Your Gut is Thinking Too

I finished Jonah Lehrer’s book, How We Decide, last week. In it, Lehrer describes his view on, well, how we decide things. It’s basically the same concept that was presented in Gerd Gigerenzer’s Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious and Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink. In fact, some of the same research is used as examples across the three books. In Lehrer’s book I found something a little different though. He proposes that the decision isn’t one of deciding rationally or emotionally. He offers that it’s a matter of whether to decide with the conscious or the unconscious parts of our brain. He argues that the emotion we feel about a decision is the result of our subconscious brain weighing all the variables and summarizing them as a feeling for our conscious brain to use.

I like that view. Having a bad feeling (or a good one) about something should not be overlooked. There is good reason for your having that feeling. The challenge is to know when that feeling is the correct way to go. And Lehrer helps with that by explaining that we most often use that feeling in the wrong situations which leads to bad choices which leads us to mistrust our gut when we should be listening to it. He argues that our real challenge is to remember to think about how we’re thinking and then to decide whether it’s better to go with our gut or to let our big prefrontal cortex do the work instead.

I read Gigerenzer’s and Gladwell’s books first, and I almost passed on Lehrer’s. I’m glad I took the time to read it. It’s helped me to start thinking more about how I’m thinking. Time will tell if the decisions get any better.

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Everyone Has the Entrepreneur’s Work Schedule Now

A recent article at CNN introduced me to the term “weisure.” It’s the blending of work and leisure time that is spreading across America. I found the article interesting because that’s been the way I’ve lived ever since I started my computer outsourcing company, Port-to-Port Consulting, back in 1991. It’s how every small business owner I know has lived for the past decade or more. Sure, it’s easier now because we have smart phones that allow us to reply to email when it’s not our kid’s turn at bat or in the pool or on the field or stage. But we’ve always blended work and leisure. Perhaps it’s happening more because, like Thom Patterson said, our work is more fulfilling as more of us do creative class work instead of toiling away on the assembly line. I don’t know.

I do know that I’m glad more people are doing work the same way that I’ve been doing it. It will become liberating in the long run. You see, when you have a hard time distinguishing between what’s work and what’s play, you can spend more time playing. That’s what I do. I don’t necessarily mean that I take more time to go golfing, but I golf with business associates as often as not. The truth is that many of my business associates are also my friends. In some cases, I don’t remember if we were friends first who became business associates or vice versa. It doesn’t really matter. I’ve found that I enjoy what I do a whole lot more when I like the people for whom I do it. The more I like what I do and whom I do it for, the less it seems like work.

Don’t think that I’m advocating for a 24-7 work life. I’m not. I think we’ve sped up the turnaround time on work to the point that most of us think everything is a crisis if we don’t get an instant reply to our every request. I’m still refusing to use text messaging on my cell phone. I realize I’ll eventually lose that battle, but it just doesn’t make sense to me that a person holding a phone in his hand who wants to reach me by phone thinks it’s better to scratch out a cryptic message than to simply CALL! No. What I’m advocating for is having work that we like enough that we’re willing to work whenever it is convenient to do so. That’s what all of the small business owners that I know tend to do.

Is Time Real?

I stopped wearing a watch more than a decade ago. I was in my office, deep in some project or other when I suddenly glanced up to see what time it was. Without having to do a Linda Blair kind of head turn, I was able to see three clocks plus there was one on the phone on my hip and one on my wrist. I haven’t worn a watch since that day. A strange thing happened after that. And no, that’s not when I started arriving late at most meetings. The strange thing was that removing my watch sort of freed me from the time continuum. I’ve since read that time is just a construct of man. Too deep for right now.

It does, however, seem to bother people that I’ve been freed from the continuum. My wife, for instance, likes to sleep in on the weekends. I am an always early riser, so I’ve usually been up for quite a while when she arises. Every Saturday and Sunday morning, her first question to me after we say good morning is, “What time did you get up?” My answer is always exactly the same phrase: “I don’t know what time it was when I got up.” Yet, she continues to ask each weekend and seems to still be annoyed with the answer. She’s not alone though. I usually don’t mark my daily routine with a clock (which explains some of my difficulty in getting to meetings on time). When people ask me what time something happened, I often respond that I don’t know. That answer always seems to annoy the questioner. I don’t know another way to respond, other than lying. When I try to do that with something vague like a while ago, they press for something more specific. When I try to be more specific but still vague, like a couple of hours ago, they want to debate whether that is an accurate estimate. I can’t carry my share of that debate because the truth is I have no idea but they won’t accept that answer without getting upset.

In the end, we’ll all discover that time really isn’t as important as we make it out to be. I’m just heading in that direction faster than most of you.

The Things We Take for Granted

I got out of the shower yesterday morning and heard noises downstairs. Susie was still sleeping and I didn’t figure there was any way that Christopher would be out of bed this early. The noise wasn’t the sound of intruders though, so I dressed and went downstairs to see what was going on. There, in the middle of the kitchen, stood Alex! He had come home from Howard a day early and was fixing a big breakfast for the whole family. It was so cool! I gave him a big hug and while I was embracing him I realized how much I appreciated him being home.

We take so much of our bounty for granted. Most of us spend our days worrying about the next thing: meeting, paper, phone call, whatever. We use so little of our time enjoying the things that really keep us going. We take the important stuff for granted while we fret over the lesser important things.

Later in the day yesterday, the entire Port-to-Port staff went to see the new Star Trek movie at a downtown theater. We’ve done this for every Star Trek opening since we started in business in 1991. This time, there was a lot of consternation about us all taking two hours in the middle of the day. What if one of our clients had a problem? The people I work with are my second family. I spend more time with many of them than I do with most of my family members. In the grand scheme, a couple of hours to catch a movie shouldn’t cause any great stress. It didn’t. We loved the movie.

Your Incredible Brain

I’m the Executive Director of the Indiana Post Adoption Network this year. I-PAN is a support group for parents who have adopted special needs children. This past Saturday we had our monthly meeting. The speaker talked about neurofeedback, biofeedback, and other methods for becoming aware of what your brain is doing. I confess that I’m fascinated about the way our brains work. I’m even more amazed at how little we know AND how much we continue to learn.

The Rules We Create

I was a Distinguished Graduate of my Air Force Officer Training School class in 1984. To this day, I give credit for that distinction to the fact that I was good at following the rules, without creating extra ones. Have you noticed how people will start to create rules that don’t exist? Then they start enforcing those non-existent rules on others. I guess it has something to do with our pattern seeking nature. We need only one or two observations of an action to build a set of rules about how that action should be done thereafter.

Energy Suckers

When I read The Cellestine Prophecy a few years ago, there was one piece that keeps coming back to my mind. The main character learned to see the energy fields of other people and how they interacted with one another. I often get that feeling when interacting with others.

I can feel my energy being sucked right out of me when I’m dealing with a negative person. Alternately, I can sense my energy level rising when I spend time around positive people. It’s amazing because it happens even when the negative person is in a positive situation or the positive person in a negative one.

I went from a meeting with a very negative person to one with an extremely positive one today. I’m so glad it wasn’t the other way around.