Hyperlink Thinking

907 Relax and Succeed - Mom what is normalYour brain is structured to do every activity you do. Whatever you ask it to do is what it will get good at. But when people think of all their capabilities, they only think of the surface stuff their brain does like remembering directions, or calculating numbers or knowing how to read or write. And without further meditation those all seem like they’re just manipulations of the data. So what they believe they know is the directions, the numbers and the communications, but what they also need to have is the remembering, the calculating and the creation.

This is why I use a flip phone. Most of you have already noticed the drop in functionality of your memory due to smartphones. People used to routinely remember all 30 of their friend’s phone numbers, all of their bank account numbers, credit card numbers, etc. etc. We had to remember a lot and those of us who haven’t surrendered the skill can still do it. But like a muscle, if I don’t do the work the ability will deteriorate.

Mental Disorders are not tangible. You can’t cut someone open and find depression or ADHD, but you can find tumours creating pressure, or damaged structures from drug use or strokes, or actual observable issues with various aspects of the brain’s function. This is because physical damage is not the same as confusion about usage. A car can crash because a part breaks, or it can crash because the person driving it wasn’t properly trained. Mental Disorders are just innocent driver errors due to poor or missing driving instructions.

907 Relax and Succeed - Let me remind youI know a lot of you really have a strong aversion to me saying this because you feel it makes you or someone you love somehow more responsible, but if you think that you’re misunderstanding. That’s like saying people who’s kids were injured in a car crash in 1950 should feel responsible for the seat belt not being invented yet. You can’t even start working on something until you know it needs the work. So no one is guilty here, but some things are happening and I help people precisely because I deal with what’s happening and I do not subscribe to little boxes that do not exist except in the imagination of the person believing in them.

If you ramp up the amount kids watch TV, movies and games at the same time that you perpetually shorten the length of each edit then this is like repeatedly hitting the novelty switch in your brain. Not that long ago you were a lot less safe and a lot more hungry, so your brain was wired up to notice new things because they might be either food or a predator. So you were built to notice new things. Edits, to your brain, are new things.

Ask the brain to get good at switching but not at holding and guess what? It gets good at switching and not at holding and ADHD is born, and the nations with less media report less incidence. Even Europe records less than half the cases of North America where media addictions are worse.

907 Relax and Succeed - Notice is hereby givenThe other brain function impacting this involves the nature of the internet. Hyperlinks are literally opportunities to distract yourself from what you’re doing. Yes, Hyperlinks are related to what we’re doing so we can justify using them, but we are nevertheless creating our own edit now, but in a text document not a video one. Many times these are useful for finding the article or information you were really looking for, but often times you’re being far less directed than that.

Over time this has lead to us all doing Hyperlink Thinking in our daily lives. Now I always liked how Europeans didn’t need conversation to be linear and goal-oriented like North Americans, but that’s not the willingness to go with the flow that I mean. Two humans actually connecting involves that connection, so the flow should serve that. But in the document it often only serves as a distraction and it explains why so few people feel they are getting enough or as much done.

If you can’t read a book for more than 30 minutes without getting up and doing something else, then already your brain has been trained to think it is supposed to flit from here to there, and so your very concentration is seen as an enemy by a brain trained for switching. This is why you so often lose focus, get distracted and are unproductive even on work you care about.

907 Relax and Succeed - Take a walkI only noticed this because I slipped into it too. I limit my screen time intentionally, but even then I could feel myself losing focus far sooner than I was accustomed to. Noticing that, I immediately raised my awareness and quickly I noticed my impulse to follow part of a thought in a new direction and there I had my culprit. My brain had gotten good at chasing down other angles and I was getting increasingly willing to wander off of my original intention. 

I’m currently putting this to a stop and you can too but it requires awareness, targeted non-action and diligence. It takes a while to learn not to wander so much but I got good at wandering by wandering so I’ll get good at focusing by focusing too. Now I regularly check back in with my original intention to ensure I’m still on it.

Don’t let Hyperlink Thinking invade your day and steal both your productivity and your mind’s ability to focus on an issue at a level that makes you more successful. Your capabilities are not a fixed asset, you are a flexible being, capable of altering yourself to suit your needs. But you must do it consciously. I’d maybe help more with a hyperlink to another relevant post right here but… you know… .  😉

peace (of mind) s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.

Title vs Talent

In a previous blog I discussed the value of an appreciative workplace. It is important to understand the responsibility for creating this goes in both directions. Not only do employers benefit from recognizing their employees as human beings, so too do the employees benefit from recognizing their bosses as human.

It’s true that not everyone is humble enough or earnest enough or curious enough to learn to be the very best kind of manager, but everyone has the potential to go a considerable distance from wherever they start. But if someone’s going to improve at anything then we can be certain that there are better ways to do many of the things they’re doing now. If a manager’s always only stating what should be done and not asking 65 Relax and Succeed - Wisdom tends to grow in proportionwhat could be done, we’re only making use of the manager’s brain rather than the entire staff’s.

Employees will benefit from seeing the workplace for what it is: a growing, changing organism. Part of those changes will include the fact that most managers travel very similar, predictable routes that build on their progressive experiences. The route for every single manager will include much trial and error. Employees should respect that the error portions of the journey are just as important to the growth of the manager as the successful choices. Yes it can be frustrating to encounter. But your own growth might be frustrating from the manager’s perspective at times as well, so patience on both sides is useful. Despite what employees most often think, management is a much more challenging job than can be seen from below. The bottom line is, new managers will get a lot wrong simply because they don’t have any experience and we learn from experience.

The first problem arises with the idea of who is promoted. Very few companies recognize Management as an independent area of expertise. This means it is seen more like a ladder that mirrors salary, rather than an area where there should be a distinct skill set. So rather than management being above production accounting and sales, it’s healthiest when it’s management alongside production, accounting, and sales, with the management facilitating the work of the other departments. But the reason the top-down, quasi-military, performer-based system still operates is simply because the people currently doing the choosing were chosen on the same incorrect basis that they will base their choices on. Etc.

How this starts is that, for most companies, when someone first gets promoted it will usually be because they did very good work. But if an accounting firm promotes its best forensic accountant, then it will immediately get worse at forensic accounting because their top guy will now be managing people rather than looking for patterns in numbers. Now if that guy also 65a Relax and Succeed - True leaders don't create followershappens to be excellent at teaching others how to spot those patterns, then he is the man for the job because he can expand the company’s success by increasing its overall capabilities. But without that ability to teach he’s better to be heading projects rather than managing people.

So that’s where most managers start; they manage the work. They got promoted because they were good at the work, so it does sort of make sense that their first idea is to show you how they did that work. But they’re them and you’re you, so a lot of that won’t really work. The better managers realize that it’s not working and they ask why. Then they either learn it from a book or someone like me, or they learn from unpleasant direct experience. But eventually they figure out that everyone approaches things from their own unique angle. And you can’t force that angle through authority. You have to learn how to get to know it. So rather than telling someone how to be, a good boss can help you grow by learning about who you are, and then by showing you how to apply your nature to your work.

While all of this is going on, it is important to remember that your boss is feeling pressure from their boss. So they’re not at 0dds with you. They’re genuinely trying to get good results. But you can’t blame them for innocence. If they’ve never done it before, just because they have the title doesn’t mean all of the knowledge gets downloaded into their head like some scene from The Matrix. When I’m meeting with a manager I’m sharing 30 years worth of management experience. 30 years worth of hiring people, firing them, disciplining them, motivating them etc. etc. etc. And I made a ton of mistakes. To expect them to know what I discovered over that much time is as unreasonable as the manager expecting the employees to be entirely consistent despite the ups and downs of life. It’s obviously impossible.

Good managers generally move from managing the work, to managing the company’s interests, to realizing that the employees are the actual generators of the income, and so there65b Relax and Succeed - You know you are on the road to success is then a focus on the employees. The final step is taken when there is an understanding that each employee requires individualized management based on their personality and learning type. Some people are auditory learners some are visual learners some are kinetic learners. Some are philosophical about their work, others see it in basic steps. No one is wrong but they all must be addressed accordingly. In the end it’s not like commanding dogs, it’s more like herding cats.

As Managers learn to herd their cats, they must take a journey to experience and expertise. To get there, the employees must be the forgiving lot that travels along with them. Just as we needed to learn our jobs, they need to learn theirs. They can’t just know it because someone gave them a title. That’s just not how it works.

It takes experience and awareness to hone an effective manager. But when you get one—or if you see one that has that potential—stick with them. Because you know those really inspiring school teachers you’ll never forget? Well a really good manager is just like that. They’ll bring out the best in you. So if you don’t have one now, see if you can be patient enough to help yours become one. Because a good boss can make work an enjoyable place to be. And that would be better for both of you.

Enjoy your day.

peace. s