Three Cheers for Arthur T. Demoulas!

Market Basket is a family owned regional supermarket chain in New England in the US. A few months ago, one faction of the ownership group (the Demoulas family) kicked out the CEO, Arthur T. Demoulas. They claimed that they had legitimate concerns over the management of the company. But they did not expect that the employees of the company would go on strike to demand the return of Arthur T. These are not unionized employees. So they risked all by going on strike. And this triggered a consumer boycott, and eventually a deal where Arthur T. was brought back.

Lesson learned — employees are the most valuable asset of any company. Arthur T. embodies this idea.

More Willpower Debunking

It was a while ago that researchers discovered that we use our willpower at a price. We wear it out. So the race is on to figure out how to regulate behavior in other ways that wear out less quickly. The answer relates to how we form and use habits.

You can follow the above link if you want to think about how we form habits. The process requires ongoing attention to breaking down what we do into repeatable and small tasks. These we can do without thinking about it.

Equally important is thinking about how to use habits. If we have a growth mentality,monitoring  habits are a great way to level up our thinking about where we can go. In other words, how habits expand our capacity to take on projects.

Kids and Learning

You can quite a lot about a culture by their attitude towards education. Not just a positive or negative one (I have yet to meet someone who was negative about it), but how much we invest in it. How much do we learn what education should offer the next generations. Here is a truism

… our children will face a much different world than we did

This has always been true. The more critical point is that the difference are growing sharper. Societies are evolving more quickly than ever. this means our kids will be stressed in very different ways than we are to get ahead.

It is not because everything will be different. It is because systems of knowledge management will enable our kids to be more ambitious than we could be. From a strategic point of view, it is better to anticipate how these things will evolve rather than allow the world to pass you by.

Being Good at What you Love

Joe Campbell famously advised young people to “follow their bliss”. All well and good, but as you follow, it is a good idea to master what brings this bliss about. As Dan Kahneman says in his book “Fast and Slow Thinking”, we largely rely on our intuitive thinking (which is where our bliss comes from). And our intuition is usually correct. But not always. It can and should be trained.

You don’t want to play the most important games in life as a beginner or intermediate player.

Some things are Irresistible!

If humans were creatures of logic, we would probably not use the word “irresistible”. The word suggests that certain things cause us to toss aside prudence and grab for it. But history shows us that certain things are irresistible to us. The feeling arises in given contexts, but it does arise.

This leads to a rather simple and powerful idea. If you want to find success in life, it must be connected to something that is irresistible to you and preferably, to  others too.

So what goes into irresistibility? First, it is something that shines out. That grabs our attention and won’t let go. In other words, it is something far greater than we are ourselves.  Second, it is something that starts a story. Indeed, something that opens the door to greatness in ourselves. that kind of story. Third, it evidences mastery of a great genius. It might be the genius of another (like a Van gogh painting). But to be irresistible, the thing must link to genius. So, larger than us, starting a story and linking to genius.

All a bit abstract. But here is the thing. If you are not sensitive to these feelings, you may be resisting too much for your own good!

Tim Ferriss and Richard Feynman

Tim Ferriss has an innovative way of looking at the issue of learning. His main point is that we can go about learning with greater efficiency if we follow some simple rules.

So it is no surprise that Tim is a fan of Richard Feynman. Feynman had an amazing knack for figuring out very, very complex problems. And he did it using simple methods.

That is the point of mastering a learning strategy — life is complicated enough if you don’t know how to learn.

We Do Not Need Perfection!

The ultimate strategy leads us headlong into a great story. Which, of course, means that we need to be able to recognize what goes into a great story. We need to be able to create these things.

So how to do that? Well, one thing should be kept in mind. Stories are not about the ending of the story. The great triumph. They are not about perfection. They are about the process of getting somewhere. Presentation Zen brings this out in discussing the storytelling platform “The Moth”. It is worth reading.

Stages in Building Success

The value of gaming is not yet fully realized. There lingers a misunderstanding that we gamify things to make them fun. Well, this may happen, and there is nothing wrong with having fun. At the same time, the real reason we gamify is to facilitate “leveling up” our performance in key life tasks.

In the old days “leveling up” was a localized idea. One mastered one’s life calling, whether that was to be a farmer or a banker or a king. It was only fairly recently that mankind began to accept that we can choose our life’s calling. We can form our identity based on what we seek to master. A farmer’s son could become a doctor, for example.

That was one of the great breakthroughs in the 20th century. Millions of people, thankfully men and now women too, made creative choices about who they wanted to be and mankind enjoyed a far greater wealth of competences than it had ever had before.

What now? In the 21st century, it is likely that we will have more and better opportunities to fine tune who we are and who we could be. In other words , we will enjoy a greater wealth of choices. And we will need to get better at leveling up more frequently (not just in school).

If this is where we are headed, we need better thinking about how leveling up works. It is a knowledge management problem. And solving that problem involves a trilogy of challenges. awareness, strategy and skills building.

Thinking about Emotional Intelligence

We have begun to recognize that in the balance between rational and emotional selves, emotions rule. Subtly, of course, but we use reason as a tool for emotional well being. Not the other way around. So the idea of “emotional intelligence” is gaining traction in the media, as it should.

What is emotional intelligence? One source put it this way

Emotional intelligence is our ability to understand, interpret, and respond to the emotions of others. This is essential for effective communication, which should be a give and take between two people.

Well, the article is about communication, so you can understand the emphasis on others. It is also the ability to understand, interpret and respond to our own emotions.

How do we do that? The first step is to be mindful of our emotions. To see them as part of the self rather than defining the self. Once we begin to see an emotional portrait of ourselves, we can begin thinking more clearly how we can use these in the adventure of living.

Felix Dennis: On Being Rich

Felix Dennis passed on recently which gives us a chance to assess his life. He was a self-made man. More than that, he was perhaps one of the most successful self-made men you could imagine. He made his money in magazines. And here is what he had to say about being rich (from Daily Reckoning)

I have been very poor and I am now very rich. I am an optimist by nature. And I have the ability to write poetry and create the forest I am busy planting. Am I happy? No. Or, at least, only occasionally, when I am walking in the woods alone, or deeply ensconced in composing a difficult piece of verse, or sitting quietly with old friends over a bottle of wine. Or feeding a stray cat… I could do all those things without wealth.

The point is not that being rich is a bad thing. It is that achieving success is less satisfying that the adventure of getting there. How we structure our adventures is what matters. And that is a matter of strategy.