Monthly Archives: November 2014

Thanksgiving 2014: Criticism and Appreciation

In a previous post I said Skill is the Sum of Small Details. Building on this, we can conclude that with more skill comes more details and in particular the awareness of more details: While cooking beef you now notice the color of the beef instead of relying purely on the clock set by the recipe.  While picking up a cup of water you notice not just the shape of the cup but the material and temperature and adjust the strength of your grip accordingly.  

For people who lack that level of detail in their skill, they don’t notice.  And because they don’t notice, they don’t optimize.  The beef is done cooking before the timer has gone off because the cook didn’t notice the detail that the stove heat was set to one level higher than last time.  Someone crushes the cup because he or she expected it to be ceramic and heavy but it was actually paper weak.

As you become more aware of details, your personal skills improve and your own life improve.  However, when it comes to interacting with others, now you have more data to judge others with, and we all know that it is all too easy to judge other people: it is one of the most fundamental human natures we have.  As a result when someone else is cooking beef and they aren’t paying attention to the color of the beef but you have the skill to, then you will notice them doing it wrong.  If someone’s paper cup looks like something from origami, you know they haven’t adjusted their grip properly.

When you see these things, you can be critical or you can be appreciative.  You did see a mistake being made, but you also see correct decisions being made: the heat was on for the beef and the timer was set to the right time according to the recipe, or the cup was right side up and wasn’t flipped and liquids weren’t spilled in the process.  Rather than using your skills and awareness of details to find things that are wrong and criticize, use your skills and awareness of details to find things that are right and appreciate.

Please be reasonable in your appreciative comments.  “Nice, the recipe for the beef you chose is good” is a good appreciative comment.  “Nice, your beef is better than nothing” is a very unreasonable appreciative comment.

Happy Thanksgiving!

One final thing to note: be aware of yourself and the impression you give others. If you are someone who always criticizes then people won’t like being around you. If you are someone who encourages people, appreciates their good qualities and make them want to show their good qualities more often, they will want to be around you and both your lives will be improved.

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Socioeconomic Mobility and Friendship

The purpose of this post is to highlight the difficulties in maintaining friendships when you wish to change your socioeconomic status and detail the trade-off decisions that are occurring.

“You are the average of your 5 best friends” is a common phrase based on the idea that the people closest to you have the greatest influence on who you become.  Therefore, if you want to move up the socioeconomic ladder, your goal is to make sure your 5 best friends are where you want to end up, and not where you currently are.  So you avoid being friends with people in your income bracket and you seek out the rich.  This behavior introduces several problems: 1. because the people around you don’t share your background, they think and act differently from you.  This makes it harder to be friends with them (but not impossible: with communication and relationship skills it can be done).  2. If you stick with them and learn their ways, it becomes harder to be friends with people who do share your background because your background has been replaced with the value system of your new friends.  This causes problem 3. you have difficulty being friends with your income bracket because you’re social skills are different, and 4. you have difficulty being friends outside your income bracket because they may do things that cost way more than you have budget for so you can’t participate in activities, making it harder to maintain friendship.

Problem 3 has potential to do very bad things to you, for instance it can tear your family apart because while you have become more like successful people, your family has not and so you find it more difficult to relate and be friends with them. The family also embarrasses you in front of your richer peers because your family has a different set of values and social skills.

Trade-off decision and problem 5: When you learn the ways of an income bracket above you, you can either spend the next few years teaching your family and lower income bracket friends how to move up, or you can spend that time moving up even higher on the income scale.  Problem 5 is poignant because what’s really happening is the following: You can either stay emotionally close with your family and friends and move them up one or two income brackets over your lifetime (an income bracket to me is 10x increase in income.  From $1,000 per month to $10,000 per month), or B you can alienate them from distracting you on your path to moving up multiple income brackets, perhaps achieving $1,000,000 per month at the cost of spending time with your family and friends.  Which do you want?  To provide time, or money?

5B can be a road of Ambition, Loyalty, Disappointment, Sadness.

“A rolling stone gathers no moss”  is credited to Publilius Syrus, who in his Sententiae states, People who are always moving, with no roots in one place, avoid responsibilities and cares. Another interpretation equates “moss” to “stagnation”; as such the proverb can also refer to those who keep moving as never lacking for fresh ideas or creativity.  -Wikipedia

Friendship teaches us to hang out with people we like, and to accept them as who they are.  With a socioeconomic mindset, to move up the ranks, you must learn to judge, criticize, and be selective with who you hang out with, according to what you want to achieve. (Major Categories of Relationships Business vs. Personal). Furthermore, you treat every opportunity as a business opportunity and every personal interaction as a wasted business opportunity, a mentality which gets in the way of spending the quality time necessary to make friends.  Many people sacrifice Emotional Health to squeeze out more time in their day for achievement…this is a major reason why many successful people are either very lonely, depressed, and sad, or just bad people with no emotional skills.  

Problem 6. As you move up the income levels, your mentors need to change if you reach or exceed their achievements.  However, the idea that you should always trade up for someone better only works in the short term: in the long term, both of you will grow to be much more than what you started out as (hopefully), and you’ll definitely grow at different speeds.  As such, to become really good, it’s more important to find someone to work with long term, than to find the best option short term.

People are constantly changing, and as they change they want different things. As the world changes, the way they get what they want changes, as well as who they get help from.  What happens to a relationship when two people are no longer “related?”  More often than not, the relationship weakens and fades, with new ones to take their place.  This can be seen often when it comes to socioeconomic mobility.  However it does not have to be the case if you take the initiative to maintain friendships.

All these problems can be overcome, they are just difficult to.

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Life Lessons October 2014

Save energy by spending when you need to — From playing tennis this month I learned that when you’re tired you should not rest or reduce the energy levels of your game even though it is the natural thing to do.  Instead you actually want to keep using energy to be aggressive and stay in control of the point because playing defensive takes more energy.  When I get tired I usually scale back on my intensity to save energy, but what I learned was that in doing so I was giving up control and having to work harder to stay in the point, and therefore having to work harder in the long run. (Specifically, I have a tendency to slack off on shots when I’m tired, giving the opponent opportunities to win and forcing me to work harder to try and save myself from loosing. Instead of being forced to use energy to try and stay alive by my opponent, I should have used that energy to hit the right shot well and prevent my opponent from having a winning opportunity.)  It is better to hit everything with good quality and lose than to hit everything poorly and be destined to eventually be worn out, exhausted, and lose, since you basically make it a matter of time before you lose when you lower the intensity of your game, showing weaknesses.  Try to end the point earlier if you’re tired is the better strategy: slacking is the wrong one.

Balance short term with long term — While it is important to make big goals and partake in long term planning, it is equally important to stay focused on the present and win in the short term.  There is no long term if you don’t win in the short term, because the short term sets you up for the first step towards your long term goals, and if you never take the first step then you can’t take the second and thus never reach your long term goal.  If you know you’re going to eat a huge buffet next month, you shouldn’t starve yourself for a month because then you’d lose in the short term and never make it to that long term goal.  If you have a long term goal, ask yourself if it has a short term component and whether you have that in your short term planning.

Appearance, reality, truth — Appearance is a 3rd person subjective point of view.  Reality is a 3rd person objective point of view.  Truth is a first person point of view.  It appears that Bob likes apples because Bob said so.  The reality is that Bob said so.  The truth is that Bob said so because he wanted to fit in, but he actually doesn’t like apples.

Stop playing the wounded or pity card: It doesn’t make sense — The logic is this: I am handicapped so even though I’m not the best at ___, I deserve the 1st place medal anyway. Does that make sense? Would you ever give an Olympic medal to someone who is incapable of competing with the best athletes in the world, simply because that person is incapable of competing and should be compensated somehow with an award that wasn’t earned?  If you’re wounded, sorry.  Life is tough and you don’t always get the best cards in your hand, but you will win what your cards deserve to win, and not what they don’t deserve to win.

Stop expecting things in return — Unless you have a contract or trustworthy agreement with the other party, when you give them something, leave it at that: that you gave them something.  A gift, not an exchange.  Then you can manage your resources/finances and ensure that you never give what you can’t bear to lose, and then you’ll live a more stress free life, and your relationships will be less strained.

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