Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Seth Godin

Questions for the underinformed

For the jingoistic sign carrier, the impatient shareholder, the late-night goofball and the nascent entrepreneur in search of cash…

We’ve heard your rants, your threats, your plans.

We understand that you are in a hurry for a simple, dramatic, obvious solution to whatever problem you face.

“And then what happens?”

“Has this ever worked before?”

“How is this different (or the same) from those times?”

“What will you do when it doesn’t work the way you hoped?”

Innovation is essential, but innovation isn’t lazy.

It takes insight and patience and experience to bring a new solution to an old problem.

Impatience is not a strategy.

Experience isn’t free, but it’s valuable.

And history doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes.

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Rejection (and the four paths)

If you seek to make change or do something important, your work will be rejected along the way. This is not in dispute.

What will you do after that?

  1. Determine that what actually happened was that you were rejected, not your proposal, and that you have no right, no standing and no hope. Decide to back off, keep your head low and do what you’re told from now on.
  2. Realize that what might have happened is that you asked the wrong person, who wants something other than what you want. Resolve to do a better job of seeing where your work will be needed and recognized.
  3. Understand that you didn’t tell a story that resonated, that your homework, your details, your promise–something didn’t resonate. Figure out what it was, and learn to do better next time.
  4. Assume that whoever turns you down, ignores you or disagrees with you is a dolt. Learn nothing and persist.

In my experience, paths two and three are the most likely to get you where you’re going. It takes grit and resilience to avoid the first path, and the fourth path is reserved for megalomaniacs, bullies and the terminally frustrated.

Sloppy science

We can measure it.

For decades, every single year, scientists have visited the Galapagos and measured the beaks of a particular species of finch.

And year after year, with each generation, the beaks change, exactly as we’d expect from the weather patterns of the year before. Evolutionary biology works, and rigorous data collection backs it up.

For hundreds of years, though, science has gotten it wrong about gender, race and ethnicity. Eugenics and its brethren sound simple, but often lead to tragic outcomes.

The sloppy scientist says, “on average, across populations, left to its own devices, this group is [not as skilled] [neurotic] [hard to work with] [not as smart] [not as strong] [slower]” etc. They make assumptions without sufficient data, and the rigor is missing.

The first problem is that human beings aren’t averages, they’re individuals. (They can be Medians when subdivided into a dozen of categories?)

And the bigger problem is that we’re never left to our own devices. We are creatures of culture.

The math that we can do on populations of hedgehogs or pigeons doesn’t apply to people, because people build and change and experience culture differently than any other species.

Your DNA is virtually identical to that of the hordes that accompanied Ghengis Khan, as well as most Cro-Magnon cavemen–pass one on the street and you wouldn’t be able to tell that he’s different from you. The reason you don’t act the way they did is completely the result of culture, not genes.

It’s culture that pushes us to level up, to dig deeper, to do things that we might not otherwise do.

It’s culture that finds and encourages and pushes people to become better versions of themselves than anyone else expected to find.

So it was sloppy/lazy/fearful science that said that women couldn’t handle being doctors.

And it was sloppy science that worked to limit the number of Asian, Jewish, Near-Easterns or African students at various institutions.

And it’s sloppy science that’s been used against black people for hundreds of years.

And sloppy science said that a 4 minute mile was impossible and that a woman could never finish a marathon.

Sloppy because it doesn’t include all the relevant factors. (It is almost impossible to interpret results with even 6 factors and their many interrelations and intersections)

There’s nothing wrong with the scientific method, but everything is wrong with using it poorly (and often intentionally).

What we need are caring human beings who will choose to change the culture for the better.

Not all of it, of course. Merely the culture they can touch. The people they can engage with. The human beings they can look in the eye, offer to help, offer encouragement and offer a hand up.

Once we reset the standard, it becomes the new normal, and suddenly, the sloppy science seems like phrenology. Because culture is up to us.

Sloppy science isn’t science at all.

It’s the lazy or wrongheaded use of the scientific method part of the time, mixing in fear for good measure.

Ignoring culture ignores the part that truly matters.

It’s tempting to judge people by their DNA. It makes a lot more sense, though, to see people based on what they can contribute instead.

Strength through peace

Anticipating doom is brutal. And anticipating brutality is even worse.

It creates an enormous amount of emotional overhead.

It makes it difficult to invest, hard to make long-term plans. And it fills us with dread, short circuiting our creativity.

Peace has a dividend. Economic peace, political peace, interpersonal peace.

It gives us room to dream, to get restless and to make things even better.

We don’t need other people to lose in order for us to win. And keeping score is overrated.

Most of all, it’s worth investing in peace of mind.

The dividends are huge, and the journey (the way each of us spend our days) matters.

That’s one of the primary benefits of enlightened leadership. It creates a safe space to do important work.

Be the different one

Leonard Nimoy created one of our culture’s singular fictional characters. Gene Roddenberry gave him the opportunity, but it was Nimoy who developed Spock.

A key moment came in one of the first episodes. Everyone on the bridge was freaking out about something or other, and Spock’s line was a simple word: “Fascinating.”

Nimoy first delivered it in the same excited, scared tone as everyone else.

The director took him aside and said, “be the different one.”

Easy to say, difficult to do.

By being the different one, Spock became a character for the ages, and changed the center of gravity for the series’ narrative.

The same thing could be said for your career, or the impact your organization makes.

Sham surgery

The data shows that more than 600,000 people got arthroscopic knee surgery in the US in 2010. It’s expensive and painful.

It turns out that sham surgery works just as well.

That just about as many people would have found pain relief from this procedure if they had experienced fake surgery instead.

In an extensive study of elective surgeries (asthma, obesity, Parkinson’s disease, acid reflux and back pain) it was found that more than half the time, people would have had at least a good an outcome if they had only experienced fake surgery instead of the real kind.

That’s worth a pause.

Same operating room, same gowns, same perception of pain–but no actual surgery.

Half the people would have gotten better, which is awfully close to the number that got better from the real thing.

(Even if this number is twice as high as you are comfortable with, it tells us something dramatic about the power of suggestion).

If you don’t think marketing works, and you’re wondering about the power of the placebo, that’s all the evidence you should need.

That sham surgery on knee pain is virtually as effective as the real kind. Which means it’s not a sham at all, is it?

Of course, placebos work on far more than knees. They work on the taste of wine, the effectiveness of coaching and how well we perform at work.

When they say “it’s all in your head,” they’re actually being optimistic and encouraging.

If it’s in your head, you can do something about it.

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Creating discomfort

If you’re seeking to create positive change in your community, it’s almost certain you’ll be creating discomfort as well.

Want to upgrade the local playground?

It sounds like it will be universally embraced by parents and everyone who cares about kids.

Except that you now bring up issues of money, of how much is enough, of safety. Change is uncomfortable.

It’s way easier to talk about today’s weather, or what you had for lunch.

Usually, when we’re ready to launch something, we say, “this is going to help people, this is well crafted, I’m proud of it.”

What’s a lot more difficult (but useful) is to say all of that plus, “and this is going to make (some) people uncomfortable.”


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

September 2017
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