Tag Archives: Skills

Why Overcoming Inertia Takes Two Whys

By George Bradt – As laid out in an earlier article on “Three Steps to a Compelling Message,” leadership stories to inspire change need to:

  1. Depict the platform for change (why)
  2. Create a vision of a better future (what)
  3. Lay out a call to action (how)

Scott Jackson provides a model leadership story in his book, Take Me With You, published this week. In particular, he nails the two whys it takes to overcome inertia.

  1. Why #1 – Why I Can’t Keep Doing What I’m Doing
  2. Why #2 – Why I Should Listen To You On This Subject

more> https://goo.gl/Dc74Ee

Updates from Chicago Booth

What happened to your goals?
By Alice G. Walton – The problem with big resolutions is that motivation tends to wane over time, says Chicago Booth’s Ayelet Fishbach, who studies motivation and decision making. People start out strong, but then reality sets in as they realize it’s easier to set goals than to carry them out.

Research by Fishbach and others can help people salvage failed goals, or achieve new ones.

Every endeavor has a starting point and an end point, which can be as specific as meeting a work deadline in one week or as general as losing weight. One reason many people fail to reach their objectives, says Fishbach, is that they tend to set goals that are difficult or even impossible to achieve, or too general. Making them more concrete and achievable—goals you can envision yourself completing—may yield better results.

Yet effective targets should be ambitious. As long as the goal is within reach, the more you expect from yourself, the more you’ll achieve, as people often respond to a challenge by working harder. more> https://goo.gl/drSWPY

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Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds

BOOK REVIEW

The Enigma of Reason, Authors: Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber.
The Knowledge Illusion: Why We Never Think Alone, Authors: Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach.
Denying to the Grave: Why We Ignore the Facts That Will Save Us, Authors: Jack Gorman and Sara Gorman.
The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, Author: Elizabeth Kolbert.

By Elizabeth Kolbert – Stripped of a lot of what might be called cognitive-science-ese, Mercier and Sperber’s argument runs, more or less, as follows: Humans’ biggest advantage over other species is our ability to coöperate. Coöperation is difficult to establish and almost as difficult to sustain.

For any individual, freeloading is always the best course of action. Reason developed not to enable us to solve abstract, logical problems or even to help us draw conclusions from unfamiliar data; rather, it developed to resolve the problems posed by living in collaborative groups.

“Reason is an adaptation to the hypersocial niche humans have evolved for themselves,” Mercier and Sperber write. Habits of mind that seem weird or goofy or just plain dumb from an “intellectualist” point of view prove shrewd when seen from a social “interactionist” perspective.

Consider what’s become known as “confirmation bias,” the tendency people have to embrace information that supports their beliefs and reject information that contradicts them.

If reason is designed to generate sound judgments, then it’s hard to conceive of a more serious design flaw than confirmation bias.

Imagine, Mercier and Sperber suggest, a mouse that thinks the way we do. Such a mouse, “bent on confirming its belief that there are no cats around,” would soon be dinner. more> https://goo.gl/hUYB9s

Updates from Adobe

Flower Power: Photographer Bettina Güber
By Jordan Kushins – Photographer Bettina Güber has made a habit of paying close attention to the kinds of things that others might pass by, and preserving their subtle beauty with her trusty Nikon.

Güber, who lives in Krefeld, Germany, has built up a robust Behance portfolio of evocative images of the natural world (some of which she also offers on Adobe Stock), but she didn’t always think of herself as a creative person.

She credits the confines of a desk job with giving her a nudge to develop her artistic talents. “I was an office clerk back in the 1990s, and my boss decided that we should make our own flyers and brochures. So I started learning the graphics software—but without any artistic approach,” she says. (These days, she makes a living primarily as a media designer, crafting advertisements and collateral for a company that sells automotive spare parts.) more> https://goo.gl/fHc21T

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The Next Big Blue-Collar Job Is Coding

By Clive Thompson – Politicians routinely bemoan the loss of good blue-collar jobs. Work like that is correctly seen as a pillar of civil middle-class society. And it may yet be again. What if the next big blue-collar job category is already here—and it’s programming?

Among other things, it would change training for programming jobs—and who gets encouraged to pursue them. As my friend Anil Dash, a technology thinker and entrepreneur, notes, teachers and businesses would spend less time urging kids to do expensive four-year computer-­science degrees and instead introduce more code at the vocational level in high school.

You could learn how to do it at a community college; midcareer folks would attend intense months-long programs like Dev Bootcamp. There’d be less focus on the wunderkinds and more on the proletariat.

These sorts of coders won’t have the deep knowledge to craft wild new algorithms for flash trading or neural networks. Why would they need to? That level of expertise is rarely necessary at a job. But any blue-collar coder will be plenty qualified to sling Java­Script for their local bank. more> https://goo.gl/o8vkzl

The Ten Behaviors of Strong Personal Leadership

BOOK REVIEW

The Next Level: What Insiders Know About Executive Success, Author: Scott Eblin.

By Scott Eblin – Great leaders practice and exhibit strong personal leadership. They endeavor to live at their best so they can lead at their best. Their lives are structured for continuous improvement.

Here are the ten behaviors of personal leadership:

  1. Self reflection. Great leaders take the time to identify and articulate how they are at their best and then organize their life so they consistently show up with those qualities
  2. Self awareness. Great leaders are aware and intentional
  3. Self care. Great leaders understand that they perform at their best when they take care of their health and well being.
  4. Continuous learning. Great leaders never stop learning.
  5. Listening. Great leaders listen. They ask open-ended questions and pay attention to the answers.
  6. Operating rhythm. Great leaders know and leverage their operating rhythm.
  7. Gear shifting. Great leaders know how to quickly shift gears
  8. Focus. Great leaders focus on who or what is in front of them
  9. Clarity of purpose. Great leaders know what they’re in it for
  10. Gratitude. They recognize, acknowledge the good things in their life
  11. more> https://goo.gl/qXCpL1

The Irrationality Within Us

By Elly Vintiadis – After decades of research, there is compelling evidence that we are not as rational as we think we are and that, rather than irrationality being the exception, it is part of who we normally are.

So what does it mean to be rational? We usually distinguish between two kinds of rationality. Epistemic rationality, which is involved in acquiring true beliefs about the world and which sets the standard for what we ought to believe, and instrumental rationality which is involved in decision-making and behavior and is the standard for how we ought to act.

We are epistemically rational if we believe things for which we have good evidence and if we would change our beliefs in light of evidence against those beliefs.

We are instrumentally rational when we act in ways that are appropriate for achieving our goals.

In contrast, one is irrational when one’s beliefs or actions are not in accord with the requirements of rationality. For instance, if one wants to achieve a certain goal but acts in ways that do not lead to that goal; when one forms beliefs for which there is no evidence, or that fly in the face of available evidence; when one reasons faultily and so on. more> https://goo.gl/utg5OO

A Little Light Construction: Laser Welding in Three Acts

By Brian Simonds – Welding is said to be more art than science. In part, this is a nod to the vital, skilled work that welders perform. It’s also recognition of the fact that the physics of the process is really, really difficult to understand.

The laser welding process begins, as one might imagine, when a laser is focused to the surface of a metal. Although the surface initially reflects most of the light, it absorbs enough to cause significant heating. This heating slightly changes the way the metal interacts with the light, which in turn causes more absorption and even more heating.

Once the metal gets hot enough, it begins to melt and evaporate. The now-molten metal pool reacts to this evaporation by recoiling and creating a depression in the surface, like a trampoline reacting to a heavy load. When this depression is deep enough, it sends some of the reflected light back onto itself, which increases the absorbed light, creating more melting, generating more evaporation, making a deeper depression, creating more absorption, then more melting, and so on.

This continues until all the light is absorbed and a deep hole, called a keyhole, forms. In cross section, this looks something like a molten metal tornado with a hollow cavity surrounded by a turbulent funnel of very hot liquid. This all happens within the first few milliseconds.

In their textbook Modern Welding Technology, which has been metaphorically welded to my neocortex, H.B. Cary and S. Helzer estimate that as much as 50 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product relies on welding in some form or another.

The obvious applications of welding are in the manufacturing of big things like cars and trains, but there are less obvious ones like the battery casing in your mobile phone or the metal stents used to reopen clogged arteries. more> https://goo.gl/ngG3hh

In overvaluing confidence, we’ve forgotten the power of humility

By Jacob Burak – “If I only had a little humility, I’d be perfect,” the media mogul Ted Turner supposedly said sometime in the 1990s, in a moment of narcissistic exuberance.

Why be humble? After all, Aristotle said: “All men by nature desire to know.”

The internet and digital media have created the impression of limitless knowledge at our fingertips. But, by making us lazy, they have opened up a space that ignorance can fill.

What about all the commenting and conversations that happen online? Well, your capacity to learn from them depends on your attitudes to other people.

Intellectually humble people don’t repress, hide or ignore their vulnerabilities, like so many trolls. In fact, they see their weaknesses as sources of personal development, and use arguments as an opportunity to refine their views. People who are humble by nature tend to be more open-minded and quicker to resolve disputes, since they recognize that their own opinions might not be valid.

Intellectual humility relies on the ability to prefer truth over social status. It is marked primarily by a commitment to seeking answers, and a willingness to accept new ideas—even if they contradict our views. In listening to others, we run the risk of discovering that they know more than we do. But humble people see personal growth as a goal in itself, rather than as a means of moving up the social ladder. We miss out on a lot of available information if we focus only on ourselves and on our place in the world.

At the other end of the scale lies intellectual arrogance—the evil twin of overconfidence. more> https://goo.gl/F9v5hg

And their eyes glazed over

By Joelle Renstrom – Even when my students stash their cellphones, my classes look like an Apple commercial – faces hide behind screens embossed with the same famous fruit.

I have no delusions that they’re taking notes for class or referencing that day’s reading. A University of Waterloo professor who put a postgraduate at the back of his lecture hall to observe his students learned that 85 per cent of them did something unrelated to class on their laptops; a Cornell University study confirms that most students engage in ‘high-tech “doodling”‘ and communication during class.

One might think that the whopping $65,000 cost of attending Boston University for a year would provide ample reason to maintain focus during class, but one would be wrong.

Even students who take notes on their laptops miss out. A study from Princeton University shows that we process information better when taking notes by hand because writing is slower than typing (an argument often spun in favour of laptops), which helps students learn and retain the material. Similarly, people better comprehend what they’re reading if it’s on paper rather than on the screen.

Part of the reason people can’t seem to look up from their phones is that we’ve convinced ourselves we’re multitasking, rather than failing to focus. more> https://goo.gl/V35RyO