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Trying to keep trying harder

Feeling stalled is a dangerous perspective. We have to see the possibilities and not the obstacles. Or see the obstacles as possibilities.

Seth's Blog: Effort, 2016-Jul-12 by Seth Godin

Usually, what we do is, "try our best under the circumstances."

So, you're getting good service, but if the CEO's daughter was here, you can bet she'd be getting better service.

So, you're running hard as you train, but you can bet that if you were approaching the finish line at the Olympics, you'd be running harder.

The trick: don't redefine trying. Redefine the circumstances.

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How telling better stories can make us happier

We are hearing more and more reasons to develop our storytelling skills. This article includes quite a few helpful tips. 

Wall Street Journal: Why Good Storytellers Are Happier in Life and in Love, 2016-July-4 by Elizabeth Bernstein

Tell stories of the past, present and future. Highlighting great memories or successes that you had together in the past helps you reconnect. Narrating recent events that have happened to you, or telling a story about a challenge you are facing, helps illuminate what matters to you. Weaving a story of a future event as you’d like it to happen—a vacation, a child’s wedding, the dance at your 60th anniversary party—can help you visualize what you want for your relationship.

Include your emotions. Show, don’t tell. (“She was wearing a red silk dress and my palms got sweaty.”) “Details can unlock the emotional truths that until now were never spoken out loud,” says Lauren Dowden, a social worker at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine’s Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center, as well as a Second City alumna and teacher. She runs a storytelling group for couples where one partner has Alzheimer’s.

Conversely, good stories avoid certain things—cliché, digression, saying too much, not saying enough, lack of attention to the audience and preachiness

Practice. Storytelling is an art form, like playing the piano or creating a garden, says Dr. Winter, the literary critic. “You can start with something simple and it might be satisfying, but it might not be as good or as true as it can be.”

Dr. Winter suggests the three Rs: Reflect on the events. Refine what they meant to you. Read. “Learn from the masters,” she says. 

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Why getting to NO is a better start than fishing for a YES, via Chris Voss

We can enjoy a terrific interview with Chris Voss published by Talks at Google. Chris is the reigning educator on negotiating skills, and his book is Never Split the Difference

  • Yes is a commitment, no is protection (not a problem, just a good beginning)
  • Make your counterpart (not adversary!) feel safe, and they grow more creative
  • Hesitate and let your counterpart think
  • Don't ask for a 'few minutes to talk,' instead say... 'is now a bad time to talk'?
  • Summarize the other person's point of view, even if it's not in your favor. Get them to say 'That's right' because that means they know you've recognized their interests. Now you have a shared truth.

And so much more, and it's fun as well as informative. 

 


The more important a change is, the more time we ought to be willing to give it.

Seth Godin is very good at reminding people to keep going even though they are not yet seeing results.  (I highly recommend The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick)

Recently he reminded us that we can't reason our way into cultural change. No matter how good the reasoning, we have to expect slow change based on our commitment. If we trust our reasons we have to trust that time is on our side. We have to be role models and cheerleaders and analysts, and we have to figure out how to sustain ourselves. 

Seth's Blog: The Flip is Elusive, 2016-Jul-14 by Seth Godin

If you want to change people's minds, you need more than evidence. You need persistence. And empathy. And mostly, you need the resources to keep showing up, peeling off one person after another, surrounding a cultural problem with a cultural solution. 

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Understanding irrational behaviors

What I love about Daniel Kahneman is that he's opened our eyes to the fact that just because behavior is irrational, doesn't mean we can't understand it. We CAN understand and control irrational behavior, and we don't have to control all of it... Just the part that's doing us harm. I recently discovered the writings of Chris Dillow, who's applying the principles to politics. What a relief.

Stumbling and Mumbling: Cognitive biases, ideology & control, 2016-July-3 by Chris Dillow

If people are subject to cognitive biases when they have big incentives to be right – when they are investing their own money – mightn’t the same be true in politics, where their incentives are less sharp? 

Some experimental research suggests the answer is: yes.

Some of these experiments have been done by Kris-Stella Trump at Harvard. She split money between subjects in different ways and then asked them what they thought would have been a fair division. She found that those who got a very unequal split thought that the fair division should also have been unequal. Those who got a more equal division said that a fair division would have been equal.

This suggests that as inequality increases, our perception of what’s fair becomes more unequal. That causes people to accept inequality. This is an example of a wider cognitive bias – the anchoring effect. 

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