How to connect with others

Strong connections with others form friendships and friendships require four basic building blocks.

  1. Proximity = distance between you and the individual.
  2. Frequency = the number of interactions you have.
  3. Duration = length of time with the individual.
  4. Intensity = degree of satisfying their psychological and/or physical needs.

The golden rule of friendships is to make people feel good about themselves. To do that use empathetic statements to express that you see the world through their eyes. Other useful tools include using compliments, ideally trying to get the person to compliment themselves. Also seeking commonalities help people feel they are “normal” and you are similar to them, so have a similar worldview.

For verbal behaviour, remember LOVE

  • Listen = eye contact, don’t interrupt, parrot back what they say.
  • Observe = interpret their body language and look for meaning behind their words.
  • Vocalise = Don’t call people out, elevate their status by using compliments, ask about them.
  • Empathise = use empathetic statements to appear that you see the world through their eyes.

To develop short-term relationships to long term caring think CARE.

  • Compassion = show that you care about their life and challenges.
  • Active listening = use verbal and non-verbal nudges to keep them talking, focus on what they are saying, compliment them on good points and suggestions.
  • Reinforcement = reinforce positive attention on them.
  • Empathy = show that you see the world through their eyes.

Lastly, remember Dale Carnegie’s advice on getting people to like you.

  1. Become genuinely interested in them.
  2. Smile.
  3. Use their name.
  4. Listen, encourage them to talk.
  5. Talk in terms of their interests.
  6. Make them feel important.

 

SuperConnect: How the best connections in business and life are the ones you least expect by Richard Koch & Greg Lockwood

Weak links

The book offers a differing perspective to networking and connecting. The conventional idea is that strong links (friends/family) are the most important, but the authors suggest that individuals or organisations that rely on a multitude of weak links will prosper the most.

Typically those who are the most successful have an unusually large and varied assortment of friendly acquaintances who they maintain frequent but irregular contact with.

The main way we can build and maintain a large repertoire of excellent weak links is to keep a broad circle of friendly acquaintances and to be open to new people or worlds while continually thinking – at a patient, submerged level – how they might be relevant to our aspirations.

Meeting weak links

Beside just being open and serendipitous to new acquaintances we can use other tactics to meet new people. There are three ways we can do this.

  1. Deliberate immersions – getting a new job, new hobby, joining a new club, volunteering.
  2. Strategic positioning – going to places where there is plenty of opportunities for random contact with new people – walking your dog, sitting on a park bench, becoming a regular at a bar or coffee shop.
  3. Existing contacts – ask your existing contacts if they know people who might be interesting, revive old friendships and acquaintances.

Hubs

One of the most powerful ways to forge weak links is through being part of a hub. A hub is a collection of people who work together to strengthen the hub. The most frequent hub you probably inhabit is your work one. Through your work you meet new people and form collections with them. However, particularly if your work hub is small, your work hub obviously restricts your ability to create lots of weak inks. Therefore, once you have learnt the key skills from your job and created as many weak links as possible, you should then join another hub. Through the process of “hub hopping” you can create an endless supply of weak links, which may prove invaluable. Hub hopping doesn’t just have to be for work, you can also hub hop across hobbies, across bars and restaurants you frequent, and across clubs you are part of.

Spreading ideas

Lastly, if you ever get into a position where you want to spread a new idea, operate on both sides of the equation – the benefits of the new idea, and the effort to understand it. Increase the benefits and make them obvious. Cut the energy required to grasp the new idea. Simplify it. Compress it into a soundbite.

Why Don’t We Learn From History by B.H Liddell Hart

The object of history is truth. History can show us the direction, but not detailed information about the road signs. However, history does a good job showing us what to avoid – by showing us the most common mistakes that mankind is apt to make and to repeat. Additionally, history allows us to learn from other people’s experiences, as Polybius said “…the knowledge gained from the study of true history is the best of all educations in life.”

Below is a selection of quotations from the book which I found helpful.

A shrewd committeeman often develops a technique based on his time calculation. He will defer his own intervention in the discussion until lunchtime is near, when the majority of the others are more inclined to accept any proposal that sounds good enough to enable them to keep their lunch engagement.

Many documents are written to deceive or conceal. Moreover, the struggles that go on behind the scenes, and largely determine the issue, are rarely recorded in documents.

Misstatement can be more easily spotted in sentences that are crystal clear than those that are cloudy.

The way of approach is simple, if not easy – requiring, above all, constant self-criticism and care for precise statement.

The path of truth is paved with critical doubt and lighted by the spirit of objective inquiry.

If you can doubt at points where other people feel no impulse to doubt, then you are making progress.

We learn that nothing has aided the persistence of falsehood, and the evils resulting from it, more than the unwillingness of good people to admit the truth when it is disturbing to their comfortable assurance.

Ambitious officers when they came in sight of promotion to the generals’ list, would decide they would bottle up their thoughts and ideas, as a safety precaution, until they reached the top and could put these ideas into practice. Unfortunately the usual result, after years of such self-repression for the sake of their ambition, was that when the bottle was eventually uncorked the contents had evaporated.

I found that moral courage was quite rare in the top levels of the services as among politicians. It is also a surprise to me to find that those who had shown the highest degree of physical courage tended to be those who were most lacking in moral courage.

In my experience the troubles of the world largely come from excessive regard to other interests.

Loyalty is a noble quality, so long as it is not blind and does not exclude the higher loyalty to truth and decency.

Truth may not be absolute, but it s certain that we are likely to come nearest to it if we search for it in a purely scientific spirit and analyse the facts with complete detachment from all loyalties save that to truth itself.

The most dangerous error is failure to recognise our own tendency to error.

The pretence to infallibility is instinctive in a hierarchy. But to understand the cause is not to underrate the harm that the pretence has produced – in every sphere.

Hence it is better that ability should consent to its own sacrifice, and subordination to the regime of mediocrity, rather than assist in establishing a regime where, in light of past experience, brute stupidity will be enthroned and ability may preserve its footing only at the price of dishonesty.

The thinking man must be against authoritarianism in any form.

Success increasingly depends on individual initiative, which in turn springs from a sense of personal responsibility – these senses are atrophied by compulsion.

Realism should be combined with foresight – to see one or two moves ahead.

Any constructive effort and all human relations – personal, political, and commercial – depend on being able to depend on promises.

It is immoral to make promises that one cannot in practice fulfil – in the sense that the recipient expects.

Deepening study of past experience leads to the conclusion that nations might often have come near to their object by taking advantage in a lull in the struggle to discuss a settlement than by pursuing the war with the aim of “victory.”

If you find your opponent in a strong position costly to force, you should leave him a line of retreat – as the quickest way of loosening his resistance.

Avoid self-righteousness like the devil – nothing is so self-binding.

An intellectual ought to realise the extent to which the world is shaped by human emotions, emotions uncontrolled by reason.

Opposition to the truth is inevitable, especially if it takes the form of a new idea.

Avoid a frontal attack on a long-established position; instead, seek to turn it by flank movement, so that a more penetrable side is exposed to the thrust of truth.

Various fresh ideas gained acceptance, it can be seen that the process was eased when they could be presented not as something radically new but as the revival in modern terms of a time-honoured principle or practice that had been forgotten.

A model boy rarely goes far, and even when he does he is apt to falter when severely tested. A boy who conforms immaculately to school rules is not likely to grow into a man who will conquer by breaking the stereotyped professional rules of his time.

Manners are apt to be regarded as a surface polish. That is a superficial view. They arise from an inward control. A fresh realisation of their importance is needed in the world today, and their revival might prove the salvation of civilisation.

The West has tended to emphasise the virtue of the positive – “whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.” The East has emphasised the virtue of the negative – “do not unto others what you would not they should do unto you.” Both the positive and the negative are essential.

Bad means deform the end.

If we take care of the means, the end will take care of itself.

The smallest permanent enlargement of men’s thought is a greater achievement, and ambition, than the construction of something material that crumbles.

Collective growth is possibly only through the freedom and enlargement of individual minds.

(What can one learn from history)

Not what to do but what to strive for. And what to avoid in striving. The importance and intrinsic value of behaving decently. The importance of seeing clearly – not least of seeing himself clearly. To face life with clear eyes – desirous to the truth – and to come through it with clean hands, behaving with consideration for others, while achieving such conditions as enable a man to get the best out of life, is enough for ambition – and a high ambition. Only as a man progresses toward it does he realise what effort it entails and how large is the distance to go. 

He has to learn how to detach his thinking from his behaviour with every desire and interest, from every sympathy and antipathy – like ridding oneself of superfluous tissue, the “tissue” of untruth which all human beings tend to accumulate for their own comfort and protection.

Connections and systems

One of the main abilities we must develop is being able to connect things together. We must be able to do that to form systems. A system is a set of interacting or independent component parts forming a complex or intricate whole. Everything in existence is made up of parts joining together to form a whole, that whole is then just another part of an even bigger whole. Therefore, in all areas of our life we should make links to interconnect separate parts to form systems.

A causal system is when A→B. If you manipulate A you change B.

Causal systems aren’t good ways of thinking because they are massive simplifications and don’t account for inter-connectedness and feedback loops. Causal systems are created by reductionism which break systems down and simplify then by artificially restricting components to make observable repeatable experiences.

Holistic thinking is the opposite of causal thinking because it concerns itself with concentrating on the wholes rather than just the parts. The problem with holistic thinking is how do you determine the whole. Holistic thinking starts by looking at the behaviour and nature of the whole, and if it doesn’t yield results, starts to look at the bigger whole. This is the opposite of causal thinking. The problem with holistic thinking is that our brains simplify wholes so that we can understand them. The way our brain simplifies these wholes are determined by our perspectives and worldview.

  1. Therefore, we must be clear and explicit about our own point of view.
  2. We must make a serious effort to see systems through other people’s eyes.
  3. We can also look for unintended consequences of systems by looking at everything the system produces and assume an unintended consequence is its purpose.

Our perspective refers to how things look from our current position and our worldview refers to how we see the world, regardless of our current position. Therefore, it is possible to gain additional perspectives, but harder to change our worldview. To simplify a system without reducing the connectedness involves regarding it in a more abstract fashion. We must then bring the system back to reality again, potentially using reductionism. We must first identify the boundary which separates the system from its environment and then seek to understand how individual components look from within the system.

 

 

Lessons from Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arnold Schwarzenegger is one of my biggest inspirations, why? Because he  achieved almost everything he set out to achieve.

  • He was born in a small Austrian town in a year of famine at the end of World War II. He grew up in a small house with no shower, no plumbing, and no flushing toilet, just a chamber pot, with the nearest well a quarter of a mile away.
  • By the age of twenty-one, he was living in Los Angeles and had been crowned Mr. Universe.
  • Within five years, he had learned English and was the greatest bodybuilder in the world.
  • Within ten years, he had earned a college degree and was a millionaire.
  • Within twenty years, he was the world’s biggest movie star and husband of Maria Shriver (member of one of the most prestigious families in America).
  • Within thirty-six years of moving to Los Angeles, he was elected Governor of California.

Clearly Schwarzenegger is someone everyone can learn from. He achieved extremely high levels of success in three different fields: bodybuilding, movies, and politics. Thankfully, over his life, Schwarzenegger has distilled some of the lessons he’s learnt.

  • Turn you liabilities into assets – Arnold had an unusual name, body and accent, for many that would have been a barrier, but in the end, when Arnold broke through, all three made him memorable.
  • When someone says no, you should hear yes – very few things are actually impossible to achieve. You should place trust in yourself, the only way to achieve the impossible is to try the impossible. If you fail, in the grand scheme of things, it really doesn’t matter.
  • Never follow the crowd, go where it is empty – most people are very unambitious, if you try to reach the top, you’ll be surprised how easy it is to get there because most people only concentrate on low level activities. It’s always easier to stand out when you aim straight for the top.
  • No matter what you do in life, selling is part of it – you have to make people aware of what you are doing.

Like most successful people, Schwarzenegger has met many successful people in his life and he has learnt lessons from them. Below is a list of ten lessons he has distilled from his experiences and that of others.

  1. Never let pride get in your way.
  2. Don’t overthink – it slows you down, trust in yourself.
  3. Forgot plan B – don’t compromise, if you fail it doesn’t matter.
  4. You can use outrageous humour to settle a score – humour is surprisingly effective at resolving situations.
  5. The day has twenty-four hours – don’t waste your time, you have to stay busy to achieve a lot.
  6. Reps, reps, reps – consistent repetition is the only way to get good at anything.
  7. Don’t blame your parents – a harsh upbringing can make you become more ambitious, take responsibility for your life.
  8. Change takes big balls – act in the face of fear, make changes which will achieve long-term results.
  9. Take care of your body and mind – all you have is your body and brain, therefore invest in yourself to strengthen both.
  10. Stay hungry – keep moving forward, when you achieve something, start working towards something else immediately, only look back on your accomplishments with pride when you are nearing death.

Managing Oneself by Peter Drucker

Peter Drucker was considered an expert on management education and is this book he focused on how individuals should manage themselves, so that they can contribute the most.

Main takeaways

Place yourself in a position where you can make the greatest contribution, learn to develop yourself, learn to stay young and mentally alive during a long working life. Learn how and when to change what you do.

Consider these five areas.

  1. Who am I? What are my strengths? How do I work?
  2. Where do I belong?
  3. What is my contribution?
  4. Am I taking responsibility for my relationships?
  5. What’s the plan for the second half of my life?

1 – What are my strengths?

Most people don’t actually know there own strengths. There is only one way to truly work out your strengths, and that is through feedback analysis. When you make a key decision, and when you do a key action, write down your expectations and then 9 to 12 months later compare the expectations to the results. After 2 or 3 years of repeating this process, you should be able to determine your strengths. From those conclusions:

  • Concentrate on your strengths – put yourself in positions where you can use strengths to produce results.
  • Identify gaps in your skills and knowledge.
  • Work on improving your strengths.
  • Identify your bad habits.
  • Identify what actions produce no results and thus what to avoid doing.

How do you learn?

Do you learn better through reading or by listening? – it will usually be one or the other.

Do you learn better by writing notes, by doing, by hearing yourself, by teaching others, on your own or with others? Do you work well with stress or do you need a structured, organised environment? Do you produce results as a decision maker or adviser?

Once you determine how you learn best, don’t try to change the way you learn, but focus hard on how you can improve your results.

What are your values?

To determine your values use the mirror test. – Ask yourself, what kind of person do you want to see when you shave yourself, or put lipstick on in the morning?

If you are in a job or situation which doesn’t align with your values, you must quit. Values are and should be the ultimate test.

2 – Where do I belong?

Answering the three questions above should tell you where you should belong. Prepare yourself for opportunities by placing yourself in positions which align with your strengths, how you learn, and your values. For knowing where you belong can turn ordinary, hard working people into outstanding performers.

3 – What is your contribution?

You should ask yourself – What should my contribution be? To help answer that question, consider where and how you can have results that make a difference. Results should be hard to achieve, but realistic. Also, the results should be meaningful, they should be visible, and, if possible, measurable.

Only when you have determined what your contribution should be, ask yourself: Does this fit my strengths? Is this what I want to do? Do I find this rewarding and stimulating?

Your contribution balances three elements –

  1. What does the situation require?
  2. How do I make the greatest contribution, with my strengths, my way of performing, my values, to what needs to be done?
  3. What results have to be achieved to make a difference?

This then leads to creating action conclusions: what to do, where to start, how to start, what goals and deadlines to set. Once you have decided what your contribution should be, you have freedom because you now have responsibility.

4 – Relationship responsibility

In life, it is very likely you are going to have to work with others, therefore you have to accept everyone is an individual just like yourself. This means other people have different strengths, ways of doing things, values, and contributions. To be effective, you should learn and cater yourself to other people’s differences.

The second thing you should do, is take responsibility for communications.Determine who needs to know this? How should I tell them? Whom do I depend on? Whom depends on me?

5 – The second part of your life

Over time people get bored, deteriorate, “retire on the job” and become a burden to themselves and to everyone around them. When/if this point is reached, it may be important to consider what you should do.

There are three answers to this dilemma.

  1. Start a second or different career.
  2. Develop a parallel career – help out at a charity or sports club etc.
  3. Become a social entrepreneur – start a non-profit, write books, coach others etc.

There is one requirement for managing the second part of your life – begin creating it before you enter it.

Top 5 regrets of the dying

“There is no excuse for anyone who is not illiterate if he is less than three thousand years old in mind.”

The quote above suggests that there is no excuse not to learn from history, however, history tends to repeat itself, and that is largely due to people not learning from the mistakes of others. Below is a list of the top five regrets of the dying, complied by Australian nurse Bronnie Ware, who spent time caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their life.

If your too ignorant to learn from the mistakes of others, then you will likely  suffer the same fate.

1 – I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me – do the things you want to do, go for your dreams. 

2– I wish I hadn’t worked so hard – spend your time on what really matters, spend time with those you love. 

3 – I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings – don’t let chemicals in your brain prevent you expressing yourself. Suppression will lead to bitterness and resentment – illness then death. 

4 – I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends – dearly treasure those who mean something to you. 

5 – I wish that I had let myself be happier – realise when you get caught up in old routines and patterns, don’t let comfort shackle you, laugh, love, live. 

Just think what a shame it would be if you reach the end of your life and you realise you’ve got the same regrets. You don’t have to make mistakes to learn from them. 

Virtues?

Virtues are the intrinsic characteristics which determine the value one has. They are traits which propel one to excellence, they are the moral skeleton which character is built on. Throughout history, the importance of virtues have been reiterated, from ancient Egypt to Benjamin Franklin. Unfortunately, today it appears that virtue development has lost it voice in society. Children aren’t taught to show courage, loyalty, develop wisdom, and be frugal. But, as Baltasar Gracián said . . .

“Virtue links all perfections and is the centre of all happiness . . . Whilst someone is alive it makes them worthy of love, when dead, of being remembered.”

Therefore, to become a person worthy of admiration, it may be a good idea to actively try to add traits into your personality.

As everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, it is important to focus on the virtues which will help you the most. Below is a list of virtues which I wish to integrate into my character.

Courage – acting in the face of fear.

Connection – connect with others, connect ideas together, and find the connections in the world to gain a holistic view of reality. 

Curiosity – lifelong approach to learning and developing knowledge, skills, and wisdom. 

Calmness – keeping composure and remaining unreactive. 

Cheerfulness – being happy and making others happy. 

Trust in oneself – trusting myself to take action when I feel confident it’s the right thing to do.

Discipline – beat the resistance.  

Transcendence – recognise the big picture perspective and act in accordance.  

Cultivating Wisdom

In very simple terms, wisdom is applied knowledge. Cultivating wisdom consists of acquiring a broad base of knowledge, understanding how the world works, understanding how you work, knowing how to act, knowing when to act, knowing when not to act, and most importantly taking the right action.

Cultivating wisdom can’t be done overnight, it takes a literal  life time. The cultivation of wisdom is an everlasting process, a never ending feed-back loop of learning, rooting out ignorance, and developing  character.

 

Transcendence/Holism?

Forgive the pretensions of those two words, in regards to this blog, both words refer to the bigger picture perspective. The biggest picture perspective. You will die, life will pass very quickly, and probably the only meaning in life is that of which you attribute to it.

Therefore, instead of psychologically denying those ideas, using avoidance-based coping strategies, or just letting those ideas brush over your head, it’s important to really thoroughly recognise the reality. Meditate on the reality and stain it into your mind, so that you can transcend the insignificant minutiae of everyday life and focus on what’s really important.

Place your focus on what’s important, learn the big ideas, see through the illusions, and get out of your own way.