After last weeks post I realized I was a victim of focusing on a specific goal too much. Where you get caught up doing something for the wrong reason,. These weekly posts were supposed to be updates on new info added to the mainframe work but they were becoming their own thing and a bit detached from the framework.
Personally I don’t like sites that have endless posts where you have to read each post to catch up. It’s like a treadmill you can’t get off, and it’s too hard to catch up. I want more of a wikipedia site, where you can just come and get the info you want, leave, and come back when you need more info.
So rather than do long entries I’m going to try to go back to updating what’s new to the site or I’ll go over how I’ve incorporated a new book or other resource into the framework.
For tonight’s example I’ll recap the main ideas mentioned in The Plateau Effect, pointing out which ones have already been covered in the ‘Know’ section and what new info we can add.
From their appendix here are the 8 things they’ve found to be the cause of plateaus
1 - Immunity - (I’d say adaptability, or familiarization (getting used to a smell)) it’s when you get used to something, when you stop noticing a persistent problem and you let it keep getting in your way.
Cure - diversity. That’s all they say. For smelling things or tasting things, you should switch things up frequently. In business it’s good to get an outsider's opinion, or rotate positions in a company.
Where it fits - this is similar Part 4, your emotions helping you remember things. We notice and remember unique things, things that stand out. Over time we can stop noticing things, this starts to fall under a cognitive bias, I think I’ll have to add it there. I’ll add the diversify under the things you can do to counter it.
2 - Greedy algorithm (picking short term goal over long term goal, thinking to locally physically and in terms of time, like only thinking of yourself now)
Cure - Extend your gratification horizon - think long term, think more globally than locally
Long term greed is good - confusing use of language I think.
Where this fits - This would fall under Part 2, you and the other you(s). The greedy algorithm is the auto pilot or the devil on your shoulder or the elephant you’re riding. Extending your gratification horizon is just thinking long term. That goes back to Part 1, our predictions of the future. Start using farther out predictions to choose your actions and you’ll have more success in the long run. I don’t think I’ll add this anywhere, I don’t really like the terms they used. What do you think?
3 - Timing, they say sometimes it’s good to wait. This is tricky, there is a whole chapter on this memory trick where you don’t have to try hard to remember something as long as you are reminded of it at very specific intervals. It seems impractical to use in too many applications but it has some potential, and has been used in successful commercial products.
Cure - Wait. That’s all they say, just wait. This is a big potential pitfall, this could be fuel for the ‘greedy algorithm’. It could be one more excuse for your short sighted auto pilot to convince you to take a break and cheat on your goal.
Where it fits - I think this is new, I guess I’ll need to put the spaced repetition technique under things you can do for memory, and the act of waiting as something counterintuitive you should know.
… The remainder next week.
What do you think of this format?
I was cleaning up the page of things you can do and noticed I don’t have anything in the counterintuitive area.
Two came to mind from the book I’ve got on the go The Plateau Effect
1 - Active listening with the intent to agree, rather than waiting for a chance to get your point across.
Most people want to pick apart other people’s arguments to discredit them, or maybe not even listen and just wait for their chance to speak.
Active listening with the intent to agree puts you in a much better position to come to a conclusion everyone agrees on. You can still pick apart their argument, but in this scenario you’re picking it apart to see what parts align with your thinking. You have to see where the common ground is. Then when you find something you don’t agree on you try to understand why the other person thinks that way. You could be right, they could be right, and sometimes you could both be right. It’s like the proverb about 3 blind people encountering an elephant for the first time and all describing it to each other while standing at different spots around it. They’re going to be describing wildly different things, but they are all correct.
From a persuasion point of view you are in a much better position to pursued when you start off on the same team as the other person, highlighting all of the things you agree on. Think about it, are you more likely to listen to the advice of something similar to you or to the advice of someone you associate with ‘the other team’.
2 - Don’t focus on specific goals, it can mess with your head.
In the Plateau Effect they gave examples of runners who were so focused on the goal of having a long streak of consecutive days running that they ran when injured, making their injuries worse, and ran at the sacrifice of maintaining relationships with friends and family. These people started out running to be healthy and then the goal of the streak took over and they did the opposite.
In the Willpower Instinct, she says having a goal gives your autopilot mind a specific target which it can use against your best interest. If you are doing well it can rationalize a break, and if you are doing poorly it can rationalize giving up. She suggest you’re better to monitor your level of commitment and hold it in higher regard than progress. If you feel the commitment wavering you can spend some time remembering why it’s important. If you realize it’s not important you can give up and pick a goal that is important, guilt free.
Many other people like Dilbert author Scott Adams advocates for systems rather than goals. The idea is you build your day around doing things that will get you closer to your goal. Such as write so many pages or save so many dollars. When you do this it’s not that big of a deal when you falter, your next day is already set up to get you back on track.
All of these are complementary, the first one says don’t focus on running everyday, but the last one suggests you should schedule running everyday if that is in line with your goal. The takeaway is that this is a balancing act, with meaning as the foundation.
Start by having a compelling reason to change something, then build systems into your life to set you up for success to set you on the path to your goal but keep it flexible. Monitor progress, change things as needed, try to avoid relying on things that feel like obligations, but more important than the numbers and data check in with yourself on how committed you are to this future state and why in order to make sure you haven’t let the goal take you off track.
As I've mentioned, this site is more of a beta than anything else, this week I decided to remove the drop down menus from the Know and Do sections. I did this because I don't want to tempt people into jumping ahead. If they don't read through the landing pages I don't think they'll get as much out of it.
When I was doing that I realized the Do section is quite a mess. It's very limited and the categories seem random. I'm thinking I will align them with the Know section. So I'll have you should Know this, and then a link to what you can Do about it.
I don't want the know section to get too big so at some point there will be more Do categories than Know categories, but for now I'll try to clean that up.
On the topic of more Know categories, I thought I was done for now but I've decided to do another series on big business. I touched on this a bit last week talking about the tech industry and its mission to get us all hooked on their products. In this next series of posts I'll elaborate on that by trying to explain why it's happening, show some examples, look at what it means to you, and of course what you can do about it.
To start you off here is a great documentary on the subject, The Corporation
This is a long movie and since the point of my site is to try to get you the info you need I'll tell you what I think the main take away here is.
Corporations are legally obligated to provide maximum benefit to their shareholders. To keep it simple benefit is equated to money. Because corporations can't go to jail their only form of penalty is financial fines. So laws no longer become ethical delemas they become cost benefit equations. If by breaking this law will the company save more or make more than the cost of the fine? If the answer is yes then they are legally obligated to break the law. If these laws are set up to protect the public or the environment then the public and the environment will suffer. An ethical CEO can be fired for not maximizing profits.
When you see news stories of companies moving money around the world to save taxes the news often makes it seem like they have a choice or that it is illegal. It's not a choice it's their 'fiduciary' duty to the shareholders, and it is most often done legally. When done illegally they probably did a cost benefit analysis to see if the fine would be more than the gains, and chances are it would be worth the risk.
Corporations are not evil, we've just set up the rules for them to be very destructive. There is a jewish folklore I read about that I often compare to this, it's the story of a 'golem'. This isn't the creature from Lord of The Rings, it's more like a frankenstein made of clay. Earth was said to be brought to life in the form of a man in order to serve a master. It was very strong but if the instructions weren't clear it could become very destructive. As I'm writing this I suppose it's similar to the Artificial Intelligence debates today, will the computers become too powerful and cause more harm than good?
I think we're already there with corporations, and Stephen Hawking has been quoted, warning us of this fact.
Currently I'm re-reading The Plateau Effect, and from what I've re-read so far I think it boils down to the age old wisdom of 'everything in moderation'. Much more scientific of course and with wider reaching implications, but essentially we need to realize that more is not always better, it is only better to a certain point, then it becomes worse, and eventually much worse. The authors compare just about everything to a 'sine curve', like this one below.
I think most people already know smartphones and mobile tech can be addictive and not think much of it because it’s not going to happen to them. A phone is a phone, (of course we’re talking smart phones here), and it’s very useful and it’s worth the risk.
This is what I thought, but I’m listening to this book Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping us Hooked and it’s making me think twice about it.
The part of the book that worried me was the use of cocaine in the past. Some doctor was looking for new drugs and he tried chewing on a coca leaf. He wasn’t the first to try this by far, but apparently his paper on it sparked the medical use of it. People were using it all over the place. Even Sigmund Freud who is usually remembered as this infallible individual fell in love with the drug. The book said he used it so much it was destroying his life and he could barely take his dose because his nostrils were ravaged by it causing him chronic pain, and he treated the pain by painting a water/cocaine solution onto his nostrils!
In today's world we know the dangers of drugs and in some countries it’s illegal in other countries it is not, but in no country do parents give it to their kids to make them happy.
Why do I mention kids? Because the addictive and destructive nature of cocaine is being seen in the variety of things we can do with our mobile devices and we give them to our kids as soon as they can hold them, maybe sooner!
Obviously there are differences between cocaine and mobile games, but the scary thing is the industry behind the mobile games. I think Cocaine is as addictive as it is going to get, I don’t really know how much more addictive people can make it, but with addictive technology there are millions of people spending every waking hour trying to make their app more addictive than the last. To have an app that goes viral is the dream of many. Who wasn't jealous of the creator of Flappy Bird who seemed to strike it rich overnight with a very basic low budget game.
And obviously there is more to addiction than the drug or the app. As you can see in countries like Portugal which has made all drugs legal to combat their war on drugs so they can open up new types of treatment centres. But I just want to leave you to think about this for a bit.
When we pick up our mobile device randomly through the day or when we give our children mobile devices to pass the time, are we on our way to becoming Sigmund Freud painting our nostrils with cocaine to sooth the pain caused by painting his nostrils with cocaine?
This comes back to our brains being wired for the promise of reward more so than the reward itself as I pointed out in ‘You’re not going to believe this about bliss’. But the example there was a study with rats frying their feet due to a probe in their brain. Now we’re talking about one of the smartest people to ever live, whose area of expertise was human behaviour being susceptible to this. What chance do we have of being able to live alongside this without some controls or some rules or at least a better understanding of what is happening.
So, think about it. I’ll write about it more in the coming weeks. In the meantime if you want to get a sense of how many minutes or hours a day you’re looking at your smartphone you can use an app called ‘Moment’ by Kevin Holesh, (NOT Moments by Facebook, don’t download that one).