You can’t choose to be perfect on your own

We do not have the self-contained ability to be perfect. Does our agency give us the ability to be perfect? No. It might technically give us the option, but it does not give us the power nor the knowledge.

Could Peter have chosen not to doubt when he started to sink? Technically yes, but he didn’t. And I think he really couldn’t have. He is human. He is weak. His lack of strength made him lack the drive to choose perfect faith in that moment.

Christ, when he was born, was not complete nor perfect. But, he lacked all of our inherent weaknesses and had within him every possible strength. At least the strength of perfectly relying on God. And in that strength, he only made right choices.

You will make mistakes. Remember that because you are weak, a human, and NOT a God, mistakes are inevitable. As you rely on God and continue to strive to make better choices, you will be more able to avoid mistakes. But until you are perfect they will always be there. Not because you are wicked and malicious, but because you are human. There are moments when your agency will not be enough to overcome your frailty and you will do wrong.

You can build up strength now through prayer and effort to avoid some future mistakes, but the best strategy is to not let past mistakes bother you, instead use your energy to repair the damage and to prevent future errors.

My son, perhaps technically, has the right to choose to speak perfectly, but not the ability nor the knowledge. He has no external restriction placed upon him, only internal. 

We can’t just choose to be perfect. We can choose to rely on god, and then his knowledge and power will help us to slowly go through our metamorphosis. To use this cocoon of life and hardship, and to emerge as something greater.

Booyah!

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Do you like or share without actually reading? 

Why do people “like” articles without reading them? They read the title, or see the featured meme, and just give it a like without knowing the full extent of what they have just promoted.

I had one blog post for which I used a cute meme for the featured image and I noticed that it got many more likes than the blog post where I simply posted a link alone without a picture. I think many, on first glance, thought I was only sharing a meme. And therefore liked it.

I was excited that so many had liked the last post, but I didn’t want them to like the cute cartoon, I wanted them to read the blog post! So I decided I’d rather have less interactions that are more meaningful. People don’t mistake it for a meme if the picture on my blog post has no words.

I don’t want my blog post to get shared through the like-osphere and never get actually read!

I fear that that happens a lot. People like and share articles based on the picture or title alone and most don’t read the article itself. This blog post about Bernie Sanders becoming president through a weird loophole talks all about this.

You can chart out a whole network of people who shared that article and only a tiny percentage read it. How many articles suffer the same fate?

Don’t be a shallow sharer. Share less. Read more. Think more. Social Media is shallow enough. Dive deep. Learn more. Then share only what is truly valuable.

Go forth and be epic!

Booyah.

How to keep working when you feel burned out

I have a theory that there are (at least) 2 types of work. This theory has been stewing in my head for a few months, and I’ve recently tried putting it into effect. I think it works for me!

The first type is more commonly known and understood. I’ll call it exhale work. It’s when you put forth outward work, expelling energy and effort out from within yourself to some external thing. Hammering in a nail, speaking on a phone call, or typing up a report are all forms of this exhale work.

But often I’ll have times where I have a super productive 4 hours and get a lot done, but dang I need a break! Even after a 15 minute break or a 30 minute lunch, my brain is still sore.

So what do I do? I can’t just take the rest of the day off. That next report is due soon! It’s like I’ve just let out a very long breath and now I need to breath in!

The same can happen with creative work. You can only output so much before you need more input. And you can only breath in (read or watch shows) so much before you have to breath out again (write/create).

That creative analogy holds the key. I can’t have my output be writing fiction and my input is eating a sandwich (that had a very different output). Therefore I can’t expect to output research reports if my input is a YouTube video.

Now legitimate breaks have their time and place (hey man, I didn’t say the breathing metaphor was perfect). Sometimes you need to be not working at all (that’s why it’s the law to have two 15 minute breaks and one  30 minute lunch in a standard 8 hour work day), but I’m talking about something else. I’m talking about eating calories before you output physical effort. I’m talking about reading the minutes before planning the next meeting, I’m talking about casually reviewing your boss’s comments on your report before revising it.

I’m talking about inputting the raw data into myself, in a calm and stress-free fashion, with no thought of output but only thought of input. 

It’s the type of work that keeps you at the station, it uses less energy as you’re trying to recover, and it helps you keep your momentum, like jogging or walking for a few minutes when you are out on a long run.

You have to know the difference between inhale work, exhale work, a break, and a false progress activity.

The other day I thought I was doing a type of inhale work but was really doing a false progress activity. I was working on one report and didn’t want to use my brain, so I decided to just make tons of charts to “get started.” It took me hours. It turns out that when I make a conscious and strategic decision of how to present all of the data (what to not include at all, what to mention in a simple sentence, and what to put in a chart) that the work is harder mentally, but much shorter. I make real progress on outputting the report.

I have to make sure that my working breaks are motivated by exhaustion rather than laziness. When I try to be lazy, I waste time making fifty charts when I only needed ten. And if I needed some inhale work? I should have just read the unfiltered data and wrote the report later.

So, when you’ve been outputting a lot and you feel like you need to breath, the breath. Find what the intake when is for that task, and do it. If you need a break, take it. Trying to output all the time will kill you. You’ve got to breath in.

Now for me, and I am writing this at 11:16 at night, which is late for a dad. And I need a break break before I can exhale any more life.

Booyah!

Debating the value of an idea or belief is not debating the value of the person who holds it.

Some people are willing to separate themselves from their ideas, while others are not.

I have some acquaintances who are easy to discuss differences of opinion with, because they don’t take it personally. Others get frustrated when I question an idea. I don’t necessarily question because I disagree, but because I want to view it from all angles and want to see if there are any holes in the idea. They see it as a personal attack.

Most people are not interested in truth but only in confirming what they believe.

People should be willing to place their beliefs on the altar of truth and then sacrifice it if the belief proves unworthy. Like Abraham and Isaac, you might not have to, but sometimes you will. You must be willing to leave behind false, broken, or incomplete ideas if they fail to pass the test of truth.

But the world is full of people with confirmation bias. They only want echo chambers.

Facebook and the current election are great examples of that. Facebook will show you that which you are most likely to like and interact with and that which matches what you say in your posts and what your search for on the web (and peeps usually search for things to confirm their beliefs, not offer an alternate perspective). Therefore everyone thought their favorite would win because “everyone on Facebook says so and agrees with me!” Facebook is flooded that way. Google too.

Am I wrong?

These three words have been vital to my growth. To constantly ask myself this has helped me to keep an open mind, to discard weak beliefs, and to keep and strengthen those that can stand the test of analysis of the evidence time and time again.

Rather than taking offense and shouting and declaring that my education or some vague authority makes me right (my argument not my authority should make me right instead, but I know people who do such blanket appeals to authority), I try to be open to the ideas and arguments of others.

I try to provide all foundations and steps of my argument so people don’t have to make leaps of logic or leaps of faith to accept my conclusions.

And I try to not take criticism of my ideas personally. Every false belief rejected is not a tragedy but a triumph, for you are now one step closer to the truth.

Boo yah!

-Thomas

How to overcome getting overwhelmed and work efficiently

I sometimes have a problem with getting overwhelmed and feeling anxious about all that I have to do. Over time, I’ve come up with these ludicrously simple (and ludicrously difficult for someone who has a hard time focusing) rules and tools.

Here are my rules of efficiency:

1: Focus on one task at a time

Focus on one task at a time, work on it for at least 30 minutes (use a timer, it helps) or when you need someone else’s input, then make the contact (in person, set up a meeting, make a call, or send an email).

2: Focus on a task for at least fifteen minutes to get momentum

I find that if I focus on one task for at least fifteen minutes, I get into the groove and the rest of the time comes much easier.

3: List all projects and subtasks, put aside and focus

List all projects and sub-tasks needed to get those projects done. Put this list aside when focusing on 1 task (this helps keep you from feeling confused and overwhelmed because you won’t have to remember it all, there is a list!).

4: Multiply expected time by 2 or 3

Assume that everything will take 2-3 times as long as your first impression. Don’t commit the planning fallacy!

5: Listen to non-distracting music

Listen to wordless, calm music like this meditation track (it must be music that will help drown out distractions but won’t be a distraction itself).

5: Wait to check texts or emails

Do not check texts or emails until you are between tasks.

6: Take breaks

Take short breaks (5-10 minutes) every hour or two and long breaks (15-30 minutes) every three or four  hours.

7: Spend 5 minutes pre-task getting pumped up

Spend 5 minutes before each working session to plan, visualize, brainstorm, understand and get pumped up for what you are going to work on next, write this in a paragraph or two on paper. It helps you to get in the mindset.  (Thanks to Rachel Aaron for this glorious tip!

8: Be patient with yourself

Some days you can’t do it all. Forgive yourself. You’ll have to shorten your list and simplify your life as you go along. But if you stress about everything you have to do, the guilt will make you explode!

There you go! Quit lying to yourself about your ability to multitask. You can’t. Become a monotasker (someone who can actually focus). Quit stressing out about all that you have to do, and do one thing at a time. You’ll get a lot more done.

You can do it!

Booyah!

-Thomas

Note: Article Updated Mon Dec 5 2016

Facebook and Google are putting you in a bubble

Someone on the radio the other day (NPR, perhaps?) pointed out that some groups think that the whole country is going to vote for their favorite presidential candidate while polls show that only about 20% of people are considering them.

Why? Because:

Facebook and Google, in their efforts to show content which they think we would like, show us more of the type of content we interact with. Therefore, they are creating pocket bubble cultures where beliefs are never questioned and reinforced within the group.

This makes people think “The whole world agrees with me! Everyone on Facebook is saying the same thing!”

Not only does this affect what people think most of the world believes, but it makes it more and more difficult to encounter and consider differing viewpoints. This is strongly related to confirmation bias. “Confirmation bias, or Positive Bias is the tendency to look for evidence that confirms a hypothesis, rather than disconfirming evidence.”

Check out this video real quick and see if you can solve the riddle:

 

Google and Facebook take advantage of this, feeding us articles that we read more, like more, share more. They tailor what we see to be more to what we’ll interact with. And we’re more likely to seek out and interact with things which agree with us. And that’s no way to progress, to learn more.

To conclude, here’s a quote from the Veritasium video above, he says:

“The scientific method is to set out to disprove your theory, and when you can’t disprove it, that’s when you know you’re getting to something really true about our reality.”