Wednesday, May 16, 2018

, ,

Smart Trust - Stephen M. R. Covey (Excerpts)


Smart Trust - Stephen M. R. Covey - Quotes I liked


One time, I hired a guide to take me fly-fishing. While we were fishing, he asked me, “What do you see?”

“I see a beautiful river.”

“Do you see any fish?”

“No.”

Then he told me to put on a pair of polarized sunglasses.


Suddenly everything looked dramatically different. I could see through the water, and I could see fish—a lot of fish. Suddenly I saw enormous possibilities that I had not seen before. The fish were there all along, but until I put on the glasses, they were hidden. (...)
• What kind of glasses am I wearing?

• Where did I get them?


 • Are they creating the results I want in my life?


• Are they enabling me to see the abundant possibilities that exist for creating prosperity, energy, and joy?


2. I remember a time years ago when I was traveling with my parents. We visited a less developed country that was known to be corrupt. We hired a driver we thought we could trust to take us several places, and we left a number of watches and other gifts we had purchased in our bags locked in the trunk of his car while we did some sightseeing. When we returned, we checked inside our bags to make sure the boxes were all there. They were. But when we got back to the U.S. and opened the boxes, we discovered they were all empty!

3. Experiences such as these affect us on a personal level. Even more, deeply wounding experiences—such as discovering someone has lied to you, finding out your spouse has cheated on you, going through a difficult divorce (either as a spouse or a child), having a “friend” talk about you behind your back, discovering drugs in your child’s room, having your wallet stolen, finding out that your child has been mistreated at day care, or having a business partner continually break promises to you—can easily shift an innate propensity to trust into an acquired propensity to distrust.

Just as with blind trust, it’s sometimes easy to put on the glasses of distrust. In fact, if we start out wearing blind-trust glasses but then get seriously burned, we often swing the pendulum to the other extreme and trade them in for thick glasses of distrust and suspicion. It seems like a natural response in a low-trust world. It’s an approach that’s easy to hide behind. It feels safer and less risky and that we’re more in control. It can make us appear more careful, more intelligent. It seems more expedient in an urgency-addicted world where the focus is on short-term gains rather than long-term sustainability. Moving quickly to distrust and suspicion is the common response of society to almost any violation of trust because it is the easiest lever to pull and seems to provide the best legal and defensive cover.

Experiences such as these affect us on a personal level. Even more, deeply wounding experiences—such as discovering someone has lied to you, finding out your spouse has cheated on you, going through a difficult divorce (either as a spouse or a child), having a “friend” talk about you behind your back, discovering drugs in your child’s room, having your wallet stolen, finding out that your child has been mistreated at daycare, or having a business partner continually break promises to you—can easily shift an innate propensity to trust into an acquired propensity to distrust.


Just as with blind trust, it’s sometimes easy to put on the glasses of distrust. In fact, if we start out wearing blind-trust glasses but then get seriously burned, we often swing the pendulum to the other extreme and trade them in for thick glasses of distrust and suspicion. It seems like a natural response in a low-trust world. It’s an approach that’s easy to hide behind. It feels safer and less risky and that we’re more in control. It can make us appear more careful, more intelligent. It seems more expedient in an urgency-addicted world where the focus is on short-term gains rather than long-term sustainability. Moving quickly to distrust and suspicion is the common response of society to almost any violation of trust because it is the easiest lever to pull and seems to provide the best legal and defensive cover.

4. You’ve likely been scripted, conditioned, and/or experienced into primarily one set of glasses or the other. Whichever glasses you wear tend to magnify the evidence that fits your paradigm and filter out the evidence that doesn’t, and they significantly affect the degree of prosperity, energy, and joy in your life. Keep in mind that the differentiation is not all or nothing, black or white. You may be wearing a strong prescription or a mild one. You may switch back and forth. You may even be wearing bifocals, so to speak—looking at your professional relationships with distrust and your personal relationships with blind trust or vice versa. Or you may view your family with blind trust and people dating your daughter with distrust. The point is that whatever glasses you’re wearing at any time are affecting the way you see the world—and as a result the quality of your life and your ability to enjoy relationships with others and work with them to accomplish meaningful goals.

5. In the end, reciprocity works both ways: When we extend trust, we generate trust; when we withhold trust, we generate distrust.

6. Sometimes it’s incredibly hard to overcome intense experiences that can script us for a lifetime. But it’s possible. Even if all we can start with is a bias to believe, we can work on building that bias. We can put on our trust glasses and look more thoughtfully at the world around us. We can analyze how trust plays out in other people’s lives and relationships as well as in our own. We can study it. We can test it. We can take steps to build trust—and perhaps even take an occasional leap of trust—and notice the results.

7. When people work interdependently, most want to be aware of the intentions and motives of the others involved. The best way to address this issue is simply to declare intent. Doing so increases awareness and diminishes suspicion.

When we don’t tell people what we’re going to do, they’re often not aware of it or looking for it. Therefore they may not recognize its fulfillment as a trust-building promise kept or as evidence that we (or our team or our organization) behave in a manner they can count on. In addition, they’re missing an important piece of information they need to assess credibility and make informed decisions. Though it’s clearly better not to declare intent and deliver anyway than to declare intent and not deliver, our failure to declare intent may cause us to come across as someone who stands for nothing—someone with no promise, no purpose, no hope to offer, no brand, or no value. And in today’s crowded marketplace that decreases trust.

8. What happens if you can’t deliver on a promise? What happens if circumstances change or something critical comes up and you absolutely can’t do what you’ve said you’re going to do?

One answer is to create, in addition to a contract, a relationship of trust that reflects the reality of today’s rapidly changing world. (...) Another answer is to be wise in the kinds of commitments we make.




*image via Leclife



Continue reading Smart Trust - Stephen M. R. Covey (Excerpts)

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

, ,

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman - Excerpts


Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman - My favorite quotes



The psychologist Gary Klein tells the story of a team of firefighters that entered a house in which the kitchen was on fire. Soon after they started hosing down the kitchen, the commander heard himself shout, “Let’s get out of here!” without realizing why. The floor collapsed almost immediately after the firefighters escaped. Only after the fact did the commander realize that the fire had been unusually quiet and that his ears had been unusually hot. Together, these impressions prompted what he called a “sixth sense of danger.” He had no idea what was wrong, but he knew something was wrong. It turned out that the heart of the fire had not been in the kitchen but in the basement beneath where the men had stood.


System 2 also has a natural speed. You expend some mental energy in random thoughts and in monitoring what goes on around you even when your mind does nothing in particular, but there is little strain. Unless you are in a situation that makes you unusually wary or self-conscious, monitoring what happens in the environment or inside your head demands little effort. You make many small decisions as you drive your car, absorb some information as you read the newspaper, and conduct routine exchanges of pleasantries with a spouse or a colleague, all with little effort and no strain. Just like a stroll.


It is normally easy and actually quite pleasant to walk and think at the same time, but at the extremes these activities appear to compete for the limited resources of System 2. You can confirm this claim by a simple experiment. While walking comfortably with a friend, ask him to compute 23 × 78 in his head, and to do so immediately. He will almost certainly stop in his tracks. My experience is that I can think while strolling but cannot engage in mental work that imposes a heavy load on short-term memory


Suppose you must write a message that you want the recipients to believe. Of course, your message will be true, but that is not necessarily enough for people to believe that it is true. It is entirely legitimate for you to enlist cognitive ease to work in your favor, and studies of truth illusions provide specific suggestions that may help you achieve this goal.


The general principle is that anything you can do to reduce cognitive strain will help, so you should first maximize legibility. Compare these two statements:


Adolf Hitler was born in 1892.

Adolf Hitler was born in 1887.


Both are false (Hitler was born in 1889), but experiments have shown that the first is more likely to be believed. More advice: if your message is to be printed, use high-quality paper to maximize the contrast between characters and their background. If you use color, you are more likely to be believed if your text is printed in bright blue or red than in middling shades of green, yellow, or pale blue.


The illusion of pattern affects our lives in many ways off the basketball court. How many good years should you wait before concluding that an investment adviser is unusually skilled? How many successful acquisitions should be needed for a board of directors to believe that the CEO has extraordinary flair for such deals? The simple answer to these questions is that if you follow your intuition, you will more often than not err by misclassifying a random event as systematic. We are far too willing to reject the belief that much of what we see in life is random.


Changing one’s mind about human nature is hard work, and changing one’s mind for the worse about oneself is even harder.


Some regularities in the environment are easier to discover and apply than others. Think of how you developed your style of using the brakes on your car. As you were mastering the skill of taking curves, you gradually learned when to let go of the accelerator and when and how hard to use the brakes. Curves differ, and the variability you experienced while learning ensures that you are now ready to brake at the right time and strength for any curve you encounter. The conditions for learning this skill are ideal, because you receive immediate and unambiguous feedback every time you go around a bend: the mild reward of a comfortable turn or the mild punishment of some difficulty in handling the car if you brake either too hard or not quite hard enough. The situations that face a harbor pilot maneuvering large ships are no less regular, but skill is much more difficult to acquire by sheer experience because of the long delay between actions and their noticeable outcomes. Whether professionals have a chance to develop intuitive expertise depends essentially on the quality and speed of feedback, as well as on sufficient opportunity to practice.


The psychologist Paul Rozin, an expert on disgust, observed that a single cockroach will completely wreck the appeal of a bowl of cherries, but a cherry will do nothing at all for a bowl of cockroaches. As he points out, the negative trumps the positive in many ways, and loss aversion is one of many manifestations of a broad negativity dominance


A good attorney who wishes to cast doubt on DNA evidence will not tell the jury that “the chance of a false match is 0.1%.” The statement that “a false match occurs in 1 of 1,000 capital cases” is far more likely to pass the threshold of reasonable doubt. The jurors hearing those words are invited to generate the image of the man who sits before them in the courtroom being wrongly convicted because of flawed DNA evidence. The prosecutor, of course, will favor the more abstract frame—hoping to fill the jurors’ minds with decimal points.


Regret is an emotion, and it is also a punishment that we administer to ourselves. The fear of regret is a factor in many of the decisions that people make (“Don’t do this, you will regret it” is a common warning), and the actual experience of regret is familiar. The emotional state has been well described by two Dutch psychologists, who noted that regret is “accompanied by feelings that one should have known better, by a sinking feeling, by thoughts about the mistake one has made and the opportunities lost, by a tendency to kick oneself and to correct one’s mistake, and by wanting to undo the event and to get a second chance.” Intense regret is what you experience when you can most easily imagine yourself doing something other than what you did.


Regret is one of the counterfactual emotions that are triggered by the availability of alternatives to reality. After every plane crash there are special stories about passengers who “should not” have been on the plane—they got a seat at the last moment, they were transferred from another airline, they were supposed to fly a day earlier but had had to postpone. The common feature of these poignant stories is that they involve unusual events—and unusual events are easier than normal events to undo in imagination. Associative memory contains a representation of the normal world and its rules. An abnormal event attracts attention, and it also activates the idea of the event that would have been normal under the same circumstances.
Continue reading Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman - Excerpts

Thursday, May 3, 2018

, , ,

The Shawshank Redemption (1994) - A Personal Review



My favorite movie – The Shawshank Redemption (1994)




The Shawshank Redemption is one of those movies you always remember after seeing. Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman make an exceptional pair as two convicts that spend their time in a prison. The story of the main character, Andy Dufresne, brilliantly played by Tim Robbins, is an example of courage and tenacity and it lets the film viewer know that everything’s possible when one sets one’s mind to it.

But what’s so special about the story? Andy, the main character, is found guilty of a crime he did not commit. After spending his whole youth as a successful banker, Andy is convicted to a sentence of life in prison.

Naturally, he thinks that he will never be able to integrate into the convicts’ community. To his surprise, however, he doesn’t find a crowd filled with dangerous individuals. Instead, he gets to befriend several of his prison companions, and one of them stands out as Ellis Boyd ‘Red’ Redding.

Red is the guy who can get you anything you want, cigarettes especially. He comes off as a makeshift entrepreneur, and some might believe that his intentions aren’t always pure as he always tries to make more money off of the rest of the inmates, but the truth is that Red is a good guy and is quite honorable. So how do these two eventually become friends?

Although Andy mostly keeps to himself and finds it hard to interact with the rest of the people in prison, he does have to talk to Red at some point to ask him to get him a tiny hammer. Andy claims that he will need the tool for his rock collection, but later on in the movie, the real reason will be revealed.

Red is an enigma to many of the inmates as he manages to keep his hopes up in spite of the fact that the parole board rejects his pardon attempts time and time again. In a way, this is a symbol of how racism might affect the opinion of law enforcers, and how African Americans are always thought of being more prone to becoming criminals than Caucasian Americans.

What makes it so difficult for Andy to integrate with the rest of the inmates is that, as one might expect from a prison, it’s mostly filled with uneducated people. The fact that he’s educated and skilled as a banker, as well as the fact that he comes from a rich background automatically sets him apart from the crowd. It doesn’t take long for Andy to understand that making friends is going to be nearly impossible in a place like this, where most anyone tries to take advantage of another individual. The friendship that grows steadily between Red and Andy is unexpected for both of them.

The prison environment is colorful, to say the least. It holds a wide variety of criminals, and as one might be able to guess, nobody claims they did the crime. Everyone seems to have been framed for their crimes. There are several episodes that might be considered violent, but what impresses the film viewer is their complete realism. It would be wrong to romanticize a place like jail.

Despite desperately wanting to prove his innocence, Andy never gets his case reopened, and that’s because the prison’s warden uses him to sort out his finances. The warden is one of the most vicious film characters ever to have been invented as he tries his best to create as many obstacles as possible for Andy so that he never loses him. As a skilled banker, Andy is a prized ‘possession’ of the warden.

When Andy starts to understand that he might never be able to see the outside world again, he develops a plan and creates an escape method that will never be suspected by his inmates or guardians.

Although it is based on a novel written by Stephen King, the movie has a somewhat happy ending. King is known for his grimy and horror stories, and this one gets in the same category as The Green Mile, another movie masterpiece that’s ironically also based on another of King’s novels.

In the end, Andy did lose part of his life because of an unfair sentence, but that doesn’t mean that he can’t start over anytime. And being so resourceful, that’s precisely what he does. In short, this movie tells us that we can always hope for the better, no matter how difficult our current situation might be.


Photo via IMDB
Continue reading The Shawshank Redemption (1994) - A Personal Review