Here are articles on concepts

Why don’t you ask for help?

I’m working on a segment for the book about asking for help. I’ve noticed that I just don’t ask for help nearly enough.

Here are some of the reasons why:

  • I don’t want to admit to myself that I don’t know the thing.
  • I don’t realize that I need help, even though I’m not making any progress.
  • I only have a certain number of “silver bullets” and don’t want to use them up.

What are some of the things you think that get you not to ask for help?

E-mail? Oy! What are your e-mail issues?

I’m seeking to understand the challenges of dealing with e-mail. It’s not as simple as it seems. Of the people who find e-mail a challenge, different people have different issues. For some, it’s keeping their inbox empty; they get stressed out from a large, unanswered inbox. For others, it’s treating e-mail as interruption (“I know it’s probably not important, but I can’t help checking when the little notification appears on my screen”).

What are your big e-mail challenges? What parts of dealing with e-mail would you like to streamline?

What is hard work?

“Work hard and you’ll be successful.” “You just need to put in a little hard work.” “Whew! I worked so hard today.”

We say things like this all the time without thinking about it. Recently, my bedframe broke and I needed the mattress moved. Despite my newly developed manly-man muscles (thank you, Trainer Tyler), decades of sitting zombie-like in front of a flickering computer monitor has left me unable to do stuff like, say, lift things in the real world.

My cleaning lady and her husband offered to move the mattress. As I was watching them haul it between rooms, it looked like awful hard work. I sipped my martini and pondered the thought. Hard work.
Hard work. To an outside observer, I sit in one place all day and think. Sometimes, it feels like very hard work. My cleaning lady hauls mattresses, which I’m almost physically incapable of doing. Does she experience that as hard work?

The more I thought, the more a pattern became clear as to what makes something “hard work” for me. I don’t want to give it away just yet, until I’ve heard your thoughts.

Please tell me: what are some things you consider hard work, and what is it about them that makes them “hard work” rather than just “work” or “random activities” or “play”

The joys of complaining

Ok, big epiphany today.

I was complaining. Then I noticed that somethings, I complain about. Others, I don’t. What’s the difference?

For me, complaints seem to be statements of where in my life doesn’t seem under my control. Even when complaining about myself (“Darn these love handles”), I only complain about the things I have trouble with and perceive as being something I can’t change.

Is this universal? Are your complaints expressions of control frustration?

What are your favorite complaints? Is there any pattern about what we all consider under/not under our control?

If you achieve alone in a forest, have you really achieved?

I’ve been exploring ideas around self-promoting at work, being recognized, and motivation as it relates to recognition and achievement.

What is the relationship for you between achievement and recognition? How do you know you’ve achieved something? What forms of recognition do you want for your achievements (from self? others?)? Is there a relationship? If you achieve something alone in a forest and no one ever knows about it, is it still an achievment? Are you motivated by achieving, by recognition, a combination, or something else altogether (e.g. power or relationship or family or …)?

Oh, crap. Maybe money CAN buy happiness.

Well, isn’t that just the cat’s pajamas. There’s a new study out that shows that happiness may be linked to absolute levels of income, after all. Of course, as the article states, it’s linked to other things as well, like time spent with friends. This may change part of my thesis for the book. …. pondering

In my life, money hasn’t bought happiness. In fact, regardless of how much I’ve had, made, or lost, I’ve pretty much always felt insecure and panicked, thanks to some early experiences involving not really being able to afford food. Only in the last year have I really sorted through the issues enough that they seem to have let go.

While lack of money is stressful for me, past a certain point, more doesn’t make me happier. Other things take over as the most important. Fun, community, challenge, meaning, and contribution all seem more important to me just now.

How ’bout for you? Is you life happier because of money? Is acquiring money sufficient for happiness? Is it necessary?

Don’t do too much at once!

One of my projects of the last year has been turning recordings of speeches and workshops I’ve given into products. I’ve got about 10 I want to produce.

I made the huge mistake of trying to work on several at once. My sound engineer returned to school halfway through. Now, I can’t even locate all the sound files. My brain is trying to focus on several different products at once with the result that I’m making no progress on any of them.

Take things one at a time. I’m going to be doing a section in the book, or at least a Get-it-Done Guy episode, on multitasking versus parallel processing (they’re different, at least as I use them) versus sequential.

  • Sequential’s best for the mind.
  • Parallel is best for getting things done, assuming you don’t overload yourself.
  • Multitasking doesn’t work.

Do you improve your decision quality over time?

In my business blog today, I got a little, er, hot about tax season. In my footnote, I flamed on about the 2004 elections, noting:

One thing I’m sure of: none of you stopped to analyze the quality of your 2004 decision-making and explicitly change the criteria you used to make your bad decision. It may be 2008, but you’re about to use the same broken decision-making process in November and you’ll wonder why politics doesn’t change.

Political flaming aside, when you make a decision that turns out badly, do you explicitly learn from it? And if so, do you use an explicit “post mortem” process? And do you tend to learn about specifics of a situation (e.g. “I’m never voting for candidate Z again because they lie”), or do you actually change your decision-making process (e.g. “next time, I will look at voting records and read news articles on opposing web sites and supporting web sites before making my decision.”)?