Many ways to grow

flower-64118_1920Today I just want to start writing about growth and in how many ways we can consciously pursue growth, or unconsciously stumble upon it.

Often times growth only requires change in mindset as Carol Dweck nicely puts in her book. The growth mindset is essentially way to think about the world that we can learn and grow from experiences. Opposite of the growth mindset is fixed mindset in which we essentially think that our worth comes from succeeding or failing.

To nurture more growth oriented mindset, most of us need to right kind of feedback. I used the growth mindset thinking as a core of my thesis about peer coaching for students. I still think the right way encouraging environment and atmosphere are the keys.

Around 2010 and 2011 I had opened my mind to lots of new things and I did quite a lots of drawing as my hobby. Then one one day I decided to pick up some more skills by actually reading a book. So I did go to the library and picked up a book on the drawing technique that I felt at a glance useful. When I started to dig deeper in the book, there was something really discouraging, which causes me to really think has people actually printed so discouraging words there. It said something within the lines ”if you do not have talent, do not bother”. Unfortunately I do not have much record of the book to know what that book actually was and is my memory correct. However, I remember it as a really discouraging experience.

Now comparing that experience with a more recent one, actually from this morning, where I learned an another thing that lets’ us grow rapidly. It’s a Ted x talk by Graham Shaw, where he teaches us to draw, truly encouraging!

There are incredibly opportunities for growth in the internet, but sometimes the human connection does the trick. Yesterday I was attending my alma mater Haaga-Helia to help them with student interviews. It was through the discussion with my teachers that I realized how wonderful opportunity the small campus of Porvoo is for people who usually don’t have the chance, to flourish. Haaga-Helia has several campuses, two in Helsinki then in Porvoo and Vierumäki. This is also a wonderful and encouraging though.

I think online learning should be that way as well. During recent days and today even, I’ve been watching a lots of videos about the topics of psychotherapy. I am also reading a one book related to that called Road Less Traveled. In any case, this morning I happened to watch a video about Anna Freud’s book and there was listed the the ten types of protection mechanisms we have. This was really interesting to me, although I’ve heard of these before, I haven’t registered the number: there is ten, so may I had just missed a few? In any case as far as I’ve come to understand it there is indeed a lot how we can grow, in safe and nurturing environment even as adults and I think we should.

It would be great to discover and even found more online learning communities that are nurturing in the terms of growth mindset, they are helping to form more realistic beliefs and finally create space for all different kinds of people to flourish.

First Youtube talk online

Now since moving is done and everything starts to be in place, I thought it might be good time to try with this video format. Originally I intended as a a short introduction, but since the flow was pretty nice, I canned whole 30mins of the talk. Going to thru interesting themes of change in our life and also sharing some personal experiences.

When leadership becomes magic

community-150124_1280Past four years I’ve been thinking quite a lot about how to work together with others more effectively. Earlier I already wrote about self-organizing organizations, which I am quite big fan of. That is the ultimate goal, good leaders create more leaders and that what self-organizing organization essentially is: group of leaders.

The word leader or leadership conjures up all kinds of mental images and expectations to our heads. Leadership shouldn’t be the responsibility of the one.

However, as we are individuals after all, we should ask ourselves, what is it we can do for the group? Leadership is the verb of going out of your comfort zone to increase the odds of the group succeeding. Leaders have to cross the boundaries of comfort to show direction, carry the weigh alongside and observe the dangers from behind in order to avoid them.

In action leadership and leaders are invisible. Leadership is service for others to succeed. Sometimes the magic starts to happen, when the leader is gone.

“A great leader works without self-interest and leaves no trace. When all is finished the people say, ‘We did it ourselves.’” – Tao te Ching, Lao Tzu

Positive perspective shift

oil-in-water-1438382_1920When we are living deep inside the culture, there is a tendency and habit to thing about anything lets say about weather for a certain way. This can be easily seen for example here in Finland, where winters are relatively cold and long, that the people love warm summers where there is a lots of sunlight. Of course the disappointment for expectations causes then the complaining reactions and people to go for vacation somewhere where there is sun.

Arabs have a saying ”sunshine all day makes a desert.”

This kinds of perspective shifts really cheer up my day. Almost anything; weather or any other thing can be viewed from another point of view in more positive way.

My girlfriend who has come Finland to study from Vietnam often brings this kind of fresh and cheerful thinking with her. She loves cool weather as do I, and constantly manages to amaze other people who complain about the coldness, with the view on coolness as enjoyable, just right temperature.

Viewing world like this, makes me feel sometimes really blessed and rich. The cool Finnish weather is indeed a luxury that many cannot have, so it’s a habit totally worth of having, you can have more just by thinking differently.

And if you would like to really challenge yourself, the Six thinking hats method by Edwards de Bono is a way to do this even further.

 

Road ahead: accepting and forgiving the mistakes

dune-1307497_1920As we tend to be quite loss averse, when the unfortunate happens our first defense mechanism kicks in, which is the denial ”I didn’t do it, it’s not my responsibility”. As I was moving at the end of the last week, when driving big van through the narrow and snaky paths, I hear a screech. It’s not an animal, its of course the side of the car scratching bike storage building.

At first I thank my own wisdom for lowering my deductible amount to four hundred. A bit more after swallowing and assessing the damage we were already joking that now it doesn’t matter how much we smash the car. Yet of course value is exactly decided by how much it does create something similar.

Next day when I returnt the van, I decide to pay the damage right away as I certainly felt the responsibility as well as I thought it will help me to get over it quicker. Well I think that was right decision. Still thoughts like ”what I could’ve done with the money” occur to me for example just before writing this article. Actually exactly the nature of those thoughts made me write about this.

We are as sick as are our secrets said Jari Sarasvuo yesterday in his podcast and I agree with him. When I wrote my first blog on zennen.net, it was mainly about processing the internal world and dragging it to the light. This blog is still as well, although I am experimenting learning different styles of writing as well as story telling. It really helps to get forward to talk about things or if that is not an option then to write about them.

Everything begins with accepting what just happened and assuming the responsibility. What also helps is to forgive ourselves. Often times we are too harsh on ourselves, we’ve incredible potential, but it doesn’t mean that we are perfect in the present. It often takes quite a bit failure and beating to get closer to the perfect, which is excellence.

I noticed it’s a tremendous learning experience to accept that failures happen and allow them to happen. In fact those failures are solid ground upon we will build any excellence. Without the risk, there is no growth. Sometimes, risks actualize, often times not. Key is to keep risks manageable, those are much easier to accept and even if the worst case happens to forgive.

 

Striving to live with less everyday

cubes-677092_1280I’ve been moving past few days. Moving a house is never easy, as there is a lots of stuff. Today when ordering the stuff I came to the key conclusion: I’ll strive to live everyday with less.

Even in Buddhist thought this is quite core, “trying to live with less desires”. Getting rid of the stuff requires effort where does acquiring the stuff. I am planning to give away, throw away and let go of much of it. Then there is some portion I am going to sell.

Moving from bigger to smaller apartment is a nice reminder about the Parkinson’s law and an observation that it not only applies time and work but to time and space as well.

From this point on wards I shall make some effort to live with less. Call me minimalist or whatever, but hanging on the stuff does not really bring happiness, we choose it by being more mindful about present.

Embracing the learning & enlightenment opportunities world has to offer

monitor-1054710_1920When you spend enough time in your present loving, opportunities embracing bubble, you sometimes forget that other people need a bit more time to catch up with the thoughts and ideas.

This happened to me last Sunday when meeting relatives, I hadn’t seen in a while. Their habits and thinking models were roughly repeating the same patterns. That’s fine, especially if the habits are serving well.

One thing where I do not think our old habits serve us very well, is the exponential thinking. Rate of change is growing rapidly as you probably have heard, yet many of us do the same things that the society or other masses are repeating, because that’s what they’ve been doing for a long time. It’s the hum of tradition and linear thinking.

Peter Diamantis illustrates on Youtube very well what kind of difference is exactly between exponential and linear thinking. Needless to say it’s a game changer.

What does this mean to our lives then? We seriously need do things differently, especially tune off from the conventional way of thinking and doing things like long and painful HR processes or limiting education to the knowledge absorbing.

Video is revolutionizing human interactions altogether. Thanks to internet it’s highly efficient and networked form of communication, that allows people to connect without connecting. It’s the way best way to duplicate yourself without ever meeting.

Video is changing everything. Learning and knowledge sharing is gonna be our primary pastime soon enough. Meanwhile, it’s good to leverage and embrace the format that is already allowing us to learn about so many things, in the most efficient way so far conceived.

Our life is what story we tell ourselves

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I’ve awoken on this during the recent days, I’ve awoken on the way people tell stories and create those stories. Although, I would rather say make up stories, but I use create as it feels a bit more neutral and retains the possibility of creating the stories consciously for higher purpose as well.

Our minds, or the human mind is amazing in it’s effort to organize the chaotic into something that makes sense (mostly to only us).  That’s why communicating is so difficult!

Here understanding Daniel Kahneman’s system 1 and system 2 comes useful. System 1 is fast, automatic and subconscious, where are system 2 is slow, effortful and conscious.

In adult age, people who rely heavily on the system 1, become really passive and their learning stagnates. Their world view gets stuck, especially compared to those who keep learning and updating information about the world.africa-1356784_1920
If we would would use the map metaphor, it would mean that you’ve got the best possible Atlas from let’s say year 1963 and it’s called the National Geographic Atlas of the World. You move about the world according to this, which is great and fine for quite a while. That’s until the time passes on and we learn more about the world or something changes…

navigation-1048294_1920Compare the person who is operating in a world with National Geographic Atlas of the World from 1963 to a person who has 24/7 internet access and ability to access all the maps that are online as well as the GPS navigation system and other systems on orbit. Who would navigate better?

We need to use our system 2 to update our maps everyday. Human mind has it’s cognitive limits, no matter how much we keep challenging, although I don’t think we have yet to put an enlightened mind to those brain scanning machines? As far as I’ve come to understand, enlightenment is as far as human can possibly get to understanding the world as it is. On the horizon are the tech aided possibilities and even singularity.

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Personally I’ve called this ”project reality” for me. I started my project reality on 2009 spring as I finally had realized that I am in charge of my life. My first journal entry was on April 2009 and I’ve been writing since as writing has been really important way to understand what’s going on and also to document the process.

Later on, I’ve learned that in fact there are others who are doing the similar quest as well. First I learn about similar quest from Steve Pavlina, whose articles I used to read quite a lot and from who I probably took this idea from subconsciously. A few more years later, I learn about a bit more serious and more time standing movement called Vipassana. Vipassana is translated as insight meditation, in simple terms their goals is to see world as it is.

The stories we tell ourselves and also others, about ourselves and the world are formed by how we perceive and interpret everything. It’s not surprise the right view is first of the noble eight-fold path.

When it comes about telling the stories, we need to consider in addition what’s true or not, what is necessary? Not as much as is possible, but as little as is required, says Jari Sarasvuo and I think it can be applied to many things.

It’s possible to change our story, by forming a more truthful view of the world.

Great feeling does not mean great results

 

In my early professional days I learned a valuable lesson: great feeling or state of mind does not guarantee great results. However what the great feeling does help, is to produce the action that is prerequisite for the results.

Therefore, learning to change the negative into positive emotions, into a great feeling is really useful skill that will in the long run  alter the odds to your favor.

Another thing I learned about feelings such as anguish and anxiety is that we are not really our emotions. We can create our emotional life, but we are not what we are feeling at the moment. If emotions are the wind, then we must learn to sail with that wind, to alter and use them to get where we need to be.

Greatest tool, to discover and tame the emotional root causes I’ve so far stumbled upon is stillness called meditation. Second greatest is journaling and writing, which allows to let loose the emotions in non destructive way. Also talking about them can help.

Often I’ve found great creativity bursts after talking about anxieties, because it somehow helps to relax and asses them more objectively and thus also come to a solutions through that point of view.

Emotions are part of us, we are not our emotions. To conclude, here is something that Nelson Mandela found to keep him going, and something that pop onto my mind while trying to scrape together thoughts after a long day.

Enjoy Invictus poem by WILLIAM ERNEST HENLEY.

Out of the night that covers me,

     Black as the pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

     For my unconquerable soul.

 

In the fell clutch of circumstance

     I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

     My head is bloody, but unbowed.

 

Beyond this place of wrath and tears

     Looms but the Horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

     Finds and shall find me unafraid.

 

It matters not how strait the gate,

     How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the master of my fate,

     I am the captain of my soul.

Human superpower

display-dummy-1370962_1920Our minds accommodates some of the great superpowers. Let me first introduce the individual strengths that we’ve in our minds.

Well as you might know, most of us are born with the set of temperament, which is distinctive profile of feelings and behaviors of early childhood [1]. Keltikangas-Järvinen (2004) suggests that as much as 50% remains as people grow older [2]. We should leverage our natural preferences in life, i.e. in the form of livelihood or lifestyle.

Another strength that our minds has is the neuroplasticity, or the ability to learn new tricks. Although kids and young people are very plastic, brain’s ability form new connections in surprising and great even in adulthood. Actually great part about neuroplasticity in adulthood is that brains which get used to the training are more able, so the muscle metaphor is indeed great.

For training mind, it’s particularly useful to understand a bit about. Daniel Kahneman’s awesome book Thinking Fast and Slow explain this very clearly. If you do not want to read the whole book, here Is one okay book review as a video that captures some of the essential ideas. Just by understanding that there are two minds, the elephant mind and the elephant driver which is the rational mind.  Since elephant driver cannot lift heavy trees by herself, its better to train the beast to do it. And to get a beast to do tricks, sometimes a bit of cleverness and practice is requirement. Intellectual challenge is bliss for our minds.

One thing I dislike about intelligence talk is especially that intelligence cannot really be accurately measured in this sense, because how we perform in situation A is very different from situation B. How well we perform depends on so many factors… We humans are ingenious and original, each one of us.

How about our collective superpower?

Homo sapiens has also one another thing that most of the species do not have. We’ve language. Language is really important tool for a great great force called culture. Language and culture are the kind of superpower we as a species have.

Although chimpanzees as well can have a culture as they do things together. However change takes a lot of time. Human can talk and debate which allows change before the worst case happens.

And yes, I said humans can have the change through language, yet as history has shown we do not always use our trump card for collective advantage.

I wish we could. Before we can start to make huge leaps in language and understanding, Lets’ study some more cultures and languages, it’s a great way to challenge our minds too.

 

 

[1] Kagan J., 2005. “Temperament”, Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development . Available at: http://www.enfant-encyclopedie.com/documents/KaganANGxp.pdf. Read 6.12.2013.

[2] Keltikangas-Järvinen, L. 2004. Temperamentti : ihmisen yksilöllisyys. Helsinki. WSOY. ISBN 951-0-28423-8.