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"The modern-day tribe is the company." - Simon Sinek
Love Simon's message...We wrote about his TED Talk and one of his great books awhile ago on our blog, check it out here. Simon recently sat down on the Jordan Harbinger Show to discuss how the best companies are values-based. He believes that the best way to foster this idea is to be authentic at work and at home. At Erudite Ingenuity, we are big fans of discussing authenticity, think Brene Brown, James McCrae, and Barry Schwartz. I really liked when Simon discussed how a leader must take the risk to trust first...I think many good leaders do this naturally, but if we desire to become better leaders, it is a great message for intentional growth of our leadership skills.
Simon goes on to discuss, "Why we all deserve (just) a styrofoam cup." Take a listen to Jordan's show with Simon and discover what he means. Simon's message is all about finding your "why," which incidentally is the basis of much philosophical writing and something we love to blog about. We all desire to know our why and the only way to understand what motivates us, what makes us who we are, and how to live is by looking inward.
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Is philosophy the pathway to a better work life? At Erudite Ingenuity, we believe that it is important to explore topics that might seem esoteric or unfamiliar to help you see things from a different perspective. If you read only business books in your quest to get ahead at work, you will miss out! We are big proponents of studying philosophy to change our perspectives, encourage out-of-the-box thinking, and help us perform better at work. Philosophy really is all about living well and instead of heading to the self-help section, I implore everyone to instead peruse the philosophy section of your local bookstore and discover what the great thinkers had to say about living a good life. Grab these books off the shelf and discover what I mean...
The Art of Living is a collection of Epictetus' quotes and you will be amazed at how current his thoughts are in today's world. “We are not privy to the stories behind people’s actions, so we should be patient with others and suspend judgement of them, recognizing the limits of our understanding.” - Epictetus
This is a tough read, however there are so many golden nuggets in Aristotle's philosophy that I encourage you to plod your way through. Aristotle is a bit of a misogynist, so know that up front, forgive him, and focus on his beautiful thoughts on ethics and friendship. "My best friend is the man who in wishing me well wishes it for my own sake." - Aristotle
Plato's dialogue-style writing is a great read. “I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.” - Plato
Descartes' writing may not resonate with everyone, however I purport that his standard for knowledge is noteworthy. “To know what people really think, pay attention to what they do, rather than what they say.” - Descartes
Ever since Chade-Meng Tan gave his TED Talk in 2010, compassion has become an important characteristic in the workplace. Are we comfortable discussing compassion? Webster defines compassion as "a sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it." I hope that exists in the workplace, but I am just not so sure. Maybe we have 'a sympathetic consciousness of other's distress,' probably because we can sympathize and in some cases, even empathize, with what people might be going through, but do our leaders and coworkers really have a desire to alleviate our distress? I think that some people recognize the importance of helping others alleviate distress, but how far are leaders willing to go? Oh, I so want to delve into the question of whether or not it matters if our reasons are selfless when we offer help, but that will have to wait for another day! Are compassionate leaders encouraging their teams to care about the greater good? Chade-Meng Tan tells us in his TED Talk that caring about the greater good is a key ingredient in creating a compassionate workplace. Companies that put an emphasis on caring for communities and have a passion for the greater good are quite successful at creating a workplace where people show they care about one another. Autonomy is also cited as a necessary component in creating a compassionate atmosphere. In my experience, autonomy requires a level of trust that some companies have difficulty affording to employees, but when companies let go of control and trust, people tend to flourish in their roles. Self-awareness and a focus on inner growth also plays a large role in creating a compassionate workplace. According to a recent article in the Harvard Business Review by Adam Robinson, a study of over 1000 business leaders found that leaders who led with compassion produced teams that were superior. "Teams led by compassionate leaders exhibited better intra-team collaboration, stronger commitment to the company, and far lower turnover rates than those led by less-compassionate leaders"(https://www.inc.com/adam-robinson/according-to-harvard-this-1-leadership-trait-separates-exceptional-leaders-from-rest.html). Take a listen to Chade-Meng Tan's TED Talk, he makes a compelling case for compassion and ends his talk with this wonderful quote!
"If you want others happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion." - Dalai Lama
I love quick tips about how to improve your life, don't you? I like this list because it seems so counterintuitive...Sleep More, Quit Being Nice, Play More Video Games, etc. Did the author of this article consult with my 14 year old? It does bring up some interesting points and the overall sense is that we need to relax and spend more time just being, rather than the go, go, go lifestyle we are all so committed to these days.
It is no surprise that exercise is on the list, but I had to smile when I read #8, 'Don't Trust Yourself.' It is something we don't often think about, but it is so true, we are the best liars to ourselves, aren't we? I probably lie most to myself about my eating and exercise habits. That portion was very small, so adding another dollop of whipped cream to my peach cobbler won't ruin my diet. I ran three days last week, so I only have to run once this week. You can probably relate, right? The last two made me laugh out loud, I definitely need to take myself less seriously, smile more, and laugh! Give this article a read.
It is always a good reminder to practice daily habits, check out this article. I especially like to rise early, it is always refreshing how much more can be done when establishing a morning routine. I have struggled with following the Pareto Principle, it seems like each year I remind myself to once again focus my efforts on the aspects of my business that produce the greatest results. So, this month, I am asking myself which 20% of my efforts are producing the best results. Another habit that I would add to this list is developing an understanding that we learn by doing, so getting our content out there or producing a work product is more important than tweaking and tweaking and never actually producing anything.
One of my favorite authors and Ted Talkers! Brene Brown is inspirational, funny, and real. I was perusing our blog posts and realized I had never posted this amazing TED Talk. In 2011, Brene Brown's video went viral after she exposed how being vulnerable is a necessary component of finding happiness and joy. It really resonates with me because I think that our 'go-to' is often to respond with fear, instead of with "courage, compassion, and connection." Brown's words in this talk are so powerful and she really hits on the notion that our courage and willingness to be vulnerable is what opens us up to a life filled with joy. I have to say that vulnerability has never really sat well with me, I like words like strength, power, resilience, etc. The idea that being vulnerable was the surefire pathway to finding happiness and joy sounds counterintuitive to me. Brown's examination of this subject is compelling and convincing, she frankly discusses how she pushed back on the notion of becoming vulnerable and found that letting vulnerability in led to a fuller and happier life. Take a listen today!
One of Brene Brown's lesser known books should really be pushed to the forefront with this #TimesUp movement. She published Women & Shame in 2004, however the notion that shame shapes our behavior and damages our spirit is a timely subject.
We write quite a bit about learning and the importance of challenging oneself...We can't help it, our background is in higher ed teaching, so we love to talk learning whenever we get the chance. In this TED Talk, Bernie Dunlap revels in our "insatiable curiosity" and an "irrepressible desire to know" as driving forces of what makes us want to learn and learn and learn. Mr. Dunlap's talk is inspiring and concludes with these wise words from Mahatma Gandhi, "Learn as if you'll live forever."
As we continue our exploration into the importance of empowerment in the workplace, I wanted to share one of my favorite TED Talks. Amy Cuddy researches how our body language shapes who we are, she purports that one can actually "Fake it till you become it." In her research, Cuddy discovered that "Our bodies can change our minds, and our minds can change our behavior, which will ultimately lead to our behavior changing our outcomes." Her suggestion that we all practice power posing in an effort to change how we interact with others, how confident we feel, and to empower us to be our best selves is backed by her scientific experiments. Take a listen...
We recently went on a short weekend holiday to Hilton Head Island, SC. Hilton Head is a wonderful place to relax, the focus is simply on family fun and beach time. One morning after a beach run, I perused the books at the hotel boutique and picked up Sh#t Your Ego Says by James McCrae. After quickly reading the back cover, I knew this was a book that would speak to me. Call it fear, call it ego, call it whatever you like, so often we allow our own minds to stop us from pursuing our dreams. James McCrae's introspective writing really delves into this topic in a fearless way. Most of you know that I love studying philosophy, so when I read McCrae's words, "Results never happen in isolation; they are a mirror reflection of our state of mind. Failure is a habit. So is success." I was hooked. (McCrae, 2017, p. 41). The word 'habit' always hearkens me back to Aristotle's famous quote, “Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” I truly love when philosophy from thousands of years ago can be related to everyday life and current topics. McCrae is purporting that in order for success to happen, we must work hard, have the right mindset, stay in the moment, and not allow the desired end goal to cloud the process. If our state of mind is on the result, we feel pressured to get to the end and our performance suffers. Essentially, our ego takes over and seeks validation for completion, not understanding the importance of enjoying the journey and remaining connected with our present state of mind, moment by moment. Similarly, Aristotle purported that we can only achieve excellence by acting appropriately each and every day. So, if excellence is achieved by acting rightly again and again, then it follows that excellence is actually a habit, not one act, but a habit. I do believe that McCrae's book makes a similar point, namely that when we remain connected with our thoughts, and do this with intention, again and again, we will achieve success by practicing good, mindful habits.
McCrae, J. (2017). Sh#t Your Ego Says. Carlsbad, CA: Hay House.
Atticus Finch said it best in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird when he stated, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…” So, how does this apply to curriculum design, you ask?
Designing a new class can be a daunting task, and the first step is to really consider the audience. We believe in spending the time getting to know the type of person that will be interested in your content, so that as you develop your curriculum, you will understand how to structure lessons to best serve your audience. Using the Backwards Design model to achieve this goal will provide the framework for your course design. The Backwards Design model focuses on the idea of mastery, so the real goal is that the student walks away with knowledge that can be implemented into real-life situations. The essence of understanding is the desired outcome, so explore with different ways to create an environment that will promote this idea of essential understanding and ultimately change the way a student engages in everyday life!
I stumbled upon this TED Talk while searching for some talks to share with my children. I was actually looking for a talk that would confirm that too much screen time is not a good idea. It is summer after all, and I am trying to encourage my children to go outside and enjoy the sun. The allure of the screens is all around us and so darn convenient. I fall prey to this as well… Do you have a question? Look it up on your phone. Need a phone number? Look it up on your phone. Want to book some travel while sitting in the passenger seat of the car? No problem, grab your iPad and book your travel while traveling! It is so easy to spend all of our time staring at a screen and you know what, sometimes it even feels productive. This talk puts things in perspective!
So I think it is pretty evident that I love TED Talks; I find them inspiring and informative. I have been following Simon Sinek for quite a while and he never fails to open my eyes to new ways of thinking. He has written many wonderful books. I particularly like ‘Start with Why,’ which provides insight into how great leaders embolden us to take action. Mr. Sinek delves into the question of why…Why do we do what we do? What makes us buy one product over another? How does our brain work when it comes to decision-making? Mr. Sinek challenges us to lead our lives by looking inward and starting with WHY.
My fascination with the question, “Should We All Be Gamers?” began when I was trying to make myself feel better that my kids liked to play video games so very much, I was desperate to find a positive in there somewhere. Hopefully their obsession with gaming would help them become smarter, better, and more accomplished; is this too much to ask? Enter Jane McGonigal and her popular TED Talk titled, 'Gaming Can Make a Better World', now I was onto something...a better world? Wow, I was only looking for some grain of hope that my kids would turn out okay if they loved video games, but this was too good to be true. Turns out it wasn't too good to be true, video games are not only very popular, they tend to develop some very important skills along the way. And gamers, well, they often have a better than average critical reasoning ability. Some researchers have even boasted that gamers are better learners because they have honed their prediction skills, meaning that they are better able to predict what might come next in the world, thereby improving their adaptive skills and reaction to new environments. I feel so much better now, I mean, perhaps I should play games too. The truth is, that is not such a bad idea, and game playing might keep my skills sharp. Ms. McGonigal has written books, given two more TED Talks and generally, been very impressive, I am a fan of her attitude and research. (@avantgame) Her podcast with Tim Ferris (@tferriss) made me believe that we could all become "stronger, happier, braver and more resilient" if we just played more games! So, full disclosure, I am not very good at games, not even the kind that require you to get off the couch...my kids laugh at my ineptness. However, according to the research, I might just have to get in the game!
Okay, so it is the first month of the year and we are all wildly trying to determine our resolutions. It feels good to make plans and promises, we are on the right track if we have established goals for each day, week, month, etc. If you are a fan of my blog, then you already know that I am all for self help stuff, I just prefer the 3,000 year old variety of help, namely the ancient philosophers. Aristotle stated, “It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth, and wisdom.” It always amazes me that most of our sage advice was written thousands of years ago…so is there anything new out there? Any new advice to start the year off right? I did a quick search on the daily habits of successful people and I must say most of it was simply a retread. Now Aristotle and Plato may not have said it quite so plainly, but the gist remains the same…Be introspective, rise early, get plenty of rest, exercise your body and mind, practice a charitable approach to life, always show gratitude, and so on, you get the idea. Continue reading
So, you decided you need a new couch...excellent, now just run off to the store and choose from the hundreds of selections or, better yet, jump on the Internet and make a selection from thousands of choices. Isn't it exhausting? The choice of a new couch is actually one of the smaller decisions you may have to make this coming year...you may be set on hiring a new employee or looking to expand one of your product lines. Perhaps you need to shift your business focus or decide how to spend your marketing dollars. Did you ever ask yourself if options really are a good thing? Is there any way to minimize our choices? Studies have shown that when we have too many options, our happiness is actually affected. Borrow a page from some of the most successful people in business; Mark Zuckerberg is often seen wearing the same outfit. Why? We have an endless supply of options, yet some of the most successful people limit their choices. Maybe Mr. Zuckerberg is onto something. Tomas Laurinavicius recently wrote an article titled, "How to Master Your Life with the Decision-Making Diet." He notes that we are all suffering from mental fatigue due to the many decisions we must make each day. While writing this article, my research turned up millions of articles on the notion of decision-making. So now the question becomes, how many articles should I read? How long should I spend on the Internet researching this blog post prior to sitting down to write? We are clearly suffering from information overload. So, what is the best possible decision to make going forward about our decision-making? Barry Schwartz stated it best in his TED Talk, “Adding options to people’s lives can’t help but increase the expectations people have about how good those options will be and what that’s going to produce is less satisfaction with results, even when they are good results.” His point is that our expectations have increased exponentially because we now have so many more choices, however that increase in choices has led to dissatisfaction because all we can think is that perhaps we made the wrong choice or perhaps if we had kept searching, we would have found a better choice. Did I mention exhausting? Okay, we need a plan, a ‘How to Make Decisions and Increase our Happiness in 2016 Plan’. I think we need to stick to our decisions and not look back. First order of business; minimize the clothing choices, stick to a small color palette, create a selection of 'uniforms', and make daily dressing a 'grab and go' experience. Okay, morning routine solved, now onto work life…how might we affect our workday? Perhaps, we decide how to structure each day and we don’t deviate from that structure. Or, we decide that twenty is the right number of sales calls to make each day and we actually make twenty calls each day. Maybe we decide that we will only check email at 8 am and 3 pm each day, allowing only one hour for response time. How many decisions do you think that you make in a day? I am going to work on increasing my happiness by making a decision and then telling myself over and over again that it was an amazing choice. Want to join me?
A great TED Talk to jumpstart the year…Robert Waldinger conducted a study for over 70 years on happiness. In his talk, Waldinger declares unequivocally that it isn’t about money or success, happiness comes from healthy, social relationships. He eloquently states, “So this message, that good, close relationships are good for our health and well-being, this is wisdom that’s as old as the hills. Why is this so hard to get and so easy to ignore? Well, we’re human. What we’d really like is a quick fix, something we can get that’ll make our lives good and keep them that way. Relationships are messy and they’re complicated and the hard work of tending to family and friends, it’s not sexy or glamorous. It’s also lifelong. It never ends.” So, when you are writing down those resolutions, perhaps nurturing friends and family should be at the top of the list!