8 Ways to read more books!

Based on HBR article by Neil Pasricha.

This article is about fitting in more reading in our life based on adaptable behavioral change. I’ve only able to ready 37 books in 2018, hope to do 3 books a week in 2019, and I’m hopeful that Neil Pasricha advice could assist me to achieve my goals.

Here’s Pasrischa’s advice.

Centralize reading in your home

Avoid distraction such as TV, mobile phone or any other gadgets by physical distraction (putting them away) rather than just switching it off.

Make a public commitment

Robert Cialdini in his book shares a psychology study which shows that once people place their bets at a racetrack, they are much more confident about their horses’s chances than they were just laying down the bet. He goes on to explain how commitment is one of the big six weapons of social influence. 

So, making a public statement should be helpful, for example, I do share my reading list and notes in my blog. And I really tried my best to actually make progress in my reading, although it could be hard at times to actually find the time and space to do so.

Find a few trusted, curated list

According to the article, the publishing industry puts out more than 50,000 books a year. Therefore, it’s hard to find one worth our time and effort. Maybe that’s the reason I’ve haven’t read any non-fictions lately.

If you wanted to see my recommended list, feel free to take a look at my reading list and book review, might actually be helpful.

Parischa recommend Bill Gates’s reading list; Derek Sivers’s reading list; and Tim Ferriss’s list, where he has collected the recommendations of many of his podcast guests. On the other hand, I would prefer World Economics Forum Bookclub for new books recommendation, as well as Goodreads book ratings.

Change your mindset about quitting

It’s one thing to quit reading a book and feel bad about it. It’s another to quit a book and feel proud of it. All you have to do is change your mindset. Just say, “Phew! Now I’ve finally ditched this brick to make room for that gem I’m about to read next.” And according to Parischa, he would’ve quit 3-4 books for every book he’d read to the end.

Well, in my case, I rarely quit before I’ve finished. The only book I’ve quit and didn’t completed the whole book was “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle. I was miserable reading the book, but the book was quite highly rated, maybe it just me.

Take a “news fast” and channel your reading dollars

Meaning, cut down on your news paper and buy new books.

I usually look around the internet for free new books. At times these free books could be awesome. If you download Library Extension for your browser, you can see what books and e-books are available for free right around the corner.

Triple your churn rate

Add more books to your library / book shelf and actually keep them moving. And if you’ve quit those whom just doesn’t suit you, those rate would increase significantly.

However, there’s some book which so good that I’ve read it more than 3 times. So, in the end, I just record the main lessons learnt on my blog and re-read them in case I in need of some refresher.

Read physical books

Blue screen could affect our sleeps. Therefore, for better night sleep, switch off your mobiles and get a physical books. It will help you sleep better and fall asleep faster.

Reapply the 10,000 steps rule

Just like a common goal of 10,000 steps daily, a small consistent effort counts. Read every chance you’ve got, and it would amount to a lot of reading. Its about consistency lady and gentlemen.

well that’s it.

Happy reading.

Be Bold and Ready to Take Risks

ever become too comfortable in your job – If you feel that you’re in an easy rut, strive to find and take on new challenges. Remember this basic truth: “The status quo is your enemy.”

– Take the risk or lose the chance –

In order for us to build a satisfying, successful career and move ahead in life, we must create promising opportunities for ourselves.

This however would requires developing impressive expertise and cultivating meaningful relationships and a huge continuous effort from us. And we must be bold and ready to take risks. 

So, lets set out to accomplish these steps:

  1. Develop a career plan – Adapt it as needed. Have an A plan, a B plan and a Z plan.  I have a plan, do you? And if my plan A doesn’t work, I still have plan B to plan Z.
  2. Never become too comfortable in your job – If you feel that you’re in an easy rut, strive to find and take on new challenges. Remember this basic truth: “The status quo is our enemy and complacency is never bliss.”
  3. When it comes to your work, think big – Don’t see your job as just a job. Elevate your thinking. Make your job your mission.
  4. Work with full intention – Make a conscious degree of focus one of your defining personal characteristics. Operate so that your opportunities bump up against your interests and skills.
  5. You’re not perfect – Don’t try to be flawless. Messing up occasionally is human and acceptable. But learning from your mistakes is one of the most effective paths to growing professionally.
  6. Build new skills in “sprints” – To master new skills, engage in intense, distraction-free work-study sessions or sprints. Schedule regular breaks for temporary decompression.
  7. Seek challenges – It’s the “hard stuff,” not the “easy stuff” that challenges you and enables you to build new capabilities and skills.  
  8. Seek constructive feedback – Honest, perceptive insights fuel our growth.
  9. Build the right habits – You are more likely to excel when you make your positive behaviors automatic or habitual. Solidify one good, new habit every month. Classic conditioning is a great tool for changing your habits. It calls for being consistent in practicing new behaviors. 
  10. Maintain a journal – Maintaining a journal gives you an opportunity to reflect daily on your life and to learn from your actions and behaviors. I used my blog as my journal, easy to update, and easy to access. And I also have a hard cover journal which I loved. Your preference is yours, but the essence is, you need one, you need a journal.
  11. Seek help from people you trust – You don’t have to do everything alone.  There’s a saying, “if you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together.”
  12. Promote diversity – Diversity promotes cross-pollination of new ideas. It encourages original thinking and breeds creativity.
  13. Give your team members a chance to shine – As a leader, you don’t always have to shine, but you should make sure that the other members of your team shine. Build on their skills and ideas. Give team members credit for their accomplishments.
  14. Don’t let fear of failure paralyze you –  Always default to action.
  15. Make small bets, but make them – Be cautious when you begin new initiatives. Small bets make more sense than big one. The more bets you make, the better chance you have that one will hit. 
  16. You can’t avoid uncertainty – Uncertainty is a basic condition of life.  Regard uncertainty as a possibility, not a problem.
  17. Persist – To come out on top, persist regardless of obstacles.
  18. Be your own entrepreneur – Think of your career as a start-up and of yourself as the entrepreneur planning and managing this start-up.
  19. Become the “best-connected person” – When it comes to networking, strive to be the best-connected person, not the “most-connected person.” Possessing a fat address book with many names means nothing if the people listed aren’t real allies who will collaborate and help you when necessary.
  20. Learn to build new skills – The best possible skill is the ability to develop new skills.  
  21. Believe that you can  improve – If you don’t believe that you can move beyond your current abilities, you won’t. Avoid self-defeating, self-fulfilling doubts.
  22. Practice – You can’t master any skill without extensive practice. Leverage the “power of ritual” to manage your practice sessions. Practice at the same time each day so practicing becomes habitual.
  23. Rest – You can’t practice, learn or work if you don’t get enough rest. Sleep at least eight hours a night and nap for 20 to 30 minutes during the day.
  24. Do the jobs you delegate – Monsieur Pitard, the top chef of the Hotel Majestic in Paris,  cooked one dish a week himself instead of delegating it his staff. Do some of the work you assign to others to keep your skills fresh. 
  25. Always ask – You can learn a lot from other people and advance your career in the process. Don’t hesitate to ask questions to build your knowledge.   
  26. Build social contracts – Management expert Peter Block developed the concept of social contracting. That’s when you agree up front with your partners or collaborators on how you and they will work together. Get them to answer these questions: “What do you want?” “Where might you need help?” “When you had a really good working relationship in the past, what happened?” “When things go wrong – as they inevitably will – how shall we manage that?”

“Start any new project or endeavor by saying to yourself, ‘I may not get the hang of this right away. I’m going to make mistakes, and that’s okay’.”

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Skill over passion?

Remember the scene in the movie, Central Intelligence where Kevin Hart admits that, “I’m good at what I do, you love your job”, when his wife quizzed him on his job.

Now, lets consider a real world example . . .

Consider the impressive career of environmental journalist Bill McKibben. While at Harvard as an undergraduate, he began to write for The Harvard Crimson, the student newspaper. By graduation, he was its editor. This brought McKibben to the attention of William Shawn, editor of the New Yorker magazine. Shawn hired him to contribute to the magazine’s up-front Talk of the Town section.

“The most important skill in the age of flux is the ability to get new skills. To constantly be open to new areas of learning.”

After five years, he quit the New Yorker and moved to the Adirondacks to live in a secluded cabin where he wrote The End of Nature, which is now considered as one of the crown jewels of environmental journalism. Since then, McKibben has written numerous books and has become a well-known environmental activist. Now that is an awesome achievements.

His work-life path offers two valuable lessons for plotting a career: 

  1. “What you do for a living matters less than you think” – McKibben enjoys his life as a writer. Nevertheless, as an environmentalist, he could have achieved similar job satisfaction as a professor or as the head of a non-profit educating others about the environment. Besides his calling as a writer, what seems to matter most to McKibben is having autonomy and contributing to improving the world. This aligns with the life experiences of many successful people. What makes them most happy are not the gritty details of their work, but the satisfying high-quality lifestyle they’ve been able to attain.  
  2. Skill precedes passion – McKibben began at Harvard without any experience in journalism. As a young writer, he would overwrite his pieces many times, a common failing among people learning the writer’s craft. While at Harvard, McKibben wrote upward of 400 articles for The Crimson. He used his years at Harvard and at the New Yorker to develop and polish his skills as a writer and journalist. People who fulfill their passion first must put in the time and effort to become experts at what they do. 

“By changing your habits, you reprogram the behaviors that control most of your life and ultimately determine your success.”

A strong passion about how you want to make a living can be a positive force. But making the ability to follow your passion your only job criteria isn’t a smart strategy. Achieving career satisfaction depends on many factors besides passion.  

“Focus means changing only one habit at a time…spend at least one month exclusively on one habit.”

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The Motivation Spectrum

If people are already motivated, the question now is, how motivated are they? The answer lies in the 6 “motivational outlooks” on the spectrum of motivation.

These outlook do not form a continuum. At one moment, we might operate in one particular motivational outlook and later, we may operate with an entirely diferent one.

To illustrate how motivaional outlook work, consier them in light of a routine meeting where 6 different employees are each operating individually based on a different mode of motivation:

  1. Disinterest – This one hated the meeting and considered it as as waste of time.
  2. External – This one leverage the meeting to show off his power and status within the organization.
  3. Imposed – This one is forced by his or her superiors to attend the meeting. Their superiors might be angry if they missed the meeting.
  4. Aligned – This one loved attending meeting, and felt they might gain valueable knowledge from that meeting.
  5. Integrated – this one enjoyed the meeting because her life has a noble purpose, and the meeting focused on that purpose.
  6. Inherent – This one is gregarious, loves being around people and attends all meetings.

“Setting measurable goals and outcomes is important. Having a defined finish line in front of you can be positively compelling.”

The first 3 motivational outlook are in the suboptimal motivation category and they represent the low-quality motivation or motivational junk food.

People operating based on suboptimal motivational modes often say things like,

“I have to”

“I must”

“I should”

“I’m requied to”

“It’s necessary”

“Because it’s my duty.”

“Everyday, your employees’ appraisal of their workplace leaves them with or without a positive sense of well-being. Their well-being determines their intentions, and intentions are the greatest predictors of behavior.”

The remaining 3 motivational outlook are the optimal ones. They show the kind of motivation which we want, for ourselves, our employees and the people we care about.

They are motivational “health food”.

Outlook based on alignment, integration and inherent motivation generate high-quality energy, vitality and positive well-being which leads to a sustainable results. People with optimal motivation outlook often say,

“I get to”

“I have decided to”

“I am lucky to”

“I elect to”

“External Motivators”

Organization at times would turn to external motivators to influence their employees. These motivators include money, incentives or a bigger office or even bigger title which are tangable, or approval, status, shame or fear, which are intangible. These forces work directly against the important psychological requirements employees have for autonomy, relatedness and competence.

External motivators actually undermine motivation.

“The quality of our beliefs determines the quality of our leadership values. Our leadership values ultimately determine how we lead and the quality of the workplace we create.”

External motivators can take control over our employees, driving and compelling them to act in a certain way, thus robbing them of autonomy. And eventually, the employees will come to resent the loss of control.

A self-defeating inherent message accompanies any external motivator:

“If you do as I say, then you will be rewarded”

This ham-handed message can gain only temporary, “conditional support” from the employees.

“Not all beliefs are values, but all values are beliefs”

Optimal Motivation

For most organizations, motivation is what their employees can do for them. But this reverses crucial priorities.

The magic of motivation kick into overdrive when managers address what the can do for their employees.

Answering that question fulfills one o the basic rules of motivation:

“When we focus on what we want for people, we are more likely to get the results we want from people.”

So, instead of trying to drive or control employees with carrots and sticks, or pigeon pellets, help promote thriving employees by meeting their crucial autonomy, relatedness an competence psychological needs, which are their “basic desire to thrive.”

Organizations need to move beyond a strict focus on corporate priorities which usually centered around “results, performance and productivity.”

“Great leadership takes great practice. When it comes to motivation, leadership practice includes being a role model.”

And when companies focuses on autonomy, relatedness and competence, they and their people will stand to benefit. Organizations that focus on ARC develop sel-governing workforce who believe in accountability. Such companies promote strong personal relationships, which motivate examplary “citizenship behaviors” among employees. This emphasis on competence and professional development helps create and sustain learning organizations.

Therefore, organization should help their employees to understand why they are motivated. Adopting a motivational strateg based on ARC values which ensures that our employees have an optimal motivational outlook. And when leaders model this attitude, it can become a defining characteristic of our organization, a win-win-win for employees, manager and the company.

And hence, a much holistic working culture.

The ‘Motivation Dilemma”

Managers face a motivation dilemma. Their organizations insiste that they to motivate their subordinate to work hard to meet the corporate goals. Unfortunately, since no one can motivate another person which is an impossible task to do.

That’s the dilemma.

Executives and managers who want to understand motivation should and must understand the “appraisal process”.

Employees appraise things according to what important to them and their priorities might differ from that of their managers and corporate leaders.

So, the factors which motivate employees may not align with what we want them to be motivated toward accomplishing. The goals that drive their motivation may not be akin to the objectives which we want to encourage.

“It is a mistake to think that people are not motivated. They are simply longing for the needs they cannot name.”

For example,

In 2002, the Boston Red Sox wanted to lure Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane to come work for them. And they offered him then what would have been the largest GM salary in baseball. They were shocked when he turned it down. But Beane appraised the offer against what mattered to him – “his family and the love of baseball.”

“The real story of motivating is that people are learners who long to grow, enjoy their work, be productive, make positive contributions and build lasting relationships.”

And in case of Beane, he never cared about money, so the Red Sox’s huge salary offer meant little to him. They couldn’t motivate him because he was already motivated, but in different way than the Red Sox wanted.

This is always the proble when we try to motivate people. They already are motivated but sometimes in ways we may not like.

However, we want our employees’ individual motivations to align with our organization’s goal. But now we understand that trying to leverage “motivational forces” to compel people to do as we want won’t work.

So, how can we align their goals and the company’s goals?

“It is time to stop beating our people with carrots-and-sticks and embrace different, more effective leadership strategies.”

First, understand that our employees are learners, they want to do well, they want to make solid contributions and they want their organization’s executives to think well of them. They also want to have “autonomy, relatedness and competence ” or ARC, which is the essential psychological needs.

“Rewards may help people initiate new and healthy behaviors, but they fail miserably in helping people maintain their progress or sustain results.”

Instead of offering contests or prizes, encourage your employees by enabling them to gain autonomy. That’s the secret to motivation.

Offer independence and relate to them as human beings. Help them to grow professionally and personally. Don’t worry about what they can do for you, but rather worry about what you can do for them.

In that environment, your employees will become more motivated to perform better.

When you offer autonomy, related to them and encourage their competence, and they will respond.

That’s simple human nature.

The carrot-and-stick motivation approach

“When we activate optimal motivation for ourselves, we provide more than a role model – we create a ripple effect that encourages our people’s optimal motivation.”

The carrot-and-stick approach to motivation might work in the short term, but most likely going to makes things worse over time.

It works like the “pecking pigeon paradigm.” B,F. Skinner, a Harvard psychology professor and behaviorist, used elaborate experiments with pigeons to investigate motivation. By rewarding pigeons with food pellets, Skinner was able to get the birds to do just about anything he wanted. His techniques still influence how companies try to motivate people.

But, peoples are not pigeons. Motivation is not “something you do to people”. It’s simple can’t be done. And as Jim Rohn said, there’s only one type of motivation, and that is “self-motivation”, meaning, people must motivate themselves.

Researchers such as Drs. Richard Ryan and Edward Deci have done eye-opening work to figure out on how to drive motivation in people. Their studies and other research in the field show that effective motivations has nothing to do with carrots or sticks, but it has everything to do with “hope and promise” which are the real drivers of motivation.

“Misunderstanding what motivation means leads to a misapplication of techniques to make it happen.”

The traditional belief that motivating employees is a fundamental managerial tasks which stems from confusion and mistaken ideas. Clinging to that contention lets executive hold managers responsible for motivating people.

But aligning employee motivation with the corporate motivation might require a significant change in corporate culture and in executive and managerial awareness.

#bookreview #motivation #leadership

Argument Natural State

Based on “Winning Arguments”

People may strive to get along and cooperate but, most of the time, eventually, arguments will prevails. Even when all parties seem to reach a resolution, their agreement rarely lasts. International agreements, peace accords, trade deals and other covenants, no matter how solemnly undertaken, exist only until one of the parties sees an opportunity to get more of what it wants. Which can turn even the small differences into a large ones.

This is because, humans never reach a state of “universal agreement” since conflict is the normal state of things.

We can’t avoid arguments, so we might as well master it.

 This would involve learning the art and techniques of rhetoric, the manipulation of words and appeals as well as when, where and how to use them.

Such knowledge will give us awesome power, far stronger than “sticks and stones” tanks or missions. Rhetoric and arguments lie at the foundation of democracy, the rule of law and the heart of war. Words and arguments don’t merely hurt, they can tear a person in two and destroy worlds.

For example . . .

In John Milton’s Garden of Eden in “Paradise Lost”, Satan convinces Eve to eat the forbidden fruit by first sowing a smidgen of doubts in her mind about what God really meant when He warned her and Adam not to eat from the tree of knowledge. Satan eventually makes Eve believe that God actually wants her and Adam to eat the fruit to prove they have minds of their own. Eve was lost the minute she listened to Satan, who is a master of rhetoric, and the Devil knew it.

Disclaimer : Not the Islamic version of the event

By creating slivers of doubt in otherwise clear, well-understood truths, many people-including rogue scientists, politicians and business leaders which have time and again actually convinced significant numbers of people not to believe in broadly held scientific consensus. 

For example . . .

Casting doubt on facts such as that smoking causes serious health issues or that DDT causes environmental harm or that human action contribute to climate change.


Surah 2 sūrat l-baqarah (The Cow) verse 11
Translation: When it is said to them: “Make not mischief on the earth,” they say: “Why, we only Want to make peace!”

These merchant of doubts or I would say the mischief maker, know that they don’t have to take on the overwhelming body of science, fact and evidence that they hope to dispel; they need only to point out that the science isn’t 100% “conclusive” and that scientific “consensus”, no matter how overwhelming , sometimes changes with new discoveries. 

These naysayers argue that government shouldn’t implement policies on grounds of inconclusive evidence based on loose consensus. They advocate letting people look at the evidence and making their own decisions.

If we were to take a look at all the political masters, most if not all are master of rhetoric.  And unfortunately, most people will fall prey to the master orator. They don’t have the time to inform themselves fully on critical thinking skills to spot the flaws in a manipulators’ argument. 

If you’re looking for a good manipulators in recent movies, I would think of the likes of Albus Dumbledore and Gellert Grindelwald from the movie of “Crimes of Grindelwald”. They are awesome manipulators. 

What’s needed is only a small seeds of doubt, which once planted, will hang on with resilience. Ample expert opinion to be contrary doesn’t end argument but rather fuel them. 

Why?

Rhetoric is the only answer to rhetoric, and only argument beats argument. And the one who able to present it well, might rule supreme.