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“I suppose it’s the human way to try this and that; we are a curious and resourceful species” – Our Interview with Jennifer Beggs, Registered Midwife …*

"I suppose it's the human way to try this and that; we are a curious and resourceful species" - Our Interview with Jennifer Beggs, Registered Midwife ...* | rethinked.org - Photo: Jennifer Beggs

Jennifer Beggs

I am super excited about today’s interview, which is a first of its kind on two fronts. Jennifer is our first woman interviewee (it was starting to feel a bit like a boy’s club in here), though far from the last—we’ve got plenty more splendidly inspiring women coming soon. The second first, is that Jennifer is a personal friend. We met in September on our very first day of the Camino and it was my pleasure and delight to share my walk with Jenny for several days as we walked together to Pamplona. Kind, caring, smart and insightful, Jennifer is a registered midwife from Sydney, Australia. I’ll let her introduce herself:

Being the eldest of four and blessed with a wonderful mother, the nurturing gene came through strongly in me. Becoming a mother and a midwife were written in the stars. My children are my greatest education and joy, and my work with women during pregnancy, childbirth and early motherhood has provided great satisfaction.

What really drives me though, is creating and making things. I have had this powerful urge since I was a child and have potted, painted, photographed, sculpted, crafted and designed intensely for short periods in my life. For much longer stretches I have had to attend to paying bills and raising children, but I have usually had some creative project going on the sidelines. It is however a calling that I have not yet succeeded in fully answering,….or is it perhaps just my ego reaching for something sexier?

What was the last experiment you ran?

I run micro experiments all the time, like brushing my teeth with my brush in my left hand instead of my right; saying “Hi” to people walking towards me on my daily walks (sadly many will instinctively avoid eye contact); varying my interactions with the world and seeing what happens. I suppose it’s the human way to try this and that; we are a curious and resourceful species. Having largely conquered basic survival (if we’re lucky), we search for meaning, connection and wholeness. In the West, and increasingly globally, we are all implored by self-help books, gurus and advertisers to do better and be better; the best of it sometimes leads to healthier and happier lives, the worst, to dissatisfaction and anxiety. Buddhist philosophy increasingly makes sense to me. In the last few years I’ve been enjoying practicing yoga and taking some long walks. Being a bit of a restless soul, I like change, discovery and adventure.

I’m fascinated by the science of nutrition, gut flora and bioscience and soak up any information that I can. I recently saw ‘That Sugar Film’ by Damon Gameau which documented Damon’s experiment changing his diet to include 30-40 tsp of sugar daily, which is equal to that of the average Western diet. These sugars were hidden in foods that many would consider to be a “healthy” diet. The results were alarming. Over the past 2 years, I’ve been trying to stick to the ‘5:2 diet’ developed by doctor, writer and journalist Michael  Mosley. I’ve had some success in dropping a few kgs. In addition to weight control, many studies have suggested that having a couple of lean days per week confers other health benefits. So far the best and simplest advice that I have heard is summed up elegantly by Michael Pollan who says, “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THINGS THAT YOU FEAR AND HOW DO YOU MANAGE YOUR FEAR?

In my life I have been privileged with safety, plenty and love. Of course, I have fears common to many of losing loved ones. The fear that will have me lying awake at night with catastrophic rumination, is of something happening to one of my children, now young men. I have dealt with this by being completely candid with them about the kind of life choices I hope they’ll make in general, and naming the fears I have for them in specific circumstances. In short, I put my fears on the table and have a good look at them with them. Those conversations, though sometimes tense, have usually been very beneficial as we came to understand each other. I didn’t pretend with them; if I felt afraid for them I said so and said why. They didn’t always agree with me but they understood and respected that my fears came from great love. I recognize that ultimately I have to let go and trust them. I stand in awe of the great human beings that they are and feel blessed every day at having the privilege of being their mum.

WHAT BREAKS AND DELIGHTS YOUR HEART? IN OTHER WORDS, WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE IN AND SURRENDER TO?

I believe in nature. We live in an incredible world that is complex and works beautifully. I surrender to this and remain fascinated by life. From witnessing women growing and birthing a child, to seeing my own babies through to adulthood, and my own life as it unfolds, I stand in awe of nature. For me there is no need to look for God, it is here in this wondrous life. When people are arrogant and think they are above and apart from the natural world is where disease and disaster starts. Again and again I’m taught the lesson that nature always wins, work with it, don’t fight it. We are a smart species and we have been incredibly inventive and resourceful to our great benefit. I remain hopeful that our innate good sense will help us to move towards harmony with the planet and all the life that inhabits it.

In my work I encounter sometime tens of women daily, each of them going through pregnancy so ordinary, yet so extraordinary for each of them. I try to stay present and encounter each woman afresh; giving her my full attention and care in the time that I have with her. I delight in that moment of connection, which may be just a shared smile, or may become a wonderful conversation.

Just last evening a woman told me about the birth of her last baby in the bathroom of a department store. She felt no pain, just simply noticed a foot emerging as she peed. Yes, breech! Wow! I said expecting a tale of trauma. Instead she laughed and told me, “I was the only one who was fine, everyone else panicked. Another woman raised the alarm. We had the security guards, cleaners and shop assistants all there. The head cleaner delivered the baby just as the ambulance arrived.” That funny, relaxed woman brightened my day.

That same evening there were tears as another woman nearing the end of her pregnancy revealed her sadness around the ambivalence of her baby’s father. He had let her down once again after she had given him another chance in the hope that her baby would know his father. Her own mother sat beside her, distressed to see her daughter in tears, imploring her in their mother tongue to not cry. “It’s ok to cry mum, sometimes I feel sad,” this brave woman said. Through her tears she explained, “My mother loves us too much.”

WHAT IS THE MOST PROVOCATIVE IDEA YOU’VE COME ACROSS IN THE PAST DECADE?

Quantum physics though I can’t even begin to understand it, is pretty mind blowing. The idea that our gut microbes affect our overall mental and physical health is incredible to me also.

Provocative? That there are people in this world who will kill for a belief, that there are people who rationalize and glorify immense greed and arrogance,… It’s disappointing beyond words. I guess if I’d studied more history this should have been no surprise to me, however I think 9/11 took away some of our innocence, it did for me anyway. I do believe though, that there is way more good than evil in this world.

CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT A TRANSFORMATIONAL MOMENT IN YOUR LIFE?

I guess I’m still looking for a transformational moment, a blinding light; that would be kind of wonderful. Maybe I’m not the kind of person who has an epiphany, I tend towards pragmatism and skepticism where high emotion is involved. Perhaps transformation has been more glacial in my life and hence only recognizable with hindsight. Making big decisions such as having  a child, buying a house and even ending a marriage have always led me to a better place often from a low point in my life.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU TO LIVE A GOOD LIFE?

Tread lightly. Take what you need and leave enough to go around. Be thankful for your good luck and don’t take it for granted. Practice compassion, gratitude and kindness.

COULD YOU SHARE ONE PIECE OF ADVICE ABOUT THRIVING AS A HUMAN BEING?

In each moment remember to breathe. Keep making courageous and responsible decisions. Make your life meaningful. Remain curious and open to life. Enjoy and love. Don’t waste time. Do it now.

 WHAT IS YOUR DRIVING QUESTION?

How do I bring my efforts into alignment with my passion ? Where best to direct my energy?

ANY BOOKS OR MOVIE YOU RECOMMEND?

So many. I’m still excited by the magic of the big screen and in awe of the many talented filmmakers. I like feature length documentaries and international dramas. Documentaries I’ve loved include: Bill Cunningham New York; Babies; It Might Get Loud; 20 Feet from StardomSearching for Sugar ManThe Green Prince. Dramas, too many to mention. Off the top of my head, Lost in Translation; My Life as a DogRumble Fish; AmelieThe Spanish Apartment; Talk to HerCrouching Tiger, Hidden DragonBabette’s Feast… Each has left my world and my heart a little larger.

Some great fiction by Australian writers that I could recommend include Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey; Eucalyptus by Murray Bail; The Book Thief by Markus Zusak; Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks; and Remembering Babylon by David Malouf.

. . . *

THANK YOU, JENNY!

Filtered Reality & Happiness As A 2×2 – “If we believe we can learn from experience, can we also learn that we can’t?” …*

{ Filtered Reality & Happiness As A 2x2 } “If we believe we can learn from experience, can we also learn that we can’t?” ...* | rethinked.org

Screen Shot from Soyer & Hogarth’s article on HBR: Fooled By Experience

In a fascinating article titled Fooled by Experience, Emre Soyer and Robin M. Hogarth, whose research focuses on the psychology of judgment and decision making, highlight the perils of using past experience to guide future decision making without first critically examining the various lenses and biases from which we filter and learn from our experiences.

The problem is that we view the past through numerous filters that distort our perceptions. As a result, our interpretations of experience are biased, and the judgments and decisions we base on those interpretations can be misguided. Even so, we persist in believing that we have gleaned the correct insights from our own experience and from the accounts of other people.

In their article, Soyer and Hogarth examine three of the main filters that many of us use to frame and learn from our experiences — the business environment, the people around us, and ourselves. I was particularly interested in the points they raise about our bias for outcomes rather than processes in the business world.

{ CAPTURING PROCESS NOT JUST OUTCOMES }

In the business environment, the outcomes of decisions are highly visible, readily available for us to observe and judge. But the details of the decision process, which we can control far more than the result, typically don’t catch our attention. If the aim is to learn from experience—mistakes as well as successes—acknowledging that process is crucial.

We celebrate successes and condemn failures–a response that disregards the underlying causes.

The tendency to overreward the results of a decision and underreward its quality is known as the outcome bias.

This bias can influence our actions in subtle ways. A good outcome can lead us to stick with a questionable strategy, and a bad outcome can cause us to change or discard a strategy that may still be worthwhile. For example, in the NBA, coaches “are more likely to revise their strategy after a loss than a win—even for narrow losses, which are uninformative about team effectiveness,” a recent Management Science article shows.

[…]

By concealing the prevalence of failures, the environment makes it more difficult for us to learn from them. Instead, we are fooled into thinking that we have more control over success than we actually do.

Source: Fooled by Experience

This inequality between capturing outcomes versus capturing the decision making process is something that our team has been actively thinking about in our last few workshops. In fact, my explicit purpose in our last workshop was to capture the meta elements of what we were thinking about and considering as we were producing our prototypes. This desire to capture the more ephemeral aspects of the decision making process are linked to Daniel Kahneman’s acronym: WYSIATI – What you see is all there is. We are hardwired to respond to what we can see and tend to ignore the aspects of a situation that fall outside the filters for salience with which we approach that experience. Yet, as Soyer and Hogarth observe, the tendency to overreward the results of a decision and underreward its quality leads to failed opportunities for learning and improved future decision making. 

Head over to Harvard Business Review to read the rest of Soyer and Hogarth’s article and learn the techniques they recommend to help you uncover the real lessons experience offers.

{ HAPPINESS IS A 2×2 – THINK ABOUT ALL THE THINGS THAT YOU DON’T WANT & THAT YOU DON’T HAVE} 

Experience is very important, but not necessarily the experience that you have, but maybe sometimes the experience that you don’t have might matter a lot. Experience in general we know it’s very important, it’s how we understand what’s going on around us, it’s how we form our habits, it’s how we decide and make judgements. And sometimes the environment where we make decisions, where we operate is kind to us–it gives us all the information, all the feedback that we need abundantly, immediately. But sometimes, it’s wicked. The environment, when it’s wicked, it hides stuff from us, it filters out certain part of the information that is crucial for an accurate judgment and accurate decision making. And in those cases our experiences get biased, and this whole thing has adverse effects to our health, wealth and happiness. – Emre Soyer

After doing a quick Google search for Emre Soyer, I discovered the TEDxtalk he gave in 2013 in which he explores the importance of being attentive to the missing elements of our experiences. I was particularly struck by his ending observation, by way of a 1986 interview with Hillel Einhorn, which highlights the power and impact that shifting and questioning the filters we apply to our thinking can have on our happiness.

Now there are some interesting issues there about looking for evidence opposed or evidence about non-occurrences and this was brought home to me dramatically in a Chinese restaurant one night. After the meal, I bought the usual fortune cookies and I opened the cookie and read my fortune, it was a very interesting one. It said: don’t think about all of the things that you want that you don’t have, think of all the things that you don’t want that you don’t have. Well that kind of stopped me dead. I don’t know who writes these things but this is a very interesting one. So, I immediately draw a 2×2 table: want, not want, have, not have. And of course we think about what we want that we have, what we want that we don’t have; what we don’t want that we have; but rarely do we ever think about what we don’t want and what we don’t have. So, I’d like to use this example to point out that if the correlation between wants and haves is some notion of happiness, and because that don’t want and don’t have cell is so large, we are actually a lot more happier than we think we are.

-Hillel Einhorn, 1986

{ Filtered Reality & Happiness As A 2x2 } “If we believe we can learn from experience, can we also learn that we can’t?” ...* | rethinked.org

Happiness is a 2×2 – Screen Shot from Emre Soyer’s TEDxTalk at TEDxOZU

 

Milton Glaser: You Can’t Take Anything at Face Value, You Have to Go Beyond the Superficiality of Existing Belief …*

“I saw a Cézanne that I had never seen, a pencil and watercolor of a landscape, and I was transformed. By looking at it, my world was enlarged. At this ancient age, I am still capable of astonishment, of feeling, “My god, I never had this experience before.” And that is what the arts provide, this sense of enlargement and the sense that you haven’t come to the end of your understanding—either of yourself or of other things.” – Milton Glaser

If you’re looking to infuse your day with a hefty dose of inspiration, I suggest this interview, which iconic graphic designer Milton Glaser gave for Jonathan Fields’ Good Life Project. The conversation is full of insights into Milton’s creative process and his understanding of the human experience. I highly recommend finding the time to watch the video in full, but in the meantime, I have transcribed below my three favorite insights from the conversation.

make the ordinary unknown & rethink …*

Milton Glaser: Certainty Is A Closing of the Mind via The Good Life Project

{ To Make Something Is Miraculous & the Creation of Beauty, At Its Core, Is About Empathy }

After a while you begin to realize, a. how little you know about everything and, two, how vast the brain is and how it encompasses everything you can imagine, but more than that, everything you can’t imagine. What is perhaps central to this is the impulse to make things, which seems to me to be a primary characteristic of human beings—the desire to make things–whatever they turn out to be. And then, supplementary to that is the desire to create beauty which is a different, but analogous activity. So the urge to make things, probably, is a survival device, the urge to create beauty is something else, but only apparently something else, because as you know, there are no unrelated events in the human experience. So beauty, and the creation of it, is a survival mechanism. There is something about making things beautiful, and we sometimes call that art, that has something to do with creating a commonality between human beings so that they don’t kill each other. And whatever that impulse is and wherever it comes from, it certainly is contained within every human being I’ve ever met. Sometime the opportunity to articulate it occurs, sometimes it remains dormant for a lifetime, you just don’t get the shot at it.
But I’ve been very lucky, I’ve imagined myself as a maker of things since the age of five. I realized that to make something was miraculous and I never stopped. I just kept making things all my life.
*

{ Learning to See is A LifeLong Endeavor; Drawing Helps }

The great benefits of drawing is that when you look at something you see it for the first time.
You have to constantly be attentive to what you deflect in life and what you don’t pay attention to and all the things that you can’t see, and all the preconceptions that you do have about everything. Those preconceptions basically blur your vision. It’s very hard to see what’s in front of you.
*

{ Be Suspicious of Defining the “Good Life,” Don’t take anything at face value & go beyond the superficiality of existing belief }

I’m very suspicious of some words like that and also what they link to. I guess I feel now that you can’t take anything at face value, you have to go beyond the superficiality of existing belief. My favorite quote is, “Certainty is a closing of the mind”. And so, I don’t know what a good life is. A good life for me, certainly, has been the things that I think are important–friendships that I have; people that I love; certainly, a marriage that has endured and continues to endure; teaching, which I’ve been doing for well over half a century, and feeling that whatever you know has a possibility of being transmitted and shared—outside of that I wouldn’t know how to define a good life. And as you know some people seem to be heroes to some and villains to others.
*

Reflect on What You Can Put Your Agency Behind, On What You Can Be For, & Through Hard Choices, Become That Person

Far from being sources of agony and dread, hard choices are precious opportunities for us to celebrate what is special about the human condition.That the reasons that govern our choices as correct or incorrect sometimes run out and it is here, in the space of hard choices, that we have the power to create reasons for ourselves to become the distinctive people that we are. And that’s why hard choices are not a curse, but a godsend.” – Ruth Chang

In this splendid TED talk, philosopher Ruth Chang examines the misconceptions and unexamined assumptions that govern our understanding and handling of hard choices. She invites us to rethink how we frame the act of choosing between unequal alternatives, where each option is better in some ways than the other but neither is better overall. Rather than agonizing over trying to uncover the “right” option in such a situation, we should celebrate and enact our agency in creating the right reasons for ourselves. This is a modern take on Giovanni Pico della Mirandola‘s Oration on the Dignity of Man. Way back in 1486, Pico della Mirandola unhinged mankind from the Great Chain of Being, highlighting the agency we each possess in choosing and fashioning our own nature. It is this very agency, this power we have to choose who we shall be[come], that is the defining characteristic of the human condition, he argued. And it is through the hard choices we make, claims Chang, that we enact this great human power we all have to shape our being and embrace the fullness of our humanity.

{ t r u t h s

I think the puzzle arises because of an unreflective assumption we make about value. We unwittingly assume that values like justice, beauty, kindness, are akin to scientific quantities, like length, mass and weight. Take any comparative question not involving value, such as which of two suitcases is heavier? There are only three possibilities. The weight of one is greater, lesser or equal to the weight of the other. Properties like weight can be represented by real numbers — one, two, three and so on — and there are only three possible comparisons between any two real numbers. One number is greater, lesser, or equal to the other. Not so with values. As post-Enlightenment creatures, we tend to assume that scientific thinking holds the key to everything of importance in our world, but the world of value is different from the world of science. The stuff of the one world can be quantified by real numbers. The stuff of the other world can’t. We shouldn’t assume that the world of is, of lengths and weights, has the same structure as the world of ought, of what we should do. So if what matters to us — a child’s delight, the love you have for your partner — can’t be represented by real numbers, then there’s no reason to believe that in choice, there are only three possibilities — that one alternative is better, worse or equal to the other. We need to introduce a new, fourth relation beyond being better, worse or equal, that describes what’s going on in hard choices. I like to say that the alternatives are “on a par.” When alternatives are on a par, it may matter very much which you choose, but one alternative isn’t better than the other. Rather, the alternatives are in the same neighborhood of value, in the same league of value, while at the same time being very different in kind of value. That’s why the choice is hard.

Understanding hard choices in this way uncovers something about ourselves we didn’t know. Each of us has the power to create reasons. Imagine a world in which every choice you face is an easy choice, that is, there’s always a best alternative. If there’s a best alternative, then that’s the one you should choose, because part of being rational is doing the better thing rather than the worse thing, choosing what you have most reason to choose. In such a world, we’d have most reason to wear black socks instead of pink socks, to eat cereal instead of donuts, to live in the city rather than the country, to marry Betty instead of Lolita. A world full of only easy choices would enslave us to reasons. When you think about it, it’s nuts to believe that the reasons given to you dictated that you had most reason to pursue the exact hobbies you do, to live in the exact house you do, to work at the exact job you do. Instead, you faced alternatives that were on a par, hard choices, and you made reasons for yourself to choose that hobby, that house and that job. When alternatives are on a par, the reasons given to us, the ones that determine whether we’re making a mistake, are silent as to what to do. It’s here, in the space of hard choices, that we get to exercise our normative power, the power to create reasons for yourself, to make yourself into the kind of person for whom country living is preferable to the urban life.

When we choose between options that are on a par, we can do something really rather remarkable. We can put our very selves behind an option. Here’s where I stand. Here’s who I am. I am for banking. I am for chocolate donuts. This response in hard choices is a rational response, but it’s not dictated by reasons given to us. Rather, it’s supported by reasons created by us. When we create reasons for ourselves to become this kind of person rather than that, we wholeheartedly become the people that we are. You might say that we become the authors of our own lives.

*

So when we face hard choices, we shouldn’t beat our head against a wall trying to figure out which alternative is better. There is no best alternative. Instead of looking for reasons out there, we should be looking for reasons in here: Who am I to be? You might decide to be a pink sock-wearing, cereal-loving, country-living banker, and I might decide to be a black sock-wearing, urban, donut-loving artist. What we do in hard choices is very much up to each of us.

Neil Gaiman: Make Glorious & Fantastic Mistakes, Break Rules, Leave the World More Interesting For Your Being Here …*

Now go and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes, break rules, leave the world more interesting for your being here, make good art.” – Neil Gaiman

I’ve finally had the opportunity to watch Neil Gaiman’s splendid commencement address to the 2012 graduating class of The University of the Arts In Philadelphia. In his speech, Gaiman shares some of the things he wished he had known starting out and the best piece of advice he’s ever received and completely failed to follow. To the extent that [ being | becoming ] an artist is about developing one’s voice (and perhaps, most critically, the courage to share and own that voice) this is an essential talk for any individual invested in living up to their full potential. I’ve transcribed some of my favorite bits below in case you don’t have the time to watch the video just yet, but I highly recommend watching it in its entirety when you get the chance.

watch & rethink …*

Neil Gaiman Addresses the University of the Arts Class of 2012 from The University of the Arts (Phl) on Vimeo.

[ E M B R A C E   S H O S H I N ]

First of all, when you start out on a career in the Arts, you have no idea what you’re doing. This is great. People who know what they’re doing, know the rules and they know what is possible and what is impossible. You do not and you should not. The rules on what is possible and impossible in the Arts, were made by people who had not tested the bounds of the possible by going beyond them. And you can. If you don’t know it’s impossible, it’s easier to do. And because nobody’s done it before, they haven’t made up rules to stop anyone doing that particular thing again.

[  K E E P   W A L K I N G   T O W A R D S   Y O U R   M O U N T A I N ]

Sometimes the way to do what you hope to do will be clear cut and sometimes it will be almost impossible to decide whether or not you’re doing the correct thing because you’ll have to balance your goals and hopes with feeding yourself, paying debts, finding work, settling for what you can get. Something that worked for me, was imagining that where I wanted to be, which was an author, primarily fiction, making good books, making good comics, making good drama and supporting myself through my words—imagining that was a mountain, a distant mountain. My goal. And I knew that as long as I kept walking towards the mountain, I’d be alright. And when I truly was not sure what to do, I could stop and think about whether it was taking me towards or away from the mountain. I said no to editorial jobs on magazines, proper jobs that would have paid proper money, because I knew that attractive though they were, for me, they would have been walking away from the mountain. And if those job offers had come earlier, I might have taken them because they still would have been closer to the mountain than I was at that time. I learned to write by writing. I tended to do anything as long as it felt like an adventure and to stop when it felt like work, which meant that life did not feel like work.

[ M A K E   M I S T A K E S ]

Fourthly, I hope you’ll make mistakes. If you make mistakes it means you’re out there doing something. And the mistakes in themselves can be very useful. I once misspelled Caroline in a letter, transposing the A and the O, and I thought, “Coraline,” looks almost like a real name.

[ M A K E   G O O D   A R T ] 

When things get tough, this is what you should do: Make good art. I’m serious. Husband runs off with a politician–make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by a mutated boa constrictor—make good art. IRS on your trail—make good art. Cat exploded—make good art. Someone on the Internet thinks what you’re doing is stupid or evil or it’s all been done before— make good art. Probably things will work out somehow, eventually time will take the sting away, and that doesn’t even matter. Do what only you can do best: Make good art. Make it on the bad days, make it on the good days, too.

[ C R E A T E   &   L I V E   A S   O N L Y   Y O U   C A N ]

And fifthly, while you’re at it, make your art—do the stuff that only you can do. The urge, starting out, is to copy and that’s not a bad thing. Most of us only find our own voices after we’ve sounded like a lot of other people. But the one thing that you have, that nobody else has, is you—your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build, and play and dance and live as only you can. The moment that you feel that just possibly, you’re walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself, that’s the moment you may be starting to get it right.

[ E M B R A C E   U N C E R T A I N T Y ]

 The things I’ve done that worked the best, were the things I was the least certain about. The stories where I was sure they’d either work or more likely be the kind of embarrassing failures that people would gather together and discuss until the end of time—they always had that in common. Looking back at them, people explained why they were inevitable successes and when I was doing them, I had no idea. I still don’t and where would be the fun in making something you knew was going to work? And sometimes the things I did really didn’t work. There are stories of mine that have never been reprinted, some of them never even left the house. But I learned as much from them as I did from the things that worked.

[ L E T   G O   &   E N J O Y   T H E   R I D E ]

So when I agreed to give this address, I thought, “what is the best piece of advice I was ever given?” And I realized that it was actually a piece of advice that I had failed to follow. And it came from Stephen King. It was twenty years ago, at the height of the initial success of Sandman, the comic I was writing. I was writing a comic people loved and they were taking it seriously. And Stephen King liked Sandman and my novel with Terry Pratchett, Good Omens, and he saw the madness that was going on, the long signing lines, all of that stuff and his advice to me was this: he said, “this is really great, you should enjoy it.” And I didn’t. Best advice I ever got that I ignored. Instead, I worried about it. I worried about the next deadline, the next idea, the next story. There wasn’t a moment for the next fourteen or fifteen years, that I wasn’t writing something in my head or wondering about it. And I didn’t stop and look around and go, “this is really fun.” I wish I’d enjoyed it more. It’s been an amazing ride but there were parts of the ride I missed because I was too worried about things going wrong, about what came next, to enjoy the bit that I was on. That was the hardest lesson for me, I think—to let go and enjoy the ride. Because the ride takes you to some remarkable and unexpected places.

[ F A K E   I T   T O   M A K E    I T,   I F   Y O U   N E E D   T O ]

Someone asked me recently how to do something she thought was going to be difficult–in this case, recording an audio book. And I suggested she pretend that she was someone who could do it. Not pretend to do it, but pretend she was someone who could. She put up a notice to this effect on the studio wall and she said it helped. So be wise because the world needs more wisdom. And if you cannot be wise, pretend to be someone who is wise and then just behave like they would.

*

22 Questions For Business & Life From Roger Martin, Adam Grant, the Heath Brothers & Other Rethinkers …*

22 Questions For Business & Life From Roger Martin, Adam Grant, the Heath Brothers & Other Rethinkers ...* | rethinked.org

For this month’s issue, Inc. Magazine compiled a wonderful list of 100 “provocative questions for business owners”. Good questions are one of the greatest tools we have for making the ordinary unknown and rethinking our landscapes of possibility. Below, I’ve assembled twenty-two of the questions from the list that I found most compelling and which I hope will inspire you to question some of the things you may be overlooking or taking for granted in your life and business.

question & rethink …*

 

What counts that we are not counting? -Chip Conley, founder of Joie de Vivre Hospitality and head of global hospitality for Airbnb

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In the past few months, what is the smallest change we have made that has had the biggest positive result? What was it about that small change that produced the large return? -Robert Cialdini, author and professor emeritus of marketing and psychology at Arizona State University

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What prevents me from making the changes I know will make me a more effective leader? -Marshall Goldsmith, leadership coach and author

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If no one would ever find out about my accomplishments, how would I lead differently? -Adam Grant, author and professor at Wharton

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What should we stop doing? -Peter Drucker, management expert and author

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What are the gaps in my knowledge and experience? -Charles Handy, author and management expert

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What am I trying to prove to myself, and how might it be hijacking my life and business success? -Bob Rosen, executive coach and author

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Who have we, as a company, historically been when we’ve been at our best? -Keith Yamashita, author and founder of SYPartners

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Is there any reason to believe the opposite of my current belief? -Chip and Dan Heath, authors who teach at Stanford’s and Duke’s business schools, respectively

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What would have to be true for the option on the table to be the best possible choice? -Roger Martin, professor, Rotman Business School

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Am I failing differently each time? -David Kelley, founder, IDEO

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What would I recommend my friend do if he were facing this dilemma? -Chip and Dan Heath

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What is something you believe that nearly no one agrees with you on? -Peter Thiel, partner, Founders Fund

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Instead of going to current contacts for new ideas, what if you reconnected with dormant contacts–the people you used to know?  If you were going reactivate a dormant tie, who would it be? -Adam Grant

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Do you see more potential in people than they do in themselves? -Adam Grant

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To whom do you add value? -Dave Ulrich and Norm Smallwood, co-founders, The RBL Group

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What was the last experiment we ran? -Scott Berkun, author

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What successful thing are we doing today that may be blinding us to new growth opportunities? -Scott D. Anthony, managing partner, Innosight

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Do the decisions we make today help people and the planet tomorrow? -Kevin Cleary, president, Clif Bar

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How do you encourage people to take control and responsibility? -Dan Ariely

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How do I stay inspired? -Paul Bennett, chief creative officer, IDEO

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What is our question? -Dev Patnaik, CEO, Jump Associates

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Source: 100 Great Questions Every Entrepreneur Should Ask via Inc. published April 2014

What’s the one thing that you learned in the last decade that you wished someone had told you 10 years ago?

What's the one thing that you learned in the last decade that you wished someone had told you 10 years ago? | rethinked.org

Stikman – photograph: my own

 

In January 2013, Wooster Collective, which showcases and celebrates ephemeral art placed on streets in cities around the world, celebrated its tenth anniversary. In honor of that happy occasion, they ran an interview series where they asked a group of artists whom they had showcased in the beginning of their website the following question: “What’s the one thing that you learned in the last decade that you had wished someone had told you 10 years ago?”

Being an immense fan of both ‘street art’ and good questions, I was thrilled to browse the various artists’ answers. Below, are some of my favorite insights from the 10 Years of Wooster series. I’d love to hear your own answer to that question — What’s the one thing that you learned in the last decade that you had wished someone had told you 10 years ago? As for me, I need to sit on that a bit, but I sense a new post coming, stay tuned.

reflect & rethink …

 

“Ignore opinions, even when they favor you.” – Logan Hicks

 – – – – 

“To live and let live, to not criticize what the others do, and spend your time doing your own work and what you believe in.” – TVBOY

– – – – 

“If I have to choose between them, the one thing that I tried to follow in life, I think of the words of Mahatma Gandhi: “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever” – Microbo

 – – – – 

“I always had the idea that you find the thing you like doing the most in life and you hook yourself to it like a mule to a cart and grind away until you reach some pinnacle…but it turns out that in the end it never arrives.  Life isn’t a mountain. The journey is the only reward.” – Mark Jenkins

 – – – – 

“Let it go” Is probably the best lesson I was given these last 10 years. The lesson was in connection to painting, but it also works in life.” – DHM

– – – – 

“I think it should be to learn to put things in perspective, see what’s really important and what’s just there to stress you out and would show up every day in a hundred ways just to ruin the day or the week.” – Calma

 – – – – 

I believe that embracing the unknown is a critical element in my work and I seek discovery as a profound influence. I am glad for all of the new stimulations as I walk down the street. But upon reflection of this topic I realized I wish someone had told me how fast the last ten years would go by. I know it is only a perception issue but the pace of change has caused time to seem like it is speeding by faster and faster with each passing year. Everything is new today and forgotten tomorrow. Everything is available twenty four hours a day and it all bleeds together like never ending mash-up. This is neither a bad nor a good thing but it does have the effect of making ten years ago seem like just yesterday. I tried to address this problem in my art in 2007 by starting a ten year Tribal/Primordial cycle of stik figures. This has allowed me to slow down my thinking and take a long view of a project instead of my usual manic approach. Each year I produce a new unique figure which I install over and over again during that calendar year. I am now in the seventh year of the cycle.” – Stikman

 – – – – 

“In that edge… Is where creation lives […] I have as many regrets as I do fond memories of the last 10 years, but the best piece of advice I’ve ever seen given by anyone is Ice T’s ‘Fuck it’ theory. ‘Fuck it’ gets you across that line. Push the limits. Take more risks.”- Mysterious Al

 – – – – 

“The one thing that I learned long time ago is to respect and be curious about what other artists do and never ever be in competition with anyone… Never being jealous or criticize the career, the decisions and the style of other artists…being sure of what you are doing or being sure about yourself and know that what you are doing is right and pure… Never make art for money but let the money come in the direction of your art and life. Struggle and fight every day about your freedom as an artist and forget about the roller coaster of emotions that life imposes to everyone.. Always be happy and instinctive about what you are doing or just stop, skin up and start again…” – Galo

 – – – – 

“I finished my Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2003. I wish someone had told me then that boredom, oil and canvas are not the only ways of making Art. ” – Vinz

– – – – 

“Seriously thats a tough one to answer, theres so much that i’ve learnt over the last 10 years, mainly through trial and error, but I guess the principal to them all is DO IT YOUR WAY, I think in many respects the early, somewhat innocent years, were the best years and in hind sight some of the lessons i’ve learnt have shown me that we had it right in those early years. Also to Live YOUR Dream and stay true to it, over a decade ago no one could have imagined where this scene would take us, the twists, turns, peaks, pitfalls and so long as when you search your heart, you’re comfortable and at ease with the decisions you’ve made then there’s really very little else that matters.” – D*Face

 – – – – 

“to not forget that DREAMS COME TRUE!” – Vómito Attack

– – – – 

“The one thing I wish someone had told me would of been; Don’t panic. Don’t worry. Just keep working. I am a natural worrywort, everything seems on the cusp of collapse. It’s difficult to impart perspective. In my formative years each project and idea appeared to be make or break. I think people probably told me, but I didn’t listen, that actually it’s a long game; the game of making art for a living and avoiding traditional employment. There are up’s and down’s and placid plateaus of inactivity and it’s completely normal. Just keep being bloody minded and focus on making great work and things will fall into place around you. I think it helps to be proactive, forward thinking, presentable, persistent and polite too, of course. The spaghetti randomness of the whims and tastes of the outside world can never be satisfactorily untangled. Just work, with glee and enthusiasm, it’s the only thing we can truly directly dictate.” – Jon Burgerman

– – – – 

“To be open to influence but ultimately don’t deviate from your aim.” – Toasters

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“During these years I have been told many things and in many ways, I have to say, I am very happy I did not listened to them. Often. I have been given advice and opinions on how to proceed in my career …and don’t get me wrong, I find this very useful and I’m always interested to hear other people’s experiences and advice. At the same time, keeping in mind what I was told, I have always preferred to find my way in things, and if nothing else, I’ve always had the need to try it for myself to make my own opinion. Sometimes I was wrong but I was always ready to change my point of view and it happened a few times. Many other times, however, my intuition was right and even though at the time seemed absurd and wrong, time has proved me right. Probably this has happened, thanks to the strong values ​​that were given to me by my family, good friends and my life experiences over the years. I never chose the easy way, I never made ​​choices based on money, fame and notoriety, I never believed the hype. but instead, I decided to follow my values​​, my heart and my passions trying to compromise as little as possible and stay true to my beliefs…. and Havin’ Fun! These are things that I learned a long time ago and they will stay with me for the rest of my life.” – BO130

Choice Architecture & The Nudge Unit …*

“The really radical thing that Richard [Thaler] opened up to us is his concept of choice architecture. Governments have a set of nudges in everything they do, even if they don’t do anything. You can either be deliberate about it or not.” –Rohan Silva 

Choice Architecture & The Nudge Unit ...* | rethinked.org

 

“If you combine this very simple, very conservative thought — go with the grain of human nature — with all the advances in behavioral economics, I think we can achieve a real increase in well-being, in happiness, in a stronger society without necessarily having to spend a whole lot more money.” – David Cameron

Be sure to check out the New York Times profiles on Britain’s Behavioral Insights Team, aka the Nudge Unit, whose “goal is to see if small interventions that don’t cost much can change behavior in large ways that serve both individuals and society.”

rethink * 

“Doodling is to make spontaneous marks to help yourself think” ~ Sunni Brown on How Doodling Facilitates Learning…*

In this short engaging TED talk from 2011, co-author of GameStorming: A Playbook for Rule-breakers, Innovators and Changemakers and Bright Spot I.D. founder and creative director, Sunni Brown, urges her audience to rethink…* the value of doodling. Noting that, “there is a powerful cultural norm against doodling in settings in which we’re supposed to learn something,” Brown aims to disrupt the current cultural status of doodling as a childish time waster. Highlighting some of the cognitive benefits of doodling–enhanced focus, creative problem solving and deep information processing–Brown argues “doodling is really to make spontaneous marks to help yourself think,” and, “it is a tool that we need to remember and to relearn.”

{ truths }

“I think that our culture is so intensely focused on verbal information that we’re almost blinded to the value of doodling.”

“Doodling is an incredibly powerful tool and it is a tool that we need to remember and to relearn.”

“People who doodle when they’re exposed to verbal information, retain more of that information than their non-doodling counterparts. We think doodling is something you when you lose focus, but in reality it is a preemptive measure to stop you from losing focus.”

“It [doodling] has a profound effect on creative problem solving and deep information processing. There are four ways that learners intake information so that they can make decisions:

  1. Visual
  2. Auditory
  3. Reading/Writing
  4. Kinesthetic

Now, in order for us to really chew on information and do something with it, we have to engage at least two of these modalities or we have to engage one of those modalities coupled with an emotional experience. The incredible contribution of the doodle is that it engages all four learning modalities simultaneously with the possibility to have an emotional experience.”

“Under no circumstances should doodling be eradicated from a classroom, or a boardroom or even the war room. On the contrary, doodling should be leveraged in precisely those situations where information density is very high and the need for processing that information is very high.”

Sunni Brown: Doodlers, Unite! | via TED.com, published September 2011

Keith Yamashita on The 9 Habits of Great Creative Teams…*

The Teamworks Habit | via SYPartners

“The great teams really work hard at it. They cultivate specific habits that they do that makes them great.” 

In this fantastic talk from last year’s 99u ConferenceSYPartners chairman & founder, Keith Yamashita, highlights nine positive habits of great team culled from SYPartners two decades of collaboration with over a thousand teams. Yamashita lists the top nine habits of great teams and shares some strategies for building the capabilities necessary to fully access and master these nine habits.

SYPartners has also been in the process of developing an app, titled Teamworks, which will act as ” a set of tools to spark teams to work at their very best.” While the Teamworks app, currently in private beta, will not be released until later this year, you can download free of charge SYPartner’s previous app, Unstuck, a “new in-the-moment approach to personal growth for anyone who wants to live better every day. Combining personalized digital tools with tips and know-how from a community of other people facing stuck moments, Unstuck makes it easy to get on-demand coaching whenever you need it.”

  1. SUPERPOWERS ~ Great teams, when they really are at their best, start first with the foundation of each person on their team understanding their superpower–what they do better and more extraordinarily than anyone else on their team.
  2. PURPOSE ~ The habit of purpose-making–what does this mean? Why should we care? Why is this interesting? That purpose-making turns out to be absolutely essential to how teams become great.
  3. FORCES ~ Great teams see the forces at play and capitalize on them.
  4. BELIEF ~ Whatever your definition of greatness is, it almost always requires building belief in others so that they’ll take action.
  5. DECISIONS ~ Decisions of how we need to work together become vital.
  6. BOLD MOVES ~ Great teams don’t try to do everything, they focus on the most important things.
  7. DUOS‘ { TRUST } ~ We have a particular term at SYPartners which we call “Duo”, it’s the smallest atomic unit of trust. It’s you and me, we have nowhere else to shovel the blame.
  8. REFRAME ~ A team’s resilience, it’s ability to reframe something to make it positive becomes an essential habit.
  9. OUTCOMES ~ Great teams identify the outcomes.

Enjoy & rethink…*

Keith Yamashita: The 3 Habits of Great Creative Teams from 99U on Vimeo.

[ H/T: Keith Yamashita: The 3 Habits of Great Creative Teams via 99u]

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