and act

Why some people act, and other don’t? Why some people succeed and other don’t? Why some people sometime take risks and other don’t?

  1. Fear
  2. Lack of self-confidence
  3. Lack of knowledge
  4. Trying to do too much alone
  5. Trying to do too much
  6. Loss of self
  7. Lack of energy
  8. Lack of reward
  9. It can’t be done

I urge you to read the explanation of these 9 points on Dave Pollard’s article. It is all about life and understanding. It is to understand your reactions and the reactions of others in certain situations.

The most important point is the number one. Dave resumes it by writing:

Fear: We are legitimately afraid we will fail, or that we don’t have the needed skill, or that others will criticize us. We are afraid, most of all, of the consequences of failure — humiliation, ridicule, loss of financial or employment or social status. It isn’t risk we dislike, it’s failure.

I would add something to that description: the fear of passing by something that could bring you more joy, better life, more wealth. This situation arise when you have a choice to do in you life, any choice, professional or personal. You can gather all the knowledge you can put the hands on, you can make all the scenarios you want, spend years to analyze the situation and take your decision, and pass by anyway. The thing here is that you can’t choose the optimal choice each time you have a choice to make. The life is like this and only one certainty exist: we born to die. All the things between these two boundaries are totally uncertain and unpredictable.

You are on the principal road. Eventually you have an opportunity to turn right. What will you do? How to know if it is better to continue on the current road, safe but not necessarily optimal, and the new road, one that you have no knowledge on. You need to act, you need to make a choice, but which will you choose? The know or the new one? The first point of Dave will force, most of the time, people to continue on the main know road instead of choosing the new unknown path, in fear of failure: the failure of having make a non-optimal, less rewarding, choice. Sometime it could be the right thing to do, but have in mind that other time you also take that decision to do that instead of something you should do.

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How to Win Friends and Influence People: A list in 28 points

I just finished reading this book: How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. I want to resume it, and to do so, I wrote this list of each important point Mr. Carnegie discuss in the book. The first time I ear about that book, I was skeptical. The title could seem selfish and pompous, but it is nothing like this. This book is about out to be more human and a good citizen; it is about being nice with people and how to work with them.

  1. Do not criticize. “Criticism is futile because it puts a man on the defensive, and usually makes him strive to justify himself. Criticism is dangerous, because it wounds a man’s precious pride, hurts his sense of importance, and arouses his resentment.” – Dale Carnegies. Related quotes: Criticism
  2. Give honest, sincere appreciation. “Dr. Dewey says the deepest urge in human nature is ‘the desire to be important.’”. Related quotes: Compliments
  3. Get the other person’s point of view and see things from his angle. The thing here is to give to your interlocutor what he wants, and not what you, you want. Related quotes: Desire and Others’ view point
  4. Become genuinely interested in other people. Related quotes: Interest
  5. Smile.
  6. Remember names. “Remember that a man’s name is to him the sweetest and most important sound in the English language.
  7. Be a good listener. “Encourage others to talk about themselves”. Related quotes: listen
  8. Make the other person feel important. “And do it sincerely”

This is the most important points he talk about in his book. However he added other sections that goes in that trend.

Twelve ways to win people to your way of thinking

  1. The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it
  2. Show respect for the other man’s opinions
  3. If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically
  4. Begin in a friendly way
  5. Get the other person sating “yes, yes” immediately
  6. Let the other man do a great deal of the talking
  7. Let the other man feed that the idea is his
  8. Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view
  9. Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires
  10. Appeal to the nobler motives
  11. Dramatize you ideas
  12. Throw down a challenge

Nine ways to change people without giving offense or arousing resentment

  1. Begin with praise and honest appreciation
  2. Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly
  3. Ask questions instead of giving direct orders
  4. Let the other man save his face
  5. Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be “hearty in you approbation and lavish in your praise.”
  6. Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to
  7. Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct
  8. Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest

Are you interested in that book? Then I would suggest you to buy one of the first edition. I got a 1937 one on Alibris (make an advance search with edition books from 1935 to 1940). That book is near a century old, it smells the old and it was a real please to read.

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What creativity is for Steve jobs? It is all about experience connectivity

“To design something really well you have to get it. You have to really grok what it’s all about. It takes a passionate commitment to thoroughly understand something – chew it up, not just quickly swallow it. Most people don’t take the time to do that. Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask a creative person how they did something, they may feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after awhile. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or have thought more about their experiences than other people have. Unfortunately, that’s too rare a commodity. A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. They don’t have enough dots to connect, and they en up with very linear solutions, without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better designs we will have.”

— Steve Jobs

I agree with that quote. This is the real value of experience, and it is what differentiates it from knowledge. People can have a great lot of knowledge, but no experience. This experience will show him how he can, and cannot, use that knowledge. Connecting all pieces of knowledge in an effective way is only possible with experience.

Steve talks about the IT industry. The experience he is talking about, is not just one of software development, it is about all life’s experiences. Past jobs, past studies, past human interactions, etc. Everything is knowledge, all experience is good, the only thing people have to do is to connect them to create something in a non linear fashion, to see a problem with a broaden view.

I got this quote from the book The Art of Project Management by Scott Berkun. He say about that quote:

“The only criticism I have of this quote is that it implies something special about creative people that can’t be obtained by noncreative people. I don’t believe people are born into one of two exclusive piles of creative geniuses and unimaginative morons.”

I think that Scott wrote this because of this: “[…]When you ask a creative person how they did something […]”. But if I read a little further: “And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or have thought more about their experiences than other people have“. So, I do not think that Steve said that considering that there are only two classes of people: the creative ones and the unimaginative morons. The only think that differentiate a creative person from the unimaginative one is their experiences. So you have the creative person and the uncreative one, but in the middle, you have all the others that have more or less experiences. There is a lot of different grey between the black and the white.

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A knowledge worker’s new creativity exercise: photography

Since the beginning of humanity, we always needed creativity to solve the problems that we encountered. Creativity has many faces. Each person has his own definition of what creativity is. All these people also have their own tricks to exercises it. Effectively, creativity is like the brain or muscles, if you train it, it became more effective at his task.

Some people think that creativity is only good for art freaks; thank God, it is not. As a knowledge worker, I face many problems that I need to solve. I not only need my knowledge to solve them; I also need to arrange that knowledge in such a way that it will resolve my problems. For me, this is one of my definitions of creativity: a way to organize the knowledge I have to try to solve a problem I encounter.

As I said before, you could train your creativity. Why do I train my creativity? To be more effective at arranging my knowledge; to train me to see the problems I face differently, to look at them from another point of view. I need to check out-of-the-box.

How do I train my creativity? There are two main things I do to change my mind and train my creativity. I discovered the first one many years ago: it is fighting. I already talked about it in a little essay I wrote on the combat’s rhythm. I discovered the second 312 days ago, when I started to write daily (for this blog). It forced me to concentrate on the task, to try to say exactly what I think with the words I have. I needed to get these words (pieces of knowledge) and organize them (creativity) in such a way that people would understand me (solving the problem).

Tonight I discovered a new one: photography. The night was beginning; I had nobody with whom drinking a beer to check the evening pass. Then I got the digital camera I bought for my India trip, put it into my packsack, and I assaulted my city. I live here since about 13 years, and I never done this before. In fact, it is the first time I really get the time to take pictures (the last time was 5 years ago in my European tour). What a discovery. I saw the city, which looked at me growth since about 13 years, for the first time. I was looking everywhere, I wanted The picture. I checked people wandering in the street: I was practicing my creativity in such a way that I saw things differently; I checked out-of-the-box. It is really new to me. Then, the next time I will have a mind block; that I will not be able to get any inspiration in fighting or writing, I will get my camera and see at things from another point of view; see things from the digital window of my Kodak camera.

By the way, I will put some of these pictures in the headline of this blog probably tomorrow.

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Inspiration is a bitch

It comes and goes. I cannot grab it: it is like a ghost. My mind is like a haunted house where ghost of inspiration lives. Sometime you see it, but when you hunt it you never found it.

The last time I had such a lack of inspiration it was when I got sick. Last week-end I had a total lack of inspiration because all my time had been invested in a single project last week. It drained all my inspiration… and my will.

You are thinking: yeah, but he blogged a lot last week, did not he? Yeah, I do, but I emptied my ideas sheet. There is the problem. I grabbed and stroke all the ideas on it without adding new ones. It is why I say that the ghost is currently hiding somewhere. I need to stimulate my inspiration; I need to hunt and find that ghost. I am a ghost buster, am I not?

It is what I am doing with now; I hunt it by writing these sentences. It is a trick. Sometimes it works, other times it do not… any idea of how I could re-populate that sheet?

PS: I also had a lack of inspiration for my title: is it appropriate? I mean, I took the first thing that comes up in my mind and I wrote it… it was that one.

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