May 12th, 2013 · No Comments
March 27th, 2013 · No Comments
This week I really enjoyed listening to Don MacDonald’s talk on Machiavelli. Having read Machiavelli in the past, I fully agree with his conclusions that Machiavelli was no evil genius, but rather at best a pragmatic political observer, who himself was far from Machiavellian.
February 21st, 2013 · No Comments
It seems so simple, yet we rarely practice it: Master a particular activity, then move on to the next. Integrate individual learnings together. Not much to it, but it’s true, if you want to succeed doing it all at once will not work. However, getting one facet of what you do to be executed nearly automatically, then maintaining it and focusing on another facet, is a slow but sure way to gain all around competence. Think about driving, for example, if you are an experienced driver, driving even once a month is sufficient to maintain basic proficiency, but what if you were just learning to drive and were driving once a month? I assure that you would not learn how to drive no matter how much you drive. It works the same way for just about any skill. But what about subdividing it further? What if you just practiced a particular element of driving before moving on to the next? It would be easier to achieve mastery in that element a lot faster. This is precisely the technique that best coaches, trainers and instructors use in their practice.
Focusing on execution, good follow through, is another key element. It is not relevant if you hit the hoop 8 out of 10 times if you do it without consistent technique. So, good training focuses on executing the process variables consistently, and as, process variables stabilizes, so should the outcome. Finally, we need a consistent external feedback mechanism, one that will give us the truth but encourage us along the way. Without truth, it is not really feedback, but without encouragement we will likely soon quit.
These concepts are so counter-intuitive We don’t want to work on the elements. We want it all, and we want it now. We don’t want to invest in a coach, but would rather do it on our own. And hence, rarely do we reach the levels of performance that we claim to want. I am working on changing this aspect of my life – surrounding myself with coaches and other feedback mechanisms; doing fewer things, but doing them well; making sure I got the process down and letting outcomes take care of themselves. If you can help me stay on track with this, let me know.
February 3rd, 2013 · No Comments
Over the last couple months I have been working on my presentation skills. Theatrical classes in Russia are a great bargain. I learned how to carry myself, breathe and speak properly, had a ton of coaching on my intonation, non-verbal communication, posture, etc for a tiny fraction of what similar coaching would cost me in US.
You know this stuff is working when your management goes from saying that this will be a waste of time to saying that its best progress they have seen in anyone in such a short time. This really needs to be a part of curriculum for every young person growing up.
January 31st, 2013 · No Comments
Sometimes I feel like there is a need to reboot the way we live. So many basic functions in our life we have learned to do in a very haphazard way, without considering best practices or ever revisiting what we learned. Yet, basic skills, such as health and fitness: breathing, body motion, eating healthily, etc; or emotional and artistic skills that allow ourselves to be successful socially like speech, listening, dancing, drawing, writing; or mental skills that allow us to solve life’s problems, such as, root cause analysis, network modeling, innovative problem solving and financial understanding; or even spiritual skills of fellowship, meditation, thanksgiving, praise; often go untaught. Perhaps worst of all, most people learn how to learn in the same haphazard way, so they have no habits necessary to change the way they learn. Such simple learning mechanisms, as feedback, evaluation, mastering one element at a time, reflection and self-assessment are not a part of everyday practice for vast majority of adults.
I have noticed a significant impact in my own life from learning things like breathing. You’d think we all know how to breathe, but after my theatrical classes, I could not only more effectively project and carry my voice, but shaved 10 points off my heart rate while on a treadmill. My entire quality of life changed because I could breathe more effectively: I could run longer, communicate more effectively, feel more awake and energetic. And the amazing part is that it took me less than a couple weeks to get comfortable with this new way of breathing. Even adding up the whole time I consciously thought about it, I spent far less than half an hour to learn this new skill.
So, if benefits are so great and costs are so low, why are we not doing it? I am hoping to answer that question and then possibly build a business around it. Let me know your ideas on what you think is the answer.