Category Archives: Thinking

I’m familiar with gratitude diaries, giving thanks for my blessings and many other versions of this concept …and … Chade-Meng Tan has just put the icing on the cake, so to speak, in his new book Joy on Demand.

As he describes it: in every day there are tiny moments of joy. Here are just a few of mine: a pinky-orange sunrise, the feel of the sun on my back, the aroma of coffee, the feel of a warm hand in mine, the satisfaction of helping someone, the way my body moves to a well-loved tune, an internet story about people doing good in the world, the athleticism of Roger Federer, Continue reading

Why you can’t worry your way to success: What to do instead

I love Sonya Lyubomirsky and Chris Tkach’s article on Dysphoric Rumination.  It explains perfectly, in academic speak, why you can’t worry your way to success and what to do instead.  I trust I’ve done them justice in this layperson’s summary.

The worry cycle goes something like this:
You have a Problem – you are not getting a result you want.
You worry that can’t solve it.
You feel bad / stuck / depressed.
You think and worry more, which doesn’t solve the problem.  Instead it sensitises your mind to pay attention to negatives, so you remember negative instances when similar things haven’t gone well and you think negatively about what won’t work if you tried to take action.
You don’t take action, because your energy is low from all the pessimistic thinking and because you assume a low likelihood of success, so it doesn’t seem worth the effort.
The problem remains or escalates.
You feel worse.
You conclude that the problem is overwhelming and unsolvable and that you are not good enough or not skilled enough to solve the problem.
You take no action, so you can’t disprove your assumptions.
You feel helpless and hopeless and give up.

Fortunately, there are ways to intervene:
You have a Problem – you are not getting a result you want.
You worry that can’t solve it.
You feel bad / down / depressed.
You physically distract yourself by doing something enjoyable to shift your mood. When you are in a better mood, you are more likely to think of possible solutions.
You get out of your head and phone (or email) a friend who asks you ‘possibility questions’: “What if there was one small thing that you could do to get things moving in the direction you want? I wonder what that is?
You get out of your head and take a small, safe action – as an experiment – to challenge your negative assumptions and learn what works.
You reward yourself for any action you take and note your learning and insights about what might work, rather than evaluating that “nothing works”.
You break the cycle of worry and depression through action and learning and reflection, rather than reflection, reflection, reflection.  

What you can do – today:
1. If you’ve been worrying, send this blog link to a ‘friend’ as soon as you’ve finished reading. Then reward yourself for taking a positive action.
2. Phone your friend and ask them to help you. You may ask for permission to whinge for 5 minutes before they ask ‘possibility questions’.
3. Take action – ideally do something tiny today.
4. Reward yourself for taking action, no matter what the outcome.

If you haven’t got an accessible friend:
Email me and I will be your question buddy. Send an email to sharon at apassion dot com dot au  – with the phrase “Oh woe is me” in the header and one sentence to summarise your problem. I will exchange emails with you to ask the possibility question and find one tiny action you can take to get moving.

If you have a friend or work colleague who is worrying or stuck with a problem, send this article, then phone them and ask permission to help them, or let them know they can email me.

Let’s create a culture of possibility and action rather than worry and stuckness.

FOMO Moments – Missing out or Conking out

FOMO – the fear of missing out. Many thanks to Tim Ferriss for the perfect acronym.

I’ve just started a really amazing course and am really wanting to do another great course at the same time. In my heart I know I cannot do them both justice but I’ve been suffering from a FOMO moment – what if I never get the chance again to do the second course? I love that Tim named and crystallised the issue for me!

Choosing is really hard when there are two seemingly equally appealing opportunities, both of which I think will be really beneficial.  But if I look really carefully at the FOMO, it’s really a combination of a number of fears, which I can name and then address.

There is a genuine fear of missing the opportunity to learn a new technology that is very exciting – as they may not be accrediting people next year, but I can live with that risk. There’s a fear of paying more – the price is going up quite a lot – but it’s only money, I will just have to work a bit harder to pay it off.  There’s a fear of dinting my reputation for ‘keeping my word’ – I’ve said I’d like to do the course, so my friend and the person running the course may now think my word is not reliable – but that means I will need to talk to both of them and explain what’s going on. There’s also a fear of letting my friend down – we were going to buddy up, which would be helpful to both of us – so again I will need to talk with her, but I think she would understand.

Now on the flip side there must be a good acronym for the consequences of saying yes COSY or the consequences of not choosing karefully CONCK as in conking out because I cannot get it all done.

Hmmm. Love to know what you do to address FOMO and how you deal with CONCKing?


New insights for INTP brains

As a management trainer and INTP, I have devoured many MBTI books in my quest for helpful understandings of myself and others. The INTP by Dr A.J. Drenth, is the best book I have found for explaining and illuminating those mysterious processes that go on in an INTP’s head, in very precise ways that an INTP can really appreciate. It has helped me to clarify the mental functions and the dynamics between them.  Instead of being perplexed about the dynamics of dominant and secondary, I can now understand and track the patterns of my thinking and feeling and look out for the danger signs.

For example, this morning I was reading an article (not by Drenth) and I came across two terms that were clearly defined in relation to each other.  There was almost a ‘purr’ of pleasure from my dominant mental function (introverted Thinking) “ahh, that’s a really helpful distinction”.  Then in the next sentence, the author used a term without clearly defining it and I noticed a ‘hiss’ of distaste, “stop, that word is not defined properly”, my  introverted Thinking said, “I’ll have to go back and check my understanding of the term”.  To which, quick as a flash, my secondary function (extroverted iNtuition) piped up with “no worries, we can go check the original book, or the new one you downloaded last week, or we could go back and check that profile you did on the topic 10 years ago, or we could Google the latest research, or …”

At this point, “I” noticed what was happening and laughed.  “So this is how extraverted iNtuition operates, it keeps me looking at more and more possibilities, which seems really helpful, but I can’t get any work done”.  That insight was gold for me and gives “me” back the control – I can choose to follow the extraverted iNtuition trail of delicious ideas, or a can give the power back to the captain of the show, my dominant, introverted Thinking to say something along the lines of: “thanks for the offer I know it’s not perfectly clear, but the definition is obvious enough, so I will continue with the task at hand, becase we need to finish this before lunch time, but if we are stil interested we can have a look at the new book over lunch!”.

Drenth also hits the nail on the head regarding career angst: “Much to their dismay, INTPs don’t (normally) get paid merely for thinking, questioning, or experimenting. This leaves them with two basic options. The first is to work a day job for income and forgo commercializing their primary interests. The second option, which we will now discuss, is to develop marketable skills that can be used to enhance, market, or commoditize their work.”  E.g. write a blog or book.

Thanks AJ.

Learning Decision Making from Alessi

Explaining the decision making skills of a professional or experienced manager to newcomers to the role, is one of the most difficult challenges I face as a learning designing, and the most satisfying when it is done well. Long ago, I learned that people are frustrated when they hear “it depends” but that’s usually what experienced people offer as an answer.  So even though it’s true – good decisions do depend on assessing a number of factors in the situation – the key is to simplify those factors, without creating simplistic formulae that don’t actually work.

A recent Fast Company article describes how  Alberto Alessi, the Head of the Alessi design house, analysed over 300 of his “gut feel” decisions to create a mathematical model he called “The Formula”, which predicts the reaction (i.e. likely buying volumes) of customers. Continue reading

Trust in teams – encourage team reasoning

Thanks to Kevin Hogan for alerting me to new research which continues to chip away at the bedrock belief – in economics and management – that we are all selfish.

Researchers, Andrew Colman, Briony Pulford and Jo Rose from the University of Leicester, conducted experiments that show evidence of collective preferences and team reasoning. This contrasts with decision theory and game theory, which fundamentally assume that people will always make decisions to maximise their individual best interests.

The research shows that under certain conditions, people will attempt to maximise the collective benefit, rather than their own personal benefit.

The questions this paper raised for me was – what are the conditions under which people will do this and how can we develop team reasoning in our teams?

Continue reading