Just Seven Things

Exploring why and how we do what we do, and how we can do it better

Archive for the tag “Action Orientation”

Does our Pursuit of Happiness hinder Getting Things Done?

Taking a bit of a flyer on this one. Not particularly thought through, but it struck me in preparation for a talk entitled The Science of Happiness.

In a line from Daniel Nettle’s great book ‘Happiness, The Science behind your Smile’   he states ‘…happiness, though, is not calculated by a simple summing up of all the positive moments and a subtraction of the negative ones. It also involves more complex cognitive processes, such as comparison with alternative possible outcomes (note: this quote refers to something he calls ‘level two happiness’ which is all about ‘judgements about the balance of feelings’. A hybrid of emotion and judgement about emotion.

Now it’s a very pop. psychology way of thinking about it, but could this element of our happiness ‘assessment’ also operate as a pre-assessment in advance of activities?

Read more…

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Fighter Pilots and Window Fitters

http://careers.avjobs.com/careers-directory/Military-Fighter-Pilot.asp

Two completely different jobs made me think over the last month or so about focus and immediate action.

We’re in the middle of having windows fitted. In the middle of what I’ve calculated to be 88 man hours of work to replace 100yr old windows and frames with exact replicas in a 4-bed house. Now I think that’s quite impressive anyway. I could talk about expertise and professionalism. The skills built up over the years by the tradesmen in the company that we’re using. However, it’s their immediacy of action that is down-right staggering.

Day One. Minute six of them being in the house. One old window out. Two men literally walked in, accepted our offer of cups of tea, rolled out a dust sheet as they walked in and up the stairs and into the bed room and then quickly covered the closest furniture to the windows. Drills and crowbars out. Window out. Six minutes.

And this pace of immediate action has been maintained over the last 48 hours. They’re in at nine. An hour for lunch. Away at four. What’s massively noticeable compared to other tradesmen we’ve used is that everything is action focused. They only seem to take breaks by drinking the copius quantities of tea we provide them at the same time as swiftly discussing their next immediate action. Brian Tracy would be well proud. Fully frogged-up.

Then when I was running early one morning, piercing blue sky, and the white streak of a fighter jet streaking across the horizon. My thoughts about that fighter pilot’s role hit me all at once. Total focus. Absolutely no distraction. Allow in the distraction = Death. No ‘quick check of the email’ during the middle of writing that Board paper. No thinking about what to watch on telly that night. Pretty sure they’re not allowing the pressure of admin into their focus on the important activity of keeping a c.$138 million bit of metal from crashing and losing your life at the same time.

So, must remember when working: focus like a fighter pilot and work like a window-fitter…….

Plasticity, Mind Power and the Human Brain

My approach to learning and development has materially changed over the last three years. I used to view myself on a gradual decline since the peak of degrees and professional qualification learning in my early 20’s. I accepted the ‘more brain cells die than grow when you’ve hit adulthood’ type of argument. I also used to think of new behaviours/ skills and knowledge as being left-brain learned and retained in memory. That the majority of permanent, hard-wired change had taken place during early development.

Plasticity has changed all that. It is defined by the excellent Franklin Institute resource on The Human Brain as ‘the tendency of the brain to shape itself according to experience… plasticity is the basic mental drive that networks your brain, giving you cognition and memory – fluidity, versatility, and adaptability’. Many neuroscientists now believe that the brain changes at a structural level when you learn new skills or have experiences that are sufficiently new that they need you to store the memory differently. Effectively, the density of the connections and pathways in your brain increases; your brain isn’t slowly dieing if you keep it stimulated.

Can you apply the theory of plasticity to changing behaviours, habits and ways of thinking? So, harness the power of your mind and its plastic properties to be a ‘different you’? I think the answer is yes, as long as the fundamentals of focus, consistency, persistency and action are applied. What do I mean? Read more…

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