It seems like addictions are in the news these days a lot. The statistics around Opioids alone are startling. I don't think I know anyone addicted to them but it seems like statistically we all probably do. I know a few people that took OxyContin after surgery and luckily they didn't get addicted.
In terms of what you can you
1) If they are prescribed to you I'd ask if there is an alternative
2) Michael Botticelli former Director of the USA's National Drug Control Policy recommends talking about it more. If you need help, ask for it, if someone asks for help don't think less of them, provide them help like you would to someone with a broken leg, addiction is a disease.
3) Change the words you use:
Excerpt from Times Colonist article by Sarah Petrescu
Some of the suggestions are using terms such as “person with a cocaine-use disorder” instead of “cocaine user” or “addict.” Others include referring to a person having an “addictive disease” or “substance-use disorder” rather saying they are a drug “abuser” or “junkie.”
Counterintuitive things you should know:
1) Our whole mental model of what causes additions is not quite right, check out the first video below. I put it at the top because out of all of these because our mental model dictates so much of this problem, and most of us are walking around with on that's not backed up by science. By knowing this we can see there are more factors to addiction than just the drugs, and how big a factor the stigma around addiction can compound the problem. Link to the article where I found it.
2) Criminalizing drugs has not been as effective as decriminalizing them. Portugal is the first country I heard of that decriminalized all drugs put their resources into helping and they've seen an amazing turn around. Check out the clip from Michael Moore's documentary
Here is Michael's TED Talk - Addiction is a Disease
Here is John Oliver's take on Opioids
And here is a terrifying article outlining the plans to spread the epidemic beyond North America to the rest of the world. This reminds me of Stephen Hawking's quote that "we should be more afraid of capitalism than robots". I'm not against capitalism, just based on my cursory look into this it seems like a huge risk of human suffering is being taken for the sake of making money.
OxyContin Goes Global - We're Only Just Getting Started
I don't know what to do to stop this, any suggestions?
I love the parable of the blind men and the elephant. A number of them encounter an elephant they each reach out and touch one part of it and argue over what they think it looks like until they realize they are all right. I think this applies throughout our lives. We often disagree with others but we are often both right, or at least have good reasons for backing up our opinions. I also think it applies to advice, we all get a lot of advice and I think it is all valuable, but it is often only one part of the elephant, so I'd like to systematically review advice and add to my picture of the elephant that it is. Today I'll look at the advice from a TEDTalk on time management.
Laura Vanderkam - How to gain control of your free time
What she says:
- Many people try to shave off time here and there to fit in more things (i.e. fast forward commercials)
- She doesn't think striving to shave time is the right approach, she thinks we should choose what's important and having the time will take care of itself. She gives the example of someone with a busy lifestyle that has a flood at their house. Resolving it takes 7 hours out of the persons week. She many people don't think they could find 7 hours a week to exercise or meditate or whatever, but when you have to you just do.
- Her big take away is when we say "I don't have time" we are saying "It's not a priority"
- How do we realign our priorities?
- For work pretend it's the end of the year and write up your ideal performance review, listing all the things you accomplished.
- At home pretend it's the end of the year and write up your ideal Christmas letter, saying all the great things you did this year.
- From these future write ups get 6-10 goals for your year
- Break them down into manageable tasks
- Week by week take some time to plan out your goals for the next week. She recommends doing it on Friday afternoon when you're a bit drained from the week but willing to assign tasks to your future self for next week.
- She says we all get 168 hours a week, and she thinks if we look closely we'll see we've got probably 50-60 we could be using better, i.e. towards our priorities.
So, let's unpack this. She says
1) Things we already know - we make time for 'must do' activities, example, emergencies.
2) Gives us tips we won't do - write out our priorities and just do them.
This is like that email forward about the rocks and sand in a jar, do the important things first. The part about changing "I don't have time" to "It's not a priority", is I've suggested taking 'lazy' out of your vocabulary and replacing it with "It's not important enough for me to do right now"
I think Tony Robbins does a better job of this when he describes 'musts' and 'shoulds', and I think Kelly McGonigal does a great job outlining why we'd fail in The Willpower Instinct.
So overall it's nothing we haven't covered yet on the site (no new insights) but a nice reminder, it might spark your memory or finally push you to taking action. Personally, I like the specific examples of how to pull your priorities out of your brain with those year end reviews ahead of time, I might add those to the list of things you can do. I also like how she simplifies the categories down to three things Career, Relationships, Self. The goal setting program I did recently had a lot more categories and was a lot more complicated.
One great life hack I've come across to help you hold yourself to your priorities is to have a computer call you every night to ask you to rank yourself on those goals you pre-set for yourself. Below the TEDTalk is a video about it, and here is a link to a robot service that will do this for you, there's even a free two week trial. www.triggersdigital.com
I'm using it and I'm really finding it makes a difference for the little things you can overlook, those medium size rocks that can get neglected and left off your year end reviews. You know what, I'm going to put this video on top because I think you might be better off watching it that the TEDTalk, it's more focused but it's a technique that might help you with everything else.
I've added a second installment in the Stuff You Should Know section of the site.
You and ... the Other You(s), looking at internal conflicts we all have, where they come from and what we commonly mistake them for.
This is my first post where I'm replying to a request for some help. Someone asked me if I've read "How to Win Friends and Influence People", and if it was a good read. Unfortunately I haven't so I asked what he's looking for out of the book. He said something like "to improve how I deal with people and how to get the most out of everyday interactions". So he's going to read the book and let me know what he learns, in the meantime I thought I'd write up what I've learned so far from the books I have read.
Here we go...
First, How to improve how I deal with people
The book that always comes to mind first is 'Coping with Difficult People' by Robert Bramson. The key take away
"You train people how to treat you with every interaction"
It's not that complicated, people just do what works. Over their life they've tried different approaches and they stick with what seems to work. The phrase I came up with is "Jerks are Jerks because it works"
Bramson describes a number of types of people but from what I recall he says to treat people with respect and don't put up with disrespectful behaviour towards you. If you are giving a presentation and someone makes a snarky comment, just stop and you can ask them if it was intended as a 'dig'. He gave some other more specific tips I don't recall and haven't gone back to it because luckily I don't have to deal with too many difficult people. After reading this book I noticed the same message when I was watching the TV show 'The Dog Whisperer', you train dogs how to act with every interaction. If you let them act bad they act bad, if you don't, they don't. I was told it's not nice to compare people to dogs, but I don't mean it in a bad way, I just think it's a good example of a similar principle, and you can see it applied over and over again in nice half hour segments. Every time it's a dramatic unbelievable transformation, and all they did was to not let the dog get away with bad behaviour.
I've also read:
Just Listen by Mark Goulston
How to Talk So Kids Will Learn by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
What Great Parents Do by Erica Reischer
Pitch Perfect by Bill McGowan
Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff
The Game by Neil Strauss
The are all very similar, the first three discuss the importance of listening and repeating back what you heard in your own words. First off this is great because you'll actually hear what they are saying rather than just waiting for them to pause so you can talk. Second this shows them you're paying attention, shows you understand them, makes them feel like you are on their side and build rapport. This is especially important when you don't agree with someone, you show them you can see it from their point of view, but you still don't agree with them and you can tell them why more effectively. By doing this you're more likely to find common ground and come to a compromise quicker. It works with everyone from kids to adults, everyone wants to feel like they are being heard.
The second three are when you are trying to get someone's attention, overcome the barriers they put up to the unknown and convince them of something. The big takeaway is to recognize their defenses, and do things that don't set off any alarms. To get close to someone very important one author recommended trying to get close to one of their admins or gatekeepers as he called them. Have that person become your advocate. This also works by asking friends of friends for help, these people are called your 'weak ties'. Friends of friends are usually comfortable enough to help you get in touch with someone, and by going in that way you have a significant edge over people going in cold. From 'The Game' they were talking about social interactions, how to strike up a conversation with people you don't know. This was very similar, go over with a very specific question make it obvious you're not coming over for an indefinite amount of time. Most people are more than willing to answer a question. Another technique is to not try to get their attention but to try to get everyone's attention, then if you do give that person your attention they'll kind of feel like they've won rather than feeling unsure and defensive. This happens in business as well, people are people.
Many interactions can be difficult or frustrating. You may feel they are not treating you well. A good antidote for this is to realize it's probably not you they are unhappy with, they could be tired, hungry, mad about something else. If someone seems upset try to think 'what else could this mean?' or 'what could be the cause of this?' Or you could be the one that is mad at them. In these situations I like to remind myself that everyone is doing the best they can with the resources they've got. They aren't making bad decisions on purpose, so I try to figure out why they might have done what they did, and maybe even confirm I've got the story right in the first place. Often I don't have the whole story and what they did makes sense. Other times they didn't have the full story so what they did also makes sense.
In general try not to make assumptions, but if you find yourself compelled to, then try making wildly positive assumptions instead of wildly negative ones, they're just as likely to be true, and they'll have you entering a discussion from a much more positive perspective.
Now, How to make the most of an everyday scenario
How to Get Anyone to Do Anything by R. Philip Hanes
The 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris
Philip Hanes from what I recall is one of the Hanes associated with the clothing line. A very successful businessman, and he shares some of his secrets in this book. His tips range from buttering people up to tricking people in specific postures which are more receptive to requests. I don't think he calls it buttering people up, but when he meets people he tries to get as much info about them as he can and he makes a file on them, birthday, names of family members, where they went to school, what they do, interests and hobbies etc. Then he tries to be a good friend, if he sees something that might interest one of his friends, he lets them know about it. He helps people network, if he wants to ask a favour he does something nice for one of his friends, something inline with their hobbies or interests, maybe helps them do something on their bucket list. I seem to recall a very detailed set of interview questions he uses, not for his friends but for potential employees. It was interesting and I might look it up if I need to hire someone, but the cleverest thing he mentioned was how to get someone in a receptive state of mind. We all know body language is real, and we all know people with crossed arms are being closed off, so he tries to do things to get people to uncross their arms. When he is pitching new ideas he makes sure he has it on a poster that the person needs to unfold and hold up with their arms wide open. I find this so smart, so easy. I don't know how effective it is but I know it's worth the cost of a big piece of paper to try it out.
These days electronic communication is a huge part of our lives. If possible I recommend calling people rather than emailing, but I know you're going to have to email people once in awhile, the best advice I've read on emails was in 'The 4 Hour Work Week'. The tips are very obvious once you hear them, but not everyone thinks about it. The basics people know, have a clear subject, and keep it as short as possible. The mistake people often make is to ask one question and wait for the reply before telling the person what to do. Tim suggests asking the question or making the request e.g. "Do you have X in stock?" and also say what you want them to do e.g. "If so I'd like to order 10..." AND even more importantly what you want if they don't e.g. "If not please put me next on the waiting list".
You can save a number of back and forth emails with this technique. Also try to format your email so the questions are obvious and up front rather than in the middle of a large paragraph. Give them a heads up in the intro,
I have two questions:
Please reply by ...
It's almost like you're writing a computer program with IF statements. When I'm writing emails and they are getting long I think back to my favourite fortune cookie quote "In every enterprise, consider the outcome". When I first read it I was thinking it had something to do with Star Trek because I've never heard anyone else use the term enterprise, and then I took a minute to think about what it meant. In everything you do know why you are doing it, so simple, so often overlooked. I find by doing this it'll help you figure out if it's worth doing and it'll help you better predict if the actions you're taking are going to get the results you want. When I notice an email getting long I think "what do I want to get across here", or "what do I want this person to do?" and then I try to see what information is totally useless towards that goal. I can usually take out more than half of what I wrote.
And now, How to get the most out of people
If you're in a leadership role keep in mind that people will often rise to a challenge, and often take on the role you give them. I recall a TED talk about student government and the adult running it said they kids took it very seriously as long as he did, and as long as the roles were treated with respect. More so than age the role the kids had determined their level of behaviour, they rose to the challenge as they say.
And in a leadership role or not, let people help you. Ask for help, many successful people like to be asked their opinions or advice, and are willing to help out here and there. It's a delicate balance between asking too much and not asking enough, but if you find people offering assistance take them up on it, don't hold back in order to prove you can do it on your own, no one can do everything on their own.
Beyond these tips, I really recommend my primer videoControl Your Money, Control Your Life. It covers why we do what we do not only as it relates to money, but all aspects of your life. Knowing the behind the scenes of why humans do what they do is not only helpful in your own goal setting, but also when dealing with other people. It can help you understand why they might have done something your don't agree with so you can find some common ground, or it can help you find a way to get through to someone one you are trying to collaborate with.
In all situations I find it helpful to be sincere, smile, try to see things from the other person's point of view, and to focus more on what you agree rather than what you don't agree on. And try to remember their name so you can use it, people seem to love it when other people remember their name. You might be saying you can't but trust me, you can. The next time you meet someone just make sure to try, try really hard. You know, ask them, listen, repeat it back to them, pause to look at their face, repeat it back to them when you part ways. Then tell me if it worked or not, if not I'll do a post on memory tricks.
Don't let the fear of rejection hold you back, acknowledge your requests as a little strange and that can soften the experience, even get people on your side. This is easier said than done, so here is a video to inspire you to try.
OK here it is, my attempt at creating a user manual for your brain so you can make the most of this site. Many people are well intentioned but fail to follow through. This shows you why that is and how you can overcome it if you want. I focused on the topic of money but the principles are the same for any goal.
This is meant to be an open discussion, a goal of this site is to come up with a new mental model for why we do what we do. One that we can all use day to day to make better decisions and to get along better with each other. If you agree or disagree with any aspects let me know and let's see what we can come up with
Let me know what you think of this, it's a pretty rough cut, no editing done. I haven't even listened to it myself, I feel like if I do I will never stop tweaking it. So let me know, if the content is good or bad, if the audio is ok or not, and any way I can improve it.
1 - I highly recommend getting a copy of Tony Robbin's Get The Edge or the booklet or a transcript. His other books or programs like Unleash The Power Within may cover the same material but I haven't listened to them so I don't know for sure. From his site they are pretty expensive but on amazon they are very reasonable. I can lend you my copy if you want. He does a great job describing the way we make up rules based on experiences, and how to reset those rules. His style may not be for everyone, he's really intense but I recommend you just try to stick it out and try to get used to it. He's got a lot of great insight in behaviour.
2 - The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal. This is an amazing resource for understanding your auto pilot (she calls it your 'monitor' I think). If you skip Tony Robbins don't skip this one. You can even get the audiobook forfree using my link to audible.
Others Books (don't bother with these until you've read/listened to the first two)
3. Happy Money - This outlines ways to make the most of your money.
4. Your Brain at Work - How your brain has limited bandwidth and you need to manage it as a resource. He suggests thinking of it as a stage, and thoughts as actors on the stage. You really need to stage manage, both by limiting what is in front of you and practicing mindfulness/meditation to have better control over thought selection (ignore distractions)
5. Happiness Hypothesis - a great book that outlines the tension between pilot and auto-pilot, he describes us as an elephant and a rider. I love this analogy but didn't have time to explain it in the video above.
6. Time Wars - This was the first book I read that pointed out that the most important thing in our lives is the predictions of the future we think of or that other people tell us. They dictate everything. When I read it at first I thought he was crazy, now it seems so obvious, and it seems like something everyone needs to be made aware of.
And of course Links to the previous posts
Links to Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4
I just realized I forgot to mention mental shortcuts that the auto-pilot uses. These are called cognitive biases. Check out this short list and check out this long list.
And I forgot to mention the concept of mental junk food. Just like you watch what you eat you need to watch what you spend your time thinking about. So many companies are competing for your attention you need to watch out for this more than ever. An interesting book on the topic is Distracted, another one available on Audible.com
This recent TED talk 'What I Learned From 100 Days of Rejection' seemed like one of the most impactful and useful. I feel like his fear of rejection is quite common and what he's learned and shared could really turn people's lives around.
Check it out!!
1. Get a no fee bank account
2. Get the best rewards credit card you can
3. Set up an investment account (use low fee index funds to start)
These might not sound like much but they are some easy first steps to ensure you're not wasting money, missing opportunities to gain money, and to start saving for the future.
When it comes to money there are only two categories of things you can do:
a) Spend Less
b) Earn More
These three steps will help you do this but to be successful at this or at anything you'll have to keep at it, all day everyday. This is hard for two reasons:
a) We think about motivation totally wrong
b) There are legions of people spending trillions of dollars trying to make us make bad decisions that benefit them rather than ourselves
I'm not anti-capitalism I'm all for it, but for it to work we the consumers need to make more of an effort to make good decisions. Literally, in order for a market economy to function, in order for the best products to succeed it requires the consumers to make the best decisions possible, but we don't have the capacity to process all of the information (see Homo economicus). And I'm not saying I'm the only person that has cracked the code on human motivation, there's just a lot of research out there with counterintuitive findings that haven't made their way into our general knowledge yet.
So the goal of this site is to help everyone with these two issue. The lists of things you can do are intended to turn into resources to let people share what the best solutions to issues they've tried to solve (better decisions). And I'll have a section where we can build a better mental model of why we do what we do. We can use the latest research and all of our experiences to come up with something we can all keep in mind when trying to make decisions or achieve goals, some rules of thumb to help us make better predictions of how to avoid procrastinating or doing things we know are bad for us.
I plan to have a pretty solid start on writing out a summary of all I've found so far on the topic compiled into one concept you can visualize, but for now I'll just talk about the most important factor, Your Reason Why.
This may sound overly simplistic, but this is it, this is the main factor in success or failure. If you have a compelling enough reason why it will help you resist or ignore other distractions, and keep trying. This is the second important factor, the willingness to try and keep trying. You're going to fail, you're going to screw up, no one is going to just achieve something without any slip ups or any problems, you'll need to not get too upset with yourself and just keep trying.
So that's it for this post, the most important things to focus on are your Why and committing to Try.
I wanted you to do the first 3 items before we got here because this is where people can loose interest or go off thinking about their why and never nail it down.
I read something similar to this post 20 years ago, and I didn't think much of it. The advice was in the introduction to an investing course. It was to stop and take the time to figure out exactly what your goals are, exactly what house you want, what car you want, how much money you want to make, the life you want to live, the things you want to be able to do. I thought about it a bit but I skipped the step, I just thought I want to make as much money as possible, and I thought it was something I could come back to. I don't know that the exercise was perfect, but over the last twenty years I've come to see that it is your why that will determine if you stick with something or not. If your reason is not compelling, if it doesn't invoke strong emotions then your drive will tend to fizzle out, your time will be divided. And as I said, there are legions of people spending trillions of dollars and every hour of every day trying to figure out how to make you make bad decisions, decisions that benefit their shareholders rather than you. If you benefit that is irrelevant, they are legally obligated to do everything in their power to benefit their shareholders, even if that mean breaking the law. As long as the fine is less than the profit they are obligated to do it. Think of those Panama Papers where companies do mostly legal tax evasion, some illegal. It's more illegal for them not to try to avoid paying taxes. I don't want to end this on too negative of a note, I just want to let people know that the deck is stacked against them to make bad decisions, and to not beat themselves up over any setbacks. Commit to keep trying.
Click here for a follow up post to these 4 steps with a video.
Here's one of my favourite stories about what you can accomplish is you commit to trying.